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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Running for a reason

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

>> The Monday column counts the Steelers’ outstanding defensive counterpunches vs. the Jets. Funny that, for all football’s strategic and scientific advances, how a few hard hits and old-fashioned intimidation can still make such a difference.

>> All of the toughness wasn’t reserved for the defense. As Ryan Clark correctly pointed out, “Our guys on the offensive line showed the same thing, pushed right down the field with that long drive.”

Clark was referring, of course, to that elegantly violent 14-play, 75-yard drive the Steelers used to bury the Jets in the fourth quarter. It was capped by two hard runs, one from Jonathan Dwyer, the next by Isaac Redman with a big second effort.

At one point in the third quarter, the Steelers were averaging an awful 1.9 yards per rushing attempt. It looked like a waste of time, especially with all the minimal first-down plays.

But the latter part of any  game is when running consistently pays off. We should know that around here.

>> Here’s the Trib’s game coverage by Alan Robinson, Ralph Paulk and Mark Kaboly.

>> The Pirates are a wretched mass.

If you have more to add to that, be my guest. Keep it clean.

>> This was Neal Huntington, interviewed Saturday by the Trib: “I don’t want to get into the blame game. We’re all part of the really good, and we’re all part of the not-as-good. There’s no doubt how we’ve gotten to this point makes it very easy to put a negative spin on it and think the sky is falling. There’s a reason for every loss. In some cases, it’s fixable. In others, it’s not.”

To summarize:

1. Calling a collapse a collapse is spin.

2. No individual is at fault. It’s all one unnamed collective entity.

3. Oh, well.

>> Tino Sunseri played a very good game in Pitt’s upset of Virginia Tech. No one should — or, really, could — take that away from him.

But this attitude that followed it?

Hey, kid, stick it to your critics when you play more than one good game out of every six. And I might be generous with that ratio.

>> Even if this idiotic NHL lockout doesn’t last long — I don’t think it will live a day past October – it’s still the pinnacle of stupidity to miss a single puck dropping.

The owners themselves acknowledge record revenues year after year, but never how those translate to mounting profits for most teams. Yes, including the Penguins. And yet, they want the players to make up for their massive blunder in Phoenix, as well as the Panthers’ lousy call to move well outside Miami.

Sound fair to you?

>> This was my appearance last night on KDKA-TV’s ‘Showdown.’ Note new coat.


  1. manny _sanguine says:

    I would only add that they are a wretched mess which has been dropping hot, steaming messes all over the place.

    Maybe they will somehow string a few wins together and a couple of the contenders will turn into twitching bags of bilge water and we’ll some how snatch that second WC spot. Then we’ll be able to look back at all this and laugh about it.

    Hmm probably not.

  2. Boise Bucco says:

    Just one quote that I found really bad:

    Hurdle was asked whether the bullpen is showing signs of late-season fatigue.

    “I can’t answer that,” he said. “You’d have to talk to those guys, but I don’t know that any of them would tell you they’re tired.”

    Hurdle’s jobbie is to know when his pitchers are getting tired. I’ve been a pretty big defender of CH and management, but that was a crap answer. JMac’s been tired since the All-Star break. Hughes is still looking a little shaken up. This is Hurdle’s job to know. Maybe I’m really taking that quote out of context because I’m dissatisfied with the Bucs right now, but that wasn’t a very good answer.

    Haha oh, and this gem:

    Marte said he was instructed to break when he did.

    “They told me, ‘Go!’ ” he said.

    …maybe the coaching staff needs to hit up that SEAL training in Bradenton, work on some fundamentals.

  3. Time for another expression of disgust with the PBC. If you can’t win that game against the Cubs Sunday, you might as well pack your bags. I was going to say “the lowly Cubs”, but thought better of it, being a fan of the Pirates.

  4. Dave G says:

    Somebody please inform Mr. Hurdle that sliding from 16 games over .500 to 1 game above is NOT heading in the right direction.

  5. Drew71 says:

    I have no problem with the Tampa Bay Bucs’ attempt to legally blow up the Giants’ V Formation. I have no problem with those who disagree with me, but i DO have a problem with the argument “we don’t do that At This Level”.

    1. This is a HUGELY arrogant argument. Hey. National Football Leaguers. Stop taking yourself so freaking seriously. You’re not a cancer researcher for the NIH. At this level. Get OVER yourself.

    2. It’s not ok to do that in THIS league. THIS league. So you’re saying it’s not safe, right? It’s about doing the right thing, right? But you’re saying it’s perfectly ok to do it to the kids in Pop Warner, high school and college, right?

  6. Drew71 says:

    Either it is right or wrong. You’re going to protect at just ONE level, and not at others? Either it is right or wrong. The “Level” has NOTHING to do with it.

  7. JAL says:

    JAL’s Utah Song Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Alvarez Seeking Consistency Moving Forward

    First Pitch: The Dismal Tide

    State College Splits With Pirates, Signs Two Year Deal With Cardinals

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Fall To Cubs 13-9

    6 Rumbunter

    It’s Not Hard, But Never Forget Who Is Ultimately In Charge of the Pittsburgh Pirates

    The Fallout Continues for the Pittsburgh Pirates

    7 Yahoo Sports

    10 Degrees: Shameful that sub-.500 Phillies still contenders in wild-card race–shameful-that-sub–500-phillies-still-contenders-in-wild-card-race.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Cubs Stun Pirates 13-9

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Failure to finish

    10 The Sports Network

    National League Game Capsules

  8. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Cubs Game Preview

    12 Philadelphia Inquirer

    Weak end to Phillies’ weekend

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Rizzo gives Cubs fans reason to stick around for 4 hours, 4 minutes–20120917,0,3819396.story

    14 NY Times

    Keeping Score: Steals Drought Unlikely to End Soon

    15 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cards bring slim wild-card lead home

    16 Chicago Sun Times

    Anthony Rizzo’s Sunday spectacular

    17 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Brewers like what they see in Peralta


    18 PBC Site

    Alvarez’s two homers not enough to stop Cubs

    McPherson to replace McDonald in rotation

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    What You Need to Know

    20 Fangraphs

    Home-Run Friendliness Where You Least Expect It

  9. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Vs. Jets: Pittsburgh Defense Thrashes New York 27-10 In Week 2

