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Morning Java: Oh, no! 0-4!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column looks ahead to Pirates-Cardinals this weekend by stressing that the wild card is the one playoff prize no team should want. Not anymore.

Here’s what Marlon Byrd told me on the topic yesterday at PNC Park …

And here’s the rest of our baseball coverage, including the club being blanked by Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers last night. Rob Biertempfel and Travis Sawchik report.

Here’s Brewers news from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cardinals news from St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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>> So the Steelers finish the preseason at 0-4, as Alan Robinson reports from Charlotte, and no small portion of the public will somehow ascribe that to how they’ll fare in the real thing.

Which is insane. Completely, utterly, fantastically insane.

Unless, of course, you think that Landry Jones playing the entire game last night had nothing to do with anything. Or that Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and a half-dozen other guys didn’t play at all.

At any rate, this is the only Steelers game I get to watch from the laziness of my couch, and here are a handful of random observations: I love Derek Moye. Kid’s got to make the team. Great size for a receiver, good athleticism. I don’t care what he does on special teams. This corps could use him, if not now then down the road. … If Markus Wheaton had an NFL quarterback throwing to him, all of Pittsburgh would be buzzing about him this morning. … Curtis Brown is this close to being a total bust. He might be even closer than that. … Cortez Allen is going to be better than Keenan Lewis, sooner rather than later. … It’s preseason, and analyzing play-calling is generally stupid. But once inside the opponent’s 10 or 15, it helps everyone to work on at least throwing the ball in the end zone rather than all those silly screens and draws. It really can all happen at once. … Last one: David Paulson looked great with that hurdle of an opponent, and he made a couple good catches. But show me a tight end who gets knocked around like a rag doll in blocking schemes, and I’ll show you a tight end who’ll get replaced by an extra lineman — Kelvin Beachum — for the Tennessee game.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

>> You’ll find much, much more in our NFL Preview special section Sunday. It’s 12 pages, it’s packed with features and information and graphics, and it features a compelling cover story on concussions and football by Robinson. And as with so much, it’s far better in print than online.

>> The NFL forks over $765 million to settle all those concussion lawsuits.

>> A bit of trash talk between Pitt and Florida State? Jerry DiPaola reports.

>> Read up on Penn State before the Syracuse kickoff, by Kevin Gorman.

>> West Virginia loses a good back. Bob Hertzel reports from Morgantown.

>> One of the many awesome things about Western Pennsylvania high school is that we name our stadiums cool things like the Wolvarena, site of tonight’s biggest clash, per Chris Harlan. If you’ve never been to the place some of us still call Turtle Creek Stadium, it’s like Rome’s Colosseum.

Oh, and in any battle between George Novak and Jim Render, I’ll take a tie.

>> I’ll say hello to the TribLIVE Radio crew at 11:30 a.m.

>> The weekly chat will follow shortly after that, at noon. As always, it’ll be right here with its own post, and you can submit entries as soon as you see it.

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.

293 Comments

  1. If the Pirates don’t get at least a WC, it will be seen as another collapse at this point.

    And not making the playoffs at all is still a possibility.

    • It’s also possible that it will snow tomorrow, but I’m not digging out my gloves and galoshes just in case.

      The worry addressed in Dejan’s column is a much higher, much more realistic concern. Don’t wanna be a Wild Card when Pirates are this close to a Division Title.

      However, if you want to schedule a big snowball fight at noon tomorrow, go for it!!

  2. I had the Steeler game on radio, and the Pirate game on TV.

    I still can’t figure out which one was worse, but I guess it was the Pirate game became that one counted in the real standings.

    Make note….I hope I’m wrong….But this Steeler team strikes me like a 6-10 team at best.

    Yes…I’m well aware it’s preseason.

    The last time a team lost all four preseason games, and won the Super Bowl was the ’82 Redskins. I think that’s a pretty all-telling stat.

    As for the Pirates….Marlon Byrd and John Buck had four out of the six hits tonight. That solidifies the statement “this team just can’t hit” because it can’t. It took two very recent members of the Mets to get 2/3′s of the hits, and that wasn’t enough to produce a run.

    However…If the Brewers play as well against the Cards and Reds, we’ll be alright….

    Right?…Right?…Right?!?!

    DK: I had the Steelers game on TV. I don’t think I even own a radio anymore.

  3. I don’t know what DK means by “Ultra-mega-fantasmagorically-Epic Collapse III”.
    Is that not making the playoffs? Or finishing at 80-82?
    A check of the standings finds the Pirates 8.5 games ahead of Arizona and 9 ahead of Washington (yes, THAT Washington). By my calculations they should be behind both by the middle of September, so I guess DK won’t have to worry about that nasty wildcard after all.
    And can they really keep the streak going to no. 21? They’ll have to go 3-26 the rest of the way. For anyone else, I’d say no; for this bunch……..stay tuned!

    • wow, you must be calculating either wash or az or both pretty much wins all of their games and the Bucs losing most of theirs, then. Until it is or isn’t mathematically possible, we can say anything is possible. But good luck with the odds on your math. You may want to purchase lottery tickets and prepare to be struck by lightning twice while you are at it.

  4. Although the sniping was hardly Ali/Frazier, I was happy to see Pitt’s Devin Street show some swagger before Monday’s nationally televised game. I hope television plays it up a bit, and I hope Street burns Karlos Williams for 6 early in the game. Sounds as if Street is emerging as one of the team leaders. Good to see Isaac Bennett should play. I think he plays for sure despite Chryst’s coyness with the “may play” routine. They will need him to help out the “rusty” QB.

