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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The second coming … or comeback


BRADENTON, Fla. — Brief and to the Point …

>> My Friday column is based off an interview with Clint Hurdle yesterday in Fort Myers, but it’s something I’ve been planning for several months. Very interested in your feedback.

Of all the adjectives I’ve ever used in relation to Hurdle, “un-Pirate-like” still fits best.

>> The Notebook is led by Garrett Jones’ hitting approach, and I’ve got some extra right here …


>> Sidney Crosby’s Broadway return turned out to be a mish-mash of line combinations, some limited ice time and a solitary assist.

But forget that, and look at the net result, even beyond blowing out the Rangers. Look at the talent on the ice with the equally welcome return of Kris Letang. Look at the structure, the discipline. Then remind yourself that this winning streak that just hit 10 might have been only the beginning of what’s to come.

>> I get that a lot of people were furious about the officiating in the Syracuse-UNC-Asheville game back home. From what I could see here on TV, they had a right to be.

But I’ll add that I’m uncomfortable with how casually people can accuse referees of malicious intent. In some of what I saw and read, it seemed totally permissible to accuse these referees of helping the NCAA push its favored team through the bracket.

That is a serious charge. The most scandalous in sports. It shouldn’t be tossed around for something like this any more than it should have been at Jerry Meals.


  1. Jandy says:

    Watched the Pens, and Oh My what a show! Loved the end result. If the Rangers had paid more attention to playing their game instead of trying to beat up Malkin, they might have fared better ;)

  2. MBS says:

    Loved the Hurdle column. I’ll give it my vote to be submitted to next years AP sports column award contest.
    I liked how Crosby was eased into action last night and kept to 16 minutes. He has plenty of time to rev up for the playoffs. And Letang was a plus 5!

  3. JAL says:

    JAL’s What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted 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

    5 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

  4. JAL says:

    7 Rumbunter

    Ten Run Thing of Beauty for Pittsburgh Pirates

    Pirates Bench and Bullpen Predictions

    8 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates 17, Twins 6

    9 McEffect

    3/15 Recap | Pirates 17 Twins 6

    10 The Green Weenie

    The Turk Comes A’Callin’

    11 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 17, Twins 6

  5. JAL says:


    12 Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Doyle battered early, and relievers behind him struggle as well

    Twins postgame: Three thoughts from LEN3

    13 Altoona Mirror

    Pirates score 10 runs in first inning against Twins

    14 Naples News

    Spring training: Ciriaco making a name for himself at Red Sox camp

    15 Miami Herald

    Rounding Third: Same old Mets

  6. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    DeSean Jackson Contract Seals Huge Market for Steelers WR Mike Wallace

    Steelers’ Aim Small, Miss Small Stance in Free Agency Has Served Them Well

    NT Casey Hampton Restructures Contract, Steelers Insured Against Move for Wallace

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Winning Free Agency in NFL North Without Making a Move

    22 Nice Pick Cower

    Steelers Not Punked on First Day of Free Agency

  7. JAL says:


    26 Pensburgh

    Welcome back Sidney Crosby- Matt Cooke and the Pens (rick)-roll the Rangers 5-2.


    27 Sky Sports

    City sunk by Sporting,19764,11065_3495448,00.html

    28 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 15th March, 2012

  8. JAL says:

    Title song What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted, Jimmy Ruffin, 1966. Jimmy Ruffin is the brother of David Ruffin of the Temptations. He had several hits in the 1960s then moved to England where he continued to success overseas. Still tours and is working on an album to be released on his 74th birthday in 2013. Theme this week is the top 7 songs on the KDKA Aces of the Air sound survey, October 31 1966. This song was number 2, down from number 1 the week before.

  9. deb says:

    Loved how Sid and Kunitz immediately clicked. Bylama has to reunite these two. They are good. Malkin will be just fine with Neal. I also love how something happened every shift Sid was on the ice. Matt Cooke was beginning to look like a solid sniper there for a while. An as Bylsma pointed out after the game, Sid got 2 assists, they need to change the scoring on Dupuis goal.

    DK, I know you are for it, but I hated Sid on the wing with Staal. Lets hope that doesn’t last long.

  10. John Lease says:

    Loved the article on Hurdle. And anyone who ever saw Russell would wonder if he did have a pulse. But un-Piratelike? Certainly un-Piratelike of the last 15 or so years.

    And acknowledging the other teams is a huge part of that.

    But he fits right in with Danny Murtaugh, and Chuck Tanner, and Leyland. It’s just been a 15 year march in the desert since those guys.

  11. bdubb says:

    Let’s see…Robert Morris got totally hosed a few years ago when they had Nova on the ropes and now Asheville gets it vs Syracuse. After the 2nd horrible miss by the refs I thought to myself that there is no way a 16 seed will ever win vs a #1. The powers that be will not allow that to happen. These calls were so blatant they could have stuck me out there for the first time in my life at that time to make the call and not even the speed of the game or nerves could make me miss them. It is just shame of for Asheville. They are really going to be sick when they watch the film.

