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Morning Java: Good show, Brits!

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

LONDON – Top of the morning, Lunatics …

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>> The Monday column documents the Steelers’ latest ridiculous loss and, indirectly, laments the fact that I’m running out of more inventive ways to describe how they’re doing beyond that they stink.

On the bright side, the Brits were magnificent. I was actually more impressed with the planning, the passion, the kindness of all involved for this than for the — admittedly much larger and less wieldy — Olympics last summer. The stadium was dolled up in ways that Heinz Field should strongly consider, from the 50-foot player banners to the tunnel lined with images of Pittsburgh and some of the more familiar faces on the team.

Wonderfully done. Good show!

Anyway, here’s the game story by Alan Robinson.

Here’s a sidebar I wrote on the suddenly terrible secondary.

Here’s the photo gallery by Chaz Palla.

Here’s the latest on the Vikings from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

Here’s me annoying Mike Tomlin with the first question about the worst left tackle anywhere …

Here’s Troy Polamalu

And here’s Ben Roethlisberger

What a season this is shaping up to be, huh?

And finally on the Steelers’ front, the great L.C. Greenwood has died. Only one of the four members of the true Steel Curtain, Joe Greene, survives. Ernie Holmes and Dwight White passed in recent years.

I hadn’t seen L.C. since last fall, and he looked and seemed fine. You never know.

>> The Pirates’ B-team closed out a 94th winRob Biertempfel reports from Cincinnati.

Francisco Liriano is columnized by Joe Starkey, also at Great American.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage, including stuff from Travis Sawchik, Karen Price and others who were part of our baseball staff making that drive.

Here’s Reds news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> Evgeni Malkin is pretty tough on himself in this interview with Rob Rossi.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including the latest on Kris Letang.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Flying home in a few hours, through Paris again. I’m told I have a sporting event to cover on Tuesday. When I find out what that is, I’ll be happy to share.

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.

583 Comments

  1. So the Pirates and Steelers play on September 29 and neither game means a thing.

    Weird.

    We’re used to the Pirates’ last game having no meaning. But not because they ready freaking clinched.

    And we definitely are NOT used a Steelers game having no meaning in September.

    I dunno. I just watched Breaking Bad. Maybe the meth is getting to me.

  2. I know it is not even close to December yet, but can the Steelers please unleash hell? Maybe just a little?

  3. “I’m told I have a sporting event to cover on Tuesday. When I find out what that is, I’ll be happy to share.”

    Penguins practicing at Southpointe, huh?

  4. At least we have the Pirates.

  5. When a team is barely 8-8…And you do next to nothing to improve it…This is what you get.
    Plain and simple….

    • Not only do next to nothing to improve it, keep the wrong guys also.
      Just a mess.

    • Exactly. It’s sad that I still keep reading quotes from players saying they believe the talent in the room is there. It’s not. These players just aren’t good enough.

      I’m baffled how anybody thought this team would improve in 2013 after losing their best receiver, best running back, a proven offensive lineman, and the heart and soul of their linebacking corps.

  6. Glad to see we rotated those running backs and kept them all fresh for next Sunday’s game. Oh, wait…

  7. L.C. Greenwood was a great player, and I’m sorry to read of the struggle his life had become. So many players pay a dear price for having been great in the game they loved.

  8. For the first time in 41 years, I really didn’t care that the Steelers lost. Watched the whole game. Didn’t stomp around, swear, get upset, etc. when Peterson waltzed 77 or however many yards “breaking” 5 arm whiffs. For the first time in forever my week won’t be ruined by a Steelers loss. No emotion at all. Tuesday night, however, look out!

    • Me too. Incredible, isn’t it? It’s not that I’ve stopped caring about the Steelers or the players themselves. But we know in our hearts the 0-4 record accurately reflects what the organization has let themselves become. Bad decisions and neglect have brought the team ingloriously crashing down — and that’s probably the best thing. Muddling through another year of .500 ball might have provided just enough cover for further rationalizing and kicking the can down the road.

      Then there are those Pirates… They have me completely obsessed as if I were a kid all over again.

  9. I’d like to see the Steelers wear a “68,” “L.C.,” or gold shoes patch on their uniform or helmet, or some other appropriate remembrance for the rest of the year.

  10. Very sad story about LC. A great photo of him pursuing Bert Jones accompanies it.

    All the back operations and his life ending while he needed use of a walker. All at the age of 67, an age when many are enthusiastically enjoying life.

    A terrible toll that football exacts from men, all for our pleasure. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to watch it at all, much less enjoy it. Not sure I’m any better than the Roman pagans sitting in the Colosseum cheering at the spectacle on display

  11. I read the sidebar on the secondary. Seeing next to nothing of in-game adjustments by this coaching staff. Other teams can outthink us and dissect us in minutes and yet with one week of preparation and even witnessing what isn’t working on game day, we stand pat and have no counter-plans from our coaching staff. Starting to believe that we are simply incapable in this area.

    We prepared today for what was obvious — but only to us. Back-up QB starting and best RB in the league? Well, that can only mean a steady diet of running plays so let’s cheat Troy up to the line of scrimmage, right? Wrong. But seeing that we were gashed once, then twice, what did we do to adjust? Nothing. We just kept cheating Troy up.

    Cortez Allen was also horrible today (at least the little that I watched) but I’ll give him a one week pass because of the long layoff and very little over the top and inside safety help.

    Adams getting manhandled (being kind here since that would assume he actually contacted Allen) and what did we do? Left him in the game with no swinging of protection or chips by a back. Out with a whimper instead of in with a Whimper?

    I hate to say this but I’m actually hoping for a Top 5 pick this year. Thinking that one god-awful year at 2-14 rather than 4-12 or 5-11 will help us more in the long run, presuming our scouting/picks improve, of course.

  12. Sad to see L.C. go.
    hard to remember he was a 12th round draft choice….. and yet he still achieved greatness.

    Recall watching one of the “America’s Game” videos, and he said something that rings very true to today’s Steeler team.
    He felt that the backups had to be almost as good as the starters. If they werent, why were they on the team? They had to replace the injured starters, if they couldnt, then get rid of them, and get someone who could play. It is that mentality that helped the team win 4 Super Bowls……… the standard was TRULY the standard back then.

    RIP Gold Shoes.

    • So true about the “mentality” and the “the standard” of the ’70′s Steelers. They were in a class by themselves when it came to getting it done.

  13. If, for example, Dick LeBeau has Troy Polamalu sniffing up at the line every other snap, and the secondary has been burned for huge plays while not appearing to have, you know, safeties playing safety, might Polamalu drop back?

    Wait for it……… where have you seen this before? Anyone?
    The Tim Tebow playoff game from 2 years ago. Remember that? The safety was kept in the box all game, and Tebow tore us apart. So I think the coaching is to blame here. There is the precedent.

    The O-Line? They have had 2 or 3 different coaches, 2 different schemes, yet still stink. Lets face it………. they dont have enough talent to succeed. But who assembled this O-Line? Who drafted them? Tomlin/Colbert deserve blame here.

    Ben has been “dumbed down” by Haleys system. He looks scared. he looks indecisive. He is trying to make plays, and getting turnovers for his efforts. He is running for his life almost every play. Is this the nest way to utilize a $102 million dollar QB? Bueller? BUELLER????

    =============================================================

    I did see some positives yesterday.
    The receivers.
    La’Veon Bell.
    But one needs more positives than that to win.

    Anyone see any more positives?
    We need all we can get.

    • Plan,
      Your Blog name now officially applies to the Steelers.

      • HA!

        Hey, at least we had the Pirates and Pitt football this weekend.
        Pirates surprisingly swept the Reds. Just when you think you know what they are going to do, they do the other. Someone said there is a ballgame Tuesday night?? ;)

        Pitt didnt look impressive Saturday, but they looked impressive on the final scoreboard. All that counts.

        But Ghost, you have to stop responding to my posts.
        A member of the “old guard” of posters here will have a darn coronary because I posted too much, was too critical of the Steelers, will accuse me again of saying the Pirates will fail, etc……….
        After all, I wouldnt want to go over my “allowed” # of posts according to him…..

    • Thanks plan. For mentioning Bell as a positive. I would take it a step further… Bell survived his first game without injury. Very positive.

  14. I don’t believe there are any solutions to the massive amount of problems that the Steelers presently possess.
    Unfortunately….I see them eventually winning a few games towards the end of the year (when some teams pack it in), and that will drop them down the draft board a bit.
    It’s going to be a rough twelve games, but the good news is that a quarter of this mess is behind us.

  15. Monday Column…Scathing DK, but rightly so. Team is a hot mess. Mike Adams needs to go. I could go on, but I have to go to work today.

    DK: Merci.

  16. Some further thoughts about the latest Steeler fiasco:

    * Very bad day for Jarvis Jones.
    Barely saw him do anything at LB, and he whiffed on a couple tackles on ST’s.
    He looked “tired” to me.

    * I don’t see much use in playing Keisel or Clark at this point in time. Though Keisel has hung in there, this will definitely be his last year. Clark looks a shell of himself to me.
    If they’re going to go down, they might as well find out about some of these younger guys.

