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Monday Wakeup Call: Score one for the AFC North

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Morning, one and all …

>> The Monday column relays impressions from a good talk with Jamie Dixon over the weekend at the Pete. There is little that we know but much to like of the Panthers right now.

>> Don’t want to say I called it, but … well, um, I kind of did.

Not so much the outcome. No big deal on that. But the tone and tenor of how the Ravens bullied their way past the Niners in every way was so very AFC North of them that — I’ll be honest — it was fun to watch. Kind of reminded me of watching the NCAA tournament in hoops and seeing the difference in schools based on how their conferences play.

Our Alan Robinson files his Super Bowl gamer from New Orleans.

>> Imagine what Charlie Batch is thinking this morning.

>> Fire Dan Bylsma. And shoot his horse, too.

No, in all seriousness, the Penguins, including the coach, are to be commended for clearly figuring out an awful lot over the weekend. Neither the Devils nor the Capitals were at their best, obviously, but your club looked a lot tighter, a lot more organized, and that doesn’t happen by accident.

For that matter, credit Ray Shero for a surprisingly promising find in Zach Boychuck and for giving a chance to Robert Bortuzzo.

>> If you missed it over the weekend, Rob Rossi and staff photog Chaz Palla had exclusive access to the NHL’s new video room for player safety. Neat stuff here.

 

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. Deb says:

    The Sid, Kunitz and Duper line is now the most productive line in the NHL by the way, at least according to http://www.leftwinglock.com/line-production/index.php?season=2012&gametype=ALL&leform=lesent#A

  2. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    A bitter pill to swallow!…..But when the confetti settles….The Pittsburgh Steelers are still on top with….6.

  3. Ghost says:

    Once it was determined that these were the two teams playing in the Super Bowl, this result is what was best for Steeler fans. Foremostly, no sixth ring for the Niners. But also, going forward: the Ravens will no longer have Ray Lewis, they will be given next year’s toughest schedule (on paper, at least), and they will be drafting dead last. Would have preferred that the Steelers ended up drafting last, but since they are not, it helps that it is Baltimore that will be. Baltimore will also have that proverbial “target on their backs” all next season.

    So all this helps. Dan Rooney is back too. Let’s go get Number Seven.

  4. Eric in G'burg says:

    Brandon Boychuk? I thought his name was Zach……

  5. Pam says:

    Dejan:
    Think you might have meant Zach Boychuk there.

  6. John Lease says:

    Found it easier to root for the Ravens when the annoying stat of ‘that is the first interception ever by a SF 49er QB in a Superbowl’ was given.

    And the Ravens won’t be back next year.

  7. Officer Mancuso says:

    I don’t get the Charlie Batch reference.

  8. JAL says:

    Batch was the QB in the game the Steelers beat the Ravens

  9. JAL says:

    JAL’s Tom’s Diner Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzE-VTYOqxU

    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

    Winter Leagues Update: Kennelly In ABL Finals

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/winter-leagues-update-kennelly-in-abl-finals.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Roundup: Kevin Millwood retires

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/2/3/3947742/roundup-kevin-millwood-retires

    7 Hardball Times

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/2/3/3947742/roundup-kevin-millwood-retires

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/content/article/memories-of-2012-from-the-odd-to-the-end-part-1/

    8 The Green Weenie

    Rotation Without Liriano And Beyond

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/02/rotation-without-liriano-and-beyond.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Partial Anatomy Of A Collapse

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/02/03/pittsburgh-pirates-partial-anatomy-of-a-collapse/

    10 Brew Crew Ball

    Welcome To Baseball Season!

    http://www.brewcrewball.com/2013/2/3/3948482/welcome-to-baseball-season

  10. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Wall Street Journal

    Teixeira Knows His Limits

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323701904578278350297928128.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet

    12 Vegas News

    Jake Hager and Nick Kingham at Blue Man Group Las Vegas

    http://www.vegasnews.com/89185/jake-hager-and-nick-kingham-at-blue-man-group-las-vegas.html

    13 Boston Herald

    Baseball can’t win against PEDs

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/columnists/2013/02/baseball_can’t_win_against_peds

    14 Federal Baseball

    Washington Nationals Were Reportedly Interested In Starting Depth Before Miami New Times’ Report: Javier Vazquez? Franklin Morales?

    http://www.federalbaseball.com/2013/2/4/3949494/washington-nationals-interested-in-starting-depth-before-miami-new-times-report-franklin-morales

    15 Rant Sports

    Team USA: How Do They Stack Up in World Baseball Classic?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/02/04/team-usa-how-do-they-stack-up-in-world-baseball-classic/

    16 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Baseball notebook: A-Rod denies PED report

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/baseball-notebook-a-rod-denies-ped-report/article_21bb1d4a-0587-5a7b-b7bc-4242b05e80f8.html

    17 Motor City Bengals

    Detroit Tigers Big Favorite In AL Central, Could Still Lose

    http://motorcitybengals.com/2013/02/03/detroit-tigers-big-favorite-in-al-central-could-still-lose/

    18 Sweetspot

    Offseason report card: Brewers

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/32605/offseason-report-card-milwaukee-brewers

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19457

    20 Fangraphs

    Adam Greenberg’s Old Company; Or, a John Rheinecker Tale of Heartbreak

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/adam-greenbergs-old-company-or-a-john-rheinecker-tale-of-heartbreak/

  11. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/3/3949350/baltimore-ravens-win-super-bowl-xlvii

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers 18-1 Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVIII

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/02/steelers-18-1-odds-to-win-super-bowl-xlviii/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/9842209/Manchester-City-2-Liverpool-2-match-report.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    The Beautiful Game? Not under Claudio Coutinho it wasn’t

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/blogs/the-beautiful-game-not-under-claudio-coutinho-it-wasnt

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Kunitz helps power Penguins to 6-3 win

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/2/3/3948468/penguins-capitals-postgame-chris-kunitz-hat-trick

  12. JAL says:

    Toms Diner Suzanne Vega 1981/82 Written about Tom’s Restaurant in NYC which called Monk’s Café in Seinfield. Written as an a cappella song it appears on her album Solitude Standing in two versions, with and without music.

