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Friday Wakeup Call: I’ll take Ravens, by a scratch and claw

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Morning, one and all …

>> The Friday column looks at the world’s biggest sporting event … and then sizes up many of the sporting events that are actually bigger. Funny how that can work when you look a bit beyond your back yard.

If you can think of other events than those cited here, I’m all ears.

But please note that Trib page designer Matt Rosenberg went the extra mile and uncovered a hot action photo of a cricket star to go with the print version …

>> I suppose I could break down the Super Bowl mimicking Ron Jaworski and discussing hours of “film” I’d watched of the Ravens and 49ers, and I’d use all kinds of fancy football terminology to lend it an air of officiality.

Instead, I’ll just say this: The Ravens will win because they understand blood.

Oh, I’m sure the 49ers have had their share of serious scraps. But I’m just as sure they don’t engage in them 4-6 times a year. There are divisions in football with better talent than the AFC North, but there aren’t any that have the viciousness of the games that most of the four teams play.

That’s not me talking. That’s pretty much any football person you can find.

The Ravens know how to win those games, even though they don’t always. They know how. They’ve been there.

I brought this up with the Steelers’ Ramon Foster on the radio show last week, and he agreed emphatically and without hesitation.

Maybe if the 49ers were more like the Packers who beat the Steelers a couple years ago, I could see that not mattering. But they aren’t. Fact is, San Francisco plays a far more in-your-face style than that Green Bay team did. Which means they’ll also have to win that way.

I’ll take the team that’s been there.

>> The chat transcript included stuff on Steelers, Penguins, Pitt hoops and a bit of baseball.

>> Fire Dan Bylsma.

>> I’ll focus on Pitt hoops for the Monday column, upon return. May your weekend be swell.

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

Comments

  1. Ghost says:

    Not a rhetorical question, but isn’t the Super Bowl still the most watched single match on the globe between two *domestic* rivals? It’s true, all the examples you cite in today’s column are wildly popular contests. They are also international matches/events, though. That anyone at all in Germany, Mexico, Japan and other corners of the globe bother to tune in (live, no less, even in vastly disparate time zones) to a watch a domestic American contest is still kinda impressive.

  2. JoeBucco says:

    @DK – sent you that Rick Nash tweet tonight while in my seat at a Jackets game here in Columbus. Man, talk about depressing. Half-empty arena, tons of young ‘prospects’ on the ice, and a fan favorite in R.J. Umberger about the only thing to watch. Nobody on the team who can score, and not much goaltending to keep the other team from scoring. I had more fun watching the expansion Jackets on the ice back in 2000.
    .
    Nash didn’t accomplish much here, but man do I sure miss him.
    .
    DK: Long, long climb for that franchise, with no shortcuts in sight.

  3. Woomer says:

    I going to disagree with you, and go with the 49ers. I’ll explain my rationale here; it’s based on my own life experience, and I think you’ll find my reasoning somewhere in the spectrum from the proverbial ridiculous to the sublime.

    I’m basing my prediction on the head coaches — John and Jim Harbaugh. First of all, they’re brothers and of course John is the older brother.

    Well, I’m an older brother myself. And every time I’ve ever competed against my younger brother (from childhood through to this day — and we’re similar ages to the Harbaughs) I’ve never been able to give my all.

    Somewhere (usually subconsciously, I guess), I feel sorry for the little guy, and I can hardly bear to see his feelings hurt, even if the alternative is my losing a competition to him. And even if I completely put it out of my head, and try to give the competition my all, my heart is never fully in it.

    I’m not necessarily saying that John Harbaugh has the same subconscious feelings towards his younger brother as I have toward mine, although I do think these types of feelings are relatively typical between brothers.

    But all else being equal, or even if some other factors slightly favor the Ravens, I’m going to make my prediction for the 49ers based on the likely-hood that John Harbaugh can’t get his full heart and intensity into preparing and coaching his team to beat his little brother.

  4. Ghost says:

    Woomer,
    I believe Peyton Manning has beaten Eli every time they’ve faced each other. But I also believe (though I don’t know for sure) that after beating her younger sister the first few times, Venus Williams has lost to Serena more often than not. This angle you came up with to bat around is a good one. Good job.

  5. Woomer says:

    Ghost,

    Nice catch (no pun intended) on the Manning brothers; I hadn’t thought of them.

    As for the Williams sisters, I did think of them. And while I have no idea how older and younger *sisters* relate to each other in a competitive situation, my recollection of their matches against each other (that I’ve seen) was that of Serena usually winning.

    But just for fun, I just now looked it up in Wikipedia. And while Serena has won more matches overall, the numbers were closer than I thought they would be at 13 wins against 10 losses for Serena.

    But (and this is the interesting part), in Grand Slam Finals (tennis’ closest analogy to a Super Bowl), Serena has won 6 matches and lost only 2 to Venus.

    I’m not drawing any conclusions based on anything I’ve written in this particular reply; but it was fun to write it.

