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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: How Psycho Sunday affects Ben

SAN FRANCISCO — Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column offers five solutions to reverse the concussion trend. But honestly, I’m not even sure all five of these will do it. Scary stuff.

>> There’s nothing quite like the NFL when it comes to parity on a grand stage. Packers lose to Chiefs, Colts finally win, and Ravens get crushed last night in San Diego.

Add up Psycho Sunday, and suddenly the Steelers are in complete control of their AFC destiny.


Well, what to do now?

The most pressing aftermath had been whether or not Mike Tomlin will use Ben Roethlisberger tonight against the 49ers, though one would have to think that, health at least somewhat cooperating, he will. I’d been under the assumption that Ben was going to play, anyway, and that only grew upon hearing that he apparently was walking a lot better in his travels with the team.

It’s the right move to use him, no doubt. Teams that get the bye are proven to have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl. Anyone who needs a break can take one in a couple weeks.

>> Oh, and let me be among the first to question everything about the Packers after their offense looked sloppy in Kansas City. That should be the end of a team’s season, right?

>> Why can’t Joe Flacco stink like that on the Sunday after I write a column ripping him?

>> I absolutely love this city. Always have, always will.

Above is a cable car I snapped for you on Powell Street, which is all decked out for the holidays. If you’ve never been here, you’re making a mistake.

>> It’s not easy to quantify what Chris Kunitz means to the Penguins, but if you want a good glimpse, rewind the film of Evgeni Malkin’s first goal the other night and watch every little thing he did in the 30 seconds or so leading up to it. What a complete hockey player.

>> Predictions of doom for PirateFest for moving to December clearly were unfounded, with the second-largest gathering in the event’s history over the three days. But then, the fan base has never been the problem. One of these days, all that enthusiasm will be rewarded, I guess.

>> My weekly segment on the online TribLIVE Radio will come today at 12:30 p.m.


  1. Eric Bowser says:

    Players and owners are not in favor of expanding the NHL rink size, maybe the league should look into full time 4on4 play and eliminate one of the on-ice referees. Get rid of the hard caps on the shoulder and elbow pads. Mandatory hockey helmets that Messier is trying to get passed and here’s a novel idea, put your STRAP on tightly. Frankly, the speed of the game is so great and so many hits are on or over the edge that maybe they should go to full cages like NCAA. Ban fighting, too many concussions and injuries are the result of two players without much skill hitting each other in the head because of a good clean check, a need to change momentum, or just plain stupidity. I’d rather try all of these things and if still problems, then go to 4on4 or finally expanding the width of rink by another 3-5 feet.

    Steelers should be able to beat the 49ers without Ben Roethlisberger, if he plays, it messes with the remainder of the season if he makes the injury worse.

    That’s the Joe Flacco, we love and know. Great job against the Chargers.

    Pirates want to be relevant but their desperation to be anything more than the butt-end of the jokes is why the team continues to wallow in the muck and mire of absurdity. This team is destined to be a loser for a 20th season and I don’t see much help on the way for another two or three years. It is beyond amazing that the Pirates see such quality fan turnouts for PirateFest or how the fans reacted to the team’s first half play.

  2. JAL says:

    JAL’s God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

    4 Pirate Offseason Stats

    5 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    6 Pirates Prospects Offseason Tracker

  3. JAL says:


    7—Pirates Prospects

    Winter Leagues 12/18 — Six Scoreless For Claggett

    The Pirates First No-Hitter

    8 Rumbunter

    Two Pirates Longshots in ABL All-Star Game

    9 McEffect

    The Reds Weren’t Asleep After All

  4. JAL says:


    10 Kansas City Star

    Baseball Calendar and Free Agents

    11 Trenton Times

    Texas Rangers, Prince Fielder would be a perfect match

    12 Deseret News

    The integrity of sports


    13 PBC Site

    PirateFest attendance hits near-record total

    14 SB Nation

    Clint Barmes Preparing To Be Pirates’ New Shortstop

  5. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    BTSC Steelers Six Pack: Out-of-Conference Monday Night Showdown Edition

    -Steelers Depot

    Steelers Control Own Destiny

    -Steelers Gab

    Christmas Comes Early For Steelers in Week 15

  6. Jandy says:

    I really can’t see the rinks getting larger…every rink would have to be overhauled. That’s taking seats away and that is a money losing proposition. I’m not saying I agree with it one way or the other, just stating facts.
    How about the league starts implementing some of your other ideas….the Messier helmets and the black and white rules. That would be a great start. Anything is better than doing nothing.

