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Wednesday Wakeup Call: Oh, what a night

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SALT LAKE CITY – Morning, lunatics …

>> The Wednesday column wonders if Jamie Dixon isn’t being a bit too easy on himself about all these NCAA Tournament failures.

I’m out here with the Panthers for as long as they keep playing. They’ll have media sessions for all Salt Lake Regional teams this afternoon, then tipoff for the Panthers and Wichita State is tomorrow at 1:40 p.m.

Here’s a brief chat with Talib Zanna, a personal favorite on this club …

Really looking forward to this. My first NCAA.

>> Meanwhile, back home … wow.


I suppose a cynic would suggest that some perspective is due with what happened between Robert Morris and Kentucky last night at the Sewall Center, like how the Colonials were a couple NEC tourney wins shy of being a good 14th or 15th seed in NCAAs, and how Kentucky was a shadow of its 2011-12 team and legitimately was left out of the NCAAs … but cynicism doesn’t mix well with something like that.

Congratulations to Andy Toole (hail and farewell, too, I’d imagine, with all the calls he’ll get), as well as his staff and the student-athletes who made it happen.

They say everything happens for a reason. Well, this was why the Colonials didn’t win the NEC.

>> And across town, pretty much simultaneously, as best as I could gauge from my Delta Airlines wi-fi during the flight, another team in town brought you wow times 10 …


More solid defense, goaltending and penalty-killing remained the recipe. And, in the spirit of continuing that cynicism theme at least a little, one would certainly hope Evgeni Malkin’s return doesn’t alter that for the Penguins. It can’t be any coincidence that this six-game run of allowing six goals came exactly with Malkin being out. He has not been good in his own end, reckless with the puck most everywhere.

That said, a 10-game winning streak is never to go underappreciated. Hats (and monkeys) off to Dan Bylsma, his staff and all of their student-athletes, too. Tremendous show after a shaky start.

>> Here again was yesterday’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast, featuring my guests, James Robinson of Pitt and the Trib’s Penguins beat man, Josh Yohe.

And this was video of the opening segment on the Steelers …

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.


  1. Just watched the replay of the Niskanen goal times.

    Funny how you no longer hear those accusations from some media types of the crowd at the Consol not being loud enough. They about lifted the roof off the building.

    DK: I didn’t hear much of a distinction in complaints on that topic between media and fans. Everyone was pretty much on the same page. And they were absolutely, unequivocally correct.

    Since then, the crowds have been louder.

    Situations change. Opinions change. Not every opinion change merits a finger-wag.

  2. A little tough on Geno DK? Is that Ron Cook I hear? Not denying his play in his own end has been substandard, but prior to this streak the ENTIRE team’s defensive play had been ATROCIOUS. I think the team defense deserves more credit than the difference with Geno being out. Conversely scoring is also way down since his absence. Is James Neal still on the team?

    DK: Very fair point about Neal. But feel free to make your next point without the unneeded snarl. We don’t disagree all that much on this topic, anyway, and it’s especially unbecoming for a first post here.

    • That’s a snarl, Dejan? Really? THAT??

      Then some of my stuff must be downright offensive.

      (Well. It is.)

      Welcome Edward. We’re not always so sensitive here. Usually we just have bar fights after the game. Or in Dejan’s case, beach fights.

    • Eddie, I agree with you 100% on Neal. He’s neutered without Geno. It’s sad.

    • Wow, pot meet kettle. That was hardly a snarl. Your response was more snarly. What’s the difference whether its his first post or 1,000 post his opinion should be welcomed.

    • i don’t think it was a harsh assessment at all. Don’t underestimate how the play of one guy, especially someone you look to as a leader, can effect the play of everyone else. If Geno and Neal get into a run and gun mode and it seems to breed some energy the next line over is more likely to be drawn to that style as well. next thing you know the entire team has become rush happy and defensively lax.

      If instead you have a bunch of workman like lines rolling each and every shift then the team continues with that mentality.

      Malkin is a great player with lots of skill and he certainly makes James Neal a better player but he definitely needs a crash course in defensive responsibility and sound decision making with the puck.

      Malkin’s absence isn’t THE reason for the current hot play but I do think his absence has kept the team more responsible.

    • Careful DK, you’re beginning to sound like NH (again).

  3. Can we officially call the Capitals dead at this point?
    They might not make the playoffs again for a good long time once realignment puts them in a real division again.

  4. How to interpret Mike Tomlin’s remark about James Harrison’s parting words — wouldn’t be surprised if it could be neatly represented by one choice digit.
    Hope Harrison finds a new home somewhere. Just hope it isn’t as a replacement for Paul Kruger. Bruce Arians, check your text messages.

    DK: Just for the mental image of Harrison bidding Tomlin farewell with a single digit, coffee’s on me, my ghostly brother.

  5. Not sure how to interpret the stat that Pitt under Dixon has never beaten a higher seeded team in the NCAA Tournament. One question would be, how many higher seeded teams has Pitt played in the Tournament? Dixon has certainly beaten higher-ranked teams in the regular season, as Pitt’s record against Top 10 teams at the Petersen Events Center would attest. Pitt gets done in by poor shooting in the Tournament. They fall behind early while throwing up bricks, and some guy on the other team can’t miss. Then they spend the rest of the game trying to catch up but never getting over the hump. Pitt needs to follow the RMU script. Jump on the opponent early, and finish. The dismantling of Georgetown type game is what I want to see.

  6. The e-mailer’s “Kentucky is the Lock of the Century” prediction during the Podcast was “just a bit outside.” Am I the only one who thinks Suckmeter’s voice sounds similar to DK’s voice? Can we get a voice spectrometer comparison to verify they are not one and the same?

  7. Living in the DC area, nothing is as annoying as Caps fans. Their team has stunk all year, yet they are just on the cusp of making a run, etc.

    Like Cubs fans, without the drunkenness.

    Ovechkin will go into a pout for a few games now, although you can barely tell the difference anymore. Cooke was right that the call against him in the third was BS, but shouldn’t have said anything to the refs. Easy for me to say, hard to do!