    Shockingly, Vegas has Pitt at only 10-point dogs. Can’t see how they are figuring that one out, but I’m still hoping for the upset.

    DK: Only one problem with the Panthers talking trash on the Seminoles …

  5. Since I have no compunctions about going for the obvious gag…

    Oh no! The above picture of Landry Jones looks like Mr. Bill the instant before his head gets popped off.

  6. DK – Actually…I meant radio via Internet.
    The NFL makes it tough to get the game on the Internet.
    I picked it up online via the DuBois, PA station.
    How’s that for a dedicated, creative fan?!

  7. With 29 games left, the Pirates magic number to eliminate Arizona is 22, to host the wild card is 27 (vs. Reds) and to win the division is 31 (vs. Cardinals), Games of interest this weekend are Cardinals at Pirates, Reds at Rockies, Giants at Diamondbacks and Mets at Nationals (because the Nationals are 1/2 game behind the Diamondbacks and have won 8 of their last 10).

  8. FIRE TOMLIN!!!!!!!

    Good Morning, Romper Room!

  9. Losing 2 of 3 to the Brewers is not a good sign.

    At all.

  10. I disagree with DK and agree with Marlon Byrd’s sentiments.

    It is not about avoiding the Wild Card.
    To me, being in the Wild Card game is being in the playoffs. And at this point our team should be happy with that. It is still way better than being a team who is sitting at home.

    ———-
    “…and no small portion of the public will somehow ascribe that to how they’ll fare in the real thing. Which is insane. Completely, utterly, fantastically insane.”

    I didn’t watch the Steeler game, but after hearing and reading a lot about how this Steeler team is shaping up and what has gone on at camp & in the preseason games —we’ll see how insane that is.

    • I AGREE STRONGLY with DK’s column and have been stating it vehemently here for 2 months.

      Just making the home Wild Card game would be a major disappointment after leading the division for so many days. Pirates now have the head-to-head opportunity AT HOME against Cards to claim 1st Place.

      Being the road Wild Card team and losing would be the Terrible Topper to 20 straight losing campaigns!!!!! Never a Playoff Series game in Pittsburgh . . . . ugh!!

      John Lease . . . . . . now THERE is something to be negative about!

      • My opinion on this is based upon my expectations for this team in the beginning of the season. I understand they are close to a division title, but my expectations were having a winning record. So I think getting into the playoffs via the wild card is fine. And I’m fine if that one game is on the road.

        If in the beginning of the season I felt that the team was stacked with talent and should be considered a division winner – then I would have some disappointment that they didn’t win the division.

        But playoffs are playoffs.

        Playoffs?!?!

        • At the beginning of the season, MOST of said we’d be happy with a WINNING record to end the streak. I stand by that.
          I understand tho, that with how well this team has played (or how much they over-achieved, depending on how one looks at it) that MORE is wanted. That’s fine, if that’s how you feel. I’d love to see MORE also.

          But I’m still gonna be happy with a winning record.

        • What’s worse:

          ——to marry the Prom Queen and then she gains 50 pounds
          ——to marry the Ugly Duckling who matures into a beautiful woman, and then she gains 50 pounds

          The Pirates this year are our Ugly Duckling. Most had little expectations for this team. I prefer that they stay beautiful, and not just settle that they were “beautiful” for a while.

          • You make my day, Groat.

          • Are you Paul Alexander? Just kidding. He always does those type of analogies which I don’t think work.

            I don’t see how making the wild card game is a disappointment at all. But of course, I want to win the division desperately.

          • So, does that mean you’ll toss the Ugly Duckling who gains weight out in the trash….and the Buccos too?

            smh

            • My wife has gained weight-and lost it-many times over our 41 years of marriage.

              I still loved her when she was big and little, both.

              Like Playoffs says every day, STAY CALM & BREAK .500.

              Mark 9:23

              Let’s get this thing accomplished.

              Swamped here and short-staffed. Yinz have a wonderful day.

              • This + MANY Spunky!

                Swamped here too. Hang in there, Spunkster!

              • Kentuck Knob,

                I don’t want to “just make it” into heaven———although that’s wonderful in and of itself———I want jewels in my crown!!!

                Don’t settle for just life . . . . . . reach ardently for that More Abundant Life!!!!

                I hope that’s what you’re preachin’!

              • Well Groat, when we pray to God for help, She gives us what She thinks is best, and it’s not always what we’re asking for. I’ll just ask her to END THE STREAK, not TELL Her how many games it has to be beaten by ;)

              • JandyGirl,

                You see, I never asked Her to end the streak.

                I ALWAYS play——and pray——to win!!!

              • But praying to win falls in the same category, Groatskie, you don’t tell Her you want to win a certain number of games, only that you’d like to win. :)

              • That’s not what you said in the above, Groaty, about just makin it in.

                I do preach John 10:10 and believe it. I just don’t dislike the winners if they don’t win it all or just win to get in.

                Same team. Same sport. Same city.
                Same wife.

                I’m for winning the division, too. And the WS. And 82.

              • Wise man, Spunky! Bless you!

            • I don’t really get the analogy either.
              But I guess everyone has their own expectations. Expectations aren’t right/wrong – they are yours.

              And I wouldn’t marry Paul Alexander no matter what his weight is

              • I am glad to see you say this today.

