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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Crosby, Harrison and the new normal

Some sporting thought before sunrise …

>> Get used to this. It’s the new normal.

Barring some crazy recovery from a months-long concussion, Sidney Crosby was going to get shut down again. If nothing else, he and everyone else would be excessively careful once he felt any symptoms. If they’re all lucky, that’s all this is. Just being careful.

But even if it isn’t, this is how this is going to go. Hockey’s a physical game, Crosby won’t — and shouldn’t — change his play-in-traffic style, and the combination of those things and his now firmly established concussion history are going to mean he’ll be there some times, and he won’t other times.

If you find that disheartening, imagine how the kid feels.

No one ever sheds a tear for multimillionaires doing what they love for a living and being deified for it. But Crosby doesn’t just have a passion for hockey. It’s an obsession. He’s like a child in that regard. You can see it every day in how he behaves on and off the ice, before and after practices.

And nothing is worse in any illness than a relapse. It’s demoralizing and discouraging. Makes you wonder why you work so hard to get back to 100 percent, if you know you can drop right back.

I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat: If you’re thinking about the Penguins’ future here, you’re missing the point. This is a special athlete, a special personality, and we’ll all be better off if he can find the strength — now and who knows how many times into the future — to continue the brilliant career he’s started.

>> Terrific, comprehensive coverage of Crosby this morning by our Josh Yohe. I found the doctors’ views, as well as that of Keith Primeau, to be fascinating.

>> The new normal for the Steelers apparently will be increasing NFL punishments until they figure out what’s illegal and what isn’t.

Most reports yesterday seemed to at least suggest that a one- or two-game suspension is a possibility for James Harrison after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy. Harrison doesn’t think so.

I wrote yesterday that I see Harrison’s hit as closer to the one that earned Ryan Clark a $25,000 fine recently, especially since McCoy was in the act of running, then throwing a moment before Harrison arrived. It’s not like Harrison took two or three steps. To me, NFL suspensions are for flagrant attempts to injure.

We’re supposed to find out this morning. My prediction: $100,000 fine.

>> The Casey McGehee acquisition doesn’t do much for me. He struggled big-time in a hitter’s park and within a lineup in which no opponent should have known he existed. But then, Neal Huntington didn’t exactly oversell it. Sounds like McGehee will function as insurance for Pedro Alvarez and/or Garrett Jones, both of whom very much need insurance.

What I find applause-worthy — and surprising, I’ll admit — is that the Pirates stepped up to tender all of their arbitration guys. I’ve charged this front office in the past with being pointlessly cheap in this process, so credit is due here. This was a chance to keep together a potentially very good bullpen using dollars that, obviously, couldn’t be allocated elsewhere.

I’ll take a pen with Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Jason Grilli — the latter two got tendered — as well as youngsters Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen, Tony Watson and Daniel Moskos. Nice mix of styles, speeds and pitching sides.

If Huntington could build a whole roster the way he builds bullpens …

>> The Pirates tendered everyone, but a lot of teams let a lot of players walk into free agency. Here’s a look at the National League non-tenders.

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