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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Give Martin his due


Brief and to the Point …

>> My Wednesday column retells Pittsburgh’s own version of Linsanity, not so long ago. And trust me when I tell you this couldn’t have happened to a better human being.

>> Another leaf of the Civic Arena came crashing down. And it hit so hard that the reader who took this pic felt it on the 57th floor of the U.S. Steel Tower.

That’s 2 3/4 down, and about five more to go. Looks like really dangerous work, doesn’t it?

>> The Penguins’ 2-0 shutout of the Rangers had many strong performances, not least of which was a livelier-than-usual feel in the building. Not quite a playoff atmosphere, but one of the better ones.

Even amid all that, I’ll single out Paul Martin here for playing a fine defensive game in the immediate aftermath of another minus-4 mess Sunday in Buffalo. He wasn’t great — I’ve certainly pointed that out enough this season — but even being good is a big uptick, and he was very good.

I asked Martin afterward what will be key to staying on top of his game: “For me, I’m at my best when I’m just playing, skating, not getting too worried what people are saying. Maybe I’ve been thinking too much. If I had the answer, it would be a lot easier. I’m just trying to find it.”

>> Marc-Andre Fleury wants a goal badly. Did you see, when the Rangers dumped it in with a minute to go, but it sailed over his head?

“Oh, I know,” he said in a playfully pained tone. “Someday.”

>> If Todd Haley had a sense of humor, he’d go to Ben Roethlisberger’s house and do this …


Wait, what? They’ve talked already?

Never mind.

>> This is a reminder: Our Pirates page is loaded with spring training stuff. Stories, photo galleries, videos, the blog, other links, all on one page.

>> Your turn: What would you like to see a column about, something off the beaten path?


  1. Jandy says:

    DK, good question (on the column), let me get back to you!

    A nice 60 minute effort by the Pens last night netted them a shut out for Fleury over the Rangers, one of the hottest teams at the moment. Loved it!

  2. Jandy says:

    Loved your Moose story too! =)

    DK: Thanks.

  3. JAL says:

    JAL’s One Mint Julep Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

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

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

  4. JAL says:


    Did Neal Huntington succeed this winter?

    8 McEffect

    Pirates Starting Pitcher F/X (Updated)


    9 New York Post

    Burnett blames Yankees for tinkering with him

  5. JAL says:

    10 Tucson Citizen

    Closers find it tougher to keep their jobs

    11 MLB

    Maholm going above and beyond to prepare

    12 New York Times

    Quitters Never Win. Well, Almost Never.

    13 Columbus Dispatch

    Baseball notebook: Reds’ Chapman gets shot to start

    14 Pittsburgh Tribune Review

    Pirates starting pitcher McDonald looks to pick up momentum in 2012

  6. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    21 Panther’s Prey

    Why Pitt basketball will be better next season

    22 Cardiac Hill

    The Ashton Gibbs Situation and Pitt Basketball Moving Forward

  7. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    23 Metro News

    Getting Ready For A Goode Showing

    24WV Illustrated

    WVU Preparing for Rematch with Notre Dame


    24 Pensburgh

    Bouncing back, Fleury and Pens take down Rangers 2-0

  8. JAL says:

    Title song One Mint Julep, Louis Prima, 1963. Prima was a multi-talented bandleader from the 1930s into the 1970s. Well known for serious works as well as novelty works. Prima wrote Sing Sing Sing and his arrangements have been recorded by many, including David Lee Roth, Smash Mouth, Los Lobos, Phish, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Some may know his as the voice of King Louie in the Jungle Book.

  9. @suckmeter says:

    You know my answer: “Things that Suck in Sports”
    – DH
    – Knee down in college football
    – Hockey fights
    – Cleveland
    (I could go on forever)

  10. NMR says:

    I spent about 30 seconds thinking of a topic before realizing I would suck at being a columnist.

    My head hurts.

    DK: Mine does, too, sometimes.

  11. Jandy says:

    DK, how about a column on outstanding women in Pittsburgh sports?

  12. SeanE says:

    DK-I would love to see a piece on Clint Hurdle. Not so much on the baseball X and O’s but how he has become a Pittsburgher. He has moved to Pittsburgh and has made a commitement to the city like no other manager since Jim Leyland. The man’s enthusiasm really grabs ones attention and seems genuine. I would like to see the piece focus not so much on the manager as the man.

  13. Lee says:

    About that picture. Since I no longer live in Pgh, I have a question.

    I see no parking by the new arena. Do they park in the Igloo’s parking lots and walk across the street? Isn’t that dangerous.

