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Wednesday Wakeup Call: It’s about the goals

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Morning, one and all …

>> The Wednesday column suggests, in light of Ray Lewis and Alex Rodriguez reviving the discussion, a new way to punish steroids offenders. And it’s got nothing to do with punishing steroids offenders.

Really would like to hear your feedback on this idea, as well as any you might have.

Here’s Alan Robinson’s news report on Lewis from New Orleans.

Also amid Robinson’s files for the day is this gem of a notebook that includes the Ravens’ reaction to hearing that some of the Steelers are pulling for them. There’s other good stuff in there, too.

This answers the question that Talking Heads’ David Byrne once asked: “Notebooks? What good are notebooks if they don’t help me survive?”

>> Here’s the podcast of yesterday’s TribLIVE Radio show. And for those of who haven’t clambered up bridges after the Penguins’ ugly loss last night, you’ll find good stuff here from Todd Reirden, the assistant coach responsible for the defense. Some stuff about Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik I learned on the spot.

And here, as always, is video of the opening segment, which now almost sounds as if it portended the offensive dud that awaited vs. the Isles …

The show is every Tuesday, 1-2 p.m., and here’s where to find the TribLIVE Radio app for the iPhone, iPad and Android. Just search “TribLIVE Radio” in the app store.

>> Don’t overthink this, guys. Any team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal has no business scoring six goals in a four-game span. No excuses. Out of those three, only Neal has delivered. Out of the rest, very, very few.

Here’s full coverage from Consol by Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

303 Comments

  1. Wonderful column. And not one mention of hockey.

    Couldn’t agree more with that punishment. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hold your breath until it happens, though.

  2. Voiding contracts I think would go a long way to eliminating PED use. But getting that by the unions would be a hell of a legal trick. The idea of forfeiting games is a great idea. What about vacating wins? Maybe it’s the same thing. If the Giants were docked 25 games for Melky on Aug. 15 when he popped, no playoffs, no WS title.

    In the Marines and other branches, a lot of times a whole unit is punished for an infraction by one servicemember, or small group. It’s an effective way to get the unit to “police their own”. As you said, Dejan, punish the teams, and in turn both management and other players will start condemning this, especially if it lightens their wallets somehow.

    I’m not writing the Pens off yet.

    DK: Tremendous point about the Giants.

    • -I can assure you with 100% certainity, that all branches punish everyone in the unit for 1 person’s mistake. It happens almost on a daily basis, but I can’t guarantee that it makes us police each other. The one that makes the mistake, gets worse punishment than these clowns would ever know.

  3. *So tired of this story about steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. In the NFL, you get 4 games for first offense and MLB is 50 games. Why not the whole season? It would be nice for a team to terminate the contract of a player of an important player. If the Yankees do it now, it benefits them because ARod is no longer a star player, in fact he’s a liability on the field. Gotta wonder how those teams in the AL feel now knowing the Yankees can just save $100 million.

    *Scoring goals is one of the problems but in order to score goals, you’ve got to be doing all the little things right that lead up to scoring a goal and right now, this team, those key players are not doing it.

    *The median average is 16.5 turnovers per game for Pens, that’s terrible.

    *15 goals in 6 games… that’s not going to win you many games.

    *Conversely, giving up 18 goals in 6 games.. what is this 1992-93? You won’t win many games averaging 3 or more goals against per game.

    *Power Play is 22.7%, which looks nice but when you watch it and not the stare at the stats. It is mind boggling that a team with Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, and Letang as the first unit cannot easily gain entry into the offensive zone on the rush up the ice, teams do not respect their alignment thus are pressuring the puck at every chance possible, no one is in front of the net to create screens & score on rebound chances, and most frustrating is that Crosby and Malkin continue to be unable to co-exist on the same PP unit as they both want the same sheet of ice.

    *Penalty Kill isn’t any better, in fact, it is worse. They are 78.3% having given up 5 goals in 23 chances in 6 games. You won’t win many games giving up almost 1 per game. Bob Errey was right, the PK was extremely stationary.. just like Flyers abused in the playoffs.

    *Pens have given up the most 2nd period goals being outscored 11-2… that’s not good enough. Bylsma can talk about long changes all we wants but that’s accounted for maybe 2 of the 11 goals against.

    *Simon Despres had a good game filling in for the injured Matt Niskanen. He was physical, moved his legs well, and made good crisp passes. The Penguins cannot just give up on a talent like this unless they are getting a sure thing and with Niskanen’s injury for 2-4 weeks, it is the perfect chance to see what the young man has in him. I predict the Pens will be happy.

    *Can’t say the same for Engelland as he’s struggling to keep up with the speed of the game. I’ve been saying this for two years that he’s a number seven defenseman but for all the accolades lofted towards Ray Shero for drafting defensemen, this team cannot have a number six like Engelland sitting on the bench. It is time to see what Robert Bortuzzo can do in the NHL.

    • completely agree about Engelland. He makes 1 crunching hit every 6 games or so, and that’s the only thing he does well. He’s slow, handles the puck worse than Orpik and Kunitz combined, and can’t pass. threre’s no way he’s better than Despres, Nisky, Lovejoy, or Bortuzzo. (Or Strait). But Danny has his favorites, and Engelland and Old man Adams must play every game. And Kunitz will not move from that top line no matter how invisible he has been so far.

  4. I think the biggest problem with PED use is the general lack of an outcry from the fans of the specific sports. We like our athletes bigger, faster, and stronger. We like our sporting events physical and fast-paced. We like our juiced up baseball players (Chicks dig the long ball). We like it when the best athletes in the world are able to return from an injury and perform at a level greater than before they were hurt. That’s why when someone gets caught, we barely bat an eyelash. Seriously, when the Ray Lewis and A-Rod stories broke today, was anyone really shocked? I know I wasn’t.

    DK: Well, OK, then, what do you think would happen among a fan base the first time a doping athlete cost their favorite team a game or 10 games or even a championship?

    • I think that depends on the fan base. In some cities fans would take to radio and TV and demand answers, including the release of the player from the team.

      In other cities, especially if we are talking about taking away wins/games/championships, I think we’d see something like we saw after game 7 of the Canucks/Bruins Stanley Cup Finals 2 years ago.

      It is definitely an intriguing thought to forfeit games if a player is caught, but it is also one that could have ramifications outside the sports world.

    • I think it depends on the city really. Some cities would blame the league and cry conspiracy rather than believe their favorite athlete cheated. Others would be willing to string the athlete up by his toenails.

      How long did Lance have a strong, vocal group of defenders in the face of overwhelming evidence against him?

      Either way, and I think you can use yesterdays media session as an indicator of this, the typical fan is burying their head in the sand on PED from now on. They are ready and willing to shoot the messenger for breaking these stories. From what I gathered on the radio on my drive into work the general media let Ray-Ray off the hook for the most part. they asked cursory questions and then let it go rather than push him on it. They didn’t want to report it because people don’t want to hear about it.
      People want their heroes.

    • The lack of an outcry from the public isn’t hurting this ridiculous drug testing debate nearly as bad as the lack of an outcry from the players in these sports (my humble opinion). Until JJ Watt, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, and the like..stand up and say something like..”proven positive tests should result in lifetime bans” (I know, that’s ridiculous to even think about), people will continue to try and cheat.

  5. I don’t think the Pens are coached to emulate statues on the PK.

    Can they be coached to expend some effort?

    By the way, I’m in favor of scrapping the “Two-headed monster”. Let’s put Kunitz back with Malkin and Neal. Bring up Bennett for Sid and Paschal.

    Martin regressed to last year’s play. What’s up with Sutter?

    Stuart

    • I’ve been screaming at my TV to put Kunitz back on Malkin’s line. Sid can play with anyone. Period. He’ll make them better. Even if it has to be Kennedy or Jeffrey. I liked the idea last night of putting Jeffrey in a top 6 role to give it a try. They just did it on the wrong line.

      I know Kunitz, Duper, and Crosby have worked well together in the past, but we are so far removed from that time that I don’t understand why that line is untouchable but your most potent line just a year ago just has to be broken up. It is nonsense.

      The team looked generally uninterested last night from the very beginning. I loose more faith in Bylsma every day. I don’t know if it is the system he preaches(to be fair I don’t think the Pens are even coming remotely close to playing his system. The system is to get it deep, grind it out, and get multiple opportunities per trip. That is not happening at all) or his inability to coach the players into playing the system. I just feel like every year he stays at the helm things start to look a worse.

  6. Is the blog supposed to be blue with white letters?

  7. Could not disagree more with your monologue. Malkin has looked out of sorts since the start of the season and been a turnover machine taking stupid penalities. He has only shown brief flashes of his former self, despite the fact that he should be in peak form given his play in the KHL. Kunitz has also looked out of sorts as well and is simply not performing. Moving him (Kunitz) to Malkin’s line would somehow fix everything? I don’t think so. Sid has looked rusty at times, and brilliant at times, and when he has sent pucks to his wingers (i.e. Kennedy) they have whiffed on virtually empty nets.

