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Morning Java: Steelers in three-way tie for first

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column goes all ballhawk on the Steelers’ defense, in advance of the season opener.

Here’s a quick clip of LaMarr Woodley on that topic yesterday …

A few other random impressions from my afternoon on the South Side: Mentioned to Ramon Foster that the No. 1 concern seems to be about the offensive line. His reply: “That’s OK. We know in here what we can do. Look, preseason was ugly. We know that. We made mistakes. But we got them all out of the way.” I believe him. … Man, Woodley is slimmer. Looks like a different person, much less player. … There’s a palpable edge among Woodley and Jason Worilds when you ask how they feel about cycling three men through two positions — Jarvis Jones will play — and that’s probably a really smart move by Mike Tomlin in and of itself. … Jones participated in the full practice. No limitations reported by the team. I’ll say it again: He will play. … Talking to these guys, their primary focus on D is keeping Chris Johnson from one of those patented monster runs. … My prediction for star of the game: Lawrence Timmons. A lot of this defense is being (rightly) geared toward him. … I don’t care if this means absolutely nothing, going to share it, anyway: I see a lot more players engaged in conversations with each other in that locker room than last year.

Here’s our Steelers coverage, by Alan Robinson and Mark Kaboly.

Here’s Titans news from the Tennessean.

And if you didn’t stay up really late last night, there was this …

All Peyton Manning did to the Super Bowl champs was tie an NFL record with seven touchdowns and put up almost 50 points as the Broncos annihilated the Ravens, 49-24.

Quite the league opener, indeed.

From the local perspective, this, of course, is significant, not just in that Baltimore was embarrassed right off the bat but also that two significant players — Jacoby Jones and Michael Oher — were lost from an offense that couldn’t come close to affording another loss.

Not to go all told-you-so on the topic — it’s only the first game — but I’ve been openly wondering for a while now why all these national types kept rating the Ravens among the AFC’s top one or two teams even after they lost so much experience, so much talent this offseason. I just never got that.

Let me throw this in, too: There are two differences in the schedules of the Steelers and Ravens. The Steelers will play the Titans and Raiders. The Ravens, instead of playing those two, face(d) the Broncos and Texans.

Terrible trade there. But the Steelers need to make that count by taking care of Tennessee.

>> A second crack at 82 awaits tonight in St. Louis, and we’ve got a full-length feature on Marlon Byrd this morning from Travis Sawchik.

Here’s our Pirates coverage.

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights from

Oh, and thanks for the correspondence — here, email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ — regarding the Thursday column on 82. All the personal stories that came with them were, honestly, overwhelming.

>> Ryan Braun is personally calling individual season-ticket holders in Milwaukee to apologize.

>> Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones is profiled by Chris Adamski in advance of the Nittany Lions’ home opener tomorrow against Eastern Michigan.

I’ll be riding up with Adamski to cover that for the Sunday column, and I’ll confess right here that I have never been inside Beaver Stadium. I was just outside the stadium a couple years ago waiting for a Joe Paterno press conference that would be called off. Never to an actual game.

Really looking forward to that.

Then, right back home for Steelers-Titans.

>> A terribly tragic death the Penguins plan to recognize, by Rob Rossi.

>> The weekly chat is today at noon, here on the blog. As soon as you see the post, entries can be submitted.

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. For Jandy:

    It is with great sadness that I have to announce that we have lost one of our own Lunatics…… Ghost. He was so upset that he couldnt celebrate the Pirates 82nd win last night, he became lost. He stumbled to my Pond, where I had to toss the confetti and cake away, and tried to get some out of the trash bags. He couldnt find anything salvagable, so he took a dip in my Pond. Upon exiting, he died by running into the electric fence. I awoke to the smell of burnt Lunatic. Ewwww.

    Funeral services will be held all day on DK’s blog.
    The Right Honorable LuckynKentucky officiating.
    Sister Jandy will sing Hymns of Rememberance.
    Music provided by “Sister Sledge” Brandie.
    Pallbearers will be the Grumpy Old Men of the blog.

    Scheduled appearance by neal Huntington, who will reveal that Ghost was “his boy” all along.
    Also by Frank Coonelly, who will leave immediately upon learning that booze isnt served at the wake.
    Also appearing will be Michael Therrien, who will say Ghost was soffffff.
    Mike Tomlin will be by to say everyone else was better than Ghost, thats why he didnt make the team.
    Dan Bylsma will also appear, and be promptly fired by Eric Bowser.
    Drew’s poodles will promptly desecrate Ghost’s grave.

    In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the “Buy DK a dress shirt and Tie for Olbermann’s show”. Leftover funds will be used to send DK to Winnipeg.

    RIP Ghost. You will be missed.

  2. I certainly hope the Steelers D is a ballhawking D. If they arent, it could be a very long season. Jones, Woodley, and Troy are keys. If any important member of the defense is out due to injury, that could hurt a lot.

    I predict Bucs take 2 of 3 from the Cards. Craig’s injured foot will hurt the Cards. More importantly, I am glad I dont have to root for the toothpick anymore.

    Ryan Fraud may want to call restaurants in addition to season ticket holders…………

  3. OK, I’m alive again.

    DK, that askance look Woodley is giving you at the start of the vid clip was sublime. And he probably loved reading about himself again in this morning’s column (heh heh).

    DK: I get askance looks pretty much all over at this point.

    • Dear Ghost,

      I guess reports of your demise were premature although your adventures do explain the many holes in your sheet. I am glad that you are alive as I do not know how to turn We Are Family or any Donny Iris song into funeral dirges. Also, I do not want to see Jandy turn The Bucs Are Going All The Way into a serious hymn complete with heavy organ when it works so much better as a polka song.

      Stop poking the Hippo. Unless you are part cat, you are running out of lives, Dude.

  4. For those hoping Brandon Phillips would get injured……. you got your wish.
    Matt Holliday slid very hard into Phillips last night, he was removed from the game with a leg injury.

    You are welcome.

  5. I’d also like to comment on how much I enjoyed the 82 article – it was perfect. I’ve worked in New Jersey the past 8 years and am the lone Pirate fan in my workgroup – surrounded by Yankee fans. I forwarded the article to them and they all commented how great it was even if they didn’t get many of the references in the paragraph at the end (which I vividly remember nearly everyone of course).

    When I first met them years ago, it was as if I was novelty in that they were amazed a devoted Pirate fan exists. Now they say how the Pirates are their secondary team to root for this year since they hate their own team so much. Very surreal.

    DK: Thank you.

  6. Nothing like Beaver Stadium on a football Saturday.

  7. Our friends, the Reds, came through big time this week by taking 3 of 4 from the Cards. Enjoyed seeing arch enemy Chapman K’ing arch enemy Molina with 102 mph heat to end the game. So, thanks Reds. Now resume losing.