                Previously, you have told posters their expectations were wrong. I am happy to see you come on over.

                Right now I dont know what my expectations are. Yes, winning the division is important, but wouldnt a WC game be huge progress after 20 straight losing years? Just food for thought.

              • plan, I don’t recall telling their expectations were ‘wrong’.

                And I agree that a wild card game would be huge progress after 20 straight years of losing.

            • No, they have pills/surgery for that……….. ;)

            • Wise man Spunky. Bless you!

        • Your expectations are allowed to be adjusted based on trending. These seem pretty rigid to me.

    • I agree with TC. Football coach Bill Parcells said that his goal every year was to make “the tournament”, his name for the playoffs. His philosophy was. once you are in, anything can happen. Would I prefer that the Pirates win the division? Absolutely. Am I going to pout if they don’t. Nope. I am going to find someone with cable TV so I can watch the Pirates in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

      • Tom,
        I have cable TV. Come on over to watch the games….as long as you keep agreeing with me.

        • I’ll bring the beer ;) (If I’m invited)

          • Let’s see: “I’m drinkin’ wine, TC’s drinkin’ gin … AND WE’RE LOST IN THE OZONE AGAIN!”

            • Sounds like fun, everyone. Now if the Pirates would start winning a few more games, we would all be in a better mood.

              • I know dass right, Tom! Don’t know about you, but after a game like last night, there’s a little DREAD inside me as I open this thing up and enter the ANGRY BLOG (as opposed to the ANGRY MOB!) I was pretty daggum bummed myself … and it’s still the morning after! (Please, no one cue that old Melissa Manchester song! Oops! A quick check reveals that’s the mother MM – Maureen McGovern)

          • I’ll bring the cocktail shrimp, brie cheese and crackers, crab dip, and fruit.

            See Dejan! Now that’s how you do snacks when you invite friends over!

    • I feel like Ryan coming late to the party.

      You guys know a lot more than me. I won’t know until after the season how I’ll feel based on how the season ends. It will probably have little to do with my expectations at the beginning of the season, though. For example, I had higher hopes for Martin and Liriano than I think DK did, but I certainly didn’t expect either one to be this good. So to not take things like that into account doesn’t make sense to me.

      it also helps that I don’t remember what my expectations were, if I had any.

    • i think the insanity is looking at preseason records and trying, on that basis alone, to ascribe any meaning to that come regular season. I think, don’t know for sure, but I think, the 0-16 Lions team a few years back was 4-0 in the preseason. Exhibit “One and Done” on that point. And thanks.

  11. The Steelers will REGRET not drafting a **** Tight End **** with the 4th round pick….instead picking QB Landry Jones (who will most likely be toting around a clip board for the balance of this & many fuure Steeler seasons).

    . Said this after Heath Miller got hurt
    . Said this before they signed Matt Spaeth
    . Repeated it AFTER they signed Matt Spaeth :-(
    .
    It’s frightening to look at the lack of quality depth at that position and it just remains a big concern about the lack of weapons on offense.

    • Haven’t they under-used Heath as an offensive weapon for his entire career – as a receiver? His blocking is sorely missed.

      Would a 4th round draft pick of a tight end have changed the offensive philosophy?

      Remember Ben gets banged up a lot; so is it better to have insurance a TE or QB

  12. JAL’s Iron Man Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LjbMVXj0F8

    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 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

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

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Finding the Line Between the Rays and the Brewers

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/first-pitch-finding-the-line-between-the-rays-and-the-brewers.html

    Pirate Offense Anemic in 4-0 Shutout Loss

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/pirate-offense-anemic-in-4-0-shutout-loss.html

    Prospect Watch: West Virginia Clinches Playoff Spot, Paulino Hero on First Day With Indianapolis

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/prospect-watch-west-virginia-clinches-playoff-spot-paulino-hero-on-first-day-with-indianapolis.html

    Pirates Notebook: Breaking Bad Locke

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/08/pirates-notebook-breaking-bad-locke.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates lose quietly, 4-0

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/8/29/4674542/pirates-lose-quietly-4-0

    Pennant race flashback: August 29, 1970

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/8/29/4656540/pennant-race-flashback-august-29-1970
    6 Rumbunter

    Black Power: Best of Luck to Vic Black in New York

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/08/29/black-power-best-of-luck-to-vic-black-in-new-york/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 133: Brewers 4 Pirates 0

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/august-2013/game-133-brewers-4-pirates-0.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Pirates Shut Out 4-0

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/08/pirates-shut-out-4-0.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Brewers 4, Pirates 0

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/08/brewers-4-pirates-0/

  13. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Neal Huntington burnishes GM of the year credentials

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/08/29/pittsburgh-pirates-gm-neal-huntington-burnishes-executive-of-the-year-credentials/

    11 KDKA

    Colin Dunlap: Charlie Morton Proving His Worth

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/08/29/colin-dunlap-charlie-morton-proving-his-worth/

    12 Amazin Avenue

    Marlon Byrd Trade Analysis: Meet Vic Black

    http://www.amazinavenue.com/2013/8/29/4670056/new-york-mets-marlon-byrd-trade-analysis-vic-black-pirates

    13 Beaver County Times

    Pirates Insider: Bucs fall to Brewers, but Buck shows his worth

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/pirates-insider-bucs-fall-to-brewers-but-buck-shows-his/article_f743f11b-c6d9-5e42-abbe-588165c3d2ae.html

