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Morning Java: Buckle up … it’s about to get real

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics. Or at least I think it’s morning …

>> The Tuesday column weighs the first-half Pirates vs. the second-half Pirates and what that might mean tonight and beyond.

It’s part of a special playoff preview section the Trib has on the streets this morning. Support your local journalistic enterprise and rub two quarters in its name, won’t you?

Other material inside …

Our cover story on the building of these Pirates, by beat man Rob Biertempfel.

News from the PNC Park workouts, by Biertempfel., not least of which was Andrew McCutchen looking away while shagging and paying a rotten price. Never a good idea.

Francisco Liriano vs. lefties will be key, by Travis Sawchik.

How these teams match up otherwise, by Sawchik.

One-and-done has fans and detractors, by Bob Cohn.


Hundreds came to a Market Square rally, by Tom Fontaine. So did Gerrit Cole.

Here’s what Clint Hurdle had to say to reporters yesterday about the difference between the turnaround in Pittsburgh and others he’d experienced in Colorado and Texas. It is MUST viewing …

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

Here’s Reds news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Closing out other business, I whiled away some of the 12-hour travel day by putting together a Le’Veon Bell feature. Sunday was a dud for the Steelers, obviously, but he’s a clear bright spot.

Some of my talk with Bell in London …

Mike Tomlin spoke of change. But what can he change? Alan Robinson takes inventory.

Ramon Foster sounds like he’ll be fine. Mark Kaboly has the exclusive.

And don’t dare miss Kaboly’s weekly Steelers Film Study, focusing on — what else? — missed tackles.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Kris Letang will open on IR, and the Penguins made a ton of other roster moves. Rob Rossi. has the details, including the weird paper move of Beau Bennett to the Wheeling Nailers.

All I’ll add is that the better defenseman between Olli Maatta and Simon Despres made the team. Even if Maatta just gets the nine-game gig.

Scoring vs. substance? Josh Yohe analyzes.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Tom Savage should be back for Pitt’s tilt with Virginia Tech. Jerry DiPaola reports.

>> I’ll be over at PNC Park tonight. Depending on how that plays out, I’ll either be in St. Louis the next day or at the Penguins’ opener Thursday night.

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. Buctober!!!!!

  2. “Can’t wait!!!!”

  3. What a stage for these Pirates in a mere 19 hours. Can’t wait to see the jewel of ballparks show off with an atmosphere probably unlike many seen in baseball.

    These are the games legends are made and baseball stories go down in the annals.

    Two teams that have a storied history, each with five championships and many previous playoff battles mainly in the 70′s, most recently in 1990.

    The Bucs were 11-8 versus Cinci this year but throw it out the window as this game will come down to Liriano and Cueto to see who survives and advances.

    Waited 20 years for this moment, October baseball is back, Let’s Go Bucs!

  4. I just finished the column and it was exceptional. I especially liked that you took a moment to discuss intangibles rather than just statistics. This team appears to have plenty of character and while I can’t say that one really nice season wins me back as a fan, I’ll be pulling hard for this team tomorrow.

  5. One change for the Steelers: how about a home run hitter kickoff teturn guy. Where are the speedsters? Who’s the fastest runner? That guy should be returning kicks. Look at the guy from Denver or KC. They receive the kick and ignite the afterburners. 0-60 in about a half of a second. Steelers receive the kick, feel their way, get hammered on the 18 yard line. We need “explosion plays!”

    • We need to block and tackle.

    • Seems at least 50% of kickoffs are now touchbacks since they moved the kick up 5 yards. Not sure a “home run hitter” really makes much of a difference in today’s NFL. That being said, Felix Jones ain’t the answer.

    • antonio brown is probably THE guy… but we need him to catch Ben’s passes… you know, when he’s not getting sacked.

  6. The Blackhawks hoist their Stanley Cup banner tonight into the rafters at United Center. A remarkable title by a remarkable team.

    In a delicious piece of happenstance, Ovie will have to stand there and watch it all. He’ll have a chance to see what teams that play together with heart are rewarded with.

  7. Pirates had the third best record in the NL. The Dodgers should be playing the Reds. The Pirates should be in STL getting ready to lay wadte to Wainwright.

  8. DK–
    Nice column, but I’m not sure this sentence is accurate or clear…51-30 + 29-26 = 80-56… not sure the dates/records are correct.

    Since a 9-0 tear through Cincinnati, Seattle, Anaheim and Milwaukee pushed them to 51-30 on the final day of June, they’ve gone undergone a Less-Than-Epic Leveling Off at 29-26 compared to the Cardinals’ 35-21 and the Reds’ 30-23.

    DK: You’re right. My 51-30 reference was to the riding-high peak. The rest is to how all those teams fared in the final two months.

    It’s terribly worded, and I’ll try to have it fixed in the morning.

    Thank you.

    • so wait.. they were 26-26 until they swept the reds? yikes.

      • Actually, if you shorten the sample size, the Pirates were 21-24 over the last several weeks until they swept the Reds.

        At one point, the team was 26 games over .500 at 70-44, then never got back to 26 games over until after the very last game of the regular season (94-68).

  9. I try not to think about this Pirate playoff game for two reasons.
    It’s a one and done situation AND the last time the Pirates played a game in the playoffs, I replayed it in my head for two years.
    Though they have a few guys with playoff experience, it certainly can’t match up with the Reds (who have been there a couple times in recent years).
    I also expect early games (within the game) from Dusty Baker.
    I think if the Pirates can hang in there early, and get a good performance from Liriano, they could win in a close one.
    If not….The Reds could win convincingly.
    Proceed with caution….Enjoy it…..And hope for the best!

