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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Moneyball would have saved Ike

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Wednesday column is about the Steelers’ need for more takeaways. Those might have looked optional to this point in the season, but history shows that’s about to end.

>> No Ike Taylor in the Pro Bowl?

What the NFL needs is for a few more of those baseball stats-geek types to cross over and inundate the sport with information. If that had already been the case, no one would be measuring defensive backs by criteria as arbitrary and small-sampled as interceptions when they should be looking at how often that player is targeted and how often he prevents a completion.

Nothing matters more at the position, as any coach would concur.

According to Football Outsiders, Taylor has been targeted 72 teams and has prevented 70 percent of passes from being complete. That’s third-best in the NFL.

It’s an absurd oversight, really is.

>> Kudos to the five who made it, anyway.

>> In a world without professional journalists answering to professional editors and operating without professional travel budgets, this lone Associated Press article on the team’s official site is what fans of the Hurricanes would read this morning about their team’s game last night in Pittsburgh.

Not one reporter from Raleigh made the trip, according to local AP man Chris Adamski. The only two reporters in the visitors’ locker room were from Pittsburgh.

That’s not a knock on the AP article at all. It’s pointing out that the local element is completely lost.

If a player in the locker room wants to mouth off about the coach to a familiar reporter, he can’t do it. News is lost. If a team meeting is held, you might not read about it. And if anything remotely negative occurred, do you think they’d let the AP report stand on the team’s official site without being deleted?

I could go on, but I’d imagine you get the point.

>> It’s very early, and Jamie Dixon has a history of making his teams better in-season. But man, watching that loss at Notre Dame last night couldn’t have been a confidence builder for anyone involved.

What exactly is this Pitt team’s strength?

If it’s Ashton Gibb’s shooting, then I’d strongly suggesting lifting all these new layers off his game and letting him simply shoot again.


  1. Leah Backus says:

    You won’t hear any argument from me about the need for professional reporters. The problem is creating a revenue model that will support that need into the future. Different papers have tried different things with varying degrees of success. For example, I virtually quit reading the New York Times earlier this year when they went to a paywall (after a certain number of free articles). I had been a daily reader for years and years before that. It’s a rough proposition when people no longer want to pay for a daily subscription to a print publication and expect their access to the web-based component to be free. I’ve been observing the different models chosen by the two competing papers in Pittsburgh for the last year or so and it’s been fascinating.

  2. JAL says:

    JAL’s Money Makes the World Go Round 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 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker


    8—Pirates Prospects

    Winter Leagues 12/27 — Valdez Pitches Well But Gets The Loss

    The Potential Value of a Local TV Contract

    2012 Prospect Guide Live Chat

    9 Rumbunter

    Will Carlos Beltran Be the New Pittsburgh Pirates Killer?

  4. JAL says:

    14 Boston Herald

    Red Sox still avoiding major arms race

    15 USA Today

    2011: Sports year’s dark side overshadowed all else

    16 SF Chronicle

    Giants may block A’s move to San Jose


    17 Bleacher Report

    Ross Ohlendorf, Did Arbitration Rules or Injuries Lead to His Release?

    Carlos Beltran and the 10 Best Moves by NL Central Teams This Offseason

  5. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    AFC Playoff Scenarios heading into 17th and Final Week of 2011 NFL Season

    Legursky, Moore Ruled Out For Week 17, Roethlisberger, Pouncey, Woodley May Play

    WR Mike Wallace One of a Few Steelers Pro Bowl Candidates

    -Steelers Depot

    Report: Steelers Want Roethlisberger to Play 25 to 30 Snaps Against Browns

    -Steelers Gab

    Tomlin Says Roethlsiberger and Pouncey Have “A Shot” to Play Sunday“a-shot”-to-play-sunday/

  6. December 28

    52 days until Pirate Spring Training
    74 days until clock is correct on Dejan’s Blog
    53 days consecutive the time has been incorrect

  7. My friend Oshkosh B’gosh made an interesting point last night.

    MLB Rumors listed a while back that Alphonso Soriano had $54 million for 3 years left on his contract, and that the Cubs were willing to eat $40 million of that to move him.
    I’m guessing the Cubs would eat close to 75 % of Zambrano’s contract ($19 million, if I remember correctly) to make him go away. I like Oshkosh John’s suggestion of taking a flyer on Zambrano——for a $4-5-6 million outlay.

    We need another starter. We could take Zambrano to the Wizard of Oz and get a brain installed———Bucs have one not being used presently at 3rd base. The risk/reward would be worth it. If Zambrano could ever learn to focus his vast talents on the baseball field . . . .

    Theo’s not afraid of the Pirates; no one’s afraid of the Pirates. He would have no qualms about trading within the division. He would be pleased to get rid of a distraction while saving some $, which would allow him more $ toward signing Mr. Pleasantly Plump from Milwaukee. I still think Theo is positioning to have Boras lower the price and then be the ‘mystery team’ to swoop in and sign Mr. Anti-GQ.

