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Monday Wakeup Call: Sports you can do?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Morning, lunatics …

>> The Monday column uncovers the sorry story of the world’s worst curler, a Trib exclusive.

This footage was lifted from the camera of one Abraham “Gord” Zapruder outside the fabled Granite Club and is being shown here on this blog for the very first time.

Warning: Hide the women and children …

On a serious note, I’d like to offer deep thanks to Andrew Paterson, Gary Lawless, Adam Toy and everyone at Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 who made this possible. Above all, thanks to Scott McFadyen, the curling expert who showed tremendous patience and who was kind beyond words with me and my family. It’s an experience none of us will ever forget and our privilege to be on that historic slice of ice.

>> One doesn’t try columns like this to generate traffic, obviously. Fact is, I could connect a string of random vowels, then insert the words Ben Roethlisberger or Sidney Crosby, and it’ll get hit all day and night.

I really believe there is more to this role, whether it’s the soccer, diving or wrestling columns this winter, or even a different way to approach the most popular topics. Sometimes, that’ll turn off a bunch of readers who won’t give it a chance. I get that. I’m no different when flicking through a paper or clicking through a site.

But especially with a fourth weekly column in the mix now, I wouldn’t mind doing more of this type of thing.

Not the curling. The writing.

>> The one-of-a-kind Winnipeg winter backdrop behind one-of-a-kind wife …

>> Nice little trip for the hockey club, especially in the sense that they beat two very different opponents at their own game. The Jets are a big team that grinds it out and feeds off the crowd. The Penguins went even harder and tuned out all the noise. The Sabres are an annoying team that picks scabs and never stops attacking. The Penguins bit back and attacked just fine themselves.

Good teams do this. Contenders do this.

>> If you missed it, this was my Sunday column asking, as politely as possible, if the Ottawa Senators could please shut up about Matt Cooke.

>> Also from Sunday, columnist Joe Starkey lauded the NCAA for clamping down on concussions. Now, Joe asks, what about the NFL and NHL?

>> James Harrison’s future is tackled by our Alan Robinson.

>> Agnus Berenato is feeling the pain of all those losses for the Pitt women’s team. Very much of note in this piece is Steve Pederson’s assessment.

>> The Pitt men take on Notre Dame tonight at the Pete.

>> Bob Nutting says something about playoffs.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 to talk about the column and whatever else is on the collective crania of Ken Laird and Guy Junker.

You can listen live right 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 more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

209 Comments

  1. DK,

    Nice article on a sport that I have also wanted to try. My wife and I watched the curling at the last Olympics (on tv). We were impressed by how serious the competitors were about their sport.

    That rock looks pretty heavy!

    Stuart

    DK: Thanks. The expert there told me the rock weights 42-44 pounds, it costs $800 per, and all of the granite — all of it — has to come from a certain specific stone in Scotland.

    Actually, I’ve got tons of unused info for this column. Thanks for asking!

  2. Well I can confirm that at least one person has read the curling column. Maybe next summer you try race walking with Trevor Barron.

    DK: Hmmmm …

  3. DK, No prob. I like to see something different as much as you apparently like to do it.

    New stuff keeps you fresh and sharp IMHO

    Stuart

  4. Fun read, DK. Definitely seems like a sport that would be a lot of fun, kind of like bowling on ice while also….uh, sweeping. Anyways, that was a cool piece, and I enjoyed the Sunday column too! I would love to see that cause a stir up in Canada, because there’s really no defense for that owner’s crazy comments. He doesn’t care if it was accidental or not? Really?? Uh, ok.

  5. Did some epic flailing, huh? Good for me to learn from your mistakes. I’ll stick to running around with a piece of pig’s skin or whacking a piece of cowhide with a stick. I hear some younger guys even get nine-figure contracts to perform either of the latter two cultural oddities.

  6. Maybe you are a left-handed curler and don’t know it.

  7. I don’t know what the over/under ended up being in regards to people reading this article but tally up another reader. Very good column about a sport that I would like to know more about and hopefully try one day. My fear, however, is that I will end up like you on the video. Oh well, looked like fun. Nice work, Dejan.

