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Morning Java: So, I miss anything?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column from Heinz Field, first thing I’ve written of any kind after about of basically sleeping around the clock, declares that the Steelers are back! Until it doesn’t.

The usual postgame randomness: Had to love Ben Roethlisberger offering — unsolicited yet again — that the sweet shovel pass to Heath Miller for the lone TD was his idea. “I will take credit for that play,” he said, grinning. … No question the running backs fed off each other. You saw Le’Veon Bell go hard, then Felix Jones, then Jonathan Dwyer. I asked Ramon Foster if he thought that was a coincidence: “Absolutely not. All of those guys are working really hard, and they all want to be a part of this.” … John Harbaugh tried to justify the onside kick by saying “we wanted an extra possession.” Essentially, he laid it on the defense. Which was bunk. It was a dumb call. … Say this for Joe Flacco: It might be because he’s got no actual pulse, but he doesn’t get rattled by anything. … Let’s not lose sight of another really dubious round of Mike Tomlin clock management to close the first half. … Tomlin just loves Bell. There was a told-you-so feel to all his Bell replies in the postgame. … The way the rest of the linemen were glowing about Guy Whimper, you’d have to wonder if Marcus Gilbert gets back in. I’m serious. … Rough day for Miller and the Steelers still won. Wrap your head around that. … I hate everything about the wildcat, but I loved Tomlin’s explanation for using it: “We’ll do anything to win football games. That’s just the state we’re in.” … Shaun Suisham is so good it’s probably unfair that he isn’t extolled even more for how good he is. Not that he wants any part of it. Asked his reaction to getting a game ball: “I just did what I’m supposed to do.”

Here are some questions I had for Ryan Clark afterward …

And Bell …

And LaMarr Woodley

The game story focuses on Roethlisberger’s finishing drive, by beat man Alan Robinson.

Bell’s big day is bissected by Mark Kaboly.

Lawrence Timmons leads the defense, by Ralph Paulk.

The Ravens called it a ‘bunt,’ but it was a home run for the opponent, by Jason Mackey.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Ravens news from the Baltimore Sun.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

Our Steelers photo gallery, by Chaz Palla and Chris Horner, includes this really cool shot from Horner of Troy Polamalu’s ill-timed leap on Baltimore’s late kick attempt …

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>> The Penguins have a really nice matchup tonight with Patrick Roy’s high-flying Avalanche, probably one of the better marquees we’re likely to have here in the early NHL season. Colorado’s got some terrific young forwards, but that was true under Joe Sacco, too. Difference now is that Roy’s got them playing a little D.

I’ll be over there for the morning session and the game.

In the meantime, let’s hear it for keeping Olli Maatta.If you’ve been reading my stuff here and on social media, you don’t need to read from me why this is the right move by Ray Shero. But it still should be stressed that this kid legitimately had to earn this. The Penguins weren’t posturing here. If they had their way, they’d preserve that year down the road. Plain and simple, Maatta forced their hand.

Good for him, better for the team.

Can Sidney Crosby keep up two points per game? Josh Yohe asks the captain.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Avalanche news from the Denver Post.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> I plan on watching about as much of the World Series as I do excising my own molars. But I will toss in that it sure was funny to hear all those MLB.com reporters peppering early-round playoff participants with questions about the glories of revenue sharing. Guessing those won’t be coming up much in this series.

The Pirates’ ability to sustain success is analyzed by Travis Sawchik.

>> Pitt’s Tommy Savage has taken a step back, by Jerry DiPaola.

>> If you missed last night’s very late episode of the Subway Final Word on WPXI-TV, here you go.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m.

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.

271 Comments

  1. - Steelers need their defense to come up with a 4th Quarter stop and it failed.
    - Good thing Roethlisberger is pretty good at this Quarterback thing.
    - Suisham is money and 42 yards later, he showed why.
    - Bell was much better as he was patiently running the ball.
    - Offensive line did better run blocking…. pass blocking still leaves much to be desired.

    - Crosby is better than any athlete in this city since Lemieux during 92-93 season.
    - Fleury is pretty good when his teammates in front of him aren’t running around like the ice is on fire.
    - Power Play is still a problem and time to send apology letters to Mike Yeo.
    - There are still people who think Maatta should have been sent down… idiots.

    - Hurdle & McCutchen are invited to twirl the towel and A.J. Burnett on Twitter questions why just them… yeah, I think there’s some hurt feelings. I don’t think A.J. will be back.
    - Who is going to play 1B for the Pirates… guess it won’t be Cuban Jose Abreau…..

    - Savage is struggling, wouldn’t it be a good time for Chryst to put in Voytik?

    • “Who is going to play 1B for the Pirates…”
      You know.
      As for A.J., if he did feel slighted, the slight wasn’t by the Bucs, it was by the Steelers. But by now we know that A.J. just speaks his mind at the moment and doesn’t really worry too much about any backlash. Which is one of the big reasons I love the guy. I don’t think there will be too much ado about this in the big picture. Or maybe this is just wishful thinking by me… I certainly hope A.J. comes back for one last year and goes out just like Jerome Bettis did.