  6. JAL says:

    JAL’s Winter Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-IsiAfjhck

    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: Will the Pirates Make Any More Moves?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/first-pitch-will-the-pirates-make-any-more-moves.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #2 – Jameson Taillon

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/01/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-top-prospects-2-jameson-taillon.html

    Luis Heredia Falls Just Outside of MLB.com’s Top 100 List

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/01/luis-heredia-falls-just-outside-of-mlb-coms-top-100-list.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Matt Capps signs minor-league deal with Indians

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/1/31/3938598/matt-capps-signs-indians

    7 WHY GAVS

    Farm system rankings and the future of the Pirates

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/january-2013/farm-system-rankings-and-the-future-of-the-pirates.html

    8 Disciples of Uecker

    Building and Rebuilding: Shifting NL Central Cores

    http://buzztap.com/link.jsp?id=21767258&cid=107&source=feed

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Preview: Do You Believe in Travis Snider?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/01/31/pittsburgh-pirates-spring-training-preview-do-you-believe-in-travis-snider/

    10 The Green Weenie

    Walker, McDonald Sign

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/01/walker-mcdonald-sign.html

  7. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Indianapolis Star

    Q&A with Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20130131/SPORTS18/301310357/Q-Pittsburgh-Pirates-manager-Clint-Hurdle

    12 Patriot News

    A decade of Pittsburgh Pirates struggles: Offseason signings miss the mark

    http://www.pennlive.com/sports/index.ssf/2013/01/a_decade_of_pittsburgh_pirates.html

    13 KXL-FM

    Drabek Brings Cy Young Experience to Hops

    http://www.kxl.com/01/31/13/Drabek-Brings-Cy-Young-Experience-to-Hop/landing.html?blockID=662611&feedID=10528

    14 CBN

    CBN: Leroux eyes starting role with Bucs

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2013/01/31/canadian_leroux_eyes_starting_role_with_pirates/

    15 Allied News

    EXTRA INNINGS: When spring is in the air, baseball can’t be far behind

    http://alliednews.com/sports/x2056600651/EXTRA-INNINGS-When-spring-is-in-the-air-baseball-cant-be-far-behind

    16 Boston Herald

    Minor deal, major role for Overbay

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2013/01/minor_deal_major_role_overbay

    17 Philadelphia Inquirer

    Before the Harbaughs came baseball’s Wright brothers

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20130201_Before_the_Harbaughs_came_baseball_s_Wright_brothers.html

    18 Dallas Morning News

    Editorial: Baseball is pushing back at cheating players

    http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20130131-editorial-baseball-is-pushing-back-at-cheating-players.ece

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Redecorating Your Glass House

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19531

    20 Fangraphs

    The Sabermetric Revolution, as Applied to Ryan Doumit

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-sabermetric-revolution-as-applied-to-ryan-doumit/

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    2013 NFL Draft: Trends the Steelers have followed since 2005

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/1/31/3933570/nfl-draft-2013-pittsburgh-steelers-strategy

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Charlie Batch Says He Definitely Wants To Play Another Year With The Steelers

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/01/charlie-batch-play-another-year-steelers/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Transfer deadline day: live

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/football-transfers/9511033/Transfer-deadline-day.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 31st January, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-31st-january-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pens claim Zach Boychuk off waivers from Carolina

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/1/31/3937410/pens-claim-zach-boychuk-off-waivers-from-carolina

  9. JAL says:

    Song Winter Tori Amos 1992 Song is about her relationship with her father. Classically trained, she recorded a classical album, Night of Hunters, in 2011.

  10. Thundercrack says:

    No mention or link in the Wakeup Call regarding the Pirates coming to terms with JMac and Neil Walker.
    .

    Interesting.

  11. JAL says:

    Have it in link 10

  12. Thundercrack says:

    JAL
    That is the Morning Links, not the Wakeup Call.
    :-)

  13. Jandy says:

    hey, it’s Patrick Swayze ;)

  14. Jandy says:

    Whaever you’re smoking, I’ll have some :)

  15. Justin says:

    DK,I enjoyed your article as always but I am of the camp tat I really don’t care how many people watch the Super Bowl or any other sport for that matter. I get that you are trying to educate us on the sports outside of our own little world but I don’t think the Manchester United or any other team in Europe, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, care if we are watching their games and how we feel about them. I am sure they would be more than happy to have more US viewers as it would probably translate into more merchandise revenue as well but I don’t see them beating down the doors in the US to advertise on US television stations. Sure Fox now has a soccer channel and I believe NBC Sports will be showing some soccer games but in general I don’t think they care enough about the audience in the US to dedicate a substantial amount of money to have us participate in their endeavors. I also think that the fact that a lot of these International tournaments are four years apart is very important when looking at the audience as it is a special event that captures our interest because of all of the unique stories that are involved in almost every competition. Finally, the biggest thing that irks me about the Super Bowl as well as the World Series and Stanley Cup etc… is the whole “World Champion” part of the final bell of these games. I mean I know that there aren’t any real football teams around that world that would challenge an American football club for a Championship but there are plenty of Baseball and Hockey teams in other countries that could really give American clubs a run for their money in the battle of “World Champion” Said it before, and I will say it again, I always like what you write but just don’t see the point of this one.

  16. Drew71 says:

    Boy, are YOU gonna get it.
    .
    Sometime around noon.
    .
    Or maybe 1:00
    .