    Recall, just two years ago Sid, Kunitz and Duper were the best line in hockey (not Malkin, Neal and Kunitz) with Sid lapping the competition and a sure bet to win the Hart, and scoring title. Until Steckel. Stripping Sid of wingers isn’t the answer.

    This team has more than one or two problems. It has at least 10 and they start with the coach.

    DK: I won’t dispute there are many problems. But comparing current lines to two years ago bypasses that Neal is now a 40-goal guy. Wholly different dynamic in play. One must feed the bear(s).

    • Just as comparing current line issues with last year bypasses the wholly different dynamic in play this year: that Malkin and Kunitz are not playing like Malkin and Kunitz of 2012. If Malkin were playing as well as you seem to remember he should be able to overcome the loss of Kunitz…Neal certainly has, and has continued his scoring proweress without either Kunitz or a “withit” Malkin .

      • Maybe the reason Malkin and Kunitz aren’t playig like Malin and Kunitz of 2012 is because they are not playing together. More familiarity can’t hurt. I’m not saying it is the answer but Geno’s line just looks down right terrible without that third man that gets the dirty work done. Tangradi is not that man. Kennedy certainly is not that man. Kunitz fits the mold. I wouldn’t mind giving cookie a chance.

        But why in god’s name would you break up the BEST LINE IN ALL OF HOCKEY? Because your captain came back? The same captain who has played with a vast rotation of wingers and suceeded no matter who was on that line with him? Crosby will get his. I’m not concerned about that. But I do know that when Malkin doesn’t have the consistency on his line that he likes, his play suffers. You can’t plug and play on his line.

        • Your reasoning doesnt fit given that Neal’s play has faired just fine without Kunitz. It is Malkin’s play that is off, not the “line”

          Also consider that Kunitz isnt providing much in the way of his “getting the dirty work done” on Sid’s line, why do you think he would return to form on Geno’s line?

  8. Can’t ever see pro teams being punished by forfeits based on an individuals cheating via PEDs. Just not realistic and loaded with litigation. Therefore, not a fan of this column.

    I think the best one can hope for is a one confirmed strike and your out for life player policy and his team stuck with his remaining contract obligation applying to the budget/cap with no hope for changes. Send the money to charity. That is if a contracted 10 year $100 million player is caught in year three, he is gone for life and the team must still budget/cap for seven years at $10 million a year with no performance benefit for that money.

    Penguins look ordinary, which is very bad given their so-called talent.

    DK: How to explain college teams being punished for individual transgressions?

    • I don’t know that NCAA enforcement is a model that anyone should aspire to. More to the point, college athletics claim to be about various lofty values like sportsmanship and fair play and developing the scholar-athlete. Professional leagues sell the competition as their product; they don’t forfeit or vacate victories after the fact, no matter the transgression.

  9. As far as Ray Lewis goes, I think its a pretty big deal. Reason being, Aaron Smith had the same torn tricep in 2010. He was done for the year, even though they held a spot for him. Ty Warren, Bertrand Berry, Levi Brown. All those guys missed SEASONS. Lewis not only came back, I think he’s led the league in tackles the last month. Steroids and PEDs dont just make you stronger, they aid in recovery. Thats why Petite took them.

    And on the flipside,If Goodell wants to make the league safer, and stopped getting sued by former players and their families…Hey why dont we make these guys all a little smaller. You think that might help?

  10. I mean, it might be that simple. You got guys bigger and faster than they have ever been using PEDs, crashing into each other 60 minutes a game. And we all wonder why we have all these concussions and brain trauma.

  11. If you want an example of why the Islanders and other teams have been able to shutdown the Penguins on the breakout, tonight’s game had a great teaching moment that I’ve detailed on my blog and will be posting at Face-off Factor later today.

    The play is showing a questionable Letang decision to skate so far backwards into his zone, Lovejoy in a position that he had felt no choice but to make the easy pass chipping off the boards and for it to be intercepted and quickly turn into a blazing of a scoring chance for Grabner.

    http://pittsburghfancentral.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-scouting-speed-skill-troubling-pens.html

  12. DK and bpn8pitt are both right.
    Now, getting caught by the weak testing system in place is viewed by players and teams alike as simply a cost/risk of doing business. Someone gets busted,he make excuses, appeals possibly, but never rats out a teammate or his team (not that I would expect or want him to). Teams and players move on (unless the player is on the bubble, like Wesley Saunders), no lessons are learned. But punishing teams would hopefully change the risk/reward calculations for the better.

    And yes, if the NFL really wants to cut down on violent injuries, getting illegal chemicals out of the game would go a long ways toward that.

  13. WesLYE Saunders.

  14. I must admit that in my opinion after hearing the PED story involving Ray Lewis I had a hard time not believing it. Again looking at Suggs and Lewis and their recovery time from major injuries is rather remarkable.

    I agree teams should be punished but I also believe there could be a partial solution to athletes that use PED’s to recover from injuries. Miss a game in the NFL due to injury; drug test during your rehab. Put on the 15-day DL in baseball; drug test during that time.

    Is this going to cure everything no? And to DK’s point teams should be held accountable. They should be required to abnormalities in recovery from their athletes. Instead of working for the team the doctors and medical staff should work for the NFL. There is no way a medical staff or training staff cannot tell when there is a change or an unrealistic recovery from an injury. But I’m sure that the players would claim thats a violation of HIPPA if medical staff reported suspected users. As one other post mentioned the numerous amounts of players that had the same injury as Lewis and were done for the season.

    Void contracts, penalize a team, do what you want but the fact that these 2 guys are getting paid what they are and one is about to play in the biggest game on the biggest stage is ridiculous.

  15. I’ll be interested to see if the “latest episode” with Ray-Ray impacts his future employment opportunities with the NFL offices or the broadcast media (TV) in 2013 or 2014.

  16. Dateline: Iowa.

    Overnight, 4-7 inches of snow. Over an inch of ice.

    How do they live in this stuff?

    I’m supposed to fly out this afternoon. How do they fly in this stuff?

    What happens if I’m trapped here until late spring?

    Well. Thunder would be happy.

  17. I think it is a cultural thing, and the only way that gets changed is thru collective punishment. A guy costs his teammates a paycheck, that guy is a pariah.

  18. I wonder what would be easier to get the MLB players union to agree to:
    -voiding contracts due to PEDs
    - salary cap

    If you started to vacate wins I wonder what percentage of the fans would change their feelings about cheating & PEDs. Meaning if their team had to give up wins because their team’s star (or even not a star) got caught cheating, how many fans would say “What’s wrong with using that stuff?” or “The testing is faulty”

    • I’d guess salary cap. No one wants to give up coin already promised. Knowing the two parties it would never be a ‘hard’ cap.

  19. JAL’s Snowbound Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqgKiFxeQtg

    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/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2013

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Looking at the Bigger Picture

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/01/first-pitch-looking-at-the-bigger-picture.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #4 – Alen Hanson

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/01/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-top-prospects-4-alen-hanson.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Francisco Liriano could agree to minor-league deal

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/1/29/3930012/liriano-on-minor-league-deal

    7 The Green Weenie

    Alex Presley Edition

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/01/alex-presley-edition.html

    8 This Is Getting Old

    Roster Watch: Jeff Locke

    http://thisisgettingold.net/2013/01/29/roster-watch-jeff-locke/

    9 Rumbunter

    Are Strikeouts The Global Warming Of Major League Baseball

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/01/29/are-strikeouts-the-global-warming-of-major-league-baseball/

    Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Former First-Rounder Kyle Waldrop

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/01/29/pittsburgh-pirates-sign-former-first-rounder-kyle-waldrop/

    10 Baseball Nation

    The perfectly whelming offseason of the Pirates

    http://mlb.sbnation.com/2013/1/29/3926586/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-roster-preview

  20. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 PBC Site

    Bucs’ non-roster invitees list includes familiar names

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130129&content_id=41240446&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    12 Reviewing the Brew

    Previewing the 2013 NL Central

    http://reviewingthebrew.com/2013/01/29/previewing-the-nl-central/

    13 MLB Prospect Watch

    Top 100 Prospects

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2013/index.jsp

    14 The Ledger

    Andrew McCutchen Repaying Hometown of Fort Meade With Fund-Raising Youth Camp

    http://www.theledger.com/article/20130129/NEWS/130129159/1002/sports?Title=Andrew-McCutchen-Repaying-Hometown-of-Fort-Meade-With-Fund-Raising-Youth-Camp