  8. Was all psyched for the Cutch SI cover for next week. Of course my SI arrived Thursday with … Alabama on the cover. Thanks.

  9. My take on 82

    I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t aware that Sid Bream did… what he did. Not that I hadn’t been born or was too young. I was already an avid sports fan, and that was the year my soccer team won the South American championship for the first time — a title I’m finishing writing a book about soon. But 1992 was also the year that cable TV finally arrived in Brazil, and only by the end of that year did I find hockey, which led me to the Penguins, which led me to Pittsburgh, which eventually led me to the Pirates.

    It took some time. I was biased against baseball, I admit it (just like a kid who sat behind me on Section 143 when I went to the last doubleheader at PNC Park, in July, was biased against soccer). When I finally “got” baseball, I became a fan. That was around the beginning of the century: The first articles I remember reading were those about Dave Littlefield’s hiring. Before that, I even had a t-shirt celebrating the Braves’ 1992 pennant, and I was even photographed with it in 1996! Shame on me…

    Every year I thought getting to 82 couldn’t be that hard. It had been done. Many teams did it every season. Heck, MOST teams did it, if not every season, sometimes. I learned to face the streak at the Pirates Q&A that Dejan kept over at the Po… at his former employer. And later at his former blog, where I met some of the other lunatics who shared the grief about not seeing the atomic number of lead next to the Pirates name in the standings. Yeah, it’s been some years since I memorized that number from the periodic table.

    Now I’m looking forward to that symbolic icon, something that I was resigned it might have taken a lot more years to happen. I’ll be honest: I don’t care about playoffs, at least not this year. With 82, I’ll be happy even if they finish the season 0-for-the remaining games. Well, maybe not, but only because of the prevous two collapses: they’d just change from The Streak to a streak of collapses, which might be another heavy monkey to carry on their backs.

    But I guess you know what I mean. The Bucs can be swept right out of the playoffs, or even miss them by half a game. I’ll be sad when it happens, but I’ll be secretly smirking. Then, next year, I — and by “I” I mean “we” — won’t have to care about 82, just about what happens after they play their 162nd game. And I heard that it is something the other teams crave for. We’ll know it for sure in a few weeks, hopefully.

    Or maybe, despite no one mentioning my name on the show yesterday, I’m the single person to blame about the 20 years of futility. After all, I went to Atlanta in 1992 and only managed to go to Pittsburgh in 2013. It can be no coincidence! (In my defense, I went to Atlanta in January 1992, so the Bucs still had a full winning season after that.)

    DK: Beautiful, Alex.

  10. DK,

    Thanks for raising my testosterone level through the roof with the Friday column. I now want to go out and smash the running backs, stomp the quarterback, and eat the football as well as tight end!

    Go Stillers!

  11. With 23 games remaining, the Pirates magic number to clinch the second wild card is 14 (vs. Washington and Arizona), to host the wild card game is 20 (vs. Reds), and to win the division is 22 (vs. Cardinals).

    Series of interest this weekend: Pirates at Cardinals, Dodgers at Reds, Nationals at Marlins, and Diamondbacks at Giants.

    The Pirates lead the Cardinals by two in the loss column and the Reds by four in the loss column.

    Just after Jandy comments that my updates are like clockwork, they might be on hiatus for a few days. I am traveling with my family this weekend, and I am not sure what my Internet connection will be. (I know, with the Cardinals series, poor planning on my part.) So, if I do not provide weekend updates, the updates will resume on Monday.

    • You deserve a break and our THANKS, I’ve said it before, “you should be on the payroll”

    • Tom P, don’t sweat it, we’ll allow you to take a break :)
      Not sure why you’re traveling but I hope it’s for fun and relaxing reasons.!

    • Tom – this daily post is better than anything else I see out there for those who post MLB standings…you really do keep us in the loop. Thanks!

  12. Wow! Went to bed at the half with the Crows up by three. Peyton must have really opened up a can on them in the second half! Hope Tomlin was watching carefully to see what is now “on the tape”, as he likes to say.

    DK, it will be great to have you at State tomorrow. I just got an invitation from some good friends and my wife and I will be there too. Come early to observe the amazing scene that is PSU tailgating. It is an alum base that is still at conflict within itself over JoePa, but united in a determination to move forward to a better future.

    Thanks too, for the link making it easy to see what Bernie Miklasz is writing. He’s one of the best – as are you.

    Let’s get number 82 tonight!

  13. DK, Don’t pooh, pooh comments about what you see in the locker room( players talking). You are our eyes and ears in there and we LOVE that stuff.

  14. JAL’s One September Day Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The Balance Between Minor League Stats and Skills

    Huntington’s Deals Indicative of Focus Beyond 81 Wins

    Pittsburgh Pirates Projected Super Two Players Following the 2013 Season

    Pitching Inside: The Pirates Way

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pennant Race Flashback: September 5, 1978

    6 Rumbunter

    About The Underated Pirates Pitching Staff

    7 Surprising Facts About Pirates Clint Barmes

    7 Fishbowl NY

    Cover Battle: Sports Illustrated or The New Republic

    8 The Green Weenie

    9/5: Maz, Lefty, Little Poison & Erv, Hans, Duels, Diomedes Olivo, Steverino, Immaculate Inning

    9 Rant Sports

    Justin Morneau’s First Chance to Shine for Pittsburgh Pirates is Here

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: End of the streak for more than just fans

  15. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 USA Today

    MLB weekend preview: Playoff preludes abound

    12 Pioneer Press

    Minnesota Twins stare down leadership void in wake of Morneau trade

    13 KDKA

    Pirates Fans Support Idea Of Big Screen For Playoffs

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Erardi: Reds’ base-running blunders have been comical

    15 ESPN

    Gallo: Sports’ biggest losers

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Cardinals Game Preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Same song in Cincy for Cardinals

    Bernie Bytes: Cards can’t afford to lose Craig

    18 PBC Site

    Huntington engineer of Bucs’ dramatic turnaround

    Notebook: Hurdle slots Alvarez at No. 6 in batting order


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Reworking WARP The Uncertainty of Offense, Part Two

    20 Fangraphs

    Pittsburgh Turns the Power Out

  16. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Standard is the Standard Show – season kickoff episode

    Steelers Antonio Brown seeks to extend TD scoring streak vs Titans

    22 Steelers Depot

    2013 NFL Season Prediction Records


    23 London Evening Standard

    There’s more to Steven Gerrard’s game than just goals

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 5th September, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Pens Points 9/5: Sid’s Candid Interview on Concussions

  17. DK – “Enjoy” your trip to the gray battleship. Only uglier stadium that I’ve ever been to was the old Texas Stadium in Irving.


    • Thanks for your kind words, Kevin. I’ve been going to games there for the past forty years, and somehow, stadium beauty was not high on my list of priorities. Thanks for telling DK what he should be sure to watches for. Lol.

