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Wakeup Call: How would Penguins have fared?

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Wednesday column puts the onus on Lawrence Timmons to boost the Steelers’ takeaway total next season. Judging from what he told me after practice, doesn’t sound like he’ll take issue with that.

At the bottom of the column, you’ll find a video of our chat yesterday.

>> Neat stuff from Ike Taylor about Mike Wallace right here in our TribLIVE studios: “Will they work something out? I think for sure.”

>> No one likes doing this, I’m guessing, but at least consider as you watch Game 1 tonight how the Penguins might have fared against either the Devils or Kings in a playoff round.

Yeah, yeah, moot point, I know. I’m not remotely suggesting they deserved to be there after how they folded against the Flyers.

Rather, I’m looking at how they might have matched up.

Here’s what I hacked out in a hurry …

Goal: 1. Jonathan Quick. 2. Martin Brodeur 3. Marc-Andre Fleury. Sure, Fleury’s capable of outplaying either man, but this is the combo of this regular season for Quick, long-term history for Brodeur, the Flyers series for Fleury.

Defense: 1. Kings. 2. Devils. 3. Penguins. There’s a large gap between two and three here. You know why.

Centers: 1. Penguins. 2. Kings. 3. Devils. Similarly large gap between one and two here. The Penguins win this battle against any team, maybe from any era. Don’t take it for granted.

Wingers: 1. Kings. 2. Devils. 3. Penguins. The key to L.A.’s run has been Daryle Sutter’s addition of big wingers and a thick forecheck, and the Kings also have Anze Kopitar. Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils’ bigger guys have done quite well, too. The Penguins had James Neal, Pascal Dupuis and a lot of little guys.

Power play: 1. Kings. 2. Devils. 3. Penguins. But this one’s tight.

Penalty-killing: 1. Kings. 2. Devils. 3. N/A

>> Puckheads might find this New York Post column interesting. Looks at the pros and cons of the Rangers’ shot-blocking style, something we’ve been discussing here.

>> Don’t know how much clearer it can get that college football’s four-team playoff will not be based on conference champions.

>> What I was hearing from the Pirates about Charlie Morton before another blah start last night was that he’s just not doing much of anything with conviction. Nothing more complicated than that. Some of it stems from coming off the hip surgery. Not that he’s not healthy. He is. But it took him a while through spring, plus the usual questioning of himself, to get comfortable. Next is getting confident.

Should that happen in middle relief?

We’ll know when Jeff Karstens rejoins the rotation.

>> Still think .500 doesn’t matter?

I say it again and again and again and again: It’s the goal until it’s not the goal.

>> My weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio will be today at noon.

154 Comments

  1. I know the Pirate organization tries to say all the right things about playing for Championships and winning division titles, but whether they want to admit it or not .500 hangs over this organizations head like a voodoo hex in the words of Eminem.

    DK is spot on…the harsh reality is .500 is the goal until surpassed, everything else has to follow from there.

  2. Real quick before I hit the sack…

    Matchup Comparison – well, this is really not working for me since the Kings of the Stanley Cup Final, while the same on paper as the Kings of April, they look like the dominant team right now. Pens of the Flyers series wouldn’t stand a chance. That’s why this is tough – I think if you took a look at the start of the Playoffs and said, well, the Pens are coming out of the East and it’s the Kings in the West, we would have liked those chances. Not so much now…

    The Brooks article on NY Rangers and shot blocking was interesting and I believe spot on. I don’t think Torts will be able to continue to have guys play that way – it gets old and I think limits what they can do. Do you really want Gaborik throwing himself in front of shots from the point? Apparently Torts does. I wouldn’t.

    The funny thing is one of the hockey shows on SiriusXM aired in interview of Torts post Tampa, pre-NY. Very good interview – gave great insightful answers, poked some fun at himself. Generally interesting. Far from the boorish boob that we saw during most recent playoffs.

    I don’t know how .500 can’t matter – they have been under for so long, as JRay3 said, it is like a bad voodoo curse. Geez, it’s over 1/2 my stinkin’ life they haven’t had a winning season. That’s almost incomprehensible.

    Anyway. Good night.

    R from Richmond, VA.

  3. Where’s the story about Timmons, Dejan???? Just kidding of course!!!! Early birds and worms, lol.

    It would have been nice to see that Penguins-Kings match-up but the Penguins didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

    Its nice to have a problem with pitching like the Pirates will face. Used to be which one to sit because we needed to have five in the rotation.

    Have a great day everyone!!! I’ll be lurking during the day.

    DK: Here’s the column link I failed to include above:

    http://triblive.com/sports/1880096-74/steelers-timmons-dejankovacevic-takeaways-defense-harrison-joestarkey-tomlin-breakout-cat

    Apologies.

  4. JAL’s Tuesday’s Gone Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Morton Not in the Same Place as Last Year

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/pirates-notebook-morton-not-in-the-same-place-as-last-year.html

    Owens Strikes Out Seven And Clement Homers In Indians Win

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/owens-strikes-out-seven-and-clement-homers-in-indians-win.html

    Slaten Found Success in Triple-A After Adjustment

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/prospect-trends-week-ending-527.html

    Mercer Joins the Pirates, But Barmes Still the Shortstop

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/05/mercer-joins-the-pirates-but-barmes-still-the-shortstop.html

  5. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview: at Oakland Raiders

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/29/3049508/pittsburgh-steelers-2012-schedule-preview-at-oakland-raiders

    PFT Founder Mike Florio’s Character Assassination of Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin is Out of Line

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/29/3048731/steelers-coach-mike-tomlin-hall-of-fame-speech-win-at-all-costs

    Pittsburgh Steelers Player Profiles: SS Troy Polamalu

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/5/29/3045623/pittsburgh-steelers-player-profiles-ss-troy-polamalu

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Ramon Foster Back Practicing; Worilds May have Broken Thumb

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/report-ramon-foster-back-practicing-worilds-may-have-broken-thumb/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Mike Tomlin Ranked #4 in Sporting News Coaches Rankings