  13. LuckyNKentucky says:

    One right for DK for 2013.

  14. Naje says:

    …and still 0-for-most-of-2012

  15. Ace McTasty says:

    Should be ZACH Boychuk, DK.

  16. Drew71 says:

    Now, now.

    Dejan likes to sing while he writes.

    The sun’ll come out
    Tomorrow
    Bet your bottom dollar
    That tomorrow
    There’ll be sun!

    That’s a prediction, isn’t it?

    At least he beat the Mayans.

    NostraDejan.

  17. AL says:

    OK……. so I think the Pens need to make a roster move in a few weeks in order to bring Niskanen back. So who’s the odd man out? Tangradi will never clear waivers but Despres doesn’t have to. So move Despres to Wilkes-Barre so we can keep both of them?

  18. Drew71 says:

    Very weird feeling to watch a big game that I cared about, and had ZERO rooting interest.

    So I rooted for overtime.

    And against Harbaugh.

  19. Naje says:

    DK… nice piece on Dixon and his team…and a terrific win for those players over Syracuse. With regards to rotating 10 guys, this line: “the 10 starters he essentially deploys as two rotating quartets…” might you mean quintets?

  20. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thank you, Little Orphan Drewie.

  21. Drew71 says:

    You’re welcome, Daddy WarLuck

  22. LuckyNKentucky says:

    True that.

  23. 8 DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT FOR PIRATE SPRING TRAINING

  24. JP says:

    All of that is true.

    Maybe it’s neither — maybe Shero deals someone like Lovejoy for a draft pick. Maybe he packages a few people together for one player. I don’t think they have any interest in sending Despres down. If they did, they would have done it earlier so they didn’t lose Strait on waivers.

    There are options available, it will be interesting to see which one the Penguins choose.

  25. kr70 says:

    quartets…quintets..potato …patoto…just keep sending them over the boards in waves..fun to watch, probably because of the results

  26. bdubb says:

    Good article on Dixon. I have been interested in his thoughts on this team especially since they need to do things differently to be successful, i.e. run and take some quick shots. I wonder though why he continually keeps Woodall and Robinson together on the floor at the same time? It seems this team is more proficient when only one is on the floor.

    I also wonder about his thoughts on his rotation when it comes to Zeigler, Johnson and Wright all being around the same size. There isn’t enough minutes to play all 3 equal time.

    I would like to see Zeiger or Johnson start ahead of Robinson for more balance.

    Glad to see the game slowing down for Adams. His size difference inside is incredible.

  27. Casper the Friendly,

    “this result is what was best for Steeler fans”

    There is NOTHING that softens this blow to Steeler fans!!
    NOTHING that makes this best!!

    Baltimore and jerk Ray Lewis (who has created God in Ray’s own image) won the Super Bowl. I don’t care about next year’s schedule! I don’t care about when Baltimore drafts! I don’t care that San Fran would have tied the Steelers (you know, Steelers are allowed to win again and pass them!)!

    I HATE it that Baltimore won!!!!

    I HATE it that hypocrite Ray Ray is given more stage!!!!!

    THERE IS NOTHING GOOD FOR STEELER FANS THAT BALTIMORE WON!!!!!

  28. Al Mundy,

    Have you been watching the games?
    Simon Despres has been the Pens best defenseman in 2 of last 3 games. Why send down one of your BEST defensemen just because you can, so as not to lose a worse player?

    Nisky is still 2 weeks away. Things always happen to open up. Plenty of games; plenty of chance for injury. Wait 2 weeks before you pull the plug on making a right NOW unnecessary move.

  29. Officer Mancuso says:

    Ah, thanks!

  30. Dejan,

    Good focus on Jamie Dixon and Pitt program in today’s column.

    Pitt stood tall in a must win game on Saturday——must win if Pitt was going to return to being a player this year in March Madness.

    They done good!!!! They moved up from the kiddie table.

  31. Karen22 says:

    I am with Groat on this one all the way!

  32. Skilliemischief says:

    Great article on Dixon & Pitt! This has definitely been a different season for Pitt but I do like what I see. This team is more athletic than most from the past so I say keep running!! It’s fun to watch Adams get better each game along with some of the other young guys. Ziegler has really been improving of late, if he can keep up his level of play I think that will be huge for this team. I’m with you DK, I have no idea how far this team can go, but if the guys keep buyin in to 10 strong & take advantage of their limited opportunities it should be fun to watch come March!!

  33. JAL says:

    Link 9 is my look at the collapse

  34. Drew71 says:

    Correction. I rooted for darkness.

  35. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    My least favorite things about my least favorite Super Bowl (ok, it was a pretty entertaining game in the 2nd half) not counting outage…

    1. There were 2 Harbaugh’s too many.
    2. Ray Lewis robotic arm
    3. Ray Lewis ridiculous face paint
    4. Ray Lewis ridiculous facemask
    5. Ray Lewis ridiculous visor
    6. Ray Lewis
    7. Lame commercials
    8. Beyonce actually “singing” a grand total of 7 words
    9. Phil Simms’ existence
    10. Joe Flacco MVP? Over the guy who set a return record record and scored 2TD’s? Freakin seriously?!

  36. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I agree with Groat- Despres started slow, but he is picking it up pretty well. And I’d give Boychuck a few more games to see what he can do- he’s got the speed and the creativity.

  37. ICJ says:

    DK, can someone please fix the RSS feed?

    DK: I’ll check. Thanks.

  38. Fat Jimmy says:

    11. Ray Lewis’ BreathRight strip about 1 inch too high on his nose

    I knew I was getting old when Twitter was lighting up about how amazing Beyonce was and my reaction was the same as Brad’s: does she actually sing words, or does she just dance like a chicken and occassionally grunt. Bah humbug … you kids get off my lawn!