    That said, Malkin is a beast!

  7. Drew71 says:

    “Why can’t Joe Flacco stink like that on the Sunday after I write a column ripping him?”

    So it’s YOUR fault.

  8. Milo Hamilton says:

    My favorite excuse for not expanding the ice surface is that you’ll be eliminating the 5 most expensive rows of seats (or however many it takes). The 1st row is still going to be the 1st row and you can adjust your price structure accordingly.

  9. stan capper says:

    So true about Kunitz! He’s as fun to watch in his own way as the mega-stars. Check out the full rewind on Talbot’s second goal in Game 7. Unbelievable two-part play to crush a wing and then tap the puck out to Max. Little wonder his name is on the Cup twice.

  10. MarkV says:

    If anyone doubts that the refs/NFL calls it a little closer on the Steelers defense then other teams, consider the Cincy/Rams game yesterday. There were at least two helmet to helmet hits on the Ram quarterback and no penalties were called. If the NFL doesn’t take action and fine the Bengal players for those hits, its just one more sign that all is not equal in the NFL.

  11. CWalton_67 says:

    Exceptionally well done column today, Dejan. I sincerely hope that the front offices of the NHL and NFL, as well as the players associations see it and read it. You are correct, nothing is going to completely end concussions as an injury in sports where very large men collide on a regular basis. However, every possible step should be taken to limit brain injuries. If more credible voices like yours press this issue, we may see some positive change.

    I was also told that ice size will not expand for the very reasons Jandy listed above, which is a sad commentary on the state of our society today–Money takes precedence over the safety of human beings.

    I think that Eric also made a very good point about chinstraps above. Those currently in use provide little to no help in keeping the helmet in place. They could easily be improved. That said, I am not a fan of cages. I think it would remove all fear from the game. I think it was a Boston player who recently threw a high velocity check on Evgeni Malkin. There is no way he would have thrown his body around so recklessly had his face not been protected.

    DK: Thanks, Chris. Agreed with you on Eric’s point. Aleksey Morozov missed a quarter of a season once when the tip of a stick just grazed his chin.

  12. Thundercrack says:

    “One of these days, all that enthusiasm will be rewarded, I guess.”

    I see you packed your wet blanket and brought it with you to SF.

    DK: Always manage to get that thing through security somehow.

  13. Drew71 says:

    No. He just got fogged in.

    (And why the heck am I agreeing with you when I am less than enthusiastic after these, as you put it, Blah+ acquisitions? And as SOMEBODY wrote, we’ll see you here next year, really excited.)

  14. Drew71 says:

    Did I just argue with myself?

    To use another Thunder crack…


  15. Milo Hamilton says:

    While at Piratefest yesterday, I was reminded how long it has been since the Pirates have been relevant. I saw Andy Van Slyke & Mike LaValliere. They’re both in their 50’s. No wet blanket is needed, the reality is enough.

  16. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I agree DK, SF is my 2nd favorite city and I’ll reiterate your statement, if you haven’t been, you’re missing out!!

    I’d actually say the same about Pittsburgh. SF reminds me of home, but much, much bigger.

  17. JohnS says:

    I just don’t see equipment as a remedy for concussions. All of the neuropsychologists I have spoken to on the topic have said diagnosis and treatment are the real keys to concussion damage. They have downplayed the role of the helmet as many concussions do not occur due to direct impact but more from the whiplash type impacts between the brain and the skull.

    Would love to see a piece about how effective doctors think equipment can be.

  18. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Nice to see Hanrahan doesn’t want to leave the Burgh.

    As far as the fans go, the fsentiment is quite mutual.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    If you play for the Pirates, you get a beautiful city and ball park, the world’s greatest fans, and you get to see the Pens and Steelers during your off-season. How can ya possibly beat that?

  19. DMac says:

    I grew up in and around the Bay Area and love it…and when I first visited Pittsburgh it reminded me very much of a smaller version. I think maybe that’s why I fell in love with Pittsburgh so easily…that and I met the best people there. :)

  20. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Bucs announce season ticket sales are up 40 percent YEAR-TO-DATE over last year. Of course, last year there was no PirateFest in December.

    So is this another PR smokescreen? Are these simply ticket sales that the Bucs would have reaped in January had they not moved PirateFest to December?

  21. Milo Hamilton says:


    Great call. Just dug out my invoice from last year. Money wasn’t due until January 15th.

  22. Jandy says:

    @ Drew~ full of yourself, are ya? ;)

  23. Milo Hamilton says:

    Dodgers sign John Grabow to a minor league deal.