    15 Rant Sports

    Curious Timing For Pittsburgh Pirates to Trade Joel Hanrahan

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/01/29/curious-timing-for-pittsburgh-pirates-to-trade-joel-hanrahan/

    16 SoDoMojo

    Ronny Paulino: Who is He and Why Did the Seattle Mariners Sign Him?

    http://sodomojo.com/2013/01/29/ronny-paulino-who-is-he-and-why-did-the-seattle-mariners-sign-him/

    17 Fox Sports

    Correia expects to eat up innings for Twins

    http://www.foxsportsnorth.com/01/29/13/Correia-expects-to-eat-up-innings-for-Tw/landing_twins.html?blockID=856075&feedID=3793

    18 Sweetspot

    Prediction: A-Rod’s career is over

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/32414/prediction-a-rods-career-is-over

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Six Contract Incentives that Should Happen

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19503

    20 Fangraphs

    Reports Call Miami Facility an East Coast BALCO

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/reports-call-miami-facility-an-east-coast-balco/

  21. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers 2013 salary cap options: wide receivers

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/1/29/3923074/steelers-salary-cap-roster-WR-Wallace-Brown-Sanders-Cotchery-Moye-Reed-Moore-Gilreath-RFA-tender

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Hiring Of Jack Bicknell Jr. As The Offensive Line Coach Likely Means Zone Blocking Scheme

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/01/steelers-hiring-of-jack-bicknell-jr-as-the-offensive-line-coach-likely-means-zone-blocking-scheme/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Mario Balotelli quits Manchester City for AC Milan move in deal worth £22m

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-city/9832924/Mario-Balotelli-quits-Manchester-City-for-AC-Milan-move-in-deal-worth-22m.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 29th January, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-29th-january-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Eric Tangradi: Bust or simply an unfinished project?

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/1/29/3929562/eric-tangradi-bust-or-simply-an-unfinished-project

  22. I dedicate Jal’s song to Drew.

  23. The Pens are such a mess, I’m not sure where to begin to fix them. Wait…let me try this: sit Malkin out a game. His constant turnovers are ridiculous.
    If i were at the game last night, I’d want my money back.

    • As brilliant an idea as that is, we all know that isn’t going to happen. I think this was mentioned above or in another thread, but it was discussed that Malkin needed to readjust his game back to the NHL. He coughed up the puck at various inopportune times last year and playing in the KHL isn’t like playing over here. You can get away with a lot more drop passes and 45-foot cross ice passes because the competition isn’t as good and the ice is bigger. You do that in the NHL it’s in the back of your net a lot of the time. Whatever the issue is, and they have bigger ones than Geno, it needs to get fixed now. The “exhibition” phase of this season is over.

      • It SHOULD happen, though. He’s not “privileged” and should be setting examples for other players to follow. He needs to be a leader.
        He’s turning the puck over at a higher rate than I remember from last season. That’s not good. SO we’ll see going on if he corrects it.

  24. Another thought I would like to add to the Ray Lewis situation is this… Why in the world would this guy call on his own? And why did the guy that recorded it wait till now to release it?

    Not saying he’s innocent as I am still baffled as to how he was able to return so quickly but for a guy smart enough to get away with murder to do some thing this dumb is even more baffling.

    • EXACTLY.

      I thought the timing of the release of this story, literally an hour before the Ravens were set to take the field on the biggest media day of their careers, was convenient at best. It smacks of intent and honesty make me question the validity of it.

      My biggest concern is: When was this information known, and how long has someone been sitting on it? Waiting for the optimal time to break it to gain the most coverage.

      I know journalism is a business like any other. And holding onto this until media day was probably a savvy career decision. But if they knew about this say, a month ago, how does that affect the games played between now and then? As it is there simply isn’t enough time for the league to do anything about it. If they are made aware of it a month ago maybe the NFL has time to act accordingly, again, if true.

  25. As for the Penguins… The most troubling thing for me last night was Bylsma calling a timeout down 2-0 just to let his team know that he was not happy. How did they respond? Give up 2 more goals in the same period.

    Did the coaching staff spend so much time trying to solve their issues from the Philly series that they forgot that playoff hockey and regular season hockey are two totally different styles.

    No forechecking, no consistent pressure in the offensive zone. I agree with a previous post of putting Kunitz back on the line with Malkin and Neal. Put Kennedy back with Cooke and Sutter. If Bennett is as good as advertised then call him up and put him with Crosby and Dupuis.

    Yes it’s early but in a 48 game schedule you don’t have time to play around. That lack of response to the TO was alarming. Someone needs to be a leader on the team and step up. No grit, no sand paper, no fight.

    • In all fairness in that second period they did have some sustained pressure for extended periods of time. They just managed to shoot themselves in the foot on them. One time they had sustained pressure, the puck leaked out of the zone and they got called for icing. This is actually where Bylsma took a well placed time out. Another time they kept play in the zone for a solid minute, even changed without losing the zone. i believe it was leTang that misplayed a puck on the wall and Grabnor was back picking cherries that lead to the break away goal that should have been in Fleury’s glove.

      Those were the Pens two BEST shifts and both ended in extremely negative fashion.

  26. It hurts to disagree with Dejan on a day in which he references the great David Byrne, but I must.

    I’m fairly surprised to see so many people overlooking the obvious root of the problem: selfishness.

    Using PED’s is a selfish act.

    Players don’t use PED’s to help the team. They use PED’s to get nine figure checks.

    Does anyone really believe if the Yankees faced punishment Arod would’ve sat back and reflected on his actions? Please!

    That’s almost as ridiculous as using the NCAA as a model organization. Since, you know, they’re sooooo good at preventing infractions.

  27. One thing I began to notice last night with the Pens is that they have become very predictable. Every player brings the puck up to the blue line, then tries to make a cross-ice pass that the other team is just sitting and waiting for. Same thing in the zone – cross-ice passes. They also are struggling bringing the puck in the zone, so they really need to dump it in the corner more and chase. The 4th line does that, and it is pretty sad that they put the most pressure on in the offensive zone consistantly than the other three lines. I am nowhere near giving up on them, and maybe it is good to go through some adversity now so that they get things together by the end of the season, but this start eeriely resembles the Steelers this past season…all the talent to get the job done but underachieving.

  28. The mobile version of this blog is not good.

  29. Anyone else getting tired of Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey? Are they watching the same game as I am? Rarely do they mention giveaways and lack of effort. If they report the truth are they afraid they won’t have access to the players? Sid and Gino, 2 of the best in the NHL so tell us why they aren’t playing like it. Tell us the reason for the many turnovers and lack of goal scoring. I’m no expert…They are …so tell it like it is.

    • Give me Mike Lang back and I’ll be happy.

    • It isn’t the players wrath they are concerned about. They are employees of the team. They are paid to be homers and only bring up the good. If they other team scores call it as a great play by them not a screw up by the home team. You see the same thing with Greg Brown and Tin Nevritt. It is a function of both the announcers technically being employed by the team and Root’s business model of “we’re all fans just like you.”

  30. And can we please stop with the “think about the kids” mantra regarding PED’s?

    These aren’t horse steroids smuggled in from Mexico and distributed by the shady guy in the gym locker room. These are the substances that took Lance Armstrong from his death bead fighting cancer and turned him into the best athelete in the world.

    You know what harms kids? Smashing their keads into one another at young ages. Also known as football.

    I’m not advocating to legalize PED’s, but using the “kids” line to exagerate one’s stance seems disingenuous at this point.

    • I don’t see how the “kids” line is disingenuous. And what’s bad for kids isn’t either/or. Taking PEDS is bad for them as well as youth football. I think the idea is that you teach kids that the likelihood of getting caught is small, and the rewards for using them are great. And speaking of Lance, there’s some speculation that his use of PEDS caused his cancer. And one of his reported comments on Oprah was that he wasn’t cheating by using them, he was just leveling the playing field. Nice lesson for kids.

      • I’m trying to follow, AW, I really am.

        You’re saying that making it harder to professional athletes to cheat is going to deter high school kids from doing it?

        That is wildly idealistic.

        Johnny Varsity is not thinking twice about shooting up because MLB rules prevent it when MLB rules don’t govern high school athletics.

        • NMR—try harder. Thats not what I was saying. But not having severe consequences, or not fighting the fight,
          will likely encourage more that it is culturally acceptable. What DK said in his column, which I assume is what you were referring to, is

          “But it doesn‘t mean the fight isn‘t worth fighting.

          I‘ve heard the suggestion that sports should just let everyone dope up as they wish, that this is the only path to a truly level playing field. This, of course, is ridiculous.

          No pastime is worth anyone‘s health, and the risks from steroids are documented to be devastating. Never mind the cultural impact on children.”

          I do not see that as disingenuous.