    At worst we have a pot-stirrer for 4 months who bonds the rest of the team against him before Neal trades him at the deadline in July. And 4 outta 5 games we have a great pinch hitter off the bench for Clint.

    Instead of sitting behind home plate, I might start getting tickets on the 1st base line, to see into the Pirate dugout between innings if Zambrano comes. Protect the Gatorade coolers!!!!

  8. bdubb says:

    Pitt’s strength was supposed to be rebounding but they have been dominated on the glass the last 2 games. You are correct in saying this team has no identity. It wants to be a 3pt shooting team but I am not sure how good they are collectively. And Gibbs can’t get free against defenders who aren’t even that quick. Ashton having only 2 attempts from behind the arc is telling. Oh, and where is the trade mark Pitt defense? The last 2 years I haven’t seen any player pressure the ball. I am fine with that if it is for offensive purposes but we are barely scoring 50 points a game.

    As far as Ike Taylor goes the Steelers need to go on a “Rex Ryan Rant” and talk about how he never gets thrown too. It worked out there for Revis. I know Revis is special but is he really the only corner who doesn’t get thrown at?

    Living here in Charlotte there are more than a few games where the local paper doesn’t make it out on road trips for the NBA Bobcats (of course we get a lot more detail on the game from the AP). Thing is, down here those sports are secondary. The Bobcats game articles are no more than 500 words. It is sad really. I bet the ‘Canes get the same amount of no coverage in Raleigh. We don’t really learn a lot about the team even if a beat writer travels with the team. The coverage b/t a NC newspaper and a Pittsburgh newspaper isn’t night and day. It is like 2 different worlds.

  9. Bizrow says:

    Pitt is beginning to worry me, I guess I’m spoiled after the run they have had. Dixon will get them going, but they are not going far this year.

  10. @suckmeter says:

    >> It sucks Ike Taylor should have made the Pro Bowl. I think he should be in there much more then Pouncey deserves his invitation. Pouncey is good, but not great, and I think he is overrated. He is hurt a lot and I think he made a name for himself last year because he was able to start as a rookie. He benefits from a weak crop of centers in the AFC. Think he can be great, but I don’t think he’s there yet.

    >> Pitt’s #1 problem last night: it sucks that Zanna was their leading scorer. That should NEVER happen. Patterson looks like a guy that does a lot of things good, but does nothing great. JJ Moore looks like somebody that could take over a game but has not given a chance. AND PLEASE, do not talk about him being weak on defense because EVERYBODY is weak on defense, especially Ashton Gibbs.

    >> It sucks that Pitt might lead the Big East in one category this season: ugliest tattoos.

  11. ZEB says:

    Pittsburgh transplant, now in NC. It’s ACC basketball season down here and that gets ALL the attention in print and in sports talk radio. People are interested in winning pro hockey down here, but not much more. It was amazing what lack of buzz the All-Star game generated here last year. Oh, and once on local sports talk, Pittsburgh was referred to as a “big market” team.

    It’s been interesting to hear ACC football coaches talk about Pitt’s inclusion into the ACC and it’s clear to me it happened for one reason. Not Pittsburgh’s TV market, or the prestige of the University, but because it opens up Western Pennsylvania to recruiting for the ACC schools. Tom O’Brien was practically giddy talking about it on one interview I heard.

    We’ve been completely spoiled by Pitt basketball. Pitt could go 9-9 in the BE, win a game in the BE tourney, be 21-12 and be an 8/9 seed in the tournament. That’s called “every other year” for most major programs.

    DK: Welcome, ZEB, and apologies for the slow publishing. Only happens with your first post.

  12. Naje says:


    Try to diminish this:

    –10 Steelers wins with Roethlisberger at qb: 8 turnovers committed by the QB.

    –4 Steelers losses: 11 turnovers by the QB.

    While I don’t disagree with your angle about the defense not making plays and creating turnovers, maybe those stats have something to do with the defense fighting several extra uphill battles in games v. teams with double-digit wins.

  13. CWalton_67 says:

    I didn’t pay much attention to the Tomlin debate yesterday, primarily because I am not a fan of his, but I got that it related to professional media members asking legitimate questions. And today’s comments about the lack of media representation from Carolina are a legitimate point, but I’m missing why you feel the need to defend your profession? I am guessing that I missed something and don’t have all the background information on what is raising this on the blog? Is it a result of the back and forth between media and bloggers on Twitter?

    I have always admired your work, precisely because of your professionalism, Dejan. That you are also a highly skilled user of the English language is a bonus. That said, I have found a fair number of credentialed media members who fail to meet the same personal standards of professionalism. My personal experience with the media is admittedly not with sports reporters, but I’ve experienced situations personally in which facts were distorted or outright wrongly reported to fit a personal or political bias.