  17. JAL says:

    There is a lot more soccer coverage here than you may think. Not only Fox soccer channel but games are shown on NBC and ESPN. Last year Fox broadcast every game of the final day of the Premier League season. The games all kicked off at the same time so viewers could go from channel to channel and watch any game they wanted. It is not up with football and baseball but has taken substantial leaps since the 2006 World Cup when you could only get games on pay per view even though the US was in the tournament

  18. kr70 says:

    welcome to the world of a pirate fan. Hope your arena is nice

  19. LuckyNKentucky says:

    That’s baseball, TC.

  20. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks for that, JAL. Very nice.

  21. Thundercrack says:

    I am not a soccer fan. One of the reasons may be that I could never figure out what league to follow. I’ve heard of the Premier League but it seems like there are other leagues and I don’t know which to follow. Plus I tend to follow sports that I have a more vested interest as a fan.

    Right now when it comes to soccer I go to with: cheer for the Italians.

  22. Dom says:

    I hope Vokoun’s doesn’t start a debate over who should be in goal. As far as I’m concerned, Fleury is still the man.

  23. gregenstein says:

    JAL – “Drabek Brings Cy Young Experience to Hops”
    —————————–
    My first thought when I saw this link was, “Does Doug Drabek brew his own beer??”

  24. gregenstein says:

    I don’t think there’s a debate to be had yet. I will say though, if they’re going to continue with the 1/1A mentality, then they owe it to both Vokoun and Fleury to continue that through the playoffs.

  25. GlassHalfFull says:

    DK picks the Ravens. That means I have to go all in on the Niners. Now what did I do with my bookies phone number….

  26. LuckyNKentucky says:

    They’ve already begun to celebrate in San Fran.

  27. Steve says:

    I’m looking forward to Pitt – Syracuse tomorrow afternoon. That is my #1 sports evebnt of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon I’ll probably watch the Phoenix Open and wish I was in warm sunny Arizona playing golf instead of muddling through a PA winter. SUper Bowl will come on at 6:30 pm. Not a minute sooner. If it’s a good, close game I’ll watch to the end. If it turns into a route I’ll turn it off.

    I am absolutely sick of Ray Lewis and his act as well as the adulation he has received from so many.

  28. Iceman says:

    By your statement, you are indicating that you believe that either of the Harbaugh brothers have a soul. I’m not so sure I believe that to be true.

  29. Karen22 says:

    And I’m going to make my prediction for the 49ers because Dejan picked the Ravens…just sayin’! :>)

  30. JAL says:

    Germany has –Bundesliga
    Italy has Series A
    Spain has Primera División
    France has Ligue 1
    Netherlands has Eredivisie
    Argentina has Argentino A
    Brazil has Gaucho 1 and other leagues
    Hong Kong has HKFA 1st Division
    and on and on the leagues go

  31. Iceman says:

    While I am new to posting here, I have been a long time reader and since I know how fond DK is of superstition and conspiracy theory, here are my thoughts.

    The Ravens are going to win this game, not because they are the better team and not because they will outplay the 49ers. They will win because it is what the NFL wants. What better way for the NFL to end its 24/7 celebration of all that is Ray Lewis (I have actually turned off a number of the playoff games the Ravens were playing in because I was so sick of them focusing on Lewis on the sidelines when the game was still being played. Never before have I seen this kind of focus on someone retiring. Not to mention that I have heard next to nothing coming out of the NFL about investigating the claims that Lewis used PEDs). The NFL wants to end its celebration of all things Lewis with him, “Going to Disneyworld.”

    Now that I’ve gone through all of that, in honesty I believe that the 49ers will win. Their defensive line is scary and the way Kapernick has been playing, I’m not sure the Ravens can stop him right now. Not to mention, I think Flacco still has a chance to fall into his old ways and completely blow it for the Ravens.

  32. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  33. Matt in Ann Arbor says:

    A bit dated, but in 2008 Formula 1 averaged 600m viewers per race (http://archive2.paddocktalk.com/story-100719.html). I’m sure the numbers have increased since then with Lewis Hamilton becoming an international fan favorite and with a race now in India and back in the US.

  34. AJS says:

    If you ahve never heard so much commotion about someone retiring then you weren’t paying attention during the Steeler’s run to Super bowl XL.

    bettis got just as much air time as Ray Ray.

  35. WVStarship says:

    DK has made my day. He’s picked the team that I desperately want to lose in the Super Bowl–to win!

    I can now officially call it an absolute lock.!

  36. 21sthebest says:

    Fun column DK. And here’s a trivia question. The Super Bowl is obviously the largest single day sporting day sporting event in terms of media coverage. Can anyone name what No. 2 is? Small hint: I participated in it.

  37. Thundercrack says:

    Indy 500 ?

  38. Iceman says:

    I’m sure I was watching those games through Black and Gold tinted glasses, but I don’t feel as though I noticed it as much throughout all rounds of the playoffs and I don’t recall it being thrown in your face as much during all of the games. In everything leading up to the actual Super Bowl, ya it was all over the place, but I don’t remember it being this bad (again, this could just be because I liked Bettis and despise Lewis).

  39. LuckyNKentucky says:

    A person after my own heart.