  12. Jandy says:

    I thought Sid and Staal looked just fine. Sid can play with anyone, heck, he even make Cookie look like a sniper!

  13. Arriba Wilver says:

    Very nice story on Hurdle. When Hurdle was first mentioned seriously, I checked with my nephew who lives in Denver (and is a Rockies and Pirates fan) about what he knew of Hurdle. He said that Hurdle actually lived close to his neighborhood and was very involved in the community and seemed like a good guy. So that part wasn’t a surprise to me.

    When you say, ‘un-Pirate-like’ is that pretty limited to (i) the contrast with McClatchy-Littlefield and (ii) the failure to reach out to the other teams? They seemed to have a bunker mentality a lot of the time, and I always got mixed messages about Kevin—some people seemed to think he was a great guy out, and others seemed to have the opposite view. He was involved in at least the higher profile aspects of the local community. I’m just curious.

    One other thing, which I think may fit in here. I was at a local function after the season last year where Hurdle appeared, and he was there with FC. And Hurdle joked (???) that they wouldn’t let him go to functions on his own yet, and he always had FC or someone with him to basically keep him in line.

  14. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Excellent column and good read on Hurdle. Always liked him. Like to see him retire there in about 20 years with a few flags to go with it.

  15. One of your very best columns, Dejan!

    I like the idea of a leader who still learns from others.
    —A leader who is consistent.
    —A leader who sees value in connecting with his constituents as well as his charges
    —A leader who sees himself as a real, regular person
    —A leader who would be a baseball fan if he was not a professional baseball manager

    “The reality is”—words I detest hearing—Hurdle is a breath of fresh air on Federal Street.

    Thanks for presenting this so clearly with your words.

  16. Thundercrack says:

    I also really liked the article on Hurdle. Lots of good insight.

    In regards to “un-Pirate like” , I took that as meaning that his personality is much different than NH, FC, and Bob Nutting. Very outgoing….and every response isn’t measured and every bit of information isn’t a giant secret.

  17. tk says:

    Mr. Hurdle is a class act and I believe he alone has changed the culture and attitude in the clubhouse for the better. Maybe even the entire organization.

  18. Officer Mancuso says:

    The Hurdle column left me with a much clearer sense of the man. Impossible not to root for him to lead this team, in this city, to the prize.

  19. JohninOshkosh says:


    An excellent piece. Always knew Mr. Hurdle was a complex person. i admire people who take their responsibility to the welfare of their community seriously, and this article captures that quality of the manager well. Even your fondness for Pittsburgh flows through the article.

    I know that you enjoy writing a column about a variety of sports, and it seems that hockey may be your enduring love, but you, good man, may rightfully take your place among the baseball writer’s canon. No hyperbole intended.

  20. JAL says:

    Excellent article on Hurdle. Much insight into the man he is.

  21. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yesterday was almost the perfect storm of insufferable coaches being eliminated from the tourney. Huggins? Check. Calhoun? Check. Boeheim? Close but denied. Unfortunately, I think the fourth horsemen, Calipari is going to last a while.

  22. ken robertson says:

    Hey DK, What’s Clint’s number? After reading your article my next purchase is a Hurdle jersey!

  23. Leefoo says:

    Great article on Hurdle. I have never said that he wasn’t a class act.

    However, outside of one ‘where’d that come from’ month, he is still a losing (and lousy) manager.

    Great guy, tho. Just not buying the manager ‘kool aid’.


  24. Leefoo says:

    bdubb…..on #14……there is ALWAYS a conspiracy theory. You should know that by now.

    Teams NEVER lose on their own….

    It is ALWAYS the referee’s (or umpire’s) fault.

    It is NEVER the players’ fault.



  25. CWalton_67 says:

    Clint Hurdle owns an Evgeni Malkin sweater. Enough said. Great piece, Dejan. Really enjoyed it.

    Trying very hard to temper my enthusiasm and expectation for this Pens team, but it is very difficult after watching Kris Letang skating last night and Fleury at the absolute top of his game. I get the feeling that those guys in the Black and Vegas gold sweaters believe they are going to make a serious run at that silver Cup and that in itself makes them a very dangerous team.

  26. Kevin says:

    Once again DK, you’ve done it again! Absolutely fantastic piece with Clint Hurdle that sums up what I tell people about Pittsburgh every chance I get…

    “That’s Pittsburgh in every way. No one’s more important than anyone else, and we all speak the same language.” That is what I miss most about not being there.

    I haven’t read what others have posted so far, but I will say that the return of Letang was probably more important to the team than was the return of Crosby – perhaps not in the long run, but CERTAINLY last night.

  27. Drew71 says:

    Dejan – I have a different perspective. I think Hurdle is at least a General, maybe not the commander in chief but a very serious leader in a culture change campaign. Simply said, Hurdle is changing the culture. Good or bad, he is REDEFINING what it means to be Pirate-like. So compared to old culture, the “un” thing fits. But if he (or maybe they) are successful in changing the culture, then Hurdle is very much in the vanguard of the new Pirate (like) culture.