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/05/27/mike-tomlin-ranked-4-in-sporting-news-coaches-rankings/

  6. Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Welbeck and Johnson named

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/19692/7784844/Welbeck-and-Johnson-named

    28 Daily Telegraph

    EPL giants Manchester United claim 659 million fans

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/epl-giants-manchester-united-claim-659-million-fans/story-e6frey4r-1226373269252

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, May 29th 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-29th-may-2012

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    30 Pensburgh

    Season in Review: Craig Adams

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/5/29/3050613/season-in-review-craig-adams

  7. Title song Tuesday’s Gone Lynyrd Skynyrd Like the Allman Brothers, Skynyrd was a band of misfortune. They had two major hits, Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama. Tuesday’s Gone was a popular song from their first album. In 1977 the band’s plane crashed and three members were killed, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. Allen Collins, who survived the plane crash, was paralyzed from the chest down in a 1986 auto accident. Only one member of the band that had the hits is still living, but the band continues with Ronny Van Zant’s brother Johnny the lead singer.

  8. It’s hard to say, but I have to admit, I think either team would kick the Pens’ collective butts for the cup. Mostly because of coaching/lack of adjusting. DB has a ways to go in that department.
    For this SC series, I’m going for the Kings. Even tho I detest Mike Richards, I detest Lovalchuk even more lol. Besides, Anze Kopitar plays for the Kings, and he’s DK’s new favorite. Jonathan Quick will outplay Brodeur and carry the Kings to the cup.
    Disappointing game from the Buccos last night. Where’s that bat????

  9. JAL, I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd in Burgettstown, at the outdoor pavillion they keep changing the name of. I can’t remember the newest name lol. Great time, great band even now. Got a free high too, from all the second hand marijuana smoke. More thanI bargained for ;)

  10. Brief and to the Point?

    Ok. To the point…yes. Absolutely.

    But BRIEF?

    SOMEbody’s been taking brevity lessons from me. (Poor guy.)

  11. So glad Mercer was brought up to free-up Harrison to move around some. Don’t screw this one up to Pirates.

  12. Charlie Morton has to figure out if he wants to be a power pitcher, sinker ball pitcher, off speed pitcher, over the top delivery, three quarter side arm pitcher.

    Just figure it out and do it soon.

  13. I’m willing to be somewhat patient due to Morton’s surgery following his strong first half in 2011. Maybe not keep him in the rotation in the short term if there are other choices, but I would want to give him a more extended period to try to get his 2011 form back.

    I’m not suggesting that YOU are suggesting giving up on him. And maybe it’s the glow of coming off a 4 game winning streak and .500, but I’m not to the point of frustration.

  14. Here I thought Pitt winning the CBI was overwhelming. But add the Ultimate Frisbee National Championship to the mix ? What a great time to be a Panther. I can barely contain myself.

    Hail To Pitt !

  15. Time spent with the Holy Grail was brief and to the point… And Morton’s time with the big league club may be as well.

    No, not forever… he just needs to recapture the trust in his hip/leg and in his mechanics. And he’s not going to do that with the varsity team. When Karstens is ready, send Morton to Indy for a 15 day DL/rehab stint… or longer. He’s not finishing his pitches and looks like he’s being very cautious with his delivery… slinging the ball and not throwing it.

  16. Great stuff on Morton, DK. Summed up in one paragraph what I spent ten minutes reading on one of JAL’s links.

    I like Charlie because his success isn’t predicated on fooling hitters. Morton’s success stems from his commanding sinker. It’s the kind of pitch that you can tell a hitter is coming and they still can’t do anything but pound it into the grass. With confidence and mechanical consistency being clear issues, maybe a long releif role while he takes time to do the extra off-day reps is best.

  17. Oh Lord, frisbees? LOL!

  18. Regarding the puck talk, how did a team favored to win the cup end up inferior to a six seed and an eight seed in five of six categories?

    I’m not suggesting the rankings are faulty, either.

    The more non-penguins hockey I watch the more I feel that the Pens were vastly overated. I’m not sure how that point can even be disputed after the analysis above.

  19. Jray – I’m with you and DK. I’m not sure why the Pirates front office is so afraid to discuss the whole .500 issue. It’s the first thing ever mentioned in any article/story/conversation about this organization. Worry about winning 82, then talk about competing for division titles.

  20. I think that since we seem to have other options for the starting rotation, Morton has to get it together quick or be sent to AAA to figure it out / correct it. Or he has to be put on the DL if he is hurt.

    Good thing we didn’t trade our surplus of pitching for a bat, yet. :-)

  21. @Drew71

    You summed up my thoughts from last night very well. GroundChuck is coming off an injury that affects his throwing almost as much as his arm. And considering what we saw from him last year before the injury (he was regularly, and appropriately compared to Halladay), I think he needs to be starting somewhere. I would be hesitant to send him to the minors to pitch there in the rotation. Putting Charlie in the bullpen would be my third choice.

    I am thinking NH, while working the phones for a bat, has Correia and Jones written at the top of that sticky note on the phone as guys to “sweeten the deal”.

  22. DK,

    I don’t think the FO thinks .500 doesn’t matter. It clearly does matter, especially to the fans (and the national media). But think of it like Toyota and their bad run of quality and damaged reputation. The new Exec who takes over is going to acknowledge they will fix the problem, but he doesn’t say “eliminating safety issues is our big goal”. He says, “being the best in the industry in quality and safety is our goal.”

    This is one of those things, where I think the FO is saying exactly what they are supposed to be saying (GM-speak) and its just not very satisfying to fans who have been waiting for a team to FINISH the season as a team over .500

    Personally, .500 doesn’t matter to me. The Pirates have been a more competitive team than the Royals in the last 20 years and I think the count of years is overblown. But I want to see a winner, and not in the W-L record. But in the standings in September. Competing and occassionally winning, the division title, if that is still possible to do with regularity for small-revenue teams.