    • And wasn’t killing the double minor AND scoring right after just rewards? I loved it!

    • But without that call, and the subsequent mouthing off call the crowd doesn’t wake up and get louder with every Sutter dump down the ice. The momentum never shifts so heavilly to the Penguins side, Cooke never pops out of the box to join a rush with Crosby and make a beautiful feed to Niskanen for the win.

      Maybe the Pens still win. But that bad call set it all up last night. Funny how things happen.

      And Crosby’s center drive is what made that rush so effective. I hate to agree with Mike Milburry on anything but when he saidafter the game that Crosby has a PhD in hockey and Ovechkin had a hockey IQ significantly lower than that, he hit the nail on the head.

  8. I just caught the title reference. Oh, what a night.

    I thought JAL does the musical references here.

    What’s next, rogue morning links?

  9. DK, I was having the same thoughts about Malkin’s return. I tried to look at it in a more positive light thinking that maybe they all buckled down on defense since he was out. If that is the case I hope they don’t let up on D when he does return. Not sure which way this will go, I guess time will tell. For as much has Malkin takes the puck away from the opposing player he sure turns it over as much or more as well.

    • If anyone remembers I said Malkin should be benched when he repeatedly commits those sod-brain turnovers. But hey, what do I know??? ;)

      • I remember that Jandy, it was a good call then and may arise again when he returns. Malkin is one guy I see that can be so good and so bad all in the same game.

    • I hope the team did buckle down because of his absense. I’m sure it is all stuff that has been coached the entire time but the team just felt like they cuold outscore everyone. Now that they see the results hopefully it doesn’t go away when Geno returns.

  10. JAL’s Danny’s Song 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

    How Did Vic Black Get His Unusual Delivery?

    Pirates Projected Among NL’s Top Four Benches

    Prospect Notebook: Alex Dickerson’s Back Problems Could Have a Solution

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates should free themselves from tyranny of ‘wins,’ ‘standings’

    Projected Wins Calculator for the 2013 Pirates using ZiPS and Steamer Projection Systems

    7 Baltimore Sun

    Orioles expect to get the ‘really good’ version of Nate McLouth,0,6854780.story

    8 Rant Sports

    Gaby Sanchez Could Be a Nice Surprise for the Pittsburgh Pirates

    9 Rumbunter

    Gerrit Cole Frustrated, Neal Huntington Quick To Call Everyone Wrong

    Pittsburgh Pirates Will Live And Die On Starting Rotation, Do You Trust It?

    Does Clint Hurdle’s Love Of Veterans, Hurt The Pittsburgh Pirates?

    10 Green Weenie

    Could Bucs Carry Five OF’s?

  11. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 News Tribune

    Pirates’ McCutchen takes fame in stride

    12 Sports Collectors Digest

    Opening Online: The National Pastime Museum

    13 Yahoo Sports

    Does Gerrit Cole Belong on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Opening Day Roster?–mlb.html

    14 Beyond the Boxscore

    Is Russell Martin the Difference Maker for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

    15 The Fantasy Fix

    30 Prospects in 30 Days: Gregory Polanco – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates

    16 Altoona Mirror

    Curve rotation will have solid 1-2

    17 Sweetspot

    Blame Wrigley Field? Not so fast

    18 PBC SITE

    Decisions loom for Pirates as Opening Day nears


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    11 Horribly Wrong Predictions We Have Made

    20 Fangraphs

    2013 Positional Power Rankings: Left Field

  12. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers will run behind hybrid blocking scheme in 2013

    From salary cap madness, is a new Steelers’ image emerging?

    22 Steelers Depot

    -Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo Alan Robinson: Steelers Future Cap Woes Not as Bad as You Show


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Michael Owen became an analogue striker in a digital world where his simple eye for goal was no longer enough

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 19th March, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Letang Injury Means Eaton Could Play Mentor to Pens’ Next Star Defenseman.

  13. The Pens are reminding now of how they played last time they were missing a couple of big names. Much more defensively responsible.

    More aggressive on the PK too TG!! Huge 4min kill.

    But poor Neal – 15 periods without a goal. Guess he’s missing his woobie, Malkin !

  14. Why is it that people latch on to negativity in spite of resounding success?

    The Pens win 10 in a row and now it’s about Neal not scoring lately.

    There are many facets to a player’s game. The contributions still add up. (Even with Tyler Kennedy.)

    And once the Penguins lose, we’ll be back to “Fire Bylsma!”

    This team and this time are different. This is starting to feel like a championship season. Enjoy the ride!

    • Dave, Hi buddy :)
      I’m not being negative in the least, just making observations. It’s obvious Neal misses the chemistry he and Malkin share. I’m not angry, just stating it as fact. I’m thrilled with the play of this team. It seems they play better under adversity. AND we handed the Crapitals another loss. That in itself is reason enough to smile.
      No negativity here. Just sayin’

    • Fire Bylsma.

    • Who’s said Fire Bylsma? Not me.

      • Sarah, that reference goes back a few days….it’s snark, but funny snark ;)

      • Just kidding, Sarah. A few weeks ago I was dismissed for suggesting that the team was doing fine and were only a few points out of the conference lead.

        I’m a big DB fan. Last year Dejan asked who we thought was the best Pittsburgh area coach. I picked DB and I still stand by it. But Dave, as he usually is, is right. As soon as they lose two in a row there will be posts about how DB can’t get his lines together and should go.

      • I’m a little surprised that Tony Granato has not gotten looks for anothr head coaching job since joining the Pens. But maybe he’s actually “JohninOshKosh” posting the fire Bylsma comments!

    • I will not formally argue in favor of firing Disco during the regular season. If we don’t make it outta the first round, that’s a different story. Or unless we somehow don’t make the playoffs, but I’m not sure even the Pirates could pull off that sort of collapse.

      My only major criticisms of him are the ones that unfortunately pop up and become rudely apparent in the playoffs.

      • I don’t think anyone has said, or is in favor of, firing DB in the regular season, or at all.