      • “Watches”? Love that auto correct.

        • Honestly, this is the first time I’ve heard the staium called ugly. I must be missing something.

          • From the outside it is nothing to look at. Just a giant block of steel. From teh “concourse” it is also nothing to look at. Just all the supports for the bleachers. The thing about Beaver Stadium is that it started out as a couple sets of bleacher seats. Then they added more. then closed the ends. But still essentially bleachers. Like your HS bleachers these are kind of ugly on the underneath. Not ment to be walked under. But as the stadium grew they had to alter it so people could walk under them. makin for a rather seedy looking under belly. But once you walk out that portal and see what awaits on the side you were meant to see…there is no prettier sight than that green grass and until the mid point of 2 seasons ago, a packed to the brim stadium sporting 107,000 of your closest friends.

            • Great description.

              • One of my favorite visions is getting off of 322 at the stadium exit at night. You approach the stadium on your left and it just looks menacing. All that steel. The shear size. My dad once said if he was the coach of the other team, he would make sure that his team bus didn’t have to pass tht thing in the dark.

            • I was there a couple of years ago, and the sheer size is amazing (I know, Michigan, etc). But more to your point, there were some old-timers behind us, who started complaining that people in front of them were standing up (because the people in front of them were standing up). So, the one guy said he’d had these same seats for something like 40 years? That started a conversation and a lot of good will ensued after that. Although it could always have been because the people sat down.

              • I think you have those old timers everywhere. Those are the same old timers who complained about STEP. STEP was a big change for everyone involved but all it eally did was bring PSU in line with what every other college in the country does.

                However, most fans when they start talking tho these older guys who have been there for years come to respect them.

                My personal thought is that sometimes these old guys complaigning actually ruins the atmosphere. Lets all just sit in our seat and sip our drinks and complain about the team! Or you could stand up yell at the top of your lungs and bring the stadium to life.

              • Yes, lots of conversations going on after the initial dustup. What made me think of it, though, was you talking about how Beaver Stadium had been added onto over the years. We were obviously in one of the older sections if he’d been there 40 years. (We got them from a scalper out front for a little under face value, if I recall).

              • Pretty incredible history of additions, for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing.

                The lower half of the bowl is actually the original structure built in the early 1900′s at another location on campus, then dismantled and rebuilt on the site of what is now Beaver Stadium.

  18. OK, where the h*ll is Drew???

  19. A Cardinal loss is the next best thing to a Pirate win.

    I’m looking forward to some good baseball from the Bucs this weekend.

  20. I’m not usually a pop psychologist, but I think Mr. Woodley doesn’t like Dejan.

    :) Don’t worry, we love you DK.

    • well who DOES Mr. Woodley like?

    • I hope he likes NObody.

      I hope he goes all nasty-a$$ Joey Porter this season.

      • Sounds like a plan…

        • * Yawn *.

          You call? ;)

          • LOL I was actually expecting that! ya nut!

            • How is my Hymnist this morning?

              • I was feeling kinda ehhh…just not feeling good. Read your obituary on Ghost and couldn’t help but laugh. Then hubbie brought me a breakfast sammich. and today is FRIDAY so I’m feeling a lot better now :)

                How is my fav Hippo?

              • I am just ehhh also. But my feet hit the floor, so all is well. :)

                I am glad you liked the story. I tried to get as many people as I could think of involved, incluiding Drew’s poodles. I figured after Wednesday’s loss, we could all use the humor.

                Breakfast sammich, huh? He bring chicken and waffles too?
                Also gtood to see Brandie on this morning. She is the Blog’s ray of sunshine.

                And, do any further responsibilities come with being the Main Lunatic? God, I hope not.

              • LOl my friend.
                Just a sammich no chicken and waffles.

                If there are any duties involved with being the Main Lunatic, you’re already handling them just fine ;)

              • I really feel uncomfortable being a member of any group that would have me. First Bridge Club, now here.

                Special shout out to Mr. hasis for not allowing me on the see-saw yesterday when he was telling a story.


              • Mr. Hasis, is awesome!

                You’d be welcome in any club of mine, Hipposter!

              • Thanks Jandy.
                Props to you and Brandie also, for your thoughts after my story above.
                Sorry I made you choke on your coffee, wasnt my intent. Just wanted a morning funny, that’s all.

                Interested to see the chat today. Maybe we can suggest hyms for you? ;)

                Start with Here We Go, Stillerz, and go from there.
                I am sure Brandimal can come up with some grooooovy music.

              • We need to get some dancers too, Hipposter, with you leading them….you know, like the videos Ghostie posts of you dancing ;)

              • Boy, you REALLY dont like Ghost, eh?

              • Haha, Ghostie is cool and I think he rocks…where the h*ll is he by the way????

              • Ghost normally doesnt post during the day.

                I am out for a bit……… maybe see you in the chat.
                Hold the “Main Loonie” duties for me while I am gone.

                If your daughter comes around, say Hi for me.

              • I’ll tell her for sure…I gotta git my butt in gear too. have a grand Friday, my friend.

  21. I wish I didn’t predict the Ravens to make the playoffs.

  22. Couldn’t ask for a better day then one that starts with the Ravens getting beat down badly just after midnight and hopefully ends with number 82 tonight.

  23. My wife put this on facebook….I didn”t have the heart to tell her I am waiting on 82..But her setiment was honest..Weve been married 17 years so lord how I have made her suffer with me.
    Congratulations to the best fan I know Chuck Snow! Chuck has endured 20 straight losing seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates which ended last night with their 81st win of the season! Congrats hubby, not many would stick with a team for so long! Go Bucs!!!!!

  24. Happy to see you will be covering the Penn State game this Saturday, Dejan. Looking forward to what you have to write about it.

    I’ve loved Big Ten basketball and football since I was a zygote.

    • Eastern Michigan is not a real game. The doormat of a weekmAC conference.

      • Oklahoma is playing West Virginia———same difference.

      • Ohio is 4.5 point favorites against North Texas.

        PSU is 24 point favorites against E. Michigan

        Wisconsin is 45 point favorites against Tennessee Tech

        Oklahoma is 21 point favorites against WVU.

        Pitt is idle.

        Marquis games this weekend are Florida at Miami (It’s a shame they can’t both lose); Oregon at UVA (Oregon plays in ET zone so might actually get some press from East Coasters. Oregon also sports the hottest cheerleading squad in the nation by far. I have the Oregon cheerleaders as 45 point favorites against UVA’s counterparts); Notre Dame at Michigan (I think the Maize and Blue will cruise actually) and the big one South Carolina at Georgia (Athens produced one of the most important bands that ever lived, REM).

        Radio, how about those UNI Panthers!

