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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Great day for hockey

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column, of course, is about a certain comeback. I freely offer advice that I know everyone will ignore: Relax when watching Sidney Crosby take contact.

>> I have seen the number of media descending on Pittsburgh for Mario Lemieux’s return game, for the 2006 All-Star Game at PNC Park, and for the Steelers’ most recent AFC championship game, and I’m legitimately curious to compare that to the number descending on Consol today.

That might sound crazy on one hand — the NHL doesn’t compare in national scope to Major League Baseball or the NFL — but hockey also has its own diehard brand of news outlets, notably those across Canada who still travel wherever the story happens to be. They’ll be voluminous today.

>> Anyone worried about the Penguins’ toughness going against the Islanders should know this: They’ll enter this game with no fewer than three players who have completely KO’d their fighting opponents in the past couple years.

Deryk Engelland has done it, Arron Asham did it just recently, and Brent Johnson, of course, shattered the jaw of Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro.

Is that a record of some kind?

>> I didn’t get all the excitement about Andy Dalton after the Steelers’ win in Cincinnati last week, but I sure did after watching the Bengals’ quarterback nearly pull off a huge comeback yesterday in Baltimore. Kid’s the real deal.

>> Said it before, and I’ll repeat: The AFC is nothing special. It’s there to be taken.

>> Count me in the not-all-that-excited pile regarding the Pirates’ possible — not yet confirmed — signing of Clint Barmes to play shortstop.

Those who like the move are doing little more than comparing him to a highly negative, and not all that accurate public perception of Ronny Cedeno. Well, half of everyone wins that argument. I’m looking more at a .300 career on-base percentage at Coors Field and .312 last season in Houston. That doesn’t get me any more excited than replacing Ryan Doumit with 36-year-old Rod Barajas.

That’s not to say they’re bad moves. They’re just not good moves, either. They’re just … there.

>> My weekly appearance on the online-only TribLIVE Radio will come at 11:30 a.m., live from Consol Energy Center and surrounded by all things Canadian.


  1. pghboyinca says:

    I can’t wait to see Sid back where he belongs, skating with a Penguins game jersey on. The AFC is wide open, there is no dominant team. The Pirates are doing nothing to give the impression that it is anything but busienss as usual onFederal street. Sign a few retreads to get the payroll to the barely passable minimum and escape scrutiny from the players union. Then start pointing out how unmeasurable metrics such as system wide process is being implemented through out the organization and how the young kids and the draft are the way they have to go. (By the way this draft so far has yielded Pedro and Sanchez and a lot of complete crap) Then watch them lose 100 games this year and reference how tough it is to coem back from the “Littlefield era”.

    The recent players released when they reset the 40 man roster included a shitload of Huntington’s draft bonanaza from 98-2000. Hart, Alderson etc…..what part did Littlefield have in that?

  2. JAL says:


    6—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates 1905 Season: Trying to Catch the Giants

    Winter Leagues 11/20 —

    7 McEffect

    Bill James 2012 Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

    8 Rumbunter

    Clint Barmes Highlight Videos

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Thoughts on Clint Barmes

  3. JAL says:


    11 Forbes

    Selig Permits Mets To Increase Debt By $140 Million

    12 Centre Daily Mail

    MLB historian talks baseball’s past, Cooperstown

  4. JAL says:


    13 Bleacher Report

    Ryan Doumit Signing Does Wonders for Minnesota Twins

    14 Behind The Steel Curtain

    December 1972: The Most Momentous Month in Pittsburgh’s Sports History

    15 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Huntington has his Derek Bell Moment

    16Yahoo Sports

    Get your sure-handed, light-hitting middle infielders while you can

  5. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Controversial Ruling on Jermaine Gresham Touchdown Helps Ravens Hold Off Bengals, Propels Baltimore Back into First Place in AFC North

    Revisiting Momma’s 2010 Mock Draft(s)

    -Steelers Depot

    Ravens Beat Bengals, Take Over First Place

    -Steelers Gab

    Steelers Players Host 10th Annaul Toy Drive Benefiting Children’s Hospital of Pittsbugh UPMC

  6. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Football Link Clearance on the Bye

    Cardiac Hill

    Big East Football: Where a 7-5 Team Could Go to the BCS

    WVU Blogs

    Metro News

    WVU Women Fall To St Bonaventure

    WV Illustrated

    Junior College Receiver Commits to WVU



    Hockey Christmas: Sidney Crosby returns Monday vs. the New York Islanders

  7. JAL says:


    Trying to make sense of your last sentence–Assume you mean 2008-2010, not 1998-2000. Neither Hart nor Alderson were part the 40 man reset. Hart was let go November 2 and Alderson was not on the 40. Also, they were both acquired by trade, not the draft.