    How do you categorize yourself as compared to fellow credentialed media members? Above, you used the word reporter, not in reference to yourself, but i think you would categorize yourself as a reporter? Correct? So how would you categorize Mark Madden? I use him as an example because I think he is one of those who do not meet your personal standards of professionalism. Not asking you to take shots at anyone here either–I am honestly interested in knowing more specifics of your thoughts on the subject, as well as further discussion among those who read the blog.

    Is any of it related to Leah’s comments regarding future revenue models as media continues to evolve in the electronic age? An interesting subject–maybe too big for this forum, but I’d be fascinated to hear more on it.

    DK: You’re taking it a little far, Chris. My sole point is about the value of professional journalism, and I write that far more in reference to real news than sports.

  14. dickyp23 says:

    I went to 4 or 5 home games and every time I tried to watch Shoeless Ike out there and he was fantastic. That Pats game should put him alone. Thanks for that stat DK…Its funny because a few of the midseason awards writers (clayton and one other I can’t remember) had Shoeless on their All Pro team. What a shame….Also seeing Pouncey so outgoing on twitter for making it is a sham. Dude can’t stay healthy.

    DK: I am REALLY surprised Pouncey made it, given all the time missed.

  15. Pattonbb says:

    I’m sure I’ll be ripped for saying this, but even as an Ike Taylor fan, I wouldn’t pick him above Revis, Bailey, or Joseph. Well…maybe Bailey, but not above Revis or Jonathan Joseph. If they selected 4 or 5 cornerbacks, he’s a shoe-in. But he’s not top 3. That’s just my opinion…for what it’s worth.

  16. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Just have to say: In reading all these comments, it’s like it’s a continuation of what’s up top, just a streaming conversation. Great stuff. Not pandering here, either. Compare the quality of comments here versus that of other places.

    Thanks very much.

    Oh, and the checks are in the mail.

  17. TS says:


    I’m a Pittsburgh sports fan living in Chicago for the past 11 years. I’ll put this bluntly: you do NOT want Carlos Zambrano coming anywhere near the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is a selfish crybaby and a major head case who’s best years are behind him. You may as well invite Barry Bonds to play in a Bucco uni again. Trust me, Zambrano is not the answer for another SP. Not even close.

  18. TS says:


    P.S. After what he pulled this past season, Zambrano, to me, is a disgrace to the game of baseball.

  19. Jandy says:

    DK~ what, no toasters????

  20. Leah Backus says:

    Yeah, I want a toaster. The kind I can make bagels in. ;-)

    DK: Toasters?

  21. Jandy says:

    Uh huh ~ toasters!

  22. Naje says:


    Wrote this a long time ago…when you first started the morning blog at the old place… you’re putting out one of, if not the best sports talk show every day… except you’re not on radio, you’re on a web blog. Not many radio folks can do what you do because they’re not skilled writers. And not many writers can do this because they’re not skilled at creating debate; rather, they focus on inciting a reaction or getting eyes on a page.

    Takes a deft touch to do what you’re doing… keep it rollin’ in 2012.

    DK: I appreciate that, but I’m not even remotely talking about my contributions. I just like the way this thing is heading, with quality, thoughtful posts from regulars and newcomers alike, sometimes on a variety of topics.

    I said at the outset this was your place, and I meant it.

  23. JAL says:

    Surprised about Pouncey too, missed a lot of time and nearly as good a season as he had last year. Though they play different positions, Taylor more deserving of a spot on the team. Of course the ideal is th team makes the Super Bowl and none of them can play in the pro-bowl.

  24. Bizrow says:

    Sounds like Ben passed the physical at practice today and will be doing some playing on Sunday

  25. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    The latest Trib updates on …

    Ben Roethlisberger:

    Sidney Crosby:

  26. JAL says:


    In the morning links Steelers depot says they want Ben to play 25 to 30 snaps

  27. Thanks, TS, on Zambrano. I’ll take your first hand word on it.

    But . . . are you sure?
    Changes of scenery worked so well for Milton Bradley———for Derek Bell———for Manny Ramairez———forRick Ankiel———for Willy Mo Pena

    OK: never mind!!

    {By the way, I’d LOVE to see Barry Bonds suit up again for the Pirates! Even off the juice the dude can HIT!}

  28. scapper says:

    Here, here on the quality of the commenters on this site. (Present King of Sarcasm excluded, of course.) You all seem to have deftly walk that line between keeping sports in perspective and maintaining that irrational, inexplicable passion and caring for the home teams. Having this depth of emotional attachment to these teams and players makes no sense, but it’s too fun NOT to! Thanks to all posters and especially DK for providing an entertaining and informative forum.

  29. JAL says:

    Final–WVU 83 Villanova 69

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