  39. Fat Jimmy says:

    Some other thoughts on “The Big Game”:

    For all the love Ray Lewis got/is getting, had they lost it probably would have been his fault. We were watching Lewis on each play, and the guy was killing Baltimore. He couldn’t remotely stay with Vernon Davis and he was getting pushed around by the 49er’s line in the running game. Lewis was terrible. He’s making the right decision by retiring.

    Flacco was terrific. I know this is sacriligious as a Steelers fan, but Flacco is better than Ben right now.

    Kaepernick is good, too, but — in defense of Ben — both of those guys had a few things Ben just doesn’t: 1) Great offensive lines 2) Big physical WRs who can fight for jump balls 3) More from the 49er angle, but Vernon Davis is just a physical mismatch for teams. Heath Miller is a good player, but no one needs to gameplan against Heath. Vernon Davis is special. 4) Talent in the backfield. And not just HB, yesterday was a great game if you liked to watch fullbacks block.

  40. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    My favorite things about my least favorite Super Bowl

    1. Harbaugh lost.
    2. Spring Training in 8 days.
    3. I don’t have to hear Phil Simms for several months.
    4. I don’t really watch ESPN so I won’t have to see Ray Lewis much.
    5. Pens spanked the Caps.
    6. The NFL put a cap on an embarrassing year- replacement refs, Jolly Roger’s mishandling of Bountygate, power outage at largest televised event of the year…
    7. The Pirates didn’t announce an extension for Neal the SEAL and Co. (maybe they’re waiting for primary elections to announce)
    8. The Patriots didn’t win the Super Bowl.
    9. Tim Tebow is momentarily an afterthought.
    10. Beyonce dancing instead of singing for 15 minutes.

  41. LuckyNKentucky says:

    It’s a good one, too.

  42. mjp1542 says:

    Brandon Boychuk? Even the most diligent have a brain cramp, eh DK?

    DK: Yeah, oops. Fixed.

  43. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    It was entirely background music. That said, my man-pig side thoroughly enjoyed the show much better than Madonna.

  44. Steve says:

    Really have to question the 49ers’ playcalling inside the 10-yard line at the end of the game. Why not give Kaepernick the option to run? That fade pass was just awful. Kaepernick also panicked on the 2-point conversion. I took a little consolation in the fact that Ray Ray was beaten badly on several pass plays and was repeatedly blocked and or run by. He had very little impact on the game and if they had lost, I think many would have seen him for the on field liability he was.

    Hoping Pitt can focus and play well tonight. Big win Saturday but they have to get right back at it, especially considering the next three games after this will be tough.

  45. Reading says:

    I’d call it a finesse win by the Ravens. Niners were more physical. Should have pounded the ball into the end zone on final drive. Ravens were on the ropes and Niners left them off the hook.

  46. Steve says:

    Agree 100% with your comments about Lewis. He looked old, slow and over but the outcome deflected the attention away from just how badly beaten he was on several plays.

  47. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I agree with all of that. Lewis looked out of place and when he was involved in a play it was usually piling on at the end.

    I have no love for Bendiva and have no problem saying there’s a bunch of QB’s who have played better the last couple years and are better than him right now. He just hasn’t been winning enough games to be an elite QB.

  48. Jandy says:

    Kunitz should be sick more often ;)

  49. Fat Jimmy says:

    At this point in her life, Tom Selleck is more feminine than Madonna (and has smaller biceps).

    I guess we’re living in a post-Janet Jackson world, but I thought Beyonce’s outfit was rather tame … and therefore disappointing.

  50. Dom says:

    Since super bowl is over, there should be only be one item on our minds. And that’s…

    The NFL draft.

    I think the Steelers will take Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia with the 17th overall selection.

  51. tpbco says:

    IMO, the reason the ravens have passed the Steelers is Free Agency. The have 4 starters on O, Bouldin, Birk, McKinnie and Vonta Leech – all pro FB. On D it’s Pollard and STs Jacoby Jones. ALL significant contributors. Of course, they up to this point were able to because they weren’t spending thier cap on QB (much like the Steelers in Cowher’s run…not that they went heavy on FA, but had the money to pay for non QB talent and depth). We’ll see how that changes after flacco breaks the bank.

    BTW, the Steeler FA signings are Clark, Cochtery (sp?), Burress (who was never really given a “hat”) and the immortal Leonard Pope. If that’s it…you better draft REALLY well.

  52. NMR says:

    Great work, Mr. Luchok!

    Could not agree more with your assessment.

  53. tpbco says:

    Disagree Dom, Heath Miller will not play before Halloween, at best. They have no one on the roster that could even lift his jock, let alone start the season and play the first 2 months. I won’t be surprised if they go for the Stanford TE, who is rated about where they are picking. Having two quality TEs would help the O when Heath returns, given that wallace is walking.

  54. Bizrow says:

    The Stillers spend their available resources on there own players, I don’t think they will ever change that and become players in the FA market

  55. DominicDeNucci says:

    Beyonce can sing or lip-synce or do whatever she wants up there, as long as she and her friends keep showing off those awesome thighs like they were. Very yummy halftime show.

  56. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I think I’m still most upset about Flacco getting MVP. Not just because he’s Flacco, but that Jones guy (may be wrong on the name) set a record and scored 2 touchdwns from a non-QB position. How is that not MVP worthy? I’m tired of having 9 outta 10 MVP’s be QB’s. How bout a center wins it for a change?

  57. tpbco says:

    As I said, if they don’t…they better draft REALLY well and that is, at least, subject for debate.

    If you don’t sign FA nor make deals (ie Cincy Carson Palmer trade) or sink to the bottom to get high draft positions (cleveland)….you give those teams the opportunity, over time to catch up. I believe we are starting to see that.

    Smart people adjust.