    14 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/b>

    Yovani Gallardo continues comeback

    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/yovani-gallardo-continues-comeback-b9986285z1-221745021.html

    15 Sporting News

    Playoff preview: Taking a look at the NL’s five likely postseason teams

    http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2013-08-29/mlb-playoffs-2013-national-league-cardinals-dodgers-pirates-braves

    16 CBS Sports

    Cardinals-Pirates Gam Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130830_STL@PIT/cardinalspirates-preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cards option Wacha, Blazek to minors, leave spot open

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinal-beat/cards-option-wacha-blazek-to-minors-leave-spot-open/article_1143f843-e048-5674-95d3-5c4ff70c707f.html

    18 PBC Site

    Cole can’t get run support after shaky start

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_08_29_milmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Reliever Black dealt to Mets as ‘player to be named’

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130829&content_id=58946374&notebook_id=58947180&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Canoe

    MLB notes: Reds infielder Brandon Phillips loses it on Cincinnati reporter

    http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/MLB/2013/08/29/21084126.html

    20 Fangraphs

    Paul Maholm and Greatness

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/paul-maholm-and-greatness/

  14. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers vs. Panthers final score: Pittsburgh goes winless in the preseason after 25-10 loss to Carolina

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/29/4674334/steelers-panthers-final-score-preseason-stats-highlights

    Winners and Losers from Steelers preseason loss to Carolina

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/8/29/4673944/winners-and-losers-steelers-preseason-carolina-panthers-final-score

    22 Steelers Depot

    Tomlin Says Felix Jones Helped His Cause in Loss to Panthers

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/08/mike-tomlin-says-rb-felix-jones-helped-his-cause-in-loss-to-panthers/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Evening Standard

    Tottenham 3 Dinamo Tbilisi 0: Defoe at the double as Spurs reach Europa League group stages

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/tottenham-3-dinamo-tbilisi-0-defoe-at-the-double-as-spurs-reach-europa-league-group-stages-8790448.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Tactics: a bumpy ride for Bayern

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/features/tactics-a-bumpy-ride-for-bayern

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Top 25 Prospects – Fan Poll Results

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/8/29/4671440/top-25-prospects-fan-poll-results

  15. So the Byrd era is a failure. Can we send him back?

    We could use those prospects in 2016.

  16. Good read DK. I would like to avoid the wildcard as well. Although I’ m not ready to say that the wildcard winner can’t go on to win it all. It’s only been one year with the system and if I remember correctly the Cards had all kinds of issues with their starting pitching last year. They were still able to make it past a really good Washington team.

  17. The way the Pirates are playing right now it won’t matter if it’s a three game series, a five game series, a seven game series, or even a nine game series. They’ve lost 12 of their last 19 and won only 1 of their last 6 series.

    That beeping sound you hear is the Pirates backing into the playoffs.

  18. TONIGHT IT STARTS!!!!!

    Our best against their best, playing in PNC Park.

    Liriano, Burnett, and some Minor Leaguer against the 1st Place Cardinals. If Bucs cannot win at home with Liriano and Burnett, Bucs do not deserve to be Champions.

    It’s time to put the Big Boy pants on now, Pirates———no more potty training!

  19. Morning All: Agree with many of the points listed above regarding the Pirates…statistics don’t lie. And yes, I have my concerns, too. That being said…it is September (well, close enough) and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in a pennant race. A full blown pennant race! We have waited 20 years for this. Obviously, we have no idea how the next 29 games will play out, but man, the Pirates are 1 game back in their division after 5 months of baseball. Not, 22 like the Cubs where this team usually is. To me, that makes this last holiday weekend of the summer and little sweeter with a head to head against the Cardinals. Just my thoughts … Beat ‘em Bucs! Oh, and have a nice weekend everyone!

  20. Four out of the six experts on CBS sports believes that the Steelers will make the playoffs. That’s right FOUR out of six.

    I’m thinking seven wins. I really don’t know how a playoff berth could be justified.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/23346776/nfl-expert-picks-bengals-bandwagon-filling-up-can-they-win-it-all

  21. It might sound like I’m getting just a tad ahead of myself but if Jeff Locke doesn’t make our playoff roster and if the Buccos win the World Series, would Locke get a ring?

  22. I tried to make the point on this blog a week ago that the Pirates’ goal in the final month of play should be the division title, nothing less, for all the reasons DK articulated so well in his Friday column.
    The response I got from other bloggers here was: “UGH.” followed by, “+++”

  23. Great column. I’m very nervous. I’m very excited.

    GO BUCS! Your time is at hand!

  24. Random delusional thought: if the Pirates go 29-0 to finish the season, they’ll be 106-56. Fifty games over .500.

    • if the pirates go 0-29 though, they’ll be 77-85, 8 games under .500.

    • I’ll go with how they’ve been trending the last 2 months, 15-14. That makes 92-70.

      • Thanks for putting out the fire Milo

        :-)

        • Hey Thunder, about Cole. How about a splitter ? I think that would really be a great addition to his arsenal. He could learn it in the off season.

          • I don’t know. Does a splitter put pressure on the elbow? (any more than a lot of other pitches?)

            I just think he needs to improve the pitches he’s got and learn more about the ‘thinking’ part of pitching (how to set up hitters)

          • I think he will develope over the off season and become a more complete pitcher. I think his goal right now is to not give up many walks. I think he is trying to stay within himself and do what he’s comfortable with and give the team a chance to win when he pitches. He’s not trying to win the game for them but instead not lose it for them. Kind of like Charlie Batch.