  25. I was looking at the pitching probables for the next 5 days and I noticed that Yu Darvish is scheduled to start the Tuesday game against the Bucs. I can see a great line for Playoffs on Tuesday night – the over/under of strike outs by the Pirates as a team. I would set the line at 14.5 at least.

    But this is getting ahead of ones self. Great big series this weekend against the Cardinals. Can really put us in the drivers seat if they can find a way to beat Kennedy/Wainwright/Waccha (sp?). Would love to see them take 2 out of the 3 from them this weekend but a sweep would be as nice. At least Craig is not playing this weekend. What is the extent of the injury to Phillips? Any chance that he will still be hurting when they play later this morning?

    • ——I HATE Interleague play, but especially in September.

      ——This is a crucial series against Cardinals . . . . . on the road, our last 3 games against them, their last chance to regain division and momentum against the only team ahead of them.

      ——I fear Bucs could go into Busch a little too cocky and get their lunch stolen. Tonight is crucial with AJ going. If Cards eek out a win tonight, then they have Wainwright going against the teenaged Jeff Locke, whose Cinderella license seems to have expired.

      ——Cards could easily take first 2 games: bringing up Sunday as a battle for the division lead in the last head-to-head game of the year. Cards have easier schedule after Sunday.



      • Agree completely about interleague play in September. It’s an abomination against God and man.

        • Throw Bud Selig in the Lion’s Den . . .

          . . . . and see if he can match Daniel.

          God does not support the DH.

        • Only way to avoid it now is to expand to 32 which would put an end to somebody having to play interleague each day.

          • Major Leagues did NOT have to play interleague games before Brewers moved from American League to National League!

            • So your argument is that it was solely the Brewers moving to the NL but wanting to continue to play some of its ALfoes that prompted interleague play and not just the desire for fans in the opposite league to be given teh opportunity to see some of the other leagues stars in person every once in a while?

              I don’t mind interleague play. On a somewhat limited basis. What bothers me is the interleague play at the end of the season when basically you shouldn’t be playing anyone outside your division let alone your league. The 15/15 split has caused this mess meaning each team essentially has to play one interleague series each month PLUS the one week interleague session that goes on.

      • Agree with everything Groat said. I’m resigned to interleague play, but in September? That’s almost as ridiculous as it would be to have the entire season come down to a one-game playoff… oh, wait a minute….

      • I absolutely 100% agree with the hate interleague play in September. I’ve hated interleague play when it started and I hate it now. I’m torn between adding 2 more teams or removing 2 teams to get rid of interleague play. I cannot remember one thing that Bud has done to help the game.

        The Pirates need to come into this series as if the season depended on it. AJ needs to set the tone for the series. Locke better have his A game on Saturday. And Charlie just needs to keep doing what he has done this second half. I liked the move to get Buck, a week or so ago, but he has let to many balls go by when he has caught. Byrd and Morneau will hopefully keep hitting the cover off the ball as well as McCutchen. I just hope that on Sunday evening, when we leave St Louis that we are not a .5 game behind because as it was stated, the Cards have it easy the rest of the way while the Bucs have Texas and 6 against the Reds to go. Not exactly the nicest schedule. At least games with San Deigo and the Cubs should help.

    • I have been hearing rumblings that Mr. Darvish is struggling of late. Some in TX are saying maybe he is wearing down a bit. He has been struggling to get out of innings. One thing I have felt the Bucs have been pretty good at on offense this year is driving up pitch counts vs. tough pitchers. I am sure that will be in the plan for Darvish’s start.

  26. May we have a Piitsburgh Independence Day. Starting today.

    September 82nd, 2013.

  27. I really thing the Reds are more of a concern going forward then the Cards. The Cards pitching staff seems to be doing what our pitching staff did last year. They only have one reliable starter right now. Wainwright seems to be overworked and worn down. It’s baseball so things can change quickly but I foresee this being a problem for them the rest of the year.

    Liriano, Morton and AJ being on the DL for parts of this year or ramping up his pitch count in Morton’s case has been a blessing in disguise. Those 3 should have something left in the tank for the stretch run.

    • Agreed, Nate. I was actually thinking, since the Reds have been beating the Cards, that now it’s the despised REDS we need to keep our eyes on.

      • If the Cards sweep Bucs, Pirates out of 1st behind Cards with 0 games left against them.

        Let’s put the kids to bed and be sure they are asleep before we start making out!

        • No one has made a move yet in the division race, just running in place. Last 10 Bucs and Reds are 5-5 and cards 4-6. If Pirates and Cards end tied for the division Pirates win it based on winning the season series. In the all important loss column the Cards are 2 down to the pirates and the reds are 4 down. Pirates have 6 left against the Reds and if the difference stays the same as it is now the Reds would have to win 5 of the 6 to move ahead of the Pirates. Pirates are 7-6 against the Reds so just have to split the 6 games left to win the season series.

          • Somebody is going to get hot! I prefer the Pirates put the Cards away this weekend, and then focus on the Reds.

            If Cardinals sweep Bucs at home, against AJ, Locke, and Charlie . . . . . . .

            • “Somebody is going to get hot!”

              Absolutely, Groat.

              I think we’re all lying to ourselves if we think the Cardinals team of the last few weeks is the team thats gonna show up for the rest of the season.

          • ” If Pirates and Cards end tied for the division Pirates win it based on winning the season series”

            Pirates would get home field advantage for a one game playoff

    • Francisco Lirinao has a higher ERA over the last month than the “overworked” Adam Wainwright.

      The worst thing any team could do is overlook the Cardinals. They’ve proven that time and time again.

      • He has pitched 206 innings and still has 5 more starts probably. That will put him over 240 innings if he averages 7 innings per outing. That is more then any pitcher in the entire major leagues. So yeah he’s not overworked.

        Never said they should overlook the Cardinals. Only stated that the Reds personally scare me more then the Cards at this point. They are in a 3 team race for a division. No game should be overlooked. Every win is needed because 12-12 or 13-11 probably won’t get it done.

        • You know he’s already topped 230 IP with a sub-3 ERA twice in his career, right?

          • I do know that. I saw it yesterday when I looked up his innings. It seems to be catching up with him. He is currently in a pretty long drawn out funk. I can’t check right now but it seems to be a pretty consistant slump with every outing being average or worse giving his team little chance to win as opposed to Liriano’s 4 good outing and two terrible outings. Which was my original point before you needle in a haystacked it.

            • Before Wainwright’s last two terrible outings he pitched a complete game 6 hitter while only giving up one run.

              And “only” went 7 innings giving up three runs or less in his other three August outings.

              • I guess he has been doing better then I thought. I still think their pitching staff is regressing much like the Pirates did last year.

            • He’s been in this funk since his 150 pitch CG against the Braves. THAT is what has him overworked. You have to think he is going to recover from that eventually.