    • I know… I keep telling myself “if the pirates fall flat tonight, I will NOT cry in my beer”. They’ve done way more than expected 6 months ago.

  10. DK,

    I almost thought this article was going to be a about an epic housecleaning in the Steelers organization. What I read was a pleasant piece about a team that has matured and is working to come full circle and make a tasty playoff run. I am so glad I am old enough and settled enough to appreciate the significance of what is about to take place.

    Thank you so much.

  11. DK,

    Thank you also for providing the link to Clint Hurdle’s tasks on the building of the Pirates and the key differences between the Colorado and Texas experiences. I now want to go to work for Clint Hurdle because he clearly believes in this team and it’s potential. I think that had been the difference.

    With John Russell and Jim Tracy, you could smell defeat through the TV. With Clint Hurdle, one can clearly see he exudes plain spoken confidence. As I teach the kids I work with, it does not matter how many times you get knocked down. Here is what matters…

    Don’t take others with you on the way down.

    Each time you get knocked down, get up, get your mind right, and come out swinging. It is a lesson I struggle to live every day. Clint Hurdle makes me believe I can be successful at it. :-)

    Enough of my babbling… It’s playoff baseball. No matter the outcome, it’s a joy to behold.

    Take care of yourself. You provide a great service to us all.

  12. So. Kind of a slow sports day, huh?

  13. Nice use of “halcyon”.

    And “Less-Than-Epic Leveling Off”…

    My wife gave you that line, didn’t she? And she wasn’t talking about baseball.

  14. Best of luck to our Pirates in Buctober.
    Beat Em Bucs !!

  15. As for our Steelers…..3 small things to change immediately…
    1) Mesko out…Drew Butler back.
    2) Replace F. Jones with M.Wheaton as the Kick returner
    3) Give Mike Adams SOME HELP !!! ;-)

    • Do you mean Mike “Twinkle Toes” Adams? He plays his position like a kid in heavy corrective shoes. Feet are very slow, uncoordinated. Maybe he needs Lynn Swan to teach him ballet?

      • Yeah, he doesn’t move. Some say, had he not have been busted doing drugs a second time he would have most likely been a first rounder in 2012. It’s hard to imagine that he played so well in college and has been such a bust in the NFL.

        • YHe likely got by on raw size in strength up until now…many O-lineman have devolped into Hall-of-Famer’s while on NFL rosters becaues they simply never stopped learning and growing….Not saying Adams can’t, but up until now he’s probably never faced “physical adversity”

      • Great points, Brandie. I scratch my head at how they could have watched film of his …. How can I put this politely? …. less than quick lateral movement and conclude “We are going to steal this guy in the draft when other teams back away from him because they think he has drug issues.”

        I feel like Mike Adams actually talked the Steelers into drafting.

        I don’t know what their scouts and coaches look at to evaluate linemen, but it is clearly not what good scouts and coaches from other organizations do.

    • All good recommendations.

  16. Since May 31, the Pirates and Reds are 8-8 against each other. A 17th game, winner take all, is a reasonable way to decide which one goes to the division playoffs. I think it is an even game, with the Pirates home field advantage offset somewhat by Aroldis Chapman lurking in the ninth inning. Let’s Go Bucs, and get some runs early.

  17. Nice column DK.
    Pretty fair analysis of the team.
    I agree ” Advantage: Nobody, really.”

    Don’t really like the “one and done” but thats the way it is so gotta hope the Bucs win and get to play a real “playoff series”.

  18. 3 words for the day. Let’s go Bucs! Today is going to be a great day. Win or lose (booo!), this season has been one he!! of a magic ride. I cannot wait to see how much PNC is rocking tonight. 4:00 PM cant get here fast enough for me so I can get out of work, get home, change, and head to the ball yard. This day is going to drag at work. Need to get to work so this day can start. Will check in throughout the course of the day today.

  19. Morning All!

    What a day! What a night to come! Can’t wait for the game. Enjoyed the column and thanks for posting the link to Hurdle’s discussion of the building the Bucs and the differences between Colorado and Texas. That was some awesome and inspiring stuff. He really gets what it is all about.

    Wish I could be there but will settle for watching through the splendor of HD and cranking up the surround sound! Looking forward to a crazy, fun atmosphere over there at PNC and a Buccos win. It will be tight, but think at home, the Bucs will get the job done.

    Let’s go Bucs!

    Randy in RVA.

  20. Yeah but this isnt the biggest game of the year in Pittsburgh……
    it’s two weeks from now to see if the Steelers can suck less

  21. How did Letang hurt his knee? Hope it wasn’t military-type training at West Point.

  22. I believe “real” in Spanish means “royal” and so I agree with Marte.

    Let’s put a royal whupping on the Reds.

  23. JAL’s Reason to Believe Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Pirates Showing a Lot of Confidence in Liriano

    Clint Hurdle On the Cincinnati Reds and the Wild Card Game

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Random thoughts on the Pirates and the playoffs

    6 Rumbunter

    Despite Foibles, Clint Hurdle Is A Good Manager

    It’s Time For New Pirates Hero


    The one game playoff is ridiculous

    8 The Green Weenie

    9/30: Clemente’s 3,000th, Kiner’s 54th, Stargell’s 1,475th, Dutch Not Clutch, Bucs Clinch in ’90, Wakefield Whitewash, Collapse 2.0…

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Wild Card Game Preview: Pirates vs. Reds

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates rally fans, anticipate playoff run in Market Square

  24. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 New York Times

    Pirates and Reds Renew a Rivalry

    12 USA Today

    Nightengale: Big payoff for low revenue teams

    13 Rant Sports

    Neil Walker Could Be Hometown Hero For Pittsburgh Pirates In 2013 Postseason

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Big-game Cueto healthy at the right time for Reds

    What do we want more: A Reds win or a Pittsburgh loss?