    The day they set the 40 they DFAed Paul, Pagnozzi, and Fryer. None of them were Pirate draft picks.

  8. Jandy says:

    Sid’s return will be very welcome. The team will get a spark from his return. I’m not expecting Sid to be 100% back to form, but any Sid will make contributions. This team will be that much more fun to watch.

  9. Milo Hamilton says:

    DK – I can’t agree with you more on the Pirates. While good to very good players remain available the Pirates choose to fill out their roster with mediocrity at best. These players are not the best they can do, they are what they choose do do it with.

    Welcome back Sid !!

  10. Rob says:

    Your right Dejan, it will be difficult to relax watching Sid for the next few weeks. I will try to keep in mind that his condition now is much different than when he took what looked at the time a benign hit from behind from Hedman.

    I will also point out to anyone expecting Sid to pick-up right where he left off last year prior to the concussion, this 1st game back is essentially his 1st exhibition game of the season. Only it’s in the middle of the season or just past the first quarter, and he won’t be playing against a roster half filled with draft picks/prospects. That being said no matter how well or not he preforms, I’ll be smiling like a butchers dog watching him jump on the ice, and hearing his name being announced (especially if it’s concerning a goal or assist), and simply just seeing him on the ice again.

    It’s Sid’s Hockey Night in Pittsburgh tonight, Yahoo!

  11. leefoo says:

    DK/Milo, et al………definitely with you guys on the “not excited about the ‘B-Boys’ we signed.

    Very good chance they are just Overbay or Diaz revisited.


  12. Thundercrack says:

    Can you elaborate on what you think the public perception of Ronny Cedeno is, and what the accurate public perception of him should be?

  13. TJA says:

    Again, wonderful news on Sid…and for the Pens, their fans and Pittsburgh! A great story in all aspects. With all the craziness going on in State College, PA…this really is a great day in Pittsburgh. Go Pens!

  14. Dave says:

    I see the Barajas and Barmes deals and swapping out the chairs regular people can sit on to those that the rich people sat on while sailing the Titantic. A chair is a chair, only thing that is different between the two is the price.

  15. Dave G in Mason, OH says:


    I love the perspective of your article on Crosby. Outstanding.

    The internet is awash in obligatory articles rehashing the history of his concussion and spewing facts that every person on the planet is fully aware of.

    All eyes to the ice tonight, where they belong. Let’s cherish this moment and marvel at our fortune of witnessing such incredible talent.

    And lets smile inside as we witness the real beginning of the chase for the Art Ross trophy.

  16. Bizrow says:

    JAL’s No. 15 post is interesting, correlating the Barmes signing to the Derek Bell one. Great….

  17. Milo Hamilton says:

    I just saw that longtime Georgia football play by play man Larry Munson died yesterday. If you’re a college football fan, take 5 minutes & watch this video. With all that has been going on, this will put a smile on your face. Except for the Lindsey Scott touchdown vs. Florida. It cost Pitt a national championship.

    R.I.P. Larry Munson.

  18. It’s fantastic to hear that, at long last, Sidney Crosby will be in the lineup. I am thankful Sid took the time he needed to be fully confident his concussion is behind him before he stepped back on the ice. I think it’s important to temper expectations; I view his return to the lineup as another step in the recovery process, not the end point. I expect it will still be some time before Sid returns to the form he displayed nearly a year ago, but I have no doubt that he will return to that level.

    Sid will be returning alongside Kunitz and Dupuis. Both are not only familiar linemates for Sid, but players who, I think, have really elevated their game this season. Once Sid finds his stride, I have no doubts this line will be every bit as productive and dangerous as the Sullivan-Malkin-Neal line. That is a scary thought.