  40. 21sthebest says:

    You think I participated in the Indy 500? Ask my wife what she thinks about my driving.

    Try again.

  41. 11 DAYS UNTIL THE WAITING IS OVER AND PIRATES REPORT TO SPRING TRAINING

    .

    “We have to start winning games at the Major League level, and the way you develop a winning culture is by winning Major League games.”

  42. LuckyNKentucky says:

    The Boston Marathon.

  43. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NCAA National Championship game, BCS, BS or whatever it’s called and has been called.

  44. 21sthebest says:

    I almost won too Lucky. I just needed another 80 minutes.

  45. LuckyNKentucky says:

    So it was the Boston Marathon? Not bad, 21. I don’t think I’ve run 26 miles total in my life, at least after HS football ended 40+ years ago for me.

  46. 21sthebest says:

    ” I don’t think I’ve run 26 miles total in my life”

    How about from the couch to the fridge and back?

  47. Dom says:

    Good news for the Buccos. JAL’s links from yesterday reported that the Pirates had 4 guys in MLB’s top 100 prospects. Now, we can say that the Pirates have five guys in MLB’s top 103 prospects. I’m a little surprised Heredia didn’t make the top 100 when he was, I believe, 73rd last year and had a solid year in 2012.

    http://minors.mlblogs.com/2013/01/31/beyond-the-top-100/

  48. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good point. Walking, yes. Up and down these halls all day, every day, but not running.

  49. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I don’t think there’s going to be any debate unless Fleury completely flounders. A lot of teams use a 2-goalie model to a pretty extensive degree. And with a season this short and games this often, I doubt there is any serious debate to be had.

  50. Patrick says:

    Personally I think Nash hindered more than he helped. He in no way deserved the C. And this is a salary cap league now, turnarounds can happen in 14 months.

    You have Craig Patrick. He has….well, his own issues…but he also knows how to build a hockey team. He is exactly the kind of guy Colombus needs more than Rick Nash.

  51. Patrick says:

    In Pittsburgh, there always has been and always will be a goalie controversy. Always.

    The backup goalie will always be the second most popular person in Pittsburgh. Right behind the backup Quarterback.

  52. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Just watched dvr of game last night and had a couple thoughts:

    1. If there were a shot clock in hockey, both teams would have been screwed.
    2. The coaches KNOW that we are passing too much- why the deuce is it still happening?
    3. Paul Martin makes me tense every time he touches the puck- but not as tense as last season (just yet). If his salary (3rd highest on team) wouldn’t possibly hinder signing guys like Letang and Malkin, I’d be less apprehensive. Glad to see him play better.
    4. Tyler Kennedy is my new Paul Martin. How big is the goal? 24 sq. ft surface? Apparently TK thinks it’s 48 sq. ft.
    5. Despres is still learning, but I think it’d be a HUGE mistake to trade him. His mistakes, in context, aren’t worse than the oopsies Sid and Geno are making right now.
    6. Bortuzzo needs a day off.
    7. John Tortellini is the General Grant of hockey coaches- casualties aren’t important.
    8. Vokoun was a rock.
    9. Dupweeeeee’s speed is such an asset. If he only knew how to stop…
    10. Either Sid and Geno are being incredibly foolish with blind centering passes or guys aren’t where they’re supposed to be. This needs fixed before it bites us in the rear.

  53. Hey JAL,
    .
    Looks like you made it back to DC OK! Not a good day today/last night to be in Tri-state area.
    .

    However, I have a bone to pick with you. In 2 different places yesterday you uttered the following: “Sorry to bring in baseball.” DON’T EVER SAY THAT AGAIN!!!!!
    .

    Just because “Fearless Leader” is going through divorce proceedings with Baseball does not mean the saner and more rounded personalities here should do so. I mean . . . . I put up with your misguided fetish with “round football” to hear and read your participation about baseball.
    .
    Do not be “one of the children” caught in the middle of these divorce proceedings. Apologize no more for bringing us BASEBALL!!

  54. Patrick says:

    Great stuff DK. Personally I’m getting a little sick of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Super Bowl. Call me old fashioned, but I would just as soon watch football than 2 extra hours of halftime shows and opening ceremonies. The hype is nauseating to me at this point. I’m not even going to watch this weekend to be honest. After the Pens game the wife and I are going to the movies.

    With that said I got SF by 10.Kaepernick’s option will keep the Ravens stationary, and they don’t play well when they cant attack on defense. they are built and designed to be aggressive, not passive. Lewis and Suggs cant chase down Kaepernick. The ravens best defensive player has been Kruger with his outside speed rush. He will have to stay at home or he will see Kaepernick running through the gap he just vacated all day.

    Conversely the 49ers can get pressure with their front 4 and drop 6-7. Flacco throws the deep sideline route better than anyone in football, but take that away and he is terribly average.

  55. JAL says:

    Groat

    Dejan’s column had a number of “round football” references in it so that made it topic today.:)

  56. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Dejan Kovacevic: Bingo. Think of the Flying V (which the Oilers sort of tried in a game the other night, for real). You move in a pack of five, and you attack with speed.

    Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/-topstories/3394772-74/dejan-kovacevic-comment#ixzz2JfCguaNP
    Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

    Just wanted to point out I suggested that a few weeks ago when you asked about the PP approach… Just sayin. I like to see Emilio Estevez get his due credit.

  57. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Here, here. We can forgive JAL the soccer fetish, Groaty. He doesn’t talk much hockey for whatever reason.

    I like and enjoy hockey, but, like JAL, I try to keep my mouth shut when I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  58. Jim Leland’s Son,

    I agree with you about lack of interest in this year’s pregame stuff.
    .
    However, if Steelers were in it, you would be complaining that it was 2 hours too short!!

    .
    With all the Ray Ray stuff, this may be the year to turn off the sound during the game, only to turn it UP for the commercials!

  59. Ghost says:

    Couple of additional thoughts since I last checked in…

    Woomer — Just discovered a new twist to the interesting sibling conundrum which you posed: Did you know that Jim Harbaugh’s son is on big brother John’s coaching staff? Good piece on Jay Harbaugh in today’s LA Times.

    Jandy — How I wish I really could pass for Patrick Swayze. Alas, I never had his blond locks and it’s been too many years since I had his trim torso. Actually did get to see him in person during the late ’80′s though. For a week I was visiting the Jet Center in Van Nuys, CA where Swayze was getting personal fighting instruction from Benny the Jet Urquidez in preparation for filming Road House. Never talked to Swayze but he did look pretty bad@ss.

  60. Naterosboro says:

    Sporting thoughts on a Pre-Superbowl Sunday Friday…

    * 49ers 28 – Ravens 27. Book It. I thought I wanted a blowout, but a last second TD Drive so that Ray Ray is also on the field to lose it by 1 point….ahhhh don’t think it could get better than that for me.

    * The Superbowl is still a damn fine event. Can’t wait to see it next year in New York. No matter what Joe Flacco says…

    * Joe Flacco is dull.

    * Pitchers & Catchers in just a short little while now. I can almost smell the all-you-can-eat seats…and I don’t mean the food.

    * Is it just me, or is anyone else having a hard time getting into this NHL season? Perhaps its just lockout-fatigue but I find myself not really caring at all if they win or lose. I should’ve cancelled that $49.99 for my online NHL subscription…

    * I’ve tried to tell of the merits of Barclays Premier League (England Top Division) and Uefa Champions League (Group & Knockout Style competition involving the best club teams in Europe) for a long time now. I get typical responses of “I’d rather watch paint dry than watch soccer” and it saddens me. The competition is awesome (these are all world class athletes) & the atmosphere in the stands is unlike anything seen in US stadiums and Arenas (apart from the booze). Hopefully Dejan’s column will get a few more people to at least check it out.

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL! AND GOOOOO 9ERS!

  61. 21sthebest says:

    Bettis didn’t announce his retirement until he was standing on the champions podium. I don’t feel like Bettis got near the attention Lewis did during their respective runs.

  62. Woomer says:

    LOL :p
    Ok just for fun, I’d love to hear your pick and your rationale behind it too :)

  63. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Very true Patrick… ideally there shouldn’t be a controversy if both goalies remain strong. But you are correct that there will be. Long as they’re stopping pucks I’m ok with it I guess.

    “The backup goalie will always be the second most popular person in Pittsburgh. Right behind the backup Quarterback.”

    Where does Neal the SEAL rank on that scale?

  64. JohninOshkosh says:

    Not sure why a major news gathering organization did not send their marquis sports columnist to the Super Bowl. The event is an unrivaled amalgam of pop culture, commercialism and sports, and someone with your keen sense of those defining areas of Americana ought to have been there.

    “It was like taking a big bite out of a giant apple pie,” said the insufferable Bono Vox.

    And I understand those Louisiana law enforcement officers are more tolerant of those inclined to ignore the mandated speed limits than their Indiana brethren.

  65. Casper the Friendly,
    .
    A “Roadhouse” mention is always appropriate!

  66. Milo Hamilton says:

    This is just for Groat.

  67. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I thought you developed a winning culture by getting sprayed in the loinbox with icewater and carrying telephone poles through sandpits whilst being chased by Thing 1, 2 & 3 riding motorcycles…

  68. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Is there a #freeJoeFlacco’seyebrows?

  69. LuckyNKentucky says:

    John.

    Good to see you. Was hoping you and Milo hadn’t jumped ship for simpler, more organized blog commenting. :P

  70. LuckyNKentucky says:

    John.

    Good to see you. Was hoping you and Milo hadn’t jumped ship for simpler, more organized blog commenting. :P

  71. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Why in the name of all things bloggy did that go up there twice?

  72. Ghost says:

    That was a fun flick!

  73. Oshkosh b’gosh,
    .
    I’ve been waiting for you! I used an NBA analogy last night in discussing the ‘Guins and no one understood!!
    .
    1/ Still hate the Lakers.
    2/ I’m still amazed that Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay. They were my Darkhorse for this year.
    3/ Is Jim Boyle the real deal, or should we look for another?
    4/ I actually like what Minnesota is doing.
    5/ Kobe, Dwight, Nash, Pau, Artest . . . . how can the Lakers be that bad?!
    6/ I think da Bulls take it all!
    .
    By the way, I caught your Duke crack about announcers last week. What? You want more Northern Iowa or Wisconsin-Green Bay announcers?!!

