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Monday Wakeup Call: Are pro leagues done expanding?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> The Monday column is the one that was supposed to run Sunday before the James Harrison news broke. It’s about potential NHL expansion, but it also touches on the other three major pro sports, which apparently have zero plans to do likewise.

That’s where I’ve got a couple Qs to run by you this morning.

1. Which non-NHL league will be next to expand, if any?

2. Where on earth would you put a baseball team, in particular?

3. Is 32 really the magic number, one that it will take years to pass?

Here’s a clip of my talk with Sidney Crosby on this topic …

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 a.m. to talk about that and more.

>> Evgeni Malkin will miss 1-2 weeks, as my news report here details. The way the Penguins are scoring — pretty much any way they want — that’s the one area in which they have most to give. But still, the Penguins will benefit greatly from Malkin being able to achieve absolute peak form going into the playoffs.

You know, kind of like what we’re seeing from the captain right about now …


Anyone remember the column I write wondering if we’d see another notch from Sid?

Yeah, took a good amount of grief for that. Not so much anymore.

Here’s our postgame video from last night, with me and Josh Yohe yakking it up, as well as infinitely more important people inside that building …

>> The Steelers and free agency? For the first time since, um, Duce Staley? Alan Robinson examines.

>> Latest on the Riverhounds and their stadium, which looks better every day.

>> Here, in case you missed it Sunday, is the Harrison column cited above. Also in that section was this neat Joe Starkey column about the lost art of the underhanded free throw. And one seriously thorough breakdown of the Steelers’ contract restructuring by Mark Kaboly.

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.


  1. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    If Gary Bettman really wants to think outside the box on expansion and wants to make another foray south, may I suggest…


    The Mexico City metro population is over 21 million.

    Be bold Gary.

    Viva los jugadores de hockey de Mexico DF!!

    DK: This is great. Intermissions will be known as siestas. Or is that what the Islanders were taking all of last night?

  2. AZBucsFan says:

    Chris Kunitz, 3rd in the scoring race, leading the league in +/-, and having arguably a better season than anyone not named Crosby. Yes, even better than Stamkos, who is a -1 while averaging 4 minutes more ice time than Kunitz (22 minutes to 18). A fabulous season so far for the entire line of Crosby/Kunitz/Dupuis, who now will have to carry most of the load until Geno gets healthy. I have a hunch they’ll be up to the task. GO PENS!

  3. Ghost says:

    Not NHL expansion, but It boggles the mind that greater L.A. can support two baseball teams, two basketball teams, two hockey teams, yet has had no NFL team for all this time. Have not closely followed the stadium issues, but understand and agree with local politician and taxpayer reluctance to fund a new facility. But has anybody ever floated the idea of the NFL itself building a stadium to get over this hump? Lord knows they have the financial might. Detractors say L.A. denizens have too much going on to support a football team. But the continued success of such franchises as the Dodgers (excluding the McCourt follies) and the Lakers belies that. Whether through expansion or relocation, the NFL should have a team in the nation’s second biggest metropolis.

  4. Ghost says:

    ??? Is there any hockey tradition in Mexico?

  5. AZBucsFan says:

    As for MLB expansion, I think Austin, TX may be a landing spot. A growing city, lots of young, technology professionals, with a population approaching 750,000. Definitely has the audience to support its first team. And I’m still surprised there is no MLB team in North Carolina. The other 3 leagues all have teams either in Raleigh or Charlotte.

  6. AZBucsFan says:

    Just looked, and Austin’s city population is actually 820,000, with a metro population of over 1.7 million. If you include the 90-minute drive from San Antonio, there’s definitely the audience to support a baseball team.

  7. Ghost says:

    But DK mentioned that the MLB, itself, is not about to expand. BTW, I too, have wondered why central Texas has one basketball team and that’s it. But speaking of Austin, if 1.7 mil in pop. is all it has, then there’s the answer: that is actually so small a market that of current MLB cities only Milwaukee’s would be smaller.

  8. AZBucsFan says:

    According to Wikipedia, Austin is the largest U.S. city without a major pro team. If a new MLB team is the only team (other than technically the Spurs) for Austin’s metro to support, I think 1.7 million is more than adequate. Especially since their population has been steadily growing. Not saying that MLB should expand, but that Austin would be a fine choice if they did.

  9. Ghost says:

    “This is great. Intermissions will be known as siestas.”

    And in the middle of matches bullfights will break out.

  10. Ghost says:

    You might well be right.

  11. Boise Bucco says:

    Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but the NFL would be crazy to put a team in LA, and here’s why: When Minnesota, Miami, Jacksonville and now Carolina start crying for public money for new stadiums, the inevitable “or else we’ll move to Los Angeles” always gets floated. LA is the greatest leverage the NFL could possibly have to keep the pressure on city mayors, and off of team owners.

  12. Reading says:

    NHL expansion: St. John’s, New Foundland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Why? Because I’ve been there.

    U.S. expansion: Wisconsin. Why? Badger Bob.

  13. Ghost says:

    That IS cynical of you (but, unfortunately, not beyond the realm of possibility in the Machiavellian world of professional sports we have.)

  14. Mizery says:

    I always thought that Portland, OR, and Milwaukee were good places to expand to. How about going back to Hartford. liked the Whalers. In Canada you have to go back to Quebec.

  15. Deb says:

    Statistics are interesting. Kunitz is good…but not Stamkos good. Just highlights how Sid is able to improve his line-mates. The success and brilliance of the Crosby Line highlights even more how ridiculous the suggestion was earlier in the year that Kunitz be moved back to the Malkin line because Malkin was under performing. Kuintz/Crosby/Dupuis is even more special than Malkin/Neal/Kunitz.

  16. John Lease says:

    Pittsburgh needs an NBA team, no matter what Dejan says. I think it’s about time.

    DK: Alas, the only people whose voices in this debate matter at all — potential owners ready to make a successful business out of it — do not exist.

  17. Thundercrack says:

    “The league’s found a way to stay competitive with 30. It can do 32.”

    Crosby makes a case for the cities to add, but I really wonder about the talent aspect in regards to expansion —which seems to be Shero’s point.

  18. Jandy says:

    I agree with you.

  19. JAL says:

    JAL’s An Bealach Seo ‘Tá Romham Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    WBC Notes: Taillon Looks Good Against Team USA

    Draft Prospect Watch: Judge Starting To Impress

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates defeat Twins, Orioles, appear unstoppable

    7 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates need to Make Sure Andrew McCutchen Has Help in 2013

    8 Bleacher Report

    Major League Baseball: 50 Bold Predictions for 2013

    9 Rumbunter

    Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon: People Will Come

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucco Sunday Sweep, Beat Twins & O’s

  20. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Recap: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh

    Recap: Minnesota vs. Pittsburgh

    12 New York Times

    Yankees Are Said to Pursue Derrek Lee as Replacement for Mark Teixeira

    13 Wheeling Intelligencer

    Team USA Moves on in WBC

    14 Beaver County Times

    Rookie McPherson in strange spot for Pirates

    15 KDKA

    Healthy Sanchez Making Strong Case

    16 Tiffin Advertiser Tribune

    Taking In a Spring Training Game

    17 CANOE

    Martin: WBC ‘not what baseball’s about’

    18 PBC SITE

    Prospect Cole holds O’s in check for first spring win

    Stiff competition for three vacant bullpen spots


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week in Quotes

    20 Fangraphs

    Vetoed Trades, Part Five

  21. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Harrison’s release is a time for sadness, but it’s also a time to be reminded of the long list of great Steelers linebackers

    A Tribute to James Harrison set to poetry

    22 Steelers Depot

    -2013 Steeler Draft Prospects: RB Christine Michael Texas AM


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester United 2 Chelsea 2: match report

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 8th March, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    The First Line Is Unstoppable. Pens win 6-1.

  22. JAL says:

    An Bealach Seo ‘Tá Romham Clannad 1975 The most successful Celtic music group they had several popular albums in the 1980s and 1990s . A family group which also includes Enya, who was with the group in 1980-81.

  23. JAL says:

    Not necessarily, everything has a tipping point and you don’t know where that is until you try. One sport may be able to stay competitive with 40 teams and and another may have problems fielding 30.