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Mike Tomlin Post- game Press Conference

    23 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Slam Sanchez, Pound Jets 27-10 to Get to 1-1

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Nice Pick Cowher’s NFL Week #2 Picks

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    That Just Happened

    26 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt 35, Virginia Tech 17: Welcome to the ACC

    Pitt Vs. Virginia Tech: Panthers’ Win Over Hokies Means One Thing – Nothing Makes Sense

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    Analysis: Easy Pickings So Far

    28 WV Illustrated

    WVU Gets Small Test in Adversity


    29 Sky Sports

    Jermain man for AVB

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester United and Liverpool to hold talks to defuse tensions ahead of crunch clash at Anfield

    31 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 14th September, 2012

  10. JAL says:

    Monday Utah Song, a humorous tour of the state by unknowns to the tune of the Beach Boys Kokomo

  11. Thundercrack says:

    I think the coach of the Giants doesn’t really care what happens at the other levels. Players and coaches at other levels can set their own rules and code of conduct.
    He is concerned about his players.
    I don’t blame him one bit for being angry.

  12. Drew71 says:

    My new hero is Greg Gumbel.

    “The call on the field is Dead Wrong.”

  13. Thundercrack says:


    I don’t see how you came up with the second and third points of your summary of NH’s comments.

    It seems to me that when there is a losing streak or collapse or a team’s record is nowhere near where it was projected to be, we hear the same type of speak coming from owners, presidents, GMs and coaches. It all sounds the same and while the season is going on no one throws anyone under the bus. (except for the hitting or pitching coach, the special teams coach, and maybe the guy who coaches the power play). Do most fans really believe it? Don’t they think that the owner or GM is just either shifting blame or CYA? Really, why is this such a big deal? Would it really make anything better right now? Losing is losing.

  14. bdubb says:

    At least Nutting seems to be upset by the Pirates collapse. NH, with his comments, pretty much confirmed he wasn’t going out to add veteran pieces to this team at the trade deadline. His speak was of the tone that the Pirates made strides this year and being around .500 is good enough. Just doesn’t seem like he was “all in” in 2012. Very disappointing when your fan base is all in but the guys running the team are not. I mean is it just coincidence this team started its slide around the time of the trades?

    As far as Tino, maybe he learned his lesson last year when he had a nice game vs USF and made some proclamations. Nice to have some humility in sports

    You would think the Jets would be a lot tougher than they are since Sexy Rexy acts so tough. Bottom line is the Jets are a soft team. At least we can hear about Tebow for the next 12 hours on TV. He being so deserving of all this publicity

  15. Drew71 says:

    1. For a completely legal play that was not sneaky but totally obvious based on how the D Line set itself? It was a one score game. The clock stops on a turnover. He’s mad because the other team TRIED in a legal and obvious-to-the-eye way? It would be one thing if the TB Bucs stood around loosely and then dove in. They didn’t do that. They lined up for a real play and ran a real play.

    2. Your almost appears that you are trying to read Coughlin’s mind. You don’t think he meant what he said but rather what you think he meant. I’m reacting to what was SAID. And by the way, I wasn’t targeting Coughlin, but ALL the talkers. I give more of a pass to a coach protecting his players. Still wrong but more of a pass.

  16. Thundercrack says:

    You hear violins in your head.
    I read coaches’ minds

  17. Drew71 says:

    Actually, my last response was stoopid. (Sorry Jandy.)

    What i SHOULD have said: your point is valid. Protecting your players is a praiseworthy trait. And when you said that, essentially, he didn’t mean “at this level”, I agree.

    Remember my initial comment. I don’t have a problem with those who disagree. If the NFL wants to change the rule, fine.

    But when you discounted the “level” argument…GOOD. It SHOULD be discounted. My initial point was against the ARROGANT ARGUMENT that “level” implies. Less so against those who just don’t like that play.

  18. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK–I agreed with just about every word you said about the Pirates last night on the Showdown.

  19. Naje says:

    Drew…. I think the context you’re arguing is a bit off… Coughlin’s remarks about “this level” was in reference to Schiano’s college coaching tactics.

    Schiano and his team pulling that stunt, with five seconds to go, well, they look like idiots. Maybe they should have tried that hard the other 59:55 of the game.

  20. Naje says:

    DK– please, link us to humans who speak like humans and not like jugheads, yinzers, etc… I can’t look at, read, or listen to zeise… and dunlap’s not far behind… (you linked us to last week’s show)

  21. Drew71 says:

    I AGREE with that, Naje. That’s making my arrogant argument. ‘that’s ok at little Rutgers, you little college coach, but not at this level’

    “you don’t do this at this level; you don’t do this in this league”

    I think that’s part of the exact quote. I like him, but I find that to be a thinly disguised, arrogant slap at a former college coach.

  22. radio wave says:

    What does it say about us as readers on a morning after a Steelers win and a Bucs loss, the majority of the posts are about baseball?

  23. Naje says:

    Coughlin sounded like Paterno with that quote/style.

    RW–we love failure… and tend to think that the ’79 and ’71 teams never lost a game…ever.

  24. pattonbb says:

    @Naje – I think you’re right. Coughlin probably doesn’t say much if TB is firing off the line like that with a minute to go. To do it on the final play of the game is not dirty, but un-called for.

  25. NMR says:

    The top half of the 8th just about sums up the Pirates second half in a nutshell. Leadoff triple, down by one run:

    -Walker with a hard shot snagged by Barney due to positioning. Tough luck.

    -Cutch goes from a 3-0 count to full due to swining hard enough to cause a minor upper atmospheric disturbance in the Midwest when all the team needed was a fly ball to the outfield, only to be absolutely frozen by a meatball down the middle of the plate for strike three. I think I’ve seen this episode before.

    -Hurdle calls for a Little League play instead of trusting his batter with two outs. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

    That, my friends, is your Pittsburgh Pirates.