      • Reason I think AJ isn’t back has nothing to do with Twitter, his game five tantrum to throw a side session or blow up against St. Louis. It has everything to do with Liriano, Cole, Morton, Locke, Rodriguez, Cumpton, Taillon and whatever surprise pitcher they pick up in the winter like Gomez and Johnson.

        As for 1B… I hope a trade could be done.

        • The odds of your assessment for next year’s rotation being accurate are better than 50-50.

          Yet, both Huntington and Nutting profess to wanting A.J. back. Before this year, I would have snorted at such, but I no longer do so. And in A.J.’s favor, a few of those names you mention still have significant question marks attached to them. Since a team can never have too much pitching, I think a serious overture will be made to A.J. Whether he wants to play another year, and whether he is willing to accept a different role half way through the season (a la Zito and Lincecum with the ’12 Giants), would be the main determinants in my estimation.

          • LOL ….AJ needs to grow up.
            .
            Gosh, there are “bigger fish to fry….than who & how many people lead twirling a towel @ a Steelers game.” ;-)

          • Asking AJ to take a different role halfway through the season sounds like a guaranteed way to make sure he doesn’t come back.

            • Seems to me AJ just looking for a reason to be mad. I assume because he didn’t get to start game five. Management made the best decision. If the game had been at home AJ would have gotten the start.

          • I believe that it is about 30/70 against AJ returning, but I hope he does – personality warts and all. I think they need one more solid season from him. The guy can flat out pitch.

            But, they need to offer him to guarantee the comp pick if he signs elsewhere. I still say don’t count out Baltimore – or even Washington. AJ has stated family reasons, and he lives in MD. If he gets to commute from home to the games, I could see him going at least one more year for 8 digits. That could be a no brainer for him.

            I wouldn’t say he is creating artificial tension with the city or Pirates organization. But, feeling jilted might make it easier for him to turn away from the Bucs.

            • Personally I wouldn’t think that AJ would want to reestablish himself with another front office, group of teammates, city, but you never know. I also think this is tricky with the Pirates having needs at first and right field.

              • Agreed on that, 21. But, I think they’d leave a gaping hole at 1b if they felt certain they had used money earmarked for 1b to solidify the rotation.

        • The notion that AJ would be threatened by Brandon Cumpton or Jeff Locke is insane. The guy was the Pirates’ best pitcher last year according to the peripherals, and had one of his best seasons yet. No way would the Pirates even consider asking him to take on a “different role” unless he completely collapsed.

          If AJ doesn’t come back, it will be for exactly the reasons you declared as irrelevant – lack of respect and perceived slights.

          • Mostly agree with this post. But differ on possibility of changing role for A.J. Somebody is going to be odd man out if Taillon gets called up and does well. Might as well find out how A.J. feels about accepting different role in order to stay with team if he’s that odd man.

      • As I have said before, find a way to pay Shin-Soo Choo and put him in RF leading off. Marlon Byrd goes to 1B Batting 5th protecting Alvarez’s cleanup position. Marte bats 2nd and Walker moves to 6th because he is a better RBI man down in the order. Resign A.J. He enjoys and is VALUABLE as the team leader.

        • I like Choo, too, Big Dave. He is definitely more suited for RF than CF. But, Polanco is coming. I think it would take a long commitment to Choo, and it would not be in our best interest to do that. The Reds desperately want Choo to return, and they need him. If they are not going to agree to his demands, that is a signal he is out of our price range as well.

    • Holy cow, Eric!

      Absolutely agreed with EVERY word. Nicely put – all of it. Very concise.

      • This one is my fav:

        “- There are still people who think Maatta should have been sent down… idiots. ”

        lol

        • I know. I do not want to see him go after 10 games, at midseason, whenever. I think he is proving he is more than ready. He would have to completely collapse in order to deserve being sent down. I just don’t see that happening. Although I am only seeing half the games, I admit. So, maybe I am not getting the whole picture. But, I see an impact player on the rise. Could have easily had an earlier goal on Saturday, with the beautiful tip off the crossbar.

    • Voytik?? NO! Savage needs to get back in the groove. That O-Line of his is doing him no favors……… getting constantly sacked.

      As for AJ, I honestly dont want to see him come back. His antics are getting old — fast. His berating of teammates, coaches, and manager is not leadership, it is punkish behavior. Now he is upset he didnt get invited to twirl a towel? You want that “leadership” to return?

      ” Asking AJ to take a different role halfway through the season sounds like a guaranteed way to make sure he doesn’t come back. ”

      Yeah, we wouldnt want to ask him to become a good teammate, now would we? We wouldnt want to hurt his feelings by asking him to take a different role, now would we?
      Use the money saved to go get a 1B….. or re-sign Byrd.

  2. A new book on the 70′s Super Steelers is coming out. Apparently it’s a novel, but a richly researched one about the NFL’s greatest team ever, one which slowly fewer and fewer of us are old enough to remember. Great to see one of The Emperor’s great sayings referenced in the title.

    http://www.marinij.com/football/ci_24351141/larkspurs-pomerantz-explores-pittsburgh-steelers-dynasty-1970s

  3. Good to see the Steelers hang on…Definitely a work in progress.

    Hoping the Pens win tonight. Good vibes their way. Maatta is here to stay. Keep expectations realistic.