    • I think the Reds are the most complete team of the 3, looking at it critically. The Cardinals are surprisingly slow, their leading base stealer has 6. And their pitching I think is the weakest of the 3. I don’t know how they scored all the runs they have.

      The Reds have remarkably productive guys up and down their lineup, the only less than good guys are at short and left, where Xavier Paul is in the mix. Naturally, he’s much better than he was as a Pirate.

      The Pirates have the best pitching staff, but not by that much. I think the Cardinals are coming back to earth, but fear the Reds.

      • Todd Frazier and the Mesoroco/Hannigan catching duo are both having below average offensive seasons as well.

        The Reds also may have actually managed to put together a worse defensive outfield than the Cardinals now that Ludwick is back.

        • It’s impressive though to see their entire starting lineup in double digit homers, except for Heisey with 9, and the catcher with 8.

          A lot of that has to be the bandbox they play in, the Pirates have hit homers like crazy in it over the years.

          • Oh, certainly John. Reds have one of the best offenses in the league.

            I just think the Cards are far more resilient. They have more depth – in the starting lineup and bench – and they strike out far less.

            But the Reds do have the best leadoff man and the best overall hitter in the league. Not a bad combo, eh?

          • John when Marte comes back every player except Mercer in our line up with have more then 10 home runs including Jones coming off the bench. Mercer has 6 in 296 at bats so with more consistant playing time he would be close to 10 himself. The Pirates really do have a team top to bottom capable of changing a game quickly with the deep ball.

            • yes, right on… power is not our issue. it is making productive contact with RISP.

              • It’s making solid contact period. When a team has a poor overall batting average i will also have a poor averag with RISP. Guys like craig who have an obsurd .450 average with RISP are a rarity and that likely can’t last.

              • contact yes… especially with a guy on 3rd with less than 2 outs. Definitely need contact and less K-dro.

        • In addition to those you named above, Joey Votto is having a down year and I read this morning is hitting just .180 since Aug. 10th.

          The Reds dealing with some of their own star power mired in a prolingued slump.

    • I am starting to agree with you, Nate. I was sort of hoping the Cards would get a series split last night, just to push the Reds farther back since we have 6 remaining with them.

  28. Hey DK, I was in Youngstown today for business and the Speedway gas station was proudly displaying the Trib. I kicked in my 2 quarters. Tell the bosses readership is up because of you.

    • Was it by chance the Speedway at the intersection of I-80 and Belmont Avenue?
      That one has a sign that is at least 15 stories high. Can see it for miles.

      Wish I had a Speedway out here……..

  29. De-shawn,

    Good writing informs, challenges the reader intellectually, entertains, grabs the reader, gives a different vantage point, and sometimes even touches a person emotionally. When one can do the latter, it is exquisite!

    Yesterday, your writing was not good . . . . . . . but great! I’m a Dude: I’m not supposed to get choked up!! You got me yesterday. More than once.


  30. On the plane at 36,000 feet en route to St. Louis. As if I did not need a reminder on how big this series is, as the plane was boarding and as I am seated wearing my Pirate hat and shirt, people are actually walking past me and booing me. Never thought the Pirates would have that effect on another teams fan base.

    Very excited to have the chance to witness a very historic victory and more importantly potentially gain a game and move 2.5 games up.

    Expect AJ Burnett to rise to the occasion as these are the games and moments he is here for, his leadership needs to be in full view this evening as he is one of a few on this squad that has been on this stage before.

    Let’s Go Bucs!

  31. Greatest fear scenario: Cards get it together & win the division, Reds take enough from Pirates to finish 2nd, setting up a 1 gamer in Cincinnati with Chapman lurking. Byrd and Morneau may mean a better chance against him in a tight ballgame?

  32. Shout out to the Rad One! Hope you have a good day, Lad. I gotta git some more WORK done ;)

  33. So we have some noteworthy support for the feeble antics – and stats to back it up – of the expressionless Petey.

    There is a kid in my neighborhood who habitually pounds his little brother to tears – ala Petey striking out with a runner on third and 0 outs.

    This same kid skipped out of class for the umpteenth time this month – ala Petey rolling over the left wrist on an outside pitch with the net result a weak-butt grounder to second, and runners in scoring position.

    That same kid again cut the grass last Saturday – ala Petey getting an important hit one day last week.

    So what do we have here; an incorrigibly bad kid or a real ordinary baseball player?

    Or both?

    • Harsh analog. Are you smoking that grass?

    • Thanks for not letting me on the see-saw yesterday, when you were making an analogy to Jandy. :)

      I think Pedro is what he is……………. a batter that has little plate discipline, strikes out a lot, isnt very clutch, but can hit the long ball, and change games. He is also a poor defensive 3B, racking up many errors, but he does make some pretty awesome plays too.

      Bottom line, if we get rid of him, who replaces him? And, what type of production do we get? Adam LaRoche type 3B? God no!

      • I frankly have NO problem with his defense. I actually LOVE his arm and have said so right here in this very space for a long time.

        But man you can’t just walk away from the plate after having K’d in a critical spot and display nothing, in the way of emotion.

        And one other point, in no way would I ever impugn his integrity. In fact he seems like a decent sort.

        My attack – if that is the right word – is simply based on his approach to hitting

        • Fair enough.

          I just dont know if he displays emotion — like maybe breaking a bat? — would make a difference. It might, but I just dont know.

          I would just like a little more consistency from him, thats all.

        • Um, I guess my view is that to critique the reaction to a poor at bat is missing the point. Would we feel better if Pedro swore, broke the bat over his knee, and tossed all his bats on the field, but still proceeded to strike out the very next at bat?

          When I’m golfing with a group, nothing more annoying than the guy spraying it all over the course and cursing, throwing clubs, complaining about everything, being miserable, etc. If it made his next shot better, then so be it. But it doesn’t. I greatly prefer the guy who just calmly tries to address the issue and fix it.

        • I’m going to say here and now, that Petey doesn’t show emotion on his face, but it’s there in his eyes, if you care to see it. *I* see it. it really hurts him inside. He just handles it differently than others. I prefer this to him throwing a fit of some sort.

        • I think that would be playing into the other team’s hands if Pedro were to throw a tantrum (or a helmet) when he fails. I have criticized Pedro for his shortcomings, but I don’t doubt that he cares a great deal. He was floundering at the start of his career, and he battled through it to be a guy that will hit 35+ HR this year. I think he cares a great deal. My guess is he is fuming inside when he k’s in a big situation.

    • “…of the expressionless Petey.”

      Man, the guy just can’t do anything right. I don’t recall anyone ever saying, “the expressionless Bay” or “the expressionless Presley.”

      Petey comes across very professional and humble at all times to me. Don’t recall him ever saying anything that people were unhappy with.