        The most I can recall anyone suggesting, is : if the Pens flame out in playoffs vs a lower seed, for the 4th consecutive year, then DB should certainly take a lot of heat. He possibly on his last chance in that regard.

        But around here, someone makes an informed criticism aka “Geez Malkin blows vs Coutourier. Why doesn’t DB match lines? It’s a huge home ice advantage, and there’s no reason to have Geno out there against him all game. How come we routinely ignore creating advantageous matchups, or avoiding disadvantageous ones?” And then the poster gets predictably flamed for supposedly advocating “Fire Bylsma”. It’s just gotten silly.

        Here’s a question – given the last 3 years in playoffs, does anyone believe if DB had been hired in September 2009, he would have as many defenders?

        Or even still be in Pgh?


          • Not sure what you mean.
            He’s an outspoken DB critic at times, sure. His criticisms are well informed IMO.

            When has he advocated firing DB during the reg season?

            • Just playing the devil’s advocate. (Bad for a minister, right?). I don’t know that he has. He’s not one of his biggest fans, though. You said “discuss”. ;)

            • I think you’re trying to thread that needle a little too thin with the “fire during the season” limitation. After almost everyone acknowledged during the streak that (1) they were following DB’s system and (2) they were playing defensive playoff type hockey, Eric’s response was “why didn’t they do it sooner.” It’s not as simple as you’re trying to make it, Sarah.

              Respectfully submitted,
              Arriba Wilver (who has never played hockey, let alone goalie.)

            • Sarah, Lucky wouldn’t bite you or Eric, he’s just being his usual very sweet self.
              A lot of the nitpicking is just that…snarky picking, I generally ignore it. Unless it gets nasty. Then I get pissed…and generally ignore it ;)

              But I have to say, I like yours and Eric’s contributions to this blog. Your hockey knowledge is vastly superior to mine, and I LOVE hockey.

        • I like to think my criticisms of Disco are informed(ish).

          My criticisms of Tyler Kennedy, I’ll admit, are mainly snarl.

          • Gotta give Brad some credit here, for admitting he’s snarky on TK ;)

            • Well the guy’s been going downhill faster than Lindsey Vonn for the last 2 years. Can’t really help myself.

              Disco’s interview talking about the Kennedian Renaissance the other day made me gag.

              Paul Martin is still soft though (winking hombre de amarillo- or however yellow man would be said in Spanish)

              • I won’t argue that I’m happy with TK’s play, because I’m not.

                Paul Martin has been rock solid and a beast, so put your winking yellow thingie to rest :P

  15. Hey Dom, your man deserves a lot of credit for last night’s win. Flower made some HUGE saves. I gotta give him credit. He was really on his game.

  16. Andy Toole, New job or big raise.

    • I doubt RMU will be able to afford to keep him after the teams performance this year. I’m seeing a new job and a BIG raise.

      • Not saying its not going to happen. I think he’ll get a nice raise but a bigger job…eh I think he needs another solid year.

        • Not that I’ve watched much college bball this year, but it seams to me that there are quite a few teams this year that are struggling. Teams that usually are very successful. It is in these situations that a big team will take on some new up and coming coach with the potential to turn a program around. I think this environment provides a good opportunity for Toole to move up into a bigger program.

          I’m not saying it will definitely happen, but I see a certain possibility.

  17. I am thinking about changing my blog name to Finger Wag. Wait to you see the new avatar

    I may change my real name to Unneeded Snarl

  18. Agree with the sentiment, mostly, on Dixon in the NCAA, but a couple small quibbles. In particular, the paragraph that lumps in the Big East Tournament and selectively cut off Dixon’s record there at five years. Prior to that, his Pitt team’s were stellar in MSG, playing in four title games, and just year before becoming just the second team to capture the title winning four games in four nights. If anything, Dixon’s successes there make the questions about why his Pitt teams haven’t been able to produce the same kind of run in the NCAAs more interesting.

    Also, not that it’s any great shakes, but Dixon’s only lost twice to teams seeded at least seven spots lower than Pitt: Bradley in 2006 and Butler in 2011. The Kent State loss in 2002 came when Ben Howland was coaching (though I guess Dixon was on staff, so maybe that’s what you were counting, DK.)

    Bracket sets up well for Dixon and Pitt to possibly erase some demons this week, for sure though.

  19. I only got to watch the third period of the game last night but what I saw really impressed me. I loved to see the aggressive PP through an entire 4 min penalty in the third period. I”m sure all the penalty killers were exhausted after that bit, but they looked really good. Looked alot like the PK that was at the top of the league in past seasons. I hope they continue to play this way and get rid of the passive box PK.

    Heck of a shot by Niskanen. Not much else to say there.

    The last few games have me thinking that the team the Pens have can be a playoff contender. They are winning the close, defensive games and they aren’t trying to make offense when it isn’t there. This is the adjustment that needed to be made and I give credit to the coaches and players for the adaptation.

    I’m with DK and I worry that Geno coming back could backtrack on the awesome defensive play of late, however, I hope that Geno has been watching from the pressbox and is willing to play into the system that is working. When Geno is willing to play defense and backcheck hard, he gets more takeaways than most players I’ve seen. He just has to be willing to commit to the defense.

  20. Eddie is correct, DK is being harsh on Geno by stating “one would certainly hope Evgeni Malkin’s return doesn’t alter that for the Penguins. It can’t be any coincidence that this six-game run of allowing six goals came exactly with Malkin being out. He has not been good in his own end, reckless with the puck most everywhere.”

    By looking at the stats on, Crosby has 24 giveaways in 31 games played and Malkin has 16 giveaways in 21 games played. On a giveaway-per-game basis, Malkin has fewer giveaways (.761 per game) than Crosby (.774 per game). Malkin also has more takeaways (17 in 21 games) than Crosby (14 in 31 games), while playing ten fewer games. Oh yeah, Letang is fifth in the league in total giveways; pretty reckless, no?

    Sid is having a great year, but I have witnessed just as many blind, cross-ice passes from Crosby as Geno. How good were the Pens after Crosby returned last spring? The team were playing quite well, I remember. I am a fan of both players.

