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Morning Java: Here we go … again

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> Today’s TribLIVE Radio show at 2-3 p.m. will feature guest Ramon Foster on the aftermath of that awful opener but also looking ahead to Cincinnati.

We’ll talk with Joe Reedy, the Bengals beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, whose blog you can find here. And we’ll hear from the one, the only @SuckMeter.

thumb.php 2The show will open, though, with the following two-part question: Would you be willing to replace Todd Haley right now?

Or would you be more concerned about making a change at offensive coordinator in mid-season, even though  the Ravens did exactly that last year in going on to win the Super Bowl?

Don’t hold back, either. Call me at 412-320-7925.

If you can’t call, email me at sportstalk@tribweb.com

To listen, just click on the link above. It’s free, easy, no signup. If you’re mobile, try the TribLIVE Radio app.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, mostly wrapping up all kinds of injuries and potential replacements and new signal-callers and other unhappy stuff. Alan Robinson, Mark Kaboly and Ralph Paulk report.

Here’s Bengals news from the Enquirer.

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>> The Pirates’ bullpen hangs on … barely. Rob Biertempfel is in Arlington.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage, including an examination of schedule difficulty.

Here’s Rangers news from the Dallas Morning News.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

Here’s what our panel on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word had to say Sunday night about the Pirates’ inconsistent starting pitching …

>> It’s reporting day for the Penguins, which means hopes are high for prospects seeking to make the team. Which means, as always, for defense prospects seeking to make the team. Josh Yohe mans the blue line.

>> Pitt hopes to run, run, run against New Mexico. Jerry DiPaola avoids run-ons.

>> Penn State awaits additional help for Central Florida, Chris Adamski has it.

>> I’ll be with the Steelers today, with the Penguins for their first full practice tomorrow.

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.

287 Comments

  1. Are these the same links as yesterday?

    DK: Nah. I actually had the page public while I was building it, Marc, so you saw formatting copied and pasted from yesterday’s Java.

  2. Personally, I think 83 was even more exciting. Now I’m looking forward to 84.

    Speaking of streaks, the Pirates have only won 83 games a total of 8 times (including this one) since the last World Series win in 1979 – or 34 seasons.

    They’ve hit the 84 mark a total of 6 times since then.

    They’ve won 85 games a total of 4 times since 1979.

    And they’ve only one more than 85 a grand total of 3 times since 1979, when they racked up 95, 98 and 96 in 1990, 1992 and 1992.

    Go Buccos!

    Sounds like reasons to celebrate the next few victories as well.

  3. I want a video clip of DK singing the $5 Subway jingo. A capella. FIVE.

  4. Yes, I would be concerned about changing the OC midstream. Our O-line stinks. Has for many years now. Almost any OC would look bad with the turnstiles we line up. Kind of puts Bruce Arians’ work into proper perspective.

    DK: CALL with that!

    • Believe me, I’d LOVE to be able to call in to your show. Alas, not possible while at work. Will reiterate in email to the Sportstalk email addy, though. If it’s a slow day, feel free to use. :)

  5. And so Liriano, for now, once again holds the “hot potato” distinction of being our “ace.” He’ll look ace-like again in five days, then the start after that probably allow 12 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

  6. DK: Some totally random blog stats I thought might interest some of the regulars:

    >> Without getting into too many numbers, blog traffic has increased to the point of being way, way above that of any blog I’ve done anywhere.

    >> A typical full day on the blog draws roughly one-third as many visitors as the typical column. And I’m actually happy with both numbers, as well as that ratio.

    >> This one floors me: On any given day, 24.33 percent of visitors to the blog are first-timers. Have a hard time believing that. Maybe there’s an explanation.

    >> The most-visited individual post during baseball season was the Justin Morneau “All In” analysis, but it was only half of the visitor count for when Jarome Iginla was acquired … which took place overnight, if you’ll recall. The Iginla post was No. 1 overall for the year.

    >> Greatest growth area, by far, is Steelers traffic. Which kind of makes sense, given their incredible base and reach. The posting of a video from OTAs ranked second only to the Iginla post for the year.

    >> Colleges don’t lure traffic. They really don’t. At least not here. And Pitt isn’t an exception. But all that means to me is to keep trying harder.

    That’s all I got. No real reason for this. Was just looking over some stuff.

    • Not at all sure about what I’m about to suggest, but…
      A number of those “first-timers” might actually be some of the usual suspects who are just using anonymizers to get around firewalls at the office.
      If that’s not how that works, somebody do please correct me.

      • Still, congrats on the impressive viewership. My wallet doesn’t want me to say this, but when that day comes that access to the Blog requires a fee (SMALL fee!), I will pay. I am addicted. And appreciative.

        And all talked out.
        Hasta mañana.

    • I am glad to be part of the Lunatics! A wonderful place to visit each day…making some new friends here…Thanks for creating this blog, Dejan!

    • as per above…you don’t really expect us to “hold Back” ?

    • I am impressed that the Iginla story was number one. But the fact it happened overnight probably increased traffic. Younger people are up at that time and, of course, are much more likely to be online getting information rather than relying on radio and TV. Still hockey fans are incredible.

      Puzzles me, somewhat, that college is such a poor lure. I know Pittsburgh is a pro town but several universities in the area including the two major programs at Penn St and Pitt. JAL confirmed it last week when he told me why he no longer included the college links-little interest in it.