  58. Reading says:

    In a just football world, populated by competent defensive backs, the “Rocky Mountain Rainbow” is easily intercepted, and the Ravens are bounced in the divisional round. The Ravens are left to ponder whether they will ever get over the hump, etc. In an unjust football world, … well, we know what happens.

  59. Bizrow says:

    Good point

  60. Jandy says:

    What you guys said. Depres sure isn’t looking out of place, and he’s been targeted by opponents to try to shake him into making mistakes. Bortuzzo is holding his own as well.
    I like what I see from Boychuk so far, keep him playing and let him play himself out of the line-up, don’t just take him out.

  61. wally says:

    DK-

    Great column on Jamie Dixon. Head and shoulders the best head coach in town.

    DK: Thanks, Wally.

  62. Jandy says:

    Happy belated birthday to Spunky, who turned 39 (again) over the weekend :)

  63. Jandy says:

    They gave him the MVP so he wouldn’t cry.

  64. Dom says:

    I think the Steelers would be satisfied from what they saw with Paulson last year. He was supposed to go in the 4th round at one point in time but slid. With all of our needs piling up, especially on defense, I doubt they’ll go TE. If they do not go OLB, then I think they’ll choose the best player available from ILB, SS, FS, or maybe WR

  65. Patrick says:

    +1 to groat

    As long as we have Ben we have to opportunity to go for a seventh. being tied for the most trophies is not only something we can fix by winning another, its not even true. Four teams have more championships than the Steelers. The Packers lead all teams with 13, the Bears (9), the Giants with (7) and the BROWNS (Yes THOSE Browns) have 8.

    Contrary to popular belief in Pittsburgh, the NFL did exist before 1965.

    Either way, the Steelers can always win more. Nothing…NOTHING….can erase the image of that fake, self-promoting, sanctimonious hypocrite holding up the Lombardi trophy.

  66. Dom says:

    How many times does someone get to turn 39?

  67. Naterosboro says:

    Brad,

    Both lists very good. Made me smile this morn. Thats all. We’ll go back to disagreeing about the Pirates in a few weeks. Sound good?!

  68. Jandy says:

    Depends on the person…Spunky can do it as many times as he wants ;)

  69. JRay3 says:

    DK – Wonderful piece on Jamie Dixon and his squad this morning, really enjoyed the read.

    Not being a local it humors me reading some of the fan boards about Pitt and the program Dixon has built. This is a golden era and a vocal minority do not even know how to appreciate it or would like to run Dixon off. Jamie Dixon is one of the top coaches in the game today and has built a program in an area where top flight talent does not exist in his back yard.

    Can’t even read the other Pittsburgh paper because unless it is doom and gloom they do not want to even write about it or give credence to what is transpiring. What a difference out here in Phoenix with how the sports media tries to prop up ASU and the job Herb Sendek does and they have not had a tenth of the success Coach Dixon and Pitt has had the past decade.

    How scary will this team be if they continue to show the type of improvement they have over the first 23 games? Yes this team is young and lends itself to the unknown, but as DK mentions that is the beauty of watching this team grow before our eyes.

    Currently KenPom ranks the Panthers #6, Sagarin, #9, ESPN’s BPI # 13, they have a RPI of 39 and SOS of 71. They are poised to be anywhere from a 2-6 seed come tournament time and I don’t think many teams will want the Panthers in their side of the bracket.

    DK: Honesty always appreciated in this business or, really, any walk of life, I guess. The coach had a million ways he could have answered my question. He went full-bore candor.

  70. Patrick says:

    Quarterbacks always win. BLAH BLAH BLAH qb qb qb BLAH QB PASSING…. Thats the worst part about watching the NFL anymore. No matter what….the QB is the focus of attention. good or bad. The NFL and their announcing teams absolutely bore me to death with their micro-analysis of every meaningless action by the QB. They focus on everything from his hip rotation to his body language. They completely ignore the other 21 guys on the field and comepltely marginalize any impact they may have.

    And I cannot stand Phil Simms.

  71. Naterosboro says:

    My sporting thoughts on a post-Ravens Superbowl victory Monday…

    * Well, I didn’t get my wish. I was happy that 49ers made it a game in the 2nd half. Now we’ll just have to wonder if they would’ve decided to show up in the 1st…

    * Colin Kaepernick will win a superbowl. He’s not just a runner. The kid can sling the ball with the best of em. That said, the pass he threw for the interception was strait awful. The announcers were crediting Ed Reed with his great CF play…Had Kaepernick not overthrown Moss by about 10 yds, Reed makes no play (and probably misses the tackle haha!).

    * The Penguins are pretty good when they want to be.

    * I still would continue to keep the heat on Dan Bylsma. I just think his message has gotten stale. It happens regularly in hockey. No sure why, but if they team goes through a period where they’re really struggling and dropping games…I think you need to look at a change at HC.

    * The weekend in the Barclays Premier League was pretty awesome. A thrilling 3-2 win for Newcastle over Chelsea, my Gunners (Arsenal) beating Stoke 1-0 & a great 2-2 draw between Manchester City & Liverpool. If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I suggest you flip on Fox Soccer Channel and go nuts. I do.

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL :-)

  72. TJ says:

    Not one mention of that final series of plays by SF?

    I don’t buy into this whole theory of “it should have never come down to that”. Bottom line is someone is always going to be losing at the end of the game. The 49ers and Greg Roman crapped the bed on 2 series with an opportunity to score a TD inside the 10. I don’t know what they were attempting by rollinlg Kaepernick out. Yes he has speed but the CB’s and LB’s aren’t 10 yards down field; less room to cover and a better chance to catch him. And it cuts off half the field for his receivers.

    And regardless of what Mike Perriera former head of officials states I think everyone that is a true football fan knows that the last play was a penalty. This isn’t like hockey where officials swallow their whistle and let a cross check go in the playoffs. This was a game winning play in the super bowl and the offical closed his eyes. He didn’t want to be on the cover of SI like the replacements.