    Here is a link to the stats:

  21. Good morning everyone;

    What a night is an understatement. Robert Morris beats Kentucky? I don’t care if they were missing their best player. Fact of the matter is that they came off a nationa championship and still had one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.

    The thought of Robert Morris beating Kentucky is like saying that Youngstown State would ever beat Pitt in football; oh wait that actually happened.

    And on a side note I’ve decided to add another item to my list for lent. I am now giving up being juvenile and petty to fellow lunatics between the hours of 9am and noon. C’mon its a start right??

    DK I hate that Delta in flight go-go internet service. Its like $5 for a flight from Charlotte to Pittsburgh. Must have cost you a fortune flying over to Utah. But I forgot your travel budget is higher than the Gross National Profit of Winnipeg.

    • I went on a Kentucky site to get their feedback on the game. One individual stated that this was the worst team he has ever seen in his lifetime and he is 61 years old.

      • I guess you could argue that but looking at their history you could say he has a bad memory.

        1989 under Eddie Sutton they went 13-19
        1990 under Rick Petino they went 14-14

        Even the great Adolph Rupp missed the tournament 4 times in his career.

        So to me this sounds like sour grapes from a spoiled fan. I blame it on Dick Lebeau.

      • They have a short memory, Dom. The Billy Gillespie years must be blocked from their memory. This team wasn’t that bad. Just no heart.

    • “And on a side note I’ve decided to add another item to my list for lent. I am now giving up being juvenile and petty to fellow lunatics between the hours of 9am and noon. C’mon its a start right?? ”
      THANK YOU!

    • The thought of Robert Morris beating Kentucky is like saying Duquesne beat….ANYBODY! And this from a DU alum…

  22. Just found this good read about why the Pens defense has been so much better these last six games. it is here:

    • Hey, that’s Jandy’s blog.

      • Yes, my son-in-law’s blog :)
        Thanks Iceman! :) :) :)

        • Didn’t even know that. Been reading Face-Off Factor for a little while. It is one of the few Penguins blogs that gets updated regularly and has some worthwhile information. Kudos to your son-in-law!

          • Thanks Iceman. Don’t be afraid to post there. Most of the posters are decent, even if they disagree with you. I love the game grades posts Mike Adams does…he cracks me up.

    • I think you can also attribute the fact that blue line drop pass master Malkin has been out of the lineup as well. Not saying he’s what causes us to lose and has a far greater positive impact on the team than negative but how many odd man rushes does he send teams on with his drop passes? How many silly penalties does he take in some games?

      Its amazing to me how much different this team is when one of their top players are out. When Crosby is out Geno elevates his level and takes the team on his back; when Geno is out its like Sid and the guys all step up and play as a team.

      • Right before this most recent injury, he was starting to do away with the unnecessary penalties. He seemed to calm down a bit and didn’t take stupid retaliation penalties. Hopefully that will continue.

        The drop passes on the other had are an issue. While they do provide some spectacular plays and setups for Neal, there are so many times that they leave the defense out to dry. Hopefully, after watching the last couple games, Malkin will come with a new desire to protect the puck and not provide the opposing team with easy giveaways.

      • Those drop passes have been a problem for 3 or 4 YEARS. I’ve always felt that the risk/reward factor with them make them too much of a risk. I see odd man rushes the other way in my sleep!


  23. Yesterday, we were discussing whether or not there was a team that a team NCAA tournament one year and then one the NIT the next. Well, I still don’t know won the two in consecutive years but I did find out that there CCNY, a school around New York City won the NIT and the NCAA in the same year in the 1950’s. Someone told me back in those days the NIT was the prestigious tournament. Can anyone confirm that?

    • Well it started prior to the NCAA tournament so I would say for at least 1 year it was the most prestegious.

      They were actually played at different times; with Duquesne being one of the first schools to play in both tournaments in the same year. I believe there were actually 2 schools that won both the NIT and NCAA in the same year.

    • Yeah, many years ago, the NIT was a big deal

  24. I see Rossi tweeted that despite the team’s current run, Shero will still be looking for top 6, top 4 help by the trade deadline. I’m glad Shero hasn’t been lulled into thinking they are fine where they are just because of regular season success and can’t use as much help as they can get in the playoffs even if that means replacing the great All-Star, HOF’er Dupuis with a chemistry killing scrub like Iginla. ;)

    FYI: This is the 3rd consecutive season the Pens have had 10-game or more winning streaks and in both previous times, the streaks were ended by the Flyers. If they can get past the Isles, Sunday could be interesting.

    • Ray Shero really doesn’t ever rest.
      But Iginla isn’t necessary. He’s too expensive.

      • Maybe, but expense is all relative to the roll of the dice and the risk the Pens are willing to take. Win the Cup with Iginla and he’s a bargain even as a rental, no matter what they give up because that’s the point of it all, to win the Cup…at whatever cost. That’s why players lay down in front of 100 mph pucks. Don’t win the Cup and he expensive only depending on what the Pens had to give up for him (like in the Hossa trade) and in that situation, only Armstrong was a loss and I don’t think that’s ever haunted them. Sometimes you gotta trust the GM and let him roll the dice because subliminally: Iginla is only expensive if you think they won’t win the cup anyway, meaning; He would be expensive for the Jets or the Leafs.

        BTW: I still think a player like Iginla is very necessary and unlike a lot of hockey fans, my memory isn’t that short. Despite the Pens recent success with the Crosby line, in the playoffs, it is much easier to scheme and contain a Crosby/Dupuis/Kunitz line than a Crosby/Iginla/Kunitz line.

        • I am a solid Ray Shero supporter. I just hesitate to take on an Iginla especially AFTER the Hossa debacle. Once burnt.. you know.

          I still feel we can win with Kunitz and Dupuis on Sid’s wing. IF we play sound defensive hockey.

    • I’ll predict the return of Hal Gill. At the pace he moves if we acquire him at the deadline he shoud make it to Pittsburgh by the time the playoffs start.