  26. Karen22 says:

    With apologies to Emma Lazarus (your link says “wretched ‘masses'”:

    “Give me your tired (pitchers), your poor (pathetic players),

    Your (Hurdled) masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your (teaming) (score).”

  27. Jandy says:

    Drew, you’re forgiven. It wasn’t mean-spirited, so it’s all good…

    Karen. Nicely done. Can I cry now? lol

  28. The Steelers giveth, and the Steelers taketh away. Lights out. Just a tremendous game for the Steelers on both sides of the ball. Defensively this team was on a mission. Old and tired? Only that argument proved to be so. The defensive unit gave the kind of hard, determined, relentless effort that will have offensive coordinators staying up late to watch tape and quarterbacks flinching at every footstep. I’ll give special mention here to Ike Taylor. Even though Holmes’ had the referee flags on speed-dial, Taylor was very effective in neutralizing Sanchez’ prime-time target.

    Offensively, the swagger is back. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen Ben look that dominant on a football field. He was mobile, creative, and escaped more impossible situations than Houdini. The Haley offense seems to suit the Steelers offense brilliantly: patient with the run, effective with the pass, kept moving the chains, and ate up minutes like a long-distance phone call. And Heath Miller. I don’t think there is a bigger beneficiary of Haley’s new scheme than big 83. Even the normally reserved Miller took a bit of an extra celebration after his second TD reception in two games.

    And to top it all off, Tomlin was the biggest cheerleader. His normally reserved demeanor went out the window late in the game. His passion and intensity reminded me of Cowher… except Mike was all smiles.

    Final thought is of the NHL. Dejan, I wish I could share in your optimism that a CBA deal would be reached in the near future. Neither side is willing to accept the others approach as a framework for a deal: they’re still talking apples and oranges. And, from the way the players have been posturing, they’re unwilling to concede this time around. Unless the owners have a change of heart, I don’t think there will be any meaningful progress made on this front for quite some time.

  29. Steve says:

    Good win by the Steelers. Defense really looked shaky at the start but they settled down. Surprised there isn’t more being said about the officiating. From my vantage point on the couch I thought they were terrible. The phantom pass interference call on Ike Taylor was just awful. If I understood the co-chairs of the Sanchez fan club (Nantz and Simms) the entire play is reviewable so when the Jets challenged the “fumble” by Redman and the replay clearly showed he was down by contact about two yards behind the line of scrimmage why didn’t the ball go back there rather than ruling he was down and didn’t fumble at the other spot?

    Tino Sunseri has every right to react the way he did to the media. Results aside, I think he has always given his best and he’s been skewered by the media and many fans. Why should he suddenly help you guys with all sorts of great responses to your questions?

  30. LuckyNKentucky says:


    Excellent. #25. I saw that inning and couldn’t agree with you more if I’d said it myself.

  31. Bizrow says:

    This, ladies and gentlemen is why they are called the Best Management Team In Baseball (Sports)

    In the eyes of Nuttin anyways

  32. Jandy says:

    Lucky, I agree with you. NMR called that perfectly. That’s when I changed the channel.

  33. 21sthebest says:

    “Hurdle calls for a Little League play instead of trusting his batter with two outs. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.”

    That was the absolute right play. You would’ve had 2nd and 3rd, obviously taking a force out at second out of play and putting the go ahead run on second. Marte’s supposed to go nowhere unless maybe the catcher throws the ball down to second.

    Marte clearly blew it.

  34. nate83 says:

    Just sad. I can’t understand why 4 or 5 pitchers that have been in triple AAA all year are pitching in so many important innings down the stretch. Did we not have the second best Bull pen ERA the first half of the year?

    Still don’t get the all in thing. The players we did pick up continue to be the few guys that have played well since the trade deadline. The guys we passed on that would have cost much higher prospects with the exception of Headley have not made a difference for the teams they did go to.

    How do you know which guy to get? Even if you get the right one do you really think this team was good enough with Headley to beat any of the other 4 teams that are making the playoffs. Would it have been worth giving up any of Tiallon, Cole or Heredia?

    Wandy has been our best pitcher and people are upset we gave up Grossman. Just think how people would be reacting if we gave up Taillon for Victorino or Pence.

    The pirates are losing not because of the lack of a trade but instead because of their failure to perform anywhere near what they showed they are capable of when they were 15 games above. Just playing .500 ball against an easy schedule whould have put them 4.5 games up for the second wild card. This collapse is on the current players and coach.

  35. 21sthebest says:

    Sorry, I meant if the pitcher throws the ball to second.

  36. LuckyNKentucky says:


    You’re right except for one thing, IMO. I like Snider and I think he’s a really good pickup for the future if he gets his conditioning in order. But that game is in the W column if we have Brad Lincoln and he’s throwing out of the pen like he was when he was traded. Hindsight and all, if you look at who pitched after Locke, he would have been the bridge after Pedro’s second homer. Then we see Grilli and Hanny and the game is ours. (If they pitch like they know how, anyway).

  37. Thundercrack says:

    On last night’s game thread I posted:
    Is it possible that Marte isn’t quite ready for the major leagues?

    Here was DK’s response
    DK: Was that the thought that crossed your mind when you saw that play?

    I didn’t see the play yesterday, only read about. I have seen the kid make some very good plays and play well. But I have also seen him botch some plays and not play so well. Some of it, from my untrained eye, seems to be from inexperience.

  38. Jandy says:

    21s ~ Marte did was this third base coach told him to do. Run.

  39. 21sthebest says:

    And you know this how Jandy?

    That’s on Marte. They gave us second base. Every baserunner is supposed to know what to do in that situation.

    Are we going to blame Leyva too for Walker dogging it around second base on Cutch’s single?

  40. Jandy says:

    21s,. and you know how that he wasn’t told to run? He was asked about it after the game and he said he was told to run.

  41. Karen22 says:

    Jandy—we can ALL cry now. I’ve been silently weeping for weeks now. This is all so, so …pathetically sad.

  42. 21sthebest says:

    That’s not what Clint said Jandy. They need to get their stories straight.

  43. NMR says:


    Jones left early. Leyva told Marte to go. Jones was stopping in order to get himself into a run down. The play was designed to draw the throw to second in order to get Marte home, not move Jones into scoring position.

