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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.


  1. SpamHanrahan says:

    Would love to see them sign Hong-Chih Kou. Not really thrilled about Moskos and Watson as the lefties in the pen.

  2. Leah Backus says:

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air. I agree completely. This is, or should be, the new normal. I expected setbacks like this (though I hoped there wouldn’t be any). Unfortunately, your colleagues in the sports media don’t feel the same way. This entire day has been a parade of inaccurate, sensationalized stories which appear to be short on facts but long on grabs for page views. You seem to be one of the few who understands that sensationalism does not equal good or responsible reporting. I’m not excepting your colleague, Josh Yohe, from this analysis, either. Unlike you, I did not find the doctors’ views fascinating. I found their inclusion irresponsible and I was surprised they agreed to be quoted regarding a case they know nothing about and a patient they have not treated. I realize it’s difficult to cover an important story when the facts (Sidney Crosby has had a setback. We don’t know when he will be back.) are so spare, but padding the story with speculative information is not responsible journalism. Thank you for listening to me rant.

    DK: Welcome to the blog, Leah. Glad you’re here.

    You and all newcomers should know that, after your first post, all your entries go up automatically. Only the very first gets a screening delay.

    Oh, and I think we’re giving out toasters this week or something.

  3. SD says:

    What can I say? I am so sad for Sid and I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now. If it were me, I’d be a mess. Having said that, I’m glad he took a step back. All these idiots on the internet who are questioning his manhood really need to listen to what Keith Primeau said to Josh Yohe:

    “The culture we’re brought up in with the hockey world just tells us to play through injuries. That may seem like courage, but it really isn’t. This is an injury that can be debilitating. The fact is, Sidney had the courage to speak up when something wasn’t right. Good for him. Maybe people don’t realize it, but that’s a true sign of courage. It really is.”

    Amen to that. Sid will be better off for having sat – whether it be on the ice or in life remains to be seen. The one with the true manhood and courage in this situation is Sid. I hope and pray to see him on the ice again with a big goofy smile on his face like he had against the Islanders. It would be such a shame if we lost this talent at such a young age.

  4. radio wave says:

    Pirates took a step forward yesterday.
    Starting pitching still an issue.

  5. Keith says:

    While I don’t think the Harrison hit was intentional it is still punishable. I just worry that Harrison’s comments may do more harm in the long run. Just admit the helmet to helmet was unintentional. Quit running your mouth about how the hit was clean because McCoy was a runner.

  6. JAL says:


    7—Pirates Prospects

    Analyzing the Non-Tender Deadline

    8 Rumbunter

    Pirates Acquire Casey McGehee

    9 McEffect

    This Is Getting McRidiculous

    10 Bucs Dugout

    Everyone Gets A Contract!

    11 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Deal Veras For McGehee; Grilli Signs

  7. JAL says:


    12 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers trade McGehee to Pirates for reliever Veras

    13 New Jersey Star Ledger

    Mets non-tender catcher Ronny Paulino, outfielder Mike Baxter

    14 Sports Illustrated

    Sources: Braun’s test showed extremely high testosterone levels

    15Wall Street Journal

    A Baseball Hero Returns


    16 Bleacher Report

    hMLB Trade Rumors: The Most Outlandish Rumor Surrounding Every Team

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Survive Thursday Night Test against Rival Browns:10 Observations from Heinz Field

    Steelers Week 14 Defensive Plays of the Game Highlight Suffocation of Browns

    NFL Week 15 Power Rankings: Playoff Picture in both Conferences Still Quite Murky

    -Steelers Depot

    The Terrible Podcast Week 14

  9. bdubb says:

    Harrison deserves a fine. A hefty fine but not a suspension. Suh just got a 2 game suspension for stomping on a player. This doesn’t seem to have that same level of reason for suspension

  10. Drew71 says:

    I believe Harrison SHOULD get a hefty fine, mostly for the repeat-business thing. However knowing that the NFL is probably hunting for HIM, if Harrison doesn’t get a suspension, he should send flowers or something to Suh. Because with a suspension, the comparison would be immediate and make the NFL look silly. ‘Suh, also a repeat offender, gets a 2-gamer for banging a head and stomping, purposely violent, outside-of-football acts, and Harrison gets suspended for THAT? Essentially a hit that was a few inches high, but otherwise was a good football play?’

