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Friday Wakeup Call: A column about baseball

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

BRADENTON, Fla. — Morning, lunatics …

>> The Friday column is about baseball.

>> The weekly chat is today at 1 p.m., and it will take place from Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. All topics welcome, as always.

>> Didn’t see any of the Penguins’ apparently nasty loss in Raleigh, but it sure reads like it was a lot more of the same. All I can contribute to the discourse is that anyone looking at goaltending as an issue — not this game, any game — is utterly missing the point.

>> I do know that this image alone was pretty jarring …

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>> The Steelers’ restructuring, as non-newsy event as any in the offseason given its negligible impact on the actual contracts and that it happens every year, now includes Ben Roethlisberger and $6 million.

>> The new backup QB option has three names.

>> Here’s hoping you can hop into the chat. Always room for one more.

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.

127 Comments

  1. “Maybe James McDonald and Jeff Karstens make it to the finish line. Maybe Gerrit Cole arrives with a flourish.”

    …maybe Barmes will pull a PaulMart and be awesome this year…

    (what, with all the maybe’s, we can’t throw a totally obscene one in there?)

    :)

    GO BUCS

  2. DK, You left town at just the right time.

    Hope this one can stick to baseball! Certainly not looking forward to pitchforks and Penguins. Free Depres!

    Would it be safe to conclude that the pitch-watchers are ahead of the pitchers at this point?

    Good to see Taillon have a good one.

    Don’t forget your camera.

    Hurdle must be feeling pretty secure what with the Hawpe redemption and all.

    Regards Stuart

  3. “…like Charlie Brown revving up for another run at Lucy’s football.”
    Good Ol’ Charlie Brown. Finds a rock in his trick-or-treat bag every Halloween, too.

  4. Restructuring contracts is so common place among all NFL teams, especially with high-priced players, but ESPN turned Brady’s into a national holiday.

  5. … anybody thinking that the new Steelers “backup QB option” is just another arm for summer camp?

    Methinks that the last line of the article sez it all ==> (at the age of 27)

    “Wilson holds nearly every Alabama passing record, but has never played a down in the NFL.”
    .
    .

    PS: Go Buccos……looking forward to our 95 wins ;-)

  6. My new unofficial motto for this Pirate season

    “It’s about Teke.”

    My backup unofficial motto for this Pirate season

    “It’s about Spanky, still swearing Sid Bream was out.”

    Thanks DK!

  7. This may be my favorite headline of the day…from the NY Daily News:

    Every day is Old-Timer’s Day at Yankee spring training

  8. Something has to change with the Pens current make up. Too much of the same too often and for too long.

    I found myself saying last night during the second, at they have more energy than against Fla.

    I caught myself saying it and thought “what the ….?”.

    This faint praise and its damning that its seen as a positive. Effort and energy will ebb and flow a little but with the depths this team sinks to at times, just hard skating can look good. This has got to stop. Energy end effort have to become mandatory, always. Sit a guy a shift or two if his prior was lackluster, even if thief names are Sid or Geno.

    Same thing with irresponsible puck control. I love Sid and Letang but sometimes I wonder if Sid is trying to catch Letang in giveaways. Maybe Sid things this will make Tanger feel better.

    I’m laying blame up and down the organization for this, coaching, GM and players.

    Players effort and discipline not where it needs to be.

    Team is too small. The last thing this organization needs is another undersized puck moving defenseman. Please no more. This is Pittsburgh. We LIKE defense. Bigger guys who will lay a hit. Guys that will actually try to prevent the opposition from renting the space in front of our goalie for 60 minutes. Brooks said it best ” maybe the guys don’t like Vouks and Flower”. He said it with a straight face. Not because its true but its hard to explain the lack of D otherwise. Quick outlet passes are not a substitute for defensive systems.

    Which brings me to Bylsma. Post is too long already to go into depth here. I like Dan, but am approaching my limit. I’ve got 3 words for Dan – ADJUST. Read it 3 times Dan. Read it 300 times if you have to because I’ve never seen you do it. Pulling the goalie down 3 with 2 to go is not an adjustment. Ok there has been adjustments on the PP over the last 4 years. Again with the faint praise.

    I used to think I knew it all and the world would adjust for me when I was young. Gained some life experience and I was the one that adjusted. You’re the longest tenured Pens coach ever Dan. Time to grow up as a coach and adjust. And please don’t ever say ” we have to get to our game” again. When the opponent takes away your game, you need to counter that, not push for more of the same. To me this and to many of the same type of player are the biggest problems. I think these underlying themes produce much of the frustration and lack of discipline we see on the ice. Guys are told to do only one thing and when that doesn’t work, we see the breakdowns and disjointed mess some of these games become.

    Something has to give soon or the playoffs will be more of the same.

    I hope I’m wrong. Prove me wrong Pens. Make a decent run in the playoffs. It would be the best crow I’ve eaten. And I’ve had my share.