    * Though not old, the same can be said for Emmanuel Sanders. There’s no sense in playing him before Wheaton, as Sanders is a goner after this season. I’m also questioning his effort, as I think he might be trying to take a page out of Mike Wallace’s book.

    * Maybe it’s to the point of giving some playing time to (for example) OLB Alan Baxter from the practice squad. Could he get any less sacks than the two guys that have been playing opposite Woodley?

    * Speaking of Woodley, he’s in better shape than last year, but I question his effort too.

    I could go on and on….But that’s a few things to vent about late night PDT.

    • When Tomlin went on his rant after the game about players not being a part of it going forward, first thought he was talking about Woodley. Once again he was no where near the QB, missed tackles, invisible. He gets paid a nice chunk of change to put pressure on, and it’s been a long time since he has. Another name that popped in my head was Ziggy Hood – his side of the line always has gaping holes when the other team runs the ball. Last was Sanders who looked like a 5-year old stomping his feet when he and Ben weren’t on the same page leading to an INT. I did notice Wheaton in the game more after that though…

  17. Jones mashed his homer.

    But by all means Jones haters, put in Pie.

  18. Nice flight schedule.

    We’ll always have Paris.

  19. Anyone notice the MLB draft order for next June’s draft? Pirates don’t even pick in the top 25 next year! Hope we stay in this position for many years to come.

    1. Astros
    2. Marlins
    3. White Sox
    4. Cubs
    5. Twins
    6. Mariners
    7. Phillies
    8. Rockies
    9. Blue Jays
    10. Mets
    11. Blue Jays (for failing to sign 2013 No. 10 pick Phil Bickford)
    12. Brewers
    13. Padres
    14. Giants
    15. Angels
    16. Diamondbacks
    17. Orioles
    18. Yankees
    19. Royals
    20. Nationals
    21. Reds
    22. Rangers or Rays
    23. Rangers or Rays
    24. Indians
    25. Dodgers
    26. Tigers
    27. Pirates
    28. Athletics
    29. Braves
    30. Red Sox
    31. Cardinals

  20. Here is the final installment of my efforts to track the Pirates win totals broken down into nine 18 game segments, noting that an average of 10-8 during each 18 game segment gets the Pirates to 90 wins. By now, we know they achieved 94 wins, the fifth best mark in the majors this year. Those 94 wins were achieved with 18 game splits of 10-8, 10-8, 14-4, 8-10, 12-6, 11-7, 9-9, 9-9, and 11-7.

    Breaking the season into three 54-game segments, the Pirates were 34-20, 31-23, and 29-25. Just some fun with numbers as we got to enjoy a surprisingly successful season

  21. JAL’s My Sharona Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ded4MZVVAhE

    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: Are the Pirates a Sign That Baseball is a Fair Game?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/first-pitch-are-the-pirates-a-sign-that-baseball-is-a-fair-game.html

    The 94th Win Providing Some Questions For Next Year

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/the-94th-win-providing-some-questions-for-next-year.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Jordy Mercer, Brandon Cumpton key irrelevant win to sweep Reds

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/9/29/4784046/jordy-mercer-brandon-cumpton-key-irrelevant-win-to-sweep-reds

    6 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Have A Surprise For Johnny Cueto

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/09/29/pittsburgh-pirates-surprise-johnny-cueto/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 162: Pirates 4 Reds 2

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/september-2013/game-162-pirates-4-reds-2.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Sweep Reds 4-2 For Win #94

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/09/bucs-sweep-reds-4-2-for-win-94.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 4, Reds 2

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/09/pirates-4-reds-2-2/

    10 City of Champions

    Pirates complete sweep of Reds, head into playoffs on roll

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/09/29/pirates-complete-sweep-reds-head-playoffs-roll/

  22. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Minor League Ball

    Minor League Ball Top 75 Prospects: End of Season Update

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2013/9/27/4775038/minor-league-ball-top-75-prospects-end-of-season-update

    12 Chicago Tribune

    Long-suffering Pirates, fans have reason to smile

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-spt-0930-pirates-20130930,0,7086908.story

    13 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Present and Future Looks Very Bright

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/09/29/pittsburgh-pirates-present-and-future-looks-very-bright/

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Erardi: Reds’ momentum – or lack thereof – won’t matter Tuesday

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130929/COL19/309290089/Erardi-Momentum-won-t-matter-Tuesday

    15 Miami Herald

    A capsule look at Reds-Pirates wild-card game

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/29/3660087/a-capsule-look-at-reds-pirates.html

    16 CBS Sports

    Reds at Pirates for NL wild card game: Who’s got the edge?

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/23915195/reds-at-pirates-for-nl-wild-card-game-whos-got-the-edge

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie: Hard to argue with how Cards approach game

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-hard-to-argue-with-how-cards-approach-game/article_1255147b-d33c-5c11-bca8-41dc604c4c72.html

    18 PBC Site

    Reds brush aside skid, focus on Wild Card Game

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_09_29_pitmlb_cinmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    NL Central’s Pirates, Reds worthy of postseason

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/nl-centrals-pirates-reds-worthy-of-october-baseball?ymd=20130929&content_id=62192666&vkey=news_pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21916

    20 Fangraphs

    Proposing New Wild Card Rules

    http://www.fangraphs.com/not/proposing-new-wild-card-rules/

  23. Maybe we need someone to come up with another blog/link…WHYGAS…Where Have You Gone Aaron Smith?

  24. Oh LORD! What have I started? ;)

    Steve J. Smith says:

    September 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Morton blows!


    Arriba Wilver says:

    September 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Bowls?

    Reply


    21sthebest says:

    September 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Bowels?

  25. Good job on the Monday column, Dejan. It’s an unbold reaming, and it’s well stated. About time someone cut to the quick.

  26. Morning to All – Heard some stuff yesterday (not here on this blog) that ticked me off, so my response…and you’ll understand: To the super die hard Steeler fans who for years and years beat the Pirates, its fans and baseball up: Now you know what it is like. Now you know what us Pirate fans have been through for 20 years. Now you know what a little losing is like. And you don’t like it, huh? None of us do. Look, I am a Pittsburgh sports fan…through and through…want all our teams to do well, but again…to Steeler only fans…you are getting a taste of things this morning. I said my piece. Let’s Go Bucs and Let’s Go Pens and yes…Let’s Go Steelers, too!

  27. Some thoughts:

    With a few more losses the talk of drafting a QB and trading Ben for draft picks may get wings. Same thing happened in Indy where it was sacrilege for fans to contemplate life without Peyton at first before reality set in. Not saying we should go there quite yet but with continued losing, everything should be on the table.

    On evaluating talent, Fred Gwynn had more nimble feet than Mike Adams. For an O-lineman with a supposed pedigree, he seems to have zero concept of balance, feet positioning and hand placement on pass plays. And since we’ve been doing a lot of punting lately — and it’s likely to continue — is Drew Butler still available? Mesko is horrible. Thought Butler had greater upside. Again, where are our talent evaluators?

  28. Pirates will announce roster for tomorrow’s game a bit after 10 this morning. Won’t see AJ, Locke, or Cumpton on it. Locke is done for season, AJ will pitch first game of the Cards series if Pirates win, Cumpton pitched yesterday so can’t pitch tomorrow. Will be some interesting decisions on the regular players like Jones or Snider, Buck or Sanchez,

  29. I think we’ve all run out of ways to be more descriptive about the Steelers other then to say they stink. Has the practice of letting good players go via free agency caught up to them? What kind of season is Keenan Lewis having for the Aints? They simply have not drafted adequate replacements for certain players and they’ve hung on to some players for far too long.

    It’s mind boggling that their offensive line is perhaps the worst it’s been during Roethlisberger’s career when it was thought they finally had put together a decent one. Mike Adams has not shown any ability to play left tackle. Appears their best lineman right now was out of work until Pouncey got hurt.

    The defense is a shell of its former self. Put Shamarko Thomas in and see what he can do for the rest of the season. Thanks Ryan Clark for all your great play – your ESPN assignment waits. Troy Polamalu will forever be one of the iconic Steelers but all good things must come to an end.

    Heavy criticism of Todd Haley. I think it’s time for the same when it comes to Dick Lebeau.

    Rest in peace LC. Legendary.

    • Right now, I can’t be critical of Troy without having more information. Some part of it may be defensive game-planning and schemes. If he is freelancing and still out of position, then he deserves blame, however. But it’s not like he would have gotten stupid overnight so I am tending to think it’s not as much him as the game planning established at the top.

  30. Vince Wilfork is out for the season.

    • The anguish up here is palpable! He is one of my favorite athletes, even if he plays a sport that I have lost interest in. A really solid person.

  31. Hard to believe the Pens will have their first win before the Steelers.

  32. maybe we should get some of the Pens to play for the Steelers:
    http://video.penguins.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=449290&catid=912&navid=DL|PIT|home

    • Thanks, Jandy.