  8. Good read DK…I’ve always wanted to try curling myself but something tells me a 6’5, 300 lb frame wouldn’t equate well on the ice! What was the hardest part, just keeping your footing or how weird the slide feels or what?

  9. Good one Dejan. Try badminton next.

  10. Dejan. I visited your Bradenton Starbucks on Saturday. You know. The one that has your columns hanging over the chai tea latte display.

    I talked to the manager, a friendly, earnest young woman, and several fresh faced baristas.

    Someone asked if you were visiting Pirate City this week.

    I said, No. He’s in Winnipeg. Curling.

    Tears. There were tears, Dejan.

  11. I think it was the shoes Dejan, gotta have some grip on the ice. That and balance, gotta have balance!

    Pirates going to the playoffs this year?

    I’ll believe that when I see it.

  12. Dejan, loved the video. Loved the column. I’ll stick to Bocci. lol

    Glad you wrote the Sunday column to those uhhhh…brain functionally impaired people in Ottawa. Maybe send AJ up there to tell them to STFD and STFU! ;)

  13. JAL’s Singin’ In the Rain Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmCpOKtN8ME

    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

    Draft Prospect Watch: Some Hitting By the Top Third Base Prospects

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/draft-prospect-watch-some-hitting-by-the-top-third-base-prospects.html

    6 This Is Getting Old

    Roster Watch: Kyle McPherson

    http://thisisgettingold.net/2013/02/16/roster-watch-kyle-mcpherson/

    7 Rant Sports

    Late-bloomer Jason Grilli Ready For First Season In Closer’s Chair With Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/02/17/late-bloomer-jason-grilli-ready-for-first-season-in-closers-chair-with-pittsburgh-pirates/

    8 Detroit Free Press

    Baseball notes: Ex-Tiger Brandon Inge optimistic about Pirates

    http://www.freep.com/article/20130218/SPORTS02/302180074/brandon-inge-pittsburgh-pirates?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CSports%7Cs

    9 Rumbunter

    The Curious Choice Facing Pittsburgh Pirates Closer Jason Grilli

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/02/17/the-curious-choice-facing-pittsburgh-pirates-closer-jason-grilli/

    10 Green Weenie

    The Pirates’ Team Building

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-pirates-pedigree.html

    • Singin’ in the Rain Gene Kelley 1952. Dong AFI’s top songs from movies for Oscar week.

      • Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in the same film….not too shabby there.

        Thought you might go with Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” from the god awful Thank God It’s Friday (1978), arguably the worst movie ever to win an Academy Award. But hopefully that song was not on AFI’s list.

        Be interesting to see if “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted will win an Oscar for Seth MacFarlane this Sunday.

  14. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Fans flock for autographs, even before first Pirates spring training game

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/02/18/4398482/fans-flock-for-autographs-even.html

    12 Florida Today

    John Torres: Nationals give lefty Zach Duke royal welcome

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20130218/COLUMNISTS0317/302180004/John-Torres-Nationals-give-lefty-Zach-Duke-royal-welcome

    13 Herald de Paris

    PIRATES WHACKED AND WACKY

    http://www.heralddeparis.com/pirates-whacked-and-wacky/201592

    14 Uniontown Herald Standard

    Bucs’ Sanchez hoping to turn it around

    http://www.heraldstandard.com/sports/local/bucs-sanchez-hoping-to-turn-it-around/article_f5930276-f12b-598e-884b-77dcbe24ec5c.html

    15 Baseball News Source

    St. Louis Cardinals: 2013 Spring Training Preview Guide

    http://baseballnewssource.com/st-louis-cardinals/st-louis-cardinals-2013-spring-training-preview-guide/17217/

    16 PBC Site

    Key to Bucs’ chemistry: Location, location, location

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130217&content_id=41734018&c_id=pit

    17 Call to the Pen

    What To Expect During Spring Training

    http://calltothepen.com/2013/02/17/what-to-expect-during-spring-training/

    18 Bleacher Report

    Blueprint for Each MLB Team to Handle Its Biggest Weaknesses in 2013

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1532556-blueprint-for-each-mlb-team-to-handle-its-biggest-weaknesses-in-2013

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19596

    20 Fangraphs

    Is the Corner Outfield Profile Changing?