  23. Thank God I went to bed with it 4-0. I had it on pause and didn’t see any of it, just the score. I knew we weren’t coming back, sad to say.

    On #5….is this true? “. Jose Tabata, playing left field, trotted toward it so slowly that I’m sure that, somewhere, Ronny Paulino was shaking his head”

    If so, wth is Jose’s problem? Maybe HE needs to be sent down? Since he got his ‘big’ contract, he has sucked. It’s like ‘who cares, I’m getting paid no matter what’.

    Foo

    .

  24. I think the appropriate time for this FO or coaching staff to talk about .500 as a goal has passed. They should have done it in the very beginning. Not in year 5.

    They should have said something along the lines of what Clint has said: Our goal is a championship and .500 is a mile marker on the road towards that.

    (or something like that)

  25. DK…….today, I agree with you. Timmons needs to send his career in the direction of the REAL LT. He, to me, has been a disappointment.

    Foo
    =======

    DK: Agreed, Foo. Thing is, the talent’s there. And what he did in 2010 wasn’t a mirage.

  26. I don’t often agree with Roberto on matters of the Pirates Front Office, but he couldn’t be more right regarding their stance on .500…

    Nobody should ever strive to be average. THAT is embarassing.

    Saying .500 is important ranks fairly high in the Captain Obvious category in my book. Of course it is. But building an organization with the goal of .500 is flat-out laughable.

  27. JAL’s link #16 from the Altoona Mirror on the Curve’s game last night has some good news on Tony Sanchez. He may be developing after all following the series of jaw problems. Noticed his BA is up over .260 and his defense is improving. Maybe Indy later this year and possibly compete to replace Barajas as he winds down in the next couple years. At any rate, maybe not the “bust” label some have anticipated.

  28. The fact that the 4 team playoff will not be based on conference champions is worse for the ACC and Big East. Like last year (Alabama vs. LSU), it will only serve to allow conferences like the SEC and Big 10 to get 2 teams into the playoff instead of 1. It just became harder for the champion of the ACC or Big East to get into the playoff.

    DK: I don’t know, JB. People can get mesmerized by records. Seen it with Boise State year after year. If BCS formula doesn’t change and ACC legitimizes with FSU, Va. Tech, Clemson, won’t look too bad.

  29. TC #18
    I have to cut Charlie some slack because he is back from a recent injury.
    You have to wonder how much is this a physical vs. a mental situation.
    I’m sure he is still somewhat hesitant, but it’s no secret, he’s kind of a head case too.
    You get the impression he’s a perfectionist, puts too much pressure on himself.
    We ccan’t afford to keep him in the rotation much longer if this continues, on the other hand, if there’s a guy who’s confidence might be shattered by a demotion to Indy, it’s Charlie.

    As for the NHL finals, my Rangers found a way to finally lose to a lower seed. But considering how the entire playoffs have gone this year, that’s OK. A great season comes up just short.
    I would be happy for either team to win the cup.

  30. @Foo

    I think it was DK who maid a pretty astute observation regarding Tabata recently. He noted that Tabata’s game rides the ebb and flow of his hitting.

    When he’s on at the plate, it carries over into the field…and unfortunately, vice-versa.

    The longer the season goes, the lack of leadership and discipline becomes more and more striking. This team is “soff”.

  31. NWR…loved the Capt Obvious comment…

    Foo

    .

  32. Radio,
    I see what you are saying, but he’s a big boy now. And the team comes first, over his issues with his confidence.

    What if we miss out on the division title or wild card spot (or even the other holy grail of .500) because we allowed Charlie to stink it up every fifth day.

    Someone keeps saying that it would be a shame to waste this good pitching. Who keeps saying that? It’ll come to me……..

  33. @JB

    Why in the heck should the winner of the ACC or Big East deserve to get into the playoff unless their one of the top four teams?

  34. Getting the dreaded Gateway error on the Plus. I guess this blog and the P2 sites are the ‘go to’ visitation sites now.

    Actually, I started doing the P2 site first every morning. It was indepth Pirate stuff that you don’t find any where else. And, they always seem to scoop everyone.

    It’s a Bucco Fan’s dream site, imho.

    .

  35. NMR…….loved the ‘soft’ comment. Just adds to my dislike of Clint’s reign.

    .

  36. The only thing bad about this site is the Hockey talk. Puck Hockey!!
    :) :) :)

    High Sticking Foo

    .

  37. @radio

    Give JAL’s #4 link a read if you want more Charlie stuff. There’s some interesting quotes from him. He admits that he was terrified to pitch in the bigs at the beginning of 2011 after his awful 2010 campaign.

    He strikes me as the kind of mind that is more afraid of failure than bruised ego. He’s not a prima donna or egotist. When he’s bad, nobody knows it more than he does.

    It seems that a reduced role, whether it be in the pen or Indy, might be more welcome than hanging curveballs in Pittsburgh.

  38. Hey Foo,

    Did you read the interview of Burnett last week? The gist was based on the fact that he’s loving playing in Pittsburgh because he’s free to do whatever he wants. Maybe thats an oversimplification, but its the underlying message I took.

    For a 35 yo veteran who knows how to conduct his business, thats a good thing.

    For a young team struggling with consistency, fundementals, and discipline, its clearly not.

    I like Clint as a person, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for this team. Jack Mckeon might be too cliche of a suggestion, but I’d love to see what that type of coach could do with this team.

  39. Foo,

    It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature or Mother Teresa. The puck stops here per DK, Jandy and several other puck heads. Watch your back (side).

  40. On the Frazier triple in the Northside Notch, I didn’t see Tabata loafing on that play. McCutchen, and his speed, may have conditioned Tabata to be the guy that is ready to pick up the ball if it ricochets off the wall past Cutch. So, yes he was jogging, but there is no reason to have both players sprint into the notch. I am sure that we all agree that Cutch wins any sprint to the notch versus any LF. Also, it didn’t look like Cutch was sprinting on that play either. Perhaps they both know that balls there either bounce into the stands (only a 6 foot wall) or ricochet back out alot?