    • Don’t hold your breath. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I don’t see anything changing soon.

      • You’re not being a Debbie Downer, just being realistic. I agree. One or two trades could dramatically change this but they would have to be perfect fits and subtractions.

        I feel like I was Donnie Downer in the rant. I don’t want to be this way but the losses all look the same, just a matter of degree. Last night a 1 or 2 on the scale with the debacle last post season being 10. Performances so bizarre that they pushed the scale to new heights.

        Thanks for replying to my rant! :)

        I will get an avatar eventually. Flying Hellfish logo from early Simpsons episode.

        • Nice to see I’m not alone in feeling this team just doesn’t put forth the effort anymore. Their passes are lazy and sloppy. They don’t forecheck very much. It’s like they don’t care. I’m sure they do, but it looks bad. I know what they CAN do, so it makes it hard to watch when they are playing this way. Makes me wonder if it’s intentional.

          Go get that logo ;)

        • Billy…..can’t disagree with anything you said. I don’t believe that a few 5th-7th round draft pick trades are going to do anything. It’s not a question of personnel, it’s a question of attitude and strategy from the coach as you suggest. We have skill guys, grinders, puck mover defensemen, stay at home defensemen, older guys, younger guys and goaltending. Better balance than most teams. Alot of talent but not enough team!!
          I didn’t watch the third period last night as I knew they wouldn’t come back but at least it gave me a chance to watch Animal Planet. Polar bears are fascinating animals don’t you think?

          • Polar bears and penguins, two of my favorite animals lol

          • True dat.
            All good points Billy – but be aware that we have small, non physical puck moving D by design. By Bylsma’s design.

            It would be one thing if they could actually execute the puck movement required. But it’s a difficult scheme, and they can’t execute well, with the predictable result that the stretch passes get intercepted and the play comes back. Fast. In lots of space.

            What’s overlooked too, is the other 75% of the game, which is simply puck battles and who is stronger and wants it more, and the Pens don’t measure up there as well.

            The whole scheme, the whole forecheck, the whole design is predicated on NOT playing a whole lot in your own end. In my experience, that’s impossible. If you’re not built to do that at least half the game, you’re in trouble.
            And we’re not, and we don’t even seem to care about it.

      • I don’t get the whole “playing to get the coach fired” statement.

        How do you go after a coach that took you to two stanley cups and has one win?

        Am I saying that Bylsma is working; no. But then again I don’t think the shelf is stocked properly to have this team win. They will win in the regular season again and wilt in the playoffs in the first round. By that time Ruff will be hired by someone else.

        • He didn’t get to 2 Cup finals.

          He got to 1 — largely on Therrien’s system — and has been a huge failure since, losing his last three playoff series.

          Watch the ’09 highlights DVD fondly, because with One Plan Dan in charge, you’re not getting another.

          • Bingo!

            They never win that cup without the defensive foundation set by Therrien.

            Bylsma was the perfect breath of fresh air at the moment to let them open up a little.

            Let’s not forget the veteran presence of Bill Guerin. Always wanted him on the Pens since I watched the 96 World Cup.

        • TJ

          I didn’t make that comment but I understand it. I wish I could remember the team, but rift before the 5 game win streak I was watching the game and said the same thing. It was like the Toronto game before Therrien (sp?) got fired.

          I don’t think the comment means to imply the players actually/really want Bylsma fired. It is made in the same spirit as the Orpik quote. Essentially, “if I didn’t know better I would think they’re trying to get the coach fired.”

          When a team doesn’t even look like it knows what to do or lacks effort coaches get fired. Right or wrong that is the way it is. When teams do this consistently over enough time, the question gets raised.

          I don’t think the Pens want Bylsma fired. Everything I hear he is great to play for and the guys love him. At some point if this keeps up it will likely cost Bylsma his job. Same as pulling a goalie when D doesn’t show up. You can’t pull (or fire) the whole team.

    • Good thoughts Billy. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game last night, but it sounds like more of the same, which is a huge issue. I’m ok with the team struggling as long as there is evidence of those issues being corrected. I’m not seeing that and that worries me. I’m tired of hearing Brooks and Sid say the same thing after every game. It’s getting a bit old.

      • Oh, and one more thing….will someone please tell these guys it’s OK to shoot the puck? If I see one more lateral pass in the offensive zone picked off in an attempt to make the perfect play, I’ll scream. Slop goals count just as much highlight reel goals. Just shoot the damn thing.

      • I have to contradict myself a bit here and say that the PK was better last night (on paper at least. Since I didn’t watch, I can only assume based on the stat line). The PK went 5 for 5 which is a huge improvement. It appears to be one of the few positive things that came out of the game last night.

    • This team is soft and easy to play against. They’re not physical. When they won the Cup, they were a tough team. They’re not that any more.

      And that’s because Shero has molded his team to Bylsma’s wishes. And that’s just the wrong thing to do. Make Bylsma adjust to Shero’s roster. Oh, wait — Bylsma doesn’t know how to adjust to anything.