  74. 21sthebest says:

    I wish the Steelers quarterback was dull.

  75. Naterosboro says:

    HaHa! You raise an interesting point, but we’ve got a Diva. We’re just going to have to live with it. Good thing for us our Diva found Jesus, got married and had a kid…REDEMPTION STORY!

  76. I’m anticipating: Is it a “Roadhouse” clip . . . . or Joe Greene’s Pepsi commercial?!?!

    .
    The barn roof clip would be my favorite!
    .
    Go for it, Milo!

  77. Milo Hamilton says:

    Waiting for my avatar to pop up.

    DK: Milo!

  78. Pat4Pgh says:

    Natesboro,

    I lived in England for a couple of years and fell in love with RUGBY, a real man ‘s sport, and learned to appreciate what we call SOCCER.

    American sports can learn a lot from these sports:
    - where the ball has to be touched down to be counted as a score, none of this an elbow equals two feet and instant replay crap,
    - teams can be relegated for poor play; the Pirates would be playing AA ball if MLB had relegation.

    Anyway, I appreciate both of the original games.

  79. T.S. says:

    $3.3 mill for Neil Walker? Wow. Why am I not surprised. Penny pinching Pirates. No wonder players want to leave as soon as they’re able.

  80. Thundercrack says:

    But is the Premier League the one that I should follow? Is it best?

  81. Patrick says:

    Well…Yes and no. I would be interested in the game, but I would still have no interest in all the interest stories and fluff pieces.

    I didn’t care about the trials and tribulations that Aaron Rodgers went through backing up Brett Favre. Didn’t care about Eli and Peyton the year before…Blah. I just want football. I love the game. I fial to understand how everyone is so surprised that the people who play it are, SHOCKINGLY, also real people. *yawn

    I will miss the commercials though. But I can catch those on Youtube the next day and not have to tolerate Phil Simms, 1,249 images of a Harbaugh looking puzzled or Ray Lewis praying.The whole thing is more over dramatic and pretentiously self-serving than an Oscar’s red-carpet show.

  82. Milo Hamilton says:

    What did you want them to do, give him more than he asked for ?

  83. JohninOshkosh says:

    I’ll have you know that sleepy little school between 23rd Street and University Avenue in idyllic Cedar Falls, Iowa, educated the greatest single human being I have ever had the blessed good fortune to meet, my wife.

    If the playoffs started today, the Bucks would be a 7th seed with the 8th seed Celtics fading faster than a September Pirates team. I shed no tears for the former Minneapolis Lakers, although I am perplexed at their mediocrity.

  84. Iceman says:

    I have a couple thoughts about the Penguins game last night:

    1) Even though it still didn’t look great, I thought the positioning on the PP yesterday was significantly better. Moving Malkin and Crosby away from each other gave them both more room to work.

    2) I have been pleasantly surprised by Jeffries the last two games. I hope that they give him some more time on the top two lines. He is a talented player and he, unlike many other players on the team (Letang, Kennedy, etc) is actually getting his shots on net. I worry that with the Penguins picking up Boychuck that Jeffries will get moved back down and I don’t think that he is a third or fourth line grinder type of player. He seems to play better on the top lines.

    3) Vokoun looked good, but I agree with what he said in his postgame interview that the defense in front of him made it easy for him to be in the right position. The D was getting in passing lanes and deflecting shots.

    4) Orpik has gotten really good at deflecting shots with his stick and directing the puck either out of play or into the corners away from the goal.

    5) I really like the way Glass plays as a fourth liner. Not only does he have the grit and hits people hard, but he has some good speed which is something that our previous two tough guys (Rupp and Asham) were missing.

  85. JAL says:

    That is the midpoint between what was asked for and what was offered, pretty standard for arbitration settlement.

  86. Please . . . . . may it NOT be the decrepit former Reds, Pirates, and Astros announcer with the toupee that makes Marv Alberts’ look good!!!

  87. Good BASEBALL comment, JAL!

  88. If you have not read Rob Rossi’s game story from last night’s Pens game, you should.

    .
    Addresses some questions we have raised here. Give me confidence. Good story!

  89. LuckyNKentucky says:

    You left out Cubs, Groaty.

  90. AL says:

    Still have a problem with Malkin passing up shots. See that 2 on 1 with Jeffrey last night?
    He should have shot the puck but instead he tried to pass through a defenseman and the opportunity was lost without even a shot taking place.
    Can someone tell this guy to just get it to the net without trying to make the highlight reel?
    Slop goals count just as much as pretty ones.

  91. JohninOshkosh says:

    Trying to get my Gravatar avatar to pop up.

  92. JohninOshkosh says:

    For my friend, Groat.

  93. LuckyNKentucky says:

    It takes a month of Sundays sometimes, John.

  94. Sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Go Northern Iowa!

    .
    When I came back and scrolled down, I actually burst into a cheer for you!!

    ————————

    Milo, on the other hand, is a CAD and a bald one at that!!
    .
    It’s even worse, because I was looking forward to Milo producing the barn roof scene from Roadhouse!
    .
    The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat! (or, de rug!)

