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Wednesday vacation thread

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

On vacation all week. Next column is Sunday.

The floor, as ever, is yours …

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.

176 Comments

  1. Nice game last night. JMAC made a nice recovery. Travis Snider had some good at bats, and Marte continues a good streak of 4 lead off hits in a row, as well as some key RsBI.

    Get out the brooms!

    Stuart

  2. Holy Crap. I didn’t realize they played a catcher. Until Russell got a hit last night.

    And Snider. TWO hits. Three in two days.

    Let’s not overdo it with Snider. Way too early for a statue.
    I’m thinking maybe Dapper Dan Award.

    One more win and they’re playing for playoff positioning.

  3. Nice win by the Pens last night. It’s nice to know we’ll be raising at least one more banner next year. Clinching the Atlantic is only another box to check on the to-do list but that list is getting shorter and shorter. Next Step: Win 4 games in the first 2 weeks of May.

    • Congrats to the Pens on the division and what sounds like a scrappy, comeback win.

      • Shouldn’t have had to be scrappy. They played down to their opponent again. But still, nice win. And nice first Penguin goal by Morrow.

        • Jandy- agree 100%. Any comeback win feels good, and there is still confusion as new players learn the system, but it felt like Carolina came to win. The Pens simply showed up. Somewhat disturbing as we know this can become a trend.

          • Ah, I say a GOOD win, considering the Pens were missing two of top 3 forwards, one of which just happens to be the best player in the world, as well as top two Dman, against a team embarrassed the night before, playing at home with the J Staal element AND 4 new guys still working on getting the system down (although Joikenen? looks like he’s been here for years – nice pick up GMRS).

            If not for the two ‘canes scores off of faceoffs….

            Let’s keep things in perspective.

            • Don’t forget tpbco, the Canes had a goalie also who has been struggling. Cam Ward is down. We made Peters look pretty good until Bennett knocked one in off another Cane and Geno poked in a rebound.
              Keep things in perspective.

              But, all that said, I’m happy with the win.

              • Oh and their top D-man Joni Pitkanen was also out.

              • Won’t argue, but it WAS a bigger game to them than us at this point and they came out that way.

                The Pens withstood their early barrage, got there stuff together and won. The ‘canes by no means gave it to us. And I would point out that a heck of a lot more of those bounces have gone against us, inspite of our record, than have favored us for most of the season.

                Given our circumstances, lots of people yesterday were calling it a trap game. I thought the locker room comments afterwards were appropriate.

                Take the win…don’t they don’t give “style points”.

              • No need to argue, just stating opinion here :)
                Just don’t say the Pens were without top players, when the Canes were too. They were using their 3rd string goalie to boot. And recent history suggests that the Pens would come out flat in that situation last night, but they didn’t. And I’m happy. I’ll take the win! :)

  4. OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called “two in a row”. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a “winning streak”… It has happened before! –Lou Brown. Lets go buccos and break out the broom today. I also can’t believe that I took the over on the buccos getting 2.5 walks last night. Such a Sucker bet. Great line playoffs.

  5. and congratulations to the Leadership Councils of both Pittsburgh teams.

  6. JAL’s Reelin In the Years Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGWVHyKRV2I

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Bucs’ Bats Finally Show Signs of Life in Win at Arizona

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/bucs-bats-finally-show-signs-of-life-in-win-at-arizona.html

    First Pitch: The Downside of the New CBA Starting to Appear For the Pirates

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/first-pitch-the-downside-of-the-new-cba-starting-to-appear-for-the-pirates.html

    Prospect Watch: Lambo Hits For The Cycle

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/prospect-watch-lambo-hits-for-the-cycle.html

    The Book on Justin Wilson

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/04/the-book-on-justin-wilson.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates hold on for 6-5 victory over Diamondbacks

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/4/10/4207812/pirates-hold-on-for-6-5-victory-over-diamondbacks

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 8: Pirates 6 Diamondbacks 5

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2013/game-8-pirates-6-diamondbacks-5.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    April 9th – Buc Dates In History

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/04/april-9th-buc-dates-in-history.html

    9 Rumbunter

    This Week In Bad Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Infographics

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/09/this-week-in-bad-pittsburgh-pirates-baseball-infographics/

    Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Stats

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/04/09/pittsburgh-pirates-minor-league-stats/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    J-Mac’s revenge: Pirates 6, D-Backs 5

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/04/j-macs-revenge-pirates-6-d-backs-5/

  7. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    2013 Fantasy Baseball: Have Patience With Pedro Alvarez

    http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/04/09/2013-fantasy-baseball-have-patience-with-pedro-alvarez/

    12 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Who steps into rotation if Wandy Rodriguez heads to DL?