    • Any stat compilation of Barmes and Leyva being so (dys)”functional” to the Pirate cause

    • Very interesting stuff at that. First timers to the blog: makes you wonder if people are just scavenging for things to read, or is it because folks are shifting from more traditional media? And little college traffic is really interesting. Wonder if that will change once basketball season starts? Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    • I appreciate that we can discuss matters in a civilized manner, without all the “you’re a jerk!” “No, you’re a jerk!!!” silliness on most sports forums. Thanks to everyone.

  7. Thanks DK. Enjoyed the numbers. Any way to look at mobile phone blogger/readers? (Driving back home from trip to St. Louis)

    DK: I don’t have mobile just for the blog. But in general, roughly half of all our online readership is mobile. And growing.

  8. The more I think about Sunday’s game, I believe that the offense should get a pass. The loss of Pouncey was such a devastating one that essentially they were forced to tear up whatever game plan they had. I know they have to plan for contingencies — and maybe 10 games in the line and backups would be more interchangeable and cohesive — but the loss of their Pro Bowl center was not something anticipated and simply could not be adjusted to on the fly. Now, this Monday, after a week of practice we’ll get a truer sense of whether the offense is the real problem.

    DK: Fair points all, Reading. All I’ll add is that Cincy’s front seven is better than Tennessee’s, so …

  9. (I know it’s sports blog)…but don’t forget about the day, the heroes, the suffering, the people we lost, some it was so close, the meaning of 9/11 ….
    .
    NEVER FORGET ! :-(
    .
    NEVER

  10. I understand the thinking about how losing Pouncy disrupted the game plan, but shouldn’t they have been prepared for injury? Pouncy has never played a full season, one would think that the steelers would have some contingency plan for that situation.

    With that being said, I also believe the offensive line is the issue. Not sure how anyone expects the offense to utilize any type of game plan with the type of poor play the line has demonstrated.

  11. Wow. Everyone must have stayed up late last night to watch win 83. This place isnt hopping yet with activity. Or everyone has slept through their alarm clocks! I blame the poodles for unplugging all the alarm clocks power cords and removing batteries.

  12. Jordy Mercer was 4 for 5 last night.

    That’s why Barmes and his .219 average(or his .577 OPS for those who obsess over that), needs to stay nailed on the bench.

    Just sayin’.

    • Bib Hasis thanks you :)

    • John I agree that Mercer should get a majority of the playing time but I think you may be surprised at what each of those guys stats are since the all-star break. Mercer has done enough to keep a majority of the starts but Barmes has done plenty to get the occasional start especially if we have a ground ball pitcher like Morton going. Barmes is a valuable part of this team.

      • And isn’t just possible that Jordy has benefited from the exact amount of playing time he has gotten? What I mean is, maybe this is exactly what a first year player needed to acclimate himself to the demands of big league SS in the heat of a pennant race. Maybe Jordy is able to concentrate and stay fresh because he doesn’t have to start every single day. I, too, think he is the better option at starting SS. But, Barmes has value, both as a defensive replacement and to spell Jordy on occasion. CH has proven he has a knack this year of putting the right guys in the lineup most nights.

        • Jim, you’re onto something there, I think. I know one thing for sure tho, last night Jordy looked so comfortable and so confident, nothing was gonna stop him. What a great night he had.

        • I think that’s a fair point Jim but to me, there’s nothing like playing everyday.

        • Jordy Mercer = R.J. Reynolds, is what you’re saying.

          That could be true. I’m fine with continuing to split time between Mercer and Barmes. Since Barmes is the superior defender, he can start when ground ball pitchers like Morton take the mound.

          • I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for R J Reynolds. He sat next to my mom at a dinner after the public/Private partnership bought the Pirates. And she loved him.

    • Couple thoughts on the SS situation. First of all, if Morton is pitching, Barmes should get the start. No questions asked. If the opposing team is starting a Lefty, Mercer should start (unless Morton is pitching). In all other situations, I’m equally satisfied with either of them playing.

  13. With 18 games left, the Pirates magic number to clinch the second wild card is 11 (vs. Nationals), to host the wild card game is 16 (vs. Reds), and to win the division is 20 (vs. Cardinals).

  14. Update on stat that interests me and a few others: to win 90 games, the Pirates have to average a record of 10-8 in each of the nine 18-game segments of the season. Last night’s game finished the eighth of those nine segments, and the Pirates records in those segments are 10-8, 10-8, 14-4, 8-10, 12-6, 11-7, 9-9 and 9-9.

    To get to 90 wins, the Pirates would have to go 7-11 over the last 18 games. To get to 95 wins, they would have to go 12-6.

    • Great stats, Tom. You have been beating that 10-8 drum all season, and you are right on. For the most part, this has been a remarkably consistent team. They were certainly better in the first half than the second half, but they have continued to avoid the big meltdowns.

      • Thanks, Jim. I stumbled upon the 10-8 formula by accident at the beginning of the season, and I thought it might be a way of measuring progress and smoothing out the dips (like last weekend). I also figured that if the Pirates were on target to win 90, they would also win 81.

        My conclusion is that, not only are these Pirates consistent, they are resilient. When it looks like the train is about to come off the tracks completely (such as starting the year 1-5, going 2-7 at one point, they always manage to string a few wins together with the hero of the day, as we have named the player who steps up to help win the game.

        There are reasons people stay up until 11:45 pm, keeping track of the game on a phone in the dark because the power is out. These guys are fun to watch and usually, it’s not over until it’s over.