    Little Legaue teams know how to defend this.

    It was embarrassing.

  44. LuckyNKentucky says:


    24/7 tweeted it. You’re right, they need to get their stories straight.

  45. NMR says:

    Lord knows they’re clearly all on the same page after Marte’s brilliant “bunt-and-run” on Saturday.

    Sounds like some solid coaching to me.

  46. 21sthebest says:


    When the focus turns away from Jones that quickly (they didn’t get Jones in a rundown), Marte needs to go back to third. No matter how that play pans out, the runner on third should never get caught in a rundown.

    In Little League you almost always see the catcher fake a throw or do nothing and allow the runner to take second.

  47. Vette60 says:

    Well….interesting sports weekend for sure….

    1) Hail to Pitt! The really had a great game on Saturday and I was all ready to offer my “scouting report” on the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs after watching them get trounced by the local Richmond Spiders. Thought it would have been Pitt’s first win. GW should be not be much trouble if the Panthers approach any sort of level of play that had in the VT game. The Spiders were all over them and were up by 30 at the half…

    2) Go Steelers! Really enjoyed yesterday’s game – nice display by the D and also really loved the O too! Liked seeing Dwyer and Redman running hard. Ike did a nice job too – interesting, but listening on SiriusXM this AM, they said that pass interference calls are way up with the replacement refs….

    3) Pirates – Oh my. What can be said, but this is by far my biggest disappointment of the 19 previous…it just seems no matter what could go wrong, it goes wrong…What is really interesting is if they were epically horrible in the first half, but played 15 above .500 in the second and just inched over, we would be pumped! Complete opposite effect here…

    4) NHL – Silly. This whole deal really bothers me – most because we already missed about a year of Sid’s and Malkin’s time due to injury and now we’re losing out due to the lockout. Anyone have a satellite feed from Magnitogorsk? It really seems like this could get ugly and I really hope that is not the case…

    Have a great week all.

    Randy in Richmond, VA.

  48. Thundercrack says:

    Is it possible that Marte did not get enough coaching in the minors?

  49. NMR says:


    You do realize, with two outs, all the Cubs have to do is run Jones back to first base or tag him out, right?

    Can you think of a time that has EVER worked at the MLB level?

    The play was amateur.

  50. Leefoo says:

    No reason to pitch Van Der Dud. The Karstens excuse Hurdle gave doesn’t wash because he hasn’t pitched in relief in two years (that I am aware of). Besides, RV also was a starter in AAA. Personally, I would’ve brought in Leroux (he bombed too), or Qualls, but….

    Leroux, Qualls, Grilli and Hanny, one inning each (with a little Watson thrown in there) would’ve probably saved that win for us. Probably….not a lock, but better than RV and Hughes for a 3rd straight day (and 4th time in 5 days!.

    Hurdle’s inexplicable moves has cost us TWO games this week!!! We SHOULD be 75-70!

    Yeah…it would’ve been nice to still have Lincoln, but I’m doing that trade everytime.

    P2’s “First Pitch” this morn should be required reading for all of us ‘grumblingers’.


    On a more positive note:

    Steelers win! Ravens lose! Patriots lose! Both of the Ryan boys lose!

    Phils get taken 3 outta 4 by the ASTROS!!!


  51. Leefoo says:

    Pls note again, that Hurdle wasn’t grilled. He gave an answer and we accepted it! We shudda dug more. So what if he gets ticked!!!



    Btw, I noted that the Trib article headline was “Inexperience a factor”. Uhhh….weren’t the Cubbies running out a lot of AAA pitchers?

    Just sayin…..


  52. RobertoForever says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that Joe Flacco complaining about the replacement refs only after a loss is whiny? Didn’t hear a peep from him last week when they were running it up on Cincy.

    Also, hear a lot of complaining about the refs getting the call wrong at full speed when calling it a fumble on Michael Vick. It was reversed on review, which is why review was instituted. Has everyone forgotten all the regular refs issues with fumble/incomplete pass in the past few seasons? Going back a ways but an all-star crew blew the Pats game with the “tuck rule? Anyone?

    Steelers on the road next week at the 0-2 Raiders. Wonder if Carson Palmer thinks the Bengals or the Raiders have the better front office?

  53. 21sthebest says:

    “You do realize, with two outs, all the Cubs have to do is run Jones back to first base or tag him out, right.”

    That’s the play. Then Marte is supposed to break for home and the Cubs would then try to get Marte at home who should beat the throw. Theoretically anyways.

    But the fact is that Jones had second and all Marte had to do was go back to third. Would I try that play there? Absolutely not. But I still think Marte blew it.

  54. RobertoForever says:

    Commented yesterday on the State College Spikes signing with the Cardinals and not re-signing with the Pirates.

    Look for the Pirates to sign with Batavia, then buy the franchise from Red Wings Community Baseball and move it closer to home. It follows the Pirates recent activity with the High-A team, and a trend in baseball in general.

    Personally, if the future is having MLB teams owning the minor league franchises, then minor league baseball will be worse off.

  55. Milo Hamilton says:


    I was really enjoying your post on yesterday’s top of the 8th, but then I lost my focus.

  56. JMB says:


    RE: “Dismal Tide”

    It’s def not one thing: Mgmt, Hurdle, the players all bear shared responsibility.

    However, that article should have closely looked at how the bad trades, drafts, and FA signings have all added up during NH’s term.

    It’s def not the “one thing,” but it’s the inches that all add up between winning & losing.

  57. buggee says:

    –> Exclusive: Transcription of a recent meeting in the Pirate’s front office:

    Nutting: “Frank (Coonelly), hand me one of those canape-thingies and let’s get this meeting underway.”

    Coonelly: “Yes sir Mr. Nutting. We have three kinds to choose from sir. Which would you prefer; Smoked trout with creme-fraiche, smoked salmon with green olive, or shrimp with horseradish?”

    Nutting: “Whatever Frank, I have a workout scheduled with an ex-Marine drill instructor later today, so how about one of each. And take one for yourself too.”