    Jose did make an outstanding play earlier on a ball hit to L-CF and he seemed to hustle on other plays.

    You can see the video and decide for yourself here:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21870681&topic_id=&c_id=cin&tcid=vpp_copy_21870681&v=3

  41. .500 is important because it has made important. Baseball is great at making numbers seem important. .300 for hitter yet who dump a player who hits .295 to .299 5 seasons in row?

    Take a three year span, who you rather be a fan of:

    Team goes 80-82, 80-82, 90-72 and makes playoffs or team that goes 82-80, 82-80, and 83-79 and doesn’t make the playoffs?

    Unfortunately, when you hear about a number over and over it starts to weigh on everyone. Would we be talking about .500 if the pirates had finished above .500 in year 8 and year 15? More likely we would be talking about 20 years since they made the playoffs.

  42. Hey, Foo, beware pucking around here, friend :p
    Lucky has it right…the puck stops here…and it’s Stanley Cup time, so grin and bear it! ;)

  43. I’m not saying keep Charlie at MLB at all or any cost. In 2010 I was his harshest critic. With Karstens due back, they have options.
    Foo: Baseball will always be #1 with me and a lot of others here. But the pucks are fun too. They get us through from WS to pitchers report.
    At one time, I was an NBA seasonticket holder, (rockets), but now I would rate it #3 behind MLB and NHL.

  44. I’m going to try to put this as delicately as possible. Jose Tabata strikes me as fat & lazy. I could be wrong.

  45. radio, sorry your boys lost, seriously. I was pulling for them, even tho Torts is … nassty lol. I can’t abide the Devils or Ilya Kovalchuk.

  46. Milo ~ BOOM! Tell us how you REALLy feel ;)

  47. OK, I’ll just say it. I can’t take anyone seriously who is married to a woman 20 years older than him that fakes a pregnancy for 9 months. Although, I guess it could happen to anyone.

  48. Great article, Dejan. Interesting to hear how Timmons doesn’t let last year affect him.

    My only gripe was on how “health loomed large” for Harrison last year, yet Timmons moving to outside linebacker was one of the reasons he was in a funk. Seemed a bit contradictory to me. Harrison might be a bigger factor if healthy all year.

    DK: Thanks! The reason I differentiated between health and performance is that we’ve got no way of knowing any of the three I cited will be healthy NEXT season. Even Woodley. Hamstrings are bad things.

  49. A couple quick opinions…

    - .500 should never be a goal. It should be a by-product of realizing more important goals.

    - Charlie needs to pitch every 5 days. Just not sure where.

    - I’m growing tired of the nonchalant Jose Tabata. He seems to continue his regression.

    - I like Josh Harrison, alot actually. But his wild throw last night shows just how important the SS position is. And why Jordy Mercer deserves a nice long look.

  50. No, Milo, not anyone, just ballplayers.

  51. Hasn’t Tabata been benched before for being too slow or something?

  52. I see we’re mixed on Jose’s loafing and non-loafing.

    It’s Stanley Cup time? But are the Penguins in it? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. End of story. :)

    Baseball Foo

    ..

  53. Jandy….yes Jose has gotten benched for non-hustling. To me, he is a disgrace to his Idol’s name.

  54. Lee, we agree on Tabata, but…we disagree on hockey. The Pens may not be in it, but I’m still interested. Goooooo Kings and Goooooo Anze!!!!!!

  55. Jose Tabata has been exasperating this season. He’s driving me nuts. Don’t know what his problem is, but I would imagine his leash is growing shorter. OH—and WHO believes he’s only 23?? Anyone?? Anyone?? Bueller?? It’s quite possible that HE is 20 years older than his wife. Just sayin’.

  56. @JAL

    Your Tuesday’s Gone link sent me to the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This.

    The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvWADo6KPzA

    One of my favorite bands and I feel they had more hits than Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama!!

  57. Free Alex Presley!

  58. @Lucky

    If you think that only happens to ballplayers, then one only needs to turn on Jerry Springer or Maury for 10 min, or go down to the BMV or any other government run office and sit for 30 min.

    One could fill a book with the “stories” you would see unfolding.

    Personally, I think it is wrong to make fun of a baseball player because of some personal tragedy. I am sure it is tough to be in a new country as an 17-year old boy-man where you don’t speak the native language. Attack his performance, but leave the personal tragedies alone. Just my opinion.

    With respect to being fat and lazy, how about the lack of hustle by McCutchen on Bruce’s first double? How can Jay Bruce take 2nd on a ground ball to L-CF on the fastest CF in the game? If we are calling out lack of hustle today, let’s not forget the star. Oh, and how could Cutch let his helmet stay on his head on that triple. I missed seeing the helmet bouncing behind him in the dust.

  59. pgherinfl – Carl

    Hmmm–must have forgotten to change the link, that was was last week. here the correct link

  60. DK,

    No mention of the NBA draft lottery tonight? Shouldn’t we be interested in the conspiracy theory of whether the NBA wants Jordan or the Brooklyn Nets to get Anthony Davis?

    PS – Will you be covering the NHL draft in person when its held at Consol Energy in June? Will we be seeing several mock drafts? I think my son and I might go, and need a good cheat sheet.

    DK: I’ll cover the NHL Draft, yes. Did so last year in Minnesota, too. And our paper’s coverage, as a whole, is going to be extensive.

  61. Listening to Kornheiser & he has writer Richard Justice as his guest. Tony said Justice is so great at what he does & that he breaks news on sports that he doesn’t even cover as beat writer on a daily basis.

    Sound like someone we know ?

  62. Does Morton have any options left?

    Sounds like he in that “lethargic” mood

  63. We just had a 4 game win streak. We are one game under .500. That’s with our pitching being lights out most nights and the hitting stinking most nights. And Clint’s the problem? Really? The record is better right now than the vast majority would have expected, and it’s Clint’s “fault?”