  15. JAL’s FM (No Static At All) Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV3zWSawJiw

    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: When Will the Pirates Be Recognized as a Good Team?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/first-pitch-when-will-the-pirates-be-recognized-as-a-good-team.html

    The More Things Stay the Same, the More They Change

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/the-more-things-stay-the-same-the-more-they-change.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Fall Instructional League Roster

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-fall-instructional-league-roster.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Liriano, McCutchen lead Pirates to 5-4 win

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/9/11/4718026/liriano-mccutchen-lead-pirates-to-5-4-win

    6 Rumbunter

    Pirates 20 Games in 20 Days Providing Plenty of Questions

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/09/11/pirates-20-games-20-days/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 144: Pirates 5 Rangers 4

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/september-2013/game-144-pirates-5-rangers-4.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Cisco Kid & Cutch Too Much For Texas: Bucs Win 5-4

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/09/cisco-kid-cutch-too-much-for-texas-bucs.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 5, Rangers 4

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/09/pirates-5-rangers-4/

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates need to stockpile wins against weaker foes

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/09/10/pirates-need-stockpile-wins/

    • FM (No Static At All) Steely Dan 1978

      • Little known facts about this song………… Timothy B. Schmidt, later of Eagles fame, has a background vocal cameo on this song.

        Also, there is an alternate version by where the guitar solo at the end is replaces by a saxophone solo.

        One of my favorite Steely Dan songs.

  16. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Beyond the Box Score

    How the Pirates built a winner

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/9/10/4701964/how-the-pirates-built-a-winner

    12 Beaver County Times

    Pirates not stopping at 82; beat Rangers again

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/pirates/pirates-not-stopping-at-beat-rangers-again/article_ddc87efe-7763-5237-9a55-017bd5e79295.html

    13 Dallas Morning News

    Fraley: Offense sputters again as Rangers continue to falter

    http://rangersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/fraley-offense-sputters-again-as-rangers-continue-to-falter.html/

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Cubs hand Reds 9-1 loss

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130910/SPT04/309100087/Cubs-hand-Reds-9-1-loss

    15 Bleacher Report

    Why the Pittsburgh Pirates Should Be ‘America’s Team’ in 2013

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1768547-why-the-pittsburgh-pirates-should-be-americas-team-in-2013

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Rangers Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130911_PIT@TEX

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Pitching is key to Cardinals’ surge

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/pitching-is-key-to-cardinals-surge/article_61f375e3-35ed-5c76-9d55-bdeb2dac747e.html

    18 PBC Site

    Liriano stifles Rangers as Bucs hold on, keep pace

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_09_10_pitmlb_texmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Morton penciled in to start Friday, will test foot first

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130910&content_id=60157160&notebook_id=60168804&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    When going gets tough, Pirates get going

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130911&content_id=60229244&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Eight of Our Favorite WTF Pitching Performances

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21766

    20 Fangraphs

    A Question About Value in a Losing Effort

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-question-about-value-in-a-losing-effort/

  17. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers Film Room: Jarvis Jones hit on Chris Johnson, Mike Adams misses and poor tackling

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-film-room/2013/9/10/4713334/steelers-film-room-week-1-tennessee-titans-jarvis-jones-hit-chris-johnson

    Steelers depth chart: Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds are co-starters

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/9/10/4716612/Steelers-depth-chart-jarvis-jones-outside-linebacker-week-2

    22 Steelers Depot

    NFL Week 1 TOX Stats

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/09/2013-nfl-week-1-tox-stats/

    Soccer(football)

    23 London Evening Standard

    From Thierry Henry to Didier Drogba: London’s ten greatest Premier League imports

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/from-thierry-henry-to-didier-drogba-londons-ten-greatest-premier-league-imports-8800334.html?action=gallery

    24 World Soccer Daily

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

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-10th-september-2013

    25 LA Times

    U.S. beats Mexico, 2-0, to qualify for soccer’s World Cup

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/la-sp-usa-mexico-soccer-20130911,0,7570041.story#axzz2ea4wq8y9

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    26 Pensburgh

    Prospect Profile #14 – Harrison Ruopp

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/9/11/4717818/prospect-profile-14-harrison-ruopp

  18. If we goet the one game playoff I would think Cole Train would have to be given serious consideration to start..even tho Frankie is the popular choice.

    • One great start over a season of very good starts? I don’t know about that.

      • Indeed. Cole has had a good season.

        • More than anything else, his win over the Rangers was a coming-of-age thing. THAT was encouraging for me to see. His bulldoggedness combined with experience is going to make for some great days ahead.

          • He certainly appears to be turning a corner, Bay. But, it could also be that he just had a night on Monday where he had unbelievable stuff – and Cole with unbelievable stuff is unhittable. I’d like to think he will be great from here on, but I think he still needs to sharpen his off-speed stuff. By this time next year, look out.

    • Unless Coles next 4 starts are all gems I personally don’t see how Liriano doesn’t start in a 1 game winner take all wild card game. Cole has 1 dominate start against Texas and two good starts against then Angels and Brewers. His other 15 or so starts have been middle of the rotation quality. I like what I’m seeing from him but I’m not ready to call him our number 1 starter.

      • Let me state that I don’t think Cole should be considered the “Ace’ to start a wild card game. Just that he should be considered…especially if he keeps pitching good games. :)

        • That is funny you used the word ace because I purposely avoided using that word because I didn’t think anyone was suggesting he is an ace. I personally do not feel the Pirates have an ace. They have a collection of pitchers that are very good but I only see there being maybe 8-10 aces in the entire league.

          • You know, Nate, I agree with you here again. I used the word a bit tongue-in-cheek. All of our pitchers have had several off days. I wouldn’t call any of them an “ace” either. My bad.