          • “I’m not advocating to legalize PED’s…”

            And your last line is EXACTLY why I feel getting all morally outraged about the kids is disingenuous:
            “No pastime is worth anyone‘s health, and the risks from steroids are documented to be devastating.”

            Are we talking football or steroids?

  31. miss the posts being numbered, anyone else?

    • Not only that, it’s hard to find everyone’s comments and replies. Have to read the whole thing to see what anyone says or go from the Recent Comments column, which is limited.
      Replies to certain comments are nice, but seems to be cumbersome (a JAL word).

      We’ve already lost John In Oshkosh and Milo to a simpler blog, wherever that may be. Hope they come back.

      • as much as everyone complained about the old blog not being enough like the blog over at that other place, I always loved the simplistic linear nature of the old blog. Never been a fan of threaded comments. Replying to a post doesn’t have to make it threaded. hitting the reply button could simply insert the post being replied to as quoted text and the new post could just be tacked onto the bottom. This allows everyone to know which post you were referring to and no one has to re-read every post just to check for new replies.

        • Sounds good to my simple mind.

          There is no order to this morning’s comments at all. JAL’s 8:07 comment is the last one on the bottom. If you went there, you’d be lost. Everthing else is scattered, even ones that aren’t replies.

          • I haven’t been on much since the new format took over (maybe to the joy of some: namely DK’s Zack Morris cloaks). It is really hard to follow now and actually takes me longer to catch up on everything. Hate to complain and not offer a solution, but I liked the old setup. Drew’s insights are appreciated as always.

    • YES…hope more tweaking happens…hard to follow posts.

  32. Awesome column today! Being a bit on the pessimistic side, has winning become way to profitable? With the type of pull owners seem to have these days and the pressure to win, I’m wondering how long until someone comes along with enough nerve to really push to get a good idea like yours installed.

  33. I don’t get why everyone is so upset.

    What is wrong with athletes using pediatricians?

    Even if they are from South Florida.

  34. Gotta get some heavy work done, I’ll check in with you lunatics later on :)

  35. Pirates have signed Kyle Waldrop (Twins) and lefty Mike Zagurski (Diamondbacks) to Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training.

    And thus, on January 30, the building of a bullpen begins!

    I know . . . . . building a bullpen is the one thing BMTIB has excelled at.

    It still makes me nervous waiting until 13 days before Spring Training to start gathering building materials. Leftovers and Minor Leaguers.

    EVERY piece in the 2012 Pirate bullpen is in a different role in 2013, except maybe Watson!! All outs are not the same. And outs were hard to come by in the last 6 weeks of 2012 for Grilli.

    Faith. Trust. Confidence. Not exactly what I feel when considering BMTIB.

  36. 13 DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT FOR PIRATE SPRING TRAINING

    • Right on, Groat!

      • NMR is probably correct in betting his paycheck those 2 guys won’t break camp, but after looking at their performances last season, they may be good insurance at Indy.

        Zagurski is a lefty and only 30. He may be able to plug in if Watson falters. His ERA at 5.54 was kind of high last season, but in only 30+ innnings, that can be inflated by 1 or 2 bad outings.

        Waldrop is only 27. His ERA in 30+ innings was 3.62, so maybe someone to hang onto.

        I know ERA is not the only thing to look at, but they don’t give downward plane stats on their pages.

        • This is probably more of a philosophical bullpen building comment, but I’m more confident in our pen heading into this year than last.

          The overall quality of arms just seems better.

          We head into 2013 with Grilli, Melancon, Hughes, Watson, Morris, Leroux, Wilson, Mazzaro, Oliver before even getting to the possible swing men like Karstens, McPhereson, Locke and NRI type guys that are usually counted on to fill out the pen.

          I’d rather see those arms go than Resop, Cruz, Qualls, Meek, etc of last year. I won’t try to diminish Joel Hanrahan’s performance one bit. But reliever’s performances vary so much that I can’t just expect all those walks never to catch up to him.

      • You and Charlie Morton, J-girl.

    • The days are long (but the years are short)

  37. I heard that Arod is due like $150 million on the remaining five years of his contract. If Arod did use PEDs, could the Yankees cut him w/o having to pay him the dough?

  38. Geno looks tired. and last night he made a couple more when he tried to force things. we have all seen what happens to him when he gets frustrated.

    I have no idea what is going on in Sid’s head. I saw 3-4 things he did last night that were….I don’t want to say amatuerish…but, well mistakes he would have made in his first and second season. Just dumb decisions.

    I am tired of watching other teams “defense” be little more than standing in a line and waiting for the Pens to break upon it like water on the Levee. The forecheck being used by every team against them these days is a standard passive high forecheck. it requires the Penguins to go to the other side, to make two passes instead of one. But they try the same thing…over and over…

    And even on entry. Opponents are just standing on the blueline and DARING the Pens to dump it over their heads and go get it. Am I the only one who remebers that the Penguins forecheck of 2009-10 was RUTHLESS. They terrorized opponents in their own end. Nowadays they seem reluctant to go into a corner and get a puck in their own zone, much less the other end. To fancy. To much style. They are over-thinking it far, FAR to much. Or under-working it, either way.

    • I am not sure about Geno being tired, but it’s safe to say he’s a bit frustrated. Neither he nor Neal have a whole lot of space out there to work, which makes those finesse plays so much harder to execute. I agree with DK that Kunitz really needs to get back to playing with those two: Kunitz aggressiveness and tenacity opened up the ice for Neal and Malkin.

      I think you’re right on with the finesse and style comments. The Pens are trying to dictate the pace of the game by skill alone. Teams that outwork them (like the Islanders) are having too easy a time containing the Pens. It’s shocking to me just how quickly the workman-like effort the Pens showed against the Flyers and Rangers evaporated. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue this early into the season…

    • If Geno is frustrated, he needs to look at himself first. His constant turnovers (blind back passes that go straight to the other team’s stick) are costing his team dearly. Maybe if he got his head out of his own A** he wouldn’t be so frustrated.

      • Somehow “Maybe if he got his head out of his own A**” is very funny next to the picture in the avatar. :-P

        • LMAO AW, I never thought of that…and I can’t see the avatars, they’re x’d out on my computer here at work. I can see them at home, tho.

  39. You would have to be naive to think there isn’t some type of PED use going on in the NFL and that there isn’t a constant effort to stay ahead of the testing process. There is too much money to be made playing sports and considering the injury risk in the NFL, I think it’s easy for a player to adopt an “any means necessary” approach. Regardless of the penalty, I think individuals will always try to beat the system because of the potential monetary reward. Try to make the individual penalties harsher i.e. suspension for an entire season, banned for life, etc. and the union will fight it.

    Poetic justice would be for Ray Lewis to roll his ankle on the first play of the game and spend the rest of the game on the bench.

  40. Posted the links at 7:11 and at 8:57 still in moderation land

  41. Really glad the hubby and I were immersed in wedding planning (well, sort of…) last night and missed the Dud in Consol. I am stunned that a team with this much talent hasn’t looked better than mediocre even by accident!

    Looove your solutions to cheating, Dejan! Wish they’d happen…

  42. How about punishing teams only after a player is caught cheating for a 2nd time? That way the offender’s team can release or trade the player after his first offense (how about with no Salary Cap penalty in the sports that have one), in case they were not aware that he was cheating.

  43. Dejan,

    Feel free to respond to this entry if you’d like (I’d love to hear your opinions on my thoughts), but this entry is really about me needing to vent. A few opinions and observations:

    1.) I understand teams have bad games, but every fan that attended last night’s game should receive a full refund and the refunds should come out of the player’s salaries. Just an overwhelmingly pathetic effort.

    2.) Kennedy needs to stay with Sutter and Cooke to keep the 3rd line both a solid defensive line as well as a threat to score (or at least cycle the puck and keep it in the offensive zone).

    3.) Since I’m talking lines, Bylsma needs to stop with the constant mixing and matching. How can the forwards develop any cohesion if they are out on the ice with different line mates every other shift?

    4.) Glass should remain on the fourth line because he is a gritty, tough 4th liner. Not a third liner and never in the top six. The guy is a useful player in his role. Keep him there.

    5.) The PP is simply bad. I want Letang and Niskanen (when healthy) on the point. Malkin on the half boards, Crosby around the goaline and Neal in the slot/in front of the net. PP 2 Martin, Despres, Kennedy, Sutter, Kunitz.

    6.) It is obvious that the answer for Malkin’s wing is not on the roster, but even though Tangradi has been unimpressive and in my opinion lacks NHL skating/speed and hockey sense at least he is a big body who can drive the net and has decent hands. Also wouldn’t mind seeing Jeffrey get an extended look on the line.

    7.) I can’t stand the “passive box” PK. I like aggressive penalty killing. Take away time and space don’t sit back and wait to be picked apart.