    15 The Republic

    One, but not done? Resurgent Pirates face Reds as playoff baseball returns to Pittsburgh–Reds-Pirates

    16 CBS Sports

    Ranking the postseason 1-2 rotation punches

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie: 20 reasons why the Cardinals rule

    18 PBC Site

    Three keys for Pirates in NL Wild Card Game

    Quick-witted Hurdle brings calming presence to Bucs

    How they were built: Pittsburgh Pirates


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Advance Series Andrew McCutchen

    20 Fangraphs

    A First Last Word on Strengths of Schedules

  25. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Ben: ‘You could say we’re the worst team in the league’

    Steelers defense may just lack talent

    22 Steelers Gab

    Roethlisberger’s Words On Steelers Being ‘Worst Team’ Exactly The Right Thing To Say


    23 London Evening Standard

    FIFA 14 review: Showboaters might be cross but gaming purists will dribble with delight–showboaters-might-be-cross-but-gaming-purists-will-dribble-with-delight-8844248.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 30th September, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Penguins Roster Sort of Kind of Might Be Set

  26. I’ll try to watch the game.

    Don’t know if the old ticker can take it. I’d rather listen to it on the radio.

  27. DK, since I cannot post anything on your former site, let me thank you for starting that there. It was a great fun run, and I thank you for all you did there, and all you are doing here.

    I expect you will have many new folks to your board, and people like me who are here occasionally. Be nice to us. We are sad that the other paper bulldozed our site.

    Oh, Let’s go Bucs

    DK: Welcome aboard to you, Doc, and to all the rebels apparently in our midst this morning. The more the merrier.

  28. Leaving for work. Just want to say…Good Morning Looonies!

  29. Morning to All and Happy Buctober! We always drive past PNC Park on our way into work and today was no different…except for one thing. The lights were on at the ball-yard. My wife said “I want to cry”. Folks, it’s October 1st and there are lights on at PNC Park. What a sight that was! And really, how cool is this? Still hard to believe. Wow… Have a great day everyone and what more to say than “Let’s Go Bucs!”

  30. A warm and sincere welcome to all those coming here from the “other site.”

    Many of us ended up at this place because of Dejan’s efforts at the old place. Some of us came here a lot earlier, but prodigal sons (and daughters) are always welcomed!

    I’m looking forward to all your insights and humor!

    Oh, go to to get your avatar.

  31. Hoka hey, everyone.

    Can’t wait for the game tonight. It’s been a great ride and a wonderful way to end the worst streak in all of sports.

  32. JAL, Thanks for the links… should be on the payroll.

  33. LOVED the clip with Clint Hurdle, He is not perfect (only Jesus and Drew are) but he GETS Pittsburgh.

    My son is taking me to the game and it’s 8:10 and I’m getting ready to go (it’s a 3 hour drive) Just going to walk the strip and Federal St and just take it ALL in.

    THANK YOU lunatics for this season on the blog, it’s been quite a ride and I hope it continues.


  34. Nice review, DK. When I see the records, 1st half vs. 2nd, I wonder whether the competition got tougher in the last 3 months. After the All-Star break, we played St. L. and Cincy, what, 27 games? And Texas was in there, too, as well as Oakland, I believe.

    I don’t have the time to look up the schedule to see who all those teams were, but if the leveling off occured due to the competition then I believe they really performed above average the last couple months. And did what they needed to do the first half in building up the record against the also-rans.

    So wish I was in Pittsburgh today. BEAT ‘EM BUCS!!!!


  35. Would AJ be available tonight, if needed?

  36. Score early and score often. What a delight this wholebthingbhas become!

  37. I’m not sure if anyone posted this yesterday or today but this is a great human interest story about Clint Hurdle. It reaffirms everything I thought I knew about the man. Really hard not to root for this guy even if your not a Pirate fan.

  38. Pittsburgh’s gorgeous ballpark overlooks one of its gorgeous bridges named after the teams most famous player and it just so happens to already be closed to traffic during games.

    I can’t be the only one who thinks this situation lends itself to creating one hell of an atmosphere to broadcast playoff games outdoors, can I?

    Why isn’t this happening?

  39. If I left work now, I could be at PNC by game time.

    Anybody have an extra ticket ? :)

    It’s amazing, I can feel the pulse and excitement of the city coming through the television from the MLB Network and ESPN reports.

    Enjoy the ride, everyone in the city! I’ll be there in spirit!

  40. Ella Fitzgerald has been singing in my head all day:

    “You’re walkin’ along the street, or you’re at a party,
    Or else you’re alone and then you suddenly dig,
    You’re looking’ in someone’s eyes, you suddenly realize
    That this could be the start of something big.”

    The players have been talking about going to the World Series for most of the season. I first heard it from Neil Walker around May after a come-from-behind win that astounded everyone except him and the other players. All season long, Hurdle and the coaches and the sports psychologists and the management of the club have been putting into the players’ heads that the goal is the World Series. Yes, achieving a winning record and making it to the playoffs and winning home field advantage have been stepping stones worth celebrating. And clebrate they did. All of us did. But today could be the start of something bigger.

    You know me. Like someone who can’t pass a dime on the sidewalk without picking it up, I can’t let go of a helpful stat without passing it on. Say what you will, criticize all you want, the fact is that the Pirates have been playing exceptionally good baseball this past month. Although they gave up more runs than they scored (108-103), they won more games than they lost (15-12), the difference being the last series sweep of the Reds.

    But, perhaps more importantly, in the month of September, the Pirates were 10-5 in games won or lost by one or two runs. They were 4-1 in two-run games and 6-4 in one-run games. They’ve been winning like that for much of the year, especially in the first half.