    I think what I’m most aggravated about on that last play is that the NFL actually expects everyone that watches the game to believe it wasn’t a penalty. If that was Baltimore vs Pittsburgh in the regular season its a penalty. No if’s and’s or but’s about it.

    SHAME ON THE NFL.

    DK: How about Phil Simms saying he had no problem with the no-call because it came “late in the game?”

  73. TJ says:

    Did I read ESPN right that Liriano and the Pirates have still not finalized and signed their deal?

  74. chuck Snow says:

    With you on the super bowl. I felt that even if the 49″s had scored that the Ravens would just drive down and at least kick a field goal..But they were clearly out of gas at the five yard line.

  75. tpbco says:

    I do agree that they could go several different ways in the 1st round, depending on who is available.

    I disagree on Paulson. If he is the starter for the first 2 (+) months of the season, it will not be good.

  76. Bizrow says:

    Yes, its still up in the air as it were, no formal signing, but continuing to “talk”

  77. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thanks. You have a good memory, J-girl. I try to keep a low profile on that, especially the big 6-0. I wouldn’t even let ‘em sing at the restaurant the other night with the free cake. :P

    BTW, it was snowing here and no shadow, so winter is over. Officially, here, up there and in Florida for Drew.

  78. Jandy says:

    60 is young, Grandpa ;)

    Punxsutawney didn’t see his shadow and it wasn’t overcast and it wasn’t snowing. We got 4 inches of snow Saturday evening lol. Friggin rodent.

    Hope you had a good day, Spunky. (I don’t like the singing part either)

  79. AJS says:

    This is what Steelers fans are telling themselves this morning to get over the fact that the Ravens actually won. To get over the fact that somehow Joe Flacco who typically is rather ordinary actually had a pretty good day even if it was through the help of a couple of really good recievers making catches on balls that had no business being caught. The Niners couldn’t get pressure on him and he came through because of it.

    If it is any other team playing last night and I am routing against San Fra. but I would hand delivered trophy number six to Jim Harbaugh last night if that would have guaranteed that the Ravens lost.

  80. Jandy says:

    TJ, I’m with ya on that one…that one…that “missed” interference call was a travesty. That referee should be fined. Guess he wanted to go home and not have overtime.

  81. AJS says:

    Psssshhh. Let tangradi go. He has been given more chances than most because everyone thought he was the key to the trade that brought Kunitz to Pittsburgh. That has been proven to be false. Cut ties with him. He’s what you would call in baseball a AAAA player.

  82. NMR says:

    Rob B. with an update in the Trib today:
    http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/3337608-74/liriano-million-pirates#axzz2JwsdoPqS
    (Rob’s payroll number is still wildly incorrect, btw. Is this really that hard?)

    The hangup over the weekend seemed to be a contractual thing. Both sides agreed in principle to the original two year deal but with the first year salary varying depending on amount of time missed due to the off season arm injury. It sounded like the only way to contractually do that was with a minor league deal, which would not have guaranteed Liriano money. His agent balked at that.

    Frankly way more than I know about the collective bargaining agreement and what-not.

  83. Arriba Wilver says:

    Is this stuff about extensions for Neal and Frank a totally made up thing, or are there at least rumors out there that something has happened?

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    Or is about to happen.

  85. TJ says:

    Shouldn’t an agent understand the rules involved in a contract prior to agreeing to it?

    How many deals has he agreed to already?

    Liriano might end up with more contracts agreed to than wins this year

  86. 21sthebest says:

    I was more bothered by the Niners play calling on first and goal from the 7 and in several other instances than that pass interference.

  87. Bizrow says:

    Where did you hear that AW? There was some joking here yesterday that folks were surprised the PBC didn’t make some announcement during the SuperBowl, but thats all I’ve seen.

  88. Drew71 says:

    Be fair.

    The years are a perfectly normal reaction to PMS.

  89. Jandy says:

    Or he may end up not playing at all.

  90. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Great day. Thanks. Celebrated yesterday, too, after church. Even my son who works two jobs snuck home over the weekend for a few hours. Really nice.

  91. Jandy says:

    PMS = Poor Little Man Syndrome

  92. Arriba Wilver says:

    Just making sure, Biz. Most of what I saw was from you. :-)

  93. Jandy says:

    Hey Groat, when does your flight leave? ;)

  94. Drew71 says:

    Who is this Lewis guy?

    Someone who used to play football?

  95. Arriba Wilver says:

    Poor little man because he has to learn to deal with it.

  96. AL says:

    Groat…..you are exactly right but keep in mind that when Nisky comes back, he (Niskanen) will be the better defenseman of the two (at least he should be based on what I’ve seen so far).
    Now….if you don’t want 8 defensemen on your roster, then you need to do something with one of them. No one wants to lose Despres and since he’s waiver free, the AHL would be an easy safe option.
    If Shero does want to keep all 8 defensemen then obviously a forward must go. My best guess would be Tangradi or Jeffrey.
    Anyone know if Jeffrey would need to clear waivers?
    Also Jandy…..agree with you about Bortuzzo…maybe we have another Ulf Samuelsson here!!

  97. Drew71 says:

    SPUNKSTER!!!

    Dejan. I think you should do a special B-Day thread for him.

    You know. Where we can ask, Is this the place to talk about hockey?

  98. Drew71 says:

    Ditto

  99. NMR says:

    It honestly sounds like that’s the case, TJ, but he is still dealing with the Pirates. Looks like the team is doing the right thing here, but you never know.

    You have to think that Liriano has less leverage at this point. Late in the FA signing period, injury is well known. If the Pirates deal falls through it seems highly unlikely he ends up getting as much money elsewhere.

  100. Dom says:

    TEs are fairly cheap options on the FA market. I would think they’ll go that route before drafting one.

  101. TJ says:

    Really? Your not at all concerned that the biggest play in the biggest game of the season was blown by a guy that works for the NFL one day a week and only during the season?