    Coonelly: “No thanks Mr. Nutting, I’ll just shake this martini for a minute…”

    Huntington: “Not a good idea Frank.”

    Nutting: “Look you guys. My Pirates are stinking up the place. Did you see the other day that porky Joey-closer guy almost lost the game for my boys. How do you explain that?

    Huntington: “I think it has to do with his arm-slot…”

    Nutting: “Baloney! What is he, a slot-machine? And what in the sam-hill is a ‘arm-slot’ anyway?”

    Huntington: “Well sir, it’s how his arm travels through the rotation of the shoulder to present a downward plane on his pitches.”

    Coonelly: “Mr. Nutting, is there any ice?”

    Nutting: “Whatever happened to just pitching the ball, dammit? You know, someone once told me that a leg-kick makes or breaks a pitcher…?”

    Huntington: “That has to do with how the bodyweight is progressed through the hips, as it’s the core that causes the body to create the leverage that evokes a whip-like action from the pitcher’s arm…”

    Nutting: “You’re making my head spin Bob. Now get these boys signed up in TaeKwonDo or something so they can learn how to kick right. How about soccer?”

    Coonelly: “Sir, his name is ‘Neal’, not Bob. Do you have any Grey Goose? I like the lemon-citrus flavor.”

    Nutting: “What? Look you guys, I want Navy SEALs up here NOW! Each and every one of these boys looks like he’s eaten a tire. Start making changes now/ No more food in the clubhouse.”

    Coonelly: “Sir, food in the clubhouse is standard language in their contracts.”

    Nutting: “We’re going to make 82, gentlemen. Now I want everyone on that team, including that loud-mouthed old guy–what’s his name… Clint-something–to buy a box of 64 clay pigeons and get over to my shooting center…”

    Huntington: “Sir, they’re in Chicago.”

    Nutting: “That explains it! They’re eating all that Chicago-style pizza. Now Bob, I want you to go out there and bring in a really great free agent that can hit home runs and who can catch a ball. Money is no object! What’s his name and when will he be on the roster?”

    Huntington: (sputtering) “uh…”

    Coonelly: “Sir, his name is ‘Neal’. Can I have another canape?”

    Nutting: “You guys are The Best Management Team in Baseball, which I firmly believe because my profit-margin from the Battlin’ Buccos is up over last year by 19%. I’m a Billionaire, ya know. Now get out there and get me a free-agent and sign the team up for TaeKwonDo and get those SEALs up here and involved. And see if you can get that Clemente guy to sit in the dugout for a game. I thought that was cool. (Motions to fist bump with Coonelly, who completed the action successfully). One more thing…”

    Coonelly/Nutting (in unison): “yes sir?”

    Nutting: “I never authorized a lock-out, so tell ‘em to suit up and get out there or they can go play in Russia or something. Now get outta here…”

  58. Hurdled says:

    Got a great e-mail from the Pirates this morning……….

    “Register now for the opportunity to purchase tickets for potential Postseason games at PNC Park or GUARANTEE your Postseason ticket priority with a 2013 Season Ticket deposit.”

    I better get my deposit in soon. Don’t want to miss my shot at postseason tickets……

  59. Naje says:

    Thunder —

    Here’s the answer to your Marte questions:

    Yes, he has the talent. Yes, he’s major league ready (supposedly). Yes, he had enough coaching in the minors.

    BUT, did he not rely on that coaching in a very unique situation? No, he didn’t. Pressure, adversity makes cowards of us all. Not saying Marte is a coward, but he flinched at a time when the team needed him to do his job.

    So many players have done that in the past 7 weeks.

    One more, BUT… it sure is nice to see Cutch AND Alvarez putting very, very good swings on the ball in the same game. Bucs will need that in the next three weeks to get close to 82.

    My preseason pick was 77-85… gosh, I hope the surpass that total this week…

  60. Naje says:

    Perhaps one of the biggest reasons Hurdle is using so many AAA pitchers this month (other than that he has them at his disposal): the relievers he’s had all year are getting hit…hard…and consistently.

  61. Milo Hamilton says:


    Genius. :)

  62. NMR says:


    If you think Starling Marte beats that throw home, you are absolutely mistaken. That just doesn’t happen in major league baseball. The ONLY way it works is if the Cubs completely forget about him at third, which they didn’t, along with every other human being with a pulse in the ballpark. He was set up to fail.


    I will assume an equal share of the blame for your lack of focus by not writing more interestingly.

  63. Milo Hamilton says:


    Maybe that’s JMac’s problem. The pennant race wasn’t interesting enough. Tough to keep your focus you know.

  64. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t agree NMR, that you can make that statement in absolute terms. It depends on a couple of variables. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t beat it home. You make it sound like nobody has ever beaten that throw home and I highly doubt that’s the case. They get Jones in a rundown for how long?

    If we execute that play correctly, with Marte’s speed I bet there’s a good chance he beats it home.

  65. Milo Hamilton says:

    Maybe Marte lost his focus too.

  66. NMR says:

    Nothing is absolute, 21. But what are the chances of that play working, even when executed properly? 5%? I asked you before, can you think of a single time it has? Truly, honest question.

    It was a desparate, panicked move.


    I blame Rod Barajas and AJ Burnett for JMac’s problems. They were the reason for his succusses, right?

  67. Jandy says:

    buggee, my friend, you’ve outdone yourself on that one LOL! Good job.

    21s, you’ve already said Marte is inexperienced. Why put him in that situation (to fail) in the first place? This one is on the third base coach.

  68. buggee says:

    Thanks Milo! (lovin the emoticon)

    Mebbe Marte couldn’t properly analyze the arm-slot of the player that threw him out. He would have seen more of a 3-quarter motion as opposed to a motion more level with the shoulder-plane, which everyone should know–even Little Leaguers–is a sure-fire way to get thrown out. DUH

  69. NMR says:

    Speaking of smart baseball, can anyone come up with a reason to trot six different pitchers out of the pen, watch 12 runs cross the plate, and not so much as wink at either of your two best pitchers?

    I know, I know. “But Grili pitches the 8th and Hanny pitches the 9th”

    Lotta good that did ‘em.

