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Morning Java: Empty that bucket of pucks

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column comes from the Penguins’ first day of training camp and poses all kinds of annoying questions regarding that still-annoying Boston series and all its implications.

Here’s Sidney Crosby getting at least a little annoyed — as much as he can, anyway — with the topic …

And here’s my talk with Tomas Vokoun

A few other random thoughts from the time at Consol: This is cited only briefly in there, but Simon Despres showing up for camp out of shape is beyond belief, really. Except that it isn’t. Fact is, he needed Pascal Dupuis to kick him in the rear all last summer up in Quebec. At some point, you’ve got to grow up. This apparently isn’t that point. … The lack of grit among the forwards is not only startling but also very much counter to the way Ray Shero has usually built his teams. Expect that to change. … Brenden Morrow’s still available. Takers? … Talked with Sid a bit about these new nets the NHL is installing with slightly different shapes to the bottom back and sides. It’s designed to make passing from behind more of an option. Expect him to look into it. … Don’t make too much of Marc-Andre Fleury getting roasted in the first scrimmage. Really. … One move I already like: Starting camp with Beau Bennett up there with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Always aim high at the outset. If that works, it’ll be wonderful. … I’ll have more over the next week or so.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, by rink rats Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe.

>> The Pirates took the field at PNC Park as authenticated winners for the  first time, the crowd welcomed them with a standing ovation … and Jeff Locke added to it all. Travis Sawchik and Karen Price were there.

Locke looked like a relieved dude afterward, no?

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

Here’s Cubs news from the Chicago Tribune.

Here are official game highlights from

And if you missed it yesterday, this was Clint Hurdle’s monthly visit to TribLIVE Radio and morning hosts Ken Laird and Guy Junker. Good conversation here …

>> We know Brett Keisel and Mike Tomlin don’t see eye-to-eye on cut blocks, which is fascinating all by itself. Now here’s much more on that legal — but way questionable — practice from our Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage by Alan Robinson.

Here’s a look at the Bengals’ twin tight ends that apparently have the defense more concerned than any other facet. Ralph Paulk is in Cincinnati.

Here’s other Bengals news from the Enquirer.

>> Pitt’s offensive line is a work in progress. Jerry DiPaola updates.

>> Bill O’Brien and his Central Florida counterpart share respect. Chris Adamski has it.

JF7N58kU>> Some broadcast stuff: At 11:30 a.m. today, I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio.

At 4:35 p.m., I’ll appear live on MLB Network’s MLB Now with Harold Reynolds and Cliff Floyd. It’ll be my first time on that show, and it’ll be shot by remote camera from the Pirates’ dugout. Looking forward to it.

And on Sunday night, I’ll join Mark Kaboly, Mark Madden and host Alby Oxenreiter on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word.

>> For the weekend, which is about as far as I dare plan anymore with so much going on, I’ll write Pirates for Sunday, then head off to Cincinnati to cover Steelers. Beyond that … no idea.

>> Oh, and don’t forget: Chat today at noon. Right here on the blog.

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. The forwards have no grit?! I saw Shero and Jacques Martin leave early from the Pirate game tonight. At least they showed the hockey etiquette and left in between innings so they wouldn’t block anyone’s view of the action.

    They are soft.

  2. Looking forward to seeing you on MLB Now. It’s kind of a fun show. Thanks for the heads up so that I can DVR it.

    Your agent deserves a nice Christmas present this year.

    How does Despres get out of shape? What was the off season-had to be less than 75 days, right ? How much food and beer can be consumed in that short of time ?

    DK: Like football, hockey camps expose you right off the bat. Day one. Full wind sprints, rink-length, merciless.


  3. Happy Friday 13th loonies!! Bucs are in FIRST place!!!

  4. Woo-Hoo, Kev! Up here!

  5. I’m curious whether people still think Cutch will win the MVP. I’ve heard a lot of Kershaw talk lately, and I think with that ERA he may end up getting it. Right now, Cutch is on pace for 21 HRs and 87 RBIs. Despite all the other things he does, it’s rare that someone wins the award with such pedestrian numbers. Voters may find it hard to justify giving the MVP to someone who placed third on his own team in RBIs, which is where Cutch currently stands.

    I’m hoping he stays hot and drives in a bunch more runs over the final two weeks to make it a no-brainer.

    • I said to the guy next to me tonight, after Cutch made the tremendous catch, that I thought if the Pirates won the Division he had a real shot at MVP. He looked at me like I was crazy and said in that case he’d be a lock. (He did not, thankfully, say absolute lock).

      But my point is they may take his defense into account too.

      But before I make a final determination, I want to wait for War Horse to tell me how stupid I am.

      • Hey, I was looking for you on TV tonight! I think I’m like you: Seems like these things are usually linked in some way to the team at least winning the division – OR a guy putting up monstrous numbers. But, average-wise and big-hit wise he’s really made a statement the past month or so. And, yes, the highlight reel catch should help!

      • i KNEW i liked War Horse

      • Agree on the defense comment, AW. Who better not to know that than the greatest second baseman of them all – - – Our very own “Maz”.