  24. Jandy says:

    what happens if you try and it’s watered down, then it’s too late?

  25. Milo Hamilton says:

    I think the NHL should be the 1st league to contract.

  26. SJB says:

    There’s no reason the NHL can’t expand to at least a couple more cities. Problem has been in the past – in trying to force a square peg in a round hole – the NHL wrongly expanded to markets that weren’t NHL friendly just so they could cast a bigger footprint across the continent. I’d like to see the genius who said in a meeting: “Oh yeah, Phoenix is a great sports town and they’ll love a little hockey with their tex-mex”…trust me.”

    Without even having to expand though, I see at least one team (Florida, Nashville) relocating to a city in the West (Seattle, Portland) which would at least even things up at 8/7 and 8/7. The NHL just needs to stay out of the southern markets, as not only are there too many as it stands now, but there aren’t any other cities south of Kansas City that would even want an NHL team and since the owners are anti-revenue sharing, the next CBA would be just like this season’s all over again with the owners wanting back money from the players to make up for their losses and inability to help themselves and teams they shouldn’t have allowed to exist in the first place.

  27. Ermine says:

    U-Haul should be a be a sponsor. Yea, Hartford, Quebec, Atlanta, Minnesota, Winnipeg, California, Cleveland. Oh wait! Nevermind.

    DK: Never mind, indeed. Diehard NBA fan that you are, you should know that no league comes close to its number of moves in recent years. Until Thrashers-Jets, the NHL hadn’t had a single relocation in 15 years.

  28. Drew71 says:

    and i DISagree with Thunder.

    what did he say, by the way?

  29. JAL says:

    Then you contract, Pirates got Wagner and others due to National League contraction.

  30. gregenstein says:

    It’s possible 2 more teams would make MORE top 6 forwards available, at least at the trading deadline. Think about it…there will be 2 more league teams, but not 2 more playoff teams.

    Every year, there will be 2 more teams willing to trade away players, Granted, it would make more bidding wars in Summer, but it probably would make for more interesting trade deadlines too.

  31. Drew71 says:

    So THIS must be the Pirates-Twins thread.

  32. AL says:

    Hockey is a cold weather city sport. I think the only reason it’s been somewhat successful in Florida is because of all the Northern transplants down there. It needs to expand back into Canada where it belongs. Would love to see the Quebec Nordique again.

  33. gregenstein says:

    I think they are taking a much more targeted approach to expansion this time. Unlike the “Ice the South” plan from 20 years ago, which basically seemed like Bettman using only population numbers rather than hockey sense, I think this time they are trying to take into account factors like, you know, whether people would actually show up for a game.

    In defense of Phoenix and Atlanta though, those 2 teams were wrought with lousy owners and lousy teams for the first 12 years of their existence. It’s arguable that only now, with Phoenix having a couple decent seasons, is that market actually being tested.

  34. SJB says:

    One thing that worried me after Pens wins like last nights is listening to The Fan this morning when Eric Hagman said the Pens don’t need anything other than maybe a defeman and adding even Iginla would not be good because that would mean moving Dupuis off Crosby’s line and would ruin chemistry.

    Yup, that’s right. Iginla would be a downgrade from Dupuis and ruin chemistry. lol

    When the Pens get on a roll, just like last season, people get delusional. I still think they need another big time, physical scoring wing to make them playoff contenders, in addition to some more veteran leadership (all three things you get with Iginla) plus add a shut down caliber defenseman who can help them protect and hold leads.

  35. Jandy says:

    Welcome home, Drew Dahling :)

  36. TJA says:

    Baseball expansion? How about Pittsburgh? Oh wait there is a team…sorry…that is pretty cold…yea I admit it coming from a Pirates fan. yea, 20 years will do that though.
    Seriously, how about Oklahoma City as one thought. Seems that the NBA is doing pretty darned well with the Thunder. I also agree with AZBucs Fan about Austin, Texas. Been to Austin a few times on business and it is an outstanding city. Just a wonderful place.
    Hope everyone had a good weekend!

  37. Ermine says:

    Cherry picking numbers is fun. 15 years? Let’s try 20. NHL ’93, ’95, ’96, ’97 and ’11.
    NBA ’01, ’02, ’08 .. Unless you want to count NJ to Brooklyn this year. Across the river would be a stretch. The point is, All sports have expanded and contracted as far as the probably should. I was just trying to point out your NHL blinders.

    DK: The old guard that still hates hockey around here sure does die hard.

  38. AL says:

    SJB…..I think you’re correct about Iginla on paper but I have to agree with Herb Brooks when he said about his miracle-on-ice Olympic team………..”I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones.” Team chemistry is everything. I’ll stick with Duper on Sid’s line.
    The shutdown defenseman, on the other hand, is a legitimate concern. Is Eaton or Bortuzzo that guy? Do we have another budding Rob Scuderi in Wilkes-Barre?

  39. bdubb says:

    The NFL might be able to expand and not dilute its product. I feel as if MLB has changed a lot since the last expansion. I don’t see the plethora of pitching out there to support any more teams. NBA has already expanded too much and the product hasn’t been the same since.

    As far as an MLB expansion I would say Charlotte. Not sure they would support it 100% but they have the 2nd best baseball weather in the country.

  40. Milo Hamilton says:

    Won’t go to Harlem, in ermine & pearls.
    She won’t dish the dirt, with the rest of the girls.
    That’s why the lady is a tramp.

  41. Jandy says:

    Well, yeah, that seems like a lot of money lost tho. But then, if expansion hadn’t taken place in 1967, we wouldn’t have our Penguins in town, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

  42. Josh says:

    Why is there no discussion of the NFL in Toronto?

  43. Milo Hamilton says:

    Update from Bradenton – the Gulf of Mexico looks lovely this morning.

  44. Jandy says:

    JAL probably had this link somewhere but I got a chuckle out of it:

  45. SJB says:

    Atlanta must of had bad owners when they had the Flames too. ;)

    In pro sports nowadays, you have to have a market excited enough and willing enough to put $$ in the coffers regardless of product, to help a new team through the growing pains and inevitable losses. That’s why an even smaller market like Winnipeg is a better fit for that Atlanta team. I don’t think Atlanta had that excitement from day 1. Plus; not being able to afford to keep talent like Kovalchuk and Hossa, or be able to add to that core for the same reason and losing a player Dan Snyder to death and Danny Heatley leaving to put that behind him, can’t be blamed entirely on ownership.

    I won’t blame owners ever time because unless they have the money to be a cap team like the Pens, they are limited in what they can spend on players by what the fans are willing to give them at the gates. Like I said, the NHL isn’t big on revenue sharing so they are not going to have their player salaries funded by the league like other teams in other pro leagues to get them through the non-winning seasons and low ticket sales (see: The Pittsburgh Pirates)

  46. Drew71 says:

    What are you doing in my state, Mister?

  47. Jandy says:

    He’s “expanding”

  48. Thundercrack says:

    When I saw Jandy’s response to me, I was going to post that it was a great way to start out the week.

    Then you-know-who chimed in

  49. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t think contracting is the way any league wants to go.

  50. hockeymonster says:

    People definitely are going to get giddy after last night but they need to remember that was a glorified Prac-Tice…not a game…im talkin bout Prac-Tice! NYI looked at time like they bought tickets. Game against Boston tomorrow will be a test for everyone…offense, defense, special teams, nacho vendors, the “beer here” guy…they better eat there wheaties tomorrow morning! :)

  51. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    The Hartford Whalers had the Brass Bonanza.
    Great tune that gets stuck permanently in your skull.

    Los jugadores de hockey de Mexico DF will have the Hat Dance.
    An equally great tune.

  52. Milo Hamilton says:

    The three “B’s” – beach, baseball & beer.

  53. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    I saw a 60 Minutes piece sometime about a year ago that said in the first part of the 1900’s there were a good number of Russians that emigrated to Mexico.

    Don’t know if they brought their skates or not.