      I don’t like Bylsma. I think he’s an average coach at best and don’t understand the organization’s love for him. He doesn’t adjust. He holds no one accountable — except for the few players he doesn’t like (Tangradi, Lovejoy, Jeffery come to mind).

      This team is the Washington Captials’ team that everyone made fun of. They play no defense, have no discipline, have no leadership. They think they’ll outscore everyone just by showing up.

      They won’t fire Bylsma, I know. But they need to bring in a veteran player who will tell these players to wake the &*^% up.

    • Well done post. Agree on all points. Have to believe that Ray Shero is doing work to make some changes. It is time.

  9. JAL’s Charlotte Sometimes Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wih15YiH9UY

    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

    Pirates Notebook: Gaby Sanchez Plays Third; Sands Talks Power

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/02/pirates-notebook-gaby-sanchez-plays-third-sands-talks-power.html

    First Pitch: Those Lefties Are All the Same Frustrating Pitcher

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/03/first-pitch-those-lefties-are-all-the-same-frustrating-pitcher.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates binge on walks, lose 16-6

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/2/28/4041162/pirates-binge-on-walks-lose-16-6

    7 This Is Getting Old

    Roster Watch: Jordy Mercer

    http://thisisgettingold.net/2013/02/27/roster-watch-jordy-mercer/

    8 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Season Might Be Defined by two Rookie Pitchers

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/02/28/pittsburgh-pirates-season-might-be-defined-by-two-rookie-pitchers/

    9 Rumbunter

    Pirates Skipper Clint Hurdle Throws Out 95 Win Target

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/02/28/pirates-skipper-clint-hurdle-throws-out-95-win-target/

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucs Battered 16-6

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/02/bucs-battered-16-6.html

  10. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Spring training | Pirates take team approach to slowing down opposing base runners

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/02/28/4413017/spring-training-pirates-take-team.html

    12 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Predicting the Bucs’ Opening Day roster

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/02/28/pittsburgh-pirates-predicting-the-bucs-opening-day-roster/

    13 Boston Globe

    Brock Holt was no throw-in for Red Sox

    http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/03/01/brock-holt-brings-energy-competition-red-sox-camp/uMN7atnQO08fCSj7aSiP6L/story.html

    14 The Week

    Major League Baseball’s egregious failure to protect catchers

    http://theweek.com/article/index/240723/major-league-baseballs-egregious-failure-to-protect-catchers

    15 Bleacher Report

    World Baseball Classic 2013: Must-Watch Players in Weekend’s Opening Games

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1547743-world-baseball-classic-2013-must-watch-players-in-this-weekends-opening-game

    16 Chicago Tribune

    Pittsburgh Pirates – TeamReport

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze931yg01kb-20130228,0,796712.story

    17 ESPN

    WAR, a case study: Fielder vs. Ryan

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/33333/war-a-case-study-fielder-vs-ryan

    18 PBC SITE

    Elbow healthy, Hawpe hopes to stick with Bucs

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130228&content_id=42097580&c_id=pit

    Taillon has great time in first spring start

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130228&content_id=42107372&notebook_id=42107508&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Revisiting a Blockbuster

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19733

    20 Fangraphs

    Pirates Bullpen: Depth Chart Discussions

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/pirates-bullpen-depth-chart-discussions/

  11. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Ben Roethlisberger restructures contract, Steelers save $6 million

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/28/4040036/ben-roethlisberger-restructures-contract-steelers-save-6-million

    Turnovers: How a healthy plus/minus ratio often leads to Super Bowl success

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/2/28/4036358/nfl-defenses-super-bowl-turnover-ratio

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Terrible Podcast: Contract Restructures, Salary Cap, and Combine

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/02/the-terrible-podcast-talking-steelers-contract-restructures-salary-cap-combine-more-episode/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    We look at legends such as Steven Gerrard and see what is possible, says Liverpool prospect Ryan McLaughlin.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/liverpool/9898604/We-look-at-legends-such-as-Steven-Gerrard-and-see-what-is-possible-says-Liverpool-prospect-Ryan-McLaughlin.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 28th February, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-28th-february-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Staal Brothers Win Round 1. Pens lose 4-1

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/2/28/4041744/staal-brothers-win-round-1-pens-lose-4-1

  12. “In Bradenton, it’s the perpetual bottom of the ninth” – DK

    change this to “it’s perpetual bottom of the ninth and down by 10″.
    ==============
    It’s nice Barmes likes “where they are at”, and it’s fine that Hurdle is saying all of the usual manager type things but Nothing has changed, nor will it.
    This same story has played out for 20 miserable seasons (16 of which were in one way or another attached to a Nutting.
    Nutting always shows up in Feb. spouting nonsense about goals, and winning but then disappears quicker than his teams in playoff hunts once the season begins to oversee his true passion….. the target range at Nutting Springs.