      • I’m still solid with Clint Hurdle’s # from Spring Training, when it sounded so outlandish . . . . . . 95

        • Previously on the blog, I repeated something I heard which was playoff teams win 2/3 of their home games and 1/2 of their road games, but I never figured out how many wins that was. So, 2/3 of 81 home games is 54. 1/2 of 81 road games is 41. 54+41=95. I wonder if that’s where Hurdle got his number of 95. Winning 95 is easier said than done, obviously.

  25. DK,

    I read the column and its a good read… the implications in losing a start from your best pitcher from the getgo. However, its early yet and the pirates continue to slump IMO. Losing another series to the “lowly” brewers. Therefore, to quote the great Jim Mora:

    “Playoffs??? Don’t talk to me about playoffs!? Playofffss?? I just hope we can win a game!”

    My bold prediction for this weekend: The reds will make up ground on either the pirates or cardinals.

    TGIF to all you loonies.

  26. I’m just curious: I wonder how many teams added one or more players for the stretch, and it actually helped significantly and carried them into the playoffs? I know there are other variables, but even if there’s not anything MEASURABLE and RECORDED out there, can any of y’all think of anyone in recent history – or even non-recent – where a guy went to a club and really gave them a lift into and through the playoffs?

    Guess I’m wondering about this TEAM CHEMISTRY thing a bit, too.

    Aw heck, there’s not any more to team chemistry than there is to clutch hitting, is there?

  27. Did our explosive and versatile “bench player – JHay” do something bad, to have gotten benched after collecting “a few” hits on Wednesday?

    Surely he deserved a shot at left field last night while his bat was hot, instead of Joe Tab.

    I guess the Manager of the Year (in waiting for next year) saw something a bit different than I did.
    Remember we are in “panic decision” mode right now.

    • Hasty Bob,

      You threw out this briquette 75 minutes ago, but no one will come out and play with you.

      I will.

      You are exactly right: JHay is a “versatile bench player.” A versatile bench player should more than hold his own, then return to the bench and await his next opportunity. JHay did exactly that at 2nd base the other night.

      To play a bench player too much overexposes him and he begins to fail. JHay had his very best game of the year on Wednesday, and he did not hurt the Pirates in the field which must always be a consideration with him——but that is no reason to expect him to have similar results last night.

      Plus, Harrison can’t catch a cold in the outfield, much less play that expansive left field of PNC Park.

      Hasty Bob, I respect your baseball acumen. Yet as an outfielder, Jose Tabata, your DT (Designated Target), is 5 times better than Josh Harrison.

      I’m exceedingly glad Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle saw something a bit differently than you did. Fortunately, he did not “panic” and put Josh Harrison in LEFT!!!!!

      • You are absolutely correct Groat… but he should have panicked and put Harrison at 3rd. Alvarez has been shutout 2 straight… clearly he needs a rest.

        I just do not understand how Alvarez can be sooo hot/cold. He was 4-for-4, 2 nights ago and 0-for-8 since.

  28. Good Morning to our blog regulars this morning.
    Special shout out to Lucky, and Jandy, our resident miracle workers.

    I would like to address something I saw at the end of the game thread last night…….. about perceived criticism of Cutch.

    A statement was made that Cutch didnt hustle out of the box on his triple in the first inning. Then, several posters said dont criticize Cutch for lack of hustle. And, a back and forth ensued.

    I believe it is very possible to root for Cutch, our MVP, best player, team leader, he of scorching August……………. and criticize him for that one SINGLE PLAY, without criticizing his overall play. I think Cutch gives 110% every game, but on that one play last night, he didnt. That doesnt diminish any of his achievements, just shows he is human, and needs to set an example for his teammates. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Fans should feel free to cheer/criticize as they wish, as long as they dont go overboard in either direction. Legitimately criticizing one play doesnt make one any less of a fan. Now if that criticiam is done over, and over, it becomes worthless.

    Just my one-half cent.

    • Good morning Plan. Where were you when I needed you ? :)

      • LOL, Milo. I was getting in bed.
        But I had to give my poor man’s view on this whole sad, silly sitiuation.

        Much earlier in last nights thread, I gave an opinion that Cutch should imitate JHay when getting out of the box quickly. I really wouldnt call that a criticism, but some might. Anyway, I still think Cutch is the best by far on our team, and I wont let one incident ruin that feeling.

        Hope your Friday is good, Milo. :)

    • “Now if that criticiam is done over, and over, it becomes worthless.”

      Not…going to…go…there….oh, what the heck it’s Friday.

      Does that sentiment extend to criticism of the FO….or is it just players?

      • FO is exempt…just because!

      • TC, you can apply it anyway you want.

        I notice you conveniently skipped over another important part of my post……………
        ” Fans should feel free to cheer/criticize as they wish, as long as they dont go overboard in either direction. ”

        That overboardness would include constant praise/defending of said FO.
        It does go both ways, thats why I included it in my post.

        :D

      • TC, you can apply it anyway you want.

        I notice you conveniently skipped over another important part of my post……………
        ” Fans should feel free to cheer/criticize as they wish, as long as they dont go overboard in either direction. ”

        That overboardness would include constant praise/defending of said FO.
        It does go both ways, thats why I included it in my post.

        :D

        • Thunderconvenience.

          Oh my, I’m turning into Foo.

          :-)

          • Foo Who? ;)

            Sounds like something from Dr. Seuss…………

          • Actually, I think fans are also free to go overboard in any direction if they wish.