    Hmm maybe the guy had some money riding on that game. I know I’m getting a little crazy with that comment; but I don’t know how you miss it and I don’t know how the NFL can justify it. Plain as day; more than 5 yards past the line, ball in the air.

  102. Drew71 says:

    It was just a bunch of yellowcake

  103. Jandy says:

    Sweet!

    Drew…lol…you’re killin’ me.

  104. Jandy says:

    zactly!!!!

  105. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Now that would be embarassing. Worse than singing at a restaurant.

  106. Drew71 says:

    Dejan. You gonna sport a Ray Lewis jersey on the podcast?

  107. Jandy says:

    That would be a blessing, AL…this team has grit…it needs growl.

  108. scapper says:

    Yes on Number 10. Times 10. Whew, that was something to “watch.”

  109. Vince says:

    to AJS….

    skating has improved, mental attitude and determination is better based on Trib articles recently, “cuteness” in his game is starting to go away in favor of just crashing the net and ….6’4″ wingers are just not that easy to find. One more season, please.

  110. Jandy says:

    With chocolate icing???

  111. Arriba Wilver says:

    Go easy on the little guy. He didn’t predict an end to winter IMMEDIATELY. It’s not like he said no more baseball talk for two months or something . . .

  112. Bizrow says:

    No, white

  113. Arriba Wilver says:

    Will they make a movie out of it?

  114. NMR says:

    Hey Tom,

    You’re Liriano post this morning mentions the physical being a big obstacle in the way of the deal.

    Is this only because of the broken arm, and if so, won’t they have to have some agreement in place? I mean, I highly doubt it’s healed, which would presumably keep any normal physical from passing.

  115. Naterosboro says:

    If anyone is interested in WAR (Wins Above Replacement)…

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8900693/call-moderation-use-wins-replacement-stat

  116. Jandy says:

    dayum! :/

  117. NMR says:

    And the rebuttal: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/what-war-is-good-for/

    Honestly, Caple is like the thousanth guy to write the same exact article and he uses Bleacher Report as an example?

    What a bore. Come up with something original.

  118. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Maybe Gary Sheffield is his agent.

  119. NMR says:

    Haha, yes. I hope that joke never dies.

  120. LuckyNKentucky says:

    We won’t let it.

  121. tpbco says:

    See…Pope, Leonard.

    No Thanks

  122. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Like I said earlier, the NFL just finished a brilliant season. There was a blatant off. pass interference missed before that play as well that should have gone against the Ravens.

  123. Bizrow says:

    Actually on Dejan’s chat last week, I asked about CH and an extension, Dejan’s response was the guys that would give him an extension are in no position to do so as they might not be around (Paraphrased, not his actual words)

  124. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Sounds good. Though I’d much rather be agreeing how awesome it is for them to be running away with the division.

  125. Bizrow says:

    For what its worth, Keith Law ranks the PBC farm system No. 7, based on Cole/Taillon and the folks in West Virginia

    Cards are No. 1 and Cubs are No. 5

  126. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Or at least a Ray Lewis T-1000 robotic arm under the Zack Morris sleeve and camo face-paint…

  127. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Or some deer antler extract flavor shot in the Starbucks.

  128. JRay3 says:

    The Pirates system is reliant on those two power arms to make the big league club as #1 aces. After that it seems we have to go down to A ball to find our most intriguing non-pitching prospects in Polanco, Hanson and Bell.

    Great now NH can point to his sabre metrics chart and tell all of us PBC fans what a great job he is doing and FC can back him up.

    Maybe after April this year NH can remind us fans that the charts say we are not supposed to be a .500 ball club yet.

  129. Naterosboro says:

    His criticism is merited tho. WAR is a stat that is gaining more and more cred., yet there are different ways to get the number…

    Gimmie ERA n RBIs anyday… lol (and I’m only 26). Guess thats just the old school baseball fan in me.

  130. gregenstein says:

    It’s funny…people keep saying he was the “key” to that trade, and yet they’ve gotten exactly what they needed out of that trade from Kunitz. A top 6 winger who can play with Crosby.

  131. gregenstein says:

    I rooted for the blackout.

  132. Jag7 says:

    agreed. To say I am disgusted by a Balt. win is putting it nicely. Terrible play calling my the 49ers at the end.

  133. gregenstein says:

    Agreed JRay3.

    NH has improved things as far as prospects go, buoyed largely by Tailon, Cole, and Alvarez previously. It remains to be seen if he can “hit” on a player outside of the 1st round.

  134. Drew71 says:

    B-b-b-b-baseball?

    Are you guys talking b-b-b-b-baseball?

    I’m so excited I can hardly speak

  135. JHadar says:

    Super Bowl championships, not NFL championships … knowing that the National League existed before 1901 doesn’t add to anyone’s World Series totals.

    DK: I really prefer looking at all NFL championships. It was a legit championship in every sense, every bit the same as the World Series (which began in 1903 in “Pittsburg,” by the way) and the Stanley Cup.

  136. STEVEG says:

    to gregenstein

    yep……so let’s develop a top 6 winger who can play with Malkin. If Paul Martin can turn it around, so can Tangradi.

    I agree with Vince.

    DK: What exactly does Tangradi have to “turn around,” though?

    Where is the good Tangradi everyone’s been waiting on? What’s the precedent?

  137. NMR says:

    Which makes his argument no different than over reliance on any other stat out there such as the ones you list.

    It’s the same argument that baseball fans have been having since they started keeping stats.

    The only difference is that WAR is (relatively) new.

    I’ve never once used WAR and rarely if ever look at it. But these whiny writers regurgitating the same column over and over is awful. Get over yourself.

  138. NMR says:

    Travis Snider crawled out of his hole and cast a shadow over all of Washington State, thus the collapse will come six weeks early.

    Or something like that.

  139. JohninOshkosh says:

    Not a sports topic but, if you get the chance, read about the bones found that belong to Richard III. Most of the major news sites have articles about it.