  54. Jds182 says:

    I play in El Paso and we have a couple that come across the border to play in our men’s league. They combine with the Canadian transplants on a team named NAFTA. The locals tell me they even had a rink in Ciudad Juarez at one time

  55. Patrick says:

    LA doesnt have an NFL team because its outdoors. Believe me when i tell you a very large majority of the people who attend basketball and hockey games know very little about the sports. They are just hoping to run into Jack Nicholson in the bathroom.

    If LA cared, even a LITTLE, about football they would have 2 teams by now. Heck, compared to Pittsburgh and Green Bay the have the economy and population to support 6 teams if they felt like it.

  56. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    On a personal note, after 8 years my fantasy baseball league is disbanding.

    So I am an unrestricted Free Agent as of….NOW.

    Only stipulation is that there needs to be a cash prize for winning it all.

    Gotta have money on something ;)

    Help a fellow lunatic out.

  57. SJB says:

    Well, I hope you still think that when Sid’s line is being shut down in the playoffs and everyone is back to criticizing Dupuis minimal talent and wants him moved back to the 3rd line or traded. You know, like the past two seasons…

    Iginla ruining chemistry? Wow. I can see a getting comfortable period like with Hossa, but I’d gladly take the chance at what he could bring to make the team in a respected veteran leadership role that would make them that much harder to play against, versus any negative he might be to them. Right now, losing Crosby or Malkin at any time makes them essentially a one line team, like they are now. Having an Iginla can help offset an injury to either of those two and keep them with two formidable lines…unless you think Duper can handle that.

    Eaton’s good at what he does but they need another with a more physical bent to his game. Someone to make one think twice about parking in the crease or taking that extra second to make a play.

  58. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    NAFTA.. I love it!!!

    Or, te amo, in espanol.

  59. Patrick says:

    I was always surprised Salt Lake City has never been mentioned. Its population, economy and demographic is nearly a MIRROR image of Pittsburgh. They had a big beautiful new arena built whenever they hosted the Olympics.

    Made sense to me anyways…

  60. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    I’m thinking you name the team MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE

  61. Patrick says:

    Twenty years ago I would have agreed with you. 3-4 rule changes later, not so much.

    Besides the same half dozen teams have taken turns winning the championship every year since…well, since forever. Expansion NBA teams have as much chance of competing for the NBA championship as they would the Stanley Cup.

  62. Bizrow says:

    Fantasy Leagues

    Everyone is welcome

    All Yahoo

    League ID – 25547

    Password – 1203

    ID – 25558

    Password – 1203

    ID – 25576

    Password – 1203

    ID – 25595

    Password – 1203

  63. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m not sure what was done in 1900 is a blueprint anyone wants to or should follow.

  64. Bizrow says:

    Playoffs, the timing of the above was purely coincidental, didn’t refresh before I posted it.

    Sorry, no moolah is involved

    Thats illegal ;-) ;-)

  65. Patrick says:

    That was before TV contracts. I’m not even sure how a league could contract teams when they have a national TV deal. I’m sure their are some provisions for it, but I bet it would be extremely costly in the big picture.

    I don’t think talent in the NHL is a problem. Some people are simply better at identifying and acquiring it than others (Lamariello is Billy Beane evil Twin)

  66. Patrick says:

    I’d start in Philadelphia

  67. Brad, Indiana PA says:


    Likin the Irish music- Go raibh maith agat!

  68. Patrick says:

    And at least half of those teams were all but RIPPED from their cities. If the NHL had worked half as hard for those cities as it did for Pittsburgh you wouldn’t have seen 4 of those teams move.How hard did some cities fight to keep their NBA team?

    Did Charlotte or Seattle have kids crying on the steps of the state building and LITERALLY emptying their piggy banks to keep their basketball team?

  69. Dom says:

    With Harrison gone and considering our other shortcomings, I really think the Steelers are going to win just 7 games this year.

    None of the LBs we drafted over the years have stepped up or remained healthy. We have major holes in WR and RB. Our defense is aging. It’s really hard to imagine that we can compete for the division.

    I think a rebuilding year could be in order.

  70. Dom says:

    What fantasy game is it?

  71. Playoffs by 2012 says:


  72. Patrick says:

    My biggest concern is the cost. Iginla is a TRUE “rental” player. Unlike Hossa the Pens have almost zero chance of signing him long term. Since the number of teams eliminated from contention is very few, the number of teams tradin away their best players is also very, very few.

    Hence the cost to get an Iginla is a lot more than it would be in a normal full season. Sure he would be nice to have, but at what cost? The Pens hardly have a hard time scoring goals anyways. Fringe teams like say, San Jose or Ottawa does. We would like him, but they NEED him.

  73. JohninOshkosh says:

    I would like to see MLB expand to New Orleans and return to Montreal. Now those are some road trips worth taking.

    Very excited for conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament to start. Best month of the year for me.

    Question: Do folks in Western PA pronounce it TORNament or, like here, TURNament? Just wondering :)

  74. SJB says:

    Correction: rebuilding “Years”.

    Can’t fix all that ails them in one year. Plus; when Troy is gone soon, how’s the secondary going to look? That’s ok though, I’m sure they’ll still have Gay.

  75. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Great to see the Pens playing like this. That said, last 2 victories came against Toronto, who is overachieving this year and the Islanders normally give us a much harder time than they did last night. Boston will be a difficult test that should offer a playoff atmosphere.

    One of the worst setbacks of Malkin’s injury is that now there’s no chance Kennedy will be scratched. Just remember, he makes more than pascal Dupweeee.

  76. Patrick says:

    Its always surprised me there isnt a MLB team in Carolina….

  77. tpbco says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…I kinda doubt Calgary would take Kennedy, Martin and/or unknowns from WB/S regardless of their “potential”, being the only assets anybody here wants to give up. Beyond that, the next comments would be “THE PRICE WAS TOO HIGH FOR A GRAYBEARD RENTAL”.

    Beau Bennet’s developement as much as the play of Sid’s Line will dictate the best path forward…which may be a center. Dustin Jeffery’s is showing no more than the AAAA talent that he has in the past…consider that, IF you want a contigency for injuries.

    The play of Sid’s Line and the potential w/Bennett allows them the “luxury” of using any of their tradeable assests to be used for a physical defenseman…which IMO, should be their priority. They will not be able to trade for both, w/o mortgaging too much.

  78. Patrick says:

    Agree. This isnt going to be a quick fix. Im thinking late 90’s when they had consecutive season of 5-11 and 6-10. I’m thinking next year they will be last in the division honestly. 7 wins is probably optimistic.

    Unless Colbert finds 2-3 rookies that can make impacts NOW, Woodley loses 40 pounds, Heath Miller buys the rest of Ray-Ray’s left over deer antler spray and Steven Jackson decides to play for nickles and a Primantis Bros. half filled out punch card.

  79. Jandy says:

    I say “TORNament” myself, but I’m just a Western PA hick ;)

  80. Bizrow says:

    Fantasy baseball, we’ve had these leagues for a while now

  81. Jandy says:

    “One of the worst setbacks of Malkin’s injury is that now there’s no chance Kennedy will be scratched. Just remember, he makes more than pascal Dupweeee.”
    Now THATp*sses me off!

  82. Bizrow says:

    I read they did not tender an offer to Sylvester, so thats another LB out the door

  83. Jandy says:


  84. Bizrow says:

    I know its not a concussion, but all the same, I’m glad that he is going to be off for a week or two, regardless of what they are saying

  85. tpbco says:

    Doubtful it would work in OKC. Lived there for a while, went to a lot of minor league games (the Blazers at the time). About 90% of the fans there were clueless and were only there due to CHEAP tickets ($15 general admission), cheap beer and watch the fights…4 or 5 per game. Basketball is more viable there due to OU and OSU.

  86. Arriba Wilver says:

    Put me in the “Turn” column.

  87. Jandy says:

    LOL TC, go ahead and say it anyway ;)

  88. Scott says:

    Selfishly, I’m not a big supporter of expansion in any sport because it makes championships so much harder to win. Even if a different team wins every single year, you’re still looking at going 32 years between championships. Throw in a little stretch of bad luck and a dynasty or two coming along to hold everybody else down, and now you’re adding another couple decades to the drought. It’s not a stretch to think that the Red Sox/Cubs 80-100 years between titles will now become a regular thing in sports. Or, put another way, the Pirates’ 34-year championship drought could still be in its infancy.