    Nuttings lack of funding, and NH’s incompetence is the obvious problem. Until BOTH of these things change, nothing will change with this franchise.
    (And please spare me the draft spending, latin academy, indian academy nonsense.)

    The team is showing up for a 50,000 buy in poker tournament with 10 bucks and a blind man playing the hand.

  13. Sadly, even if the Pens were to lose the next 10 and miss the playoffs, there won’t be a coaching change until after the season. For some odd reason the ownership is enamored with Bylsma and that cup he inherited from Therrien and his sacrifice. I knew this season would be another wasted one and nothing worthwhile (especially a cup) will come from it.

    As far as Orpik’s comments go; Don’t shy too far away from he mirror Brooks. You aren’t exactly a stud in front of the net or help out your goalie much either. In fact, you put enough goals into your own net from shoddy defensive play and bad deflections and have screened your goalie enough on goals to make me think you are playing for the other team some nights. Here’s a clue Brooks; you should only be in the crease long enough to clear a player out. Don’t back up and park there all night while waving your stick on the ice thinking you are doing your goalie a favor. If we were allowed to play two goalies, I’m sure they will keep you in mind. Until then, get the hell out of there! For once I’d like to see a picture of our goalie in action without you photo-bombing it.

  14. Thanks, Dejan. Great column, specifically about the old timers. Yep, gotta hang on to that “link”. Well said.

  15. Curses…bitten again! It’s about “we.” It’s about “hope.” It’s why I love, love, love baseball.

    Foiled again in the Spring…

  16. Very enjoyable column. “But what about our ‘Notes’ column for Friday?” he said sarcastically until Drew can get here with the real sarcasm.

    • I expected the standard spring training hope springs eternal column on Sunday. Milo’s criticism of the notes column clearly got to DK.

      • Ha! I pointedly sent this one to my boss because he can’t stand baseball is a metaphor for life or spring training hope writings.

        Although I think the topic has been beaten into the ground, Dejan did a nice job of avoiding Hallmark schmaltz and tied the theme nicely to the PBC’s unique two decade futility.

        • ” Dejan did a nice job of avoiding Hallmark schmaltz”

          Hmmmm.

        • I agree, John. Disapointed that he even bothered writing this kind of column, but I’ll give credit for giving it new life.

          DK never mails one in. Always some value to his work.

  17. Hey, Dejan! Just wanted to say that your column today was moving. I missed being happy to read something about the Pirates. The whole “we” and “Family” talk is seriously making me proud to be a Pirates fan. I’m 35 now. I remember screaming at the TV in ’92, then not talking to anyone until the following morning. Those are memories that I enjoy, even though it brought pain at the time, because the Bucs were in it. They were in the hunt for the championship. I’ve missed that over the last 20 years. There’s always been hope, then doubt. Here’s hoping that this year there will be, “No doubt about it!”

  18. I was really hoping the new Steelers backup QB link would direct me to a “Brian St. Pierre” article.

  19. Been busy all week, though spring break is finally here (booyeah!) and didn’t get to watch the game because I was busy listening to kids complain about their exam, but here’s my thoughts on the Pens’ current situation from what I’ve seen and heard…

    Tyler Kennedy… what more is there to say? This whole organization hasn’t adjusted since February 2009. He should be the first adjustment. Having a guy not contribute (and he doesn’t bring intangibles) while holding back the development of other players is dumb. Stupid, really. Yet those other players are the healthy scratches.

    Defense- while Paul Martin’s certainly upped his play, none of the other regulars can say the same except for maybe Niskanen. That’s still a big maybe. While I’m thrilled Martin’s playing better, to keep it in perspective, he’s performing at his expected level. There isn’t enough size on D and the defensive scheme/approach/ tactics are WAY too passive overall.

    While I generally like Shero, he hasn’t hit any homeruns since 09- even Travis Snyder has more over the past 4 years. Much of that is luck, but we find ourselves lamenting numerous players that got away- and that’s not a matter of luck.

    The players need to play better all around and stop the stupid penalties. That’s their issue to deal with and they need to figure it out fast.

    I don’t think the season is lost by any stretch, but I’m daily more convinced that Bowsma isn’t the guy to salvage it for one main reason- NO ADJUSTMENT. No scheme adjustment, no change in gameplan, nothing. He’s the longest tenured coach in Pens’ history- that’s great except for good teams have him completely figured out. And while I’m not downplaying his regular season success, having the offensive talent this team has can make just about any head coach look good (Except for Eddie Olczyk- even NBC can’t do that).

    I mentioned McIntyre yesterday- try something inventive for crying out loud! Bring him up, put him on the 4th line and park him in front of the net. That’s a big wall to see through for a goalie. And most sane people wouldn’t fight him. If it doesn’t work, fine. But at least freakin try something different!