          • That’s right because ACE is trump over everyone elses best starter. Just because Cole delivered an ACE-like performance v. Darvish doesn’t make him your everyday ACE. I was fully willing to label Liriano with the ACE tag but he’s been woefully inconsistent at times.

        • That’s a good point, Jandy. Francisco, Charlie, AJ & Cole all have at least 3 more starts. It will likely get sorted out.

          • Sadyly Jim I currently would put AJ forth on that list. I’m not sure his head is in the right place right now. He seems like he will be cruising along and then when somebody gets on second base he forgets how to pitch.

    • Cole probably won’t start at all in te post season. It has been pretty obvious they are watching his innings/pitch counts. I was pretty surprised to see they let him go 100+ and then 90+ in his last two starts. Prior to that it was 5-6 innings and 80-90 pitches tops.

      Frankie has me concerned. He had the poor outing two starts ago and then last night it was very obvious he was without his best stuff. Especially starting around the middle of the fourth inning. Lots of balls up and off the plate away from righties. He worked hard to get through the 5th and 6th. It was a step back towards his normal form but nowhere near where I htink he needs to be to regain my complete trust.

      If Liriano continues to struggle it will be a tough choice of who to start in a 1 game WC. If the whole staff continues to struggle we may not have to worry about it.

      Grilli last night still didn’t look sharp. Even in the at bats that produced outs. He doesn’t look confident. his breaking pitch doesn’t have the same bite and the heat isn’t being located well. It will take some time to get him right. Hopefully 18 games is enough.

      • If the Bucs get past the wild card game, I have to disagree about Cole, especially if he shows the stuff of Monday night in his remaining starts. He’s a tough cookie.

        Agree on Grilli, though. He didn’t look confident at all. Neither did HIS stuff.

      • You’re right. Cole will be in the bullpen in the playoffs. They’re keeping him on a tight innings count, just as the Nationals did with Strasburg last year. Cole will only be able to pitch a few innings here and there in the postseason, but if used correctly his 100-mph fastball will be a great weapon out of the pen.

        • What count would that be, Scott?

          Think about the whole bullpen vs. starter idea.

          Even if they get into the division series, they’re only guaranteed three games.

          How many innings are you actually saving by putting him in the bullpen?

          The idea just doesn’t make sense.

          • We don’t know what his innings limit is since they haven’t told us. But you saw Washington shut down Strasburg last year in the middle of a pennant race so this sort of thing is obviously a huge deal.

            You have to plan as if you’re going to make the World Series. Would you rather have one start from Cole in the opening round, then shut him down entirely for the rest of the postseason? Or have him available for five or six high-leverage one-inning relief appearances throughout the playoffs? It’s a tough call, but I would go for the latter option.

  19. The Pirates have lost the final game of each of the last 8 series. To borrow their own term – FINISH !

  20. Hi All – The goal is to win the division…absolutely no question about that! But, had a thought last night and wanted to toss this out: What if …a big IF…the Cards and Pirates are tied on September 29th. If there is a one game playoff…does that happen in Pittsburgh because the Pirates record vs. St. Louis was better this year? And..this is really crazy…what if there is a 3 way tie with the Reds, Cards, Pirates? Can that actually happen? Wanted to toss this out to folks who are a lot smarter than me. Thanks. Have a busy day ahead…so just on for a moment this morning. Will check back later on. Have a good day everyone!

    • No, if Cards and Pirates tie for the division lead the pirates win the division due to their winning record against the Cards. If they tie for the WC spot the game is in Pittsburgh due to their winning record against the Cards.

    • If the Cards and Bucs finished tied, they would have to meet to have a 1 game playoff to see who would get the divison and who would go to the wild card game. I think that would be played at who has the better winning percentage in the regular season. That game would count towards the regular season standings.

      If the 3 teams would be tied. There would be two single games played. The first would be played one day. The winner of that game would play the next day to play the team that didnt play the first day. Whoever wins that 2nd game would win the division. Again, all of these game would count towards the regular season standings.

      I think I got this written out correctly. If not, could someone help fix it up.

    • Thanks JAL and TDB for the feedback and answers…much appreciated.

  21. Adding to Joey Bats well stated post above………

    Please remember those who perished on 9/11/2001.
    I knew 3 who died that day…….. not well, but they were from my hometown, so I did know them a bit. Ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

    Their sacrifices dont matter only if we dont remember, and honor them.
    God Bless us all, and God Bless the U.S.A.

  22. No off days until the 27th and both Grilli (20) and Melancon (30) probably unavailable today. Would really be helpful for AJ to go deep today.

  23. No commentary on Dos A Cero? Booo! Ha!

  24. *****ATTENTION*****
    Lurkers and newbies, we want to chat with you! If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum.
    Don’t be shy, we don’t bite :)

  25. Good morning, All! Hung in through what HAD TO BE the most UNNERVING win of the season last night! Sheesh, and just HOW can a win be unnerving at this point? Helped along quite a bit by the CRUDDY announcing of the hometown broadcast we watched down here, just east of Dallas, Steve “I Should Be Doing Bread Commercials” Busby and Tom “With My Voice I Get All The Disney Documentaries I Can Handle” Grieve!

    Sorry if this has already been bantered to death, but is a guy SAFE at the plate if he steps on the catcher’s foot and the catcher’s foot is on the plate? I guess I figured the same would apply if a guy beat the throw to first, but stepped on the first baseman’s foot – if it was on top of the base.

    • Through the 8th I was starting to nod off. then when Melancon came on I wa forcing myself to keep my eyes open to see the end of the game and go directly to bed. Then after the first run scored I was wide awake.