      Sweet, tight bullet by Sid.

      Beau showing some great hands as well. Nice to see he has put on a few pounds of muscle as well. Love the kid and expect big things from him this season.

      After going to tomorrow’s Bucs game and watching them bring home a win, looking forward to Pens on Thursday.

      • Seeing the placement and touch by Sid reminded me of the time he went to PNC Park and put one in the seats. Not sure, but think it was his first swing. A supreme athlete.

        • Anytime, DJ…and yes indeed, Sid is quite a supreme athlete. He pushes himself very hard as well as having natural talent. Looking forward to the season…Thursday can’t come soon enough!

  33. How’d you like to be Tampa or Texas who has to have a play in game to get a chance to have another play in game.

  34. DK, MT’s Travel plans are an issue, contrary to what he says. Charlie Batch stated yesterday that the Steelers are 0-7 when they have long trips and arrive late in the week. Also I wonder, are Ziggy and Heyward really busts? Both came from 4-3 D in College. And it was said, especially of Hood that he is a 4-3 tackle. it’s easy to say just learn the system. But that is not reality. This goes directly to Talent/player evaluation. Colbert/Tomlin/Scouts have failed miserably. Explain to me how Mesko has been better than either punter in camp. This is not fixable with the team constructed as it is, with this coaching staff. Let’s Go BUCS!

    • New England played at Wembley last year. They practiced at their fields on Thursday, and boarded a flight for London later that day. Just like the Steelers.

      New England didn’t complain. They just won. Big.

      Of course, a qb getting rid of the ball helps that winning thing. A lot more than taking really ill-timed sacks at the end of a game with no time outs and a real easy opportunity to throw the ball out of the end zone to stop the clock and get off one final play.

      • But the record shows that may be a problem. Also, NE actually has a coach who prepares his team. So maybe you’re correct. Travel not an issue. It’s just a coaching staff not capable of preparing their players ,or a game plan that, you know, works.

      • Ben isn’t the getting rid of the ball kind of qb. In fact he’s the exact opposite, holding onto the ball and scrambling around for his receivers to get open. Thats when he is at his best… if you are expecting him to change at this point, might as well trade him and start new.

  35. What an outstanding series finale for “Breaking Bad.”

    My wife and I both said our hearts were racing.

    I won’t give any spoilers, but the acting and writing, both in the finale and series, were as good as it gets on television.

  36. In MLB:

    No team reached 100 victories.

    Two teams lost 100 games (Miami and Houston).

    What managers lose their jobs today ?

    • It won’t be CH :)

    • Houston does just lose 100 games…but 111…a 111 games…Crazy stuff! Going out on a limb here, John…but I say..if the Reds lose tomorrow…does Dusty lose his job?

      • Nah. They’ll just bean him.

      • Doubtful.

        If Jockety hasn’t realized how bad of a manager Dusty is already, then I’d be surprised if one game changed his mind.

        On the other hand, I could see Ron Washington getting the boot if Texas loses tonight.

        Does Ned Yost still have a job? Mike Socia?

        Eric Wedge has already been scapegoated in Seattle, I believe.

      • I thought Dusty was gone after last year and they extended his contract for 2 years. When the Reds lose tomorrow, that will be the fourth club (2 with Cincy) that have joked for Dusty in the playoffs. I think Washington is in deep trouble with a loss today, or even in the divisional series.

        It looks like the honeymoon is over in Chicago with Epstein and Tom Ricketts. Getting it from the Chicago press and fans. Chicago doesn’t have much tolerance for the small market, build with prospects approach. I was listening to sports radio out of Chicago today and a lot of the fans want them to take the Dodger approach. One guy was yelling, “there is no salary cap in baseball.” Will be interesting to see how Ricketts and Epstein sell the “stay the course” message with that fan base.

        • *joked…choked…same thing I guess.

        • Man, rough town. I know sports are inherently unfair, but I can’t fault a single way Hoyer and Epstein have rebuilt, including monetarily.

          The answer anytime somebody questions what good it would be for rebuilding teams like the Astros (or Pirates, for that matter) to spend money “just for a few extra wins” should be the Chicago Cubs.

          They’ve flipped minor investments like Maholm, Johnson, and Feldman into legit prospects, while also locking up Edwin Jackson for when the team does begin to win (and they eventually will).

          If Rizzo, Castro, and Samardizja bounce back next season, I could see them hitting 75 wins before a single top prospect takes the field.

    • Keep your eye on the Girardi situation in New York. It will have an impact on Sveum in Chicago although it looks like he’s in trouble regardless.

    • Ron Washington if the Rangers lose tonight’s 163rd game or Tuesday’s WC game. He may even have to go a step further than that.

  37. For me there are only two stats that matter concerning the Steelers. If they fix the two thing below they are an average team.

    Sacks: They have 4 and have given up 14
    Turnovers: They have created 0 and have given it up 11 times.

    You can’t win when you never flip the field but your having it flipped on you. You also can’t win if you are never creating 3rd and 15 for the opposition but facing 3rd and 15 yourself about 3 or 4 times a game. They are a team with average talent that could have won 7-9 games maybe 10 with some good luck but the two stats above plus penalties are the most important stats in the NFL. They rank 16th overall in the league in offensive yards per game and 13th in overall defense. They fix those two things and they would be fine. Unfortunately it is more then likely to late.

  38. Since John is asking a question above: Here are questions I have: Does a different Reds team show up at PNC tomorrow? Does this weekend sweep mean anything? Do their 5 loses in a row mean anything?

  39. Can I have your assistance with my survivor league? I have already gone with the Pats, Atlanta, Denver, and the Seahawks and I’m stumped which team I can go with this week. Here is the upcoming schedule:

    Buffalo at Cleveland
    SUN, OCT 6
    New Orleans at Chicago
    New England at Cincinnati
    Jacksonville at St. Louis
    Baltimore at Miami
    Philadelphia at NY Giants
    Detroit at Green Bay
    Kansas City at Tennessee
    Seattle at Indianapolis
    Carolina at Arizona
    San Diego at Oakland
    Denver at Dallas
    Houston at San Francisco
    MON, OCT 7
    NY Jets at Atlanta

    Any ideas?
    thanks!

    • If you go with one of our picks – does the person that picked the winner for this week – do they get 1/16th of the prize :D

    • I’d say Atlanta over NY Jets since the Falcons are 1-3 right now and at home….and they are much better than the Jets.

      Also any pick against Jacksonville is worth making.

    • I would go with San Francisco but I have been horrible a picking games this year in our office pool. Actually everyone has been. Weird year so far.

    • the team the steelers play against, oh wait they are on a bye week next week. Think about the chiefs, Titans lost starting qb this week.

    • good job picking Seattle. were you sweating waiting for the outcome of that game?

      • Thanks but I didn’t pick them in the order I gave. I actually went with Denver this past week.

        I think I might go with KC the home teams in any of the following games:
        Buffalo at Cleveland
        Jacksonville at St. Louis
        Detroit at Green Bay
        Carolina at Arizona
        San Diego at Oakland

        • buffalo @ cleveland is tough. I don’t yet trust EJ Manuel and Cleveland is pulling wins from somewhere. I dunno how. Of those games you list, I would probably pick St. Louis.

    • St Louis is a 13 point favorite over the Jags, safe bet they will win that one at home.

    • A few pop out at me:

      San Fran at home (Houston is not good on the road and Niners have awakened)
      Green Bay at home (they can’t afford to lose this one)
      ST Louis at home (Jacksonville is putrid)

  40. Want an irony about the first playoff game for the Bucs in 20 years? The starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves on that fateful night in 1992 was John Smoltz. Tomorrow night Smoltz will be part of the announcing team for TBS at PNC Park.

  41. I couldn’t get to it, but Rumbunter at JAL’s Link #6 above is about the Pirates having a surprise for Cueto. My guess is what was mentioned on the news last night—Marlon Byrd.
    Although only 14 PA’s, but he has a 1.56 OPS against Mr. Cueto, .583 BA. I think we know who will be batting 4th.

  42. Anybody else having trouble with having their comments stuck in moderation?

  43. Phillies have fired pitching coach Rich Dubee. Obviously his fault Roy Halladay got old.

  44. What are the odds that the Pirates can beat the Reds four in a row?

  45. Just one comment for this hour; .285 vs .211. Who should play? A no-brainer where I come from, but – speaking of managers – we have one who is confused.

    • Your boy has the yips in the field, Mr. Hasis. And your favorite manager just “managed” the team to 94 wins. Must be the luckiest SOB on the planet.

      • rather lucky than good… still believe we should be the one and only team at 100 wins on the season. Maybe a better manager gets us there? but probably not, every guy put in there will make mistakes. Just look at Dusty Baker. He took what should be a 100-win team and made them look terrible.

        • You think this roster is a 100 win team?

          Bet you didn’t pick them to win 100 before the season started.

          • I’m not really big on betting on sports. But, you are correct. I thought this team was maybe a 70 win team in March and I was confirmed after the first several games. I didn’t really believe 90 wins was possible until late May.