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/04/09/pittsburgh-pirates-who-steps-into-rotation-if-wandy-rodriguez-heads-to-dl/

    13 Altoona Mirror

    Lambo’s cycle helps Curve win

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/570505/Lambo-s-cycle-helps-Curve-win.html?nav=751

    14 Arizona Central

    Arizona Diamondbacks’ Brandon McCarthy rocked again as Pittsburgh Pirates get another win

    http://www.azcentral.com/sports/diamondbacks/articles/20130409arizona-diamondbacks-brandon-mccarthy-rocked-again-pittsburgh-pirates-get-another-win.html

    15 KDKA

    PG’s Bill Brink: Pirates Will Be Patient With Pedro Alvarez

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/04/09/pgs-bill-brink-pirates-will-be-patient-with-pedro-alvarez/

    16 Bleacher Report

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Wandy Rodriguez Injury Could Spell Trouble for Rotation

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1599096-pittsburgh-pirates-wandy-rodriguez-injury-could-spell-trouble-for-rotation

    17 CBS Sports

    Arizona-Pittsburgh Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130410_PIT@ARI

    18 PBC Site

    McDonald settles in, picks up win after rough start

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_04_09_pitmlb_arimlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    If Wandy can’t go Sunday, Cole not option to start

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130409&content_id=44335724&notebook_id=44343032&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    11 Successful Career Reinventions

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20128

    20 Fangraphs

    Anatomy of a Really Bad Call

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/anatomy-of-a-really-bad-call/

  8. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin appointed to NFL Competition Committee

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/9/4206004/steelers-head-coach-mike-tomlin-appointed-to-nfl-competition-committee

    Hey London, I guess American football isn’t such a bad pastime, after all

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/4/9/4196576/hey-london-i-guess-american-football-isnt-such-a-bad-pastime-afterall

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers 2013 Draft – Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell Scouting Report Profile

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/04/steelers-2013-draft-michigan-state-rb-leveon-bell-scouting-report-profile/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Borussia Dortmund 3 Malaga 2; agg 3-2: match report

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/champions-league/9982460/Borussia-Dortmund-3-Malaga-2-agg-3-2-match-report.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Face to face: Theo Bucker

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/features/face-to-face-theo-bucker

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Atlantic City: Pens Clinch Division, Clip Canes in Messy Affair, 5-3

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/4/9/4207358/atlantic-city-pens-clinch-division-clip-canes-in-messy-affair-5-3

  9. and congratulations to the Morning Links, which look especially winsome today

  10. Another winner!

    I’m feeling very satisfied today.

  11. Glad to see the Pens play a physical game, ALMOST
    wish Philadelphia was in there future.

  12. - We’re not in last place
    -lots of other teams seem to have the same record as the Pirates – or WORSE (how did NH shape their rosters too?!)

    After watching Locke pitch on Sunday I thought he would definitely be the first one out of the rotation when Karstens, Liriano, or Morton came back. But now I am not so certain.
    JMac is really tough to watch. So many balls and long counts. One inning he looks great, the next he looks like an outfielder who decided to try pitching.

    • Watching JMac is not for the faint of heart. His line wasn’t that great last night and definitely not real pretty but, guess what, folks? He was the winning pitcher – that’s all that matters.

      The Bucs just need to have plenty of offense when JMac pitches. Hopefully the bats are starting to come alive. Maybe with a day game today, Daydro will not be K-dro and go deep at least once.

      • With most teams and sports, I still like to believe it’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play, as how you play usually takes care of the win/loss thing, but with the Pirates you take what you can get. At this point, I’m all in favor of them cheating if it helps.

        Speaking of which: How’s Braun doing so far this year?

    • I’m not really sure if there is much separation between Jmac, Sanchez, Locke, Karstens, Liriano, and Morton. They’re all back-end quality. How you make the call on who pitches, I don’t know.

      I see the #1 slot as the hole in the Pirates rotation, not the #5.