      • I agree completely. I really like Alverez the person. He also seems as if he has worked hard to increase his agility and I don’t see him as a lazy player that some do.

        Unfortunately I think he is being held to the standard of an overall number 2 draft pick instead of just judging him on his own merit. I feel as if he would be viewed differently if he was drafted in the 3 or 4 round. Many top 5 overall picks have faired worse then what Alverez is giving us currently. We need to move past where he was drafted and compare him to other third baseman. We could do a lot worse. He was an all-star last time I checked.

        • I still feel like he will improve in all facets.

          • I feel his defense has gotten better every year, but he still makes too many errors on routine plays. Conversely (I always got a new pair for hoops season in grade school, btw), I feel Pedro makes more than his share of above average plays. He might just be a real good 3b in a couple of years. As NMR said, he has worked hard on his agility shortcomings.

            At bat, I don’t think he’s going to get much better. I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I just don’t expect it. Don’t get me wrong, though. Even with his faults, he is more productive than a large % of MLB 3b. And, I see no way he signs an extension with the Bucs. He will command big dough, and there just isn’t much track record for guys like him being long term stars. Plus, as we know, the Bucs are very careful about who they lock up. He’s not Cutch.

        • Pedro is a big part of the Bucs’ success and we should not forget that. That said, I don’t think the frustration that fans have is simply because he was a #2 pick ( I DO think that the perception of Cole is unfair a bit due to that but different topic for different time).

          My frustration is BECAUSE he has tons of talent, BECAUSE he is intelligent, BECAUSE he works hard to improve.. but none of that is evident when a couple of years in, he still makes the same mistakes over and over again in his atbats…. Wehner says it pretty concisely: Pedro isn’t recognizing the pitch (spin or speed) and he is thinking fastball and not getting fastball much of the time he swings and misses.

          I expect someone of Pedro’s ability and work ethic to be able to get better at the approaches and the ‘thinking’ part of the at bat. He will STILL K a ton, because he swings hard and hard swingers miss the ball a lot. That isn’t the gripe, in my view… it’s the fact he isn’t progressing at all at the plate despite all the hard work. That is the definition of frustration…. the hard work isn’t paying off.

          • I made no mention of Cole, and had no intention of him being thought of in this analogy. It was an abstract pitcher. Who I did have in mind though was Greg Maddux, the consummate pitcher

            Your second paragraph should be the last chapter in this travesty of Pedro.

            No one can say more it precisely accurate.

            Sir, that is it, as though you were reading my mind.

            Your third paragraph leans more toward his intelligence and adaptability, with which I agree.

            My comments today were intended to awaken the ill-informed. We have a “diamond in the rough” in Pedro but the jeweler isn’t doing his job.

      • I mentioned a month or so ago an interview that Pedro had on MLB Network after a game in which he hit a big fly to win it. I remarked that I thought he was a very thoughtful and humble young man. I had no idea how well he was representing our team and city until that night. I never doubt that about Pedro. I think he is a class act.

  34. Just to pick up on something…A couple people mentioned the Dodgers yesterday and that is the team to beat in the NL. I agree. I have lots of family in the L.A. (ok, Dodger Blue has always been my second favorite team) area and as giddy as we are here about our Pirates…they are just as much out there. Now, I reminded them…BIG…difference. They were expected to do well with that opening day roster, but none the less…what they have done since the break has been mighty impressive. The stars are slowly lining up for a family fight in October!

  35. But I am absolutely certain that when the other night, he struck out two AB’s in a row with a runner on third and 0 outs, the rationale that was expressed above was nowhere in sight.

    Let’s try and be a little consistent – consistency is a powerful character trait.

    • Do you have a neighborhood analogy to describe the difference between consistant and stubborn? :)

      • Consistent — You walk to school every day.
        Stubborn — You walk to school every day with the bully beating you up. ;)

      • No but I have one about someone who can see truth, and one who can’t

        • Are you still hungover from celebrating Alex Pressley’s homer with the Twins? :)

          • No, but since you may have been one expressing glee or ambivalence at his departure, I’d be curious of your thoughts of his successes thus far?

            • I think he’s clearly destined to be the 5-tool star you always knew would come out if only the poor little kid was given a real chance.

            • Bob, I’ve said this before and it is still true. You take on all comers. You stand your ground against anyone and everyone. I love that about you. For that reason, I always love your posts. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t, but I love your attitude! You are the definition of consistent.

    • Bob, I think you will get ultimately your wish. I doubt very seriously the Pirates will pony up the money Alvarez will want for an extension. Maybe Andy LaRoche will quit his job as a Subway Artist at Subway and return to the Bucs to play third.

      • You are wrong. I ultimately want him to LEARN HOW TO HIT and remain a Pirate.

        Here is another analogy, a simpler one; a pitcher comes to the majors and is labeled as only a thrower, due to his 99mph fastball. That does not make him a major leaguer pitcher if he can’t throw a curve, a change-up or maintain good control

        Then you have Pedro who can hit the ball into the next area code, but not very consistently, and hits for a poor average. That does not make him a major league hitter.

      • I’m awaiting those next contract talks, as we all are I think

        • Absolutely, Robert. No matter how the Pirates decide to deal with him, it could constitute a defining moment for the post-playoffs Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

    • Petey is what he is. Until we find a better option at third, or he is traded, we have Petey. I don’t mind what we have. As someone said above, there’s lots worse.

    • He struck out with a runner on third and 1 out on one of those. Morneau had got caught dead to rihts at the plate and Byrd snuck into third on the play. Just a nit pick I guess as it doesn’t really change your point that he just looks moronic up there at times.

      but when he gets on one of his hot streaks…oh boy. maybe he is just saving that next 2 week break out for the playoffs.

  36. Good Friday morning, all.

    Random musings from the desert:

    1) NFL, which could stand for ‘not for long’, is ripe for overreactions, especially early in the season. While you can definitely surmise the Broncos will indeed be prolific, and the wonderful Peyton Manning is oh so comfortable in year 2 in this offense, it is way premature to consider the Ravens have a bad defense or won’t be able to win lots of games this year.

    2) Yes, like ESPN, I will figure out a way to get a Tebow angle in, but how big is the gap between a real all-pro QB and what Tebow was doing in this offense 2 years ago? No doubt that kid has some all-worldly leadership skills and some athletic ability but also no doubt he is NOT an NFL QB and 32 teams, including the woeful Raiders who will start Terrelle Pryor on Sunday (!!!), agree.

    To me Tebow is kind-of like the Fort… great guy, easy to root for, tries hard, has tons of intangibles…but not nearly enough talent to really be a factor at the professional level. Nothing wrong with that.