    • I don’t know the answer to this. the Bucs broadcasters pointed out that Pierzinsky wasright in that Sanchez never actually touched the plate but never made comment as to the point about the fot being on the plate itself. my thought is that he has to touch the plate period and likely should have been out but the umpire you would appeal to made the original call so no amount of arguing was going to change that call.

      i thought you were going to say they went on and on about the double play involving Pierzinsky. Gabby actually kicked the bag right at the corner with his toe. A great play. Mercer didn’t even realze it. So if the runner(Andrus?) goeas into second sliding instead of thinking he was forced out and trying to get out of the way ofthe relay throw he is likely safe at second.

    • I think he has to actually touch the plate, Bay.

      My question is whether the catcher is allowed to deliberately trip a guy. We know a catcher can block the plate on a throw to home. But, can he just stick his foot out and trip a guy on purpose. I never put anything past AJ Pierczynski. He might be the dirtiest, sneakiest player in the game. I thought maybe that is what he tried to do there.

      Then, again, why is Sanchez not sliding there? He is easily safe if he slides. And, why when he saw the ball bounce 20 ft away from the catcher did he not go back and tag the plate? Fortunately for the Bucs, the ump blew the call.

      While I am on the Sanchez rant, I have to say his mind was somewhere else for most of that game. Besides the non-slide at the plate, just before that he failed to move from 2nd to 3rd on a bunt where the base was vacated. Not a heads up play. And, did everyone notice him field the bunt up the 3rd base line with his back to 1b while the ball was going to roll foul? He had no chance at a fast runner there. Let it go foul, Tony! I’m just glad he didn’t whirl around and throw that ball down the RF line. Finally, he picks up a swinging 3rd strike later and, for whatever unknown reason, decides not to throw the ball until the very last second. Maybe it had something to do with his supposed throwing issues?

      He did have a nice double, and I generally like Tony. Or, at least I thought I did when I believed he was a smart player. But, I think last night may have shown he still has some learning to do on pretty basic things that he should already know. Fortunately, we may have the best crop of young catching prospects in the minors in all of MLB. I’m not sure Tony is a MLB starter. I think we may need to build a 1-2 year bridge from the end of Russell Martin’s contract to the point where one of the young catchers emerges.

      Or, maybe it was just one struggling night for Tony and I am overreacting.

      • Self-correction – I think the ball where Tony failed to advance to 3rd was a high chopper to the 3rd base side of the mound, rather than a bunt as I originally stated.

      • maybe the ump “blew” the call at home because he didn’t like AJ Pierczynski tripping up Tony as well… lol

      • Jim, the catcher can’t intentionally trip a runner.

        This was from me last night:

        “Sanchez needs to get his head out of his behind:

        - Should’ve let the bunt go foul
        – Should’ve advanced to third
        – Should’ve slid.”

        But after all that Jim, I thought he recovered well and caught maybe his best game yet. I like Tony learning under Russ for another season + at least.

        • I saw Tony catch a few games in Altoona. I thought he was pretty decent. I’m sure Martin can help him along too. Good mentor for him.

        • He does some good things, 21. I admit that, and I actually think the bat will play – to borrow a CH line. But, thinking on the fly is a skill I like from my catcher. After last night, I question if he is long on that trait.

        • tony is still learning and made a few mistakes last night, no question, but i was so happy to see him in there vs. John Buck. Me thinks Clint and coaches have correlated Buck’s catching with some of the pitching blow-ups we’ve had. I’m for more Tony and less Buck at this point.

      • I agree he should have slid but when stuff like that happens I like to try and put myself in that players head and try to figure out why he didn’t. I’m not defending it but maybe Sanchez thought it would be a blocking of the plate situation and he was fully prepared to collide with Pierczynski. Young player coming towards the plate thinking this is it I have to just run this guy over and then the play doesnt develop like that and it’s to late to slide.

        I don’t have to much of an issue with him not touching the plate. The ump clearly called him safe and didn’t do anything to hint he was thinking of changing his original call.

        For what it’s worth I like Sanchez. I like the way he has carried himself since being up. I like what the other players are saying about him and how he goes about his bussiness. He has a great mentor in Martin and hopefully with a full year behind him next year the Pirates will have the catcher position taken care of for the next 5-6 years.

    • I don’t at all see Piercynzki trying to trip Sanchez there – at least not in the surface. I mean the replay just shows his foot there. Back to my original question, I guess he has the right to have it there – but I never would question if a runner was safe if he was flying down the first base line and beat the throw by running over the foot of the stupid first baseman, who had it right on top of the base! I’d like to ask an ump familiar with the rule book this. But I guess if it waa ilkegal for Pier-EverhowyouspellitSKI have his foot there, he wouldn’t have argued about it.

      I like Sanchez. His bat seems extremely quick through the zone; and he shows a clot of athleticism at the plate. The good decisions will come for the rookie. Already showing good poise, I’d say.

  26. Remember back in the winter when the Patriots attempted to sign Emmanuel Sanders and if they were, they would have had to give us their third rounder? After Sunday’s game, I think it was a really bad idea to not letting him leave. Our needs are really piling up. Next, draft we are going to be looking at CB, DE, OT, TE, WR, S, ILB, and maybe kicker and Punter. We’re also going to need depth at RB, C, NT, and probably OLB. Obviously, we can’t knock them all out in one having one more draft pick would have really paid off. We could have knocked out another one of those positions had we not have wasted a pick on a QB for some reason in the 4th round of last year’s draft. Plus, I really don’t think there is much of a variance between Sanders and Cotchery.