  95. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Where did your picture of the guy with the hat go?

  96. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Or was that you, John? Fess up! :)

  97. Naje says:

    Just spoke with Will Wolford…former Steelers LT and color analyst for the Colts for past six years. He’s taking on the head coaching job of his alma mater, St. Xavier H.S., this coming year here in Louisville. On the super bowl: “As an AFC guy, I like what the Ravens did to the Broncos in Denver. Sort of like what the Steelers did in 2005 out there on their way to beating Seattle. Ravens in a close one.”

  98. The Iceman Cometh,
    .
    Every one of these is a good point. Good comment.
    .
    All you left out was the excellent play of Simon Despres.

  99. Naje says:

    checking to see if this gravatar thing works…

  100. NMR says:

    This is a joke, right?

  101. JohninOshkosh says:

    Ha! It was the the great Carl Spackler from Caddyshack. I am much better looking than Bill Murray!

  102. National Mart of Records,
    .
    Here’s hoping you will show up with a National Record Mart logo as your avatar.

  103. LuckyNKentucky says:

    These dag ‘um things are so small, you can’t tell who it was. I’m sure you’re better looking than him, John. Most everyone is. ;)

  104. Iceman says:

    I knew there was something I wanted to say that I forgot. I was really skeptical about Despres at the start of the season and the first couple games showed my concern was not misplaced, but in last night’s game, Despres appeared to me to be the most physical presence on defense and, other than the terrible pass to no one behind the net, he made some really nice plays. His hands on the breakaway goal were great. Was able to receive the pass that was bouncing and make a really nice move on a very talented goalie.

  105. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    -I’ll take the Ninvers in this one. The Ravens have a hard time defending an offense like the Niners have. They haven’t experienced the Spread, Pistol, whatever offense you want to call it and Kaepernick can beat you with his arm or with his feet.

    -You are correct though, the Ravens have been there before and I think if they do win it will be because of the experienced players that they have and the inexperience of Colin Kaepernick.

    -The Bay Area is going nuts over this kid. He’s a local kid (much like Pittsburghers are with their local guys) and they have him all over the TV and internet. They’ve even interviewed his parents multiple times on him. He really is a good story, if you haven’t read about him, check it out.

    -Another interesting thing about this SB; One QB from U. of Nevada and the other from U. of Deleware. Pretty cool seeing the little schools represented.

  106. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    -On a Pirates note: I spoke to a former Pirates farmhand that was teaching my son a few things the other night. Said he was friends with Pedro, Cutch, Brock Holt (Said he loved that guy, really cool) but believes that if the Pirates keep the pitchers that are coming up through the system, they are going to be truly awesome. I know, same as the fans have been hearing for years now, but he says Taillon’s stuff is just sick. 94MPH SLIDER! Throws the FB in upper 90′s, good location, blah blah blah. Also says that he’s really a good, down to earth kid and that the fans should love him.

  107. pattonbb says:

    Well said Groat. I like hockey, but couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation about the game if my life depended on it. In 11 days, my world will revolve around a small white leather ball that happens to have 108 stitches in it.

  108. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Nice story, Ryan. No names, huh?

  109. Thundercrack says:

    Thanks for sharing that Ryan.

    Btw, did this person mention the nave seals training?

  110. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    The Navy Seals Training….I just mentioned it, and I’m still not happy about it.

  111. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    This Super Bowl Sunday….A real nightmare for Steeler fans.

  112. Phlipside says:

    Best is one of those designations designed to start bar arguments. The top 7 listed above are what would be considered “premier” leagues. The highest competitive levels in the sport. The English, German and Italians have generally been considered the best of the best but that’ll start an argument too.

    Of course here at home is the MLS but at the moment we’re at best a second tier league. Getting better but not up with the big boys. If you want more “local” then root for the home league.

    Soccer (football in most of the rest of the world) is set up differently than we normally think about it here in the US. Want you mind blown? Talk with a fan of the English Premier League about relegation. Team not good enough? They send it down to a lower league! The Bucs would have been relegated to AAA (be nice people) about 18 years ago.

    So pick a league. MLS and England are probably the easiest to follow because I think they have the most coverage here. Or choose to root for the national team. We’re headed into qualifiers for the next World Cup.

  113. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Though Baltimore is certainly a team on a roll….I see this game similar to the Steeler-GB Super Bowl of a couple of years ago.
    I think SF may turn this into a track meet in the dome, and I’m not sure Baltimore can keep up.
    I hate the thought of either team winning, but I think it’s worse for Steeler history if SF wins….Tying the Steelers with six AND the 49′ers having zero Super Bowl losses.
    I’ll have to somehow hope Baltimore wins, but I see SF taking it.
    I’ll go with a similar score from two years ago:

    SF 35
    Balt 24

  114. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I have to look him up on the baseball website. I can only remember his 1st name. Only played a couple of years. Awesome instructor, great with the kids and very knowledgeable.

  115. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I honestly didn’t think to ask. I’ll ask him next Wednesday if I get the chance.

  116. Thundercrack says:

    Thanks Ryan. And I hope the former player that you are talking to is not Daquido Bazzini.