  89. Ermine says:

    Charlotte lost their team because the people of Charlotte refused to support an owner that was accused of kidnapping and sexual assault. They later got an expansion team., Seattle refused to be held at gun point to build a new arena. I don’t think piggy banks were involved in either case.

  90. Dom says:

    I noticed that both the US and Italy advanced from their bracket in the WBC. I find it odd that Italy could be better than Mexico or Canada. However, if you look at their roster you’ll notice that Italy has few if any Italians actually on their roster. Essentially everyone who will be given ample playing time is an American. Anyone else think that’s a little silly?

  91. Jandy says:

    ya know, Biz, it makes you wonder…so yeah…let him have some down time now…

  92. tpbco says:

    Agree, even if its a shoulder or ribs, take the extra time to be ready for playoffs.

  93. Patrick says:

    Some things I find interesting:
    NHL scoring leaders:
    t-11) Neal-28
    t-15) Letang-26
    t-18) Supposedly best player in the world Giroux-24

    But more important are the numbers 25 and 11. As in 25 points and 11th place in the Eastern conference. Say it loud. Say it proud. PHilly Sucks, Philly sucks…Philly sucks

  94. TJA says:

    Interesting. Thank you for the insight, tpbco. Wasn’t aware of that. Makes a lot sense about basketball with OSU and OU.

  95. Kevin says:

    Yes but I saw flashes of Neal + Kunitz last night that I liked. But yes, the main premise is that kunitz/crosby/dupuis are smoking hot right now. And they weren’t to start the season.

  96. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I don’t know that I’m buying there’s no head injury. Despres was scratched for a “fingernail issue” the other day that turned out to be Disco not wanting him in the lineup against Philly.

  97. Kevin says:

    Philly sucks :)

  98. JohninOshkosh says:

    Of course it’s silly, Dom. The whole WBC is a joke. King Bud isn’t even fooling some of the people some of the time with this thing.

  99. Bizrow says:

    He sure looked a bit spacey on the bench after it happened, not so much in pain, but in outer space

  100. Bizrow says:

    + 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

  101. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I say “TOURN”, myself.

  102. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I agree. They should just Strasburg him at this point.

  103. Dom says:

    I also heard that they’re considering bringing back Hampton. I’d rather they keep Sylvester over Hampton.

  104. Jandy says:

    I second all those emotions!

  105. Ermine says:

    Cherry picking numbers is fun. 15 years? Let’s try 20. NHL ’93, ’95, ’96, ’97 and ’11.
    NBA ’01, ’02, ’08 .. Unless you want to count NJ to Brooklyn this year. Across the river would be a stretch. The point is, All sports have expanded and contracted as far as they probably should. I was just trying to point out your NHL blinders.

    Sorry I didn’t see the reply button until after I post farther down the thread.

    DK: Guess I can empathize. If I moved here from some other city and was really into the NBA and was suddenly surrounded by people — especially the younger crowd — talking only about the NHL, I’d find that immensely frustrating. I’d feel left out.

    One of about a bazillion things I love about my hometown: Totally numb to broader trends.

    We do what we do, like what we like.

    If you prefer to be in a place where the young people care about the NBA, you have 30 options. But choose wisely. They’re moving targets.

  106. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I think Dejan and Yohe have “Sweater Wars” at work.

  107. Dom says:

    Why exactly was Bud pushing the WBC so much? It’s silly to have a tournament this early in the year when we all know baseball is a sport the players needs to groove into. All this is really doing is upsetting the teams who want their men to be in spring training.

  108. SJB says:

    “Or, put another way, the Pirates’ 34-year championship drought could still be in its infancy.”

    Don’t worry, it is. ;)

  109. Patrick says:

    I think they both lost. :P

  110. kevnj says:

    like +1000

  111. Thundercrack says:

    Talent isn’t the problem.

    You would never know it from reading this blog when the Pens lose. Or is it Disco Dan’s fault

  112. Arriba Wilver says:


  113. NMR says:

    International exposure of the MLB product. Plain and simple.

    The last thing Bud wants is a team full of actual Canadian and Italian players going up against the US or Dominican.

  114. Dom says:

    I don’t agree with them, DK!

  115. JohninOshkosh says:

    Continuing proof that the Trib does not have a dress code policy in place.

  116. Arriba Wilver says:

    Brown-noser. :-P

  117. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    It’s a close match, but I think Yohe’s Argyle wins over the Zack Morris garb. Dejan knows it. That’s why he looks so angry at Yohe.

  118. SJB says:

    Speaking of “Sucks”. Am I the only one amazed by the audacity and hypocrisy of Canadians to hate with a vengeance on Crosby when he plays there after giving them the gold in the Olympics? I mean; WTF?! Sorry (I mean; “Soory” if you’re a two-faced Canuck), but if it’s me, I’m playing for the USA in the next one and Canada can suck my sweaty whiney bawls and when I’m asked about it I say: “well apparently, according to everyone there I suck, so…”

    It’s one thing to have a rival team in your conference chanting negatively about you, but in your home country, every time you touch the puck (and even when Adams does because they can’t tell it’s 27 instead of 87), against a team you even aren’t a rival with is BS. Here’s betting you Crosby didn’t “suck” much in Vancouver 2010.

    F U Canada. This isn’t about sportsmanship, gamesmanship, or anything else. Show a little respect for a person who gave you something to feel proud about in a country that really has nothing else to hang it’s hat on, you Polar Bear killing creeps.

    Hope you fail to medal next time with or without Crosby.

    Soory, I just needed to vent about that.

  119. JohninOshkosh says:

    No doot aboot it.

  120. Dom says:

    A proud one too!

  121. CWalton_67 says:

    Pens look great when they “get to their game” as they have been allowed to do recently. Bylsma’s premise is that when these players are at their absolute best, and attacking in the offensive zone, they will win as they are simply more talented. As we’ve seen, there is some truth to this. However, in the military, we had a couple of proven theories which also apply.
    1. The enemy gets a vote. And,
    2. Therefore, no plan survives the first contact.

    As we’ve seen, other teams are capable of keeping Sid and company from “getting to their game”. They get a vote. And because this team is unable or unwilling to adjust their style of play to counter, the players simply become frustrated. You can see it easily in their body language and on their faces.

    Despite the winning streak, none of this has changed. It’s fun watching 6-1 blowouts of the Islanders, but this team is an exact replica of the one which has exited the playoffs in the first round the past three years.

    Have been a big fan of Bylsma’s, he’s a high quality person and leader, but unless something changes we’ll have a fun season and another early playoff exit. Playoff opponents aren’t going to allow the space that the Pens are currently getting through the neutral zone and into the attacking zone.

    Then what?

  122. hockeymonster says:

    I actually think calgary would be crazy to turn down Martin and kennedy plus a few assets for Iginla. But that would be waaaay too high a cost for pens and with PM’s no trade clause probably not even realistic. Any trade involving PM and kennedy need to involve long term solutions coming back.

  123. NMR says:

    “…in a country that really has nothing else to hang it’s hat on…”

    Well, the average Canadian is now wealthier than the average American, so they have that going for them.

    Ignorance, America’s biggest export.

  124. SJB says:

    I agree, and I bet it’s easier to stop Crosby and Dupuis from “getting to their game”, than Crosby and Iginla. But we’ll all just keep whistling though the woods and keep reaching for the division title and No. 1 seed. It’s all good, right?

    Seriously though, Crosby, Kunitz and Iginla? That’d be the proverbial $hit right there! Nothing wrong with being good but wanting to be better.

  125. hockeymonster says:

    I think we need to move on from iginla being on our wish list…getting into bidding wars isnt shero’s style. Unless iginla singles out the pens i dont see a remote possiblity of him coming here. I’ve looked over list of affordable/attainable power forwards condusive to sid’s style and the name that has been standing out for me is Chris Stewart in stl. With his size, speed, skill and abilities along the boards and in front of the net he would definitely be a great long term solution for sid. It would take PM’s and kennedy’s salaries to come off the books but with the Blues looking for top 4 dman i can see them seriously considering PM who would be under contract for 2 more years while Stewart is a RFA that the blues probably wont be able to sign with all the depth they have at forward. And with them having 4 RFA’s on defense after the season they may be willing to trade Roman Polak with stewart for PM, kennedy, bortuzzo and a pick…maybe even a high pick.