    • Dom I agree it looks bad right now but the alternative didn’t look that great. Going into the season with Cotchery as your #2 receiver and then a bunch of unknowns would have been tough. I like Cotchery but he is not a #2. Hopefully Sanders plays better going forward.

      • Exactly. Sanders may not be great, but he’s desperately needed right now because the team has no depth at WR. Third-round picks are crap shoots so there’s no guarantee the Steelers would have gotten anybody useful.

    • Good points across the board, Dom.

      I have been saying for awhile that it is appauling how this roster has been downgraded in the past few years. We had a great roster 3-4 years ago, with quality starters and subs ready to jump in. Now, how many impact players do we have? The drafts have been weak.

      This is radical, but I would have strongly considered trading Ben last off-season. I know that is blasphemy around the Burgh, but this team needs a complete overhaul IMO. I think Ben’s value will never be as high again as it was in the off-season. And, I don’t think he can take this team very far. They are just lacking at too many positions. RB is totally unsettled. WR is short on talent. TE is abysmal – at least until Heath comes back from his knee surgery. We seem to have no idea how to draft or develop an OL, nor can we find one that has any ability to stay healthy. The defense does not appear to be poised for the future.

      Can you imagine what would be said if the Pirates competed in a league with a salary cap, where a bunch of that cap each year was frozen – meaning they could not add to it, nor do they have to pay it out because players have been released? The Steelers get a total pass for all of this, for the most part. They have earned a pass to a degree. But, at some point they need to prove they have a plan for the future.

      I am not complaining about what the Steelers have accomplished the last 10 years. And, by no means am I comparing the Pirates of the last 10 years to the Steelers of the past 10 years. So, please don’t misunderstand. I know they have been a Gold Standard franchise. I am just pointing out that I think the Steelers are headed for a very bad stretch and I don’t know if they have the wherewithall to climb out of this any time soon. They seem unwilling to make the truly hard decisions it takes to shorten the downturn as much as possible. They seem to think they are better than they are. Downturns are inevitable when you have been as successful as the Steelers have for the past decade. But, I don’t think they have identified, or at least are willing to admit. that the window is closed and it is past time to shift focus totally to a rebuild. They can talk all they want about never being in rebuild mode, but that is where they should be right now.

      I think most of you know I am an optimist by nature. But, I think I am also a realist. I could be dead wrong, but I don’t like what I have seen the last few years from the Steelers. I will be happy to admit I was wrong, in fact thrilled, if they reverse course beginning this week.

      • I agree with everything you said here, Jim. I said last season, that the Steelers were in for at least 2 – 3 really rough years.
        Trade Big Ben? Wouldn’t bother me in the least…but…who do you replace him with?
        Tim Tebow?? ;)

        • Jandy:

          I think they had to accept that even Big Ben is not enough to get this team to the playoffs. So, I would have been looking for a decent QB just as a stop gap. I don’t actually know what they could have gotten for BB. I am much better at gauging trades in MLB, since they are so prevalent. But, I have to think for a Top 5 QB in his prime, you could get a decent return from a team on the cusp. Then, again, maybe it wasn’t feasible to trade him. I just thought it was prudent to explore it. Maybe they did, and there was nothing do-able.

          But, if a trade coud have been made, I would think they could have netted some draft picks that could be converted to young talent to shorten the rebuild effort.

          The whole BB trade thing was just speculation and wishful thinking on my part. But, I do think they are wandering aimlessly through the sea of sharks that is the NFL right now. I wish I didn’t feel that way. But, just look at the past week. They dump Dwyer after insinuating he is not serious about his job, only to need him back a few days later. They then cite his knowledge of the system as grounds for bringing him back. They seem very ill-prepared for things.

      • Jim do you think they could have gotten much for Ben. NFL teams just don’t give up much in trades. Or would it be more about the money that would become available to use to start rebuilding.

        For what it is worth I don’t think they need to rebuild as much as move on. Young guys need to play. If the offensive line can gel as the year progresses I think they will be OK going forward. That is a big if and in my opinion the offensive lines development is hands down the deciding factor of what this team will be over the next 3 or 4 years.

        • I don’t even know, Nate. I guess I focused on the need to start accumulating draft picks, and felt he was their biggest trade piece. It may not have even been feasible to trade him.

          But, if they could trade him, I would think a 2-time SB winner in his prime could generate a return from a team that feels it is close to making a run. Maybe not – just a guess.

      • There is no such thing as rebuilding in the NFL, so trading away your best player to re-stock the cupboard doesn’t make any sense. You’re applying baseball logic to a sport that isn’t baseball.

        Because of the salary cap and the draft, it only takes one year for a really lousy NFL team to turn things around. Your suggestion that the Steelers are headed for years of decline is completely unfounded. I agree that things don’t look good, but they could easily turn it all around next year with a good offseason.

        And on top of all that, it is almost impossible to win in the NFL without an elite quarterback. If you have one, you don’t ever let him go.

        • It appears that th forumla for success is to draft your francise QB and build the team around him to be successful before his rookie contract ends.

          Once you sign him that $100 million dollar contract your window begins to close.

          Every team with in this situation has holes. Baltimore and Dallas will find this out. New England is fortunate to be in agruably the prennially weakest division in football, which made it easier for them. Indy went thru it, as well as GB.

          Steelers had great teams under Cowher, but no QB = losing in the AFC Champ. Draft BBR win SB under both Cowher and Tomlin. BBR signs contract…gradually decline in starting talent and no money for FA and quality back ups.