  25. My biggest fear right now is that the Pens might be peaking to early…again. They seem to have these awesome runs in late February into early March and then April rolls around and they turn into pumpkins. Hope this isn’t another case of that.

  26. So, do you think Robert Morris will look outside or just elevate an assistant ?

  27. By the way, I figured if I came here I could find out what’s wrong about a 10 game winning streak. Once again I wasn’t disappointed.

  28. Sad. Malkin is the man. Does he take risks? You bet. Are they worth it? Most of the time. Are they a better team when he plays? Not even worth printing……..

  29. AJS workman ain’t gonna make it in the playoffs.

    • Disagree. Workman is exactly what makes it in the playoffs. You gotta have some skill and some finishers to back it up, but a tough relentless forecheck and hard nosed defense wins championships. Flash and dash gets you knocked out early by one of those teams who is using a relentless forecheck and hard nosed defense.

      You can’t win a championship if your “workmen” are all Matt Cooke. But if you get Neal, Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Dupuis, Bennett, etc all banging the body down low and cycling the puck instead of rushing down the ice and attempting to make flashy cross rink passes through 3 defensman giving up a 4 on 1 the other way all the time then you have something.

  30. From Bob Nightengale at USA Today:

    “His successful appeal of a positive testosterone test led to major revisions in baseball’s sample collection process last year.

    Baseball officials, from the top executives in New York to their field investigators, refuse to let it go.

    They want Braun — badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for him.

    Braun, one of the most affable stars in the game, tries to maintain his demeanor, but it’s clear the burden wears on him. He’d love for this to go away, and perhaps one day it will, but it’s difficult to be the face of the Brewers’ franchise knowing MLB investigators are still trying to mutilate it.

    “I’m extremely confident and secure in who I am,” Braun tells USA TODAY Sports, “and how I live my life. I will never allow anyone or anything to get me down or change that.”"

    I hope the PNC crowds are brutal on him this summer. Could not feel less sorry for that cheater. I’m sorry I breath the same Wisconsin air as him.

    • It sickens me; he didn’t prove he didn’t take steroids. He got let off because of a bogus collection policy.

    • Suffice it to say, John, you won’t be voting for him for Governor of Wisconsin any time soon?

      • That’s true Lucky but, dang, is that guy beloved here. I enjoy the interaction with the so-called “Pirate apologists” around here. Guess it is because I love the Pirates and enjoy discussion about them. But, man, are Brewer and Braun apologists annoying!

        • Kind of like Ray Lewis apologists?

        • You deserve a medal my friend. BTW, I agree with Groat. On Wisconsin! Another Badger-Buckeye battle would be great. 4 times in one season.

        • Its got to be almost as hard being a Brewers fan. I mean they had the team a few years ago with Braun and Fielder and added CC. Now they are back to mediocre.

          • C’est la vie in Bud Selig’s MLB.

            Just think, that is the outcome us Pirate fans are HOPING for. As with just about every other low payroll club.

            Can you succeed? Certainly.

            Can you succeed for an extended period? Good luck.

    • John I’m not sure he breathes the wisconsin air; pretty sure he’s sniffing antler spray

    • “He’d love for this to go away,”

      Sure he would. Hard to cheat when you got people always monitoring you. I bet he hates Vegas and SAT tests too.

    • To say I can’t stand Braun is an understatement. I’ll leave it at that.

    • Am I crazy or did Nightengale write that piece in defense of Braun?

      “…refuse to let it go” “…most affable stars in the game…” “burden” “difficult” “wears on him” “mutilate it”


      • I did a quick google search on Nightengale, and he is VERY soft on steroid use in baseball, and he is a HOF voter who ignores it.

        If Braun really wanted it to go away he wouldn’t have grandstanded after the decision. Sure he wants it to go away now because he sees they aren’t afraid to still go after him. Shouldn’t be any worries if he’s not using, right?

        • Well done, AW. Not that you need my approval, but I have respect for people who do some research and consider the source.

    • I’m sure Braun’s life is just miserable. Poor guy.

      But I’d be confident and secure in myself too if I could bench-press a rhino and hit a baseball 3 miles because I juiced myself into oblivion and won an MVP for it.

      What a tool.

  31. On my way out the door again . . . . . . but I just had to leave my imprint her by saying:

    I LOVE COLLEGE BASKETBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Braun, one of the most affable stars in the game,

    Sure. If I cheated and it allowed me to hit a bunch of home runs and win the MVP awards I would be very affable too.

    Imagine me more affable than I am now

  33. Didn’t get to chime in on the SEAL’s latest eloquent statement yesterday…

    I know the guy’s under stress, but take a chill pill, Neal. You made a decision on Cole (which actually is probably the right one). No need to take it anywhere beyond that.

    I know he’s taken a lot of heat from fans and media and human nature would suggest getting a little bit defensive. Try keeping it in perspective, Neal. This team hasn’t had a winning season since Henry VIII was jousting during the 7th inning stretch. Not sayin you have to like it, but maybe keep that in the back of your mind before you dismiss everyone who doesn’t see things as positively as you as stupid or ignorant. You may not say it, may not even think it, but that’s what plainly comes across.

    Try taking appropriate responsibility instead of deflecting your frustration at everyone else. A passing comment saying “maybe I could have done more” doesn’t really count. Us morons do understand you work under a mostly ridiculous owner-imposed salary cap in a non-cap sport.

    I’ve never met the guy and frankly have absolutely no desire whatsoever to meet him. I wouldn’t give him a chance to say anything polite because I don’t care what he has to say at this point. He’s drawn his line in the sand (to be fair, with some help from the media) with regard to fans and polarized them into pro and anti-Neal, which is unfortunate.

    Everyone makes some verbal oopsies. But if there’s one GM/BMTIB that continually shoots themselves in the foot in the PR department, it’s these guys. I think he’s under-qualified for his job (as are his minions like Stark) and they know it. Not saying it’s an easy job, quite the opposite. But it’s been over 5 years for them and only inching toward .500 after being in an excellent position to at least break the streak 2 years in a row doesn’t help their cause. Doesn’t excuse the players at all, no matter how much the loss of McGehee devastates a team.