      • The difference between Cutch in center last night versus Pie in center on Wednesday was PALPABLE! You could literally taste the difference. Pie had 3 balls hit to him on Wednesday that I thought “man, cutch probably could have caught that one”. That, to me, is what MVP means!

      • Do you think the MVP voters failed to take into account the brilliant fielding abilities of Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and others?

    • Depends on whether you go purely by stats or not… And for that matter whether you use traditional stats or “modern” stats.

      Cutch’s OPS is .926, 5th in the NL right now. He leads the NL in WAR (what is it good for?) When you add in his defense and that he plays an extremely important defensive position, I’d say he qualifies.

      But the stronger argument, in my book, is what do these two mean to their teams? The Dodgers without Kershaw still have a very strong pitching staff with Greinke, Nolasco, and Ryu. They lose a step without Kershaw, no question, but they’re still a playoff team thanks to all the talent they have in the lineup and rotation.

      Who in the Bucco lineup scares anyone? Pedro, when he’s hitting… Marte is good, but not scary, at least not yet. I’m quite biased here, but I think the Bucs are struggling for 82 wins without Cutch in there… And that leads me to give him my nonexistant vote.

    • Got to beg to differ. Kershaw isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team. That’s Yasiel Puig. The kid has absolutely energized the hundred-million dollar vets around him. Guys like mild-mannered Adrian Gonzalez are now showing emotion. Hanley Ramirez doesn’t mail it in. The Dodgers have had two seasons in 2013: Their pre-Puig season, and their explosion once he showed up playing his heart out.
      …And besides, pitchers only rarely win MVP. The award will go to a position player on a playoff team. That’s been the evolution of the award. As for Cutch’s “such pedestrian numbers,” you left out his batting average. Nothing pedestrian about that at all. Buster Posey’s one impressive stat last year was his BA.

      • Agree but I’d add that although Cutch is obviously a legit MVP candidate, I still see a case that Martin is the most valuable Pirate. And he has Barajas partly to thank for that.

      • I agree with most of what you say, but my question is, will the voters agree? The consensus I’m reading lately from national writers is that if the Pirates win the division, Cutch gets it. If they only finish as a wild card… the vote could be close.

        21 HRs and 87 RBIs are indeed pedestrian numbers for someone in the MVP race – no need for the scare quotes there. Posey’s numbers last year were more impressive – 103 RBIs, a .336 average, and a .957 OPS (compared to Cutch’s .926)

        Kershaw will absolutely be in the discussion, even though pitchers don’t win MVP often. Anyone who posts a sub-2.00 ERA for a division-winning team is going to get a lot of votes.

        I just hope Cutch finishes strong so there’s no debate. He at least has to pass Marlon Byrd in RBIs, for crying out loud!

        • I wouldn’t disagree with any of these points you make. It certainly would be no crime if the voters decided upon Kershaw. I just kinda doubt they will do that as their wont is to go with someone like Cutch, or just as likely, Molina.

  6. With three guys in the top four well into their 30s, how slow is the Pens’ defense going to be this year? I’m just hoping the Islanders don’t make it to the playoffs. Yikes. Too bad Despres doesn’t care enough to get into shape. Would have been nice to see him pair up with Letang.

    DK: The Islanders will be there. Not sure about the Penguins’ speed on the blue line, but I’ll reiterate that younger legs are needed. If that isn’t Olli Maatta, it can be Robert Bortuzzo. The latter is kind of a gangly skater, though.

  7. Please tell me there is “no room at the Inn” for Tyler Glass this year.

  8. I should just cut and paste my comment about Clint Barmes from the other night. The guy got a key, two-out hit in a well-pitched game to get on and then score an important run to give us breathing room in a close contest. If Barmes has something to do with a Pirate run, it must be a one- or two-run ballgame.

    Petey too, did a nice job going down and getting that ball below his knees to knock in the go-ahead run.

  9. Just before game time last night, I posted a list of the bloggers on this site who criticized Clint Hurdle for giving Cutch and Morneau a day off for the last game with Texas on Tuesday. It was a long list and included most of the regulars here with the exception of Jandy and NMR. The point I was trying to make is that some of you are not as wise or understanding as you may think you are, something DK has experienced by reading this site.
    Reaction to the list was typically negative. For example:

    Arriba Wilver says:
    September 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

    “You need to get your facts right, smart guy.
    You have no idea what you’re talking about.
    But if it makes you feel good about yourself to make s#*t up, have a good time.
    And, what Milo said.

    War Horse says:
    September 13, 2013 at 4:06 am

    I may not be as smart as some of you who like to see yourselves in online print every day, whether you have something interesting to say or not, but I am definitely not a Wise Guy like you, AW. I do have an idea what I’m talking about and one of the things is that you are ready to criticize anything the management does, especially NH and CH, that doesn’t feel right to you. Letting Cutch and Morneau have a day off, for example. Every smart general since Agamemnon knows you try to send your troops into battle as well-rested as possible. Hurdle and his staff know that, because it was a mistake they made last year and it was one of the reasons the team fell apart late in the season. But you think you know better. Guess what? You don’t. And you get all puffed up with outrage when someone from outside your tight little circle points that out. Give it a rest, AW. Enjoy the pennant race. Save your efforts at gangster-style intimidation for your wife and kids.