    And you can call it what you want, but ending the year over .500 IS very important to this franchise, team and fan base. (I agree that every time they reach it or go over it during the year is overblown, at least in the media and on the blogs.) And I’m not suggesting they have a Hines Ward Dancing with the Stars parade when it happens, but this .500 isn’t a “goal” sounds like a bunch of macho BS to me.

    But what do I know? I’m -100 in playoffs’ contest and I like TC. :-)

  64. Roberto,

    I wouldn’t watch Jerry Springer if he was the PBP man for the Pirates. And I do work in a government office, full time, not 30 minutes. I think you’re closer to 17 than Tabata is or was. Personal tragedy? He married a liar and a cheat. The tragedy is, he fell for it. Just my opinion.

  65. I could be wrong, but there seems to be a history of labeling Latino players in the PBC fandom. Memories of comments that go back through Aramis to Roberto, who was maligned as a malingerer, which he obviously was not, to a hypochondriac which was at least arguable.

    I admit the PBC has a stellar position in the history Latino MLB players, but I wonder if there isn,t a cultural lag, with respect to its fan base?

    Duped by an older woman, too slow to make cultural adjustments, ok. But “fat and lazy?”. Come on.

  66. Thanks AW.

    I’m not sure why we expect anyone to talk about .500. Everyone in the world knows it’s there. Everyone. And the pessimistic Pittsburgher in my says that if we did break .500, the ‘bitching’ will turn to “we’ve ONLY had ONE winning seasons in the past 20.

    I don’t fault Clint at all. I blame Cutch. He’s gotta move outta Downtown.

  67. Who said Tabata was fat and lazy?

  68. @Patrick

    “a cultural lag with respect to its fan base ?”

    “Yeah, all us backward, sheep loving, sister marrying, teeth missing western Pennsylvanians clutching our guns & bibles looking for a veiled way to criticize those lazy latinos.” Is that what you wanted to hear ?

    And I stand by my statement, fat & lazy. As I said, I could be wrong.

  69. @Lucky

    I did. Just an opinion, I could be wrong.

  70. Milo,

    I respect your opinion. Thanks.

  71. There goes Milo again ! BOOM!
    and I love it! lol

  72. This isn’t directed towards anyone in particular. But these sports players (all sports, baseball, fottball,hockey, basketball, etc) make money like it’s going out of style. I think bcause of this, we as fans expect a lot out of them, and rightfully so. I don’t think whether they are white, black, latino, yellow, purple or green is a big factor. Pay me $10M a year, and I’ll hustle for it. If I slow down? yeah, I expect to get demoted for fired. Shouldn’t we expect the same of the sports players? That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but I don’t think it’s a “latino” issue or a race issue.

  73. Thanks Lucky.

    And you know, I can’t speak for an entire fan base but I can speak for myself. The suggestion that their was some veiled racism in my opinion when the team that I grew up with became the 1st team to field an all minority lineup. A winning lineup, by the way. That suggestion is absolutely ridiculous.

    That said, I have to go out in the front yard & milk the goats.

  74. Milo,

    Those are the tags (74 above) Kentuckians get, not Pennsylvanians. We have a ton of Mexican people around here, due to farming. They, actually are treated better in some respects than people who are born here. The only “cultural lag” is the language barrier, and, for all its faults, this state provides excellent, free language access services for all who need it.

    The key is, latino, American, Canadian or whatever, like Jandy says whatever nationality, sports are results-oriented businesses and, when someone fails to, or appears to fail to give 100 percent, they need called out on it. No more excuses of problems of past life. Move forward, like Josh Hamilton and others. Do your job and that’s all a sports fan can ask.

  75. Last word on Tabata in his defense. I think he’s afraid to push it while running because of that hamstring. It’s obviously bothering him in the field & on the bases. A problem that goes back to his Yankee minor league days. Another byproduct of being out of shape.

  76. I know it’s a tenuous connection, but I have a friend whose father was chiropractor who sometimes worked on Clemente. His opinion was that his back was so tight that it was sheer will power that enabled him to move at all. Hypochondirac? No way. Not arguable.

  77. TC–again, we (as in bloggers) get caught up in terminology. I don’t think people are saying the FO should put a banner outside their offices on Federal Street that says .500 is the goal. (heck, it would get defaced in a matter of hours), or mention it at every press conference. But to ignore it or say when it does come up it doesn’t matter just seems silly, at best.

    As far as Tabata, he was one of the most popular players when he was doing good, and when he signed his seemingly team friendly contract, and he’s taking some criticism after not doing well for an extended period. Could be a connection to how he plays instead of his heritage. Could be.

  78. Seems to be a lot of talk about Tabata this morning.

    Didn’t he just have a tweak to his hamstring the other day. Might be something to look into.

    There was a hit in the gap of right center in the first game against the Reds. Normally I’d say Tabby gets it, but he was about a step off and it went to the notch, but luckily the catcher was running. This was the game after his tweak.

    Again, it is a possibility that his hammy is twitchy and he and the team don’t want it fully agrovated. I think that’s why Gorkys came in for a defensive sub, but then Jose went to RF.

    I dont know, something to keep in mind.

  79. My instinct on CM is to keep him in the rotation. I believe he’s better off working out his kinds there, than in AAA or the bullpen however, short leash is around his neck in case he needs to make a move.

    At this point, I wouldn’t bash the FO for either moving him to the pen or to AAA, I just think he needs a few more starts and his confidence needs built up.

    But come on, has there ever been anyone with such “love me” issues as CM?

  80. Goal setting:

    The ultimate goal is the world championship

    .500 is an intermediate goal.

    Playoffs and League championship come after .500

    Pitching AND hitting have to happen before .500

    RE: is it Clint’s fault? To quote Casey Stengle “I couldn’t have done without the players.”

  81. I haven’t heard the FO say anything about .500 being the goal. Numerous times when the subject came up, they all (including CH) says that the goal is championships and that .500 is a bump in the road……….so to speak.