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/is-the-corner-outfield-profile-changing/

  15. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Teammate: ‘Woodley wasn’t in shape last year, he was awful’

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/17/3998100/lamarr-woodley-injuries-comments-teammate-not-in-shape-quote

    James Harrison a Cap Casualty? A Steelers History Lesson Should Temper Such Decisions

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/17/3996322/james-harrison-salary-cap-free-agency-kevin-greene-jason-gildon-worilds

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Health Of Sean Spence Holds Keys To Steelers Future At Inside Linebacker Position

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/02/sean-spence-steelers-inside-linebacker-situation/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Arsenal will have their hands full with Bayern Munich’s elegant, powerful midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9871552/Roy-Hodgson-and-Sir-Alex-Ferguson-need-to-agree-on-what-is-best-for-Manchester-United-all-rounder-Phil-Jones.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 15th February, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-to-read-15th-february-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Paul Martin Seals Hockey Day in America. Pens win 4-3

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/2/17/3998342/paul-martin-seals-hockey-day-in-america-pens-win-4-3

  16. I want to hear Brad give Paul Martin some credit today. Let’s hear it, Brad! And no sarcasm!

    • I give Paul Martin extra credit and I also give the Penguins front office credit. When most were calling for a Martin trade or straight up release they stuck by him and even made comments that they thought this year Martin would be better then last year. It’s still early but he sure looks to be heading in the right direction.

    • Here goes… I didn’t get to watch the game because I was at the Devil’s playground with the family (Chuck e Cheese). I also forgot to DVR the game- realized right after I dodged a skeeball from two lanes down.

      I’m glad Martin (or anyone for that matter) scored the game winner. I’ve eased up on Martin now that he’s not making a case to be hockey’s Lyle Overbay. My new scapegoat is Can’t hit the net to save my life Kennedy. Somehow I have a feeling he did nothing to warrant playing in yesterday’s game.

      My main issue with Martin is that his salary is a huge cap hit when we are trying to lock up Letang, Geno and others. In the end, I still don’t think he’s worth a $5mil cap hit. For that much, your accomplishments should be more than just improving over last year’s abysmal performance. Regarding the cap space though, with how Malkin is playing right now he’s not really making a case to earn more than Crosby either.

      Did my best, Jandy.

      • I’ll let that slide, Brad :P

        Good thing the skee ball didn’t hit you in the head lol.

        I’ll agree with you on TK. He’s wasted space right now.

        • I’ll say one thing- Neal the Shpiel should love Paul Martin for creating such an “interesting dynamic”. The whole cap situation and roster management around the league should be REALLY interesting this offseason. Heck, probably even going into the trade deadline.

        • I just read the scratches from the game. While I’m upset Despres was scratched, I’m most upset that 1-D Kennedy wasn’t. Can Bylsma say with a straight face that Jeffrey or Boychuck or Sidney Crosby’s sister shouldn’t play over Tooler Kennedy?

    • Good morning infidels.

      1) All Paul Martin haters must formally acknowledge his vastly improved play. Howitzer one-timers, that are also game-winners against Ryan Miller are nice…but the rest of his game is even better. Forcing players like Vanek into a corner with positioning is tough and he has done it all year. Good on him for getting with the program.
      2) There are about a dozen or so defensemen who can spin along the boards, take two strides, toss a hard and flat backhand pass 60′, through the slot, to a waiting stick. Letang is better than your whole team.
      3)Philly must suffer. That is all.

      • I am generous with praise for Paul Martin, but Tanger is still the best D-man, agreed, Patrick.

        Two off days to get ready for Philly. Better plan your strategy, DB, we want this win!

  17. Enjoyed the column, DK. I like the occasional ‘outside the box’ column that strays away from the “normal sports”. Well done!

  18. Enjoyed the column. We don’t need Steelers, Pirates and Penguins 365 days a year.

  19. Good column for a Monday morn. Hope DK didn’t re-injure his back or tap into any of that brewski before he finished his 90 minutes.

    • First thing I noticed in that picture. Those buys sure do like to throw ‘em back.