    There’s no aggression on the forecheck except for a specific few. The entire defensive scheme has its tail between the legs. The passive box has become the submissive box and it probably hurts the goaltending more than helping it. We keep running that stupid backdoor play on the PP even though it hasn’t worked since Ryan Whitney was here. There’s just so much wrong with how this team plays and Bowsma either has no control, encourages it, or just can’t handle it.

    It looks more and more like 09 was as much Therrien’s Cup as Bowsma’s. He said when he came in that season that he wanted to adjust the offense and focus on speed and north-south; he didn’t change much of anything on D. Since he has changed it, it’s been a problem. Insisting on playing guys like Kennedy and the consistent lack of performance by the defense as a whole shows his stubbornness.

    I’ll repeat it again- not one playoff run past the semi’s since 09. Those are hard results to ignore. I’m not seeing anything that suggests this year is going to be any different. We talk about the Bucs hitting their heads against a wall repeatedly- same thing’s happening here. I don’t have much of an answer to these problems, but something’s gotta give.

    Sorry that was so long.

    • It’s Friday. You can write a column.

    • Just one flaw in your timeline, in June 2009 they won a cup so I can’t really complain about things from Feb. 2009. Since then; yeah, they’ve been on a continuous downward spiral and whether it be from injuries or uninspired, unprofessional play, they haven’t really done anything to change things for the better. The players, strategy and mindset needed to be successful in the playoffs isn’t there any more and certainly not in the quantities needed to be ultimately successful. For this team to come out flat again after that performance against Florida is clearly a team not inspired or motivated and looks like one who’s stopped listening to their coach. Whether it’s Bylsma’s fault or not, a change needs to be made. As bad as I feel for Bylsma, I feel worse for the players. A new (right) coach hopefully will be the kind to put his foot deep in their slacker a$$es and fun time will be over. They might actually be wishing for Therrien again.

      • SJB,

        I was pointing out Feb. 09 as the last time the Pens made successful, significant adjustments that put them over the top, which obviously led to the Cup and were needed at the time (hiring Bowsma and the acquisition of Guerin). Since then his trades and drafts have been mediocre Ponikarovsky minus the gogogirloskey/Neal shpiel.

    • I’d also like to point out that even though Shero hasn’t been stellar in getting all the pieces this team needs, he did get Neal and Niskanen for Goligoski. Now he needs to get another top line winger and if that means trading away a good young D-man or two, plus a high draft pick then so be it…and not jsut a winger, but a winger with leadership qualities. I’d make that trade for Iginla all day, rental or not. Can’t keep hoarding defensemen every draft and not use them to better the team somehow, whether it’s playing them or trading them. How’s this sound: Kennedy, “insert young defenseman prospect here” and a high pick (1st or 2nd round) for Iginla? We get rid of Kennedy and his contract, a prospect who we might lose through waivers anyway and at worst, a low 1st round pick for a skilled, physical, veteran leader who could score in bunches on Crosby’s line and might make a huge difference in this team going far in the playoffs, or as it stands now. going nowhere.

    • I think McIntyre is a bad idea. He really is a pretty bad player and he has a few too many screws loose. You bring him up for intimidation, but no one in their right mind is going to drop gloves with him (that doesn’t mean no one will, but anyone who does might just be crazier than McIntyre himself).

      On another note, I wonder if the Martin injury will lead to Eaton getting some playing time or if they will play both the young guys (Despres and Bortuzzo). I’m not sure which of these options I prefer, but it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow if Martin can’t play.

  20. “…even at this tenuous time for the front office after Bob Nutting’s no-I-really-mean-it ultimatum to contend or else…”

    Finish the sentence- I say contend or else there will be another investigation.

    Or maybe we should play the define “contend” game.

  21. “…and you’ll spot the last man to touch a baseball in a relevant game (Mike LaValliere, 1992″

    We didn’t play relevant games last year?

  22. I’m going to add my comments on some of the players performances this year

    Glass — total bust as far as I’m concerned

    Kennedy — looks like a little kid with ADD that loves to shoot from impossible angles

    Bortuzzo — has a short fuse; every time I see him out there its like he is involved in something and he’s off his game

    Vitale — absolutely love your aggressiveness but man last night you looked like you had some deer antler spray or something. Hitting everything that moves isn’t always the best play.

    Krissy Letang — needs to stop being pretty otherwise I’m going to keep calling him Krissy

    Sutter — Never expected him to be Jordan Staal but I didn’t expect him to be Jock Callander either. Ok maybe a little harsh but I’m a little bummed with his lack of offensive output so far from someone that was an alternate captain in Carolina

    Bylsma — Stop setting your roster to match the other teams lineup. Classic example saying he was putting in Bortuzzo against Buffalo because they were tougher. Great take an offensive minded defenseman like Despres out so you can have a guy who isn’t afraid to get rough. What happened to making the other teams scramble to match the Pens lineup? Also are you saving Eaton like Tomlin saved his 2 pt plays so that no one else could see how potent he is?