  82. Milo, do you make cheese too? ;)

  83. I think Tabata has like 14 million reasons that he is not in as good a shape as in previous years. Just like Hurdle has 11 million reasons to say Barmes is still his SS and not Mercer.

  84. @Jandy

    Whatever they’ll buy at Sam Drucker’s Store.

  85. That’s a horse of a different flavor. If he’s hurt, that may explain why he looks like he’s loafing. No reason for him not to be in shape, but it could explain his lack of hustle. May need to sit and get it healed.

  86. Angels placed Weaver on 15 day DL. Anyway NH can fleece the Angels into giving up Trumbo for a pitcher or 2.

  87. Gotta go do some hard labor this afternoon. Keep up the spirits, guys :)

  88. Milo,

    Seems more suited for the Waltons and Ike Godsey’s store rather than Petticoat Junction. Wasn’t that where Sam Drucker was? Or was it Green Acres? There goes that memory again.

  89. Just cause you’re a hypochondriac (paranoid) doesn’t mean you don’t have serious ailments (everyone’s not out to get you).

    It’s pretty well documented now that Clemente was in a serious accident as a teen that caused a back problem that affected him the rest of his life. Most of the things I’ve read and seen (which is a lot), have many of the people closest to him in the organization also saying he was at least a bit of a hypochondriac, at least to the extent that he complained a lot about every little ailment, real or perceived, but he DID NOT take himself out of games for the “maybe” imaginary or exaggerated things. And even last night during the delay they showed a thing about the 71 Series, and his teammates said he complained, but once he got on the field it didn’t affect his play. JMO

  90. The drive for FIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! (hundred)

  91. Out most of the day….yard is calling (finally some yard friendly weather).

    Foo

    .

  92. @Arriba

    “That’s with our pitching being lights out most nights and the hitting stinking most nights.”

    Didn’t you just answered your own question?

    It could easily be said that the team is one game below .500 IN SPITE of any contribution from Hurdle. Nobody has ever claimed he has much to do with the pitching side of the game, which is clearly what is keeping this team above water.

    The team has shown a lack of focus, hustle, and discipline. Those are all qualities that a well run squad exhibits. Thats three faults of Hurdle BEFORE mentioning that little issue of hitting, which has progressively gotten worse since he’s arrived.

    Again, if managers get credit when teams succeed, its only fair to look at the opposite.

  93. @cosmo

    No way, not after what he’s been doing.

  94. DK How about a blast from the past and bring back the picture of Charlie Morton’s dog. Maybe that will boost his confidence level a little.

  95. @ Ryan

    wishful thinking on my part

  96. @DK

    Can we get an opinion from someone who goes to the games and gets paid to comment on the team.

    Is Tabata out of shape? I don’t recall anyone even mentioning it in the least from the team, and I don’t recall that being commented on in ST. Did I miss it?

    Tabata DID make a great hustle play last night on a sliding catch in the middle innings. Didn’t look like he loafed or was out of shape on that play.

    And if we are talking about loafing and being lazy last night, I would have nominated McCutchen for the loaf play of the night. No way Frazier should get a double on that. Slow to the ball, and then a Parrish FT throw back to 2nd allowing Frasier to stretch a single to a double.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21869153&topic_id=&c_id=cin&tcid=vpp_copy_21869153&v=3

    Perhaps, the outfielders in general were running more gingerly because of the two soaking rain storms that came through and made the footing precarious?

  97. @TC and AW

    I for one will not bitch if the losing streak is broken.

    But I’ll betcha the BMTIB will be secretly doing cartwheels across the Clemente Bridge if it happens, no matter what they openly say.

    To me it would be a concrete sign that they have a clue as to what they are doing ;-)

  98. @NMR

    “The team has shown a lack of focus, hustle, and discipline.”

    That’s also a sign of a young team. This doesn’t fall all on CH’s shoulders.

    If I’m an apposing manager, pitching coach, pitcher I’m going right after these guys. The only one in the lineup that you worry about is Cutch, but he is still young and undisciplined as well at times.

    The problem is when you try to teach discipline at the plate to a bunch of young guys, is the other coachs know what’s going on. This allows the pitchers to go right after these guys, 1st pitch strikes. Not saying you can’t be disciplined after a first pitch strike, but how many times have we watched these guys take cookies right down the middle, very hittable pitches to start chasing afterwards?

    Its hard to teach with a young group. I don’t blame CH for the lack of offense……..yet.

  99. Tabata is Exhibit No.1 when it comes to an undisciplined ball player.

    It all starts with his approach at the plate. I get so sick of watching his lack of plate discipline, lack of adjustments, poor pitch recognition…

    Somebody needs to start holding these guys accountable.

  100. Milo,

    Not sure about the “sheep,” et al, but I did note that Pittsbugh is the “3rd worst dressed city in the USA.” You can doubt my assertions, but not GQ!

  101. @Ryan

    Tell me, how much longer will that excuse work? These “young” guys are entering their third MLB season and trending downward.

    If the coaches aren’t the ones to correct the flaws, who is?

  102. NMR—no, I didn’t answer my own question, I just was giving the facts to show I was aware of them while making my point.

    Is the team being one game under .500 at this point something in Clint’s favor, or with someone “better” would the team be one game over? I don’t think either one of us have the answer to that question, just opinions.

    I agree Clint doesn’t get credited with the pitching, but I think that’s wrong. I believe the pitching coach reports to the manager, so the manager has some influence over what the pitching coach does. He can always say “don’t do that.”. And if you listen to his comments he’s very aware of what the pitchers need to do and are doing. Hes handled the bullpen well, in addition. And how often has the team shown a lack of focus, hustle and discipline? Not much. It’s not like it’s been an overriding problem. Sure, he has to take one responsibility for the hitting, but I don’t believe it’s fair to say he has nothing to do with the good pitching and everything to do with the bad hitting.

    To answer my own question, I think Clint has a lot to do with team over performing to this point.

  103. Speaking of hockey, Wayne Gretzky gave a great interview on Dan Patrick this morning.

    I have heard many interviews of Wayne, but I learned alot from this interview.