      • It’s Canada, baby. Moosehead makes a case that is designed to be used as a seat for ice fishing!

        Curling has been called the world’s greatest drinking game. Matches often end with the winning team buying the losers scotch. (As tribute to its Scottish origin).

        Disappointed to see the Budweiser.

        • I’d say your curling knowledge could give Dejan a run for his money. At least regarding the important stuff.

          I never got accustomed to seeing Budweiser listed as an Import at the Beer Store.

  20. Maybe he tapped into the brewski BEFORE he started…thus the butt plant? lol

  21. I must say, I’ve pointed at curling as “the sport I could do” in the Olympics as well. Shame on me!

  22. Great article DK.

    Nice win for the boys last night.

    And I must admit when I first read the topic “Sports you can do” I immediately thought of what sports I can actually still do without the risk of pulling something that I can’t even pronounce.

    I must admit the extreme of my sports to date is golf, I rough it though as I limit myself to one beer per 9 holes and let someone else drive the cart. I usually always have to drive.

    But I have sort of invented my own sort of sport. I challenge myself on the shows I DVR. Its become quite an event when I try to fast forward through the commercials and manage to stop at the exact moment the show starts. Its not for the faint of heart by any means. Hand eye coordination is a must. Hoping to replace wrestling in the 2020 olympics.

  23. Dejan – good column, I enjoyed it and totally jealous as I’d like to try curling. Don’t feel bad about the epic flailing/failing – lol – I went ice skating for the first time in 23 years and let’s just say the boards were my friend, though I didn’t fall down.

    -Other thoughts-

    - The NHL wants to grow the sport, maybe it would be wise to put some pressure on NBC Sports to dump goons like Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, and Jeremy Roenick.

    - Tyler Kennedy… the white courtesy phone should be ringing. Maybe the Canes would want him to reunite with Jordan Staal or there’s been talk of Pens looking at Minnesota winger Devin Setoguchi.

    - Not a fan of Dan Bylsma’s regular season reliance on Deryk Engelland.

    - Evgeni Malkin has 3 goals because he’s not going to the net, he’s shooting from the perimeter. He’s not following the lead of Sidney Crosby, who is always in the high traffic areas.

    - Pirates owner said making the playoffs and winning World Series are the expectations and team has invested more money now than waiting for trade deadline, so if this team is actually playing well… don’t expect any financial investments for a rental player. Enjoy Russell Martin.

    - I’m curious to the projections based on the Pirates going from 17 games (12-5 record) against the Astros to 3 games in 2013. They are going to play 19 games against each NL Central Division opponent, not exactly a favorable result based on this team’s constant struggles against Milwaukee, the usual competitive state of the Cardinals, improved Reds, and should be an improved Cubs team in 2013. They will also have tough games against Detroit (4), Oakland (3), Texas (3) and Angels (3). Who knows what the four games against Seattle.

    Team – 2013 games vs 2012 record
    Reds – 19 vs 7-11 (18) = +1
    Cubs – 19 vs 8-8 (16) = +3
    Brewers – 19 vs 4-11 (15) = +4
    Cardinals – 19 vs 8-7 (15) = +4

    - Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spoke about making changes.. are we finally going to hear about releasing veterans like James Harrison ($5.1), Willie Colon ($1.2), Brett Keisel ($2.8), and Jerricho Cotchery ($1).

    • - Evgeni Malkin has 3 goals because he’s not going to the net, he’s shooting from the perimeter. He’s not following the lead of Sidney Crosby, who is always in the high traffic areas.

      Yeah and it he’s not shooting from the perimeter, he’s in the penalty box.
      I will say tho, the last 2 games have been better.

    • I’m so glad a team owner is content with improving to close to .500. Really sets the bar and strengthens his claim that the goal every year is to compete for a championship. What a stool. Darn typos.

    • Minor nitpick. He didn’t say winning the World Series was an expectation but competing for it was.

      • Not really nitpicking. Just recognizing that we haven’t even climbed Mt. .500. Hard to compete for a championship without scaling that mountain.

        • Amen.

        • It’s certainly not the norm but the Rays never hit .500, won 66 in ’97 and then 97 in ’98 and wen to the World Series. The Diamondbacks won 65 in their first year of existence and then 100 the next year.