      If they had a true #1, AJ and Wandy would play up as great 2/3 options and the rest of the bunch would provide a ton of depth as 4-4.5 ERA guys.

      • I agree with you. We need a Doug Drabek or John Candelaria type now. Maybe Gerrit Cole gets thrusted into the #1 slot when he arrives sometime in June. Hope he can handle the pressure.

  13. As far as the Pirates win goes, wake me in mid-August if they are somehow in contention for anything. Baseball season is too long and it’s too early to care about anything now, let alone a team that we have no real reason at all to believe will be, or should be any further along at that point, than they were last season. Hope is nice and it’s great for the religious, but I wouldn’t want to go to church every day from early April until October either.

    That said, I’m all in favor of a 48-game hockey season, every season. I think it’s the perfect amount of games for teams to play to determine playoff eligibility and seeding. Wish baseball would have more lockouts and shortened seasons.

  14. NICE pucks & Bucs doubleheader win last night! I hit the sack after the Pirates’ 4th inning outburst, & was mildly surprised to see they hung on the rest of the way. That said, JMac is again driving me batty! Is he schizophrenic? Does he need a shrink?? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Now let’s get out the brooms & chase the snakes out of Chase this afternoon!

  15. Two things struck me about last nights win as outstanding:

    JMacs mental toughness. Im sure he is aware how is perceived in the media and fan base. Its hard to keep it together when the wheels start flying off. But he held it together, regrouped and had THE KEY at-bat in the Pirates 5-run rally. Speaking of which..

    Hurdle’s decision to have Jmac fake bunt/hit-n-run with one out and two on is equal parts gutsy and criminally insane. When it worked it made him look like a genius and a Jmac like a hero. If it doesn’t Jmac’s has to trot back to the dugout as the losing pitcher AND the guy who killed the rally with a DP. Really gutsy call right there, and even though it worked, I’m still not sure if I agree with it.

    • I didn’t see much of the game, but wasn’t that connected to the Wheel Play put on by Gibson? One of the announcers said after the game that the decision by Gibson was crucial to the win.

      Melancon sure looks good,

      • I’ve also been impressed with what I’ve seen of Martin as a catcher.

      • It was, but only that if Gibson hadn’t done it (which wasn’t a horrible decision, really) then it makes the fake bunt an improbable option. Hurdle only did what he did because of what Gibson did, but that still doesn’t make what Gibson did a horrible idea. Jmac was showing bunt with two on, one out. The wheel play is maybe a little over aggressive with a pitcher that isn’t quick by any means, but isn’t unheard of in that situation.

        Hurdles decision to have the pitcher fake bunt took stones. Its a risky play. There’s a better chance that Jmac swings through the pitch and the runners are dead in the water. Instead of one out two on it would be two out, one on with the pitcher in a 2 strike count.

        And the Pirates were trailing 4-1 at that point. It worked, but i still think it was a bad idea.

        • JMac is probably our best hitting pitcher right now. I don’t think Clint does that with Burnett. My point wasn’t that Gibson made a bad call, but rather that Clint’s call in that situation was, while maybe a little gutsy, a legitimate response. Not a bad idea.

        • I’m thrilled SOMEONE had the cajones to call this play. The talk was yesterday about how there was no spark, no support even in the dugout for any play well turned or a nice hit.
          This is a good sign and I hope someone else comes up with cajones to make more good plays.

    • It is the proper call when the wheel play in motion as the middle of the infield opens. You have to count on your player to execute. DP more likely if he bunts, the wheel play looking for a DP on a bunt.

      • Yea but a pitcher? Even with the wheel called a DP is still hard to turn. Its not possible at all if you don’t call the wheel play, and it probably was a little aggressive with a 4-1 lead. But for Hurdle to give JMac the green light to (or allow him the freedom too) to pull it back and slap it up the middle is still pretty gutsy for a team struggling to score runs. If that scenario plays out ten more times this year the pitcher probably fails 7 or 8 times and the runner is dead in the water at third.

        Really, really good work with the stick by Jmac. And it should really help his confidence that Hurdle put that kind of trust in him in that situation. If it doesn’t work the Pirates probably lose and the both of them look like complete idiots this morning.

      • The fact that he bunted right into it the first time he saw it & then swung the next time has to be credited to the manager and coaching staff. And McDonald certainly gets credit for getting bat to ball. It was so nice to see that all work out for a change. I think it was the key to the game.