  70. 21sthebest says:

    Can I think of a single time it has worked? Are you kidding me with that question? Like I’m supposed to cite a specific game and players when I remember that happening?

    And how do you come up with 5%?

    DK: I love this answer. It’s become such a common argument to say, “Oh, yeah, NAME ONE TIME!” It puts the other person on the spot to come up with something immediately, which never is fair.

  71. JUCOFan says:

    Last week with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, the Pirates unsuccessfully attempted a squeeze bunt and a ‘double steal’. Draw your own conclusions but this much is fact.

    As for me, I choose to believe that the players do not execute fundamentals well and the coaching staff does not have confidence in the players to get a big hit.

    More disturbing is the pitching staff both the starters and bullpen. Did I read somewhere that the only starter remaining in the rotation from the opening five is Kevin Correia? If that is true, ’nuff said.

  72. buggee says:

    @NMR, re #70: Sure, good sir. Notice that all 6 of those relief pitchers appear to have different shoe sizes. Well, each pitcher was leaving an indentation… almost a divot in the soft dirt of the mound that the grounds crew refused to correct for the opposing team, creating an unfair advantage for the Chicago Flubs.

    Hurdle’s rationale to counter this heinous ploy was to use pitchers with different shoe sizes to minimize the negative effect of the divot. Now THAT is some kind of strategy! The rest of MLB should sit up and take notice

  73. Thundercrack says:

    Regarding bringing in Grilli and Hanrahan

    If you gave both of them a shot of truth serum I would bet:
    Grilli says that he only wants to pitch the 8th and wants to start the inning, not be brought in in the middle of it.

    Hanrahan says he only wants come in during a save situation —and wants to start the inning.

    [ I’ve heard Hanrahan on the radio a few times and he has danced around the question on when he prefers to come in]

  74. radio wave says:

    Is the bullpen gased? Like the 2011 Braves were down the stretch?
    Hanny hasn’t had a lot of work because they’re losing. Grilli seems gased. The triple a callups aren’t performing.
    At the beginning of the year the pen seemed like it was a strength. Now it’s weak.
    NH has earned credit in the past for the ability to quickly rebuild the pen from season to season. This version of the rebuild is”under water” like a bad mortgage.
    And it was implied that it’s now OK for the women on this blog to openly cry about the Pirates season.
    Some guys may be crying too, you just can’t notice it because they’re under the hood of the car.

  75. buggee says:

    Clint Hurdle was recently overheard instructing Marte while Marte was taking swings in the batting cage:

    Hurdle: “You have to stay focused on the basics, Starling. The fundamentals…”

    Marte: (crack) “Si, Senor. You quero es?”

    Hurdle: “Right. So when they ask you at the Nutting-charity Spelling Bee to benefit Cystic-Thrombosis, it’s always ‘I’ before ‘E’, except after ‘C’. Got it?”

  76. NMR says:

    @buggee – not sure if you’re still rockin’ and rolllin’ from the weekend festivities, but you’re running circles around us this morning!

    @TC – Why should that matter at all? I bet if you gave Pedro and Jones truth serum they’d tell you they would rather face right handers throwing only fastballs.

    The two situations have about the same relevance in my mind.

    Hurdle’s dead set, old school bullpen management was ridiculous yesterday.

  77. Milo Hamilton says:


    You mean about the part where he was set on pitching every minor leaguer he had ?

  78. JHadar says:

    I’ve been avoiding commenting for a few days, holding back a rant, but it just wants out.

    Watched on WGN — could not believe the blind blundering stupidity that led to that loss.

    It was a microcosm of the season.

    I was kicking myself for buying in, both for the game and the season — knowing that I will always buy in.

    I just want it to stop.

    Then I read the interview with Nutting, Coonelly and Huntington this morning.

    Gained respect for Nutting (believe it or not). He said “this is unacceptable.”

    Huntington waffled. He needs to be the “buck stops here guy.” If it’s community responsibility Neal, whose job is it to make the community?

    Coonelly said “I don’t want to play the blame game.” OK, neutral is an improvement for Frank’s public statements. And yes, that’s faint praise.

    Nutting said ““My approach has always been to fully support the team we have in place, and when it’s time to make a change, we make a change.” Good, Bob, that’s the way I root for the team — except that I don’t have the wherewithal to make the changes.

    I want to read more into “when it’s time to make a change, we make a change.”

    I really do.

    Then I thought back to the chat last week: DK’s one-word answer to why the Pirates are falling apart.


    This IS unacceptable.

    …when it’s time to make a change …

  79. radio wave says:

    I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio. Just after my last post, a caller from Pittsburgh asked about the collapse, and what the Pirates might do in the offseason.

    The hosts of the show, Mike Ferrin and former Mets GM Jim Duquette, had a lot to say.

    The caller pointed out this is an arbitration year for Hanny, and that Huntington might not meet his price.

    The hosts said this might be the right time to move Hanny but that what his return value would be caused a disagreement. Ferrin said he could bring two major league players, Duquette said only prospects.

    They echoed my previous post, saying the bullpen is gassed. And they said the reason for this is that in the first half, the Pirates didn’t have enough good starting pitching. As I said all along, Bedard gave them nothing. They said they need an offensive upgrade at shortstop. But what will drive most of you crazy is they both agreed that one of the most important things the Pirates need to do in the offseason is re-sign Barajas.

  80. NMR says:

    @Milo – As opposed to Jeff Kartsans, because he’s a starter.

  81. Thundercrack says:

    Radio, I heard that too. And almost drove off the road when they said that about Barajas.

  82. RobertoForever says:


    Good update. I wonder how much the Pirates are paying the Sirius hosts?

  83. Jandy says:

    TC, I just choked on my coffee! UGH! Are all the people blind?

  84. radio wave says:

    at TC #83
    and their last comments were interesting too.
    they said the Pirates are better off now concerning their pitching than they were at this time last season. Of course, that was based on the speculation of when the “power pitchers” in the system like Cole will get here. Everyone seems to think Cole will be here next season. In his case I agree, but the others? i don’t know.
    And if they do come up, get hurt, or fail, the uproar of having rushed them up too soon will never end.
    Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

  85. radio wave says:

    at Jandy #84
    Can we choose different words to rephrase your question?