    8.) I still say the Pens need more grit/size/defensive acumen on the blue line. Sure I’ll be interested to see what the upside of a Joe Morrow, Simon Despres and Derek Pouliot is, but I’m most excited for the day Scott Harrington wears a Pens uniform as well as Olli Maata. Defensively sound blueliners who block shots, clear the crease and shut things down on the PK. They aren’t going to pile up the points yet still can move the puck, make that breakout pass and do have some offensive upside (more so Maata than Harrington).

    9.) Final one. The Pens need to have the ability to “get up” for every team because every team brings their A games for them. Yes, they struggle against speed, but they lost to Tor, Win and NYI because they simply got out worked, out battled and out hustled by those teams. In a league with such parity and even more so during the shortened season the Pens can never have the mindset that if they just show up they’ll win. How many apathetic losses does it have to take for them to get that?

    Ok. I’m done. Thanks for listening (reading). Have a great day!

    Justin

    • Hope you don’t mind my two cents, Justin.

      1) I said up there ^ somewhere that if I were at the game last night, I’d demand a full refund.

      5) I was never a fan of Geno and Sid both on the same PP, and I remain convinced of that. Split them up now.

  44. Biggest problem with making eams accountable for their players actions in regards to PEDs is that they would have to also be given a means in which they could internally monitor and police it. Part of collective bargaining is that the league handles all things regarding discipline, for the most part. Each individual teams ability to discipline players is restricted. Hence the only time you hear about a player being disciplined is for “conduct detrimental too the team”, and that has limits what teams can do.

    Point is, to make teams accountable would mean the league has to give more the teams the ability to at the very least monitor athletes, if not test them. It would need to reopen the CBA, and nobody wants to do that.

    I would think a good place to start is making all roster spots vacated by suspension to be left that way for the length of the suspension. Make a team go into a game with only a 51 or 50 man roster. That might not seem like much, but how many times this past year were the Steelers using their 7th offensive lineman by the 4th quarter? Didnt we go down to our 3rd string QB? Some positions are pretty thin and that 53rd spot could make a HUGE deal in some cases. Imagine if a team gets a player banned for a year and they have to play 16 games with only 52 players?

    Also the forfeiture of practice squad slots and/or draft picks wouldn’t get much resistance from the NFLPA, IMO.

    • Is Dejan’s point that the teams literally police themselves? I took it more in an informal “Yo, dude, whachu doin’ with that needle? It’s gonna cost us games!” type of policing. For years, the Steelers had a reputation that bad attitude players would come here and immediately get cleaned up, because the locker room “wouldn’t allow” that type of attitude. Call it peer pressure, if you will.

      DK: Yes, I was referring more to “Yo, dude.”

      • I think the wild west days of Mark McGwire leaving andro out in plain sight and Jose Canseco asking the towel guy to stick a needle in his butt are over, Jimmy.

        Awful hard to expect teamates to know what other guys do in privacy.

  45. DK,
    I really like your idea to punish the teams. As you say, it would cause teams to be able to police themselves and thrust a sort of peer pressure onto the players. Really, what sense does it make to suspend a player that is now clean. It makes more sense to take away the achievements that were gained as a result of the PED use.
    Question is: Would owners go for it? It’s obvious that owners are aware that some of their players might be using and I’m sure they are fine with it since the worst that can happen to them is that a player might get suspended for a few games. But, having victores and such taken away? I’m not sure they’d be willing to risk that.

  46. punishing the teams for a player using PEDs is interesting, but I have doubts that it would change anything. The NCAA punishes teams for all sorts of violations, such as recruiting violations, but that hasn’t stopped teams from using illegal recruiting methods.

    Also, I wonder if it would lead to owners ending support for PED testing. Once enough owners get punished for the actions of their players, do you think they’ll support strict PED testing next time the CBA is up for negotiations? They’ll want to make sure that the damage their franchise can take on is minimized. You will have created a situation where both players and owners see PED testing as an obstacle to their success, and I don’t think it wouldn’t be long until the list of banned substances started shrinking significantly and punishments got less and less severe.

    • Thank you!

      I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone believes this whole policing themselves narrative.

      Punishing everyone is a cop out. When has that ever worked?

      • Not trolling, but in the military it works like a charm. Any unit/team oriented paradigm it would work well. And I don’t mean ‘team’ the way Target calls it employees ‘team members’. Honestly I think the thought of letting down their teammates and failing them would be a greater motivational tool than individual punishments. Read some of the interviews Matt Cooke gave after his suspension in the playoffs in 2011. He really felt like he was a large reason the lost to TB in the first round. True or not, he really believed that and I think it was one of the biggest reasons he was able to reform his play and image.

        I don’t think punishing the whole team will be the cure-all, but it could help considerably.

        • But in the military, it is in the commanding officers best interest to punish the whole team in order to get the entire team acting as one unit. The commanding officer who issues the

          In professional sports, an owner isn’t going to see it as a team building exercise, he’s going to look at it as something that cost his business millions of potential dollars. It isn’t going to take many of these “team punishments” before the owners decide that this system is not in their best interest.

          Do you really think the NY Yankees would look at a team-wide punishment that cost them a trip the the playoffs and millions of dollars and just say “we need to play within the rules of the game and learn from our mistakes”. I don’t. I think they’ll be flexing their muscle within MLB and have the rules tweaked until the PED testing and punishment system is nearly toothless and can’t harm them again.

        • That works when everyone actually cares about the team. When letting the team down can mean dying. When being the absolute best out there doesn’t necessarilly mean a pay raise.

          In sports its about the individual. If they are already not caring enough about their teammates to risk the team losing one of its best players for a third of the season then I am not sure that telling them the rest of the team will forfeit wins or be otherwise punished for their actions is going to be enough to persuade them not to do it. All they see is the upside for them.

          i’ve never been a fan of the NCAA version of punishment. Punish the people involved now for the poor decisions of those that came before them juswt doesn’t make sense. Punish the many for the actions of the few just doesn’t make sense.

          • Then, that is what is wrong with sports now. Sports, except for individual sports like track and tennis, should only be about the team.

      • When I coached youth baseball. If I had a kid misbehave in practice, I made the team run (which I consider a reward, btw, but kids don’t see it that way) except for the kid who misbehaved. I took him for ice cream after practice. Nobody misbehaved again. That was about 9 years ago. I imagine today some parent would find a reason to sue me.

      • Patrick & 21,

        I don’t feel you guys are accounting for an important difference between your examples and PED use.

        You guys both cite behavioral issues. The people at fault don’t really have anything to gain from misbehaving.

        PED use is completely different. The user has many, many millions of reasons to use. Punishing his team will not change that.

        If Matt Cooke’s reformed play turned him into an AHL player, you watch how fast he’d go back to the chippy stuff. After all, his teamates don’t pay his bills.

  47. Just wanted to agree with the comments posted earlier by Lucky, AJS & Karen about the “improvements” to the blog. I would have just replied to them up there, but then no one would have ever seen them.

  48. Do they keep track of icing calls in the league stats? Curious how many the Pens have had thus far and their average per game.

  49. I enjoyed reading your column today DK but I’ve never been in favor of punishing a team for the mistakes made by an individual in most cases. But I do think your idea might be a deterrent.

    I’ve rarely seen anybody mention that the Giants World Series win is tainted and I think it is. If the Ravens win Sunday, I’m thinking there will an outcry that it’s possibly tainted.

  50. This Pens team is either too good to play like they’ve been playing or vastly overrated. I’m thinking the former.

    Last night, first period. Sid gets a pass along the far boards in his own end. No one in front of him, blue line about 5-6 feet away. He always does one of two things (as does every other player in hockey) in that situation: Start the rush up ice or pass to someone in the neutral zone. Both were clear options. What did he do? Immediately and inexplicably dropped the puck to a teammate a few feet behind him along the boards, then started skating up ice. HUH?

    This was not one of his exasperating behind the back passes that at least make sense in theory. This one made absolutely no sense. Unless, that is, he and the others are playing a certain type of hockey that certain Pens teams in the past have played quite effectively. There’s a list of former Pens coaches who can attest to that.

    Sure, this might just be a bad few games they’re playing right now. All teams go through this. But I’m seeing too many horrendously bad plays by world-class players who have never made that many horrendously bad plays in 4 consecutive games. Just sayin’.

  51. After almost 3 hours in moderation land the links seem to have appeared.

  52. I remember hearing through the grapevine about PED use in the Steelers locker room. There was a guy from a neighboring high school that I knew on an exchanging of pleasantries kind of basis that worked with the Steelers for a few years. I heard through another friend that this employee talked about James Harrison walking around in the locker room looking for someone to fill up his pee cup for tests. Obviously from my description, it sounds a little shady and is from a second hand source and I never really took much stock in it. But I certainly haven’t forgot that idea being planted in my head – and is it so crazy that it’s possible? I don’t know how random the random drug testing really is. Do they have time to pull something like this? Obviously I know that what is being discussed with Ray Lewis is pretty much undetectable, but is there opportunity for them to tamper with the test?