  34. Some sporting thoughts on a I-gotta-work-a-full-day-today Wednesday….

    * I dont think the Penguins defensive struggles were down to Geno being on the ice. When he comes back, he’ll have to commit to being better in the defensive zone just like the rest of the team.

    * NIT? I’m not sure why these games are televised….

    * While it’s fun for the students/faculty/alumni of Robert Morris, and it gives ESPN an “underdog” story to flash up on Sports Center, count me as 1 person who doesn’t really think much of their victory over UK. It’s not like they beat the team Calipari had on the court last season. They beat a UK team without its best player that hadn’t played well all season. Good for Robert Morris (an all those connected). I’m not sure why anyone else cares (well, maybe UK fans are a little sick this morning).

    * If everything (well, not EVERYthing….) you did was mocked by your fanbase & if you were constantly referred to in a derogatory manner by the same fanbase, maybe your comments to the media would be jaded too. The man has never had a chance here. That part I find sad. As I’ve said before, I’m pretty sure even Jesus Christ would be ridiculed as GM of the Pirates.

    * I did not want the Steelers to cut James Harrison. I wish James the best. But, I also feel like James’ best days are behind him. I trust the Steelers in this sitch. They usually make the right call on when to part ways with a player.

    * I did want the Steelers to sign Stephen Jackson. They did not have the cap space. It’s Willie Colon’s fault.

    * My pick to win the NCAA Tournament this season? – The U (

    * The Pirates will win the NL Central this season. Jason Grilli simply will not allow anything less.

    * The Penguins are 23-8-0 after a 10 gm win streak. They were 13-8-0 before that. While not mindblowing, also not what I would call “shaky”. The defensive performances and penalty killing during that 13-8ness, well, I’m not sure there’s a word for it…


    • You may have to change your avi, soon. Jeanmar is out of options, Nate.

    • 2 points:

      Sounds a bit snobby on RM.

      Neal never had a chance? Puh-leeeze! Boo-Hoo!

      • If it sounds a bit snobby on Robert Morris, then good. The NIT is a joke tournament. A way for ESPN to make money. It may have had significance in the past, but it is gone. I could care less (and again, I’m not sure why anyone else does, other than those connected with the school) about those games. Just like all bowl games that aren’t the National Championship games. They’re all exhibitions. Do you care about exhibition games? The only thing that matters in them is that important players don’t get hurt.

        To your 2nd point, no, Neal never had a chance with the fan base. Of course he had a chance to make all the right moves and turn this org. around on a dime. As soon as he traded the greatest hitting outfield ever in baseball (or 2/3 of it I should say), it was over. The fact that there are people that thought that 2008 team had a chance IMO says it all…

        • OK, let me flesh it out a little. The NIT is certainly nothing close to the NCAA “Turnament.” But people in the schools, like Penn State, Virginia and others, who miss the NCAA see it as important, when their team is in it. And Pitt didn’t even qualify for it last year. It’s not nothing, and the fact the previous years winner of the NCAA, let alone a school with Kentucky’s history in the NCAA, gets beat by a small school in Pittsburgh, deserves more recognition than what you have deigned to give it.

          • The NIT is a post-season tournament with NO significance. Nobody talks about the winner. Nobody thinks the winner was destined for greater things. It’s just a tournament for a bunch of teams not good enough to make the real tournament. If you want to count this as some sort of “remarkable victory” go ahead. The fact that RM is beating UK in the NIT should say it all (and how far the UK squad of this year was from last year’s). I guess the banner for this win will be raised at the start of next season?

            Count me as unimpressed (if you couldn’t tell)…

            • Let me see . . . if Iowa beats Indiana State and plays Notre Dame the game will have no significance because it can’t lead to a national championship, even though it’s likely be fun to watch. Whereas, Nebraska vs Penn State was a significant game because it was part of the conference schedule that determined which teams would be invited to the NCAA.

              If Pitt and Penn State played a non-conference game in football would it be of NO significance?

              If the NIT winner turns out to be a team with only one senior will no one talk about whether or not they’re destined for greater things?

              I guess if that’s the way we’re going to determine what’s significant or not, I’d just rather watch a game that’s fun to watch. For what it’s worth I didn’t get much of a kick out of the lopsided Alabama and Notre Dame football game.

              I guess everybody watches for a different reason, but I think you’re using Yankee-fan logic on college basketball and may be missing some fun as a result.

              But that’s just the way I look at it.

              • I’ll address your points 1 by 1:

                - Nowhere did I say the games can’t be fun to watch. Just count me as 1 who won’t be watching, b/c they’re essentially exhibition games. I don’t watch exhibition games.

                - Yes, regular season & conference games have significance. Hence, why they’re better than these NIT games.

                - No, Pitt vs. Penn St. would have significance b/c in College football (at least in the BCS current format) all games are important. 1 loss can cost you a shot at a national championship.

                - I’d say that would be a small number of people in the “NIT winner” scenario you paint above. Why? Because it’s the NIT. They’re beating lesser competition. You go to the Sweet 16 as a 10+ seed…you got people talking.

                - Conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament have plenty of good games (that are plenty of fun to watch) without me having to dip into a meaningless tournament. I don’t watch meaningless bowl games. I’m not about to start watching meaningless college Basketball games.

                - It may be “Yankee-fan” logic, but as I said, there are plenty of games with meaning that can be watched. Maybe I’m not that big of a basketball fan…..

              • or maybe you just like to wiz in other’s cheerios ;)

              • I’ll admit, I do like to play devil’s advocate. But these are the reasons I’ve seen for why RM’s victory over UK was significant:

                - the games are fun to watch

                - UK has a good basketball history

                - RM does not have that good of a basketball history

                I don’t see this as any more than a “Good for them” story. And there’s people trying to make it more. And I don’t see why….

              • wanna borrow my glasses?

              • Nate,

                You missed my last line. That’s just the way I look at it.