    The comparison and timing may “save” Harrison.

  11. Catfish293 says:

    A lot of what the FO for the Pirates has done this year is to make a horrid bench a lot better… Some combo of Yamaico Navarro, McLouth, McGehee, Jose Morales, Josh Hairrison and Nick Evans is a lot better than starting the year with Diaz, Josh Rodriguez, Steve Pearce and John Bowker. I still feel as though they could add a 1B bat and a SP ad I am not sold on the bullpen yet.

  12. leefoo says:

    If Pedro would’ve had as bad a year as McGeehee, we’d have won at least 5 more games.



  13. Milo Hamilton says:

    A “cute” story about Derek Jeter & some lovely parting gifts.

  14. Stuart says:

    I like McGehee. Of course hoping for other teams to show some restraint thereby depressing the D. Lee market is probably a non-starter. Still, it’s nice to think about topping off the off season with one more starter and Derek and how that woul add some promise in a diminished Division.

  15. FlizR6 says:

    The thing that worries me the most about Sid is the look on his face in the article this morning by Josh Yohe. Look at that photo and you can see a look of worry in his eyes that is very disheartening. Granted, it is just a millisecond snapshot, but I immediately saw a look from a man that is wondering if this will be his last moments on the ice. Sure do hope I am looking WAY to deep into it, but look for yourself. I am very interested to hear others opinions.

  16. Drew71 says:

    Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow
    Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow
    Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow Tim Tebow

    Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

    This message brought to you by BOTH the blind supporters and irrational haters.

  17. CWalton_67 says:

    Why is Sidney Crosby not wearing the Messier Project M-11 helmet? It appears to have science behind it. Why is no one besides me asking why the best hockey player on the planet is not wearing what appears to be the best possible protection for his concussed brain? Help me out here, DK. Ask Sid. Ask the Pens. Ask Messier. Ask the doctors.

    One name keeps ringing through my own previously concussed brain–another ridiculously talented player whose career was diminished and cut short by concussions–Pat LaFontaine. Is this how Sid will end up? Is it the new normal for him to suffer a lifetime of symptoms? Or can an upgrade in helmet technology help him?

  18. Bill says:

    I would like a toaster!

  19. Drew71 says:

    Fine Bill. Take your toaster.

    I joined during Ferrari week. (Thanks, Dejan)

  20. Milo Hamilton says:

    The ladies can ask for The Derek Jeter Gift Basket.

  21. Milo Hamilton says:

    I got a rock.

  22. PetroSteel says:

    I got nothing. Not even a damn rock. I’m outta here…

  23. PetroSteel says:

    Ok, I’m back.

  24. jackdeloplane says:

    I got no toaster and no greating from DK when i first posted. Of course my first name isn’t Leah either…..

  25. Pattonbb says:

    Harrison suspended 1 game….what a crock…

    The NFL Commish is a joke. Harrison deserved a fine…a large one, but a suspension? I give up.

  26. Drew71 says:

    Dejan: I just reread the thread.

    It seems to me you owe a lot of people a lot of welcome gifts.

  27. jackdeloplane says:

    Past history dictates. Just imagine being London Fletcher the other day. He DARED to hit Brady and got flagged. Then Webb in Minn nearly got his head taken off and no call.

    Humans make mistakes. humans overreact. Its life. Harrison will take the week off, his back will feel better and he will be ready to go for the playoffs

  28. SeanAY says:

    You know, Harrison could have avoided all this if he had form-tackled McCoy, or wrapped him up, or whatever.