    So if, like me, you’re feeling a bit nervous or worried about tonight’s game, take heart. This could be the start of something big. It’s also the continuation of something solid.

  41. You have been waiting21 years, enjoy.

  42. I just have a really good feeling about this team being very, very focused tonight. I think they will enjoy it because Clint won’t let them do otherwise but I think they have worked the entire year to get to this point and I think Clint has spent the last 3 years preparing this team to not allow this moment to be too big.

    On the other hand I’ve waited 21 years for this and the moment is too big for me. I’m a nervous wreck about the game tonight. Way more then I have ever been about a Steelers SuperBowl or Penguins playoff game. Maybe it’s because the wait or maybe it’s the ride this team has taken us on for the last 3 years of the the 21. I think I just want it so much for the team.

    • Nate, I’m so nervous, I’m a royal b**ch at work! lol

    • I have a very good feeling about tonight.

      First, it’s October 1. The leaves are changing and the sky is a beautiful early autumn pale blue. And it’s going to be 80 degrees today! On October 1 in the Upper Midwest! I consider that a good omen from the Baseball Gods.

      Second, I believe in the Baseball Gods. I believe they are convening on Mt. Honus with Clemente as their counsel. They are holding court in their black and gold robes with laurels adorning their heads, and they have determined that Pirate fandom and its scattered diaspora have suffered enough.

      Third, at work today, my boss, who grew up in the valley around County Stadium and is the biggest Brewers fan I know, has asked us to wear black and gold today. With vibes like that in the world, it has to be good news.

      Fourth, I hate the Reds.

  43. Hey, Loonies!! Ya did GOOD in my absence! I’m deliriously happy and never expected you to deliver a SWEEP against the Reds. Just WOW!! Maybe I should have stayed at my pal’s through tonight?! Nah…win or lose on this beautiful BUCtober day, I’m celebrating a baseball season to remember…FINALLY!!

    This is just SOOOOOOOOOO cool!! On pins and needles in anticipation!

    DO IT, Pirates! Your time is NOW!! :)

  44. Mlb playoffs and 8 months of hockey too.

    • I’m not complaining but it felt like we just saw the Bruins eliminate the Pens. I guess the older you get the fast time flies by.

  45. nice article, but Morneau = adequate only if good glove-no production from the one position on the field that absolutely requires production means adequate. Maybe he’ll actually drive in a run tonight, maybe pigs fly.

    Don’t want to be the only critical one on the board on a day like today, but i had to get that off my chest.

  46. Who should start tonight: Mercer or Barmes.

    I’d say Mercer.

    Sure his defense isn’t as good and he did almost knock out the best player in Bucco history yesterday but he’s who I’d start.

    Of course he would be replaced in the 9th if we have a one or two run lead.

    • Plus, I wouldn’t want to give Cinci two easy outs at the bottom of our lineup with Barmes and Liriano.

      • I think the lineup Clint put out there the first two games of the Cincy series is what you will see tonight. I personally want Barmes out there tonight myself but wouldn’t have a problem with Mercer.

    • How long you been following the Bucs, Dom? ;-)

      • Why whatever do you mean by that?

        • The Ghosts of Clemente, Wagner, Waner, Stargell all have a bone to pick with you, Dom.

        • Also, Groat, Kiner, Maz, the “other Waner”, Parker

          Regardless…Beat’em Bucs

          • Why are they mad at me?

            • The players we listed were not only great players, but also Champions and HoFers.

              Cutch ain’t there yet. Hope he does.

              • Well, Cutch is better than parker.

              • Not yet. Parker got the biggest contract in MLB history at one point. He was arguably the best player in the game.

                Like I said, when did you start following them?
                You shy? ;-)

              • Maybe I was exaggerating on the rest.

              • AW,

                The early 90′s…

                Could that be why my opinion different?

              • Probably. That’s why I asked.

              • He’s clearly the best since Bonds.

              • I think we knew what you meant, Dom. Didn’t mean to pile on. Arriba is correct that Andrew is the best since Bonds. Actually, Bonds was probably better than all of them until he … all together now … “got a big head.”

              • Been following them since the late ’50s. So just seen more of them.

                I think everyone hopes, that at some point, Cutch can be mentioned with them.

              • Jim–When did you start following them?

                (That’s a joke). :-D

                I never saw the guys before Clemente and Stargell, but those 2 guys were very special. And Clemente is the best I ever saw. (obviously I’m not an expert, and obviously that’s my perspective from seeing him in person) Andrew is also special.

              • I caught the very end of Clemente, Arriba. But, I was pretty young. There are obvious things where Bonds was better than Clemente. He was faster and used his speed early in his career as a very good base stealer. He obviously had more power, and was way more selective at the plate, leading to a higher OBP, slugging %, etc.

                Clemente may have had the greatest arm of any RF in history, right? He was the better defender vs. Bonds, hands down. And Clemente hit for a better average. They were different players. I believe Forbes was a severe pitcher’s park, and 3 Rivers was very neutral, for what that’s worth. Bonds may not have had the same power at Forbes. Stargell didn’t, I don’t believe.

            • Not to start an arguement…but Honus Wagner is considered to be the greatest shortstop of all time and a cornerstone of the HoF.

              Regardless of his “HR record”, Bonds couldn’t carry Wagner’s jock in a wheelbarrow.

              • That thought occurred to me right after I hit submit, tpbco.

              • One other point – RE: AW, both 21 and 8 were not only great players and Champions, but were also leaders of men.

                Ever hear Steve Blass speak of Clemente…he literally has tears in his eyes, every time.The Bucs probably don’t win in ’79 with out “Pops”.

                Barry Bonds will go to his grave and never lose the chip on his shoulder, placed there by his old man – Bobby.