  126. SJB says:

    I was talking from a sports perspective and a point of national pastime and pride but whatever..I guess harvesting polar bears does pay pretty good.

  127. hockeymonster says:

    And with rossi’s blog post about the pens in talks with stl, minn and columbus maybe some variation of a 3 team trade can land PM in minnesota, setoguchi and kennedy in stl and stewart and polak landing here.

  128. Patrick says:

    Right or wrong Canadians have a very…how shall we say..narrow? view of hockey. A lot of them really feel like we (Americans) are ruining “their” game. When Patrick Kane beats up a cab driver for nickles and Phil Kessel sleepwalks through an entire game, its hard to argue sometimes. I never heard of a Canadian player getting busted smoking crack with a hooker. And Bettman did tear the heart out of Winnipeg and Queebec, but then turn around and fight for Pittsburgh. If he had helped those two cities like he did Pittsburgh the Jets and Nordiques would have never left. To some extent i can understand why they are a little bitter and cynical. And if Crosby was a “real” Canadian, then he wouldn’t have resigned with Pittsburgh and he would have come back to play in Canada.

    Besides…everyone boos Sid. North and south of the border.. Always have, always will.

  129. CWalton_67 says:

    I’d love to see Iginla in black and good. Until recently, I really thought that the basic problem was that they needed some proven veteran leadership. And I still think it would be valuable, especially in the form of Jarome Iginla. But, I am now fairly convinced that their inability to adjust is their ultimate undoing. They simply keep trying to do the same things over and over, believing they will eventually “get to their game.” This is a coaching, rather than a player, problem.

  130. Pittsburgher in winnipeg says:

    Milwaukee seems like a good spot. I lived in chicago for 6 years and ran across a handful of hockey players from wisconsin and almost zero bucks fans. I think NHL would have an outside chance at running the Buck’s out of town if they decided to put a team there

  131. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    + truth

  132. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I boo him when he passes to Tyler Kennedy.

  133. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree, CW.

  134. NMR says:

    I thought your post was purposely over the top and was just trying to match it. Should’ve added a few winky faces or whatever.

    But seriously, answer me one question: do Americans lay off Ryan Miller and Zach Parise when their in other teams buildings?

  135. NMR says:


  136. Naterosboro says:

    My sporting thoughts on a March(soon to be madness) Monday….

    * My thoughts are quite mixed on the James Harrison release. On one hand, he became the face of our defense after Joey Porter was released. At that time, I wasn’t all that concerned b/c I had seen Harrison play, and felt he could take over for Porter no problem (although I never thought he would be as good as he turned out to be). This time, however, Worilds is a huge question mark (although we have seen some flashes), and so is free agency. On the other hand, he’s 35 years old, and is coming off of injury plagued seasons, and has since seen his production drop. He isn’t getting any younger, on a defense that needs a makeover. We’re going to have to trust that the Steelers are making the right decision. I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

    * Jason Worilds deserves a chance to win the starting OLB job. He also shouldn’t be compared to James Harrison at every turn. James wasn’t compared to Joey, so let Jason be Jason. Plus, those are such large (and bad ass) shoes to fill that I’m not sure anyone (other than Deebo himself) could…

    * Kevin Colbert, even though you had to cut James Harrison to comply with the cap, go get me Stephen Jackson.

    * Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis…and they said they needed to find wingers for Sid…………

    * While the Penguins are on a 5 game winning streak, they are still making questionable decisions with the puck, especially in their own zone. If they hope to win the cup, they’ll have to clear this up.

    * Man, the injury bug seems to have bitten Evgeni. With the condensed schedule, it was probably expected that injuries might be more frequent. It just sucks that Geno is caught up in it. Hopefully, he can get healthy for the last month of the season or so, and gear up for the playoffs.

    * Is there a worse injury in baseball than the “oblique strain”? It can be an injury that can linger for an entire season. Garrett Jones, get well soon. or get rid of your obliques.

    * I know there are many who are skeptical of what the Pirates are doing, but count me as one who is excited about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh. They have a decent core of position players that looks as if they could mature together. They have a decent pitching staff, with young, hard-throwing, promising help on the horizon. They have good veteran leadership (although I usually don’t make much of this, but for a team with a 20 year monkey on its back, could be bigger than usual). They may not be the ’27 Yankees, but it’s an interesting team, and one I think may make people pay attention to AFTER this year.

    * Pirates W/L prediction: 86-76.

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL!!!!!!!!!

  137. Patrick says:

    I like Stewart too. But the Blues are LOADED at defense. PM would be lucky to crack the top 4 on that squad. Im not sure they would be much inclined to take him since they have two better and younger versions of PM in Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo. I like Stewart too.

    Personally, with Getzlaf getting his new (and ridiculous) contract it almost assures Perry or Bobby Ryan wont be back. I know Bobby Ryan has fueded with BBQ Bruce, and they actually do need a PM type guy. I could handle a Kuntiz/Crosby/Ryan line…i think I would be OK with that.

    Would cost more than Stewart, less than Iginla. IMO

  138. tdb1977 says:


    I really need to start picking your brains for my spring training trip next year. I don’t know where to begin looking and there are so many options and possiblities.

  139. Patrick says:

    I looked at the PBC from every possible angle. I got them at about 72-90.

  140. Jandy says:

    I found this highly amusing LOL. Carry on, SJB!

  141. Naterosboro says:

    So you see regression. From which players? Do you think the pitching will falter early this year (as they have faltered late in the last 2)? Give me some more deets on why you see them regressing 7 wins.

    This is a team that went 79-83 last season, and could’ve (and should’ve) won more.

    I do admit though, that 86 is very optimistic. If they can go 82-80 to get this monkey off the back, I’ll be happy.

    But I just had a thought…if they go 82-80, do you see them then taking a step forward? Once they “get over the hump” then expectations will rise, and they’ll be expected to be better than average. Do you think they can rise to the challenge?

  142. Dom says:

    I really cannot see how the Pirates can produce such a strong record.

    The end of the rotation is really in shambles.

    It’s unreasonable to assume guys like AJ will match their 2012 figures.

    The bullpen is going to be inferior to where we were last year. Especially w/o Hanrahan.

    Lets also not forget that the Astros went to the AL so we obviously won’t have that team to beat up on in 2013 like we did last year.

  143. TK says:

    1. Which non-NHL league will be next to expand, if any?

    Major League Soccer, hopefully in Pittsburgh

    2. Where on earth would you put a baseball team, in particular?

    Vancouver, Montreal (used to love the Expos), Charlotte

    Oh, and Pittsburgh. I think it would be great to be able to see a viable Major League Baseball team in this city.

    3. Is 32 really the magic number, one that it will take years to pass?

    Depends on whether owner think they can obtain more revenue through expansion.

    DK: Mark down one more vote for MLS, please.

  144. Jandy says:

    Jealousy, green envy, sour grapes.

    Like you said, they always will boo.

    Pittsburgh has been incredibly fortunate to have first Mario and Jags, then Sid and Malkin.
    We are truly spoiled.

  145. hockeymonster says:

    I thought about the depth on defense the blues have too but those guys and 2 others are going to be RFA’s so who knows what they’ll do. Im hoping they’ll want to move polak to have the funds to sign those RFA’s. They dont spend to cap either which led me to think about PM going to Minnesota since he’s from there and him not waiving no trade clause to go to stl.

    Ryan and Perry have crossed my mind too but you’re right about them costing more than stewart which is why i think he’s the better fit. And no one will mess with crosby with stewart and kunitz on his wing. Kinda like stevens and tocchet riding shotgun with that Mario guy.

  146. Dom says:

    I think the Pirates went 14-5 against the Astros last year. We’d have our work cut out for us if we’re going to improve on our 2012 record while such a weak opponent omitted from our schedule.

  147. NMR says:

    Why is it unreasonable to assume AJ will match 2012 and who are these other guys?

    Why is the bullpen going to be inferior?