      • and your boy cannot throw or get to half of the balls he should. Outside of that he is fair.

    • Maybe you’re confused. A month or so ago you analyzed Mercer and Barmes defensively declaring Mercer stronger at every facet of defense (you listed around 6-8 skills). Yesterday you said there is no difference in defensive ability.

      • That point was for those like you who seem to “hang on the thread” that Barmes deserves to play.
        There is no difference to the extent that you Barmes lovers feel he is the better choice.
        Every facet of playing shortstop favors Mercer – arm, jump range, etc., etc.,

        What causes such apparent blindness? It it’s your diet, please consider a change.

        Barmes can not play this game. He obviously (maybe just to me) cannot hit!

        • I don’t like platooning shorstops at all and I don’t like a late inning replacement there. I think shortstop is the toughest position to come in late and play. I remember one instance when Barmes came in late and made an error.

          I have thought for a while now that Jordy should be the starter despite what I think is his weaker defense. I think his bat more than makes up for it. And he was improving defensively, IMO, for a while but lately I think he looks pretty bad.

          You response above to me makes zero sense. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. And it also seems pretty egotistical and obnoxious to call out someone else for being blind when they simply don’t agree with you.

          • You obviously pay little attention to the techniques used by the super young shortstops around the leagues, Tulovitzki, Hardy, Segura, et al.

            They get behind the ball, the plant their feet, they stride into the throw with their left foot while the right one is planted, and “gun a seed” to first base. Can you think of a time Barmes did that?

            And don’t be so thin-skinned; you are not to old to learn.

            • Barmes has a different technique. Everyone knows that. I think he’s better than Mercer.

              What you’ve just demonstrated is that you don’t know the first thing about playing shortstop.

    • I love you to death Bob, but…c’mon…

      next?

    • I liked Mercer until he threw that ball away for the 3rd out the other night. That was the ONLY play that I can remember that Mercer fouled up that cost us a game. And for that reason alone, I trust Barmes defensively more than Mercer.

  46. Have to head out to a meeting, but wanted to throw out a quick question: As we start this tourney later with the “play-in” game in Texas: Who are your World Series choices? It is One possible matchup I like is Oakland vs. L.A…..

  47. If Greg Schiano gets the boot in Tampa, Dave Wannstedt maybe ? Please ? Pretty please ?

  48. Nothing will keep me from the Pirates game tomorrow, not even a 2:30 AM wake up call this morning from good old Kidney Stone. Back home from the hospital and resting in bed with my friend Mr. Percocet.

    Speaking of medication, Steelers players and coaches looked to be on something…

  49. I just hope more coaches and managers are escorted off charter jets and taken to an airport meeting room to get sacked.

    Stay classy, Administrators of Troy. Oh, and best. firing. ever.

  50. I just read a column that was reposted from 2000 about Chad Hermansen. It talked about the pressure on him and how toxic the club house was at that time. It’s amazing what a good atmospere can do for a team. Reading that column makes me realize how far this team and organization has come.

    It all starts with Hurdle and Cutch. Those two men have created an atmosphere that some teams would love to have. It’s impossible with the attitude and joy that those two men bring to the ballpark everyday not to feel good about your chances of winning. Everyone is pulling for everyone. Really a joy to watch.

    • Conversely, I’ve always been a proponent of saying that chemistry / atmosphere is a result of winning, not a cause of winning.

      I seem to recall that Jack Wilson was disliked by a certain sect of his teammates for his positive attitude and joy in the clubhouse.

      Again, it’s amazing what wonders winning brings about.

      • Yes.

        The listless, blank expressions plastered over the faces of Pirate players for the last month of 2011 and 2012 are far too fresh for me to give credence to Hurdle being some master of attitude adjustments. Those were the same Pirates as each and every one of the previous losing years.

        IMO, the 2013 team is concrete proof that better players win games, which leads to a better atmosphere.

    • You forgot AJ. Can’t forget AJ.

      • pssst! You’re a troublemaker! :D

      • No, I agree completely, AW.

        Hanley Ramirez was quoted after reviving his career with the Dodgers as saying that everyone in the Marlins dugout was just happy to be there. From prospects just called up to veterans collecting a paycheck.

        AJ put any thought of that happening in the Pirate dugout to bed, I would imagine.

        • I want to say I agree with AW as well, and I do, was just trying to rattle his chain a bit.
          AJ has had a tremendous influence on the attitude and work ethic with this Pirates’ team, starting from the day he signed on.

          • I actually agree with all the comments everyone has made. Winning does help and is part of the equation. Winning becomes extremely difficult with a toxic clubhouse like it sounds like they had 13 years ago.

            I believe Terry Francona has made a huge difference in how the Indians played this year. Yes they had more talent but I’ve heard former players of his say that he makes everyone on his team from the star to the last guy off the bench feel like they can lift mountains. That kind of attitude has to have some effect on wins and losses.

  51. No comments on this one yet so I’ll go ahead and crack this lil egglet.

    Congrats to Andrew Lambo on his first real HR!

    Any chance Lambo makes the postseason roster?

  52. How bout those brownies? After making a highly criticized trade (Trent Richardson) to leverage their future, they’ve won 2 in a row… maybe the steelers should do something similarly crazy?

    • I’m rooting for them to succeed so they are forced to trade all those picks they’ve been obtaining to us so they can draft their future QB.

  53. Sveum fired.

  54. Thougtful essay by Tim Williams about what happens next year with players like Jones, Tabata, Cumpton and others. http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/the-94th-win-providing-some-questions-for-next-year.html

    • First time “thoughtful” and “Tim Williams” have appeared in the same sentence.

      Plus, it was in JAL’s links. :)

      • Ha, I laughed… :)

        But I did read the article, and thought Williams covered the bases pretty well.

        Cumpton won’t get a shot above AAA unless there are serious injuries or Jeff Locke sucks. Which would be great, considering the positive implications of those two events not happening.

        I don’t see any way Pimentel hasn’t earned a spot on the pitching staff next spring. Kid is actually seven months YOUNGER than Gerrit Cole. He’s the only reliever I could see jumping into the rotation, if need be.

        Jones will be the easiest non-tender on the team. It was no secret Huntington shopped his services last winter, presumably without finding a taker willing to give up much of value. That clearly won’t change this time around.

        • I didn’t know Pimentel was that young. He certainly didn’t do anything this year to hurt himself. The age makes me think he still has room to develope. I really like the 9K/2 walks ratio since being up with the big club. Maybe Searage and veteran pitchers have already had a positive influance on him. I’m excited to see what he can bring. If/when AJ retires it would be nice to have another 8-9K guy waiting in the wings.

        • Stolmy is young, but Cole is 8 months younger. I think you may have counted in the wrong direction there.

          From the Bucs website, Cole was born in Sept. ’90 and Stolmy Feb. of ’90.

          • 7 months younger. I counted incorrectly also.

          • Nice catch, Jim. I had both Fangraphs pages up. Must’ve confused them.

            Point stands, though, wouldn’t you say?

            • The only reason I caught it was because I thought I had heard Stolmy was 23 when the season started. So, I checked the roster and I first came to the conclusion that Cole was indeed older. I actually counted backwards the first time, before looking at it again.

              I agree with you, though, that Stolmy will get a legit shot at a starting slot next year. If not, he should be in the pen from day 1 – unless they want to keep him stretched out at Indy. He has a great arm and nasty stuff.

            • Yep. I like Stolmy a lot. I believe they view him the way they did Wilson last off-season. He could start in this league. Or, be a big time reliever first. He strikes out about 8/9 innings and does not give up many hits. What’s not to like, other than we still need to see if his improved control is going to stay?

              • I didn’t read Tim Williams article yet either.

                Did he mention if Stolmy was out of options?

                I thought I heard that he was.

              • Stolmy is out of options this year, meaning he has to stick in the big leagues from here on out.

                I wonder if he’d ever get the opportunity to start once placed in the pen, considering the lack of almighty “stretching out” period.

                And yeah, I agree Jim. Command seems to be all that is left to conquer. Loved the drop and fade on his fastball when he stayed on top of it.

              • Didn’t know that, NMR. Even more reason to think Stolmy will get his shot next year.

    • Can’t find fault with much of what Williams wrote in that piece. I don’t think Cumpton can make it as a starter for the Bucs for very long, simply because I think there will be a bunch of more talented options. But, I think he could stick around and be a 4/5 starter for someone for a few years. He keeps the ball down and doesn’t walk people. Those types of guys can put together decent careers.

  55. Just checked the Pirates schedule and box score from earlier this year. Jhonny Cueto allowed one hit over 8 innings against the Pirates at PNC on May 31. The Pirate who got the hit was Brandon Inge. Anybody know how to get Mat Latos healthy by tomrrrow night?

    • The Pirates also got 1 run and 2 hits off Cueto in 4.1 innings on April 13, at which point he left the game with an injury.

      • Exactly. Cueto may not be completely healthy. I think that might be why they considered Latos. When healthy, Cueto is a better pitcher.