          • I miss Foo.

            Give the guy credit, though, he said he was leaving and he did. I think he has only popped up for a holiday greeting and sometimes posts on Travis’ sight. I haven’t lurked for free over at the pay per blog for months but I’m guessing he’s active there.

            • Hey Foo!

              Wha’dyu think of the “prospects” BMTIB gave up for the two animals?

            • Yeah, Oshkosh, I miss Foo too. His wit was welcomed here. Hope he pops in one of these days, just to say hey :)

            • He’s blocked here, from what he told me.

              • AH yes, I forgot about that.

              • He comes in and lurks sometimes under another moniker.

                Fee Fi Foo Fum

              • Really, Groat? I understand he does post sometimes on Travis’ blog. But I rarely go there unless I hear there’s been a food fight. Just to watch.

                I don’t know the protocol, but when someone is “blocked,” I always thought that meant they couldn’t post, not that they couldn’t lurk.

                DK: We neither can — nor would — stop anyone from reading any of our content.

              • He’s here every now and again. He comes in under his wife’s email address or something.

                I’m sure if he asked, Dejan would take off the “Go Away” tag, but Foo is as stubborn as DK. Imagine that!

                He repeats some of our more pithy comments sometimes on Bucs Dugout.

                I like him and I miss him. He “loves” prospects!

              • Didn’t know that, Groat. Last time I communicated with him he said he had asked Dejan via e-mail, and he wouldn’t respond. He did say that the Trib blocked him, though, not Dejan specifically. And he shared some communications from the Trib to that effect.

                DK: I’m done with him, and I’m done with all of the Pirates’ bloggers and sycophants who have gone from distorting things I write to now telling — and spreading — outright lies about me.

                Here’s the incredible part, though: That has resulted in 48 total blocks on Twitter. That’s it. Out of 33,000, just 48, and suddenly there’s total silence from that crowd.

                Been saying this a long time, but this is a tiny, tiny group that just happens to make a ton of noise. And it doesn’t do anything for me — or the broader readership — if I invest so much as two seconds out of my day on any of them.

              • Thanks, seriously, for the clarification, DK.

          • Thunderlito. Your Spanish name.

    • YES! Didn’t see it, but even Dejan said in his chat that Cutch “dogged it” out of the box. How ANYONE can do that at this juncture of the season under ANY circumstances is beyond me. Criticism warranted when it happens, regardless of the guilty culprit.

      • Just my opinion, and I did see it, Cutch didn’t “dog it.” My impression was he thought initially it was going to either be a home run or caught. Happens every day to lots of good players who play all out. Unfortunately, the guy missed it, and if he would have been running all out, he could have done better. And he does have a tendency to only put on the jets (his second gear) after he sees it’s needed. I think the criticism that he should get out of the box better is warranted, and he messed up on this one, but I just don’t see “dogging it.”

        (Sorry to direct this at you, Karen, because lots of people have been taking that view, it’s just the convenient location to put what I think)

  29. Between Jim Render and George Novak, I’ll take Novak.

    In all honesty, he wins by default.

    I knew a lot of kids who refused to play for Render and their dads were okay with that. One individual played was on the roster for all four years and guess how many downs he played? Four. One for every year of high school.

    Render plays to win. Which is good for the pros and college but not for high school.

  30. That loss last night was tough to see, but I actually feel pretty optimistic today. Alot of hard hit balls last night, many just happend to be right at guys. Not alot of ugly at bats or strike outs. Cutch’s comment sums it up for me:
    “(Gallardo) got pretty lucky today. That’s how I see it,” McCutchen said. “We squared some balls up, hit some balls hard, and people happened to be in the right place at the right time. I won’t say he dominated because in my mind I don’t think he did.”

    Tonight some of those hard hit balls are going to fall in for us. Hoping PNC is packed and loud tonight. This is meaningful baseball! We’ve waited a long time for this! Let’s Go Bucs!

  31. It’s that time again – “Cutting won’t be difficult. Stopping will be.”

  32. Cardinals just traded for John Axford. The Pirates chances just got better.

    FREE DAN HAREN

  33. I hope Tim Tebow makes the Patriots so Dejan can share punch with him at this year’s ESPN Holiday Party.

  34. Is it game time yet?

    I’m getting nervous already

  35. Looks like Dom made the chat :)

  36. And Hipposter made the chat!

  37. Did you all see on the chat where DK said Landry Jones might not make the roster?

    If that happens I will be none too happy. We would have wasted a 4th rounder when we could have really knocked out another need.

    Personally, I would have doubled dipped on the running backs and went with Jonathan Franklin, who some experts thought could have been the second best back in the draft.

    If not Franklin, then we could have also double dipped on the safeties, which wouldn’t have been stupid since both Troy and Clark are well past 30, and grabbed Phillip Thomas. Some thought Thomas could have gone in the second round.

    We also could have gone with an ILB, DE, TE. All of which look to be major needs for the 2014 draft.

    Very disappointing.

    DK: Not passing the buck, but I attributed that 100 percent to Mark Kaboly.

    • No way they cut Jones.

      • I didn’t see the game last night, but from what I’ve seen, he has been god-awful. Wouldn’t surprise me. And hasn’t that guy who they picked up that has some NFL snaps, but is still young, been outplaying him? Wilson?

    • Since we could only sign him for four years, there a good chance he won’t be given a chance to start. I think we should have held out for QB till next year’s draft, especially since we have so many needs right now.