    Stupid question, I know, but….


    DK: They park there, yes. So do I. It’s safe.

  14. Thundercrack says:

    Here is my story idea: I would like to see you do a story on how sports reporting and sports talk radio has changed in this city.

    After watching the Sunday Sports Showdown (again), it was great to see the contrast on that panel. (age, viewpoints, medium that they work in, crankiness,….)

  15. kurtzy8 says:

    How about a column on the great Mike Lange? He’s only missed 2 games in his entire career covering the Penguins. Why has he stayed on (as play-by-play radio announcer), even after he was (unfortunately) replaced as the Penguins TV announcer… ?

  16. @suckmeter says:

    A column that wouldn’t suck is how Twitter has changed how people watch sports. Now when you watch a game you are watching it with fans, sports writers and other athletes. I can’t watch anything now without my iPhone/iPad.

    DK: You remain in the great minority, though. Twitter still has only 13 percent usage in the U.S. The mathematical fact is that it really hasn’t changed all that much. At least not yet.

  17. PatW says:

    I’d love to see a column on youth hockey in the area. There are some interesting rinks and fantastically dedicated people in the sport.

  18. tk says:

    1 – you can now go ahead and take a deep breath and relax, Haley and Ben have talked.
    2 – On Paul Martin, I was at the game and tried to watch him every time he was on the ice and I agree with you, he did have a decent game last night. Always seemed to be in position defensively and made a few nice plays in the offensive zone. Although to me he looks like he has cement blocks for skates. He looked slow to some loose pucks and I remember 1 Ranger spinning away from him behind the Pens net early in the game. Has he always been on the slower side?

    DK: My life would have progressed just fine had they talked or not talked.

  19. SeanAY says:

    DK, loved the piece on Hedberg. I was 12 years old for that Cup run, and was making that transition to a full-fledged “I am not missing another game on TV” devotee of the Pens. There was some magic energy crackling through the air that year:

    – Mario Lemieux’s triumphant return;
    – The best “second line” in the NHL (if only because any line with Jagr & Lemieux gets called the first line, even if they don’t score the most points);
    – The impending departure of Jagr…even in junior high, we figured the guy wasn’t coming back;
    – And of course, the Moose on the loose.

    Sure seemed like a team of destiny at the time, didn’t it? The Straka goal against Washington in overtime, Lemieux tapping in that goal against Hasek when the puck hung miles above the ice, Kasparaitis sliding on his belly like a little kid after beating the Dominator in Game 7…

    Again, “magic” is the only word that can describe it.

  20. Mark says:

    Dejan: Infrequent commenter here but longtime fan of your work. Your story on Hedberg compelled me to look up the actual original transaction — although that trade itself was rather nondescript (including Penguin greats Bobby Dollas and Jeff Norton), I also noticed that when we shipped him to Vancouver a couple years later, it was for a draft pick we eventually used on Alex Goligoski, who as we all know eventually landed us the windfall of Neal and Niskanen — the Moose’s blood still runs strong in the Pens’ veins!

    DK: Wow, that’s outstanding, Mark. Reminds me of the Ricardo Rincon lineage for the Pirates. Maybe even more impressive considering the context of so many terrible trades around it.

  21. Jandy says:

    SeanAY ~ Ahhhhhh! you paint the memories so vividly!

  22. Skip says:

    DK – Great piece on The Moose!

    How cool would it be if he was the Pens’ back-up goalie? (no offense to Brent Johnson)

    2 suggestions for a column:

    1. Chuck Noll

    2. Spend a week with one of the Pirates’ Class A affiliates (maybe West Virginia or Bradenton) and write a 2 or 3 part series on your experience.

  23. MrB says:

    DK – enjoyed the Hedberg column…good times.

    After your stellar interview with the Civic Arena, I can’t help but want you to walk up to PNC Park and find out what THAT structure has to say about its occupants.

  24. 21sthebest says:

    In the name of insanity, I wonder if anyone recalls when John Wehner first got his shot in the majors in 1991 with the Pirates. He came up and immediately hit .432 in 44 at bats in July. And then he turned into John Wehner but it was fun while it lasted.

  25. 21sthebest says:

    As far as an idea for a story goes, I’ve always been interested in how professional athletes use their time in the offseason. Baseball players more specifically. I’d like to know how soon they resume working out after the season, how often they lift, how much and how often they run, what their personal interests are, do they go on vacation, etc. Maybe a profile of a couple of athletes. I realize that’s more of a personal interest of mine and probably doesn’t apply to a broad group of readers.