    • Are we talking about the same guy who posts In Clint I Trust?

      Who posts the Pirates record as…

      Pirates 85

      Hurdle 61

      …as satire to poke those posters who refuse to give Hurdle any credit?

      Perfect. Go, Horsey.

      We need some controversy on an otherwise saccharine, sunshiny, handholding Pirates morning. (I hate mornings like that.)

      I’m making some popcorn. Extra butter.

    • My wife met AW for the first time last night.
      She had the same initial opinion: gangsta

    • I didn’t see the list but why would you do that? It doesn’t make any sense. I disagreed with the decision as well and said so. National media didn’t like the decision. WGN announcers mentioned it during the game and couldn’t figure out the decision. Life is to short to be posting list of people who you perceived got something wrong. Who’s to say they were wrong. The game result proves nothing. The blog exist to debate topics like this. It’s a good thing. Almost everyone on the blog has the same common goal, a Pirate win. They won the last 4 games. No worries, be happy.

      • +86

        I was on the list (nice calling out “AJ style,” by the way….not!). So was Kent Tekulve – he was openly puzzled during the pregame broadcast. And he didn’t look happy about sitting your hot MVP at all during this crucial final stretch, and verbalized that tactfully.

        But what do I know? I’m just a stupid Pirates’ fan who knows nothing about the whys of managerial maneuvering, so no criticizing allowed. And Kent Tekulve knows noth….yeah, right.

      • I went back and checked and I did make the list. Proud day for me. I was put in the not optimistic group. Which is comical. Almost daily I try to talk people of the ledge and stay positive about the Pirates. I’m glad one comment about one decision that Hurdle made puts me in the pessimistic group. Where do I line up to get my tattoo?

        I’m still not sure how there is any evidence that anyone on this list is wrong or “not as wise or understanding as we may think we are”. There is no right answer to this particular debate. The result of the game certainly doesn’t prove anything. The only thing I know is it wasn’t wise to post such a list. It is more negative then anything anyone said about Hurdle before that game. I think it is you who may want to see yourself in print everyday.

    • Next thing you know, I’ll be accused of taking a leak on Clemente’s statue. :-D

    • “Every smart general since Agamemnon knows…”

      Very Hasis-like.

    • “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Clint Hurdle Fan Club?”

    • I just went back and checked your list since I was travelling, and you missed me as one of those who disagreed with Cutch not being in the lineup. (I’m crushed by the way) The reason you give guys days off earlier in the year is so you don’t have to give them one in the middle of September when every pitch means something, and you must have your best weapons out there. I happen to think that CH is an excellent manager and I have backed him all year on here, but I disagreed with him in that instance.

      And FYI, Agamemnon sat out his best warrior in effect by pissing off Achilles when he took one of his slaves, so Achilles withdrew from the battle in revenge, nearly costing the Greeks the war. (And then old Aggie went home and got murdered by his wife’s lover, but that is another story). At least sitting Cutch didn’t hurt us, but I wouldn’t do it again and wouldn’t have done it the first time.

    • I know I can speak for myself, but I dont criticize CH for resting his players.

      Apparently I missed a good conversation yesterday…..

      • No, you didn’t Ryan. Most of us that are on the “list in queston” simple asked why Cutch wasn’t on it. At least that was the jist of my post. I on’t want to go back and create a list of the actual responses, sorry.

    • I don’t get why you reposted this today? It makes you look like a petty troll trying to agitate others and start an argument.

  10. Depres out of shape, really? Not a very high IQ there, then. he KNEW he’d be competing for a spot. or Duper to have to “kick his butt” in the offseason to work out tells me he thinks he’s a lock. Too bad Bylsma said he was a top 4 after last season ended…he obviously took that to mean he had it made. Shame on Simon!
    Give Niskie the job, send him down to wise up.

    Now, on the above kerfluffle, I’ma stay out of this one. Just wanna say, I enjoy the banter with ALL of you guys, so please, sort this out, fast.

    Working with the hubs today, so I won’t be able to post much, if at all…depends if I get a minute and if I have service on my cell phone where we’re working.

    That said, everybody, PLAY THE LOTTERY! It’s friday the 13th, as kevin said above.

    have a grand day, everyone :)

    • Ahhh, you’re a SAINT, Jandy! :)

      I didn’t make a comment when I first saw “the list.” A few years ago I exited a really cool baseball-oriented blog when things morphed from fun bantering about issues to personal attacks over disagreements, first on issues and then on personalities. So did many other regulars on that site. I still think about that loss with sadness – almost grief.

      My comment above is the first and last I’ll make on the subject. And I only made it because the list maker brought up the subject again, obviously seeking to stir a pot for some unknown reason.