              • Barry Bonds…UGH!

    • It has to be (and will be) Barmes, no question about it. This time of year, the premium is on defense.

      • I’m not disagreeing about Barmes playing, Scott. I’m almost positive he gets the start. I’m actually mixed on which guy to start. But, I’m not sure I understand why so many people say the premium is more on pitching and defense now. The rules are the same for this game as the 162 before this. If pitching and defense are most important now, that should have been the case all along, right?

        An argument can just as easily be made that a mediocre hitting team cannot afford consecutive weak hitters at the bootom of the lineup.

        I’ve gone back and forth with these 2 all year, and can see both sides.

        • My impression has always been that there’s a premium on pitching and defense at this time because you are seeing the best teams, and the best starters from those teams. No number 5′s, and maybe no 4′s, starting at least. So less runs, so giving up an extra run can be more key.

          HR’s are also more important, to me, because you don’t get a lot of hits, so you have to make the ones you do count more.

          And that’s also based on the idea that good pitching stops good hitting. Obviously you can have blowouts, like in ’60, but seems like there are more low scoring games overall.

          Just my 2 cents.

    • I said earlier (but lower in the blog, ironically) that I have been torn on these 2 guys all year. I think most of us are that way. It is pretty clear now, as we have been saying all year, that Jordy is the far better hitter and Barmes is far better in the field. I know Bob would fight me on that, but I think a very high % of people would agree with that assessment.

      Personally, I think I would give Mercer the start although I won’t rip for Clint for feeling like he trusts Barmes more becasue of the glove.

      I keep hearing some variation of “We can’t afford to lose a playoff game because of a Mercer error on a play Barmes would have made.” That clearly happened a week ago Friday.

      But, I would also say that maybe “We can’t afford to lose a playoff game because of an 0′fer by Barmes when Jordy would have gotten a key hit.”

      No way to know for sure. Just depends on where you place the skill need.

    • Barmes will start at SS tonight and any playoff game not started by a LHP. Reason is pretty simple… you need to make sure you make all the routine plays in a playoff game and frankly Barmes > Mercer in terms of not booting a routine play.

      • But, why is a playoff game different from any other regular season game?

        If you feel making more plays at SS is more valuable, Barmes is the guy. If you feel more hits are needed, Mercer is the guy.

  47. Biz, looks like we got Brooklyn in dahouse:
    Brian in Brooklyn says:

    October 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

    FYI the Statue of Liberty is now open to the public again

    • And Biz….do we have this one:

      steelkings says:

      October 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

      You can take the boy out of Pittsburgh but you cant take Pittsburgh out of the boy.
      Living in Indianapolis now

  48. Just wanted to share this back in 90-92 my dad somehow always got us a ticket to 1 home playoff game. In 90 and 91 the Pirates won the game, but in 92 we lost. On our way out of 3 Rivers he tells me I better get a Pennant with the names of the Pirates on it because who knows when they’ll make the playoffs again. Being 10 at the time I said they’ll be back again dad! Well who would have though when I said that then the next time they’d be in the playoffs I’d be 31! 20+ years later! I’m so pumped for tonight. Win or Lose this has been a great baseball year!


  49. Happy October loonies!
    Fun fact for today: Do you know why the 10th month of the year is called October? Octo- is a latin pre-fix for 8 as the non-fans of Alex Ovechkin on here would know. As it turns out, October was originally the 8th month in an old Roman calendar. They added January and February afterwards and kept the name October.

  50. On the Steelers, I have been saying since last winter that this will get much worse before it gets better. I said that because, to me, there exists a certain organizational arrogance with them. They seem to think just because they say things will be fixed, that automatically means it will. It has to be so because, well, they are the Steelers. They think if they say that their goal is a championship every year, then that makes it so. Sometimes, you fall down. You either accept reality and put Humpty Dumpty back together again, piece by piece. Or, you don’t get back up for a long, long time. They are kidding themselves if they think this trainwreck can all be fixed quickly with this coaching staff.

    Just look at how they evaluate offensive and defensive linemen now. They need more than a roster overhaul. The entire organization needs to be carefully scrutinized, and the outcome must be that a lot of big changes have to be made. If they don’t make significant changes to the coaching and scouting staff, I don’t think it bodes well for the future. It pains me to say that.

    • I agree withy you, Jim. There is no quick, easy fix. It’s gonna be a process, and a long, painful one at that.

      • I think step 1 is to accept reality. We are what our record says we are. Step 2 is to roll your sleeves up and get to work.

        I would like to wake up in a few weeks and find that this was all a mirage. I would like to find out it was just a rough patch. But, I don’t see it.

      • 1 more year at least. Really if we could find a stud LT in this years draft and hit with most of our picks in the first 4 rounds I think we will be much better in 2015. Hopefully we can get 2 extra 3rd picks this year for Wallet, and Lewis, and maybe a 4th or 5th for Mendy. The cap really needs to get fixed as well.

      • Part of what is going to make it long and painful is the cap situation. All those restructured contracts are coming back to haunt them. They can’t really bring anyone else in other than through the draft.

    • Seriously Jim, Steelers talk today. This is a happy place. Just kidding.

      I agree with your assesment of arrogance. They in a way have earned the right to be arrogent but not to be blind to the problems. It’s nieve to think all the answers exist on the current team. Some of them may but more likely something systematic has to change. You don’t get to 0-4 with no cap room by just 1 or 2 players needing to be switched out. Something on a larger grand scale has to change.

      Ironically the thing that gave our oppenants fits over the past 15 years is now giving us problems. We use to be unique with the 3-4 having speed on our defensive front and linebackers. Causing confusion for the other teams and finding lanes to get to the quarterbacks. Defenses in general are faster in todays NFL. It doesn’t seem as if the Steelers have adapted very well to that.