  38. And Daquido makes the chat :)

  39. Really liked the answer to the last question on the DK’s chat about Wandy. That is great news. He could really be needed down the stretch for the two series against the Reds and possible playoffs.

  40. Ahoy, blogmateys! Keep Calm, all of you… it isn’t even September yet. It’s hard for most of us to remember but this is what pennant races are. Ups and downs. Ask Reds fans today how they feel…they just dropped 2 or 3 to these Brewers and then were spanked in St Louie… (though they did emphatically take the last game of the series).

    The Reds will get another chance to spank the Cards…. 4 games in GABP starting Monday… this can set up nicely for our Buccos… take the series this weekend and then let Brandon Phillips treat Cards pitching like a lockerroom reporter.

    Big game tonight for the Bucs.. not only does a W set up a series win, pull the Bucs tied at the top, but it also is Liriano’s game and at home so these are the games they need to win. I won’t jump off any bridges (real or imaginary) if they don’t win tonight, but a win would be a very good thing indeed.

    I’m not in the predicting business (some bloggers today have the Bucs falling behind AZ and WA within 14 days (yikes!), but I can make a good case for the Bucs being 1.5 games ahead in first place by next Thursday heading into a very big final series of the regular season in STL next weekend. (Bucs take 2 this weekend, 2 in Brewtown, Cards lose 3 in Cincy).

    • oh and just to pre-empt the inevitable, yes the Bucs can indeed drop the next 6 in a row by a cumulative score or 192 – 3 and if they do it will all be because of cheap Nutting and the regime (that may be a good name for a new rock band).

    • Crematorium,

      Too much sanity for this location!!

      • oh ok, since it’s Friday….

        CUTCH IS A BUM for not running all out and getting an inside the park HR. I will take everything the all-star does for granted, hardly ever praise him for all the stuff he does that is outstanding, and only comment on his play when he , rarely, does something that is legitimately lagging but I’ll spend all my energy dogging him for that and not ever in praising for other amazing accomplishments.

        Same way BIG BEN is a big loser everytime he takes a sack and throws a pick. And then I’ll be totally silent when his scrambling, playground-style single-handedly results in the game-winning score, just to save my energy for the next time he is a huge bum and big loser and should be benched in favor of Landry Jones.

        \there, now I should fit in better. :) happy long-weekend Friday!

  41. Two more thoughts from me, since my travels this week has eaten into my blog time and I need to make up ground :)

    1. I listened to the audio of Tuesday’s Bucs-Brewers game via the AtBat app… the inning the Bucs scored 4 runs battling back (think it was the 5th), Neal Huntington spent the whole half-inning with Greg Brown…they were talking about Byrd/Buck mostly and Locke, but what stuck out to me was how accurately NH described Pedro…. paraphrasing “he’s an awesome power threat, and if can ever figure out going the opposite way and making more contact, he’d become a really good hitter”. Very honest and spot-on description of Pedro. He flat-out right now is NOT a good hitter, and his lack of consistent contact with RISP is killing the offense many, many times. I hope Byrd will help, hitting behind Pedro, not to get Pedro’s better pitches but to clean up what Pedro leaves on the plate — or more aptly “on the bases”…

    Lots I’m sure to continue to find fault with NH and how he does his job, but to me, he has always been pretty accurate in assessing major league ability (though the scouts have been wrong a lot with projecting ability of prospects we trade for)…we can go down the line, but typically NH doesn’t overhype the ability of our players/prospects and is pretty level-headed.

    2. The bar has been raised, and correctly so, based on the Pirates wonderful play through June (since then it has been .500). I will very, very disappointed with anything less than a division title…. and that’s a good thing. To get to being a legitimate championship organization, you need to have high standards. Not to say getting 82 won’t be sweet. Not to say getting into the playoffs won’t be awesome. It is possible for something to be sweet/awesome and still not be everything you want.

    All of that said, it is also interesting to take another perspective. The Bucs remain 1game out of first place 6 weeks after losing their all-world closer Jason Grilli to a tough injury. They are still there despite only having Wandy, a very important veteran starter to stablize the staff, for 2 months of the season. They are still there despite missing their lead-off hitter, offensive spark and outstanding defensive player, Starling Marte for most of August. They are still there despite missing AJ Burnett for a big chunk of time….etc., etc.

    Let’s raise it , I say… raise expectations! yes, division title or bust! raise a glass to this gritty team for overcoming so many obstacles to get to this point! and raise that jolly roger for a series win against the dreaded Redbirds and their ridiculous unstainable RISP and singles-hitting lineup.

    • Crematorium,

      Again, Way too much sanity!!

      One can tell you have been away from here for a few days!

      I agree with you wholeheartedly——DIVISION TITLE OR BUST! Raise those expectations.

    • NICE synopsis. All true. We might have already locked things up if it weren’t for all of the above. ONWARD!

    • I thought Pedro had started to show signs — and results — of making more of an effort to go oppo, early during the California swing. But then he reverted back to his old ways. Pedro clearly needs to fix this because while HR’s are nice, it’s his only trick.

  42. The Window is getting an early start to the weekend, and kindly requests a lil’ help from one of you fine fellow lunatics.
    If you one you could please re-post this for me in today’s game thread, you will have my thanks and gratitude!

    TRIP-TRIP-TRIPLE PLAY FRIDAY!!!