      It amazes me how civil most have been on this blog since its inception. Humor is a key, and backing away from the fire is another. I’m backing away now. But I don’t intend to leave, because yinz all will keep things under control (By the way, I’m not even CLOSE to being the kind of “regular” on this blog that I was on the other, so I was kind of “honored” to make a list as a “regular”)!

      Carry on, loonies!

      • Can’t imagine anyone havin a problem with you, Karen.

        I think it’s OK to comment on a lineup or whatever. I love Clint Hurdle, but I always make a lineup comment.
        That’s half the fun of following baseball.

        BTW, if Hurdle puts the wrong pitcher in, IMHO, I will make the next list. Memories of Chad Qualls and JMac don’t fade easily.


    • I wonder how many more demotions to the minors it will take to get through Despres’ head. He worked out with Duper last summer apparently, and sees how hard all the other players work – when will it set in he needs to do the same to be a professional athlete? I was also very disappointed, and agree that if the cap works, I’d be OK with keeping Niskanen or promoting Maata or Doumolin and giving them a shot. A full 82-game season of experience would be great for the latter two.

    • Jandy, I had the same reaction as you regarding Despres being out of shape. How does someone looking to make a team with the defensive talent of the Pens not show up to camp as ready as humanly possible.

      While yesterday I was concerned about sending Despres to the AHL in order to keep Niskanen, suddenly this seems to make a whole lot more sense.

      • Yeah I almost posted a reply yesterday declaring that the Penguins would never in a million years consider sending Despres to the AHL. Now it looks like they might have good reason to.

      • And my post of yesterday about keeping Depres in the NHL? BAH. Out the window. Send him to Wheeling for a spell….

    • If he’s that out of shape he’ll pull a groin or hammy in a scrimmage and be out for a while…otherwise he’ll be fine. Missed you jandy :)

    • “Now, on the above kerfluffle…”

  11. *****ATTENTION*****
    Newbies and lurkers, we want to chat with you!
    If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to Dejan’s Lunantics’ Asylum.
    Don’t be shy, we don’t bite :)

  12. With 16 games to go, the Pirates magic number to clinch the second wild card spot is 9 (vs. Nationals), to host the wild card games is 14 (vs. Reds), and to win the division is 17 (vs. Cardinals).

    Besides Cubs at Pirates, series of interest this weekend are Mariners at Cardinals, Reds at Brewers and Phillies at Nationals.

    With the Cardinals and Pirates tied, as someone said last night, it is now a 16-game sprint to to the finish. There are no easy games, they all count the same in the end.

  13. My poor voice. I dont think its going to recover at all today. It could be a real quiet day at work. I’m pretty much mute this morning. But it was worth all of the whooping last night at the ball game.

  14. What a joy it is to wake up and see that the Brewers beat the Cards while the Bucs took care of business.

    Will think about the Pens when necessary – which isn’t yet.

    And, while I have no dog in the hunt about the Tuesday lineup, let me say that one of the things I like about this blog are the strong and sometimes opposing, opinions shared here. We all want the same thing for the Pirates; disagreement on the road to get there is ok.

  15. My dictionary defines WHINGE as “an act of complaining persistently or peevishly,” and gives the origin of the word as “late Old English hwinsian, of Germanic origin; related to German winseln; compare with whine.”

    In the short time I have been following this otherwise excellent blog, I have noticed that there seem to be a large number of whiners, or WHINGERS, as we would call them, and I’ve wondered why this is.

    Could it be that watching losing baseball teams and management in Pittsburgh for 20 years has created a kind of mental disorder, a malaise among Pirate fans who are so used to whinging that it has become a habit they cannot break, don’t want to break, even though the team is now winning? Could it be that it may take years to get over? So many are so quick to criticize the way the baseball club is managed, I wonder if some of the bloggers here have been struck down with the condition. Is it infectious as well? Why don’t I see the same kind of invective on the best baseball blogs in Detroit, St. Louis and San Fracisco?

    Pronunciation: /maˈleɪz/
    a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify:a general air of malaise [in singular]:a society afflicted by a deep cultural malaise.”

    To that I would add the additional symptoms of irritable and disputatious. What makes it a tragedy is that the malaise takes away from the enjoyment of a classic, down-to-the-wire pennant race by bringing out the fans’ most insecure characteristics.

  16. JAL’s Imitation of Life Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The State of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Rotation

    Pirates Open 11-Game Homestand with 3-1 Victory

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Jeff Locke dominates, Pirates win fourth in a row

    6 Rumbunter

    Starling Marte: Pirates X Factor

    Pirates Drama: The Good and Bad of A.J. Burnett


    Game 146: Pirates 3 Cubs 1

    8 The Green Weenie

    Locke-Down Outing & Web-Gem Leather Key 3-1 Bucco Win

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 3, Cubs 1

    10 City of Champions

    Pirates down Cubs for fourth win in a row

  17. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Rant Sports

    2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Are A Reflection Of A Neighbor’s Movie

    12 Chicago Tribune

    Rusin’s streak ends, Cubs lose 3-1,0,3930857.story

    13 Minor League Ball

    Prospect of the Day: Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Zach Duke glad to no longer take on Phillips, Votto