    On another front, my aunt passed away yesterday. My mom is in hospital for congestive heart failure. Always giving you guys good vibes, but will need some myself for a while.

    Take care of your loved ones, take care of yourselves, take care of each other. Also, take care of DK.

    OUT.

  4. Sorry for your loss, K.

    Oceans to cross and molars to exercise today. Won’t be on much.

  5. Wrote to your colleague Mr. Robinson back on Sept. 30th —”STEELERS NEED TO USE 6 LINEMAN TO RUN THE BALL EFFECTIVELY”…. RUN MORE PASS LESS… CAN’T BELIEVE NONE OF YOU & YOUR COLLEAGUES WROTE ABOUT THIS TODAY…. WE USED WHIMPER AND ADAMS ON THE RIGHT SIDE ALONG WITH 2 T/E — YOU GUYS NEED TO OPEN YOUR EYES!!! STEELER FANS:
    If we continue to have more rushes than passing attempts we will make the Playoffs– THAT IS THE FORMULA FOR STEELER FOOTBALL AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN!!!
    Also, Guy Whimper who “HAS” been bashed by All Played very well!! I am sure you Guys will write about him & THE USE OF 6 LINEMAN this week after reading this message….. Have a GREAT DAY & GO STEELERS!!!!!

  6. Parity – Parody
    I liked that one DK !

    DK: I aim to satisfy your craving for word play!

  7. Song Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad Meatloaf Off the Bat Out of Hell album 1977

    JAL’s Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5hWWe-ts2s

    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 MLB Important Dates

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Winter League Recap: Gregory Polanco Homers Again

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/winter-league-recap-gregory-polanco-homers-again.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Why Justin Morneau might wind up back with the Pirates next year

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/10/20/4859200/why-justin-morneau-might-wind-up-back-with-the-pirates-next-year

    Would Mark Trumbo be a good fit for the Pirates?

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/10/21/4861004/would-mark-trumbo-be-a-good-fit-for-the-pirates

    6 Rumbunter

    VIDEO: Pirates Gregory Polanco Homered, Again. Thank You, Sweet Baby Jesus

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/10/21/gregory-polanco-homers/

    7 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Is Andrew McCutchen A Lock For National League MVP?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/10/20/pittsburgh-pirates-is-andrew-mccutchen-a-lock-for-national-league-mvp/

    8 The Green Weenie

    Pittsburgh – Third Base 2014

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/10/pittsburgh-third-base-2014.html

    9 CNN

    Can memories be bought?

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/20/opinion/greene-athletes-memories/

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Grading the 2013 Shortstops

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/10/20/pittsburgh-pirates-grading-2013-shortstops/

  8. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 MLBTR

    Offseason Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/10/offseason-outlook-pittsburgh-pirates.html

    12 Toledo Blade

    Leyland’s job security not ironclad

    http://www.toledoblade.com/DaveHackenberg/2013/10/21/Leyland-s-job-security-not-ironclad.html

    13 Boston Globe

    Red Sox, Cardinals match up well against each other

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/10/20/red-sox-cardinals-perfect-match-for-world-series/wASfN8ltT9c4qKYChq4VOL/story.html

    14 USA Today

    No complaints: Baseball’s best face off in World Series

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/10/20/red-sox-cardinals-world-series-lookahead-two-best-teams/3090227/

    15 Boston Herald

    Slight edge goes to Red Sox

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2013/10/slight_edge_goes_to_red_sox

    16 Huffington Post

    Baseball’s Mickey Mouse Rules

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/noah-coslov/baseballs-mickey-mouse-ru_b_4128203.html

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Strauss: Things falling into place for Cards

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/strauss-things-falling-into-place-for-cards/article_581e6cdb-b36c-52bd-b29e-df53c321b1e8.html

    Bernie: What it means to be a Cardinal

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-what-it-means-to-be-a-cardinal/article_afc4c8db-5d9d-5815-9c14-e3e77721a50b.html

    18 Cincinnati Enguirer

    Pitching coaches like Reds’ Price a rare breed

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131020/SPT04/310200076/Pitching-coaches-a-rare-breed

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week in Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22084

    20 Fangraphs

    The Grand Slam That Almost Wasn’t

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-grand-slam-that-almost-wasnt/

  9. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Ravens vs. Steelers final score: Suisham hits second consecutive game-winning field goal to sink Ravens 19-16

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/10/20/4859980/ravens-vs-steelers-final-score-suisham-hits-second-consecutive-game

    Ravens first team since 2006 Steelers to be below .500 seven games after winning Super Bowl

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/10/21/4860244/baltimore-ravens-record-statistics-2013-steelers-week-7-recap

    22 Steelers Gab

    Total Team Effort Leads Steelers To 19-16 Win Over Ravens

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/10/20/total-team-effort-leads-steelers-to-19-16-win-over-ravens/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Danbury News Times

    US gives Sermanni win over old team Australia 4-0

    http://www.newstimes.com/sports/article/US-gives-Sermanni-win-over-old-team-Australia-4-0-4911541.php