  16. It is -3 here in the Rocky Mountains this morning. A little cool for April. Even at 8k feet.

    • Keep it there!!!

    • I won’t tell you what it is here at 8 (no k) feet.

    • 34 and drizzle on the prairie. I misspoke about the snow yesterday — it’s supposed to come tonight. (I was up all night with the thunderstorm if I want to find something else besides old age and bad memory to blame.) The good news is that they’ve reduced the prediction from 6-10 inches to 2-4 by tomorrow afternoon The rain has finally turned the grass green, but the juncos haven’ gone north yet. We had a couple of really heavy hailstorms go east of us last night. No crops to damage yet, but they were saying to get cars into garages!

  17. Well, I am off to enjoy the beautiful sun shine and 78 degree weather today.
    First time in a long time the weather has been nice for a day off of mine.

    I posted last night, I have watched 5 games this year………all losses.
    Havent seen 3 games……………………. all wins.

    After enjoying the weather today, I want to watch the game, but with the abobe results, I dont think I will.
    May have to settle for seeing updates here in “the asylum”.

    Go Bucs!

    CWalton_67……………. I feel your pain.

  18. I keep trying to wrap my head around the obscene amount of talent the Penguins have when (if?) they get healthy. Last night they beat a team without their best player, best sniper and two of their best puck carrying defensemen that are are the point on both PP units.

    Kunitz/Crosby/Dupuis
    Neal/Malkin/Iginla
    Cooke/Sutter/Morrow
    Adams/Jokinen/TK

    Orpik/Martin
    Letang/Eaton
    Murray/Niskanen

    That…thats almost not fair.

    I mean SERIOUSLY….

  19. Good for the Pens to pull out the win yesterday. The goal by Morrow was real pretty. He picks up a couple of those goals in the playoffs and keeps hitting like he does and I am thrilled.

    It is obvious that Malkin loves playing with Kunitz. He looked much better on the ice yesterday. I’m thinking that maybe Bylsma will see that as well and keep Kunitz on Malkin’s line. My desire for lines moving forward:

    Dupuis – Crosby -I ginla
    Kunitz – Malkin – Neal
    Cooke – Sutter – Morrow
    Adams – Jokinen – (not sure here. Could be Bennett, Glass, TK, or Vitale at center and Jokinen at wing)

    Pretty wicked line up. I wouldn’t want to play against them.

    Good win by the Bucs too. Marte has really come into his own as a leadoff hitter and how’s about Snider getting hits in back to back games. I’d say right field is his for now since none of the other options are hitting. Bad first inning by JMac, but I was impressed that he was able to gain some composure after that. In the past I think an inning like that would’ve broke him and it shows some maturity that he was able to adjust and get through the next few innings.

    • Iceman, I’d LOVE to see TK sit and Bennett play, but I doubt that will happen. The rink ice will melt first.

      • + many (Despres too)

        Stuart

        • Yes and Depres too!

          • Despres seems to be in the doghouse and TK never seems to sit.
            Go figure.

          • Depres is an engima. Very good offensive skills, and yes, as been pointed out, throws an occasional “solid” check…but he does not play physically, especially for his size.

            I believe that up until last week, they have been picking his spots and protecting him. But with the injuries, he had to play real minutes against the Rangers and it did not go well. Timid is too strong, but he got pushed around a fair amount. IMO, that’s why he sat and Bortuzzo dressed. Bortuzzo was caught watching on one goal, but also made a nice play to score and was generally okay the rest of his minutes.

            He has got to step up his grit factor or he will not dress in the playoffs.

            • I agree. I’ll add my two cents: Despres is playing at AHL speed. My guess is that he does the same things with the baby Pens but he gets away with it at that level and probably even gets kudos from the coaches. However, unless he picks up the intensity at this level, he’ll never get out of DB’s doghouse.

              And I also agree on the grit factor. TK plays with grit and some speed, although that’s about it. Despres has the skills, but lacks the grit. DB loves the grit, as that’s the type of NHL player he was.

    • That goal by Morrow came out as pretty. In reality, it was a falling forward wrist flick that found a hole. Still, very nice goal for a first as a penguin. Also, very much enjoyed Bortuzzo’s goal. Both Bortuzzo and Bennett drove the net and got rewarded. I like those goals. :)

  20. The Patriots have finally signed Emmanuel Sanders to that long rumored offer sheet. It’s a one year deal. If the Steelers don’t match they get the Patriots 3rd round pick this year, #91 overall.