  53. DK….I am DEFINITELY hoping that your Wed column on PEDs goes national.

    I’ve already sent it to a few Raven fans I know.

    Foo

    .

  54. Link #10 is is a somewhat interesting/mildly optimistic view of the Pirates by a guy who couldn’t reasonably be characterized as an apologist,

    • He makes an interesting point, AW.

      We heard so many complaints about the deadline deal being done for the future and not to win NOW, yet those moves rarely seem to be accounted for when predicting next season.

      I’m guilty of it.

  55. So your in a pennant race and a cheater gets caught just as the team you’re ahead of by a game has a four-game series with the cheater’s team while you have two three game series with the leaders of the other divisions. And while your rival gets four in the win column through the forfeits they lose 160,000 ticket sales?

    I agree something needs to be done. I don’t think punishing the innocent players and their fans is the answer.

    • This is another interesting wrinkle that I hadn’t thought of. Giving out a number of games as “punishment losses” could affect other teams that are completely innocent.

      Take the example of Melkey Cabrara last season. If you had given SF a 10 game punishment, and those 10 games just happened to come at a time where they played back to back series with the Reds or Cardinals, Pirate fans would have been irate that the teams they were battling against just got handed free wins. At the time, the Bucs were in the thick of the pennant race, and this would have been a huge blow to a team that hadn’t done anything wrong.

      • But why not just subtract wins from the offender (or subtract wins and add losses to the offender) without handing “their opponents” any wins?

  56. Speaking of tweaking the blog, is there a way to edit our own comments?

    • +1 — Being a horrible typist and having a tendency to mess one thing up while fixing another, I have wanted that feature for years.

      Also, can we make the avatars bigger??

      • jH –I think you’re going to have to get bigger dogs . . . And no black ones.

        • If the dogs were bigger you’d have to shrink them more to get them into that spot.

          It should be at least as big as a postage stamp!

          (And, yes I am looking for a better picture)

  57. Dejan, I really like where you are going with this column. I am trying to figure out a couple of loopholes, though:

    1) Your premise is based on athletes (ARod and Lewis, notably) who are on good teams where vacating wins hurts them. How would this punishment work for, say, a player on the Cleveland Browns. Actually, the Browns having to posthumuously vacate wins would actually HELP the team as it would land a better draft pick.
    2) Similarly, how would vacating wins or future losses work when a player changes teams. Let’s say the Yankees trade ARod to the Blue Jays in the next two weeks. Would the Yankees be docked games in 2013 or would the Blue Jays? It doesn’t seem fair to apply punishment to a team that doesn’t have the offending player, but it also doesn’t seem purposeful to punish the Blue Jays, who weren’t in a position to “police themselves” when it came to ARod.
    3) Your college example doesn’t particularly resonate with me. I’ve also had trouble digesting the idea that fans and non-offending players should be punished for something someone else did. This does have a similar feel.

    I do like the concept, though. Intra-team loyalty is fierce in athletics. I can imagine a player being more pliable to change knowing it is his team that will be hurt than he would if it was just himself. Interesting idea.

    DK: Nothing retro about it. All forward. That’s why I cited Super Bowl example and loss of revenue. Could have made that clearer, I guess, in seeing some reaction here.

    No, vacating would be even harder because then you’ve got to determine when the transgression began. This way, it’s one foul, one punishment.

    • I’ll add the appeal process to the list of loopholes.

      You’re not going to stop the playoffs in order to see if an offending player’s punishment will hold up.

    • Okay, but even forward, what do you do when a player is caught and moves on? Using the ARod hypothetical, would the Blue Jays be docked 10 games if they traded for him? Or would the Yankees be docked 10 games even though he isn’t on the roster anymore.

    • So, Dejan, if the Ravens had to forfeit the Super Bowl (assuming there’s a positive test and not just an SI report), would we all have Sunday night free now? Keeping revenue-generating opportunities open is much more important to the leagues than policing PEDs, even for an unimportant regular season game, let alone the Super Bowl.

      DK: Extreme example, obviously. Taking losses off following season more realistic.

  58. Testing my avatar

  59. Sporting thoughts on a hump day….

    * Thruout the years of professional sports, players have always used substances. Whether it was hot dogs, alcohol, tobacco, “greenies” aka amphetamines, cocaine, etc. It’s just that today, with medicine & science, the substances have gotten extremely specific and extremely potent.

    * Professional sports are entertainment. If Pro wrestlers can juice (as long as they don’t get caught by authorities if they don’t have prescriptions), then so should Pro Athletes. It’s about putting on a show as much as it is winning/losing. I want to see the best possible show.

    * I put PED use down to the same thing as smoking. The user knows the risks, but chooses to use b/c they feel that whatever benefit they’re getting outweighs the cost down the road. Sort of “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there” mentality.

    * All PED users should be voted in to their respective Hall of Fames if their career’s merit it.

    * I wish more Pirates were juicing when steroids were running rampant throughout baseball.

    * My opinion of Ray Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, etc. doesn’t change. They are great players. I respect them. I just don’t like them.

    * It’s time for us as a society to accept PED use in Professional Sports. And as far as what type of message that will send to kids…I’ve seen what today’s youth are interested in. This can’t mess them up any worse than they already are (myself included ;-) )

    Have a good day all!

    • I know I’d be entertained by the show if no athletes juiced. Seeing 4 homeruns in a game doesn’t make it more entertaining to me than a 1 or no homerun game. Same for other sports. It’s the competition I like. I don’t think PEDs provide for the best possible show at all.

      I don’t see why we as individuals should advocate what society should and should not accept. Society will do this on its own.

      If you think PEDs are the same as smoking then I suggest writing your local, state, and federal representatives advocating the legalization of PEDs if you haven’t done so already.

      • Having better athletes, at least the way I see it, will create better competition, thus leading to a better show. Is it any coincidence that Pro Sports are at the height of their popularity (at least in terms of dollars spent)?

        We, as individuals, make up society. I just feel that sometimes you need to set in action to change views. Sometimes, it won’t just happen or “do this on its own”. Individuals need to take steps to change the way people think. At 1 time, everyone thought the world was flat….

        And I don’t think that PED use and smoking is the same thing, I’m saying the mentality of the user. You could also maybe put drug addict or any kind of addict in there. You acknowledge future problems for current satisfactions. I’m not saying it’s right, just is what I attribute the way of thinking to.

        • I don’t see how it creates better competition. For one, what about the athletes that choose not to use PEDs?

          I think sports are very popular for many reasons. I’m not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting most athletes use PEDs and that’s why sports are popular? Youth baseball was more popular before PEDs.

          It was proved the world wasn’t flat. I don’t understand your analogy. I have no interest in changing the way people think. I like to express my views but that’s all they are – they’re my views and I wouldn’t suggest everyone should think my way. If my views change the way anyone thinks, so be it.

          • My point is, is that athletes of today are bigger and stronger b/c science and medicine have evolved to the point where we can make people this way with foreign substances. Some Ok, and some not Ok. IMO, I think it’s the biggest reason why pro sports are so popular. B/c these athletes are putting on displays that havent been seen before. Are all athletes doing this with PEDs? Of course not, but some are, and to villify them and brand them as “cheaters” IMO is wrong.

            I think it stands to reason better athletes = better competiton is a pretty logical train of thought. If I’m off base there, please tell me where I’m going wrong.

            My point with the “world is flat” analogy was to illustrate that just b/c a thought is “accepted” by society, doesn’t make it right. And also to illustrate that sometimes it takes a few individuals to “get the ball rolling” so to speak.

          • I do see the point that if PEDs get the top athletes back on the field quicker after injury, there is benefit to the fan. Like Ray Lewis or hate him, the Super Bowl is more interesting with him in the game than sitting in a luxury box.

          • “Of course not, but some are, and to villify them and brand them as “cheaters” IMO is wrong.”

            Well if they’re using PEDs illegally they’re against the rules. So they’ve broken the law and the rules. Sounds like a cheater to me.

            “better athletes = better competiton is a pretty logical train of thought. If I’m off base there, please tell me where I’m going wrong.”

            I don’t view artificially improving yourself with PEDs as being better. I think the competition is best when they’re all as close as possible to a level playing field. It’s not a logical train of thought to me but that doesn’t make you wrong, we just have differing opinions.

            I just think the analogy doesn’t work because there’s proof the world isn’t flat. I still don’t understand why it’s important to get society thinking differently on the PEDs issue than where we are now. PEDs are dangerous.