    24 World Soccer Daily

    FIFA chief favours December World Cup in Qatar

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/columnists/qatar-valcke

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Unconventional Wisdom – Part 2 Point Shares

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/10/18/4851938/unconventional-wisdom-part-2-point-shares

  10. Nice to see the Steelers get a win. Nicer still to see the Pats and the Broncs lose. Yes, my bad ;)

    • I didn’t figure you to be an anti-bronco fan… I think both of those horse-teams are the elite of the AFC. (also glad to see Brady fail against the team we beat up last week)

  11. I happened to turn to the BOS-DET gm6 right before Victorino’s great granny that won the game for the sox. That’s all the baseball I’ve watched since the pirates gm5. And very probably all the baseball I’ll watch this year (unless world series goes to 7, I can’t rule out flipping the channel over to catch the last couple innings.. especially if it close).

    If you do watch the world series, who do you root for? The bearded bastahds in Boston? Or the team we almost beat in the division series that needed all 5 games to beat us? I dunno I think its lose-lose. I’m thinking horrible unchristian thoughts about any possible win scenario… maybe every game goes to extras tied 0-0.

    • I’m, frankly, sick of both of them. I guess I’d rather see Boston win. Getting tired of the “Cards are perfect” crap. They were just a smidge better than us – and we were the village idiots until this year. But, the narrative from 99% of the folks covering MLB now is the Cards are 10x smarter than the next smartest organization. I’m not trying to knock them. They are a very well run organization and have been for a long time. But, they are not perfect – just like Bill Belicheat and the Patriots are not perfect despite what the media thinks. They have done some great drafting, and they have also gotten lucky on some guys. I hate when the national media become lemmings – and it happens a lot IMO. Local guys like DK have their own brains and do their own critical thinking. But, at the national level, I think they share one, medium sized brain for the most part. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will prove that over and over again in this series. Get ready for trite.

  12. Leyland stepping down. Press conference at 11:30.

    • I wish him the best.

    • There were rumors that he would get the ax.

      I can’t imagine they’re true but who knows.

    • Which former Pirate manager/player will Detriot hire off of his staff OR does that mean his cronies need to find new employment as well.

      Still not a Leyland fan. Don’t get me started.

      • I assume Leyland will push hard for Gene or Lloyd. But, I think Dombrowski goes outside the org. (or, at least off the current Tigers staff) for this. This is a sweet gig for someone to step into.

        • Absolutely it is. I don’t see Gene getting the gig. Lloyd is a possibility and might be the smart move on Dombrowski’s part.

          I’m always a fan of hiring from within, unless of course the coach gets fired, new blood is good then.

          In this case, perhaps a younger guy like Lloyd could be the ticket.

          Either way, it can’t be that difficult to run that lineup out there.

          Maybe he can hire me to do it.

  13. Steelers still suck. Totally forget the fact that Moye (who I really like) let a perfectly thrown touchdown pass go right through his fingers that would have sealed the win. Totally forget the fact that Emmanuel steps his heel out of bounds or his run back (which I thought was stupid, why would you run 9 yds deep in the endzone) would have sealed the win. And there was one other near-miss play that I already totally forgot. The fact is we beat a very beatable Ravens team despite almost giving away the ballgame.

  14. Two more nasty hits in the NHL. THIS is what I worry about as far as Sid getting injured.

    Grabner on Gerbe:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4cKI2Eipr0

    Garbutt on Penner:

    • Ugh…..guy left his feet to hit him in the head. They need to suspend plays like this for more than just 5 games….20 games would get player’s attention. Cooke got 17 for his a couple years ago…

      • YES! Already this season, like 5 or 6 suspensions. Looks like 2 more here.
        Ridiculous. This has got to stop. Make the suspensions longer.

    • ugh is right… that first one was Steckel-like only more obvious. And the 2nd one actually wasn’t helmet to helmet… he lead with his shoulder.. he also left his feet and drove up into him. extremely dangerous hit.

    • Great point, Jandy. Some guys still have no respect for an opponent’s head. Sad, in this day and age when we know what head shots can do to a person.

  15. The offense can only produce one touchdown and a few field goals and the defense surrenders a late score. Sounds the same as the last couple of years. This team is indeed still in a deep hole. I fear they may climb up to the edge before falling back in and all that will do is provide false hope for next season and beyond. There are significant personnel issues that need to be addressed (successfully).

    • I agree… and personally, I’d rather see them fail totally and get a good draft pick then fail partially. Any bad team can be brilliant when things start coming together… but they won’t ever be consistently elite. I will of course take back all these words if the steelers somehow win the next 6 in a row.

    • We’re on the same page, Steve. I’ve been saying for quite awhile that they have very few impact players, and I think it still holds true. Tomlin used to like talking about splash plays (long completions, strip sacks, pick sixes, etc.). This team does very little of that. They rarely get to the opposing QB, and even though our pass blocking is improving, the opponent has out-sacked us by a wide margin. If/when we try for long pass completions, we run the risk of our QB getting his head taken off while the play develops. Nobody in our secondary is a ball hawk. It really seems like the Steelers specifically draft to avoid that skill for some reason. I realize sometimes ballhawking DBs take too many chances and get out of position, and maybe that is what they are trying to avoid. But, we seem allergic to interceptions. It is possible to teach a guy cover skills and the ability to make an occasional pick. And, our players rarely try to strip the ball from an opponent. I get that you miss a tackle on occasion from doing that. I don’t want it to be our strategy. But, during a gang tackle, it wouldn’t hurt to try to knock the ball loose a little more often.