    Why do you consider the end of the rotation “in shambles”?

  148. Jandy says:

    So, the Blackhawks finally lost…

  149. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    In all the Harrison talk, why on Earth is Casey Hampton still around? Love the guy and what he’s done for us. But is he seriously worth what he’s making when we’re about to get bachslapped by the salary cap? Not really, IMO.

    And Troy is a safe bet for maybe 6-8 games. Anything beyond that is a blessing. We need to do all this cap clearance, why do it piecemeal? I really hate to see these guys go, but the risk of holding onto them for another year might be the difference between a winning and a losing season. Travis Woodley is a HUGE question mark, and it looks like Lewis will be gone.

    I’m scared that I actually may be more optimistic about the Bucs reaching .500 than the Steelers.

    DK: Hampton is a free agent.

  150. Brad, Indiana PA says:


  151. Dom says:

    Well, AJ pitched so well last year, it really seems hard to imagine that he can match that level of talent. He hasn’t finished a season with an ERA as low as it was after last year since 2005. Prior to last year, he didn’t have ERA below 4 since 2007.

    Joel and Resop are gone. I don’t think our bullpen will be far inferior but inferior none the less.

    The end of our rotation will be in shambles, to start the season if not longer. Who is going to be our #5? Jeff Locke? That says it all right there. It looks like we could also go with McPherson at #4 if he is ready and we all know he has limited major league experience.

  152. Jandy says:

    I think you’re right! How scary is THAT???

  153. Bizrow says:

    Hampton is a free agent, at least I’m pretty sure he is. He signed a one year deal last off season.

  154. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    And Aramis Ramirez and Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez and Jose Bautista and…

    Oops. Think I missed the point.

  155. Iceman says:

    I’m confused. Last week you were saying how Paul Martin was no good, but now he is the key piece in order to obtain a top 6 forward. Your logic is all over the place. This sounds to me like one of those trades we always hear about. Let me give you three of our struggling players for 1 of your players who are playing well.

    For the record, I think Paul Martin is playing great and his offensive puck moving skills and PP point vision will certainly draw attention from other teams, I’m just wondering how you, who said Paul Martin stinks, can say that Paul Martin can bring in a top 6 forward.

  156. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Thanks, Biz, I think I just assumed he was under contract from the “possibly bring back Hampton” headlines. It’s so hard to keep track of this stuff because they sign a contract with the Steelers and 1 year later it’s altered.

    I just don’t see him contributing much. I do hope they bring Foote back. I think he’s got at least one good year left.

  157. Naterosboro says:

    What do you expect, production wise, from a #5 starter? I’m not sure why Jeff Locke is such a negative in your mind.

  158. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I knew that, Jandy. I was just throwing a kennedy at you.

  159. NMR says:

    First off, JEANMAR.

    Second, I think a lot of people OUTSIDE Pittsburgh took notice of our future direction while watching Jameson Taillon match up pound for pound against some of MLB’s best bats over four innings yesterday.

    As for this year, I’m not quite as optomistic, but some food for thought…

    Most people feel scoring runs will be this teams biggest weekness. Most also agree that Cincinatti has the most potent offense in the division. Go position by position and find where the Reds are clearly better than the Pirates. Surprising, right?

    For my money, right field, shortstop, and first base are the only spots that clearly favor the Reds.

    Why is this relevant? I have no doubt that the Reds will end up with a better overall record and better team statistics, but when looking at the season a game at a time, you realize that the match up is competitive. This is why I don’t get all butt hurt about the Astros leaving the division.

  160. CWalton_67 says:

    I watched it. Hawks just looked a little tired, but they are the real deal. So are the Av’s, for that matter. Still young and finding their way, but when they figure out how to play defense, they will be a contender. Landeskog and Duchene are exciting young players.

  161. NMR says:

    You still haven’t given an actual reason why AJ can’t match last year performance.

    Resop? As in Chris? I thought you’re arguing that this years bullpen will be worse?

    As for the rotation, like Nate said, compare that to what other teams have in the #5 spot. Nobody is claiming that the Pirates rotation will match the depth of St Louis or Washington, but is Locke/McPherson/Karstens really any worse than Carlos Villanueava, Christ Narveson, Dillon Gee, Wade Leblanc?

  162. Arriba Wilver says:

    Butt hurt?

    Butt hurt?

  163. NMR says:

    Please tell me you did not just reference any of those players in the same context as Lemieux, Jagr, Crosby, and Malkin.

  164. Arriba Wilver says:

    Travis Woodley? He sucks.

  165. Dom says:

    I looked over his figures from last year and I guess they’re not as bad as I thought they were. I’ll concede that saying the end of the rotation in shambles was a bit harsh. I was thinking we had two unproven guys at 4 and 5 with the questionable JMac at #3.

  166. NMR says:

    I don’t disagree with that last sentence at all.

  167. Patrick says:

    First off the Astros leaving takes 8-10 winnable games off the schedule. They already had a losing record in the division last year with the Astros, cant see it getting better without them.

    Walker and Jones had career years. I’m not completely convinced either will accomplish those offensive numbers again.

    AJ Burnett also played really, reeeally well. Kind of unrealistic to expect him to perform like he did from mid-April through September again. There is an old wives tale about what happens to guys 5 years after Tommy John surgery. If its true…its 11:59 and AJ’s elbow is about to turn back into a pumpkin. Can’t say the bullpen fills me with a whole lot of confidence.

    But then I see improvements in catcher and SS. Neither can be as bad as last year.

    Really it comes down to whether or not one of the three outfielders can step up and outright win a job.

    But #1 reason is where they are July 10th. If they aren’t CLEARLY in a playoff position, not going .500 but a real post-season birth, then AJ will be traded away to a team that is in contention.

  168. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I was going for the morphing Travis Snider and Lamaar Woodley into one out-of-shape-multi-sport package move.

  169. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Only in jest, NMR.

  170. Dom says:

    Over the last five or so years, last season was the outlier for AJ. Of course he COULD match that level of success but I don’t think its fair to assume he will since he didn’t hit mark that in the last few years with the Yankees.

    Resop’s the man. How can we assume next year will be better w/o Joel? Grilli and Hanrahan will provide a superior one-two punch than whomever and Grilli.

    Maybe I was harsh on Locke but how can it be expected that we’ll improve, especially to the record of 86-76, with the guys we currently got in there?

  171. NMR says:

    So your #1 reason is because you’re afraid they’re going to trade away the guy you just said is about to pitch worse than last year AND end up injured?

    Makes sense.

  172. Jandy says:

    Hey! Remember, this is a G-rated blog ;)

  173. Jandy says:

    pffffft!! :P

  174. Patrick says:

    Through August 20th last year AJ was in the top 10 in RA(6th) HR(3rd) Hits(9th) and wins (14-3,2nd). His ERA was a half run lower than his career average. You just dont see that kind of resurrgence from a 35 year old very often. I don’t think its crazy talk to be pessimistic that he can repeat that kind of performance at age 36.

    Is it possible? Of course it is. AJ is a tough SOB, a competitor and the best SP the PBC has had in two decades. But he is also 36 and 5 years removed from Tommy John. Maybe that’s just an old wives tale.

  175. Jandy says:

    Agreed on all points, CW.

  176. Arriba Wilver says:


  177. Naterosboro says:


    So when you are a franchise that hasn’t achieved a winning record for 20 straight years, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

    But here, I hope, will be an honest look at the PBC, and hopefully give some optimism to even the most pessimistic Bucco fan….

    The Pirates have a core of position players that are approaching their “prime” career years. Leading the way for that group is All Star CF Andrew McCutchen. Supporting him are Pittsburgh Kid 2B Neil Walker, slugging (and hopefully not slumping) 3B Pedro Alvarez & OF Starling Marte. If management can keep these guys together, and they continue to get better, I think they can form (at least position player wise) the core of a team that can contend (for championships).

    Garrett Jones is a great supplemental player for this roster. He can play 1B and OF, and can DH in AL parks. He also provides power to a lineup that was so devoid of it prior to last year. Clint Barmes, while only having 1 year left on his contract and possibly a liability with the bat, is a good defensive SS who can be counted on by the pitching staff to make the plays behind them.