    15 Sports Illustrated

    Pirates tie up NL Central again as Cardinals fall to Brewers

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Cubs Game Preview

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Kelly, Cardinals ‘a little bit off’

    18 PBC Site

    Locke dominant, Bucs tied for first place in Central

    Notebook: Bucs say all is well between Barmes, Burnett


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 286: Picking Comeback Players for 2014/Top Team Improvements of the Past Decade

    20 Fangraphs

    Respecting Andrew McCutchen

  18. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Jilted Jonathan Dwyer needs to keep the chip on his shoulder for the sake of the Steelers running game

    Steelers vs. Bengals: Jarvis Jones speaks about James Harrison

    22 Steelers Depot

    Will Johnson Likely Back Monday Night


    23 London Evening Standard

    Success will decide my future at Arsenal – Arsene Wenger–arsene-wenger-8812227.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 12th September, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Would Pens Demote Despres to Squeeze Niskanen Under Cap?

    Penguins training camp 2013: Team split into three groups, hints at future lines?

  19. Hoka hey everyone!
    Pirates starting pitching stats…….. since the All Star break:
    BURNETT: 11 G….69.1 IP….74 H….73 K….19 BB….4.02 ERA …. .279 AVG …. 1.35 WHIP …. 4-4 record
    COLE: 9 G …. 56.2 IP…. 48 H ….50 K …. 12 BB …. 3.18 ERA …. .235 AVG ….1.07 WHIP …. 3-4 record
    LIRIANO: 11 G ….65.1 IP ….57 H ….64 K …. 27 BB …. 3.99 ERA…. .234 AVG …. 1.29 WHIP …7-4 record
    LOCKE: 10 G ….51.1 IP ….60 H ….46 K ….32 BB …. 5.26 ERA … .300 AVG …1.80 WHIP …. 2-3 record
    MORTON: 10 G ….60.2 IP …70 H ….41 K ….15 BB …. 3.56 ERA …. .301 AVG … 1.41 WHIP … 6-2 record
    B. Cumpton and K.Johnson have single game starts.

    • Thanks for the stats, Joey. Interesting.

    • Thanks Bats…Love seeing what Cole is doing in terms of becoming workmanlike and thoughful out there…I know there has been many calls for him to find the pen uring a playoff run, but I think he might pitch himself into a couple very big starts if he can keep the emotions under control and pitch like he’s doing math (as he did the other night).

    • Thanks Joey for posting.

      I have always been a fan of Cole and thought he would eventually be a really good pitcher. I however was very tough on him back in July and early August. I just didn’t think he was ready yet. These stats obviously prove me wrong. In this case I am very happy to be wrong.

      Cole seems to be our most consistant pitcher of late. I still would give the ball to Liriano in a one game play-in but I am much more comfortable with Cole being in the playoff rotation.

  20. Good Morning All – Oh, what a night last night. Was at the ballpark and what an amazing atmosphere! It was such a feel good night…fans were really into things. It’s been a long time…it is September 13th and the Pirates are tied for first place. Woof!

    • I think my personal collection of action figures could be summed up well as a team called “The Justice Avengers.” It’s a real kitchen soup of Marvel and DC heroes with the occasional Optimus Prime and Dick Tracy thrown in.

      Thank you for making me think of childhood.

      • Thanks, Gregenstein…Ahh…PI Tracy! Actually, Brandie was the one that came up with this “name” for me. She gets the credit.

  21. Woof, Woof, indeed! Just no woooooooooing.

    • Now that you mention it, I just realized I heard no wooing. People were definitely into the game, though.

      • Will you be there in the rest of the series, AW? Sorry if I missed that.

        • Not as of right now. I wanted to take my son to see the Pirates first game back after clinching a winning season for the first time in his lifetime. (Well, I also wanted to be there. ;-))

          But I’ll let you know if plans change, WB.

      • I am all for people having fun at Pirate games. Especially young people.

        But these two very young girls behind me were screeching like they were at a Justin Timberlake/Beiber concert. It ALMOST made me wish for a few woos

      • I heard a couple of woos last night in a couple of the sections around me, but they where quickly erased by Lets Go Bucs or MVP chants. I don’t know, maybe they realized it was a lost cause to try to start something like that. Also, didn’t see the wave last night either. I’m at a ball game to watch a ball game. Not at an exercise studio to get a small work out in with getting up and down to do the wave. Another thing I noticed last night, the people in my section, they didnt leave until between the innings. Again, I didn’t feel like I was in an exercise studio in the middle of an inning to let someone back in or leave. The fans that were there last night, where there for a baseball game.

    • I was listening to the Nationals – Mets game yesterday afternoon & they were wooing at Citi Field. Must be a loser’s move.

  22. Since I couldn’t be at PNC Park, I took my Pirates flag to Morumbi, where São Paulo desperately needed a victory. It got, and I got to raise the Jolly Roger after it.

    Close call, though: the policeman who frisked me to get in (normal procedure) didn’t want me to take the flag with me. He asked what it was and kept looking at it, because it didn’t have anything to do with the team. I said the truth: It’s a baseball team’s flag. He didn’t sound convinced, and asked his superior to evaluate. The guy approached me, took the flag and, after a few seconds, threw it my way and said, “Take it.”