  86. NMR says:

    I think Barajas should be brought back, as the backup catcher, at no more than $1m, and no more than about 50 starts.

    But the starting catcher cannot be Michael Mckenry or Tony Sanchez.

  87. Jandy says:

    radio, hey, go for it. I’m getting sick and tired of Barajas. Make him a coach already.

  88. JHadar says:

    Radio —
    Iowa 27 UNI 16 — The Hawks offense finally showed up. UNI looked good their first two possessions and probably would have won if they had played the Iowa team that showed up for Iowa State. The Hawkeyes did manage to injure their top two running backs, but turned their fullback into an RB and the receivers manage to catch passes that were thrown to them.

    Were you able to get the game out there?

  89. Reading says:

    Just think, if any our pitchers yesterday bore any resemblance to actual pitchers, we’d be talking about what a great win: two opposite field bombs by Pedro, Marte with three hits, Bucs offensive explosion, adding on to leads, etc.

    But we’re not.

  90. radio wave says:

    at J Hadar:

    Listened to the Iowa radiocast.
    Amazingh how far down the depth chart they are on running backs. I was wrong on that game, thought UNI was better than UI this year. Happy for Hawks. Will be interesting to see where UNI lands in the FCS polls this week. I don’t know of any other FCs level school that goes out of it’s way to schedule two FBS schools in 3 weeks. and last week they beat Central State Ohio, who i believe are Division II. So they haven’t played anyone on their own level yet.

  91. cosmo says:

    It’s beginning to look like I will be going to a meaningless game on October 3rd.

    On a side note to DK. Have you seen Joe Starkey today? He said on the Fan on Thursday that he would shave his head if the Pirates lost more than 1 game against the Cubs this weekend. Curious as if he did it.

  92. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I had forgotten NH has been here for 5 years. And somehow I must have missed something in that time that can be classified as “part of the really good”. What the h-e- double hockey-sticks is he even talking about? The fans coming out and paying to see not one but TWO teams in consecutive years fail horribly? Yeah, good for owners, I guess. Does he seriously believe this team will be competitive next year at this rate? What an arrogant, irresponsible fool. Hey Neal, I’d love to hear your positive spin, but it would make me vomit.

  93. NMR says:


    EXCELLENT post. I can’t believe I forgot about Pedro yesterday. I truly have never seen a more impressive display of power in all my life, and thats not overstated one bit.

    The only thing close to being as impressive was that bomb Bonds hit off Percival in the ’02 World Series. I remember thinking it would never come out of the haze that night.

  94. Drew71 says:

    Very funny stuff today, Buggee. But #69…
    what kinda sick freak loves emoticons?

  95. 21sthebest says:

    “He said on the Fan on Thursday that he would shave his head if the Pirates lost more than 1 game against the Cubs this weekend.”

    Really a brave bet for a radio personality to make.

  96. Reading says:


    The sad thing is the offensive performance yesterday, coupled with a win, might have been the impetus for one final run at the WC. Instead, we’re left with picking up the pieces of another failed campaign. The life of a Pirates fan.

  97. Jandy says:

    At Drew #95 ::ahem::

  98. Drew71 says:

    Reading, we may be Pirate fans but this isn’t life.

  99. Jandy says:

    :) 8) ;) :) 8) ;) =) :) 8) ;) :) 8) ;) =)

  100. Drew71 says:

    #98: You hot little lurker

  101. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yes it’s been 5 years. And that’s long enough. Coonelly & Huntington both have to go and be replaced by one man. Similar to the structure in Cincinnati & other places. Or a true baseball man as president & a GM that works in concert, like in Chicago.

    Now that’s sounds good when you say it fast. The reality of the situation is that the same incompetent owner will be picking the replacement. I just can’t think of any way out of this. Well, I can think of one but …

  102. Milo Hamilton says:

    And I’m not absolving Hurdle of any blame. He’s managing like he’s trying to get fired. But all let you all handle him. You’re doing a great job so far.

    I don’t see too many references to 82 anymore. Fait accompli I suspect.

    We deserve so much better.

  103. Milo Hamilton says:

    Now that I’ve sufficiently depressed myself, I’ll slap the gag back on.

  104. cosmo says:


    Is Syd Thrift available

  105. Milo Hamilton says:


    Even in his current state he shows more of a pulse than the current GM.

  106. Jandy says:

    #101 :p

    Milo, no more gags, friend. Vent away, you’ve earned it, man.

  107. cosmo says:


    So true, so true

  108. Drew71 says:


  109. WVStarship says:

    Syd passed away in 2006. In fact, the anniversary of his passing is tomorrow.

  110. Hurdled says:

    I have to hand it to Huntington and Hurdle.

    To go from 2 games out of 1st place to 4th place and 14 back in only 45 days is COMMENDABLE!

  111. The Gunner says:

    Neal Huntington is a BOZO – 5 years of his BS is enough.

  112. NMR says:

    For what its worth, Neal Huntington is the only man in the organization that doesn’t sound completely beaten and spent.

    And don’t think for a second that this collapse doesn’t burn him the most out of anyone. This organization is his baby. You bet he saw the bright lights when the team was 16 over .500. You bet he had his “I told you so’s” ready as soon as the season ended. And you can also bet he knows EXACTLY the type of blame being thrown at him now.

    I can’t get mad at him for holding his composure when everyone around him is crapping their pants.

  113. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Can’t get mad for holding his composure, CAN get mad at him for blatantly ignoring obvious failure and not shouldering ANY responsibility personally. Defending signing Clint Barmes is absurd. Talking about contract control like it is the golden egg of the GM world shows his priorities. This organization may be his baby, but it’s turned out to be an ugly baby.

  114. Reading says:


    Maybe, more of an alternate reality.

  115. Drew71 says:

    That’s what my mom always called me so that’s a good thing, right Brad?

  116. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Lol, absolutely, Drew. I’m sure no matter what your mom said you didn’t even compare to this, though.