    DK: Your suggestion is fine, Brian, but these and most others here are for features. I’m looking for column topics.

  26. Jandy says:

    @ 21 ~ dear Lord, I had forgotten all about Wehner until you posted that. Yes I do remember =)

  27. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Skip- Love the idea on Chuck Noll. He’s been sick (I believe) and would be great to see what he’s been doing since.

    DK-piggy backing Skip’s idea, I always like those “where are they now” columns. Catch up with former great Pittsburgh Sportsmen. Could cover some of the old Pitt players too….

    I think Paul Martin has been reading your coverage of him….er….was..

  28. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @21- Can never forget Wehner’s call up.

    I wouldn’t mind an article like that either….pretty cool idea. Especially with ST starting up, might make it easier for DK to spin.

  29. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Anyone out this way going to the opening series in SF? I know I’m not the only Cali Buccos fan…

  30. Kevin says:

    I have to second the motion for a Mike Lange piece. Truly one of the greatest, if not THE greatest play-by-play caller in all of sports. As kurtzy said, being “demoted” and choosing to stay, his view of the rise of the Penguin nation, and how long he plans to continue broadcasting.

    Another piece I would be interested in would be about those Pittsburgh athletes who have chosen to make Pittsburgh their home (including those like Jim Leyland who has moved on professionally but remains a “Yinzer”). On second thought it might get a little boring to here, “Because its a great city, with great people, great fans…” over and over again.

    Personally, how about a story about the guy who has the “shovel award” in the Pens locker room? (See Pens/Caps 24/7 if you don’t know who that is). I think you may have known him, DK.

    Great story today by the way, I loved “Moose” and have always kept my eye on where he is each season.

  31. JAL says:

    Dejan–would like an in-depth article on leadership in sports. I see the term used a lot but no real explanation of what it is or what it means. Do players care if they have a team leader? Do the most influential leaders lead by example or in other ways? Do players view a leader differently in different sports? I have read some articles saying Gibbs and Robinson are not leaders and that lack of leadership is a problem with the Pitt team. They were on the team last season so did one of last years seniors provide leadership? Basically, what is leadership on a team and does it matter?

  32. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Would like a column on the life of a sports writer– not necessarily an auto-biography, that’s your personal business, but what it’s like to be away from your family so much in the formative years, from different viewpoints, what it’s like to have a supportive spouse, assuming most writers that are married have one, how other cities treat you as an out-of-town writer, if you suffer from burnout of any kind, etc. Did a little work as a stringer many years ago and really enjoyed it, but just being out of the house when the kids were young bothered me. Wasn’t always well received at some venues, either. Always wondered what the real guys felt like.

    DK: I have a feeling you might be alone there, John! Can’t imagine too many would want to read that. Not even my own family and friends!

  33. Matty G says:

    Loved the Moose article. His rise that year all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals is definitely one of my favorite Penguins memories (I didn’t become a Pens fan until I was 9 – a year AFTER they won the second cup!)

    I still have the one set of foam antlers they handed out, and distinctly remember attempting to boom out a “MOOOOOSE” while standing and shouting inside of the Civic Arena. Great stuff.

  34. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    DK- I’d be down with the idea from Lucky…..

  35. pattonbb says:

    Dk, here’s a couple suggestions for future articles..

    1. How about a “where are they now” on the ’92 Pirates?
    2. I’d be interested to hear more about Jeremy Staat and what he’s doing with the bicycle trip.

  36. Arriba Wilver says:

    How about a column on Karstens? He’s all of a sudden one of the longest tenured Pirates.

  37. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    One of the most interesting things I’ve read this hockey season was something that happened to Bob Rossi, predicting only 17 goals from James Neal before the start of this season, and how Neal was genuinely hurt and upset at not having Rossi’s confidence that he would do far better than that..

    I imagined the hard feelings there that Rossi had to overcome to get Neal to even speak to him. I also pictured Rossi kind of kissing up to Neal to get back on his good graces—enough so that he made his charity offer of $10 per goal scored by Neal over the predicted number in order to appease Neal.

    Surely this happens to a reporter sooner or later—over the years, some malaprop leads to some kind of unintended friction that makes the job just a little more difficult than it has to be, and, whoops- is an apology really enough?.

    So, as far as column ideas, how about: What’s it like for a reporter or columnist to professionally lose the good graces of a professional athlete, and then trying to work his way back into good faith with him?

  38. Kevin Smith says:

    I thought we paid you to come up with your own column ideas.

  39. Jandy says:

    Dave G that’s a priceless idea for an article!