    • You are kidding right? So we are to teach our children who dream of playing in the big leagues some day that they can either forget it or start taking roids? I’m typically not an “anyone can do anything they want” kind of person. but i am also in favor of dreaming big. I can teach my kids all I want why drugs are wrong and what roiding can do to you, and at the moment you can plausibly tell them that if they are good enough at baseball or football they can make it. keep letting the “best” be judged as those who “supplement” and you basically have to squash a kids dream before it gets going.

  60. The Pens’ problem can be summed up very simply………..too much “talent” and not enough “team”.

    • I once made this argument ight after the last lock out. The pens had too many stars and not enough pucks. Lemieux, Sid, Palffy, etc. Everyone wanted the puck. Everyone wanted to show each other up. No team attitude. I was called crazy but everyone I posed this to.

  61. As long as the money is there, you are going to have players do whatever they can to get their share.

    You can test all you want, but the criminals will always be a step or two ahead of you.

    And if you ban a substance but can’t test for it, well, that ain’t gonna work too well.

    • “As long as the money is there…”

      You nailed it, Biz. It’s all about the money.

      Don’t just void the players contract if he fails a test, MAKE HIM PAY IT BACK.

      There is no doubt in my mind that would do more to stop PED use than punishing his team as a whole.

      • Those are my feelings. Hurt the player where it hurts most and that’s in the wallet, IMO.

      • “Make him pay it back” is one of those “feel good” solutions that don’t work because, if for no other reason, it probably would be illegal. It’s wages, and once they’re earned, they’re earned.

        • Ha, and punishing the entire team isn’t?!

          Incredible.

          • Why would punishing the entire team be illegal?

          • I was referring to the “punish the team” narrative. I cannot fathom how that doesn’t fit into the “feel good” category.

            Everybody stay clean or else your teammates will be angry!! That oughtta show ‘em.

        • On top of that, how is paying back earned wages any different than a fine?

          Surely you know fining players isn’t illegal.

          • There’s a reason they don’t call fines “pay back a game’s wages.”
            If you want more info, check with the PA Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. They’re real good about answering questions.

        • Instead of making him pay it back, void his contract and his personal salary is capped for the following season. I’ll bet A-roid would have changed his ways if he was prohibited from signing an $25million/year contract after getting caught. If you’re a repeat offender, your salary gets capped for additional seasons.

          I can’t imagine a single Players Union would ever agree to it, but if you really wanted to end PED use, I think this would be one of the better changes you would have.

  62. I think forfeiting future games unfairly penalizes all of the people who work at the stadiums and surrounding businesses. If you knocked games off their place in the standings, it might hurt the good teams more. Personally, I don’t think there’s any way to stop this from happening; the problem has been that teams and leagues started out trying to sweep it all under the rug and so it became chronic and rampant. The culture of cheating will persist as long as the incentives to do so are there: fame, money, etc. But I don’t see what can be done besides penalizing the individual after the fact.

    • Just like Penn State’s getting punished hurt kids who had nothing to do with it?

      Who said life was fair?

    • Good to see Piano Legs. Now, if we can get Pig Legs back, we’ll have full representation from the leg contingency. Maybe during baseball season. :P

    • This is an interesting point. If you’re forfeiting future games, then you just don’t play them, right? In which case, you’re talking of hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions in the NFL) in total revenue losses that would be aborbed by team ownership and then filtered down to employees and vendors.

      As interesting as DK’s idea is, it has absolutely no chance of happening on this point alone.

  63. Forfeiting games may not be entirely fair to players on opposing teams. It could reduce the chances of reaching certain incentives in their contracts. They’d be penalized even though their team was squeeky clean.

    • Thought of another scenario. 2 teams scheduled to play each other and both have a player test positive at the same time. Do they play the game, or do they both forfeit. So no Super Bowl? No Game 7?

      I think I’d have to come up with something else as a deterrent. Maybe a fine and take away a roster spot for the upcoming game? Depending on the sport, loss of a high draft choice?

  64. I’ve learned REAL quickly not to ask for email followups.

    My goodness, did I get lots of ‘mail’.

  65. AW….speaking of McBean, it’d be great if there was a site where we could go back and look at guys from the 60s, etc. There’s gotta be some stuff out there.

    I remember Dick Hall and Phil Regan had some really funky deliveries.

    Foo

    .

    • Agreed, Fooster. I’ve told my boys about Clemente throwing guys out from the wall like it was nothing, but they’ve seen precious few videos of it.

      We went to the Louisville Slugger museum when they had a feature display for Roberto and all they had there was pictures. The guide actually asked me about him when she overheard us discussing his abilities. Hard to just talk about it and describe it. Something you have to see.

      • He would make throws from the right field corner at Forbes that actually would travel over some of the seats down there, I swear I seem to remember the air crackling as the ball would shoot over my head.

        • Like Archie Bunker used to sing, “Those Were the Days”.

          Throwing behind the runners at first, too, and that basket catch. Must see stuff.

          Apologies to all who would rather talk about something else. Not meaning to blog-jack.

          • Feel free, Spunky, those who don’t like it….
            A. Don’t have to read it.
            B. Can go elsewhere.

            It’s a sports blog. Last I checked, baseball was a sport.
            :)

          • Basket catch. That reminds me. Over Christmas break when the MLB Network showed their piece on Clemente, they showed him making a basket catch and my son laughed his rear off.

      • Lucky,

        The Clemente Musem has lots of good videos.

        • I love the Clemente videos…just wished I could find some of OTHER Pirates from the 60s

          • Here’s one Foo!
            I used to have a Dick Stuart icon and seem to remember that I got it

            from a site that had a lot of the “old” guys like the Dog, Quail,

            Roulette Rattler etc. If I can remember where I got it I’l post oater.

            Stuart

  66. Louisville Slugger Musuem…Clemente Museum…these are two different places i assume?

  67. Laughing hysteriously at Twitter updates about the Pens power play at practice

    Josh Yohe ‏@JoshYohe_Trib
    Just watched Pens practice power play for 20 minutes. It was very troubling.

    Joe Starkey ‏@JoeStarkey1
    Pens practicing power play. Looks worse than last nite

    Pens Inside Scoop ‏@PensInsideScoop
    Malkin on right point, but fluid movement to work the half wall -SK

    Shelly Anderson ‏@pgshelly
    Looks like Malkin on point (or rover) on top PP unit. Letang other point, forwards Crosby, Kunitz, Neal. #Penguins

    • Get Sid and Geno off the same friggin PP, and that will solve half the problems! Grrr!!

      • Jandy – personnel won’t mean a hill of beans if the breakout to gain entry into the zone isn’t change. They are on the man-advantage yet, the PK units are easily outworking them because they have 1 or 2 guys standing still at blue line on the rush and once the puck makes the zone, there’s no forechecking pressure.

        We’re talking Hockey 101… Bylsma is failing and his desperation to show he’s changing is moving Kennedy to the 4th line.

        • I said it earlier…their entry on the PP is as bad as it is 5 on 5. They seem to have become loathe to dump and fight for it. To many times they try to carry it through a wall of 3-2 stacked on the line.

          Note to Penguins:TEAMS ARE NOT GOING TO LET UBER-SKILLED PLAYERS CARRY IT INTO THEIR ZONE. THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE YOU WORK FOR IT IN THE CORNERS.

  68. TK on the 4th line??? WTH? Oh man. What a mess.

  69. -At first, I wasn’t on board with the punishment of the teams, but you brought up a good point about the tattoos.

    -I agree with the thought on the Giants this year with Melky, although the team did better AFTER he was suspended. The Giants are my secondary team, that would’ve crushed this area.

    -BTW, Melky got a 2 year contract worth $16mil from the Blue Jays.

    -I have always thought that the punishment to the individual player was not harsh enough. Get rid of them. You cheat, you’re gone. That should put an end to it.

    -I’m sure its already been said, but if Pete Rose and the Black Sox have been banned for a one time gambling problem, these cheaters are just as guilty as they are. PEDs does determine an outcome of the game, just as the gambling did. (though Pete says he always bet on the Reds to win)

    -There is no way Ray Lewis got back on the field without some sort of help. I don’t care who you are, you don’t return from an injury of that magnitude to play at the level he’s been playing. He knew it was his last year, last chance at the Bowl, no holds barred.

  70. The punishment of teams (at least the type of punishment you’ve outlined) is too harsh. No one wants to see the Super Bowl decided over a failed drug test. Perhaps I’d be on board with stripping draft picks or cap fines, but nothing more than that for the organization. To ask teams to babysit players year round is asking too much.

    Instead, why not impose a lifetime ban for all tests involving PEDs? Obviously there’s a line to be drawn between a failed adderall test and one involving HGH, but I believe that this penalty would solve a lot of the issues (at least in baseball).