  23. Hockey?? Already??!?! I’ll check back next April when the season really starts.

    Huge early season game for the Steelers on Monday night. Should be fine with a center signed off the waiver wire and a runing back that wasn’t good enough to make the team two weeks ago.

  24. Anyone else think War Horse might be Roberto in sheep’s clothing ?

    • Roberto in Great Britain?

      He’s been sited on Travis’s blog. Fairly mellow.

    • Just Clint’s boy.

      • Well, you could say I am Clint’s boy. Sort of. Who else has done as much to turn this team around in the past three years? Has given the players heart? When he fails to pull a pitcher who looks like he has lost it in a game, I keep my criticism to myself. When he decides to give his players a day off, even in the final month, why criticize? Cutch could have had a hangover last Tuesday. Who the hell knows, other than the manager?

        • “Who else has done as much to turn this team around in the past three years?”

          There is cold, hard proof in the form of two consecutive epic collapses that Clint Hurdle is no better than the players he’s given.

          All of the flowery adjectives about leadership and culture amounted to absolutely nothing until this year. Coincidentally the same time that the Pirates fielded without a doubt their most talented roster.

          Clint is an average manager with an infectious personality and I love having him represent the City and the team.

          But he is far, far from beyond reproach.

  25. Saw a sign last night at the ballyard that read “Is is Football season yet?…Who really cares…Go Bucs!”. Just to say this: Baseball will always be #1 with me, coming around to hockey a bit more and football is somewhere down the list (at least NFL football). But we overall in Pittsburgh are really blessed in this town. Pittsburgh is a special town (the best people anywhere!) and from a sports standpoint…we are very, very rich. I guess the Pirates have kind of upset the apple card this year and that is not a bad thing.

  26. Here’s a happy little item I forgot to mention yesterday. My daughter-in-law called us yesterday all giddy and bubbly. She works at the Carnegie Science Center, and is involved in their educational Science on the Road projects. Next week they’re conducting a “Science & Baseball” session for some schoolkids at PNC Park, and yesterday she and staff went to PNC to meet with folks and to set things up. Imagine her surprise when the ENTIRE TEAM showed up to greet them!!

    Apparently, many of the Pirates are going to be involved in the teaching sessions (the kids are going to be sooo surprised)…including Cutch and Hurdle, both of whom my daughter-in-law was beyond tickled to meet!

  27. I’m thinking not only will Clint Hurdle be Manager of the Year but it may be unanimous. Everyone else in playoff position was predicted to be there. I’m going to say Don Mattingly’s a very distant 2nd & he was nearly fired.

    • +2 IC Lights (and I don’t drink or cuss or play cards, except 500 Rummy)

    • As a Dodgers fan…I could not agree more Milo…Clint and no one even close otherwise. They (Dodgers) were expected to compete with that roster.

      • Justice, Do you give Puig credit for the turn around??? Or is it a combination of him, Rameriz, Greinke getting healthy,etc….. I think Puig is a great spark plug but ESPN has everyone believing he is a 30 WAR player.

        The team had talent all along. That talent started playing better and healthy all at the same time. I’m not trying to diminish what the guy has done. He is a very dynamic player but others on that team have contibuted just as much to the turn around.

        • Nate – I do believe it is a combination of all those item you mentioned in your second paragraph. Still, that record after the intermission that read at one point…38 W’s and 6 L’s…how does one explain that? Talent? Healthy? Luck? Good managing by Mattingly and his staff? That is a totally ridiculous record for any team in any sport. I’ll toss your question out to my family in L.A. and see what they say. Thanks, Nate.

        • Also, I should add…If (a big if) the Pirates and Dodgers should meet up in October…I will hands down root for the Bucs. A couple people I work with have asked me that.

    • NO question, Milo!

  28. Since April 29th, Andrew McCutchen is hitting .349. Ouch. Dave Parker-esque.

    • I think going forward he is a hitter at the same level of Votto. I don’t know what happened the last two months of last year but minus that stretch the last two years he has been a joy to watch. I made my son stop doing his homework twice last night so we both could watch Cutch bat. My son just about jumped through the ceiling when he made that diving catch.

  29. If the Pirates have a home playoff game (irks me a bit that you can make the playoffs and not have a home game, but I digress), who do folks want to see throw out the first pitch at the first game?

    Maz, Clemente’s son, Parker, Blass, Teke, that vendor who always wears Pirates uniforms, other ?

    Maybe they could think outside of the box and have someone who has been a season ticket holder before and throughout the streak ?

  30. Morning, Brothers & Sisters!

  31. I suggested the other day, John, that it be Barry Bonds. THAT will bring us full circle. LOL. Ok, seriously…have to think about that. Good question.

  32. Not to look to far ahead because anything can happen in baseball but the first series at home against the Reds could be much more important then the last series of the year with them.