    - Wayne says he is happy answering peoples questions when they stop him on the street. He doesn’t mind it at all, and would talk hockey with folks all day.

    - Wayne will not say he is the greatest player of all time. He says for folks who believe that Mario was the greatest player that every lived, that is your opinion and good for you. If you think Messier, good for you. Those players have earned the right to be considered that. No one has a clear cut answer to the question of greatest of all time.

    - He believes that the best two players to play the game of hockey were Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr, and it doesn’t matter who is #1 or #2.

    - The best player he played against was Mario, and the best player he played with was Messier.

    - He doesn’t have any of his own trophy’s or awards in his house (any of them). All of his trophy’s are either in his restaurant in Toronto, or in his Dad’s basement.

    - Justin Bieber at age 7 was apparently in Wayne’s Dad’s basement being inspired by the trophies. Wayne just recently became aware of this fact. His Dad’s house is never locked and people come into the house to see the basement that none of the family knows.

    - His Dad told him after 1 game as a teen, that even though the same guys are always hanging out for his autograph, that he should sign something every time he sees them, or any fans, because “they need to make a living too”. So Wayne tries to sign as much as he can.

    Awesome interview. Lots more if you find the radio interview online. Sorry for the long post. Just seemed like some great stuff that puck lovers would love.

  104. @DK
    Since 2005 when the ACC raided the Big East only 2008 Va Tech and 2010 Cinci finished in the top 4. And 6 out of those 8 years a conference had multiple teams in the top 4. It is certainly possible for the ACC to legitimize but recent history does not provide a great deal of hope that it will be enough to overcome the “big 4″ conferences

    05 USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas
    06 USC, Texas, Penn St, Ohio St
    07 Ohio St, Florida, Michigan, LSU
    08 Ohio St, LSU, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma
    09 Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama
    10 Alabama, Texas, Cinci, TCU
    11 Auburn, Oregon, TCU, Stanford
    12 LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma St, Stanford

  105. @Arriba

    You and I must have different definitions of focus and discipline.

    This team is striking out at almost an unprecedented rate while drawing little to no walks. This team is awful at situational hitting. This team is terrible at base running.

    Those are all issues that are directly related to focus and discipline. And none of them require immense amounts of talent, so that excuse isn’t valied either.

    As far as the pitching, why stop there? Neal H hired Hurdle and the pitching coach, So I guess that mean he’s even more to do with the team overperforming, right?

  106. My concerns about Charlie Morton:

    1/ His confidence is shot . . . . . . AGAIN! Will he always be this way?
    2/ His velocity appears to be down from last year.
    3/ Other than the sweeping curve (not an ‘out’ pitch) his movement on pitches seems less. Less grounders, more line drives and fly balls.
    4/ Last night he had only 4 swing-and-miss pitches. The start before, he had only 3 swing-and-misses. This leads to more squaring up on the ball——and more home runs. He gave up only one home run to a righty last season: now, I think it is already 5.
    5/ A couple years ago Charlie went on the disabled list not for injury but to get his head together. I foresee this happening again soon, as soon as Karstens is ready!

    I had legitimate hopes Morton would be our #1 Starter by June 1st. On May 30, he looks like #7!

  107. @NMR

    Agree, that excuse only can go so far, but the fact is they are still young. How much longer? Remember, Tabata’s only 23. Plenty of room for growth.

    I agree it is frustrating to watch. No doubt.

  108. @Roberto

    If Justin Bieber never gets mentioned in this blog again, it will be ok by me……..

    But that was good stuff, nice to see him so humbled.

  109. NMR–actually, Talent is the biggest issue, and Neal hires the coaches (including the hitting coach) also, so, NMR, yes, he does deserve the credit and the blame overall for the performance.

    I don’t think we have a different definition so much as I thought you were focusing on effort. I agree there’s a huge problem with the number of strikeoutswalks and the base running, and now that you define focus and discipline that way I get what you are saying in how Clint has responsibility for those. (it’s impossible for me to separate situational hitting from the overall hitting since its been bad overall) I still think you throw out a lot of the good that he brings if you replace him with a taskmaster, and there’s no guarantee a McKeon type would fare better overall. And I don’t think at this point that he would. My opinion.

  110. @Ryan – thanks, not a big BeaverFever fan myself, but I thought it was funny being mentioned by the Great One, lol.

    Here is the MLB all-star ballot, in case anyone wanted to throw their 1, 10 or 25 votes into the ocean of votes.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2012/ballot.jsp?tcid=hpMW-asgballot-2012

    For those ‘fanatics”, the Triple-A all-star ballot is out. In case you want to vote for all those hitters who helped get Indy into 1st place.

    http://www.milb.com/milb/events/asg/y2012/ballot/?EDID=VR7NZC-7ZCMUX-79DKQH-ZW613Y-9M3JQS-v1

    Formats used are actually the same, so once you vote for one, its easy to do the other.

  111. Sorry if I’m a little off today. Still trying to get over the stunning retirement of Phil Dumatrait.

  112. At Milo:
    I listen to Tony Kornheiser most days too.
    Great show isn’t it.

  113. If you mean the ability to pay attention, focus and discipline are probably personality traits rather than things that can be taught.

    If a person/player has the ability to pay attention then experience and coaching can improve the results.

    Baseball has had both types of players — Babe Ruth, all talent in the world, but constantly losing focus; good results when he had something to prove. vs. Ty Cobb who was all focus, determination, competitor to the max — extreme example of getting results at all expenses.

    A good manager or coach can motivate players that can be motivated. But again look what Stengle did at Brooklyn and Boston and the Mets vs. what he did with the Yankees.

  114. @Ryan – certainly agreed, PLENTY of room for growth.

    @Arriba – I hope I didn’t come off as over bearing and “know-it-all”. You’re right, these players could respond even worse to a stricter coach.

    Merging with Ryans comments, I guess what frustrates me with the coaching staff is that I think we’re seeing a regression instead of growth in not only skill areas, but mental areas.