      • Humility is always preferred to arrogance, I think. Arrogance brings laziness and contentment. Humility leads to constant preparation. I think they have lost their way. It can be gotten back, but it usually is not easy.

      • Also, thank Goodell. The Steeler’s philosphy has always been Defense first. The rule changes have made that problematic.

        Saw some ’70′s Steelers highlites and almost every play shown would be 15 yards today.

        Now it’s just outscore the opponent…and as NE has showed so far this year, yes, it can be on the ground too.

      • “nieve” for word of the day! derive from scottish/english meaning a closed fist, very meaningful in regard to the steelers.

      • Jim

        As a 21 year season ticket holder and a fan forever, your assessment of organizational arrogance is dead on. I have had dealings outside of my tickets, and the arrogance just permeates this organization. From how they treat the fans, to how they treat other organizations, their advertisers, the media. It is pervasive. “We are the Steelers and if you don’t like what we do, take a walk. We will find someone else” is the attitude. And that has always been true in the past.

        But watch the no-shows going forward. The Steelers have had down years before, and attendance has held up. I don’t think it will this time. Just hearing what other fans in my section say, friends, colleagues – they have not put a name to it as well as you did, but they feel it too. And this is not the time in the NFL to be giving fans reasons to not attend games. The options for watching at home are frankly more attractive than giving up a day and going to the game and dealing with the attendant issues that sometimes (not all the time) arise.

        As far as the on field product, the lack of qualified depth from salary cap hell has caught up to them. We can all see that Mike Adams is drowning at left tackle. But the coaches know that if Adams is drowning, Guy Whimper will not even be able to get off the ocean floor. To say a veteran was not prepared to play in an NFL game as Tomlin did – that is a pathetic situation. And you can see the same depth issue at inside linebacker, at tight end, at safety. The days when teams waited for the Steelers to make their final cuts and then picked those players up are long gone. The Steelers would be better off signing the big duck off of the river than some of the reserves they have.

        I know that the above sounds negative, but I love the Steelers and I think that they really need to shake themselves and take a look at what and who they are doing things. Because the Steeler way going back to the Chief was to be humble, to treat your entire constituency well, and to have an organization on the field that was built with depth. They do none of that now, and the price is being exacted as we watch.

        Enough gloom. On to the Pirates!

        • I was going to ask you if that became more prevalent when Art II took over. I always got that impression of him. But you say it’s always been that way?

        • Well said, Lad. Those are the exact sentiments I was trying to express.

          • Get to work? Who, Ben Roethlisberger?

            Guy does nothing to lift his teammates. And to practice now for nearly three months have this type of production… yeah, he’s working really hard to make sure he and the rest of the offense are doing their best every time they take to the practice field or the game field.

            With pathetic performances and pathetic effort, you start at the top. The Rooney’s are ones to panic, but they are ones to look for accountability. This team needs more pruning: cut Mike Adams and watch the offensive line improve. Or bench him. If he can’t get better, why play him? Cut your losses and move on.

            But that quarterback… major issues with his ability to lead the offense.

            • man… butchered that… Rooney’s are NOT ones to panic…

              And really, I just want to see the QB be a better leader… but I’ll probably be waiting a long, long time for that.

        • It has definitely gotten more worse since Art III has taken the reins AW. I didn’t really notice it as much with Dan in charge if at all.

          • Thanks, Lad. I always forget which Art number he is.

            • He’s actually Art II….Dan’s oldest son.

              Art, Jr. is the second son of Art, Sr. as the Irish had a habit of naming second sons after the father (or so it reads in Art, Jr.’s book “Ruyniadh”)

  51. The Bucs are better than the Reds. Period. We have pretty much slapped them around 5 of the 6 games over the last 2 weekends, with just one regrettable inning making it only 4 of 6. We finished 4 games ahead of them in the standings. We beat them 11 of 19 head-to-head. We waltzed into their home park last weekend and did what everyone thought we could not do – we manhandled them.

    We have a pitcher throwing tonight who had a historically great season vs. left-handed battes this year, and it just so happens that the 3 best hitters on the Reds are all lefties.

    I know Cueto can be extremely tough. I know nothing is a given. Anything can happen in a 1-game playoff, and the better team does not always win. But, this is playoff baseball and it is what we signed up for. This team generally responds to the madhouse, big-game atmosphere that has taken hold often at PNC this year. I think they will do that again tonight. It is going to be an amazing scene. We can’t get to all those other great teams until we slay this one tonight! Go Bucs!

    • NICE, Jim!! I’m so excited today I can’t focus on anything!

      GREAT day! BASEBALL…not just a game to me. Not just a game…

      • Me, too, Karen. And, I have so much to do today at the office. Mind keeps wandering. And I keep killing time on this blog that should be spent elsewhere. Ugh!!

    • Jim,

      The Reds have only scored in 5 of their last 35 innings, with a total of 8 runs and 29 hits in those 5 games. That’s an average of less than two runs and less than 6 hits per game. The Pirates might be catching them at the right time. Let’s hope the Reds stay in their offensive funk for 9 more innings.

    • +1 sir! I will only add that Liriano is due for a bounce-back game. Someone has the stats but I think Liriano has an ERA below 0.5 the game after his previous loss.

  52. Section 108 concession:

    “The Hurdle Burger makes its debut. This char-grilled burger is topped with queso sauce, roasted Poblano peppers, and pickled red onions on brioche bread.”

  53. Posting from a good place where it’s still free…….

    Beat em Bucs!

  54. At this point I would rather talk about the SEC than talk about the Steelers.

    Not to mention the epic event happening tonight.