    • I’m not sure Cueto wouldn’t have pitched anyways. Latos although good has never been the most consistant pitcher. I could be wrong but I don’t remember Cueto having many starts that are not quality. He always seems to give you 6 or 7 innings and rarely gives up more then 3 earned runs. He seems pretty consistant.

    • ven if Latos was healthy they were going to pitch Cueto not real sure why the Reds are playing games like that. Just dosn’t make a lot of sense.

  56. Get our resident nun to start praying!. Jandy?

  57. Texas’ outstanding wish bone quarterback of the late 60′s James Street has died at 65. Padres reliever Huston Street is his son.

  58. The Joe Girardi situation comes down to one thing (other than looking for a raise, of course), he’s looking for assurances that management will make the financial commitment necessary to be competitive. How ironic, and awesome, is that ?

    • Joe should RUN to Chicago, Cubs are in better shape than Yanks right now as owners of Yanks are hellbent to get below luxury tax and their system is BARREN.

    • Good stuff, Milo.

      Theo and Jed’s worst nightmare came true this year. Cherrington (sp?) turned the Sawx around.

  59. Gotta love the Toothpick… Mat Latos has loose spurs in his pitching elbow so he can’t pitch the wild card game, but he “should be in line to start the first game of the NLDS on Thursday”? They don’t want to take a chance on him pitching on Tuesday but what the hell, roll the dice on Thursday???

  60. Wonder what the Twins will decide with Gardy ?

    • Gardy’s back. 2 year extension.

    • I’ve read that he’s coming back, this per MLBTradeRumors – The Twins have called a press conference for 2:30pm CT this afternoon, and the team will announce the re-signing of manager Ron Gardenhire, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The contract is expected to be a two-year deal, adds Rosenthal, who also tweets that Gardenhire would not have accepted a one-year deal and likely wanted assurance that the team’s payroll would rise again before accepting a new deal.

  61. So based on that article that was posted about post season roster rules, to exclude Snider otr Buck or someone like that would require them to be DFA or put on the DL. Would DFA place them on waivers and risk losing them? That changes how I would handle the play off rosters quite a bit. For instance I would not carry Buck into any series if I didn’t ahve to. I would rather have Tony’s bat off the bench. If Martin were to get hurt for any extended period of time I would replace him with Buck at the start of the next round. The choice to startBuck or Sanchez in that round would be interesting.

    But if I am going to have to DFA Buck and put him on waivers then I just go ith Buck from the beginning.

    • And i this is the case how do you go about being able to place a bunch of extra bench bats on the roster for the wold card gaem and then add them in the LDS? I HAVE to be missing something here.

      • It must be something related to having no options left.

        But kinda goofy that you have to use up an option in the post season

        Only budmeister

  62. MLB expecting trouble ? Joe West has the plate tomorrow.

  63. Hunter Pence getting $18m/yr, BEFORE even making it on to the free market, pretty much throws a wet blanket on those hopes that TV money will improve the Pirates free agent chances, right?

    • They will just have to choose wisely, like they did with Martin and Liriano this past season.

      But I hear ya, if everyone gets more monopoly money, the “have nots” have a bit more to spend, but aren’t going to catch up with the “haves”

      • I dont think they chose wisely as much as they chose luckily.

        • Seriously, Dom? You think the Pirates got “lucky” with Liriano and Martin? No skill in evaluation whatsoever? Wow.

          • Well, we’re fortunate that Liriano turned out as good as he did. I think he surpassed everyone’s expectations. The Buccos were rumored to also be in the mix for Edwin Jackson, so although they do get credit for signing the right guy in Liriano, they could just as easily choose the wrong guy in Jackson.

            • But they didn’t.

              That’s the point.

              • Bear in mind this goes the both ways. When they have chosen the wrong guys, I have been defending them by reminding everyone that nobody knows who will have a career year.

              • I suppose that is fair, Dom.

                Different way to look at it.

              • I agree, Dom. You are always fair. I just think they knew more about Liriano and Martin than we originally thought.

            • I agree that Liriano turned out better than expected, but they zeroed in on him from the start. They determined that he was healthy again and was an excellent bounce back candidate. They also knew his stuff would play much better in the NL. If they were just taking a flier on Liriano, they would have run for the hills when he broke his arm. That would have been safer. But, they didn’t because they thought he was going to be a solid pitcher. They outsmarted all the other teams on him, Melancon/Pimentel, Gomez.

              They also knew Russell Martin was among the 2 o3 3 best defensive catchers in the league. They knew he had the best pitch framing results in MLB over several years. It is time for us all to recognize that the Pirates are now one of the smarter organizations in MLB, and that began before this season.

              • Nice, Jim.

                Russell Martin is the guy to hang their proverbial hat on, IMO. I seem to remember a certain Pittsburgh writer questioning whether a .211 hitting catcher was worth $16m. I believe the word “crazy” may have been thrown around.

                Well, Martin turned out to be a .226 hitting catcher…and worthy of every penny and more. No luck there at all. No fluky season. Just good ole baseball smarts.

              • You’re right about that. Good stuff.

    • If that is the asking price for Pence, I’m not sure how they could even bring in one major free agent let alone re-signing Liriano or extending Pedro’s contract. $18m is almost 1/3 the Pirates actual salary.

    • All it does is allow us to offer 10 million to a guy that use to get 10 million but now will get 13-15 million. It’s a pebble landing in a very large pond. The ripple is barely even noticable if at all.

    • If Wandy is still hurt next year, can he still take the player option to extend his contract for $13m? Do the Astros pay for any of that? That would be a major owie to the budget if that comes to pass….

    • and pence isn’t even that good…

    • Good to be Hunter Pence. Be a little better than average offensively, have the worst arm in MLB from the OF, be a decent to good fielder, a good baserunner, and get $18 million x 5 from the Giants.

    • I know it is now monopoly money, but that deal Pence shocked me.

      Too much money for too many years

      • Did you see now with that signing that Choo is shooting for a 9 digit deal?

        Well thats per Bora$$, as Jandy would call him ;-)

        Now, that is outrageous

        • With Pence at $90m is Choo at $100m that outrageous?

          I don’t think he’ll get as much as Pence, but I think he’s worth every penny.

          • 31 or so and has never been an all star, grated only here for 2-3 years so far

            To me, most 9 digit contracts are outrageous, especially at his age and the fact a lot of his game is based on speed.

            Just sayin

            • No idea why All Star voting, as ridiculously flawed as it is, should be considered for contract value.

              If anything, Choo is a perfect example for how awful that system has become. You can’t tell me that a guy who has averaged .288/.389/.465 for his career spanning six seasons never had an all-star worthy campaign.

              But different strokes, I suppose.

              • Both guys are on the wrong side of 30.

                The last 2+ years of those contracts could be brutal

              • I’d love to hear a GM just come right out and say that they are giving Player X a five year contract while only expecting three of them to be worth it.

                You basically have to get lucky, or expect all these contracts on guys in their mid-30s to underperform.

              • I hope the Reds now decide he is too rich for their blood.

          • He’s better than Pence, I think. If you plug Choo into a corner OFposition, I’d take him over Pence anyday. Great leadoff hitter. Who doesn’t want .400+ OB% with a little pop?

            • Also has proven to be just as good of an RBI guy when adjusted for opportunity.

              I think his game will age better than Pence’s, as well. Pence seems to rely more on athleticism and bat speed than fundamentals. Could get real ugly as he gets older.

              • I have made this observation before. Pence, to me, looks like he never had an ounce of instruction in his entire career until he got to the minors. L:ooks like he does almost every skill in the game wrong. I think he was so good that they just let him go. But, he’s so d*mn big and strong, and so athletic, and he tries so hard that he just willed himself to be a pretty good player.

                But, 5 x $18M? No way is he that good.

              • If he played SS, he’d probably play it like Barmes. ;-)

      • have you guys heard about what Robinson Canoe wants?… 10 yr 305 mil? by comparison 100 mil over more than 5 years does not seem as bad.

    • I’m glad he’s done complaining about ownership.

      • When he was complaining he had every right to. It was the beginning of the 2006 season, the season that brought us Jeromy Burnitz and Joe Randa as our signature signings.

        • I know I was complaining back then ;-)

          He was just saying what most folks were thinking….

          • But some of us would never say it if we were a celebrity invited to throw out the first pitch.

            So it sounds like he’s coming home for the game?

            • Sounds like it

            • Hey, they were lucky he showed.

              ;-)

              • Well Michael would be happy to know that we were 27th in payroll in 2006 and 26th this year.

              • I didn’t say he had the right answer, just that at that time he, as a lifelong Pirate fan, had every right to complain. They did end up losing 95 games that year.

              • Yup. I think everyone has a right to complain. I just thought he could have been a lot more diplomatic. And smarter.

              • I think Keaton is extremely passionate, and always has been. I recall him being on something like the Today Show, when we were battling the Mets around ’89 or ’90. He was sitting there, and he said, “Do you want to see every New Yorker’s biggest nightmare?” Then, he pulled out a Pirates hat and put it on.