  117. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Kyle Saukko

  118. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Ha Ha, I doubt it. Just don’t check out his stats. There’s a reason he’s teaching and not playing anymore. Great kid though. Enjoyed talking to him. Great baseball around this area.

  119. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    http://www.hanksbombers.com is the baseball academy my son goes to and plays on their 14u travel team. Pretty cool.

  120. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    The key to the last 2 Super Bowls has been the outcome of the New York Giants game in week 16.
    Two years ago the Giants lost to the Packers in week 16. The Packers went on to win the Super Bowl.
    Last year the Giants beat the Jets in week 16. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
    This year the Ravens beat the Giants in week 16. The Ravens will win the Super Bowl.

  121. TJ says:

    I’ll take the Ravens by the tip of an antler.

    DK: Nice.

  122. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    ZING!!!

  123. JohninOshkosh says:

    My prediction is the Ravens in a rout. The SF quarterback’s head will be spinning and the Ravens’ QB is underrated.

  124. TJ says:

    Hopefully he isn’t the same guy that said Chad Hermansen could walk on water

  125. Luiz Mello says:

    This.

  126. TJ says:

    Uhhh I don’t think they had to accept this. I don’t think someone understand how arbitration works.

  127. cosmo says:

    post of the day

  128. Dejan,

    For your edification. “Lionel Messi, the elegant Argentine who scored a soccer-record 91 goals for Barcelona last year.”

    .

    Messi did not score 91 goals for Barcelona in 2012. He scored 79 for Barcelona in league PLUS four other competitions for Barcelona, and 12 playing for the Brazil National Team.
    .
    This would be like counting Babe Ruth’s 60 HRs in 1927 {Neal Huntington’s favorite team} plus all the HRs he hit in Spring Training, all the HRs he hit in the World Series, {all for Yankees}, all the HRs he hit in other exhibitions, plus all the HRs he hit in his barnstorming through the South after the season was over.

    .
    Messi did pretty good, but he had 6 teams or opportunities during a calendar year to accumulate them.

  129. LuckyNKentucky says:

    A Blue Devil avatar for a nice Catholic boy?

  130. Bizrow says:

    Like +1

  131. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good man.

  132. twentytwo22 says:

    ROOT is replaying an Erik Bedard start.

  133. cosmo says:

    just added one also

  134. cosmo says:

    Good Bedard or bad Bedard?

  135. JAL says:

    Lionel Messi is from Argentina , I doubt he played for the Brazil national tea.

  136. Drew71 says:

    How can we tell?
    .
    - Bad Drew
    .

  137. JAL says:

    Also, the other competitions count, think of them as interleague play in baseball, they were in the Champions League and such that Barcelona qualified for, even more difficult than most of their league schedule.

  138. Drew71 says:

    Things?
    .
    Is that what kids are calling them now?

  139. pattonbb says:

    They just scheduled their parade.

  140. bpn8pitt says:

    David Akers has been awful from 40 yards out this year. Something to consider if its close.

  141. Woomer says:

    …a question for you:
    Since Europe is only about 1/3 the size of the US (so travel times/costs would not be an issue), why not combine the top English, German, Italian (and others if you want) leagues into a single “EU League” — like the NFL or NBA?

    Then they could have the best players in all of Europe playing against each other every week…and have a true championship playoff every year at the end of the season.

  142. Argentine National team, not Brazil.

    Right neighborhood, wrong house.

  143. Luiz Mello says:

    To compare Champions League, Copa del Rey and national team fixtures to spring training is simply wrong.

    Only competitive matches have been counted for Messi’s tally.

  144. Dom says:

    I’ll say 27-24 Ravens.

  145. Dom says:

    The Bus missed out on the hall yet again.

  146. Dom says:

    Some time for him to have his worst year. I hope he doesnt miss any in the SB. He’s had so many good years for so long,

  147. Luiz Mello says:

    Gaucho 1 and other leagues are the Brazilian State Leagues. Every state has one even though these days they are little more than an anachronism. At least at their current format.

    The Brazilian National League is the Serie A (a.k.a. the Brasileirao), as in Italy. It is played from May to December.

  148. Luiz Mello says:

    “Best is one of those designations designed to start bar arguments.”

    Very true.

    “The top 7 listed above are what would be considered ‘premier’ leagues. The highest competitive levels in the sport.”

    Close, but not quite. The Dutch League (Eredivisie) is not as strong as it used to be. The Portuguese League is clearly stronger, for example. And an argument can be made that the Russian and the Ukrainian Leagues are at least on the same level as the Dutch, if not stronger as well. There is lots of money in Russia these days, even though it’s still not among the most desirable destinations for top players at their prime.

    In South America, the gap between the Brazilian and the Argentinean League is widening. No South American market comes anywhere near the size of Brazil’s, and the Brazilian teams have no problem purchasing talent from the neighbor countries – the talent that doesn’t go to Europe anyway.

  149. Phlipside says:

    Thank you for the clarification. I don’t see that much world football except England and Germany so I was running on my last memories for a while back. There is always a certain amount of shifting among those making up that top level. Not surprising (actually quite encouraging) to see the quality of play increasing in “new” areas.

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