          I never really got the connection that we had to hit .500 before we could compete for a championship. Not sure why 81 wins sets that bar.

        • Brad, I wasn’t accusing you of nitpicking. I was referrring to my comment above as a minor nitpick forthcoming.

          • Didn’t mean to seem defensive, 21- my misunderstanding. All I know about 81 is mathematically .500 would be a good stepping stone toward really competing in any given season. I think it’s just that for many people it’s hard to envision competing when we haven’t at least broken even in 20 years. And Tom Singer’s “Mt. .500″ comment made me want to do a backflip.

            But that would probably be a more entertaining video than DK’s curling experience.

            • Just to be clear Brad, I think breaking the streak is important. Personally though, I have little interest in talking about a .500 season until it’s clear we’re not in the hunt for a playoff spot.

              • Likey

              • If the PBC breaks the 500 streak, we will see the BMTIB doing cartwheels across the Clemente Bridge. Playoffs and WS are, IMO, not attainable this year.

              • If they end up at, say, 85-77 (that is NOT a prediction) but in third place for the division and in the 4th spot for the 2-spot Wild Card, I suspect that they would studiously avoid the appearance of cartwheeling. (But they would do it in private.)

              • Yeah. I think they’d be pretty pumped if they ended up breaking the streak.

              • To me, breaking 500 would be absolute and measurable progress.

                Sometimes though, clubs take steps back before they succeed. One example I remember is 1958, Bucs did very well, then took a step back in 59, then in 60…

              • I’m not doing any cartwheels when they break the streak.

                If I’m still alive when they do, I plan on playing Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye all day in my office, if I haven’t retired by then, and then turning it on at home when I get there, if I still have all my mental faculties by then, and playing it until someone gets violent or breaks the machine playing it.

                No cartwheels though.

              • Spunky, lol….mental faculties? What’s that? I’m sure I don’t have any ;)

              • I’ll probably be too old for cartwheels when/if the streak gets broken.

            • If they break the streak I may do cartwheels across the Clemente Bridge

    • Link from Pensburgh stated that TK played only one minute more than Bennet during the game yesterday. It is looking like management is losing faith in TK and I am wondering if we might not see Boychuck replace him in Philly.

  24. Is TV watching from the couch a sport yet?

    I could do that one, hands down

  25. Great read. It’s the offbeat stuff that keeps us (well, at least me) tuned in.

  26. “Scott: “Did you stretch? I should have had you stretch before we came out.”
    Me: “Cracking knuckles before typing count?”” Classic.

  27. Loved the column. I always love watching curling during the Olympics and it is interesting to hear the experience of someone trying it that hasn’t played before.

    Here are a few thoughts on last night’s game.

    - Letang’s pass to Dupius was absolutely sick. Dupuis’s shot was also pretty ridiculous.

    - Dupuis shows us why he deserves to remain on Crosby’s line. He just keeps working and he knows Crosby’s tendencies. Good stuff.

    - TK needs to see the game from an up high view. Maybe then he can learn how to see the ice.

    - Bennet hasn’t be remarkable, but he also has not made any big mistakes. I’m ready to see what he can do in a top 6 role.

    - Fleury is the number 1 goaltender and he shows why he deserves that title.

    - Why get in the face of the goalie after the game. Lose with some dignity.

  28. Is that thing that looks like a missle the bridge support that the wires are tied to? It looks like it’s leaning one way. Would like to see a closer look a your wife – I’m sure she’s lovely!

  29. Iceman, was that Ott in Fleury’s face? WTH, what a tool.

    If I hear one more time that Dupuis shouldn’t be on Sid’s wing, I’m going to scream. No, he’s not perfect. Neither is Sid. Give the guy some credit.

  30. Great article DK.

    I love the ones that are of an offbeat topic.

  31. Pitt football promotes DB coach (Pat House) to D.Coordinator…..took lonnnnnnnnnng enough.

    Disappointing.

  32. Pitt will end Notre Dame’s winning streak against them tonight. Game is on ESPN, the Zoo will be going wild (pun intended) and no way do the Irish shoot 56% against them.