        • Unfounded to say years of decline, Scott? The last 2 years already started the decline, I believe. If not 2 years, then last year at least was a big dropoff I think most would admit. Do you think they are going to exceed 8-8 this year? I don’t. That would then be 2-3 years of decline,depending on your POV. Where is the influx of certain talent right now that will reverse the decline next year, when Ben, Heath, Troy, Taylor, Clark, etc. are even a year older? Their best players are on the downside, and although I hope Bell and Jones will be superstars … we’ll see. When was the last good off-season this team had? They have little to no cap space to sign key free agents. Didn’t this winter prove that? Matt Spaeth was the splash signing, and they won’t have much cap room again this off-season.

          You are correct that an NFL team can be turned around in a hurry. That takes bold, decisive action. That is not the Steelers way. Their way has been to not allow themselves to get in a position of needing to turn things around anywhere near to the situation they are now facing. Bold, decisive action should have taken place the off-season before last.

          As for never trading a franchise QB, that depends on your prospects for the future and what you think you can get for him. You and I disagree on their prospects for the future. Since you think they can easily be turned around next off-season, then I guess I would agree in that case that they should have kept Ben. If, however, you believe like I do – that they are deficient everywhere on offense but QB, and that it will take 2-3 years to fix if everything goes right – then I think you consider trading your biggest chip and get as much young talent as possible, rather than watch him get his brains beat in behind a defiicent OLine until he is no longer worth much.

          I wish I had your confidence in how this team is currently being run.

          • I have no confidence in how the team is being run and I’m not optimistic about their future.

            I’m simply pointing out that rebuilding doesn’t happen in the NFL because teams are so up and down from one year to the next. The Steelers could be 2-14 next year. Or, if they have a great draft and sign a couple key free agents, they could just as easily win the Super Bowl.

            It’s a fine line, as they say. That’s why blowing it all up and rebuilding (by trading you elite QB, for instance) never happens in the NFL.

  27. For all the soccer fans here on Dee Blog…………….

    USA defeated Mexico 2-0 last night, to advance to the 2014 World Cup.
    This victory was the fourth consecutive qualifying win at Columbus, Ohio.
    This was also the fourth consecutive 2-0 qualifying win over Mexico.

    Now we have a team to root for next year.

  28. I have to post the following annoying Player A vs Player B comparisons. Promise I’ll never do it again.

    Player A – 413 AB / .252 Avg / 14 HR / 56 RBI / .723 OPS

    Player B – 522 AB / .257 Avg / 17 HR / 74 RBI / .734 OPS

    • It’s just that I’m right so infrequently that I couldn’t help it.

      Player A – Lyle Overbay.

      Player B – Justin Morneau.

      • Morneau looks awful at the plate right now. Hopefully, he’ll perk up. Good post, Milo. And, for the record, you are right as much as anyone here.

        • This is the Morneau that played the better part of the season. Teh one that played in August was an abberation. He even had a little slump right before the trade to show he was reverting…can you tell I wasn’t a huge fan of tradign for Morneau?

          A miniscule upgrade to Jones at best.

          • A worthwhile move no matter how it works out. I’ll back up Thunder and Nate’s boy Neal on this one till the cows come home.

            (Not disputing the stats)

            • Agree 100%.

            • Agreed. I still think Morneau will hit here.

            • Something needed done, and Huntington hoped for the perverbial “lightning in a bottle” from Morneau. I was hoping for it also.

              As it turns out, right now he is hitting more like Rebecca DeMornay than ’06 Justin Morneau. But, the season’s not over. Maybe he will snap back.

            • What does bother me is the hooey going around about the “swing change” that scouts saw and thus gave confidence that the two week hot streak was real.

              Your scouts stink, or even worse, they’re biased.

              DK: On that video I shot with Morneau last week, you’ll see he downplays the swing change and emphasizes just strike-zone command and swinging at good pitches. What the scouts said — and this was culled from reports out of Minneapolis at the time, not from anything in Pittsburgh — was that they liked that his bat speed looked like it’s finally come all the way back.

              • I assume that was directed at DK. Don’t really have a position on that, but as much as I like to rag on DK, his “scouts” also dissed Snider, and that’s pretty much been borne out. Credit where credit is due.

              • Thanks for the clarification, Dejan.

                @AW

                No, my comment was directed at the Pirates. It was my understanding that PIRATE scouts justified the acquisition under the premise that Morneau’s hot streak was the result of a swing change and thus could reaonably be considered a safe bet.

                Take out the hot streak and Morneau just isn’t an improvement on anything other than worst-case-Garrett-Jones slump.

      • I’m still waiting for Player B to get here. (The REAL Player B as per your entry)

    • For what it’s worth I like the Player A/Player B comparisons. I will not comment on this one because I am sure nobody wants to hear me beat my annoying Justin Morneau isn’t all that drum anymore.

      • I wasn’t against them picking him up. But I also think everyone needs to know that this is what he is now. That’s all.

        • I wasn’t against picking him up only because of the August he had so I clung to that hoping it could continue.

        • What you just said was exactly my point all along. I needed to simplify it I guess.

          I was happy with the trade for him. I was never against it. I just didn’t think he was this dramatic improvement worth giving up much to get which they didn’t. Drumsticks set down and put away for the rest of the year.

        • great perspective as always Milo… for all those who were clamoring for Morneau in July with the then-higher price tag of prospects, this is what those that were against that move were saying. Not saying he wasn’t worth the eventual price tag on Aug 31 but to me this was the right move and right timing , would’ve been bad move in July.