                Maybe he slammed Pirates ownership in a backhanded way. But, I know he spoke for so many of us who had no voice at the time. It may not have paid immediate dividends, but I thought he at least put the owners on notice that we were all watching and we were all getting fed up. That was what I took from that. Maybe not the best way to do it, but message delivered.

        • + many, Arriba. His voice carried more weight than 10,000 average fans. I know it did not pay immediate dividends in terms of money being poured into the payroll, but I think it got Nutting’s attention to the point where maybe he could not take us all for granted.

          • Well Keaton did a great job. It only took Nutting 6 years to raise payroll from where it was in 2006 :-)

            • But, they cleaned house fairly soon thereafter. Ok, certainly they didn’t go the big payroll route, but I think we can all admit Nutting started taking things seriously enough to get himself more involved. The hiring of Huntington was the start of Nutting learning more and getting more involved. Even though it did not pay off right way, he knew he had to do something. Ultimately, he chose the right guy 6 years ago. It would be hard to argue otherwise now.

              • I think Nutting took over in 2007 because they were on the verge of another financial disaster only 4 years after the previous one. And because of the losing.

              • And because McClatchy had no idea what he was doing. Still love him, though, for saving the Pirates and getting PNC Park built.

        • He had every right to complain. I just didn’t appreciate when he did it.
          You’re invited by the team to throw out the first pitch. You are a guest….I think he should have been a little more gracious.

          Pick another time to get up on your soapbox and air your grievances.

          (And I thought what he said was true.)

    • I really, really like Michael Keaton. That is all.

  64. Buccos are 1.5 run favorites for the game tomorrow night.

  65. Doug Drabek will throw out 1st pitch. His arm’s probably in better shape than his son’s.

  66. Bucs will use 9 pitchers. The regular 7 relievers, Liriano & Cole plus all 3 catchers. Leaves six other bench spots.

  67. I said on Friday that I was optimistic about the weekend in Cincy. I had a good feeling the Bucs would be playing at home on Tuesday. I just thought, and still do think, that they are simply better than Cincinnati. They pretty much have been all year. They should have won 2 of 3 in PNC last weekend. We all know that.

    Still, though, 1 game take it or leave it scenarios are a scary proposition. The better team doesn’t always win. Cueto can be downright nasty, and a small break either way can decide a single game. I still like our chances, but you never know what will happen tomorrow.

    That said, the Bucs have provided so much enjoyment for me and my family this year. They have exceeded all expectations, and I have said a million times that I think they are on a good path for the future. I will be extremely bummed if this game doesn’t go the way I think it should. But, I can’t get down on this team, regardless.

    It all started with Clint Hurdle. I believe he is the best manager in MLB from an interpersonal standpoint. I believe these guys would run through a brick wall, one man at a time, for him. I believe Clint’s attitude and resolve are the biggest reasons they are so good at bouncing back from losses. He is, quite simply, a man of high character. I truly believe that. I don’t always agree with his strategic decisions, but those are outweighed a million times over by what he does before and after the games to make this a great ballclub.

    I don’t know if anyone here caught many of the player interviews on ROOT this week, in which they were asked to tell us their most memorable moments of the season. Pedro Alvarez said his most memorable moment was a game winning hit by Travis Snider of all people. I thought that was so cool to hear from the guy who led the league in HRs. Neil Walker talked about how the fans fully embraced the team during the 5 game series with St. Louis. Marlon Byrd maybe had the coolest response of all that I heard. He said his greatest memory was his first at bat as a Pirate, when he battled for 14 pitches before striking out. It was the standing ovation he got on the way to the dugout that he will remember most. He said that he has played in Boston, NYC, Chicago, etc. and he never got a standing O after a whiff. He said he knew then and there these fans were for real. I vividly recall that at bat as well. I got chills when the fans stood and cheered for him after the 14 pitch at bat. I was proud of the baseball intelligence of those in attendance that night. In case you don’t recall, Marlon actually hit a 3-run HR later in that game to seal the win. But, he thought the fan reaction to his strikeout was his best memory. How cool is that?

    These guys get it. Every last one of them gets it. When they gave Andrew Lambo the cold shoulder treatment after his first big league HR, and then rushed over to him en masse a minute later on Saturday, I loved it. I know that is a long standing MLB tradition. But, that was a huge game and it would have been easy to forget in the tenseness of the situation. These guys didn’t let the moment pass because they get it.

    The house will be rocking like no MLB venue in a long, long time tomorrow night. Fans from around the country will be treated to playoff baseball in Pittsburgh, and they are going to be stunned by the passion of Bucs Nation. I think we’ll win that game tomorrow. But, even if we don’t, I am thrilled and heartened that our Bucs are a force again.

    • Thanks for this, Jim. Beats the heck out of the Great Shortstop Debate of 2013.

      My worst nightmare is that the Bucs lose tomorrow, and we have the next three months of the Steelers to look forward to.

      On the other hand, we have the Pens.

    • First of all no jinx.

      Second of all the Reds do not strike me as a very focused team. Cueto does but he team does not. I get to watch a lot of their games since Fox Sports Ohio shows about 130 of the 162 games. They make the game a lot harder for themselves then needed in a lot of cases. Votto is one of the worse culprits when it comes to this. Really seems to just mentally check out sometimes.

      Third of all the Pirates do three things really well that I believe playoff teams must do. Pitch, play solid defense and hit homeruns. Their homeruns totals are pretty impressive when you consider they played 81 games in pitcher friendly PNC park. I think I read somewhere they were second in the NL in road homeruns. Their starting pitching is deep and I would give it the advantage against any team in the NL that is not the Dodgers.

      If they can make it past this play in game I think they have a chance to compete. Especially if Atlanta could take care of the Dodgers. I feel Atlanta matches up against the Dodgers better then the Pirates do. However I think we match up against the Braves better then we do against the Dodgers.

      • I think you may have read here that we were #2 in road HR. I know I have cited that stat a few times, although that was a few weeks ago and I don’t know if it held up all the way through. But, the point is a good one, Nate. The Bucs hit a lot of HR. We almost doubled the opposition at PNC, in fact.

        • I’m sure 6 HR’s on Saturday didn’t hurt that stat. Maybe they moved up to first.

          I personally think the Dodgers match up is definately the worse one for the Pirates and not because of their offense which really isn’t much above middle of the pack. It’s the Kershaw and Grienke combination. They very well could be the best two pitchers in all of baseball since the all-star break.

          • You knew I had to check, didn’t you Nate? Couldn’t resist. Stats that only a stats junkie like me could love –

            Bucs batting:

            69 HR at home; 92 on road (We led the league in road HRs hit!)

            Reds batting:

            82 HR at home; 73 on road (GABP is a hitter’s park!)

            Bucs pitching:

            37 HR allowed at PNC (Approaching dead ball era totals!)
            64 HR allowed on road (still very good)

            Reds pitching:

            102 HR allowed at home (#2 worst in the league!)
            68 HR on the road

            It is indeed a myth that the Reds are a HR hitting team. They were out-homered 170 to 155. They were out-homered in GABP 102 to 73.

            The Pirates out-homered the opposition 161 to 101. At PNC, we out-homered the opposition 69 to 37, and on the road it was 92 to 64.

            The Pirates also led the league in fewest XBH allowed, and allowed the 2nd fewest hits in the NL. The Reds allowed 1293, and the Bucs 1299.

            I’ll throw in a couple more. Our pitching staff allowed the 6th most walks in the league, somewhat negating our low hit total. And we were #3 in strikeouts thrown.

    • Very well said, Jim. Thanks.

  68. This morning Drew said:
    I’ll say this for Pie. Cool last name. Three letters. Six syllables.
    Let’s see Jones do THAT.

    Jones shares the name of an important part of the male anatomy. Pie’s is that of the female counterpart.

  69. Bud Selig promotes Rob Manfred to MLB Chief Operating Officer, er “coach in waiting”.

  70. Matt Hoffman:

    Are you out there? If the Bucs win tomorrow, are you going to PNC next weekend for a game? Let me know. The deal stands.

  71. From Mark Madden………. ( I dont know what his source is)……..

    Andrew Mccutchen was drilled in the face by a line drive from Jordy Mercer during batting practice today and walked off the field under his own power.

    From his FB account ( which it wont paste in here)……… :(

  72. I have never been accused of being a Nutting supported but I would like to give credit where credit is due. He did his homework recognized what needed improvement and addressed those issues. He trusted the front office that spending over slot was the correct way to go for a small/medium market team and made money available for that and scouting in America and elsewhere.

    The last part of it that I always was not sure he would follow through with was him saying when the time was right money would be spent on the major league team. He has definately shown a willingness to increase payroll and take on cost to improve the team in the short term. Payroll was 79 million (not all of which was paid by the Pirates). Going forward when it is the Pirates paying the full amount I hope this continues. With the extra TV money I hope the payroll stays in that range if not a little higher.