    Maybe Hurdle truly is getting the most out of them…but if thats the case, the Bucs may as well start over.

  115. @Radio. I used to love the Tony show. Do you know if it’s on SiriusXM? I need another show when Stern is on vacation.

  116. I do chuckle when the blog gets all over Bylsma for his “system”, yet will give Hurdle an unconditional pass.

  117. @NMR

    That probably has something to do with the fact that the Pens are EXPECTED to win whereas, if the Pirates win, its a bonus.

    Remember: City of Champions and the Pirates.

  118. @NMR

    Another thing to consider. The guys in the other dugouts are usually pretty good too. Most coaches have been there, done that type of thing and know how to get the younger guys out of focus.

    Pitchers adapt. I will take good pitching over bad hitting any day of the week. Now, what’s going on with the Pirates offense is filthy bad and not in the Justin Verlander type of way.

    Hitters fail 70% of the time over the course of their career and make the HOF. I know that’s an old adage, but its true. Pitchers are not as fortunate.

  119. At JD #121
    The Kornheiser show is not on sirius/xm.
    If you have a smart phone, or through a online link, you can get it.
    His show is on radio station WTEM, the espn station in washington d.c.
    It’s on 10 a.m.-noon weekdays.
    But shortly he will be off for the summer.
    I get it on a smart phone app 00 tunes. You can also get it on an app called tune in radio pro.
    Or on yourcomputer do a google search for tune in radio, and you should be able to listen.

  120. @JD

    you can find a 1 hour summary of the Tony show on the motherships radio website.

    If you go to this link, and then type ‘Kornheiser’ in the search box under the player, then you will see the 3 or 4 latest Kornheiser SC summary shows.

    http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=7986693

    When I have extra time, I do like to find this summary and listen to it. Wish I knew were to find the full show on demand.

    Hope that helps a little

  121. This is the website for Tony’s show

    http://www.espn980.com/shows/the_tony_kornheiser_show.php

    Podcast of the show available on ITunes

  122. “I do chuckle when the blog gets all over Bylsma for his ‘system’, yet will give Hurdle an unconditional pass.”

    Now, THAT comes across as “over bearing and ‘know-it-all’.”

  123. There’s a reason Tony Kornheiser was fired from MNF. He’s awful. And his sports knowledge is subpar. And PTI? Don’t get me started. Bleh!

  124. When Clint Hurdle has players similar in ability and scope within the sport to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Marc Andre Fleury, James Neal, Jordan Staal, and Chris Kunitz . . . . . .

    . . . . I will be all over him!

  125. Yes, because I was clearly comparing the success of each team.

    A manager isn’t judged by the quality of players he has but the quality he can get out of them.

    Name one position player to improve under Hurdle…

  126. Speaking of retirements, Kordell Stewart retired as a Steeler today

    Interesting

  127. Radio, Roberto, JAL – thanks for info. Go Bucs!

  128. Biz–I think that’s just so he goes into the HOF as a Steeler. :-)

  129. I thought a manager was judged by how his team performed. This idea that it is only the position players is new to me.

  130. @Biz

    Kordell retires right in the middle of OTA’s ?

    I thought he was just coming onto his own. What are we going to do now ?

  131. I understand Dick Shiner is contemplating retiring during mini-camp.

  132. Kordell Stewart’s crowning achievement as a football player:

    I was driving down I-94 toward my job in Detroit as this play happened. The car in front of me swerved for a moment as I saw the driver negatively reacting to the play on the radio by pounding his fist on his dashboard!

  133. Oh yes, I’m sure Clint is just begging to be judged by how his team is performing this year. Sheesh!

  134. @NMR

    Clint should be begging to judged on how his team is performing. He’s doing a great job.

  135. @Milo – Ok, I give up…whats the punchline?

  136. That wasn’t a joke.

  137. @NMR

    I’m sorry, but Jim Leyland, Tony LaRussa and the bunch, couldn’t do any better with these guys. Honestly, I believe a lot of it comes down to the players.

    Do you really think Albert Pujols is hitting better now because the Angels fired their hitting coach?

  138. Look what Buck Showalter has done with the Orioles. Is that because of Buck or the players?

    Buck was available to the Pirates at one point before other hires.

  139. NMR–it appears you have a POV that is impervious to rational discussion. “Sheesh?”. Works when something is obvious. Otherwise, not so much . . .

  140. Whoa, whoa, whoa…don’t turn this into another black or white conversation.

    I’m not saying the Pirates should be World Champs.

    I’m simply pointing out that under Clint’s tenure, the team has actually gotten worse in every area other than pitching. Nobody has argued that point yet because it can’t be disputed.

    I’m not saying he should be fired yesterday, I just don’t see how any other boss in any other field would be praised for a performance like that.

    I’m not asking for miracles or even vast improvement, but how can you talk about accountability if regression is acceptable?

  141. @NMR

    They haven’t gotten worse in win-loss record. I thought that was the point.

  142. You’re giving out brownies for improving on a 105 loss record?

  143. “They haven’t gotten worse in win-loss record. I thought that was the point.”

    So then Neal Huntingdon’s extension was waranted?

  144. @NMR

    If they continue to improve, Neal shouldn’t be fired. I was for giving him this year & an option as an extension, but not 3 plus. It’s not like it’s only his 2nd year. But yes, he’s judged on the record also.

    Something we can agree on, I had the Chickie’s & Pete’s crabfries at the game Sunday. Outstanding.

  145. Would it be treason to replace Primantis fries with Pete’s??

  146. Jerry Micco bragged today that his chat had a new high – 39 people.

  147. NMR
    May 30th, 2012 – 3:30 pm “Whoa, whoa, whoa…don’t turn this into another black or white conversation.”

    Why does it always have to be about race?

  148. Pens breakdown is moot. If they were in the Cup all of those categories would have been 1 or 2. No one talked about these issues when an average of 7 out of 10 scribes picked the Pens to take it all. Easy now.

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