    3) Reds took care of business by winning the series vs the Cards. Yes, the Reds are a good team and they are very much alive in this race, but let’s not overreact and anoint them the favorites. They have plenty of holes, just like the Cards and the Pirates do. I actually think the Pirates are the better team now, on paper, and can win this division. This weekend is a big step in that direction. Need not be a sweep, a series win would be huge.

    4) Interleague play. No surprise here folks, we all knew at beginning of season, when MLB correctly fixed the biggest problem which was inbalanced alignment by moving Houston to the AL West, that there would need to be interleague play throughout the year. I think it’s over the top to claim that Bud Selig has done ‘nothing good for the game’…he has done plenty. The wild card has been successful (we can debate the 2nd WC and the one-game thing which I hate, but the wildcard concept itself has been very successful). Labor peace for many years now. Much progress in PED program and punishment. Smart hirings of Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa and others for the management team. Better economic balance. Big attendance growth since early 1990s and TV monies exploding all around. Not real clear how anyone can say none of this is positive impact led by Selig.

    5) #4 said, I do wish that MLB would get more creative in the scheduling to better deal with the imbalanced schedule vs. just having interleague play all year round. What about either more scheduled DHs or fewer regular season games and rolling byes throughout the season to give teams a break?

    You can then avoid interleague play in September by just having 1 team sit out a series throughout the month…or you can even get more creative with scheduling by having 2 teams visit one city at same time… for example, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both visit San Francisco the same weekend.. Giants play 4 games, 2 vs. Pitt and 2 vs. Cincinnati.

    Just thinking out loud which I think is part of what this blog is for. LETS GO BUCS. And LETS GO STEELERS, very important to get off to a good start at home vs TENNESSEE.

    • Been saying it all year, cmat. The Pirates don’t always do the things that show up in the box score. One of the biggest differences between the Bucs and those other 2 teams is that we have a stellar OF defense (particularly with Starling in the game), and the Cards and Reds are both below average. The media wonks can’t see it in a stat sheet, so they never consider that this could have a big impact on who is the best team in the division. I was in town for the Fri & Sat games last week, and the Pirates were filling the allies both days with balls that dropped in between or over Cards OF. Those balls get caught by the Bucs. Least amount of 2b/3b allowed in MLB.

      So, we keep getting the same “Aren’t the Pirates a great story?” crap every night. Or, “It is hard not to feel great for the city of Pittsburgh right now.” They think we are getting lucky, and they hope it continues as a feel good story. But, they really don’t take us seriously because we don’t have a bunch of .300 hitters and we don’t have Adam Wainwright or Matt Latos. They think we just need to hang on as best we can.

      I’m tired of the Pirates’ and their fans being talked down to. We are not some cute, cuddly puppy that they expect to get bored with in a few weeks after a 1-game playoff.

  37. I finally have come to realize that CH is a genius with his “maintenance days off”. Unfortunately while that being a great idea, the implementation sucks.

    Pedro should have a maintenance day off every time we face a lefty – and some righties too.

    I must also say, Pedro’s inadequacies defensively are far fewer and less destructive than his offensive funks.

    • +1… completely agree with you Bob. Pedro’s offensive funks have cost us alot more runs than his defensive errors. That said, I have no stats at all to back that up. :)

      Oh, and Petey is not Petey… Pedro is K-dro. If you ignore Marte’s strikeouts, K-dro’s strikeouts about double everybody elses on the team. That’s right.. DOUBLE!

  38. Plan made the chat guys, and what a great question, with an even greater answer. you gotta go see it.

    • Thanks, Jandy.

      I just wanted to hear DK’s answer on the 2 people most important to the streak.
      First answer surprised me, second answer didnt.

      I was going to ask him about Ghost’s death, but i didnt want to push my luck………. ;)

    • I couldn’t disagree more with Ogden being most responsible. He may be the most consistent figure, but I think McClatchy was the most influential both during his time with the organization and for several years after while the financial mess he made was being cleaned along with the disaster he created in the minors by hiring Littlefield. And how could I forget the lack of commitment to Latin American talent.

      • I don’t want to speak for Dejan, but I think that was his point.

        Ogden was there for most of it, yet did nothing to stop – even enabled – the obvious train wreck.

        Kind of like blaming the bartender for over-serving the drunk driver.

        I think it makes sense, fwiw.

        • I’m not sure Ogden did anything more than set the spending parameters and I’m not sure anyone else in his position would have done anything differently. “It all starts at the top” isn’t always a meaningful analysis, IMO.

          To me the most influence on the organzation wouldn’t be the budget but the actual business/baseball decisions being made with that budget and there’s where I think the most influence rests with McClatchy.

          “Kind of like blaming the bartender for over-serving the drunk driver.”

          I don’t think it’s anything like that NMR!

    • I didn’t think anyone needed reminded of how far Hurdle’s culture-changing persona took the team with the talent he was given last year.

    • plan is the man.

      That’s the blog’s version of “Byrd is the word.”

  39. Dang, Hipposter, two questions in the chat in one day, aren’t you just the Chiznet today ;)

    • You are a nutcase.

      Dont forget the many weeks I, among hundreds of others dont get a question read.
      DK is borderline nuts for doing this chat with all the questions that get submitted.

      But thanks, Jandy.
      Hope to see you in the game thread tonight.
      Cake and confetti optional.

      • of course, I’m a nutcase. I come here, don’t I? ;)
        That’s what Lunatic Asylums are for :P

        I hope to be on some time this evening. Working with hubby in the morning tho, so I can’t swear to it…

  40. now cmat got into the mix…cool :)

  41. Pedro is in a slump.
    The Pirates are in first even though Pedro is slumping.
    Pedro is a streaky player.
    Pedro when hot can carry an offense or add a large chunk to the offense.
    Pedro may be coming due at the right time of year….

    Also, once on a hot streak, Pedro may carry it through the playoffs with all the other bats in the lineup helping to take pressure off.
    Also again, once Marte is healthy, that lineup looks pretty nice:

    • Well said, Damon.

    • I think the key is Walker.. need Walker to get hot. Because that stretch of hitters Walker->Cutch->Morneau->Byrd will be key. We have seen it already with just the 3… but if Walker gets hot. Then, anything Mr. “Petey-is-Petey” gives us is a bonus.

  42. So, here’s what I think:

    * Kate Upton – Two thumbs up. Loved her in the Stooges movie, even though I, like the rest of the world, never saw it.

    * Bob Hasis – Quickly becoming my idol. The man stands his ground.

    * Groat – Did you really say you watched your young daughter at soccer games AND practices? Surely, you became so abusive that you were removed? They love to throw parents out of youth soccer games.

    * The Ravens gave up nearly half a C Note vs. Peyton last night. How enjoyable was that? I thought the Ravens were one of the weakest Super Bowl winners ever last year. Could they go 6-10 this year?