    Welcome to the EX-PGers. IMHO you could not possibly despise the PG like I do. This is from someone who delivered the PG every morning before school 55 years ago. Also someone who read the PG every day until they were mis-managed so completely that they couldn’t find a way to deliver the paper more than 100 miles. (I live 105 miles from Pittsburgh) Anyway, welcome, and believe that we share your pain.

    Beat ‘em Bucs!


    • I’m a former PG carrier as well, Stuart. Got up at 5:00 6 days a week to deliver the PG in 6/7/8th grades. I still can’t sleep past 5 very often as a result. :-)

      • With you on that, Jim! 4:30 is still my wake up call…

        • :-)

          If I slept until about 5:02, my dad would appear in my room and scare the crap out of me with the loudest wake up call you can imagine. Then, he’d give me a lecture about how the entire fate of the free world rested in my getting information to 75 families in a 5 block radius.

          • I wasn’t a PG carrier but I’ve been getting up around 4:30-5 since my son was born 22 years ago.

            I had a friend who had a route and I used to go around with him. Evenings though. The Saturday goal was to always get done before All In The Family started.

  55. OK Lunatics. It is Wild Card day!!!. Who is going to the ballyard tonight? Sound off. I see that kr is going to be there. Who else? I will be there in section 322 and I am counting the hours. LETS GO BUCS!!!!!!!

  56. Who are these Steelers people keep posting about on this Day when two decades of thirst are quenched. Are they one of Thundercrack’s SEC teams?

    Let’s go Bucs!!!!!

  57. First playoff game ever played at PNC park!

  58. Good morning, all! OK, move over and let me into this hand-holding ring! Or is it hand-holding “wring?” I’m amazed if these players aren’t nervous. I’m about to throw up! Maybe if it had been less than 20 years, and if we got 5 games like most people!

    • Hey Bay !

    • Bay, you got in here early today!

      I was thinking that, given your moniker, you should change your avatar to Pamela Anderson or Gena Lee Nolin or Yasmine Bleeth. You know, for the good of the blog. :)

      • I think all 3 ended up in rehab at one time or another.

        • I think Hasselhoff drove them to coke.

          I actually met Gina Lee Nolin once. She was in the town I was living in at the time doing a piece for Entertainment Tonight (btw, Mary Hart is always behind home plate at Dodger Stadium). She was in a bookstore all by herself. She and Hawk Harrelson are the only two celebrities I have ever come upon by chance. She was very nice to my obvious star struckness.

      • I’m WAY out of the loop, culturally, on TV stuff. Just never really watched it since high school to amount to anything. I chose Baywatch back on the old P-G blog DK started the summer we were all wondering if Bay was going to be traded! Hence, BAYWATCH! :-)

        • Very cool. I thought it was because you lived on the ocean or something. Don’t mind me, my head is filled with useless pop culture. I remember stuff about music, movies and television like most of you remember stuff about sports. :) Just ask Groat, I think it drives him nuts!

  59. No surprises on today’s roster. No Farnsworth or Pie. Keeping only 9 pitchers clears the way for Jones, Harrison & Snider. And all 3 catchers.

  60. In other news, anyone know whats up with Kris Letang? lower body injury landing him on the DL and possibly the “long” DL sounds serious.

    • I had read about Byrd crushing Cueto as well, Dom. That is good to hear.

      I watched Mission: October yesterday, and it featured the Reds from the series over the weekend vs. the Bucs. Needless to say, they couldn’t focus on much good from the Reds.

      I got this interesting tidbit from that show. This is the 2nd consecutive year the Reds have made the post-season. According to what I heard on that show, it is their first time making consecutive post-season berths since 1976. Could that be true? The Pirates sure get piled on for their 20 year hiatus (and rightfully so). But, the Reds have not exactly been a juggernaut in the last 38 years.

  61. Anyone happen to see the “SportsNation” question on ESPN.Com this morning of who would win this evening? 71,779 people voted nationwide and 77% say Pirates and 23% Reds, In Pennsylvania…it is a whopping 85 – 15, but what surprised me was Ohio…51 to 49% in favor of the Pirates.

  62. Almost forgot, very important news. I watched the Steelers & Pirates at Buffalo Wild Wings on Sunday. Much to my surprise, they’ve added poutine to the menu. We should all meet when the Pens play the Jets.

    Wings & poutine for everyone !

  63. Even is celebrating Buctober! featuring a patch with gold back ground and white/black lettering.

  64. Wow, the PG+ site went down?

    I’ll post a list of locations tonight if the game thread is out before I head to see the win tonight ;-)

    • It’s working Biz… they’re transitioning to a pay site.

      • I thought they already were, but looks like they’re going to start charging $10 per month now.

        Thanks for the update Naje

        I’m always a day late and a dollar short ;-)

    • Biz did you see these???

      Jandy says:

      October 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Biz, looks like we got Brooklyn in dahouse:
      Brian in Brooklyn says:

      October 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

      FYI the Statue of Liberty is now open to the public again


      Jandy says:

      October 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

      And Biz….do we have this one:

      steelkings says:

      October 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

      You can take the boy out of Pittsburgh but you cant take Pittsburgh out of the boy.
      Living in Indianapolis now

  65. Heading out on the road for meetings this afternoon. Take care, everyone and let’s bring a playoff win back to the ‘burgh! This is so exciting! Have fun tonight and Let’s Go Bucs!!

  66. I posted a while back that I’d like to see us get Boston in the Series — but I wouldn’t mind Cleveland either.

    Given that anything can happen in a one-game playoff, I like our chances tonight. Thirty four years is a long time to wait, but its going to be worth it.

    And re: the dark side — anybody still have a hap cap?