    As it stands we are up 3 on them. If we take care of bussiness over the next 7 games there is no reason we shouldn’t still have that 3 game lead or something close to it. If we take 2 out of 3 against them and go up by 4 games it could make that last series against them meaningless for them. They will have nothing to play for and will probably be preparing for their wild card play in game.

    • All true, but after the three games at home against the Reds, the Pirates have 3 games against the Cubs at Wrigley. Things can change before the Pirates play the Reds again.

      Also, the opponent in the wild card game might be the Pirates. From a confidence standpoint, my guess is that is that the Pirates would prefer not to be on the receiving end of a St. Louis-like beating before playing the Reds a fourth time in five days in a one game playoff.

      Finally, even if the hoe wild card game is clinched, the Pirates might still be fighting the Cardinals for the division during the last weekend of the season. As much as we might like those games against the Reds to not matter, I think they will.

      Isn’t this fun?

      • Tom that is kind of the point I was trying to make. We would more then likely still be fighting the Cards for the division and our series against the Reds may not be as difficult as it originally looked if we take care of bussiness leading up to those final three games.


    Drop the puck already!!!!

    • hm, I admire your enthusiasm, but try to understand how odd the baseball nuts on here sound when they say stuff like that in January.

      • Well…theres a preseason game on sunday…so i dont think im jumpin the gun too much. Just hoping bringing in Jacques M. will address our dzone lapses but i’ll believe it when i see it.

  34. Remember that time James McDonald was sure to be claimed on waivers if he were DFA’d?

    • I also remember this same time just about a year ago where he pitched 7 shutout innings against the Cardinals and he had “figured it out”.

      • It’s hard to have it figured out more then once because after you figure it out you never have to do that again. However McDonald has figured it out about 3 or 4 times now which leads me to believe in reality he will never figure it out.

      • Do I detect an allegory of Jeff Locke’s performance last night?

        If so, I’m listening.

        • I’m saying we don’t know anything about Jeff Locke until we see his next start. It could have been a 3-loss win for all we know. I’m just relaxing & thankful for the much needed win.

          • Boo. Was hoping you’d bring the heat. I have a Jeff Locke conversation lined up.

            War Horse won’t be happy.

            • Please, continue.

              • Granted this is an optomistic view of the future in general, but I worry that Jeff Locke becomes the Pirate’s Rick Porcello.

                Porcello broke out in ’09 at a time when Detroit had nobody outside of Verlander and Jackson in their rotation, and subsequently has spent four year struggling to repeat that success. In the meantime, Drew Smyly, most likely a better pitcher, rots away in the pen as a mis-managed middle reliever.

                Even assuming Jeff Locke rebounds this season, I’m not sure I have faith that he’s anything but what I expected coming into the year, a solid #5. Rick Porcello.

                If we, as Pirate fans, are to expect stud prospects like Cole and Taillon along with free agent veterans signed with increased financial committment from management to fill the rotation in years to come, there’s a decent enough chance Jeff Locke blocks somebody from helping this team.

              • To quote a very wise man – these things usually take care of themselves. Oh wait a minute, Jim Leyland said that. Oops.

                Smyly reminds me of a young Steve Avery, by the way.

              • Ha, that line is perfectly fitting. IMO, these “things” are worked out more often by injury than good evaluation. And when that injury doesn’t come, well, Rick Porcello.

                JAL linked a report from prospect guy John Sickels on Stolmy Pimentel. Right there we have a guy who runs it up to 97 with at least an average change and slider, but questionable command.

                Almost certainly has higher upside than Locke, which Sickels seems to agree. A perfect candidate to spend some time with Mr. Searage. But when is he ever going to get the opportunity to start?

                Locke is the known, safe bet moving forward. The Kevin Correia vs. the Francisco Liriano.

                Takes guts to take that chance.

              • NMR your porcello comparison is spot on.

              • “takes guts to take that chance”

                Especially after 20 years of losing.

                I personally wouldn’t say one negative thing about it if they gave the ball to Stolmy for 3 starts instead of Locke the rest of the year but I’m sure many would question it.

              • “Please, continue” may just be the funniest post of the day. ;-)

              • You can trace my dislike of Jeff Locke back to last year. I thought the other guy (ya know, the one recently put on the 60 day DL) was the better of the 2 pitchers.

                Locke reminds me of Randy Tomlin (no relation to Mike). Nothing fancy, doesn’t have the best velocity.

                He has done a really good job, for the most part, this season. I was surprised, but I don’t think he’s viewed as Wandy’s replacement. He won’t be anything more than a #5 guy.

                I am intrigued by Stolmy, if not only by name. I can see him being in the rotation next year, especially with AJ’s future uncertain.

                I think the Pirates do take a chance with Stolmy next season, though it wouldn’t break my heart, nor would I crticize them trying him out this year as well, if the opportunity arises.

        • Speaking of Locke – could the back issue that he had before the all star break finally be healed enough that he is able to have better control of his pitches. He looked like the Locke that was dominating in April/May/June last night. The extra rest from being sent down at the end of August probably helped more than anything.

    • timing is everything. I still think if he were DFA’d in June a team would have taken a flier on him (like Toronto or Colorado or Houston or….) why wouldn’t they?