    They added Russell Martin this offseason, their biggest FA expenditure to date. While Martin is coming off his worst season with the bat (avg. wise) as a pro, he does have power, is solid defensively, and can handle a pitching staff. He’s also been on “winning” teams before (maybe not WS winners) and can bring that mentality to the clubhouse.

    The pitching staff is anchored by AJ Burnett, who I think can repeat his form from last season. Other than his time in a Yankee uniform, he’s been an above average major league pitcher. He’s also not the 1st player to have trouble playing in NY. He’s supported by Wandy Rodriguez, who is a solid MLB pitcher. While Wandy may not dazzle you with his numbers or performances, he’s more than capable of being a #2 as he’s posted an ERA under 4 since 2008, with a career 7.4 K/9IP. James McDonald is the current #3, and he’s the biggest wildcard for this pitching staff. While the #4 & #5 spots don’t have names penciled in, it will be McDonald’s perfromances that tip the scale either in favor of or against our Buccos this season. James McDonald has the potential to either be an ace (as we saw in the 1st half of 2012) or AAA fodder (as we saw in the 2nd half).

    The bullpen still looks solid to me, even with the loss of Joel Hanrahan. Jason Grilli feels like the perfect guy for the back end of this bullpen. He has heart and no fear. Perfect for that 9th inning, and a role I think he can thrive in (regardless of his career 5 saves). Hopefully Mark Melancon can put whatever troubles he had last season behind him, and get back to being a solid major league relief pitcher, and grab that 8th inning role. Jared Hughes is back. Tony Watson is back. Jeff Karstens (if he can’t win a rotation spot) will most likely go back into his long relief/spot start role. 1 or 2 of Locke, Wilson, McPherson will most likely get a bullpen role.

    Add to this the possibility of Gerritt Cole and Jameson Taillon (probably not, but if he starts at Altoona….) making their major league debuts, and I like our pitching staff.

    The biggest question mark for me is RF & the bench. Will the job be Travis Snider’s to lose (as the GM says now)? Will he lose it in ST to a much more determined Jose Tabata? Can Tabata stay healthy when playing at 100%? What, if any, part do Jerry Sands and/or Alex Presley play in this? As for the bench, can they get enough production out of Mercer, Harrison and/or D’Arnaud at the util. IF spot? Can Gabby Sanchez regain some of the form he showed prior to last season? Can he also play a game or 2 at 3B? Who’s going to grab the role of 4th OF? Tabata? Presley (as he’s familiar with the role)?

    Even with those question marks above, I still think the PBC is in the best shape it has been for awhile. A promising “young-ish” core of position players, supported by solid vets, with a decent pitching staff (with promising young arms on the horizon), coming off of their best season since 1997. While Collapse I & II may loom large, I think its going to be a season where players put some demons behind them, and they move forward into winning baseball.

    I’m excited about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh.

  178. Drew71 says:

    Whatever you do, don’t stay IN Bradenton. About the most run down area of the surrounding region. Beaches 20 minutes away? Fine. Sarasota can be cool, as well as surrounding islands and keys.

  179. Patrick says:

    Yea..that’s exactly what I said. Pick a few things three paragraphs apart and ignore the rest.

    Are you trying pick a fight or do you need me to explain it differently?

    Apparently condescending arrogance is actually America’s biggest export.

  180. Arriba Wilver says:

    No offense, but I’m going to stick with either they win or the FO is gone. Simple, neat, uncomplicated.

  181. Drew71 says:

    Western PA is sorta like Tworrwnamen.

  182. hockeymonster says:

    You’re totally misinterpreting everything i recently said about PM. I said from the start that he is playing better which is why we need to capitalize on his increased trade value. I also said that if he goes to a team that plays the trap much like jersey did in his days there he would be a much better fit. Do i think he’ll cost us in the playoffs? YES! But do i think he can be a good fit elsewhere? YES as well! Both can be true. Furthermore, PM’s reputation is that of a good puck moving dman with a good stick and instincts. Many players who have struggled have been traded due to their reputations and PM would be no different. Especially now that he isnt a turnover machine. And to sum up my logic from before, I ask you if not PM who do we trade to get the pieces we need? Kennedy and bortuzzo? Jeffrey? No real value there in a trade. Despres? I hope not…i view him as a replacement for PM and anyone we get in return for him wouldnt have as high a ceiling and would cost more. Bennett? Not after last couple games unless return is too good. So Iceman, who do you trade to get the physical dman we need and possibly a winger like stewart?

  183. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    “If management can keep these guys together…”

    That’s where I have major qualms.

  184. Naterosboro says:


    Absolutely. It’s certainly a make or break year for the FO (especially the GM). I’m just trying to show that they have a roster that is capable of playing winning baseball.

    As we know…

    doing it is a different matter.

    I hope they prove me right.

  185. Drew71 says:

    Then let’s get serious.

    Andy LaRouche.
    Penn and Eveland and Teller.
    Give Us Barrabbas.

  186. Drew71 says:

    I’m bored.

    Let’s talk some NBA.

  187. Jandy says:


  188. Naterosboro says:

    They got the McCutchen deal done last season. Jose Tabata (I know, I know….) the season before.

    I think it’s important they get something done with Neil Walker this year, and think about getting something done with Garrett Jones.

    Payroll has been slowly rising.

    Maybe Bob Nutting will spend…

    As the small child in Angels in the OF said, “HEY, it could happen…”

  189. Arriba Wilver says:

    Kinda what I’d expect from one of the “sad dozen or so.”

  190. Patrick says:

    Well theres no doubt they are better off than they have been in a loong long time. And really there is nothing you said that is wrong really, its just beast case scenario for every player.

    IF Marte can stay healthy…IF Snider can win the job outright rather than just being handed it…IF AJ can repeat his 2012 performance…IF Sanchez, Barmes and Martin can regain top form.

    I suppose 86 wins isn’t LUDICROUS. It certainly isn’t crazy talk. Its possible, but Iwould say that 86 wins is probably close to, if the most, we could expect from this squad. Maybe my 72-90 is the pessimistic, bottom end. I tend to be a half-empty kind of guy.

  191. Naterosboro says:

    TBF to NMR, Patrick, you wrote: “But #1 reason is where they are July 10th. If they aren’t CLEARLY in a playoff position, not going .500 but a real post-season birth, then AJ will be traded away to a team that is in contention.”

    You say your #1 reason (for regression) is if the Pirates aren’t in contention then they’ll trade AJ. But earlier in your post, you say AJ can’t have the year he had and will possibly have elbow issues.

    He was just pointing out the contradiction in your post, perhaps a bit harsh in the way he did.

  192. Patrick says:

    Dunk! Slam! Blake Griffin! Super duper dunk!

    Power dunk!! Lebron! One-handed Uber-Ninja slam!!

    spinning dunk!! tomahawk slam!! Throwing it down!!


    There…all the NBA coverage from last night. Also a complete recap of the 8am-9am sportscenter

  193. Naterosboro says:

    I know this is a PG guy, but just saw this on twitter:


    Steelers reach agreement on three-year deal w G Ramon Foster, club source confirms.”

  194. Patrick says:

    I didn’t mean to make them sound codependent. Of course they are both independent of each other.

    OBVIOUSLY if AJ were to be traded he would have to be healthy, and playing reasonably well at that. There are a lot of questions surrounding this team and AJ’s performance is critical to the success of this team on many levels. But whatever….I learned last year there are two baseball clubs in Pittsburgh. The one that plays the game, and the one that knows everything about it.

  195. Jandy says:

    That sums it up!

  196. Naterosboro says:

    “But whatever….I learned last year there are two baseball clubs in Pittsburgh. The one that plays the game, and the one that knows everything about it.”

    Well, if they don’t get over .500 (and possibly make the playoffs), you won’t have to worry about the latter for much longer.

  197. Dom says:

    Good. That will give us much needed depth. Although, our WR and RB situation is not where they should be, our OL could be one of the best in the league.

  198. Iceman says:

    I’m honestly going to say that I am happy with the top two lines and do not think that we need a top six winger so there is no need to offer up big names to fill a need there. I think the Pens need to find some grit, scoring potential, and penalty killing ability to throw on the bottom two lines.