  19. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I agree 100% with you on the Pirates moves. They’re decent moves, but they are not any better than they would be if they resigned either Cedeno or Doumit..

    Need a lot more help.

  20. Chuck Snow says:

    Here is to hoping Sidney Crosby has a successful return and staying healthy. Pirates moves should not surprise me but feeling very Deja-Vu about them. Feel like we will be revisiting theses moves mid-summer. Hope I am wrong.

  21. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pirates finalize the Clint Barmes the same day Sid comes back. Just can’t catch a break.

  22. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but “Let’s cherish this moment and marvel at our fortune of witnessing such incredible talent”?

    Sounds more like a description of witnessing the birth of your child than a description of the best player in hockey returning to the ice.

  23. JAL says:


    Thanks for the link. Talked to Munson several times when I was on the faculty at UGA. Don’t have to be a Georgia fan to appreciate his calls.

  24. Jandy says:

    AW ~ You party pooper you! :p

  25. 1buccofan says:

    Dejan I have to wonder if you think ALBERT would be an upgrade.It was Barnes because that’s who the manager would. Then of course you were part of media that wouldn’t criticize Walker or “the I think I’m a superstar centerfielder” or how could they let 14 game loser Paul ( CY YOUNG) Maholm go. Maybe you wanted Furcal to come here for 8 or 9 million per and play 80 games like he has the past few seasons. WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS THE BASEBALL MEDIA IN THIS TOWN WILL NEED TO IMPROVE TO BE ANYTHING MORE THAN A DISGRACE!

  26. Milo Hamilton says:

    How many more wins will improving the baseball media get us ?

    DK: Depends on your scale, Milo. If I write, say, a third of my columns at the MORE THAN A DISGRACE level, I’d say that buys 2-3 wins per year.

    Takes all kinds.

  27. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    lol @ Jandy

    You know what I meant…

    Tonight we are celebrating the fact that we are so lucky to have back— on the greatest team in the world— the greatest hockey player in the world. If it doesn’t stir ya, you aren’t a real Pens fan. Watch the crowd tonight.

    As for the ‘child birth’ reference: I can’t recall anyone ever describing child birth as ‘witnessing such incredible talent’…

    tho’ I s’pose ya could…


  28. Arriba Wilver says:

    Dave G–I thought each one of my 4 kids was incredibly talented as soon as they left the womb (and I wasn’t leaving out the mother).

  29. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    LOL! Awesome!

  30. Arriba Wilver says:


  31. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    BTW… the Phillies just picked up Ty Wiggington, so Huntington let yet another Rockie get away. Hurdle won’t be happy about this.

  32. Milo Hamilton says:


    Won’t matter. You never wrote for the Rockies.

  33. JAL says:

    Dave G

    Ty was not with the Rockies when Hurdle was there. 2011 was his only season with them. Pirates already had him back in 2004 and 2005

  34. Kevin W says:

    Great to see Sid back. Hope he stays injury free. I have yo admit that DKs column is right on target. I’ll be nervous for the first hit, first fall to the ice, etc. Its going to be hard to relax as suggested in the article.

    As far as the Pirates are concerned, I think both Barajas and Barmes are both slight upgrades. I’m not expecting them to all of a sudden turn into All Stars, but i also don’t think that these are the terrible signings that some are suggesting. They are slightly overpaid relative to other major leaguers, but that’s what is needed to get anyone to come to the Pirates. Unless they made a trade for either position, this is pretty much what they could expect to get. What they need is for Tony Sanchez to rebound in a big way. Let’s see how the rest of the offseason goes.

    DK: Welcome, Kevin. We just happen to have a strait jacket with your name on it.

  35. Dave G in Mason, OH says:


    Huntington does appear to be focusing on collecting many of Hurdle’s Rockies / ex-Rockies players at an eye-opening rate.

    McKenry, Grilli, Pagnozzi, and now Barmes.

    I’d much prefer Todd Helton, though wouldn’t we all…

  36. Jandy says:

    Arriba, you have 4 children??? That splains EVERYTHING ;P

    Seriously tho, bless you!