      A vanilla offense + a vanilla defense may be able to take a 5-11 team to a 7-9 record. But, all that does is get us a less talented 1st round draft pick next year. Sometimes, you have to collapse completely in order to draft real talent.

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

  17. Maatta definitely needs to stay. The only question is/was who do you move to make room?

    I also have a question about what happens if we send him down after 39 games. He has to go back to Juniors then or can he go to Wilkes Barre?

    • I know he cannot go to Wilkes Barre.

      Eric Bowser can answer the rest :)

    • Just wondering, if everyone is agreed that Maata is ready to continue contributing at the NHL level, and it sure appears he is, what does that say about Mr. Shero if he nonetheless sends him down? I assume we all think that would be solely for $$ and control reasons.

      We know what gets said about Neal Huntington when he doesn’t bring a guy up until mid-season to save a year of control.

      DK: Shero won’t be sending Maatta down. And that doesn’t have a thing to do with baseball.

      • Oh my! Jim S. got a BOLD REAMING

        • As I ws told yesterday, its not a reaming, its a response. ;)

        • It was a fair response on DK’s part, Jandy. If he is absolutely certain Maata doesn’t get sent down, then it is a moot point.

          But, if the speculation has some merit, and it is at least being considered, I wonder what the outcry would be from fans toward the GM. I actually like Shero, and think he is a terrific GM. But, that doesn’t stop me from saying I think he “over-tinkered” with a pretty good thing last spring and it did not work out well. I said so as the trades continued to mount. He seemed to get a pass from fans, for the most part. So, if he were to make this move, which would appear to be strictly for reasons other than putting the best product on the field right now, how would fans view that? I don’t believe Huntington has fared well from the fans when making similar moves in the past, even though every MLB teams acts similarly. Maybe it is that Shero has a ring and a finals loss to his credit, and has built up more of a good will reserve among local fans.

          • pssst, Jim! Quit sticking up for Dejan ;)

            Actually I think you made a fair comparison, and had a good point. I know if Maata were sent down, I’d be jacked. The kid has done nothing but prove he belongs. And I like Shero, but man, that would not sit well with me at all.

          • Well truth be told his skating could be better and there are cap and roster issues. So unless there’s a trade wondering bout maatta’s status isn’t a waste of time. Lets not forget how Bennett did his best to kick the door down last season but still didn’t play much late and in the playoffs.(over tinkering was legit complaint) I expect maatta’s skating to improve quite a bit but he’s not a finished product yet. (pun somewhat intended)

            • Finnish product? I saw what you were doing there, Monster.

              I think your knowledge of hockey and the Pens is much greater than mine, so I will accept your assessment that he is not a finished product yet. But, doesn’t he do enough now to be worthy of a roster spot while he smooths out whatever rough edges he may still have? I think Mike Tomlin would be talking about all his “splash” plays if he were on the Steelers.

              • I think they’re playing it by ear with him while letang is out and the roster is still in flux. When letang is back mixing him in with bortuzzo is one plan cuz he has held his own. Another would be to make trades for cap purposes when everyone comes back. Seems like they wanna wait and see knowing that percentages say other injuries will occur and they may be able to keep him around.

          • Wonder where Dejan is now?

        • I think I may have inadvertently touched the blog’s perverbial “3rd rail.”

      • If they mix him in based on matchups with bortuzzo then theres a chance we can keep his games under 40 until londons season is over at which time we can send maatta down to WB for the end of their season and playoffs. That way we get best of both worlds. Clock towards UFA status doesn’t start and his development continues without being burned out. Not too many 19 year olds are heavily relied on in the playoffs so over exposure probably wouldn’t be prudent.

      • I hope you are right, DK. We’ll see. Why is it even being discussed then? Is it just fans? Serious question. I just wonder where all the speculation started.

  18. Before Derek Moye dropped that TD pass, I notice he wasn’t in the game when he wasn’t in when we were approaching the goal line. I noticed this the previous week too. Why would we not have the 6-5 Moye in on our goal line drive but we did have him go long when we were on Ravens’ 25?

    DK: Moye did enter again in a red-zone set later in the game. It’s progress. That’s the most he’s been involved — by far — all season. And remember, he didn’t do himself any favors by letting a TD go through his hands.

    • If they expect Moye to make plays in the end zone they should get him in the game during the drive so he isn’t going in ice cold.

  19. Good Morning All. Hope this finds everyone well. My sympathies to you, Brandie, on your loss and for your mom. I am so sorry. Prayers indeed are being lifted up.

