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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Somebody slap Brandon Phillips, already

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CINCINNATI — Brief and to the Point …

>> The Wednesday column looks at A.J. Burnett, who is very much the guy in this fold.

>> One extra thing that didn’t fit into the column, from my talk with Burnett: I’d mentioned to him that the clubhouse seemed really quiet and calm for such a big win, certainly as compared to last year.

“Must have been almost like a shock for them last year, huh?” Burnett said.

Not “like” a shock, I clarified.

“Well, now it’s just fun,” he continued. “It’s even better like this.”

>> Awesome pregame exchange about the Pirates last night between legendary Reds beat man Hal McCoy and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips:

Hal tells Phillips the Pirates are in second place. Phillips says, “Pittsburgh is what? You’re lying. Slap me in the face right now. Man, we already knew you can’t take them lightly because they are a major league team and they are where they are for a reason. They’re playing good. You have to go out there and beat them, sink their battleship, make them walk the plank.”

>> One important thing to note about the Pirates’ upcoming talks with Mark Appel and Scott Boras: You’re going to hear a lot about how much Boras and Frank Coonelly are heated rivals. It’s true, probably more than most think. But the FACT is that Pedro Alvarez’s entire negotiations — and I covered them start to finish — were conducted between Boras and Neal Huntington.

Huntington is the sole voice on the Pirates’ end with talks at this level. Coonelly is apprised, but not actually negotiating.

>> For everything I’ve covered in a quarter-century of sports, I’ve never seen the Cup going up in the air. Would love to be in L.A. tonight.

>> Some might recall I predicted — mostly playfull — Anze Kopitar for Conn Smythe. He’s had eight goals, including two back-breakers in these Finals already, but there’s no chance it won’t be Jonathan Quick. And richly deserved.

I also wrote right here in this space before the playoffs that Quick was the NHL’s best goaltender, to the strong scorn of some. Not hearing from those folks anymore.

>> Golf question, and I’m totally serious: Do you ever find yourself getting interested in a tournament in which Tiger Woods is not challenging? If so, is it just the majors?

Count me among the latter.

You could tell the networks and PGA were trying to shove Rory McIlroy down our throats as Tiger II. No way, no how. Certainly not yet.

>> More Pirates in the Friday column. I’m like Depeche Mode. Just can’t get enough.

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