  67. I guess there’s just 1 thing left to do……

    win the whole



  68. Was rolling this morning with ESPN radio on and Cowherd was talking about how it would be a marketing disaster for baseball if Tampa, Cleveland, the Reds or the Bucs end up in the World Series – with Tampa vs Cincy the worst match up of all.

    His comments are based on his opinion that baseball has blown it in marketing and is not that popular nationally. If the wrong matchup happens, he claimed the network ratings could be as low as a 4 share.

    I don’t know if this is accurate or not, as I’m so caught up in the Pirates that I’d watch a game standing in a parking lot if I had to right now. What do you guys think?

    And one other thing – the link to St. Louis media coverage showed the Cards celebrating with t-shirts that said – I think – “Cards Rule the Central”. It would be lovely to win tonight and then quickly turn those t-shirts into something the Cards fans would want to burn!

    • What do I think?

      I think Cowherd’s an A**

      • Be honest, now, Jandy. Don’t hold back.

      • +1

        I think the underdog status of the Bucs would bring in some viewers. They seem to be the story of the year in baseball. (Except maybe on ESPN)

        • True baseball fans seem to be embracing the Bucs.

          • Agree and they should because it’s a great story with some great individual’s leading the way but I personally do not see them moving the needle enough for the Network execs to be doing cartwheels if they represent the NL in world series.

        • I do think it would bring some viewers but it has been proven at least in college sports that the Butlers in basketball and Boise States in football do not get the same ratings. They are great stories and seem to even dominate the news leading up to the game but by raw numbers when those teams play in big games it doesn’t get the same ratings as two powerhouse teams. Fox or whoever is showing the world series would definately want Red Sox vs. Dodgers instead of Tampe Bay vs. Pirates.

          • you really think Tampa Bay has a shot at it? I don’t know. I feel like Pittsburgh has a good shot to make it to atleast the NLCS if we can get past tonight.

            • I wasn’t really predicting as much as just throwing out the name of two teams that wouldn’t get as good of ratings.

              I said yesterday that I think the Pirates have the right make up of a team that could make a run. They have a deep starting rotation that doesn’t give up homeruns, they play solid defense and they hit a lot of homeruns.

        • Nate—I wasn’t arguing that the Bucs would bring in as many viewers as the Yankees. I just think it would be better than the suits expect.

    • But here’s the thing – if it is Tampa vs. Cincy, would we really be watching? I’m not sure I would be.

    • The powers that be in WS baseball–the executives who run the TV networks–are not affected by which teams from which cities play. It doesn’t matter because the commericals are sold long before, at fixed prices that do not depend on which teams are playing, like those for the Super Bowl. The president of ABC Sports, the late Roone Arledge, said in 1979 that he was hoping the series went 7 games because, “If it goes five games, we (ABC Sports) break even; six games, we make a profit; seven games, we make a big profit.” Imagine two smaller cities than Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the WS and Arledge not worried a bit.

      By the way, I just saw this somewhat dated extended TV inteview with Clint Hurdle for the first time today and it’s very good:

      • Welcome everyone to 34 years ago. Here in 2013, ratings equal dollars. Very simple, if fewer people are watching advertisers aren’t going to pay what they did when times were good.

      • I think they are affected in a big way. Maybe not this year but future TV contracts are based purely on ratings. Also based on ratings is how much they can charge for the commercials in years to come.

        Sometimes a network will have a contract for 5,6,7 years of showing something like the world series. That is locked in at an amount they have already paid. If the ratings go down 6 straight year the amount they can charge for the commercials go way down. Yankess vs. the Cubs is good for everyone involved including the Pirates. More National TV money levels the playing field.

    • Cowherd loves to bang on baseball, while telling us how wonderful the NBA is. Of course, that is the standard line from ESPN Radio, for some reason. Meanwhile, the NBA plays in front of a lot of half empty arenas all season long, and their schedule is half as long as MLB. I believe MLB still brings in more revenue than the NBA.

      • 16-24 year old young men. The overall rating don’t matter as much as that demographic. It’s why murder she wrote had ratings 3 times the amount of Dawson’s Creek but the commercials for that show probably cost half the amount.

      • I may have said this before: Baseball doesn’t televise well, but it’s by far the most interesting sport to see from the stands. It is essentially a quiet game — pitcher vs batter until the ball is put into play, then it explodes all over the field and the cameras can’t pick up everything that’s going on. Bur the quiet part doesn’t televise well.

        Football televises well because something always happened on the last play and we don’t have to watch the huddles. Basketball televises well and is easy for fans to follow — but like football it has a clock and unlike baseball it can be over before it’s over.

        Baseball is as good on the radio as it is on TV. Can’t say the same for the other sports.

        I think ESPN is also in the business of creating fans for sports that are easier to televise.

  69. Are the steelers the worst team in the league? (as Ben said). Made me wonder so I decided to put a list together to see who I think the steelers could beat if they played them this weekend:

    1. NY Giants
    2. Tampa Bay Bucs
    3. Jacksonville Jags
    4. NY Jets

    agree/disagree? I am forgetting someone… hmm :|

  70. Hamilton is on Reds roster, Leake is the Reds Gerritt Cole tonight. Reds are carrying 10 pitchers.

    I couldn’t eat a bite at lunch

    But hey, its been 20 years ;-)

  71. I noticed that the past few world series started on a Wednesday. Anyone know if MLB does this purposely?

  72. I know this isn’t baseball related but this speech always get’s me pumped.

  73. lineup

    Marte 7 Walker 4 McCutchen 8 Morneau 3 Byrd 9 Alvarez 5 Martin 2 Barmes 6 Liriano 1

  74. Thanks Pittsburgh!….Team and fans.
    Helluva job!……

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