  40. SeanAY says:

    Dave G,

    Funny you should mention that. I was just speaking with a friend of mine who’s now a beat writer for the Michigan State basketball team. I asked him how he handled writing articles critical of coaches or players, if it had ever damaged a relationship, etc.

    He said that the key is with most athletes/coaches, all they ask is that you’re fair with them in your writing. Most importantly, though, you need to be willing to come back to practice, or the press conference, or whatever, as you normally would. If you take the attitude that it would be best to “lay low” for a while, you’ll be seen as a cheap shot artist.

    He says he’s found that if nothing else, coaches/players will respect the fact that you’re standing by what you wrote and are willing to allow yourself to be “wrong.” In the case of James Neal, as long as Rossi shows up every day and now extols the virtues of Neal’s play, then Rossi has treated him fairly and Neal shouldn’t have reason to be upset.

    DK: You’re way, way overreading this particular case, Sean, though some of your earlier thoughts up there are spot on about fairness, accountability, etc.

  41. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Do you think the ’92 Pirates crack the champagne bottle after loss 82 similarly to what the ’72 Dolphins do after the last winless team goes down??

  42. CWalton_67 says:

    Column idea: The destruction of University of Pittsburgh athletics under Steve Pederson.

  43. LuckyNKentucky says:

    SeanAY and Dave G.,
    Good entries, both of you. I’d just like to hear some things, column, feature or whatever from a writer’s standpoint. Let’s face it, without someone reporting this stuff, these guys aren’t any different than the rest of us doing a job. For example, without looking, how many guys can you name off the A’s roster beyond Cespedes? But we all know practically the entire Yankee 40-man whether we want to or not.
    DK seems to have a knack for objective reporting and writing without sanding the skin off coaches, players, GM’s and the like, but not everyone does, obviously. I’d like to hear it from a writer’s prospective, full view, logistics and all how they handle it.

    DK: Make you guys a deal: I’ll do a blog entry about it someday. I just can’t begin to imagine anyone would care for a full column. Our jobs are great, but I don’t know that people care that much.

  44. scapper says:

    I would like to thank all of today’s posters for (so far) not suggesting a soccer column. Shhhh….shhhh…DK seems to have let that one go, so let’s not bring it up again.

    Thing is, as disinterested as I am on the topic, I know I’d read it if he wrote it.

    Seriously though, I like the Noll idea, but something tells me it would be easier to get Sandusky on the phone than the intensely private Noll, who last I heard retired to South Carolina and never came back looking for attention or adulation.

    DK: The soccer’s still coming, pal. And you can’t stop it!

  45. Jandy says:

    @Kein Smith ~ (#41) LOL!

  46. Bizrow says:

    @scapper, I’ve also heard Mr Noll is not doing real well health wise

  47. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Lucky-Im in Northern California and can’t tell you who’s on the A’s roster anymore. Looks like soon-to-be Manny though.

  48. Kevin says:

    Ya know I was quietly hoping no one would bring up the soccer column…thanks, scrapper! (just kidding)

  49. Kevin says:

    But I agree, if its written, I would read it…

  50. SeanAY says:


    Yeah…I didn’t mean to imply that Rob was “right” or “wrong” in his assessment of James Neal, or the way the situation was handled, etc.

    I was just hoping to further illustrate my point by dabbling in the hypothetical. My apologies, just the same.

  51. JD says:

    I agree with tk (#21) At least we won’t have to read every day in here about Ben and Haley not speaking.

    columns – Chuck Noll – yes, Soccer – NO!

  52. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Think you’re wrong, DK. People can relate to you and others who blog and tweet and answer e-mails. You’re the link between the Hurdles, James Neals, Big Ben’s, NH’s, etc. The Pirate Caravan and Piratefest don’t come to south central KY or Northern California. People look to you as real and these others as somewhat untouchable stars of stage and stadium. Can’t speak for the locals who can rub noses with these folks, but us long-range fans I can. I couldn’t rub noses with them when I lived there.

  53. scapper says:

    Ryan…that ’92 Bucs comment might be the funniest line anyone has written in this comment section. Hilarious!

  54. Milo Hamilton says:


    Congratulations on your APSE Award. That’s some outstanding company. And as for Kevin’s post, #41, doesn’t his son have a baseball game somewhere ?

    DK: Thanks, Milo. Agreed about the company. It’s just … ridiculous.

  55. Hooco01 says:

    I would like a column on Mike Tomlin that is not so much football related. A day in the life type article. Tomlin, like Noll, seems to rarely allow the media to take a glimpse into his life.

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