    Shero — Hope you have roll over minutes; time to start using some of the surplus and getting this roster set if you truly want to make a run. Not saying to push the panic button but I don’t know how many guys you need to throw on the 2nd line or even the third line to realize your lacking in a few areas.

  23. Jason recalls screaming at the screen in ’92, and now he is 35. I can see that and up him with screaming at the Sporting News in the early 60′s when the team dumped Groat, Skinner and Stuart, signifying the end of the world as I knew it (yup, I am twice as old as Jason)! Fortunately, Joe Brown was quite a GM and the farm system replenished the stars sooner than I thought possible as the Pirates competed well. DK’s column highlights the role of heros in fanaticism and nostalgia. Baseball is more than Stats and Wins, it is also about people we like to think of as buddies and good humans. Spanky, Steve, Maz, Teke and the others will always be our heros. Barry? Not so much.

    One last meandering geriatric thought: a large part of why I watch sports is to share in the joy of playing — that’s a good explanation of being a fan of the worst franchise era in history — there was much to love about watching Jack and Freddy at work during some of the darkest days. The game is still on, and even if his heart is shaped like a puck, we are blessed to have a writer who can focus us on its essence.

  24. I love DK chat days.

  25. I find myself curious about what those people who say “I’m done with this team until they win” say after a team starts winning. If it was me saying this, I think I would be quite embarrased after a strong winning season to say “well, I had given up on this team but now that they are winners I’m a huge fan again.” Not that I saw anyone say this on here, but overall I seem to hear that often. Just wondering.

  26. Ya know growing up as a young catholic boy I always remember thinking Pope John Paul would be around forever; and he literally was. Never in a million years did I think I would see the changing of the pope as they taught us about in grade school. Kind of like thinking I’ll never see Queen Elizabeth pass. But even more unimaginable is the fact that I’ve seen the Pope change more often than I have seen Pirate winning seasons in the past 20 years. Only the queen has the Pirates beat on consistency.

    • I wonder if Pope Benedict’s decision to retire will have any influence on Queen Elizabeth. I mean poor Chuck is 64 years old and still waiting for the job.

      • If you leave Diana for Camilla, they shouldn’t allow you to be Jester let alone King.

      • I don’t know if any of you happened to see the King’s Speech which to me is an incredible movie but based on that I always believed that the King or Queen could not divorce or be married to someone who was divorced as they were considered the head of the church. This could have changed around the last time the Pirates had a winning season but just going off history.

  27. Guys, chat pushed back to 1 p.m. I’ve got an interview to conduct here in Sarasota at the noon hour that can’t be moved. Thanks!

  28. Just saw job posting on Monster for Mayor of Pittsburgh. I’m still holding out for the Pope’s job. Love the red slippers

  29. Dejan Kovacevic: I see that the two-game losing streak has prompted more calls for Dan Bylsma to be fired among the patient set…This is the Internet at some of its worst.

    Two-game losing streak? How about 3 straight early (some of them really bad) playoff exits? What about the consistent lack of good defensive play over several years? What about the atrocious lack of aggression on the forecheck, PK and PP? What about the goaltending that suffers from this lack of aggression? (I heard Lange talking about how Fleury was overplaying the puck just last night because of the lack of help from the D)

    What about the sheer chaos that the team is playing in? What about continuing to play guys that have zero to almost negative value such as Martin and Michalek last year and Kennedy this year? What about the only “adjustments” being some inexplicable scratches and line shuffles?

    I think the internet has done much worse than that.

    • I’m thinking there have been other adjustments made. Look at the improvement on the PP over the last few years. The PP in 2010-2011 was abysmal. They finished 25th in the league with a whopping 15.8%. This year they are number four in the league and completing 26.2%. That is a pretty drastic turn around and some of that has come from adjustments made by the coaching staff.

      I know the beginning of this season hasn’t looked great, but I’m not ready to go bridge jumping yet. I think adjustments need to be made and I think some wrists need to be slapped, but I’m not ready to jump ship.

      On a side note, I am starting to wonder if trading Letang is maybe an ok idea. I like the kid alot and I know he has incredible talent, but the return has potential to be huge (maybe even a scoring winger and shut-down d-man). A change of scenery may not be bad for him either. Maybe another coaching staff can provide him with some necessary discipline that allows him to take some risks, but to judge better when to take risks.

      • Ice,

        I agree there have been some improvements. But the deficiencies haven’t been dealt with enough IMO. Many of them are coaching issues and some are GM. I haven’t seen Bylsma adjust enough and I don’t think he will- too obsessed with “our game”, which isn’t really working and hasn’t bred enough playoff success to suggest it ever will.

        I just think it’s folly to say that anxiety over Bylsma and possibly replacing him is completely unwarranted.

        • WORD Brad.

          Bottom line – the PEns are easy to play against.

          IN the playoffs, that is the LAST type of team you want to be.

          I see on The Fan they have resurrected the old Therrian quote, and never has it been more appropriate.