    ******PLEASE READ WHAT IS WRITTEN BELOW******
    PLEASE PLACE YOUR “WAGERS” AS REPLIES IN THIS COMMENT BOX
    Makes my job a helluva lot easier when I don’t have to hunt to find everyone’s “wagers”

    Max “wager” is 100 units on any single line.
    All “wagers” must be in multiples of 5 units.
    Play as few or as many lines as you’d like.
    As always, this is for fun and entertainment purposes.

    NEW PLAYERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME & ENCOURAGED!!

    Line #1
    Total RUNS ALLOWED by Francisco Liriano in tonight’s game
    Line is 2.5
    ***Please note this is Runs Allowed, NOT Earned Runs***

    Line #2
    Total Combined HOME RUNS HIT by Pirates Batters this weekend against St. Louis
    Line is 3.5

    Line #3
    Total WINS by the Pirates this weekend against St. Louis
    Line is 1.5

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    77 Down, only 5 more to go!!

    Anything is possible if a person believes
    Mark 9:23

    KEEP CALM & BREAK .500

  43. Have the TV on here at work.

    I’m not sure there is a classier guy in baseball than Ryne Sandberg.

    The anti-Dusty Baker.

  44. I must have missed the day where being a fan changed into being an unabashed teenage cheerleader regardless of what you see in front of you. And no one is due the slightest bit of criticism no matter the evidence. And pointing out a momentary lapse in effort (gasp) or judgement became taboo.

    Maybe it coincided with shutting off the scoreboards & giving everybody a trophy just for showing up.

    • You’re not SERIOUSLY accusing Biz, who disagreed with you last night, an unabashed teenager regardless of what you see in front of you, are you Milo? People disagree on stuff, but man, you’re usually much more thick skinned. Biz is hardly any of those things you described.

      • No I’m not. Where did I say anyone’s name ?

        • I was hoping you wouldn’t go the “name” route. Who challenged you about Cutch last night?

          I don’t want to start a war. I’m just sayin’. But I’ll stick with “No I’m not.”

          Biz is a friend, so maybe I’m overly sensitive on that.

          • I appreciate that. But if there’s something I want to say to Biz, I’ll say it to Biz. We left that last night. I was making a general comment, not trying to blindside anybody. That’s not the way I operate. And it’s ridiculous that I even feel the need to defend myself.

            Hope everyone has a safe weekend. See you down the road.

    • Milo, right on….and if most folks could criticize A play or A decision without taking that so-easy slippery slope slide to “the player is a bum”, “trade that loser”, “fire the manager or coach”, “send him to AAA”…”i told you that player is overrated”, etc then all is good.

      I think, and I don’t know, that the pushback some give on criticisms of the more popular players is because the balance is usually out of whack— the louder voices are the ‘go too far” crowd and not the more reasoned “call it like we see it” crowd.

      Just my view. I over the many months I’ve been on this blog have called out shortcomings (Cutch’s biggest issue is when he slumps he ignores the opposite field and gets pull happy); (Walker can’t hit RHPs); (Pedro Ks too much and his pitch recognition is not much better than mine probably is); (AJ loses focus and doesn’t go deep enough in games to save the pen) and on down the list. I think many on this blog routinely practice selective criticism and balanced perspective. But that is drowned out by the group that loves to hear their own voices—- either in the over-the-top negative direction or the over-the-top defensiveness position.

      Again, just my view.

    • He would’ve been benched had Jeff Banister been managing the club.

      • and that would’ve been the wrong move in my opinion. There is a difference between not running all out on a triple (what most major leaguers do, right or wrong) and what, say, Puig has been doing in LA. I wholeheartedly support how Mattingly is handling that but I also know that the fans in LA will torch him out of town if he goes much further than he has with Puig……

        i think the manager/staff just need to be tuned into each player and what makes them tick. Seems to me Cutch doesn’t need much external motivation and if he lapses, rarely but he does, then best move isn’t any type of in-public displays of discipline… might be done behind closed doors or maybe they don’t ever mention it because Cutch himself recognizes it and beats himself up for it. I don’t know but I bet the manager/coaches know what approach works best.

        • I agree with you cmat. My comment was a rather lame attempt at some humor.

          Remember earlier this year when Bannister was managing the club after CH got tossed? I think it was in St. Loo? Bannister removed Cutch in the 4th or 5th inning with a double switch. Some folks around here went absolutely nuts.

          As far as last night goes…..When a player ends up at 3B, standing up, after jogging half speed to 1B….well, that’s just bad baseball. And I’m willing to bet Andrew McCutchen wouldn’t argue that. I’m also willing to bet it won’t happen again.

  45. A pennant race is excruciatingly painful!!

    Will they win? Why didn’t they do this? How could they do that?

    I will never live this down? What in the fat was that guy doing? Ahh-h-h-h! They won!!

    I have missed this anticipation! This tremor! This frisson! This pain!!!!

    JAL or Jandy or somebody needs to throw up the video right here of “Hurts So Good”!!!

  46. Taillon in the mix to possibly start Sunday per Hurdle.

    DK: No, he definitely isn’t.

  47. Jones with the start tonight. Maybe he can get it going vs. the fast-baller Miller.

  48. Seems like folks are a little nervous, a little anxious about the upcoming big series.

    For Friday afternoon fun I present to you all a clip from 1987′s “Raising Arizona”, a scene about anxiety.

    The Steadicam shot racing over the tricycle, car, up the ladder into Florence Arizona’s screaming mouth is one of the great cinematic achievements.

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