    • As for the payroll, Nate, I wish I knew how much less money overall he has to work with vs., say, the Reds and Brewers. They both outdrew the Bucs by a couple hundred thousand this year, and we are a very economically priced ticket. I know Cincinnati is a pretty economical ticket as well, and I’m guessing Brewers games are not too much more expensive. But, 200,000 more people through the turnstiles is a lot of money.

      I believe Coonelly negotiated a dreadful TV contract last year – or so I read. In fact, it appears that the Pirates are receiving about the lowest amount of TV dollars of any team in MLB. If they are not the lowest, they are close. I admit I really don’t know the ins and outs of that contract, but I do know that ROOT is partnered with a bunch of MLB teams. I also know that the Pirates were #3 in local ratings in MLB, and that they have shown huge increases the past few years. I wonder if that contract can be renegotiated? I know the instant reaction is to say why would ROOT do that when they got the Bucs for peanuts? Well, if they truly are partners and want a long lasting relationship, it is a common business practice to go back to the table and rewrite a lopsided agreement for the long term mutual benefit of both parties. I’m not saying it will happen, and I don’t even know if it can. I’m just speculating. The reason I say that is I believe I have read teams in similar markets (Cleveland, for one) are receiving many millions more than the Bucs per year on their TV deal. I would guess the same is true for Milwaukee and Cincy, to say nothing of the humungous contracts of the big market teams.

      So, does anyone know how much more revenue the Milwaukees and Cincys of the world have to devote to operations than the Bucs, if any? My point is, $65 million (or thereabouts) does not seem like enough payroll to me, unless the Bucs are outspending them in other areas (overseas, for example). It seems to me that we should be spending much more and still generating a profit, which I don’t begrudge any business. But, I don’t know for sure. It is hard to get this info. accurately.

      • I was chastised a few days ago about “What does Frank do?”
        He has failed as a team President in regards to Revenues. The TV contract is awful, adn I also read it is one of the worst in baseball…………. and it is fairly long term, so it isnt up for renegotiation soon.

        Honestly, I dont know how much more ticket revenue brings in. Say Cincy outdraws us by 300,000. They get $5 more dollars per ticket on avaerage. That is only $1.5 million dollars more, so that isnt too much. TV deals, and corporate sponsorships are far more important to $$$$…………. an area Frank fails.

        Just my .02 cents.

        • Agree on Frank! He’s along for the ride at this point. I just hope he has to live by the rule of “Only speak when you are spoken to.”

          Maybe a little more for the extra fans. They park, they eat, they drink, they buy very large RTJR flags. Then, they sometimes take them to Cincinnati and wave them after Bucs HRs. The lady who did that on Friday night was awesome. Very ballsy move on her part. True fan. Fearless true fan!

        • Do you think it is easy to sell corporate sponsorships for a team that has had 20 straight losing seasons?

          I would bet that the Team President is responsible for a lot – both affecting the long and short term (and probably some day-to-day) operations of the team.

          • He may do a lot of good behind the scenes. Just seems like he’s the weak link to me. Some of his errors have been public and costly to the team. A lot of people would not get away with them, and still have their job. And, I’m not talking about the drunk driving, necessarily.

            • Can there be shared weak links?

              Captain Stark is awfully tough to beat for that “honor”.

            • In one moment some are saying they don’t know what he does. The next they are saying he is a weak link.

              I don’t get that.

              Yes the TV deal does seem like a “blunder”. But I also think there could be details we’re not privy to. Plus how do we know that Nutting doesn’t sign off on those type of deals? If he does then does he share in the blame? I think the timing of their renewal may have hurt them…before the windfall. (I may be wrong)

              I just think it is much easier for fans to evaluate a team’s shortstop than it is the team’s president

              • Well, if you cannot figure out what a given member of any organization brings to the table, then IMO that person is automatically a weak link.

                I can appreciate what you’re saying, TC, and you’re right. We do not know all he does.

                But like I said below, I don’t know how you can fault any of us for sharing this opinion of him when literally everything with his name attached has turned to mud.

              • NMR
                I don’t know what the team Presidents for the Steeler, Penguins, or any other baseball team does/ brings to the table. Much of the evaluation seems to be if they are winning, the are doing a good job.

                “literally everything” ?
                His name is attached to the Pittsburgh Pirates and they are playing in the Wild Card game tomorrow. Is that mud.

                If people want to criticize the guy for secret contract extensions, a DUI, talking about starting a dynasty, and calling a bar owner. I get that. But to say that you don’t know what the guy does, but yet you think his a weak link….I just don’t get that line of thinking.

                Gotta go.

              • You make fair points, Thunder. Since I was the one who introduced the phrase “seems to be the weakest link”, I should probably explain the context. To me, of the 3 main guys, I give high marks to Clint and Neal. We have all heard about a lot of bad things that have attached themselves to Frank, for whatever reason. If there is a lot of evidence that he is not the weak link of the 3, I would like to know what it is. Maybe the team just does a bad job of telling us what it is that he brings to the table.

          • I don’t thin k it is easy to sell a losing team to local businesses, no.

            But, you have to at least question the TV contract, right? If this was not a blunder, I would love to have the record set straight. That would be fair to Frank. But, if he missed on $10 or $20 million per year, or some other large amount, that is a pretty big screw-up.

            The incident with the little bar was ridiculous. I think he made some PR blunders that were pretty elementary.

            • I have to agree.

              I have a hard time believing he has maximized the clubs opportunities to improve financially.

              Whether it is fair or not, his name has been attached to nothing but blunders.

              If there are positives, I’m all ears.

          • Do I think it is easy to sell corporate sponsorships for a team that has had 20 straight losing seasons? No. Is it impossible? No.

            Lets try this………. Frank needs to think outside the box.
            Try marketing the entrance gates/statues.
            Try marketing certain parts of the Park.

            Example: The Willie Stargell gate presented by Geico.
            The Bill Mazeroski gate presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
            The Dollar Bank Standing Room Rotunda.
            The American Eagle North Side Notch.

            Not saying these ideas are viable, but they represent “outside the box” thinking, and could garner some additional corporate sponsoships. Point is, one has to try. Fighting with a small bar owner wont get you any points regarding sponsorships.

            • Those are good ideas
              But I believe the gate are much easier to sell when you first open the stadium. (2001)

              How about the success of the concerts?
              The revenue from flexible pricing?
              The Bow Tie Bar?
              All You Can Eat Seats?

              • Is that marketing, or Frank? Or both.

                Actually, I wouldnt have dreamed of the naming of certain ballpark areas when the park opened. Would have come across as too cheesy (and possibly money-grubbing). Now, fans know revenues are needed.

                My point still stands, Frank needs to up his game by thinking outside the box for additional $$$$$.

                By negotiating a horrible TV contract, and not seeming to explore all revenue streams, I think he hasnt done the job he was hired to do. It doesnt surprise me, being when he was hired, he had absolutely no marketing experience, or P & L experience.

                I know Frank reads this blog, so hopefully he takes some of the above ideas. I have plenty more for him, too.

              • Isn’t the Team President ultimatlry responsible for marketing? They report to him.

                “Not seeming to explore all revenue streams”
                How do we know that?

              • Dont know if marketing reports directly to Frank or not.

                I used the word “seeming”, which you ignored.
                Neither you or I know what he is doing in regards to revenue streams. Being that he hasnt reall done much in that area, I used the word “seeming”.

                As to some of your counterpoints above…………

                Frank is President of the Pirates. If say a Buffet concert comes to PNC, isnt that the doing of the SEA?

                BowTie Bar? How does that get extra revenues? Budweiser was already advertising at the stadium.

                All you can eat seats? Wouldnt those be a money loser? I mean, if someone was hungry, it would be a money loser.

                I will give you the flexible pricing. But dont forget, other teams do it also. I want to see Frank do things other teams dont………. like some examples above.

              • Example: The Willie Stargell gate presented by Geico. The Bill Mazeroski gate presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Dollar Bank Standing Room Rotunda. The American Eagle North Side Notch.

                ‘I want to see Frank do things other teams dont………. like some examples above.’

                So Plan, you don’t think other teams sell naming rights to their gates? No wonder the guy isn’t doing any good to you. The benchmarks keep moving.

              • In regards to concerts I was talking about the post game concerts.

                But to your point, when Buffet, Springsteen, or The Stones play at PNC Park the Pirates make money.

                If I go to the Bow Tie Bar and have some beers and food instead of one of the places on Federal Street – doesn’t that add revenue to the Pirates? Plus it is used toward group sales too. $$$$

              • “Example: The Willie Stargell gate presented by Geico.
                The Bill Mazeroski gate presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
                The Dollar Bank Standing Room Rotunda.
                The American Eagle North Side Notch.”

              • ‘Dont know if marketing reports directly to Frank or not.’

                Of course marketing reports to the team’s President.

                On the organization chart President reports to Chairman of the Board (BN). Everyone else reports to the FC

              • I wonder how much Eric is paying for the Bowser blasts.

              • So Plan, you don’t think other teams sell naming rights to their gates? No wonder the guy isn’t doing any good to you. The benchmarks keep moving.

                =======================================

                Can you give me any proof other teams are doing this? I am certainly not aware of this.