  20. As we have all heard: ” Records in sports are made to be broken”…or something like that. Well, on the eve of the eve of the beginning of the 2013 World Series…here are some WS records that may never, ever be broken:
    _________________________________________________________________
    *** 2 Most games won by a pitcher in a WS that seven teammates were trying to lose – Dickie Kerr, 1919 Chicago White Sox.
    *** 3 Number of complete game shutouts thrown in one WS (1905) by Christy Mathewson of the NY Giants of the Philly A’s. No one will ever come close on this.
    *** 4 Number of WS winners played on by Joe Di Maggio of the Yankees in his first four seasons in the bigs, (1936…37…38 and 39). Joe played all 19 games in those four Series.
    *** 4 Number of home runs in consecutive at bats in a WS – Reggie Jackson – Game 5 (1) and Game 6 (3) in the 1977 Series
    *** 7 Number of consecutive complete games WS wins by the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson – 1964, Games 5 and 7; 1967, Games 1,4 and 7; 1968, Games 1 and 4.
    *** 8 Number of WS Game 1 starts in a career – Whitey Ford, Yankees, (1955 – 1958 and 1961 -1964).
    *** 10 Number of WS games won by Whitey Ford
    *** 10 Number of consecutive WS games in one city – New York – 1949 – 1958
    *** 12 Number of consecutive WS games won by the Yankees: 1927 (4-0) over the Pirates; 1928 (4-0) over the Cardinals; 1932 (4-0) over the Cubs
    *** 22 Number of WS games started by Whitey Ford. Never will happen again.
    *** 37 Number of WS games won by a manager – Casey Stengel
    *** 45 Number of consecutive errorless WS games – Joe Di Maggio
    *** 206 Number of consecutive WS games covered by the New York Times reporter John Drebinger – 1929 – 1963.
    *** 259 Career WS at bats – Yogi Berra. Unapproachable.

    And one other non WS record that is a favorite of mine: 1 – Number of baseballs used in a big league game. On June 29, 1913 the Reds beat the Cubs in Cincinnati by a score of 9-6. There were NO foul balls and no home runs.
    __________________________________________________________________

    Hope everyone is well!

  21. Does anyone here know about any news coming from the Riverhounds?

  22. -Thought it was awesome to see Cutch and Hurdle lead the towel twirling, but I thought the same as AJ; why just them? I get it, they’re the face of the franchise, but I thought it would’ve been cooler if the other guys were out there as well.

    -This game reminded me of the typical Steeler/Ravens. Pretty good smashmouth football with one of the teams winning by a last second FG.

    -This could’ve been a blow out by the Steelers. Their red zone offense is terrible. 3 trips where they came away with FGs isn’t very good. Need to turn 3′s into 6′s.

    -Bell ran the ball very well. Seemed like every play he was getting 5-6 yards. Love the Eddie George reference from DK.

    -It was a very tough call to make, but I don’t think Sanders heel touched. When they run, the heel doesn’t touch the ground. Sucks that the play isn’t even reviewable, but I still didnt see enough evidence to overule.

    -I liked the offensive play calling. Not a Wildcat fan at all, but its nice to see them mix it up a bit.
    -Ben trying to block? Don’t quit your day job. Dont get hurt pulling that BS.
    -Timmons and Polamalu seemed to be all over the field.

    -Really impressed with the young DB Thomas. Seems to be a hard hitter. Reminds of Troy’s first year. Played mainly nickel. Dude has a bright future.

  23. Welcome back DK, I missed your columns last week.

    -It’s not often I get to talk about my Alma Mater ODU with all of you fellow lunatics. Although they didn’t win I am glad they didn’t get blown out like against Maryland and kept it close late in the game. Let’s hear it for the ODU kicker Jarod Brown. He set the record for longest field goal kick at Heinz Field @ 54 yards! On the game day thread I noticed a few people saying they couldn’t believe Pitt let a FCS team hang around in this game. ODU isn’t FCS anymore they started the transition to FBS this year and will be a full member of Conference USA next year. Also at the FCS level they had a pretty prolific offence, the QB last year set the NCAA record for passing & rushing yards at 791(60yds were rushing) yards in a game! Also if anyone didn’t see the ODU-ECU game, ODU can put up some points on a FBS defense, unfortunately for us we just can’t play defense.

    DK: Thanks. And I’ll agree wholeheartedly that Old Dominion was significantly imbalanced, to put it kindly!

  24. Boston looked good, too, in their battle with Jim Leyland’s Tigers, but Cards in 6 for the Series. .

    • Speaking of which – Just saw that Leyland is stepping down as the Tigers boss. One of the great managers in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Did what he absolutely had to do to get this team and organization turned around after the drug trials and so on. Also, and a favorite of mine…got his Pirates teams to NOT fear and then beat the NY Mets after the Mets dominated the Bucs for years. Kind of, sort of the same things that Clint is doing now with the Pirates.

    • Interesting factoid for all the people who said that the Pirates, or any team for that matter, have to go through many years of suffering before being a championship contender:

      Since 1990, 7 teams that finished in last place the previous year, made it to the World Series the next year. One year bottom, one year top. And, I have seen other teams finish last one year, and win a division the next, although they didnt get to the WS.

      So tell me again why a team has to suffer for 5-8 years before becoming good? I understand that payroll, and quality of a teams FO comes into play, but this stat should debunk the “kick the can down the road” excuse a bit.