    One thing I will agree with you on is that we need a shutdown defenseman and I’m really not liking what it looks like we are going to have to give up for that. I’m thinking that to get a shutdown defenseman, however, I’m not sure what to give up in order to obtain that. I think no matter what we are going to have to give up a good defensive prospect. Depending on the team, that could be Despres, Morrow, or Doumilin/Pouliat. I hate giving up these players, but in a shortened season where most teams aren’t going to be sellers before the trade deadline comes along, we are going to have to give up some future talent.

  199. NMR says:

    Alright, lets go one by one…

    -replacing the Astros with any given team does not automatically make those games unwinnable

    -Walker did not have a career year. Jones’ OPS against righties was only 4% higher than career average.

    -And I still have no idea what your point is about AJ.

  200. Iceman says:

    You didn’t mention the Miami Heat or Tim Tebow enough for it to be the 8am SportsCenter.

  201. JohninOshkosh says:

    Hats off to Ermine for getting Dejan to talk about the NBA.

    I realize you are in a much better position to know, but how do you know, Dejan, that no potential ownership groups would surface if the NBA starting sniffing around Pittsburgh. My view of sports ownership is that egotistical (not used necessarily pejorative) wealthy men are more than eager to own a professional sports franchise, even in a city in which they have no personal connection. Witness Mark Attanasio, who has done brilliant things for Milwaukee.

    Am I only one on this blog who enjoys and respects the talent in both the NHL and NBA?

    DK: Leagues don’t sniff around cities. Owners step up and form plans to get franchises. You hvae that backward.

    Not sure what this topic has to do with respecting talents. The next negative word I use to describe the extraordinary athletes in the NBA will be the first. It’s just not my preferred brand of basketball. Nothing more to it.

  202. Naterosboro says:

    LeBron James is one of the most fun athletes to watch…in the WORLD.

    I feel like you do when I talk about soccer. Americans hate it (for whatever reason; I don’t get it as I see it as 1 of the most exciting sports there are), yet these are world class athletes that only do things with their feet (and some amazing things at that)!

    How it gets next to 0 respect in this country (when its 1 of the biggest youth sports) is quite beyond me….

  203. Naterosboro says:

    Steelers and good offensive line in the same sentence (and in your words “one of the best in the league”)?!

    I’m not sure Ben will be able to handle it. It’s almost as if he thrives off of having that “chip” (of not having what’s considered a “good” OLine). Remember his statement after the 2008 Super Bowl win?

    Who’s laughing now?

  204. Patrick says:

    -Their record against the NL central was 39-42(.481). But they were 14-5 against Houston meaning they had a 25-37 record against the rest (.403). In a 72 game division schedule that projects out to a 29-43. That .481 division record was also the best they had in over a decade. I’m not sure what makes you so confident it will stay the same, much less get better.
    -AJ is 36. He pitched really, really well for 5 months last year. Some of his best work in almost ten years. And yet they STILL only managed 79 wins. Even if he competes at the same level, which i doubt he will, I don’t see how they win 86 games. Could he perform at the same level? Sure…of course he could. Hes a bad ass and a true competitor. But he is 36, and unless he is using Petittes and Clemens trainers, most 36 year old pitchers show some decline. I cant understand why you are making this so difficult. Players get old. It happens. Whats so hard to understand about that?

  205. Naterosboro says:


    I’m a little disappointed that 1 Jameson Taillon didn’t get a mention in the wakeup for his nice start yesterday against Team USA in the WBC.

    The kid looked good…and every bit the #2 pitching prospect in the org.

  206. JohninOshkosh says:

    Yes. I would have to say it is a toss up between Messi and James as to whom is the greatest athlete in the world.

    I do think that there are probably more soccerheads here than NBAheads, though.

  207. Dom says:

    I guess this is a prelude to cutting Colon.

  208. Naterosboro says:

    Just saw a tweet from Dulac saying that if they cut Colon after June 1, they save $5.5mil, but only $1.5mil if before.


    1) I realized I know next to nothing about pro-sports contracts and the CBAs of respective leagues.

    2) Don’t think we’ll see Colon cut until after June 1.

  209. Dom says:

    Per rotoworld:
    The Palm Beach Post hears from “someone (it) trusts” that free agent Mike Wallace to Miami is a “done deal.”

  210. tdb1977 says:

    We are looking at Anna Marie Island or some place along those lines.

  211. Naterosboro says:

    Christiano Ronaldo may have something to say about that….

  212. Arriba Wilver says:

    If Jameson had stunk up the joint, would it have merited a mention?

  213. JohninOshkosh says:

    Great photo of Coach Dixon on Dejan’s Instagram.

    Give em the what for in the Big Apple, Jamie!

    I personally think Pitt is a legitimate darkhorse for the national semi-finals.

  214. Dom says:

    Can someone shed some light why the Steelers seem unwilling to bring back Starks? Didn’t he play well enough to be brought back?

  215. Naterosboro says:


    And I’m sure it would’ve gotten 1 ;-)

  216. Naterosboro says:

    And I’m not disappointed at all, btw. Just trying to bust DK’s Blog’s stones….

  217. JohninOshkosh says:

    My dream national semi-finals: Pitt v UCLA and Wisconsin v Duke

  218. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    He is the Jeff Karstens of the Steelers?

  219. Arriba Wilver says:

    Just speaking for me, I’ve consistently ignored the WBC, unless it involves a ranked boxer.

  220. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Just throwing a prediction out there: if the Steelers’ passing game struggles this season, then Todd Haley will be off Bendiva’s doody list. The new reason for shortcomings will be the lack of Mike Wallace.

  221. Arriba Wilver says:

    They’ve been trying to get rid of him for years, but he’s like flypaper.

  222. Naterosboro says:

    They’ve been trying for a few offseasons now. He’s our energizer bunny.

  223. Naterosboro says:

    Me too. I watched 1 batter of Taillon’s start. He got Mauer to ground out to 2B. That’s about all of the WBC I’ve watched.

  224. CeehowUR says:

    1. NHL-I’m surprised nobody mentioned Kansas City. Weren’t they the leverage when the Pens needed the new arena? I’d give that a try, along with Quebec. Milwaukee/Green Bay, Indy or Cleveland would be other opportunites. I also like SLC if you need a Western team.

    2. MLB-If baseball was going to expand, I would seriously look into going international, such as Mexico or San Juan. But otherwise Carolina seems a likely location

    3. Pirates will be 1 game below 500 this year. Next year I’ll give them a chance to make the playoffs with Tallon and Cole coming up. Right now pitching and the bench are the major weaknesses holding them back.

  225. hockeymonster says:

    Well moving multiple assets like that in the same trade would be a major deviation from what shero has done in the past and really not something i would welcome. Hossa trade involved replaceable roster players and a prospect and pick that wasnt worth all that much, especially in hindsight. And considering how pricey good and offensive dmen can be trading away multiple quality dmen for a short term fix consisting of slightly above average players may not be the way to go. Also this years draft is supposedly pretty deep so trading away our 1st rounder may be tougher than usual but if the right trade comes along….

  226. NMR says:

    Nice call on Kansas City.

  227. Milo Hamilton says:

    Buccos win in walk off fashion 4-3 over a bunch of AAA guys masquerading as the Baltimore Orioles. Jeff Locke labored. His line will look better than how he pitched. Stinks.

    Everyone else pitched well including 3.2 innings by Phil Irwin. He pitched out of a 2nd & 3rd with one out jam that he inherited from Locke then gave up one run of his own the next inning. He was very impressive.

    Brad Hawpe hit a long homer off Daniel Schlereth in the 8th. I watched him hit for awhile in the cage before the game with Jay Bell. Must have paid off.

  228. Thanks for the on location report, Milo.

  229. BillyBaduka says:


  230. Trooperthorn says:

    I’m a transplanted Pittsburgher living in San Antonio and to be honest San Antonio would cherish a team way more than Austin. The Rampage average 7 – 10k folks for games here and Austin’s arena is empty. I can drive up there when the Rampage play and get my choice of seat without a problem. The attendance I listed still isn’t quite enough to support a pro team either though but it’s pretty good for south Texas.

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