  24. Naje says:

    Dave and Milo….
    Not a smokescreen, just a fact… I’m sure sales will be adjusted accordingly when the team doesn’t receive the bump in sales that they have in the past when the fest was held in late January.

    A smokescreen….? Really…?

  25. Milo Hamilton says:


    OK. How’s disingenuous then ?

  26. Naje says:

    How is it disingenuous? They’re just stating a fact… there’s no smoke, other than the date has been moved. Their sales are up with respect to their offseason caravan dates and the Piratefest dates… those are facts. Nothing disingenuous about that. No one’s lying or making up stories.

  27. NMR says:

    I think it’s pretty clear the attendance announcement was done in a “look how many more tickets we’re selling!!” manner, not just as “facts”.

    How much do you want to bet they’ll make another announcement if tickets sales end up down?

  28. Milo Hamilton says:


    How is it disingenuous ? This time last year the money wasn’t due yet. That too is a fact.

    And I also think they had the Pitt ticket office tabulate the Piratefest attendance.

  29. Bizrow says:

    Dejan just tweeted that Ben is still “iffy” for tonight, a true game time decision.

  30. December 19

    61 days until Pirate Spring Training
    83 days until clock is correct on Dejan’s Blog

  31. Jandy says:

    G2M2S ~ I guess the blog will be held hostage to DST for another 83 days LOL!

  32. It’s interesting how our emotions play such a part in our impressions about players.

    I have never “connected” with Pedro Alvarez. He comes across unemotional, uninspired, lacking desire or care, certainly dense, taking the same 1st pitch fastball over and over again. He is the kind of “rich” ballplayer I would root against if he were not a Pirate. He appears more “self-oriented” than “team oriented.” I stood 2 feet from him watching him sign autographs at Spring Training, and he never looked anyone in the eye or made any kind of comment to anyone in the line (other than, “One only!” to those who came with multiple things to sign.) He was like Todd Graham taking blame for a loss: only saying what he had to but with no conviction behind what he was doing or saying.

    Neil Walker, on the other hand, seems the opposite: aggressive, excited putting in extra work in the infield, willing to give himself up to advance a runner, connecting with the fans, carrying on conversations with them along the fence and always willing to stay and sign stuff and interact. He represents the kind of player I want on the Buccos, both on and off the field.

    I heard Walker interviewed from Pirate Fest on Saturday, where he said Pedro really cares about the Pirates winning and losing, and that Pedro was his best friend on the team.

    All of a sudden I looked at Pedro differently. Neil Walker trusts that Pedro cares, and wants to be a Pirate. All of a sudden, at least for me, Pedro’s statute of limitations was extended.

  33. JAL says:

    Tonight’s game may be decided by which defense scores.

  34. JaxBuc says:


    Well put, about Pedro. I’ve had the same feelings of apathy (or would that be lack of feelings?) toward Pedro. It’s not necessarily an aloofness, or entitlement, or lack of emotion on his part, but I have also failed to “connect” with him. I keep hoping he’s going to break out one day and be part of a special group of players.

    I’ll try to take Neil’s word for it also, and try to give the young man the benefit of the doubt, but it would be easier for us fams if we could could see some eagerness, passion, or, better yet, breakout performance to go with “really caring.”

  35. Buc from Jackson,

    After reading your response (esp, “lack of feelings”) and giving this some thought, I have finally come up with the answer of why Pedro wears his hat in that ridiculous way.

    Pedro is really the offspring of Mr. Spock of Star Trek, that most famous “lack of feelings” persona. Pedro wears his hat as he does to cover the Vulcan points on the top of his ears.

    1/ lack of feelings; 2/ hat covering the points of his ears. It now makes sense: no one would wear their hat in such a stupid fashion otherwise. I feel so foolish for not acertaining this earlier!

    Live long and prosper, Pedro!

  36. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    NMR: Thanks for clarifying my point.

  37. Bizrow says:

    IMHO Neil Walker understands what being a team mate and a family is all about.

    Unfortunately the BMTIB does not

    From Dejan’s tweets, its very iffy if Big Ben plays, but that is just based on tweets

    Latest tweet, Big Ben is in significant discomfort

    Lets twirl the Terrible Towel, folks, it might be Homesteads Charlie Batch

    Great teams rise to the occasion

  38. Bizrow says:

    Now a tweet, Ben is walking much more briskly

    Great teams rise to the occasion

  39. Bizrow says:

    A quote from one of my favorite movies

    This is our finest hour

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