          “This D, they are SOFFF. I think they want to be the worst D in the league….”

          WORD, Mike.

          You too Brad!

    • Brad, you are SPOT ON – and I actually had a response to that chat comment ready to fire off….specifically: NO it’s NOT about a 2-game losing streak. AT ALL.
      Just as you say – it is about 3 straight early exits vs lower seeds, it’s about sloppy play, poor discipline, no focus….Special Teams….on an on and on.
      I really thought it was a serious Duck from DK to fob that off on ‘worst of the internet’. Boo.

      Much as I love DK, my goodness, the media in Pgh seems absolutely cowed when it comes to really criticizing the teams here and most especially, going after the coaching. (Don’t get me started on Tomlin…)
      For cripes sake, Rossi was on Twitter last night, MOCKING people who criticized Bylsma.
      Seriously?

      ANyway, I’m with you Brad. This is SO MUCH MORE than a 2 game losing streak, and really, we have come to expect better from our DK. Poor answer.

      I know they love their access, our media hounds, but tell it like it is once in a while.

      DK: Yes, I need to become more critical. Especially of coaching and strategy.

      Someday, I’ll criticize Tomlin …

      http://triblive.com/sports/-topstories/3102976-85/tomlin-steelers-smoked#axzz2MG9Z4QQt

      I’ll criticize Bylsma’s strategy …

      http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/3253841-74/penguins-penalty-cooke#axzz2MG9Z4QQt

      I’ll stop being so soft on the Penguins in general …

      http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_791501.html#axzz2MG9Z4QQt

      I’ll question Clint Hurdle, too …

      http://blog.triblive.com/dejan-kovacevic/2012/09/11/wakeup-call-hurdle-blows-it-big-time/

      Sure hope I can retain my “access.”

      • Yikes Dejan – I did not mean to lump you in with ALL the media here, and I apologize. I should have been more clear.

        You of, all, have really been most appropriately critical where the Pens are concerned. As your links above bear out.

        However I was truly rubbed the wrong way by Rossi on Twitter last night, and again very much annoyed with your “worst of the internet” response to what I thought was a valid question today.

        I think you avoided answering it with an easy out there, and it’s only cos I so like you that it stuck in my craw – didn’t feel as honest as we’re all used to from you.

        Again – all your links above are valid.

        I only wish the rest of the Pgh media would do the same.

        Still think you took an easy duck on that Chat question.

        But still luv ya DK!

        Yrs,
        Sarah

        DK: I appreciate that, Sarah, as well as your candor. I get lumped in a lot. Part of the job, I guess.

        We can disagree about the current severity of impact Dan Bylsma is having on the Penguins not playing well, and I’ll respect your opinion. Like I wrote in the chat, I’m not there yet.

        • Trust me I respect yours too Dejan, and I was far too careless “lumping” you in with the rest in my post. It wasn’t true, wasn’t fair, and I apologize.

          I confess I’m in the group that was never too impressed with Bylsma. Re his impact on Pens poor play – I’m one who thinks he’s a big issue – but many (prolly most LOL!) are not there yet either!!!

          I guess my question is – if they go one and done this year – is Disco Dan in trouble? I’m starting to panic I guess!!! LOL!!

          Thanks again DK!

          S

    • Wow. I just read Rossi’s twits. Scapegoat? Really? Must be that calling a duck a peregrine falcon thing going around. Tom Singer would be proud.

      Rob Rossi ‏@RobRossi_Trib
      #TribHKY >> Bylsma had 2nd best road winning percentage in #NHL history through 146 games of career. Clearly, he is the problem.

      So… what’s his playoff winning%?

      Rob Rossi ‏@RobRossi_Trib
      #TribHKY >> Bylsma in 2013 is Martin from 2012 and Neal from 2011 and Fleury from 2010. #pens fans need a scapegoat. Never changes.

      “Bylsma (pronounced BYLE-zmuh) has led the Penguins to three-straight 100-point seasons and four consecutive playoff berths, while becoming the winningest playoff coach in team history with 28 postseason victories and five (tied-Scotty Bowman) playoff series victories.” from Pens’ site.

      Um, Bylsma has been here twice as long as Bowman was. 16 of those playoff victories came in one season and 4 series victories came the same year, 2009. But I guess that’s just scapegoating. And I guess those 3 players all had outstanding performances those seasons.

      • Yup. Kinda what went through my mind last night re Pgh media reluctant to call out coaches….

        (Again – apologies to DK on that score.)

        But Rossi had me really p-ssed last night. Or maybe the Pens did. Or both.

        Last 3 years DB is 5-9 at home in playoff games. And OH FER in closing out series at home, over 4 playoff years.

        I believe there is room for criticism. Just me of course. And maybe you Brad!

        • “I believe there is room for criticism.”

          Nobody is saying there isn’t. That’s been made crystal clear.

          You and Brad don’t seem to be calling for criticism, you’re calling for outright blame leading to his dismissal.