  28. Jandy says:

    Kevin, you are spot on with your assessment of Tanger and Sid. RIGHT NOW, Tanger is more important to this team. He was very good last night. I’m happy Sid is easing back in. He’ll get his legs and then WATCH OUT :)

  29. mmd says:

    Why would the NCAA care if a 16 beats a 1? The first weekend of the tournament is built on upsets. It would be a be a good thing for them if it were to happen.

  30. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    DK-Loved the article on Clint Hurdle. “un-Pirate-like” is a perfect way to address it. Although, this is what the Pirates may turn in to. It seems his players take on his approach. Smart man hitting up the other successful guys in the Burgh and of course, Jim Leyland.

  31. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    As a military guy myself. I think your assesment is correct. Thats how I explain the chain-of-command to my troops. Most of my Airman are the players, I’m the coach, the boss is the GM and of course, the big wig is the owner. We all have a boss and responsibility.

  32. IC Heavy says:

    Great job on the Hurdle article DK, it made ME want to move back to the ‘burgh! Just a great piece of writing, once again!

  33. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    On a side note, I just read that PSU is considering renaming Beaver Stadium after JoePa. I like the idea, but to keep tradition alive, how about doing something that FSU did for Bobby Bowden? “JoePa field at Beaver Stadium”

  34. Drew71 says:

    I often don’t read interviews. Yes, I can root for a guy without knowing whether he likes thick or thin batting gloves, how much he learned from his high school coach, and how he really really really likes _____. (Fill in blank with Pittsburgh, his teammates, working hard, his coaches, baseball, etc.)

    That said, I hung on every word that Hurdle shared in your interview. Always do when it comes to Hurdle. Magnetic personality. “IT” Factor.

    Does that necessarily make someone a great manager? No. Yogi Berra comes to mind, as well as a few butt-kicking “jagoff” managers who I thought did more damage than good for the game. But having the IT Factor certainly is a useful tool. And it is interesting.

    And Hurdle? He Has IT.

    He has IT in Gint Iggle Yinzer Spades, anat.

  35. aglebagel says:

    Even aside from the seriousness of the allegations against the NCAA refs yesterday, I don’t understand why people would think that the referees would be on Syracuse’s “side” in the first place. Hasn’t this entire cash cow that is the NCAA basketball tournament been built on its history of crazy upsets? I mean, they’ve copyrighted the term “March Madness” for heaven’s sake. What would be the motivation to make sure that the higher seed moves on? UNC-Ashville’s defeat of Cuse yesterday would have been one of the most celebrated moments in tournament history and final proof that literally every game is up for grabs and therefore worth watching.

  36. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    IC Heavy- Me too, I always get that feeling when I read these types of articles, watch a game, (any team) and see pictures of the Burgh. It will always be home, no matter when I left or where I am.

  37. BooDaah says:


    Outstanding story on Hurdle…An award winner for sure.

    We have heard for years the culture of “The Steeler Way” of doing things, Here’s hoping that Hurdle gets the Bucco’s back to the “Pirate Way” of Pops “family”

    Kevin…..That’s what I miss most about not being there…..SOOOO TRUE

  38. JohninOshkosh says:


    It’s insane what people lay on refs. My brother knows Don Denkinger, and, man does that guy have some sad stories about human nature to tell. My Dad taught me as a child to take the good with the bad with refs and try not to use it as an excuse. It seems that one is either the type of person to blame refs or not blame them. I knew a judge once who said that people who complain about refs are people who never had to make a quick decision in their life.

  39. Kevin says:

    Jandy – exactly what I was trying to say…Letang has an amazing ability to step on the ice as if he’s never missed a beat – so dominant carrying the puck. I agree that easing Sid back into his regular ice time is the wise move and have no doubt that he will dominate again…

    Ryan – my sentiments exactly about the Burgh ALWAYS being home…just dreaming of the day when I can move back permanently -

  40. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    The snow keeps me away from the Burgh…..and my job.

  41. aglebagel says:

    Oh, and Dejan, I posted today’s column on my FB page, the highest honor I’m able to bestow. :)

  42. Dejan’s video with Clint Hurdle (after Legend above) described Pittsburgh spot on:

    [approx.] “People in this city are rough around the edges, but soft where it counts.”

    Good question to get that quote, DK. Worth watching . . .

  43. Drew71 says:

    Groat, Hurdle was talking about me, and unfortunately you left off the next sentence…”Right between the ears.”

  44. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Is it a bad thing to be addicted to listening to CH talk baseball??

  45. Drew71 says:

    Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the stuff (oh yeah)
    It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough
    You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to Clint

    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Clint
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Clint
    Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Clint…

  46. pgherinfl - Carl says:

    Great article Dejan!!! I think the un-Pirate-like means that Clint is open and honest where as the FO seems sneaky and unhonest. My two cents worth anyways.

  47. pgherinfl - Carl says:

    Should of said dishonest. duh!

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