    • I know this is an obvious, but this is a real big game tonight.

      Don’t know what the heck happened to them at Marquette, but I hope whatever they did will be corrected tonight.

      • Same thing that happened to ND at Providence. Providence is playing well for a mediocre team. The fans at the “Dunk” (for Dunkin Donuts, not the BB play) chanted “overrated” as Notre Dame got blown out. IMHO, the Big East is way overrated, as well.

  33. Jerry Buss has died. What a really bad year for the Lakers.

    • What a character he was. Loved life. Drinker, poker player, carouser with playmates. Sad. Sports world is infinitely more interesting with personalities like his. Especially when attached to a team people love to hate.

  34. Link #14 titled “Bucs Sanchez hoping to turn it around” made me chuckle.

    A little more specific, please.

    The team could practically fill out a pickup basketball game with their Sanchez’s hoping to turn it around.

  35. From 24/7:

    Hurdle extended through 2014 with an option for 2015.

    I’ll duck now.

    • Plus it was announced on a Monday morning with nothing going on!

    • Nothing says accountability like extending a manager whose only known positive trait is “leadership” after two consecutive seasons in which he lost his team and completely collapsed.

      • I consider this good news because it tells me he’s not the 1st to go if things go bad.

        • Well said. One less scapegoat.

        • Milo, that’s a stunningly good point. And I’d like to find out WHO was the driving force. If it was Neal, your point holds. If it was Frank, it is magnified…it may then be interpreted as a message to Neal. In the unlikely scenario that it was Bob, then it was a clear message to the rest of the organization.

          In ANY scenario, it certainly implies that if an ax is required in eight months, it goes to someone(s) else.

          • In my opionion it’s always bad to have a coach on his last year of a contract without an extension being offered. It’s bad for moral.

            There is also the fact that his contract cost minimal when compaired to what was spent on Martin and Liriano. This is just window dressing. If they fail to reach .500 he will be gone with the rest of them.

      • Wasn’t Hurdle’s fault. They traded Casey McGehee out from underneath him.

    • I think that’s a good decision. I don’t blame Hurdle for the two collapses and the fact we have yet to have a winning season under him. He is as good as the cards he’s been dealt with.

      • No position in this organization is above improvement. Especially a manager who has one career .500 season to his name.

        He may be the least of the evils, but REWARDING him for two abysmal failures is laughable.

        • Well, if the Buccos crash and burn again this season, that’s hardly a reward….

        • Rightly or wrongly, managers don’t like operating in a situation where it’s the last year of their contract. Maybe Hurdle forced their hand but in any case, the extension seems reasonable to me. I could see them firing Hurdle before the 2014 season so saying that it’s laughable seems over the top to me.

          • Walter alston must have liked managing in the last year of his contract. He had one year deals with the Dodgers through his entire career.

        • I like the guy, bullpen usage aside, but I agree with everything you’ve said.

        • I understand if you feel that Hurdle shouldn’t get an extension after two disappointing years but a manager can only do so much. I really doubt we would have reached 81 games with any other major league manager.

      • Hurdle’s the ONLY guy in management who can rightfully point to a 22 game improvement. You can’t hang the 105 loss 2010 on him. I have no problem with the move, UNLESS it is a precursor to moves for the other guys.

        • Oh, Lord.

        • What Arriba said.

          (But don’t tell him I said that)

        • Who’s talking about 2010? Hurdle didn’t even manage that team.

          I don’t understand how anybody can willfully choose to blame Hurdle for the first half successes and Huntington for the second half failures.

          Leadership, Hurdle’s supposed best quality, is not difficult when times are good. It’s tested when times are bad. Hurdle has unquestionably failed in that regard.

          • Who’s talking about 2010? One Mr. Bob Nutting, and Neal Huntington when they brag that there was a 22 game improvement from 2010. There was an article in the Saturday Trib most recently with Nutting saying it. The fact Hurdle wasn’t here in 2010 was my point. Hurdle’s been here 2 years, and the BMTIB has been here since 2007. So do you only look at the last 2 years for all of them? I don’t.

            • Of course I don’t look at the last two years for Huntington & Co. That would be silly.

              But I also don’t pretend that Hurdle is the only variable between 2010 and 2012.