  21. Another great night of Pirate baseball last evening, sure makes it much more enjoyable when you witness a win.

    Thought JMac showed a lot of mental toughness to come back and battle after choppy first. Marte, Walker, and Jones account for six of the 11 hits, three runs and all six RBI’s. Sprinkled in was Snider once again getting bat to ball and even Martin with the double and a ball he crushed just foul on what would have been a potential two run HR.

    Coming back from an early 4-1 hole could be beneficial to the team from a psyche standpoint. They battled back and one big inning they retook the lead.

    Tough assignment today as the Bucs go for the sweep. Wade Miley had a very sharp first outing and looks as if he is ready to pick right up following his All-Star campaign from a year ago. Expect to see the getaway lineup today and more right handed bats with Tabata and Sanchez versus the leftie.

  22. I think the best thing about the win last night was that the bats woke up.

    With the pitching we’ve been getting if the offense had been there, well . . .

    I know, history is history and can’t be changed from the moment it happens.

    Still, optimism is creeping in — and that’s a good thing.

  23. Boston Globe is reporting that the Sanders offer sheet is believed to be in the $4 million range.

  24. Emmanuel Sanders isn’t the great WR.
    However….If the Steelers go into this season with Antonio Brown and a crew of rookie wide outs (please don’t bother mentioning Plaxico Burress), they will go nowhere.
    For all intent purposes, we’re talking about a 4th round pick here.
    If at all possible, I would keep Sanders in an effort to avoid one less hole on this team.
    There are no guarantees with the 90-something pick in the draft.
    That late 3rd rounder could net a guy that doesn’t even make the squad in late Aug.

    Meanwhile….Bill Belichick (and a crew of shady accountants) work well into the night….In their continued effort to convince some that they are under the salary cap.

    • Just as I hit reply, I tried to change the word great (in the first line) to greatest.
      Didn’t get it in time.

    • I don’t think it’s a no-brainer that you let him go, but a lot may depend on whether they really think they can seriously contend this year. If it’s a double-secret “rebuilding” year, let him go. Otherwise, that one less hole theory has a lot of merit.

      • Don’t worry, the Steelers aren’t rebuilding or anything…they still haven’t finished blowing up the current team to rebuild just yet.

    • Is he that much of an upgrade over Cotchery? Since Sanders contract is up at the end of the season we might as well get something for him.

    • The Steelers have so many holes right now, another one wont be a big deal. Let him walk, take the pick.

      The important thing is to make the pick count.
      No more whiffs.

    • I understand your concern going into the season with this receiving corps minus Sanders.

      But if the Pats offer is 4 million, I think the Steelers have to walk away with the pick.

      With as many holes as this team has and the need for depth pretty much everywhere, they can use the extra pick. I know that this creates another hole, I still take the pick over a 4 million dollar Sanders.

      The Steelers only have about 2 million under the cap and would have to come up with approx 700k to match (with 1.3 currently slated for Sanders getting to 4 mil). They would have restructure some one else. I think they have done enough of that.

      If Sanders goes that frees up 1.3 and Steelers could use that 3.3 (with 2 mil avail) on a FA:

      WRs available rated about same as Sanders:

      Josh Cribbs
      Steve Breaston
      Early Doucet

      And there are others.

      As the days drag on their prices come down. Breaston may have wanted $5 mil at the start of FA but he’s got to realize he’s not likely to get that now.

      Or it could be used on Bradshaw if he’s healthy to shore up RB. Michael Turner is still available. A lot of wear on Turner sure but he would improve this group.

      Or a FA anywhere that fills a hole. There has to be one that could be had for $ 3.3 mil.

      Are these great options, no but Sanders at 1 year at $4 mil isn’t great either.

  25. Much grist for the mill regarding Dejan’s return to columnizing this Sunday.

    Pens, Pirates, Steelers.

    But who wants to bet it will be on the Riverhounds? His tweet over there actually induced me to look at their website. They have an auto launch with music. I hate that.

    I’m hoping he will write about the upcoming NBA playoffs.

  26. Does anyone who keeps tab on the Indy team know if Cole is due to start either next Mon or Tues in Toledo?

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