                How did I move any benchmark? I didnt. Orifginal point doesnt change. He needs to do a better job on the revenues. TV contract will hamstring the $$$$$ for years.

              • If I go to the Bow Tie Bar and have some beers and food instead of one of the places on Federal Street – doesn’t that add revenue to the Pirates? Plus it is used toward group sales too. $$$$

                =======================================

                Strawman.
                If you eat in the stadium, of course it goes to the Pirates, Bowtie bar or not.
                The restaurants on Federal, and other spots on the Northside have rooms for groups.
                Bowtie Bar may actually take $$$$ from other vendors in the stadium…… just cutting the pie (not Felix) smaller

              • Plan

                If me and a friend want to meet for a few beers before the game we could go to Soho or maybe even Mullens. If we do that no money goes to the Pirates.
                If we decide to go to the Bow Tie Bar, then the money goes to the Pirates. The math seems pretty simple to me.

                The Plan said:
                “The restaurants on Federal, and other spots on the Northside have rooms for groups.”

                Again if a group goes to another restaurant on Federal the money doesn’t go to the Pirates. But if that group goes to the Bow Tie Bar, then the money goes to the Pirates.
                Maybe this link will help you understand it better. Groups will be going to the Bow Tie instead of somewhere like The Clark Bar. And it seems to maybe help some tickets too.
                http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/pit/ticketing/bowtie_bar.jsp

              • Thunder, in regards to fans choosing, or not choosing the Bowtie bar, I think we are in agreement.

                I think we understand the situation well.

            • Consol Energy Center:
              Verizon Gate
              American Eagle Gate
              Trib Total Media Gate

              Heinz Field
              Peoples Gate A

              PNC Park
              Trib Total Media Rotunda
              Allegheny Sports Medicine Rotunda

              So there Plan. Other teams in our own backyard are selling naming rights to their gates (maybe they stole your idea!!) It isn’t something new, which is what you called your list of ideas.

              Tomorrow morning I will call the Steelers’ offices and ask who their team President is. He is doing a poor job of selling naming rights to their gates. They only have one sold.

              • This is good. Really.

                I will counter with the following…….

                You dont know who the Steelers president is. Is this because you dont defend that person with the voracity you do Frank? Seriously.

                Since you brought up the Pens…….. isnt David Morehouse a leader in fan relations? Doesnt he maximize all revenue $$$ ?? You dont see Morehouse fighting with bar owners. You see him do the Student Rush, free exhibition games for students, deliver season tickets to fans via the players? I really dont think you want to open this can of worms, Thunder.

                But make your call to the steelers. I hope they listen to you. Like my offer for Frank to listen to me (or others).

              • I don’t know who the Steelers President is because I don’t care to know who it is.

                Morehouse and the Penguins are good. They do a great job at generating revenue. If they also have some unnamed gates – so they aren’t maximizing it.

                The Student Rush program was started way before Morehouse was President.

                But see there is my point. If you or others want to criticize FC for some of the dumb things he says or does, fine. But how can someone say “I don’t really know what he does” and then say “he needs to step up his game”

                DK: You don’t know who Art Rooney II is?

                Is there an emoticon for an eyeroll?

              • Results Thunder, results.

                Worst (or one of the worst) TV deals.
                Fighting with bar owners, and telling season ticket holders to go pound salt.
                Bad PR almost every day.
                The DUI.

                You stated much earlier in this thread, that it is tough to sell corporate sponsorships when a team has had 20 straight losing seasons.

                I say it is tough corporate sponsorships when one is an ass. I truly believe that he would have an easier job if he either didnt look like a smarmy, slimy person, or just would shut his pie hole. I think Franks biggest obstacle to doing his job is Frank himself.

                I dont understand your need to defend Frank at every turn, even when the facts are clearly against you. You, and a few others, have done this for years. It is your right, of course, but man, the logic train derailed on this issue for you.

                I have to go to bed. I see we have not agreed on anything as per usual…….. I just want a team president that isnt an embarrassment. Frank is an embarrassment. He needs to hire a PR firm, to teach him what to say/appear.

                Once he does that, he will be able to reshape his image. THAT will go a long way for him to do a better job. That would be a huge win for the Bucs.

                Good Night.

              • So now you don’t like his looks?

                I thought we were talking about job performance.

                Are the facts clearly against me?

                “I think Franks biggest obstacle to doing his job is Frank himself.”
                But yet you said you didn’t even know what his job was.

                I don’t understand your need to attack Frank at every turn.

                Sleep tight you logical hippo you

                DK: It just never, ever, ever, ever gets old, does it? Day of first playoff game in 21 years, and you’re still lawyering up the front office?

                How about on day of Game 7?

      • I think it’s heading in the right direction. I have always said I would like it to be 85-100 millions and I get push back as to why that is the right amount. That just feels right to me based on what other similar markets that are fielding competative teams spend.

      • I think Root Sports broadcast the Rockies, Mariners and Pirates.

        I’m not sure if they have any other teams.

  73. Just in from the Pens website:

    Depres goes to WBS
    Beau Bennett to Wheeling
    Pouliet back to Jrs.
    Letang and Vocoun to IR
    Recalled Harrison Ruopp.

    No comment on which IR list was used, Bennett obviously a procedural move.

  74. This is a “human interest story”…………. for Lucky:

    Sports anchor at CBS affiliate in Columbus for 30 years, lost his daughter in a car crash.
    The following video is Ohio State’s players reactions to seeing him for the first time……. Saturday night after the Wisconsin win.

    http://deadspin.com/entire-osu-team-lines-up-to-hug-reporter-after-his-daug-1428252946?utm_campaign=socialflow_deadspin_twitter&utm_source=deadspin_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

  75. NHLPA approves hybrid icing.

  76. I believe the Cubs just fired and made available to us, our new third base coach.

  77. Getting waaaaaaaay ahead of myself here, but, Thursday @St.Louis 5:00; Friday @St.Louis 1:00. That’s all the farther they’ve gotten. FYI, that’s all.

    • I’m elated that the Bucs are in the playoffs so don’t get me wrong or think that I am ungrateful for the experience, but it is going to soooooo suck if the Pirates lose tomorrow night. If history is a guide when teams I am interested in exit the postseason, I probably won’t watch another playoff game this year. Too depressed. Cincy vs StL ? Gag me with a spoon. I’d rather watch the dreadful Disney sitcoms with my kids.

  78. Just wanted to say again how impressed I am with Clint Hurdle. What other man could helm, perhaps, the best turnaround in sports history? We are talking serious redemption. Who better to spearhead the turn around than one who has been through the fire in order to be redeemed?

    Best wishes to Clint Hurdle, his family, and our Amazing Buccos!

    GO BUC’N NUTS!

  79. Rays score 1 in the top of the first and it seemed like Texas “won” the inning. Shoulda been more than 1.

  80. Anybody else watching game 163?

    If so, am I nuts but did Jennings look safe in the top of the 1st?

    Yeah, I know. Ball beat him to second by four feet. But it looked to me that he sneaked his left hand to the base under a bad tag.

    Then. Price’s pickoff? Amazing. Mainly cause the guy had no move.

  81. Beltre runs like me.

    And I don’t have the hammy excuse.

  82. AJ Pierzynski has walked 269 times. In 16 years. Eleven this year. His high is 28. Manny Sanguillen-esque.

  83. Game 163 deserves a special ale.

    Victory Red Thunder.

    A malty, 8.5% porter aged in red wine barrels.

  84. I hit “blogs” and seen we were still on “Morning Java” Figured nobody would still be around. Wrong.

    Bucs 50-31 at home, Reds 41-41 on the road. Stats mean zippo now, but I am glad we are in PNC. This season has been a blast. And I’m a nervous wreck. Post Season Baseball!

    Go Bucs!

  85. BTW. Seeing my orthopedist tomorrow (nothing too serious) who is the team physician for the Orlando Magic, LPGA, and Nats spring training. Lots of signed pics all over the office.

    He’s a huge baseball fan so my last appt went almost two hours. 15 minutes medical stuff. 90 minutes gabbing.

    3-0 Rays. Longoria 2 run HR. Tomp will be pleased. (But how would we know?)

  86. A hit but he shoulda had it. Especially with a glove as good as Escobar’s

  87. This up has an odd triangle of a strike zone – wide on top, narrow bottom – but at least it’s consistent. For both pitchers.

  88. Is anyone trying to watch this game on MLB.TV? What a mess.

  89. Anybody know the broadcasting crew for the Pirates game ?

    Brian Anderson puts me to sleep.

  90. Major League umpiring is unbelievable. I can not wait for instant replay.

  91. David Price, pitcher.

    Wow.

  92. Evening, Y’all! VERY late to the show today. Do the Pirates get to carry all 37 players (or however many they had for September) into tomorrow’s game?

  93. Hey, John! OK, I just perused back and saw where Milo clarified tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. on the playoff roster.

  94. I would have loved to have seen the blog if CH pulled what Joe Maddon just did with sticking with Price, even after the double.

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