          • I was told yesterday nobody was suggesting we trade high prospects for………darn it those drumsticks slipped back into my hands.

          • I think most knew Morneau was past his prime, but thought maybe his good power #’s in August would continue with the excitement brought on by being thrust into a pennant race.

            Certainly worked for the Yankees with Soriano.

    • Don’t make promises you won’t keep :P

    • Player C now resides in Minnesota – two more hits last night

  29. I tried to record Mike tomlin’s presser yesterday, but all I got was poker. Humpff.

    I did read that Tomlin said the Steelers were “only a big play or two away from winning”. I want whatever he is smoking. He obviously was watching a different game. Conversely, Tennessee was “only a play or two away” from routing the Steelers.

    If this is what we have to look forward to coaching the team, Lord help us.

    • De-Nile is not just a river in Africa, plan.

    • I’m sure he’s referring to the big play that Ike fumbled into the endzone. If that doesn’t happen, the steelers get atleast 3 points… although they still probably lose, that was a pretty big “turning” point in the game.

      • I’m no tsure about that. Steelers push it in and go up 9 – 0 in the first 5 minutes…lot’s of things could change.

        And I still believe that if Sid doesn’t hit the post 20 seconds into game one against the Bruins…..

        • It changes the whole confidence level of everyone on the field wearing black & gold… but yes, lots of things change.

          The first goal in hockey changes everything even more. Crosby buries that one and it changes the whole series.

  30. Pens giving Chuck Kobasew a tryout. Good idea 5 years ago. Kinda like the rest of the roster.

  31. we agree again, Milo! ;)

    Jandy says:

    September 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

    First day of training camp….the hockey season is right around the corner :) :) :)

    Pens invited Chuck Kosasew to camp. 31 years old…not sure if I’m all that keen on this…
    http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=682033&navid=DL|PIT|home

  32. By the way, don’t be a bit surprised if Pie gets a start today.

  33. Just want to point out to all bridge jumpers and ‘the season is over’ folks… Sunday night, the Reds polished off a sweep of the Dodgers and the Bucs were blasted out of St Louie, and the two teams were tied… but the Reds had 3 games at home vs. the sucky Cubs and the Bucs had to go into the Texas oven and face Darvish and a rookie who had won 6 starts in a row.

    48 hours later, Bucs 2 games in front of the Reds, are going for the sweep today and the Reds have been easily handled at home by the Cubs.

    As Mercer said last night “it’s baseball”. I know it’s more fun to take every loss as a means to predict the team will never win again, and to take every win as a springboard to predicting a WS title, but next time fight the urge… keep calm and fight the urge.

  34. I would like to interrupt this Pirates/Steelers talk with an important news break:

    Penguins camp starts today!!!

    Now back to your regular programming.

    • I am a huge hockey fan. I usually claim it as my number one rooting interest. I care more what the Pens do than the Steelers. But right now, the Pens are but a fly on my Pirates radar. Feels good to have meaningful baseball to follow!

      Also, the Pens will be the Pens again. Lots of flash and dash. The Banker spouting off things like “We need to get to our game.” One of the top temas int eh East. And a miserable playoffs because that system with no defense just don’t play in May. Even last season they got lucky enough to draw the Isle who really had no business being in the same rink as the Pens and had it go to the wire. Then they were even luckier to draw an extremely overmatched Ottowa in round 2. But once they finally had to pla one of the big boys…forget it.

      I’ve seen enough of Dan Bylsma. But unfortunately it appears that playoff flame outs after spectacular regular season are all it takes for him to keep his job.

    • I agree with AJS… however, it will be a nice transition over to penguins in October regardless of the the pirates outcome.

    • I am dubbing it “Camp Over The Cap”.

    • I always found it annoying that the NHL started their season the same week the baseball playoffs start. Especially for those who follow both sports. Oh well, competition and all-the American, Canadian way.

  35. Here’s a hypothetical. Say the Pirates are 3-4 games out of hosting the WC game going into the final week. Do you go balls to the wall and try to capture that spot or do you maneuver your rotation so it is set up for having the guy you want pitch that game-even if it is on the road ?

    • You might also be in the position to pick your opponent in said game.

    • Hmm… I think in that scenario, 3-4 games out for the 1st WC, we may need to go balls to the well to fend off Washington. I think you do not do anything crazy (like pitching with 2 days rest, etc.) but I also think you go to win every game you can.

      • Yeah, maybe better at 1-2 games out scenario.

        To answer NMR, I think you have to go all out for the division title even if it means being stuck with Locke as your WC starter.

  36. Was in attendance last night for #83 in Arlington….what a great atmosphere/feeling it was to see all those fellow Bucco fans! We represented very well! :)

    Was a little nervous when Beltre came up against the Shark…especially since Morris was warming up in the pen…lol. The Shark, though, reared back and fired those heaters to finish the job. They really were the Battlin’ Buccos last night. I was fist-bumping felllow Yinzers on the way out….what an awesome time!

  37. The Royals just finished playing 44 games in 44 days. I don’t care what line of work you are in, that is lot of consecutive days of work.

    • Didn’t Alex Presley wear #44 at one point?

    • I would not mind being a pro-baseball player playing 44 games consecutive (especially for what they get paid)… travel is the only aspect that sucks and, by extension, being in a different city week to week. I can imagine that gets pretty tiring. But actually getting to play baseball 44 days in a row.. that would be fantastic.

  38. Here’s my lineup prediction. Barmes will play so Mercer’s gotta be the DH. Pie in LF & Jones in RF. We’ll see.

  39. Any news on when we might see Starling Marte back in left?

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