      • Interesting. I would like to see that list.

      • Good points,all, Plan. But, I would have been “happy” with 5 -8 years of “suffering” as you say. And not 20. Still is incredible…is it not?

        • Oh, I would never, ever be happy with 5-8 either. I am just pointing out to those who defend a long rebuilding plan as the only way to go. It is but one of many ways to go, thats all.

          • No, I understand your point, Plan. But, if we knew this was going to take 20 years…5 to 8 would be a heck of a lot better.

          • Or, in the NFL, you can systematically dump all of your high-priced talent, including alienating and running off your HOF QB, purposely tank an entire season, and get the #1 pick – who just happens to be the highest rated college QB in 25 years. Then, if you draft smartly, you can be very good right away again. That’s another way to go about it.

      • I recall the Twins and the Braves doing it.

  25. Oh, and for today’s Food Corner for the blog……………

    Happy Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, everybody !!! :D

  26. And I had some Moose Tracks Chocolate ice cream!

  27. Sad day in baseball & the end of an era in Detroit. How will they ever replace Don Kelly ?

  28. Does anybody remember a week where so many devistating injuries happen to bigger named players?

    How many are out for the season after this week?

    Good be a good time for the Steelers to get things moving. Time for the Bengals to join the injury party though.

  29. Bud Adams, owner of the Titans, dies today at 90.

  30. http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9845500/mlb-postseason-heroes-moments-realize-done

    Good article on WS moments. I admit, I scrolled down to the Steve Blass part of it, really don’t care about the others.

    I said it during spring training, that every Pirates fan needs to read Steve’s book. Its funny and gives you chills at times too.

    Very cool stuff.

  31. And Nolan Ryan resigns today as CEO of the Rangers.

  32. With regard to revenue sharing and baseball.

    Since 1998 I believe only three teams with payrolls in the bottom half of the league (16th or below) have made the World Series: the 2003 Marlins, 2007 Rockies, and 2008 Rays. So in the last sixteen years 29 of the 32 two teams to appear in the World Series have had a payroll in the upper half of the league (15 or above).

    A handful of those teams have had payrolls ranking in the 10 to 15 range, so we’re not always talking the MOST expensive rosters. But generally speaking, with the exception of a few outliers, there’s a definite salary threshold required to make it to the World Series.

    Sure teams with smaller payrolls have made the playoffs–such as the A’s, Rays, and Pirates this year. But they’ve rarely made it past the LDS and even more rarely advanced to World Series.

    As to why this, well one thought that I’ve heard, that I think has some merit, is that the lowered salary teams tend succeed in the regular season with a well constructed roster consisting of ‘good’ and ‘above average’ players but few ‘great’ players than the higher salary teams. Come playoff time, when the benches shorten to a large degree, the team with more ‘great’ players tends to come out on top.

    That said it is worth mentioning that while the Cardinals had the 10th highest payroll in majors their 2013 success is much less a product of a substantial payroll than some of the very best scouting, drafting, and development in the league.

    • You’re right with your mention of the Cards.

      They are, the best organization in baseball. They have the payroll to buy a FA of need, but develop the players over the long haul.

      Just look at their pitching alone. Wacha, Rosenthal. They will be a thorn in the Pirates side for many years to come.

    • Great points, Brendan. I think the more difficult thing for small market teams is to sustain success. The Cardinals are only a medium-sized market team, if that is actually what they are, based on being so consistently good for so long that their fan base is loyal and plentiful. Their annual 3 million+ attendance then ensures they have money to be at least middle of the pack, year after year, in payroll. But, getting back to my point, the small market teams have a difficult time maintaining success because when they do get a few great players at the same time, the window is always closing on them. Some star is always on the way out the door due to money. They have to keep reinventing themselves every couple of years. The big revenue teams don’t face those challenges.

      • Yeah those teams can generally choose to retain one or two star players for the long haul. Evan Longoria in the case of the Rays. Cutch in the case of the Pirates and lock up a few pre arb players with extensions early in their career. Otherwise the pieces around that core of a few players are always rotating by necessity. The Pirates have more resources than the Rays at this point, so they should be able to lock up a few more core players, etc.

        The other options is to go the Brewers route, allocating all of your resources for a title run. The downside there is you’re probably looking at three or four year rebuilding window, at least, thereafter.

  33. I wonder how many the Braves had.

  34. Tweet from SF Chronicle’s Giants beat writer, Henry Schulman about Jim Leyland:

    Henry Schulman ‏@hankschulman

    Remember the time Jim Leyland saw a writer waiting for a cab at midnight at Three Rivers and offered him a ride to his hotel? I do.

  35. Raise your hand if you had the Chiefs starting at 7-0 before the season began ?

    No question in my mind that the Steelers can still make the playoffs in this year’s NFL.

    • There are in my mind.

      We still have to face the Pats, the Bengals twice, the Ravens on Thanksgiving, The packers, the Lions, and the Dolphins. We still have two games against the Browns and one against Bills which should be easier teams but not guaranteed wins. In fact, the only bad team we have yet to face is the Raiders who will be our opponents on Sunday.