    Instead, he hit the guy in the facemask with the crown of his helmet. Didn’t even appear to try to NOT hit him there. And he relied on the interpretation of the rules, despite the fact he’s got a bulls eye on him from the league office.

    He could have prevented all this if he would have attempted to avoid hitting McCoy in the helmet. Instead, he elected to hit him high, and left himself at the mercy of the court.

  29. Arriba Wilver says:

    i don’t think Harrison should have been suspended. Big fine, yes. I don’t think there is another player in the NFL who would have been suspended if the hit had been on Ben. I know Harrison is not “any other player,” but he’s probably still paying for his comments early on about trying to “hurt” people. I hope he can work the system with the 3 business days to appeal to be able to play the 49ers, but my sense is the NFL appeal process is much quicker than baseball’s. But I don’t know if it works quick enough for him to miss the 49er’s game.

  30. Arriba Wilver says:

    BTW, as far as “form tackling” and he didn’t have to do it that way, McCoy was running for a first down. I don’t know if Harrison was trying to “hurt” McCoy, but he was trying to keep him from getting any more yardage than he had to. Does a “form tackle” do that? I don’t know.

  31. JohnS says:

    the problem with the helmet is that it does not prevent brian impact with the skull. There is no technology that can prevent the real cause of concussions. This past hit is a good example. There was no direct blow to the head. it was the sudden deceleration of the body.

  32. Dan says:

    McCoy ran straight at Harrison, with his helmet heading straight for Harrison’s helmet. McCoy, as the offensive player, wants to avoid being tackled. But McCoy didn’t duck, move the the left, move the right, nothing. He continued to run straight at Harrison with his helmet aiming straight for Harrison’t helmet.

    To be clear, he was running forward at Harrison – so NOT defenseless.

    So why is this only Harrison’s fault? Neither McCoy nor Harrison tried to move in any direction but forward. The difference is that Harrison’s job is to hit and tackle, while McCoy’s job is to not be tackled.

  33. Milo Hamilton says:

    What are the fines and/or suspensions for the Cleveland Browns in this matter ? Still waiting.

    The thing that kills me is that if McCoy was running with the football and received the exact same hit, it would have been legal. No penalty, no fine, no suspension. How does having the ball make his head feel better ?

  34. Jandy says:

    I want to file a grievance, I didn’t get a rock or a toaster either! Heck I didn’t even get a greeting!

    I have a question. If Harrison hit McCoy head to head, and I know he did, why doesn’t HARRISON have a concussion too?? Heck, as often as he supposedly hits head to head, he should have been knocked out!

  35. jackdeloplane says:

    There is no denying Harrison’s history with the league had an impact on this decision. I’m not saying he deserved any of the fines last year, but once they start down the road, the league didn’t have any recourse but to go to this step. Unlike the NHL, they don’t have a very solid procedure for reviewing hits and discussing the thought process. If they did, it would be easier to handle. However, just like baseball suspensions for beanballs, Harrison can take a week to rest the back and be that much more ready for the playoffs.

    But, you had to know it was coming…

  36. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Quarterbacks, as runners, can avoid a booming hit by intentionally sliding to the ground. Under this circumstance, excessive contact by the defender would be penalized by a personal foul plus whatever else is deemed appropriate.

    But if he’s on his feet, he’s gotta take the heat.

    I disagree with this suspension.

  37. Dejan Kovacevic says:


  38. jackdeloplane says:

    hey, a rock is better than what I got before…which was nothing!

  39. jackdeloplane says:

    Plus, I think you are mixing your Charlie Brown Holiday specials. Charlie got a rock at Halloween, not Christmas. I think it used to be a lump of coal. Whatever. I just know I got ripped off.

  40. Milo Hamilton says:

    Mitt Romney just bet me $10,000 that Harrison wins his appeal.

  41. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Gee.. and I didn’t get Dejan anything… I feel so embarrassed…

  42. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    We should all chip in and get Dejan a generous Starbucks gift card!