    * Craig’s injury hurts the Cards, but only against lefties. Against RHP, that large fellow from Slippery Rock, Matt Adams, will be more than ok. Nate mentioned that he thinks the Reds may now be more of a threat than the Cards, and I think that is entirely possible.

    * One of the biggest reasons for the Bucs’ pitching success? They not only give up the fewest HR in MLB, at 89, but they also give up the fewest combined 2b/3b. Keep the ball down, and have greyhounds running balls down in the OF is a good strategy for suppressing runs.

    * #82 happens tonight, and we will get another one tomorrow or Sunday.

    • I think this post deserves two thumbs up :)

    • That FanGraphs article was pretty good, wasn’t it Jim?

      I think the team’s philosophy on pitching inside helps a great deal in inducing soft contact as well.

      Did you read the one on Gerrit Cole an the Pirate Way?

      • Yes, I did catch the Gerrit Cole one, NMR. I thought Cole looked great the other night. He just always has that one sticky inning.

        I thought they nailed the reasons pretty well for the Pirates run and XBH suppression. Not sure I can remember all of them, but they mentioned PNC as being a factor. It not only suppresses HR, but unlike most stadiums that suppress HR, it does not allow a ton of XBH. The Bucs have only allowed 29 HR at home this year. Amazing!

        You are right about pitching inside, as we discussed yesterday. Do it well, and you get a lot of soft contact and short ABs. They also pitch low in the zone. All are great formulas and are clearly part of the plan.

        • ” It not only suppresses HR, but unlike most stadiums that suppress HR, it does not allow a ton of XBH.”

          Ah, this is one of the sabermetricky things I cannot reconcile in my own mind, Jim.

          I think the manner in which a park can suppress homeruns is self explanatory, but how can a park suppress XBH’s (and I know the article makes the claim, not you. just throwing it out there) ?

          IMO, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen suppress XBH’s, not the park itself.

          • I’d like to think NMR is right, it’s Cutch and Marte….what do you think, Jim?

          • Yes, Starling and Cutch suppress XBH for sure. I am definitely on the record with that, NMR. I think they looked at the opposition’s # of XBH allowed as well. They probably have looked at it for a lot of years to develop trends. If PNC yields a low # of XBH, over a long period of time vs. what happens in Bucs’ road games, that is a good indicator. I assume that is why they cited the stat.

            The distances of the fences either help or hurt HR, obviously. I would think at PNC, triples would rise because of the notch. But, doubles would decline for lefties because of how many runners hit that wall and can’t get to 2nd. A lot of balls end up singles in RF at PNC that are doubles elsewhere. This could be a very long discussion. So many nuances.

            I have to say, I am a huge believer in park influence on players. Take the top players, stats-wise, over long periods, and you can usually see some help from their ball park. You also see some hindrance in performance from a ball park. Bill James once estimated that Willie Stargell may have lost as many as 75 HR in his career from how much harder it was to hit the ball out of RC & CF at Forbes Field. I believe the same held true for LF & LC at that park. It was a true pitcher’s park. Maz had to hit that ball 400+ feet to get the series winner. Clemente undoubtedly lost a lot of HR at Forbes. I don’t know this, but I assume he also benefited from the spacious OF to get more 1b/2b/3b.

            I’m not saying the truly great players would not be great anywhere. They definitely would. But, the Todd Heltons, Dante Bichettes and Larry Walkers of the world benefited a whole lot from their surroundings.

    • the ravens could go 0-for-16 this year (if they didn’t have the pleasure of playing the steelers)

  43. I don’t know how to feel about this Steelers team this year.

    DK, first thanks for the inside track as to what they are saying and how they are acting. They seem to be a tighter group than last year.

    I like the fact that they got somewhat younger. I like the young OLine’s potential, but now it time to see if they can get it done.

    As I often do with baseball, I compare them to a local team to me. The Steelers OLine as the makings of the 49ers OLine. If you pay attention to football outside of the Steelers, you know that their line is made up of mostly former #1 draft picks. Honestly, that’s how you build an offense. Around the hogs. Without them, I don’t care who your QB, WR,RB’s are. They can’t do their job, if the lineman don’t do theres.

    The defense is healthy and eager to prove that their ranking from a year ago wasn’t a fluke. Woodley slimmed down should be a good thing and I really like the pick of Jones. He’s gonna be a true beast of the east.

    I’m still not sure where I stand on their record. The Ravens showed that their going to be garbage this year, though Denver should be the team to beat in the AFC, if not NFL. Browns are the Browns, but on the upswing and the Bengals are looking like a contendar.

    Should be a fun season. I love this time of the year and really miss Pittsburgh the most now. Until December. Then its cold and nasty. No thanks.

    • Like this, Ryan. We could be anywhere from 6 and 10 to 12 and 4, I think. But we now have Zoltan on the team, so I vote for 11 and 5.


    Last week I presented a clip from “Raising Arizona” to reflect the anxiety many of us had with the weekend series with St. Louis.

    This week I give a nod to Dejan’s visit to campus tomorrow with a clip from 1986′s “Back to School.” This scene features the great Rodney Dangerfield and a 20 year old Robert Downey, Jr. The bookstore scene is reminiscent of Dangerfield’s famously hilarious entrance into the clubhouse in Caddyshack. Of that scene in Caddyshack, I read once that director Harold Ramis recalled that Dangerfield was almost despondent after the scene’s first take because nobody in the crew laughed. Caddyshack was his first film he had a major role in, and he was accustomed to responses to his material at nightclubs. The director had to reassure Rodney that the scene was funny, and that the crew did not laugh because they had to be quiet during filming and, further, knew the lines inside and out from repeated reading of the script.

    Note. There were much funnier scenes in “Back to School” but most contained language not appropriate for the blog. I also acknowledge the anachronism that registering for classes in person is in today’s computerized world! Also, I had forgotten how lovely Terry Farrell was.

    Note 2: The exteriors for the university setting were filmed on the campus of one University of Wisconsin at Madison.

  45. Definitely fun, Osh. Rodney was one of a kind.

  46. Predict the score and winner for the Steeler game on Sunday:
    Steelers: 20
    Titans: 17
    The winner gets… Respect. Might not be as good as the prizes that Playoffs by 2012 offers in the Pirate Pick ‘em but it’s better than nothing.

  47. Maybe y’all can help. The 17 year old tells me that he needs a parking pass to drive to school. A one time flat fee of $75 is required. Are they nuts, or is it me ?

  48. Here’s something to temper our enthusiasm for the Steelers this week. If I remember it right, Cowherd’s wagering guru said the Steelers are 1 and 13 against the spread in games the week before they play the Bengals in recent years. This on espn radio today.

  49. Has DK been on the Keith Olbermann’s show yet?

  50. So. Did I miss anything exciting today?

    Looks like Pedro can’t hit and is in contract discussions………

  51. cool story, getting major press now and I agree with the article.

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