      I think we’d be lucky to be .500 the rest of the way, which would place us at 7-9. Our schedule was much easier in the early part of the season.

      • Plus, the game on Sunday is in Oakland, where the Steelers have not played well in the past. I wouldn’t consider that game a gimme by any means.

        • There are no gimmes for this team, Dom. Great recap of the remaining schedule, btw. They gave away some of the projected easiest games on their schedule – Vikings, Titans.

          It would be nice if the Steelers could play a Thanksgiving game at home. They don’t get on the schedule that day very often as it is. And, if you play Detroit it will be on the road, of course. But, it would be nice if the Baltimore games were flipped.

  36. 21, if you’re around…

    This morning you commented: “Asking AJ to take a different role halfway through the season sounds like a guaranteed way to make sure he doesn’t come back.”

    I don’t see why. It an honest conversation that needs to take place. One can easily envision Jameson Taillon being called up in June and sticking. Locke, Cumpton and Wandy are no sure things. But I’m guessing one of them, particularly Wandy, works out and becomes a fixture in the rotation. You can already pencil in Liriano and Cole every fifth day. This leaves *one* spot for either Morton or A.J.

    It all depends on how well A.J. is pitching next summer. But he will be 37 years old, after all. There is no way the Pirates DON’T feel out A.J. for his receptiveness to taking on a Lincecum-like role should the need arise, before committing dollars to him for next year. Likewise, there is no way A.J. himself shouldn’t anticipate this coming up at negotiations. The Pirates want him in the club house for one more year, and hopefully, he wants to be there too. Albeit, in a different role.

    • +1

      • Heya Plan!
        How’s the Pond been?

        • Good.
          Where have you been? Miss your craziness here.
          Stop by more often………. there is a hockey thread up right now. ==========>

          • Just now coming around after withdrawal from the Pirates’ magical season being over. Miss being crazy with you, too. Saw Brandie’s post, this morning. Hope that gal hang’s tight. Real rough patch for her, for sure…
            Not really a hockey fan. Always glad when the Pens win though, of course. Now that the Steelers are straightening up, I’ll be around more often.

    • I am beginning to wonder if the Pirates really do want AJ in the clubhouse.

      I missed the earlier discussion but why would anyone think AJ would be a good reliever at this point in his career?
      Lincecum took that role for about a month, right?

      I would actually like to be a fly on the wall when Pirate management starts to negotiate with AJ and they tell him that they would like the option of moving AJ to the bullpen sometime during the season. My guess is that he’ll laugh really loud or yell some expletives really loud. (and why would you want to pay a guy all those millions of dollars to go in the bullpen? And do you think he’ll be better than Watson, Melancon and Grilli in the late innings?)

      And here is my first prediction of the offseason: Brandon Cumpton will not have regular spot in the Pirate’s MLB starting rotation. If he gets starts in the majors it will be because of injuries to other starters.

      • If the Pirates knew *for sure* that A.J. were destine for the bullpen, then no, they wouldn’t pay him the $8 ~ $10 mil I’m guessing is his market value for one year. But… since we do not no for certain how next year’s rotation is going to shake out, I think you have to fall back on the adage that you can never have too much pitching. The Pirates can now legitimately say that the goal is World Series title or bust. Gotta try and keep A.J. for one last year. If say, Morton or Locke is the one to be demoted, then the Pirates just do it whenever it is they have to. But with A.J., both sides have earned the right to have this conversation up front.

        • Dont know how much the additional $$$ the Pirates would have to commit to AJ will affect negotiations. The Yankees wont be paying $8 million or so a year to the new contract………….. and the Bucs have to address 1B.

          • Yes, the $$$ may be a stumbling block. Also, maybe after decompressing over the next month or so, A.J. will simply decide to hang it up. But NH and BN both said they want A.J. back. This time last year I would have said, “Yeah. Right.” But now I’m in a wait and see posture.

        • I don’t understand why this conversation needs to take place. You sign AJ to be a starter. If he stinks during the year and yiu want to pull him during the year, you deal with it then.

          Arguably, he had one of his best seasons in 2013.

    • Okay, you be the one to tell him during negotiations this offseason that he might have to go to the bullpen during the year, then I’ll watch him go to Baltimore or maybe Washington where they’ll gladly kiss his behind.

      I want him back and that’s not the approach I’d take.

      • Want him back too. Not bothered by his occasional hot-headedness — I like it. A.J. has said more than once that if he is to play again in 2014, it will only be with the Pirates. I, for one, take him at his word on that. Not expecting him to turn around and put on a jersey with an “O” or a “W” at a press conference.

        Your scenario of signing him to start (which will cost $8~10 mil), then just “dealing with it then” should they decide they want him coming out of the bullpen is not wise. That by summer the team will have five guys *other* than A.J. whom they want as their starting five is a serious possibility. That A.J. will still be one of their best five is also clearly possible. Get him on board for either scenario. Given time to think about it, A.J. will see that he’ll still be a vital cog in a championship run, either way.
        The only other option is for both sides to agree A.J. would retire if a move to the pen became reality. He’s not going to let himself be traded.

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