  117. Cmat0829 says:

    Thanks to the poster who provided what a former MLB gm had to say about the pirates. No offense to DK and anyone else with Internet connectivity and the ability to type but I’m much more interested in what those with experience have to say. This is especially true of things like evaluating Barmes and Barajas.

    The right question isn’t really what we would do if we were the pirates management team but what would others do who could or will have the job next year or soon thereafter. What I find most frustrating of all is how often we repeat the “fire the manager” and “fire the gm” refrains thinking that somehow whomever comes in is going to employ radical different thought processes or approaches.

    The Indians gm is widely respected, for example. Ditto with Kevin towers in arizona. Both those teams were competitive in July…..what moves did they make?

    Not defending Neal or taking a position pro or con on getting rid of him…..I’m just wondering if the “new guy” really does anything differently. Saying a new gm would not have made any of neal’s obvious mistakes is like someone saying we’d have peace in the middle east if we just had a different President.

  118. Jandy says:

    Drew, you brat you. I’m sure your Mother said NO such thing :p

  119. Bizrow says:

    I know, everyone knows that it takes 7 years to turn a franchise around….

    What are the bets during the offseason that the FO states its actually 10 years?

    Its not always the players, if they don’t produce, could be the player doesn’t care or is simply having an off season, could be that the player isn’t a real solid major leaguer, could be they have the talent but have not been developed correctly.

    Most of the above lies with the organization. NH one would think is now responsible for the product on the field.

    Just sayin, and most of this is due to sheer frustration that this season is pretty much lost and I cringe at the off season spin we will hear.

  120. Jandy says:

    Everyone has solid thoughts and I’m taking this all in. However, it doesn’t change what we have NOW. I’m sure there is no easy fix for this hot, smelly mess. I don’t envy anyone in ownership, management, or even on the field in the next couple months.

  121. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    What a good day of sports Saturday was.

    Pirates won

    Pitt with the upset (I’m not a Pitt fan)

    Thought good things were ahead of us for Sunday. I was half right.

    Steelers with a big win

    And the Bucs……thought they were going to win, but…oh well.

    Its football season!!

  122. nate83 says:

    Wow ugly baby talk. Nice. Well if this current organization is an ugly baby what was it 5 years ago? Of all sports baseball is the toughest to build a team from essentially ground zero. Unless you are one of the lucky 7 or 8 teams that have owners and local revenue that can buy a winning team.

    Did all moves work? Absolutely not, but there is a strategy in place that seems to be moving us in the right direction. Maybe Neal, Frank and Clint are not the right people to move us forward but the baby they are handing of is much better looking then the one they inherited.

    Please tell me minus Jose Bautista and Jason Bay for 1 year what former Pirate has went on to just set the league on fire or for the matter even become an important part of the teams they now play for.

  123. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    I agree 100% with your post.

    Its very easy to throw around the blame game. But if there isn’t someone out there that would make radical changes to the team, what do you do?

    The radical changes needed might be to the budget. Though honestly, I think NH’s budget has increased from year to year. Its how you spend the money that matters most.

    Who saw RB batting below .200? Or Barmes doing the same for most of the season. I doubt anybody did. Nobody expected career years for these guys, but I don’t think anybody expected below their career numbers as well. That’s baseball. You win some, you lose some.

  124. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I wonder if people would rather have a team like the Dodgers that went out and spent all the money they did, traded for all the players they did, then not win or continue what the Pirates have been doing. Building from within.

    I’d take the current philosphy over the other one any day of the week. I enjoy baseball more that way. I like young guys coming up through the system that sticks with the team for the foreseeable future.

    I’m not a fan of paying for any big name that’s available. Most of those guys are on the downhill slide of their careers. FA’s are needed to fill holes, they shouldn’t be used to build the team. Just my opinion though.

  125. Milo Hamilton says:


    Magic Johnson alone trumps anything going on here. He understands the concept of winning.

  126. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    No doubt. But from a fans standpoint. How ticked would you be if the Pirates did what the Dodgers did and continue to lose?

    C’mon, you know EVERYBODY would be all over this FO even more than what it is now…or all over Hurdle even worse.

  127. Milo Hamilton says:


    I really don’t get where you’re coming from. How can I possibly be any more ticked off than I am now ?

  128. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I’m not ticked off at all……why bother?

    I think it would be easy to be even more ticked it if at the deadline, or there after, the Pirates picked up Victornio, Beckett, A-Gon, et al and still had this slide….I’d be even more ticked…easily, much, much more ticked off.

    But as I sit here……I’m not. Not ticked off at all.

  129. NMR says:

    Amazing how much a $4 BILLION tv deal cultivates a concept of winning.

  130. nate83 says:


    So it is the local TV market to blame for the losing? Let’s start a list. Mine starts with Bud Selig followed closely by the Zoltan sign/hex.

  131. nate83 says:

    When did that Zoltan guy throw out the first pitch?

  132. nate83 says:

    I just looked it up July 25th. The fame seeker has ruined our season. He could have just sat at home watching TV and saying to himself how cool the Pirates have adopted a silly hand signal that I did in a movie, but no he had to squeeze a little more fame out of it since he isn’t even famous enough to be on Dancing with the Stars Season 5000.

  133. buggee says:

    @ Drew71, re #95: the same freak(s) that love the Pirates

  134. buggee says:

    Jandylicious, coffee aint good fer ya

  135. Drew71 says:

    So. If Zoltan showed up for a game now, would he survive the night?

  136. Drew71 says:


    We’ll call it ZoltanGate.

    Dejan will write a column.

    We’ll tell him it’s not newsworthy.

    The Pirates will lose.

    It’s the Circle of Life.

    DK: Nice.

    Know what’s funny, Drew?

    The only columns I’ve written where I’ve heard from people that they ‘aren’t newsworthy’ are the ones that appear to have generated the most interest.

    Who decides what’s newsworthy?

  137. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    They could drop that stupid Z thing anytime now……..

    never was a big fan of it.

  138. Thundercrack says:

    Dude, where’s our wins?

  139. NMR says:


    How did you possibly make that connection?

  140. Thundercrack says:

    As they said in Animal House: It’s not newsworthy until we say it’s newsworthy!

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