                Your definition of significant is different. Games like Pitt-Penn State, Michigan-Ohio State, Iowa-Iowa State, UCLA-USC, are far more significant because they are traditional rivalries.

                If conference standings, BCS rankings, or other factors come into play it only adds to the significance.

                And as I’ve said a couple of times about spring training exhibitions, I’d still rather win a totally meaningless game than win one.

                But what’s significant for one fan (UNI vs Drake) may be totally meaningless (Chelsea vs Man U) for another.

          • I will defer to my much more eloquent and much more knowledgeable friend, JHadar. But before I exit, I’d just like to point out, Nate, that you seem to be slipping easily between what interests you personally and what “nobody” cares about, depending on how it supports your POV. There is certainly a difference.

            • Example?

              • See above, it’s plain as the N in your Nateroboro

              • But I guess not as the “s”….

                Where do I switch between “what interests me personally” and “what nobody cares about”?

                Essentially, they’re the same thing to me…right?

              • Jandy has spoken.

              • Essentially, it doesn’t matter who cares about what, but MOST of the time, posters here aren’t so grumpy. Did your girlfriend say no last night? or were you hanging around TJ too long? :) ;)

              • I’m not grumpy. In fact, if you knew me, you’d find that far from the case.

                Maybe it’s coming off as I’m knocking people for wanting to watch the NIT and care about it. This is far from the case. Again, what people want to watch and care about is their own business (hence why “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” exists).

                But, I can’t believe that this was a “wow” moment (as written above by DK).

                You’re telling me that Robert Morris’s players wouldn’t rather be in the NCAA Tourney than the NIT?

                Now, that’s a “PUH-LEEZ” moment.

              • Thing is, Nate, I don’t watch basketball, I couldn’t care less about basketball, I wouldn’t miss the entire sport if it disappeared lol. But your tone even upset me. :/

      • I rest my case.

    • Not really buying that Neal never had a chance to win or with this fan base. 5 years is a pretty decent chance. No one can objectively say EVERYTHING is his fault, but to ignore his part in it really underscores an argument. If the team (not just Neal) had put together a winning record by now he certainly would not be loathed by so many. On the flip, if he had 5 straight winning seasons and still treated fans like he does they would still be upset.

      Yeah people have some negative opinions on his work, especially certain bodies of it. Whether he likes that or not, it’s the nature of the beast. How does that make them wrong and him justified in insulting the people who contribute heavily to his salary? No one can seriously say overall he’s been incredible in FA signings to date. I’m not even arguing either way, but the results are the results.

      Beyond all that, Neal’s own stated objective has been for several years “To compete for a championship…” That hasn’t happened. That’s not meeting his own stated expectations, not those of the fans. It’s hard to really fault people for being upset about this when the guy sets a goal and doesn’t achieve it.

      The Romans persecuted Christians for a couple hundred years- but even they converted to Christianity. (awkward looking winking little yellow man that I don’t know how to encrypt)

      • My original comment was just related to the fan base.

        I’m even on record as stating that I think a new GM could put this org. over the top (b/c I think they’ve gone as far as NH is going to take them).

        But I can’t take the constant parsing of words, especially with nothing statements. As if every time this man opens his mouth he’s somehow insulting the fan base.

        I’m not sure why Pirate fans take everything so personally…

    • The NIT is televised because most of these teams have a passionate fan base and want to their guys play a few more. I’m sure looking forward to the Iowa game tonight.

      College sports in general and basketball in particular are a whole different ballgame than MLB where each team has its own network and fans outside the local reach have to put up with the east coast (NY/Bos) bias.

      Northern Iowa is in the CIT and I’ll probably follow that. I don’t know if it’s going to be televised, though.

      I think there’s a fourth level tournament, too. Not to mention the lower divisions.

      • If you like following it, then that’s cool. I’m not trying to say people shouldn’t follow and watch what they want. And I certainly understand the passion that a college fan base has for its school and teams.

        But, again, what significance do these wins have? They’re not regular season wins trying to help you get to the post-season. They’re not Conf. tournament wins that will help you into the NCAAs. They’re not NCAA Tourney wins helping you to a national championship.

        They’re exhibition wins. With a trophy at the end.

      • You asked why they televise them?

  35. Last night I did something I haven’t done in quite a while. I watched a bit of hockey. Pawn Stars and Pickers weren’t on and I was channel surfing for basketball when I came across Pittsburgh playing Washington, so I lingered a bit. It was the third period and they were skating off a penalty. (I used to watch a little in Colorado in another lifetime — they had a great promotion “Rocky Hockey Puck Bucks” — try to say that fast five times.)

    Anyhow, I saw what turned out to be the winning goal — finally on the third replay: I kept losing track of the puck. Then Mrs H came back from walking the dogs and poured two glasses of sherry and put a video in. Now who could resist that? So it was only about five minutes, but having read through some, not all by far, of the hockey talkie here this winter while waiting for baseball season to start, I thought I might share my brief experience. I have a long way to go before I could become a fan, but without the blog I probably wouldn’t have paused.

    Also, completely unrelated to anything here unless it would somehow be the demise of print and rise of on-line journalism in a very roundabout way, but amusing nonetheless:

  36. MLB Network will show Pirates at Braves tonight at 11:00.

    Many baseball fans on this blog and not one mention of the Dominican and the WBC.

    Well done, Budster.

  37. Oh JHadar, that video is priceless!

    You want to see some illustrations on hockey plays, go to my son-in-law’s blog. FaceOffFactor dot com and every once in a while they do them, just like Jay Cauffield does on TV. It’s cool stuff and easy to follow.

    I love me a little wine in the evenings…your wife is a wise lady :)

  38. Pirates acquire Johnny McDonald from Arizona – Ken Rosenthal. Solid backup infielder, great fielder. No word yet on who they gave up. Bad news for Inge, I reckon,

  39. Hope Dejan provides some instagram photos of the LDS Salt Lake Temple. Spectacular building set against the majesty of the Rockies.