      But in September, no need to claim him on waivers. He will be signed by someone to a minor league deal and JMac will get one more chance to work his way back to the bigs… and I wish him well. I actually would place money on JMac being in the league longer than lil Elvis will.

  35. From twitter this morning.

    Brian Kenny – When I hear a play by play man give a win-loss record, I do laugh. Why bother with such ridiculous information ?

    CL Nitkowski – You laugh at Vin Scully ?

    • Brian Kenny is a smart guy, but I HATE when these stat/advanced metric geeks get on their high horse.

      • Agreed on both counts.

      • As an admitted stat geek, I’ve learned a lot from you guys about communication and perception.

        It is very likely Brian Kenny’s point was that he doesn’t feel win-loss record tells one much information about a pitchers personal performance. Simple. No matter where you fall in the metric spectrum, most people can reasonably admit that Kenny has an argument.

        But by stating his case in a way that sounds smug (“I do laugh”) and using absolutes and/or exagerations (“ridiculous”), he opens the door for one to deflect the point by making an equally bad one like Nitkowski. Brian Kenny very likely respects the hell out of Vin Scully and Nitkowski likely knows that, but he stills plays on the theme and not the original point.

        • Win-loss record is going to win Max Scherzer a cy young award this year. He should be in the discussion but not the hands down winner that it seems he will eventually be.

        • agreed. Kenny hurts his own cause by completely dismissing W-L record. I get it, advanced statistics tell the more complete story, but let’s not throw out W-L record as ‘being ridiculous information’. And not sure why he needs to bring play by play announcers into this. If he thinks a game where an announcer digs deep on advanced statistics would be watchable, I would politely disagree with him on that one.

    • Was Brian Kenny referring to the pitchers Win-loss record? He is very adament about pitchers win-loss record not beiga true indicator.

    • why even keep track of which team wins or loses? To see who makes the playoffs, just add up all the sabre-stats and go with the team that leads overall in metrics. Wins and losses are meaningless afterall.

        • I get it… advanced statistics tell a more complete story than the simple ones used for years in sports… not arguing that fact at all.

          I guess the problem I have with Kenny’s statement in that he considers “win-loss” record “ridiculous information”. I disagree vehemently to that. It may not tell the ‘whole story” but it is far, far, far from ridiculous information.

  36. Show of hands here folks…How many of you all predicted that at the end of the season, we could be seeing 10 or more wins from the following pitchers:

    Liriano (16-7)
    Locke (10-5)
    Burnett (8-10)
    Cole (7-7)
    Morton (7-4)

    They all should have 3 more starts before the end of the regular season. Now, that would be pretty nice to see. When was the last time the Pirates had 5 with 10 wins?

  37. Maybe Burnett in that group, only…

  38. College football lines for this Saturday (all lines from the happiest place on earth, the sport book at Caesar’s Palace):

    Pitt 21.5 pt favorites at home vs. New Mexico
    Penn State 5.5 pt favorites at home vs. Central Florida
    West Virginia 40 pt favorites at home vs. Georgia State

    Each week I will also give my alma mater and a few from those associated with our bloggers (last week I did Ohio for radio wave):

    Arizona State 5 pt favorites at home vs. Wisconsin
    Texas A&M 8 pt dogs at home vs. Alabama (pattonbb)
    Duke (Groat) 9 pt dogs at home vs. Georgia Tech
    Northwestern 30 pt favorites at home vs. Western Michigan (SeanAY)

    All my picks against the spread: Pitt, Central Florida, WVU, Wisconsin, Alabama, Duke and Northwestern.

    Let me know your schools and I’ll try to work them in the upcoming weeks (don’t worry, Lucky, I’ll do Ohio State :) )

  39. Have good weekend everyone! Let’s Go Bucs!


    A couple of noteworthy films on TCM tonight to put on your DVR list while you watch the Bucs. At 8:00 ET is 1973′s Soylent Green. The movie was Edward G. Robinson’s last film. He died a couple of weeks after shooting rapped (only co-star Chuck Heston knew of Robinson’s terminal cancer). The movie can not be called great, exactly, but its camp value is off the charts. Its famous closing scene has been parodied from the late Phil Hartman to Bart Simpson. That movie is followed at 9:45 ET by 2002′s “Minority Report.” The Tom Cruise thriller is one of director Steven Spielberg’s more underrated efforts. The pool scene in which Cruise’s young son is abducted is one of the more chilling scenes for parents ever put to film.

    In honor of Hockey’s return, today’s clip is from 1977′s Slap Shot, directed by George Roy Hill. The scene is legendary with hockey fans and features the immortal line by French-Quebec actor, Yvon Barrette, as goalie Denis Lemieux, “Two minutes, by yourself, you know and you feel shame, you know.”

    The cast was loaded with contemporary and future stars, even Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had a role!

    I’m hitting the road so have a good weekend all!

    • My all-time favorite movie.

      “The peanut vendors are standing up to them! And by golly, if I could get down there, I’d be standing up to them!”

  41. Afternoon, Y’all!

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