    Saw Richard III performed by Wisconsin’s famed American Players Theater so the story intrigued me. Fascinating stuff.

  140. JohninOshkosh says:

    Also noticed that Bob Costas is going to be interviewing director John Sayles tonight on MLB Network prior to them showing “Eight Men Out.” Sayles is one of our best filmmakers so it should be interesting.

  141. JHadar says:

    I think the 49ers lost the game fair and square by not showing up until after the power outage, but yes it was a pathetically blown call.

    Not a fan of either team — but I do like an underdog and was pulling for the 49ers at the end. Both of those last drives should have been TDs. Someone forgot the old adage “Dance with the one what brung ya.”

    Maybe they should have let the replacement refs stay a little while longer after all.

  142. JHadar says:

    That wouldn’t be as bad as say about Sept. 10th.

  143. Milo Hamilton says:

    Seven tweets with corresponding pictures of yesterday’s feast alone.

  144. Jandy says:

    His skull was cleaved with a blade and a barbed metal arrowhead was lodged in the vertebrae of his upper back.

    Ouch.

    DK: Yeah, but thanks to some nearby deer, he didn’t even have to go on IR.

  145. JRay3 says:

    DK – You have a much closer perspective on Coach Dixon, but from afar on TV, watching interviews and the like it appears he has become a better communicator, is more comfortable with the media, and has grown in his own skin from his early days as coach.

    He reveals a lot about his character in your piece, maybe due to him being more comfortable. The knock on Dixon in the past has been a stubbornness to do things one way, maybe just maybe his professional growth is allowing him to look at teams through a different lens and craft based on the individuals as a whole.

    Certainly gears up to be an exciting next few weeks of College Hoops that way.

  146. Dom says:

    That is some crazy stuff. How did they know it was him? I read that the skeleton had similar characteristics, such as a curved spine, but that doesn’t prove it’s him.

  147. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Mercy. He’ll be as big as CC Sabathia or Prince Fielder when he comes to ST.

  148. Bizrow says:

    What do we know about baseball??

    Just ask NH

  149. Bizrow says:

    God called Ray-Ray and told him to touch the guys investigating King Richard?

  150. Milo Hamilton says:

    No weapons !

  151. Jandy says:

    DNA…and it matches living relatives. Go read it, Dom, it’s interesting :)

  152. Dom says:

    I dont know if there is a TE that would be worth selecting with #17 overall. CBS ranked the best TE nearly 10 spots after our selection:
    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings

  153. Dom says:

    Also, ESPN/Scouts inc has the best TE ranked #30:
    http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft

  154. Dom says:

    I think that was a holding penality but the refs were so lenient throughout the game that it would be tough to call that one item after letting so many go. I don’t think the refs called holding even one time and there was at least a few that seemed obvious to me.

  155. Dom says:

    I do see that now. That wasn’t provided on the first article I read.

  156. JHadar says:

    You’re correct the first World Series was in 1903.

    I absolutely agree that most NFL championships is a more valid way to look at football history (you can’t leave Lombardi out) — but folks who give Pittsburgh the lead with six are obviously talking about Super Bowl championships. (which was all I was replying to)

    1901 was when the American League was formed. There were a World Championship baseball series played from 1884-90 between the NL winners and the American Association champs, and then while the NL was a monopoly there was a series at the end of the year between the first and second place teams.

    Although the Super Bowl began after the NFL and AFL agreed to merge, they operated as two separate leagues until 1970.

  157. JAL says:

    Been following the story several months. Their first clue when they found the bones was that the spot fit with some contemporary accounts. Then the curved spine and the head wound matched what they know. Final step was DNA tests with living relatives. Good detective story.

  158. JHadar says:

    Amazingly this post has healed itself. I left a word out of the original and then made a reply to myself with the correction in it and that reply is gone but the post is fixed.

    Thanks to whoever did that!

    Is this a regular feature of new software, an act of kindness by someone with privileges, a miracle, or am I just losing my short-term memory?

    DK: You’re welcome.

  159. STEVEG says:

    to DK

    The “turn around” is to stop playing like you’re competing for the Lady Byng and start playing like Kevin Stevens as a power forward. He has the physical tools but needs to develop the grit. I feel that this can be improved with more actual game experience….and not 2 games here then a healthy scratch there. It’s the only way we’re going to know for sure.

  160. Arriba Wilver says:

    Phil Simms’ comment struck me also, DK. Never heard that one before in a Super Bowl.

    DK: Guy just blew it on live TV. It happens. He realized — and Nantz realized — that Simms’ initial impression was incorrect. Simms just wasn’t particularly graceful in backtracking.

  161. Naje says:

    Richard III is Shakespeare’s most produced play. It is produced more than all of the rest of his plays combined. An incredibly rich tale…and a wonderful play to act and direct and be a part of.

    In 1977, Al Pacino took on the role of Richard III in a Broadway production. He was, by all accounts and nearly every critic, absolutely awful. The notices haunt him even today. But in 1996 Pacino and several of his theater and Hollywood friends put together “Looking For Richard”–a documentary of sorts about that specific play and Shakespeare in general. “Looking For Richard” is a terrific documentary style movie with several (most of) scenes from the play performed by major stars. Highly recommend the film as Pacino does a decent job of redeeming himself from his inauspicious showing in 1977.

    Final note on Richard III (and one of my favorite theater anecdotes)–
    Sir Laurence Olivier performing the lead role on Broadway. Opening night…a couple thousand in attendance as well as hordes of media. He ambles on stage in character (limping, deformed, etc) and proceeds to stare into the audience as it collectively settles into seats and gets quiet. The he begins: “Now is the winter of our discontent….”

    After the show the media question him about that long stare into the audience…I’ll paraphrase (nothing here is accurate, but the gist of it is): “Were you getting into character? Were you staring down the masses as the evil king? Were you shaming the audience into sitting down before your royal personage?”