    @1buccofan, please list the “few exceptions” =)

  37. Milo Hamilton says:

    One of the all time great coaches & all time great guys called it a career today. Springdale’s Chuck Wagner retired after 50 seasons of coaching. They used to throw a parade down Pittsburgh St. if the Dynamos won 2 games. He took Springdale to the playoffs 10 straight years & won the WPIAL title in 2003. Here’s to a long & healthy retirement.

  38. Milo Hamilton says:


    All arrests made during Light Up Night were of city residents. Speaking for suburbanites everywhere, we accept your apology.

    DK: Nicely done!

  39. Wilver Dornell:
    “Dave G–I thought each one of my 4 kids was incredibly talented as soon as they left the womb (and I wasn’t leaving out the mother).”

    Classic response —— one of my favorite ever.

    By the way, in case any of you haven’t heard, Sid Crosby is playing his first game tonight in 320 some days. You might not know about it because of the loud and boisterous coverage in town of the Pirates signing Clint Barmes.
    [apparently this very newspaper didn’t know about the imminent signing for 24 hours]

    Saying that the Pirates P-R Department specializes in great and timely announcements reminds me of one of Michael Keaton’s greatest lines from the movie Night Shift: “Barney Rubble——what an actor!”

    That Pirate P-R Department——what a great P-R machine!

  40. Naje says:


    What would you rather have:
    –Cedeno: A SS prone to major mental lapses… a guy who may not have the trust of his pitchers because of said mental lapses and baserunning gaffes… a guy who plays SS between two very young first round picks in Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez (and Harrison, too) who they have to play with every day…a guy who starts ahead of young talents d’Arnaud and Mercer watching his every move and wondering, “Why am I not playing ahead of this airhead/goofball/inconsistent player?”

    –Barmes: a proven veteran who, from all sides, will benefit these guys in ways Cedeno never could.

    Tell me, please. And then stick the Cedeno stuff on the back-burner.

    DK: Stick what where? Seriously, when did you turn so hostile?

    Comparing Barmes to Cedeno is a red herring. I’d rather have neither shortstop. I’d rather have a good shortstop. This isn’t complicated.

  41. Milo Hamilton says:


    I’d rather have Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes.

  42. Naje says:

    Wouldn’t we all, Milo?

  43. Naje says:

    Honestly, the lack of thought about Cedeno bothers me… a lot. They have a lot of young infielders on the team and Cedeno’s lack of consistency and his propensity to make terrible mistakes in the field, on the bases and at the plate are just not going to help a young team develop.

    Take that into consideration… that’s all I’m asking.

    DK: Naje, take this into consideration: There are more than two shortstops on this planet. Your limiting the discussion to those two is just crazy.

  44. Naje says:

    I’m talking about the issue at hand, DK… the one you wrote about above. As well as the shortstops coming through the organization right now.

    Why would that be crazy? I understand there are other shortstops. And I’m not certain what you’re implying about those not named Rollins or Reyes being better than Barmes.

    Whatever the case, at least acknowledge the reality that Cedeno was not good for the development of younger guys. How does a coach justify playing a player who made as many mental mistakes as Cedeno at your most important position on the field?

    DK: “Acknowledge the reality?”

    Yikes. I’m going to the arena now.

  45. Naje says:

    Oh I am so sorry about questioning your stance Cedeno and Barmes… wow. Testy today?

    I’m just asking you to write something about the situation that is definitely a part of the equation. Cedeno was not a stable performer or presence on the team… a team filled with young, impressionable players.

    And you still don’t even address any of the questions I’ve asked. Not trying to do anything here other than expose Cedeno for what he was–a bad presence on the team–and what the front office and the manager was trying to do to correct that bad presence in signing Barmes. Looks like you took that with an edge.

    That said… have a great night at the arena… will be watching.

  46. Naje says:

    @DK –

    Didn’t see your first response… sorry… “stick” was not hostile in any way… stick, move, push, set-aside–in that vein… apologies.

  47. Milo Hamilton says:


    Funny you reference a movie about a morgue when the Pirates just signed another stiff.

  48. Chuck Snow says:

    Ease up People. These guys the Pirates are signing Suck. The point is its the same old tactic.. different names. DK is just calling a spade, a spade.

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