    I’ll outline two scenarios:
    1. A replacement level player who is on the cusp of making the MLB roster is is cut from the 25 man roster after spring training. He considers PEDs to get the extra push he needs to make the MLB. However, he knows the penalty of facing a lifelong ban. Is there anyone that doesn’t think that, after one of these kids has an example made out of them, this is a strong enough deterrent to prevent the next generation of young players to stop cheating?

    2. An aging all-star whose career is at least in the discussion for being worthy of the HOF starts to slip statistically. Would it be worth the risk to him to try and get his stride back via PEDs and risk being barred from any HOF consideration?

    The only question that remains for me is this: how good are the chemists running operations like BALCO? Numerous reports say that the PEDs are so far ahead of the testing that if you get caught then you are nothing short of an idiot. I truly hope that this is not the case, but I’d love to hear from some of the people behind the curtain at these anti-aging clinics at how hard it is to catch someone.

  71. Don’t really know how pro sports should tackle PED’s. I think it’s wrong to use them, but not sure how they can stop it. Maybe something like if a player tests positive for PED’s, they should suffer a significant suspension: like a whole season.

    Then, their contract should be null and void since it’s agreed to under the assumption that they are working for their team under conditions that they aren’t supposed to use PED’s.

    As an additional penalty, their next 5 years should only allow for a salary of the league minimum with no incentives. If they test positive again, they’re outta the league for good.

    I don’t think any league is really THAT serious about it and unions would never agree to this stuff. But if you’re going to deal with it effectively, put some clear cajones behind it. If not, we’re in for much of the same.

  72. If Jolly Roger Goodell was serious about tackling PED’s, Ray Lewis would be on a flight home right now.

  73. I think Bylsma’s job is in serious jeopardy. And I don’t want to hear the excuse again of a limited camp. Everyone else had to play by the same rules.

  74. I nominate the Stones song “Helter Skelter” for the official blog theme song.

    I feel like I’m playin’ a game of Candy Land with my grandaughter. First you’re down here, then up there, then back down here, then over there.

    I like the reply opportunities and all, but this is enough to make your head spin.

  75. Controlling PEDS is like controlling guns in this country — they are all over the place. Babe Ruth ate hotdogs and guzzled beer (and he had a big head), maybe his records should be reviewed. I am just being silly, but how about equalizing and letting all athletes kill themselves with these injections w/o risk to salaries or team wins? Like gang-bangers on the streets of Chicago, death will be the ultimate self-regulation and unlike the GBs, collateral damage would be minimal. They can all die rich. Like I said, just silly thoughts on two subjects, one of which is important.

  76. Did you folks see this tweet from Dejan?

    RT@ProFootballTalk – Ray Lewis: PED accusation is “the trick of the devil”

    Ray’s eyes HAVE to be brown, he is full of it

  77. “The Devil made me do it!”
    Flip Wilson….

    • Jandy… with all due respect, the gravatar of future Saint Mother Theresa weirds-me-out a bit. With some of the topics here…well…seriously, no disrespect to you at all, it’s just…I don’t know what to say.

      • Lincoln doesn’t bother you, does he? It’s the real one, not the vampire killer.

        • I’ve been to Hodgenville and the surrounding area, Lucky… Lincoln is all good with me. Did a six month stint at the theater in Horse Cave way back when… got to know that part of the state quite well on the days off when I wasn’t heading back to Louisville.

          • Been there many times. It’s gone through some changes, but enjoyed it every time we’ve been there. It’s about 50 minutes from where we live.

          • Talkin’ about the theater in Horse Cave, Naje. Haven’t been to Hodgenville yet. Kids have.

  78. Ray is right to some extent. It is a trick of the devil. But if he yielded to him and used those PED’s or deer antlers or anything illegal, he fell for the trick. He needs to quote the whole verse.

    The second part says “I came that you’d have life and have it more abundantly”. Jesus drew a line between his work and the work of the devil with that verse. Up to us to decide which way we go.

    End of blog-jacking sermon for today.

    • Lewis is a very religious individual.

      • Since when, Dom…? February 2000 is my guess.

        • I actually was reading something saying that those events in Atlanta really did change his life. Prior to those events he was always out on the town late and looking for mischief.

          After those events he became more of a hermit. hosting team mates at his home or visiting them in their homes but never hitting the clubs. being very careful who he associated with. Testimonials from a lot of people, coaches, teammates, family, opposing players, etc that all said he very much changed his attitude on life after Atlanta. that all included a much more religious life. Attending church and reading the Bible regularly.

          All of that said i still don’t like him. I still think that he carries a thug mentality on the field and until very very recently in public interviews. Maybe that hated image is everything to him. The Lord would teach us to be forgiving and that people can change. Maybe he is an example of that. I’m just not sure I am buying it. Maybe that is shame on me.

          In the end he’s a Baltimore Raven and I hate all them.

  79. I’m coming super late and did not even read all of the comments. However, I have a totally different opinion on this topic. What about making hgh legal? The “dangers” associated with hgh are almost entirely related to misuse or overuse. If you instead make it a controlled substance and make it available to athletes recovering from injury, I think it would really benefit the sports world. Is it unfair advantage if everyone can have access to it?

    Alot of journalists like to lump hgh with steroids. HgH is way safer than steroids and as a controlled substance can do lots of good to lots of people. As someone who personally uses hgh, I can vouch for its effectiveness when used properly. (FYI I use it solely for medicinal purposes – my damn defective brain produces no growth factors (aka IGF-1).)

  80. Natesboro, you are speaking my language. Well said above.

    And it always cracks me up to hear people pretend to care about the health of the athletes who take PED’s. A large of the people citing the health aspect of PED’s are probably burping on their 9th fast food meal of the week, nursing a vodka hangover and puffing on a Marlboro while they type.

    Like NMR says, it’s inane to pretend to care about the effect of PED’s on a players health when that player makes his living basically wrecking his body while playing his sport.

    The obsession with this stuff makes no sense to me. Chicken and broccoli…fresh fruit and vegetables…protein shakes…chemicals in a syringe…I don’t care what makes you play better. Here’s my money, give me my ticket, now let me enjoy these superstuds.

  81. Danny Smith the new special teams coach is one of the great gum chompers of all time.

  82. Dejan,

    Late to the table, but I think your idea of hitting the team is a good way to help curtail the doping. It’s not fair to the clean guys on the team, I get that. But those guys will now be doing a better job of policing their own ranks.

    From a league standpoint, I think they ought to turn to good old-fashioned Amish-style shunning. A-Rod… you don’t appear on any record list, any statistics list, any team list in official MLB documents. It’s like you never existed. Oh, and any current contract is automatically voided if the league has enough evidence that you doped. Or antlered. And you lose all credit for service time. In essence, if after your suspension you sign with another team, you’re a pay-scale rookie again making league minimum.

    DK: Welcome home, JK.

    • But that being said, if there’s something out there to help you heal faster, and there’s no evidence that it’s dangerous… why would that be banned? I have no idea if deer antler velvet is dangerous, but to me, if it can heal you up, what’s the issue if it’s safe and doesn’t act like roids? These guys take a terrible beating. If all it does is help you heal quicker, I don’t see why that’s an issue.

      • I honestly think the powers that be have no idea how to handle this

        Like most other things in all sports venues

        Good to see you here, JK

        • Thanks Biz. They got the reply bit working. I may just stay here. Getting real tired of the DK bashing on the other site.

  83. Trapped in weather. Flight delayed. Never going to make it to Florida. May spend the night in Iowa. Maybe in Atlanta.

    Tornadoes in Atlanta. That can’t be good.

    Flying monkeys in Iowa.

    No wait. That’s just me.

    I’ve been drinking coffee all day. I wonder if they have beer in airports. They do that, don’t they?

    Freaking weather.

    Freaking travel.

    Freaking Thunder.

  84. Can I ask one last question for the night….

    What is up with this article about the Ravens providing the Steelers the winning blueprint. How many super bowls have the Ravens won in the past 8 years?

    Sorry but this had to be one of the most ridiculous titles to an article I’ve seen in a long time. If anything it should read “Ravens followed Steelers blueprint”.

  85. One last comment….

    @DK

    The only concern I have about punishing the team is the amount of time it takes for the test results to come back. You have guys testing positive that aren’t being notified and suspended till months later. They would obviously need a quicker processing. The NFL must use snail mail when shipping samples to avoid the Ryan Braun loophole. Add Braun to the list of players that have never failed a drug test.

  86. @DK

    The Pens practice today… the PP portion; was it focused control of the puck in the zone or how to get into the zone and set up? To me they have to figure out how to get set up on the PP before they try to solve the rest of the problems

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