    Olivier replied quite simply: “No. My contract is tied to a percentage of the house. I was merely counting the empty seats.”

  162. Jandy says:

    priceless!

  163. Jandy says:

    Woah! Wild trade Palmieri and Powe to Rangers for Rupp. Good ol’ Rupper. Imagine that. (Shed salary cap)
    http://www.foxsportsnorth.com/02/04/13/Wild-trade-Palmieri-and-Powe-for-Rupp/landing_wild.html?blockID=858841&feedID=5930

    DK: In the two games I’ve seen Rupp this season with the Rangers, he looks like he’s lost … not one step but about two or three. Really slow.

  164. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I’ve worked as a family historian for several years- while the DNA stuff is somewhat useful (sometimes), it’s far from foolproof. Certainly possible it’s Richard III, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it wasn’t. There’s a major craze in society for everyone to find the DNA strand that shows everyone is related to George Washington.

  165. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    It was actually a stag.

  166. Dom says:

    Although that no holding call at the end of the game was questionable, let’s give credit where credit is due. They beat a hot team in the Bengals, Payton Manning’s Broncos, Tom Brady’s Pats, and the best team in the NFC in the Niners. Before going into the playoffs any of the 49ers, Pats, and Broncos could very well have been the best team in the league and the Ravens beat every one of them. That is a very impressive playoff run.

    It might be a tad controversial, but the Ravens deserve to be the champs.

  167. JohninOshkosh says:

    Great post, Naje.

  168. Ghost says:

    “That is a very impressive playoff run.”

    Not only do I firmly agree with you, but I’ll go a step further: The “no-call” at the end of the game was a good no-call. Too many people around here with black-and-gold tinted glasses are chiming in with Jim Harbawl (sorry, couldn’t resist the immature dig, there ;) ).
    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18dk92znhfw42gif/original.gif

    Smith engaged Crabtree well within the five-yard limit and was untangling — though admittedly for another 2 yards — even as Crabtree, himself, was pushing off. Furthermore, for those who are howling that the no-call cost the Niners the title, the throw was a very poor one that wasn’t even catchable. In the bang-bang reality that the play took place, the no-call was the correct call. Just live with it, Ravens’ haters. The purple and black have been awesome foes of the Steelers over the years, and just as Dom states, this has been one of the great post-season runs we’ve just witnessed. Baltimore deserves to be champs.

  169. Bizrow says:

    They won

    At least it wasn’t Cleveland

    And Ray-Ray leaves with no character, honesty nor class

    Tough call, either way

  170. Eric Bowser says:

    Really don’t understand this deal for either team.

  171. Arriba Wilver says:

    I wondered also if the throw was catchable, but they never showed the angle to see for sure.

  172. bpn8pitt says:

    Dejan, suppose Pitt runs the table and has a decent showing in their final Big East tournament, say semifinals? Can they grab a 1 seed? Maybe a 2? I know they still got a long way to go, but with Louisville and Syracuse coming back to Earth, and all the flux in the top 5, 10 this isnt as far fetched as it was late December.

    DK: Whoa there, they just need to keep getting better. That should be it for now. Seedlings didn’t mean anything in the past, remember?

  173. bpn8pitt says:

    I know they still have issues, but Im starting to think they are one of the top 3,4 in the Big East.

  174. Eric Bowser says:

    Looks like the Pirates tired of Liriano and the tricks as team is rumored to be close to signing lefty Jonathan Sanchez.

    Hopefully a minor league deal.

  175. cosmo says:

    per MLB trade rumors, Pirates nearing deal with Jonathon Sanchez. Plan B??

  176. cosmo says:

    back up plan?

  177. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Hopefully. He’s seen better days. They almost had him in a trade a few years back, but he started pitching better and the deal fell through.

  178. Officer Mancuso says:

    I thought Ray Lewis was admirably brief and Baltimore-centric in his remarks during the Lombardi Trophy award ceremony. If he was a performance enhancer in an era of same, good riddance. I doubt that that characterization explains his excellence. Like Hines Ward, if I may say so, he played with enthusiasm the way a multomiliion dollar star *should* play. Taking nothing away from him, the torch has been passed to Flacco, who endured a rise through the ranks of doubts to put up post season numbers for the ages, and in classy fashion, showed no interest in the spotlight beyond confessing that he thinks he’s not one of the best, but *the best* at what he does. I’m sorry my fellow Steeler fans, but I strongly disagree with some of you to this extent: the Baltimore Ravens have become a class outfit. I like to think they’ve done so, in part, by emulating the Rooney Steeler model.

  179. pattonbb says:

    Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time before the Rat Birds won another Super Bowl. If it wasn’t for the Steelers, they probably would have another one.

    The Ravens have a defense that sacks qbs and create turnovers (hey, remember when Steelers used to do that?). They can run the ball and are among the best in the league on special teams. And, somehow Flacco has turned in to one of the best qbs in the game. Who saw that one coming? Hard to make fun of a guy that just went on the run he did. But that uni-brow is still open game.

    There’s one thing that bothers me when comparing the Ravens and the Steelers. One thing that gives me a bad feeling. The Ravens draft better than the Steelers. And they have been for a few years.

    That has to stop.

  180. Jandy says:

    I have to say I really haven’t seen him…did he play for the Rangers the game we played them?? I don’t recall.

  181. Officer Mancuso says:

    Here’s a fascinating link about questionable calls from the Tuesday 2/5 NY Times, for anyone hard core enough to be re-reading these comments (since you probably exist only in my imagination, I won’t fret that the link looks mobile-specific. All my imaginary interlocutors have smartphones). http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/blogs/quirks-of-the-game-the-other-calls-that-altered-the-course-of-the-super-bowl.xml;jsessionid=736A9FAFEC1C6925DB636BB27443EC1D?f=27

  182. Skilliemischief says:

    I had just finished re-reading this entire blog & then you posted. Now I have to start all over!

 
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