  43. RickJM says:

    Thought there would have been some mention in this blog about the report that came out yesterday that McQuery might not have been telling the truth to the grand jury about what he saw that night in 2002. That maybe JoePa and the others were in fact right when they said McQuery never said anything to them about seeing an actual rape take place.

    DK was pretty much sold on the fact that there was some grand conspiracy going on at Penn State and now it looks like it’s not so black and white.

    It angers me that as we find out the truth about who knew what, the the media won’t apoligize for their part in running JoePa out of Penn State before having all of the facts. As far as I can tell, other media outlets aren’t even picking up the article from the Patriot-News. My guess is because they know what they did was corrupt and wrong.

  44. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    LMAO @ a Facebook posting:

    “The Pittsburgh Pirates: Pride. Passion. Prospects.”

  45. Jandy says:

    DK, please, please, please autograph my rock, before you throw it at me ;)

    Did no one see my question above or does no one have a lucid opinion??? I’m serious here. If Harrison is going head to head and giving concussions, why isn’t HE getting concussed as well????

  46. Drew71 says:

    cool. i’d like a rock.

  47. Drew71 says:

    i hope you sign it.

    (then look for it on ebay)

  48. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Pirates ended 2011 with a payroll of $53.44MM
    Current projected 2012 payroll: $46,18MM

    Raise those ticket prices!!!!!!

  49. Arriba Wilver says:

    RickJM–that’s some bizarre logic dude. Criticizing the media for jumping to conclusions based on the grand jury transcript and then turning around and using the media reporting that Query may have made some inconsistent statements to “conclude” that the second report is accurate requiring an apology for the first report? Whew Oh, and I don’t recall DK being “sold on the fact” there was some grand conspiracy. And I saw the reports that you are talking about in various outlets, including on the TV news. Haven’t seen yet whether Jon Stewart picked it up, but I’m not sure that would mean some big media conspiracy to get Joe.

  50. Arriba Wilver says:

    BTW, DK you can hold onto your rock. I have a feeling mine might be in the form of coal in any event. :-)

  51. DMac says:

    Is it a special, limited edition rock? Black and Gold? A rock taken from the side of the river that runs under the Point?

    I want my rock too! :-)

    (Sorry, I have nothing meaningful to add to today’s conversation…except I feel bad for Sid and how frustrated he must be.)

  52. Jandy says:


  53. Jandy says:

    Milo, yes i do, but it’s not a concussion. That was different. If he’s hitting someone head to head,you’d think he’d hurt himself once in a while lol.

  54. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Joe Saunders what Non-tendered…any reason why the Pirates wouldn’t/shouldn’t go after him as another starter??

    Seems to have decent numbers……..I’d take a look.

  55. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I got hit with a rock in the head….strange.

  56. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Anybody know a good attorney against the rock throwing? Maybe Edgar Snyder’s still around eh??

  57. Milo Hamilton says:


    Joe Amendola’s got the guy that threw the rock.

  58. Milo Hamilton says:

    Josh Willingham is close to a decision between Minnesota & 2 “mystery teams”. You don’t think ? Nah.

  59. NMR says:


    “Mystery” would certainly describe the team you’re thinking of.

  60. Milo Hamilton says:


    Truer words were never spoken. But I can dream. At least until he signs with someone else.

  61. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Milo…….i sure don’t want those rocks..

    and there’s NO WAY, mlb trade rumors said he was down to 3 team and the Indians were the front runners. Other teams were Rockies and Twins, I think.

  62. egscoach says:

    MLBTR now reporting the Indians are out.

  63. DMac says:

    @Ryan, it wasn’t me, I swear! ;)

  64. JAL says:

    Was listening to the Washington game on drive to Morgantown Sunday, when flags kept flying Sam Huff kept complaining they were turning the game into touch football.The Fletcher call was a particularly bad one.

  65. Nate says:

    Poor Geno. He could have had about six goals.

    The Pens PP is bad, but if they can re-adjust to not having Crosby (and get Letang back in the lineup), I think they’ll be a top-4 team in the conference

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