          Two very different things.

          • Sorry? Where did I ask for his dismissal?

            I’ve been clear I’m not a fan.

            I believe I also suggested that DB’s on his last shot – and that if Pens go 1 and done (again) he will be on the hot seat for dismissal.

            NOT the same as asking for it.

            As for people saying there Isn;t room for criticism, Rossi’s “scapegoating” Tweets yesterday would suggest otherwise.

            • Sorry, Sarah. I thought you were in Brad’s corner. I’ve enjoyed your stuff today, btw.

              • NO worries! I am in Brad’s corner – right now anyway!!

                I think DB should take SOME criticism…that’s all. Not calling for his dismissal…

                Not a DB fan.
                Think he’s been out-coached 3 years straight in playoffs.

                Think his schemes work great reg season. (Til now it seems!!!)

                His unwillingness/inability to adjust kills him in 7-game series, where it’s really a chess game.

                REALLY worried the team has tuned him out….as they’ve shown such poor discipline this year (well really going back to end of last year)…

                Anyway – happy to entertain other points of view!!!

                And love the Pens!! Just have a tough time watching them lately LOL!!!

              • See, I think you have very valid points about DB’s “adjustments” or lack-there-of.

                I just cannot lump the last three playoff losses into ANY single common theme, let alone that one. In fact, I’m not sure a team could lose in three more completely distinct ways.

                He was without the games two best players in ’10, his offense was completely stonewalled by a legendary performance in ’11(Halak – they still give him a standing O in MTL. Playing for the Blues.), and the ghost of Badger Bob couldn’t have talked sense into the children on the ice last April against Philly.

                Gotta run, but enjoyed the convo. Have a good weekend!

              • Hey NMR -

                Well – you’re right – dunno if last 3 playoff series were all the same….tactics wise….but think Bylsma was unable to find solutions in all of them. I believe that to be an indictment.

                MTL – hot Halak – I think it’s a mistake to say that was a legendary performance. Habs just passively collapsed around the G and allowed loads of shots, but most from outside. Any goalie (including me) will be happy to stop 60 shots a game when 58 of them are from the outside and my D boxes out the rebounds. Totally disagree this series was stolen by a hot G. Pens inabiltiy to get inside, screen/get rebounds or deflections or shoot from within the box, or crash the net cost them dearly. Habs an 8th seed. Pens 0-for 2 chances to close at home this series.

                TB – extremely passive 1-3-1 scheme which DB unable to break. AGing journeyman G in Rollie. 0-35 on the PP. I was at Game 5 and it was completely mailed in by the Pens after the 1st period. I don’t care if DB was without Sid and Geno – he was up 3-1 at home. Inexcusable.

                PHL – completely exploited the stretch-pass scheme with interceptions and odd-man counter-rushes. HOrrible D zone coverage. Zero discipline and loads of dumb penalties plus brawls….

                I think all three series reflect poorly on Disco.

                JUst MO, of course, but I think urban legend re Halak, and lack of Sid/Geno overblown.
                YMMV of course….

          • Rossi’s statements don’t imply to me that he thinks there’s room for criticism. I was on the fence about Bylsma before. At this moment I’m not.

            • How is what Rossi tweeted any different than what Dejan said in the chat today?

              I’m no mind reader, but I don’t think those comments were responding to criticism. They were responding to fans calling for a firing.

              Again, two different things.

              DK: Exactly.

              • I’m just saying that claiming that there’s no basis for firing is ignoring results, no matter what the exact context of those 3 playoff losses are. Not sure why there needs to be a theme for a coach to be held accountable.

                It’s not like we’ve been in the semi’s the last 2 years.

          • Therrien was in a very similar situation in 09. A change worked out ok then.

  30. Sorry but the GM should be getting more heat at this point than the coach. And neither one should be fired.

  31. There is more than enough blame to go around here:

    First, both disco Dan and “The Great Ray Shero” should be doing WAY more addressing these issues that are plagueing the Pens, before they become unmanageable Db should be, well, coaching, you know doing things like disciplining, teaching, strategizing, etc. TGRS should be burning up the phone lines exploring trade opportunities.

    As for the local media, they are terribly petrified of upsetting ANY player, coach, GM, owner, ball boy, etc! For fear of probably never getting another “scoop” and actually having to do some actual journalistic work! The “homers” in this city are UNREAL!

    DK: See above response to another reader about all the terror I live in.

    • DK,

      While I won’t dispute that you have been more vocal than your colleagues in criticizing the sports teams when it is warranted. I still stand by the fact that “homerism” is alive and well in the city of Pittsburgh. And, more times than not players, coaches, GM’s, get cut way too much slack. Fans are a lot more intelligent than you give them credit for. They just want to read unbiased, factual information about their favorite teams. Is that asking for too much from the media?

      DK: I said nothing about colleagues or media. I never do. I was talking about me. I’m one guy. One.

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