              Did Hurdle sign Correia and Grilli? Did Hurdle trade for Karstens, McDonald, Burnett, and Rodriguez?

              You make it sound like the same team took the field in 2010 and 2012.

              • You are making wayyyy more out of this than my simple point. I didn’t say he was the only variable. That would be stupid.. You don’t like Hurdles extension, I do. So what?

            • Yes I do. Because winning was not a concern of their’s at all the first 3 years. They where only interested in using what few parts they had to build up the minor league system and what little money they had to spend on the major league team to get below average left over free agents to use as stop gaps to avoid looking like the Marlins do this year.

              They allocated their money on the draft which in retrospect was the absolute right thing to do. If they didn’t they would not have been able to sign any one player or group of players that would improve the team by the 15-20 games needed to finish above .500 non less compete for a playoff spot.

              You can argue if they did a good job at that plan but I do believe that was the plan.

              • This is from ESPN for what its worth. But I do agree that this is a big reason why the club is where it is today (and I know Thunder will cringe when he reads at least one part of it….

                The Neal Huntington regime began in late September 2007. The GM took over a club that won 68 games and has won 67, 62, 57, 72 and 79 games. I guess that’s progress. The club he inherited wasn’t completely without talent, at least on offense:

                –Jose Bautista: Traded in 2008 for Robinzon Diaz.
                –Jason Bay: Traded in 2008 in a three-way deal. Pirates got Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen and Bryan Morris. Also known as the poo-poo platter (although Moss resurfaced with Oakland last year and played well).
                –Adam LaRoche: Traded in 2009 for Hunter Strickland and Argenis Diaz.
                –Freddy Sanchez: Traded in 2009 for Tim Alderson.
                –Jack Wilson: Hit .296 in ’07. Traded in 2009 with Ian Snell for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno and two minor leaguers.

                Look, Huntington took over a wreck of a franchise. The farm system did have Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, but not much else. But Huntington had five players with some value (six if you include Xavier Nady, who had a decent 2007), traded all of them, and got nothing in return. That’s one reason the Pirates are still where they’re at today.

              • Some MAJOR revisionist history going on there…

                Neither Jose Bautista or Adam Laroche had value when they were traded and Wilson wasn’t much higher.

                Blame Huntington all you want for Bay and Sanchez, but you lose me when you throw in those other guys just to try and boost your argument.

              • I don’t think Laroche, Wilson, and Bautista had much value at the time they were traded. Bautista stunk for another month and a full year after Huntington traded him.

              • Oops. Just saw your reply NMR.

              • Here’s a link to the ESPN story. If its been posted before, sorry bout that.

                Trades, regardless of what was there, are missed opportunities to improve your club.

                http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/33031/offseason-report-card-pirates

              • “regardless of what was there”?

                Isn’t that like saying “Whether it was accidental or whether it was reckless or whether it was intentional, to me, it doesn’t matter.”?

              • The issue with Bautista isn’t who they got in return. It’s always been that they decided they were better off with Andy Laroche. That’s on them, no matter what excuses anyone makes. (Before anyone jumps about the subject, this is not the first comment about Jose, but the 4th). ;-)

              • No, its not like saying that. There are always opportunities to improve yourself with most trades, these were missed ones.

                Add a couple of decent major leaguers, it could have made a difference last season.

                Hindsight, unfortunately, is how we all get judged, especially a FO.

                The guys point was, the cupboard was not totally bare of assets, NH just wasted the chips he had

              • Agree with that completely, AW.

                But your argument is much different than the authors.

              • True.

        • There’ll be a lot of cursing-pre and post-if it was a precursor.

          • nice, Spunky, nice!

          • “Who’s talking about 2010?”

            I believe Arriba was in his support of Hurdle.

            I’d like to see them give Searage a deal through at least 2014. I think one of the side benefits of extending Hurdle is that hopefully Searage would like to stick around.

            • Ditto

            • I’m buying Searage.

              On years and #s, I get the point. Hurdle should be measured on the time he was here.

              The positive: two consecutive years of improvement.

              The negative: two collapses.

              For now, for him, I believe he’s more part of the solution than the problem.