  40. Asking because I was too young to really recall clearly now, but wasn’t Robert Morris a pretty relevant program in the national scene back in the early and mid 90′s that gave Pitt and some pretty good teams some problems? I may be thinking of Providence, but can’t remember for sure.

  41. No matter what kind of :) they want to put on it, this 5th starter spot is a disaster.

  42. I still like Locke’s potential as the fifth starter. He doesn’t have to be Cy Young

  43. It doesn’t seem to me as though there have been any real surprises in ST, guys are going to make the roster due more to things like being expensive or out of options than someone stepping to the plate, as it were, and forcing themselves on the team?

  44. 5 – 1 Braves, bottom of the second. Not so good a start for McPherson….

  45. And just so everyone knows I do not have an alter ego named Naterosboro.

    Although I must admit that its suspicious that I disappear and then all hell breaks loose for a little bit

    • TJ–it’s after Noon. :-)

    • DOH thats right I said only until noon. But Jandy called me a huggy teddy bear so I guess I have to be nice

      • Me too. And I love Ted and Seth.

      • Yes, you do, or I’ma glare are you >:/

        • dang typos that was glare AT you >:/

        • First you drop the gloves with Milo and now threatening me with stink eye…

          • hey I have nateroSboro h*ll up there too! I’m sick n tired of the bickering today sheesh!
            SO be good!

            • I love the capital “S” in nateroSboro”. Just saying. I appreciate the little things. :-)

              • At least it’s clear now….

              • Nate–for someone who thinks they are smarter and more knowledgeable than everyone else, you are really demonstrating you haven’t a clue.

                Have a nice day,

              • Nate, EVERYONE on this blog (that matters) knows I am the typo queen here…just sayin’

              • Says you Arriba, says you…..backed by your cronies with their emoticons

                And Jandy, that was the point of my post, obviously I knew it was a typo, but if you’re going to reference my name as a point of your post, don’t get all huffedy, when I call you out for fudging that point. It’s what we “gentle”men like to call “busting stones”.

              • I have “cronies?” I’m impressed. Who are they? Please expand on your thought. I thought I was commenting for me. I’d love to have “cronies,” with or without emoticons.

              • O…and by the way, I thought everyone mattered around here…

                Apparently, it’s only if you agree with certain opinions…

                Dually noted.

              • Arriba I’m jealous; how do I get cronies? Although now that I saw that it sounds more like a STD than anything else

              • Arriba, the “cronies” comment was made in jest, as I have a lot of people disagreeing with my thoughts on RM and the NIT.

              • TJ–after what Nate posted I’m accepting applications for “cronies,” but applicants with STD ‘s will have a tough mountain to climb.

              • that would be *duly noted.


                Don’t get huffy with me nate darlin’.

                I couldn’t care less.

                I’m not a crony, I’m a Mother Theresa.

                What everyone thinks does matter, unless it’s YOUR opinion they don’t agree with.
                You made that clearer than the N or the S in your moniker.

                On that note, I’ve had enough. Jabrones and crones….sheesh what a thought.

              • So I don’t have “cronies?” This is getting confusing.

                Says me,

              • I don’t why, but this afternoon reminds of me of an old Pogo cartoon.

                Pogo tells Albert that his brain is of the small bore variety.

                Albert is offended. He insists he’s a big bore.


                “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

              • No, the opinion matters to me, but if they disagree with mine (which Arriba does frequently) then we’re going to debate. If someones opinion didn’t matter to me, I would pay it no mind and not respond. I enjoy sports debate. I thought that was why everyone was here. Am I wrong?

                Am I wrong?

                And Arriba, maybe you do have cronies, maybe you don’t, I don’t know, but, I was simply having a little fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

  46. Is anyone else getting sick of ST? Groat, Milo, Drew,Thunder and everybody else have gotten their trips in. Which is good. So now it’s time to play for keeps.

    Except that it is 17 degrees with a windchill of 8 here on the first day of spring. Snow in the forecast on top of what is already the 12 snowiest winter on record here.

    Oh, I forgot. Bud got a retractable roof bought for before he left town. Play ball!

  47. Forgettable outing for McPherson and a bad time for it.

  48. Sorry JinO. I missed some posts because I was test driving some kayaks.

  49. No, smooth sailing.

    Actually my father in law organized a kayak store to bring a bunch of kayaks up to his development so every one can “test drive” them. Nice day

  50. JHadar and others who are interested, this is FaceOffFactor’s “telestration” of a couple of the penalty kill plays by the Pens last night:

    it’s kinda cool to follow it step by step.

    • Jandy,

      Thanks, I looked, but it was way over my head.

      All I did was watch my first five minutes of hockey in about 20 years.

      Reminds me of my first issue of Bird Watchers Digest — totally incomprehensible to the rank amateur that I was. I did get on to it after a few years, but there is still so much to learn and so little time.

      Maybe if I watch a little more here and there it will grow on me — but really understanding a sport is a lot like learning a foreign language. You almost have to live it to be fluent.

  51. Wind must be blowing out at Champion Stadium today. And, speaking of blowing out, that’s what Vin Mazzaro will probably doing, to Indy.

  52. Have I mentioned lately that I hate the blog “improvements” ? Posts just seem to go up wherever they darn well please.

  53. Steelers news per Adam Shefter’s twitter:


    Worth noting: Steelers’ braintrust had dinner with Tennessee QB Tyler Bray before attending his Pro Day.”

  54. Ya know… its amazing how Ravenstahl is going after UPMC now that he’s not running for re-election. Being bold.

    Wish the Pirates front office would act like they were soon to be out of a job

  55. Great quote from Teemu Selanne on the extensions of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf: ““If they can play eight more years, I can too. I’m in better shape than they are.”

    Dude is going to be playing hockey until he is 95.

  56. 395 Posts — Baseball season is getting close.

  57. The Houston Astros are in Year THREE of their rebuild.
    The Houston Astros are considering trading Lucas Harrell for prospects.
    Lucas Harrell is under team control for FIVE more years.

    What does that tell you about how long the Houston Astros think it takes to rebuild?

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