              So I am happy with this move. Also happier if it puts more pressure on the rest if the muckety-mucks.

              But I’m ticked off they released the news in the midst of the Presidents Day Parade. Don’t these folks ever learn?

    • Good for him. They can make him GM when Neal is shown the door.

  36. You did quite well compared to my experience in curling. I fell down while picking up my broom. BTW, you might think you can lean on the broom for support… you can’t.

  37. I think the most interesting aspect of this is who actually made this decision. It could be any one on three people & I have no idea which one.

  38. Really enjoyed the column, Dejan. I had the pleasure of curling about ten years ago, and I’ve been itching to do it again ever since. Maybe because I fared a bit better than you. It is amazing how you gain respect for certain sports by trying them or even being close to them. Living in Utah, I’ve been able to be a spectator at several winter sports events that are only held in a few places because of their Olympic facilities. The most memorable was standing on the side of the superpipe where Shaun White clinched his spot for the 2008 Winter Games. I gained a whole new respect for the athleticism that sport takes.

  39. The Pirates re-upping Hurdle is curious indeed given the collapse of the last 2 years. But then so was re-upping NH.

    That said, it is not like a dopey Aki-san pick-up where the money haunts you forever. ( or maybe it is the image of Aki rolling another ball to the infield that haunts me. I can’t tell)

  40. Good read on arbitration hearings from a players perspective:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/02/arbitration-rewind-kyle-lohse-beats-minnesota-in-2005-and-2006.html

    Definitely changed my point of view.

  41. Some quick thoughts today: First have to say I am fine with the Pirates offering Clint Hurdle an extension. I enjoy the energy he has displayed and there is zero indication that the players do not enjoy or respect playing for him. Want to see what he can do with a little more talent to play with.

    Tonight the Panthers get back in action at home in probably their last real test of the regular season or chance at a resume building win.

    I was surprised at some of the negativity surrounding the Pitt loss on Saturday on the road to a team that has won 23 straight on their home court. The loss did nothing to hurt the Panthers. The evidence:

    Pitt ranks #4 in kenpom rankings, #9 in ESPN BPI index, # 11 in Sagarin ratings, and have a RPI of 32 and SOS of 52 sure to go up after tonight. Latest bracket projections have the Panther solidly in at a #5 seed with still a chance to improve that as they will be favored in all five of their remaining contests including tonight where they are 10 point favorites.

    One of the items the selection committee looks at is how you have been playing in your last ten and most recently, well the Panthers have won 7 of 9 and finish with ND, St John’s, USF, Villanova and DePaul, a great opportunity to finish regular season strong.

  42. I hope they didn’t go to Hurdle and say “we’ll give you another guaranteed year and an option for another year- but you have to go back to utilizing the left field shift”

  43. Philadelphai’s Luke Schenn hit rookie Brendan Gallagher of the Habs from behind into the boards, giving him a concussion. What a POS.

  44. Even though, lets face it, I really just come here for hockey and football news, I really liked the article on curling.

    At least it distracted me for 5 minutes from the snakebit Ottawa-Cookie complaints. Also, it is good to know that the owner doesn’t care if it was accidental or not. That’s the point where you plug the kevlar sock and get him to clothe all his star players with the most safe materials. His goonery comment was bothersome.

    “Accidents” happen almost every game. Just look at the Steckel hit on Crosby.

    DK: Thanks, Kevin!

  45. The Brewers lose another first baseman – Mat Gamel is out again. Hart out for 3-4 months. (Bobby Crosby is in the mix as a replacement)

    Hopefully Braun gets suspended.

    With this news, if we could only find a way to get those wins against the Astros back, our chances at .500 are improving.

  46. I thought this was a curling thread. Friggin’ Pirates.

  47. So funny about the curling. Sounds like George Plimpton might have given you a run for the money. And he’s dead.

  48. Brewers lose Gamel, already without Hart…

    …Pirates have plenty of 1B

    Let the trade rumors begin!

  49. Loved the column today, Dejan. Curling has been on my things to try list for a long time, and I watch as much of it as possible during Winter Olympics. Thanks for going off the beaten path from time to time.

    DK: Thanks!

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