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By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The plan for the week is a Steelers column for Thursday, a Penguins column for Friday and a flight out to Oakland for more NFL stuff on the weekend.

>> Finally got to a hockey game last night, inexcusably overdue on my part, but I did get to see something that fans in these parts aren’t likely to forget anytime soon …

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Jean-Sebastien Giguere looked like his decade-ago self from his time with the Mighty Ducks, stopping all 34 pucks the Penguins sent his way. The Avalanche blocked 22 others and saw 16 others miss the net, making for an incredible 72 attempted shots and zero goals.

The game story is by Rob Rossi.

News of the day is by Josh Yohe.

A few of my own thoughts from the evening: There’s almost nothing to analyze beyond Giguere. As Dan Bylsma told us afterward, “We had shots that were labeled. He was rock solid.” But it’s also worth pointing out that the Avs got big defensive showings from Jan Heyda (27 minutes, six blocks, four hits) and Hopewell native Nate Guenin (three blocks, three hits, great PK). … I’ve no doubt about Nate MacKinnon’s No. 1 overall pedigree, but I saw very little beyond a very green rookie on this night. … Evgeni Malkin attempted 15 shots, landed eight, had five blocked and missed two. Sidney Crosby attempted 13, landed seven, had five blocked and missed one. Yeah, it was that kind of night. … Think James Neal and Kris Letang might have made a difference? … Concern over the Penguins’ lack of grit up front really hasn’t manifested because of the hot start, but it sure shows on a night like this. Count up the fourth-line turnovers in the neutral zone, and that looks even worse. … I’ll admit: Robert Bortuzzo is growing on me. … I’ll further admit: There was way too much Matt Niskanen on the ice last night. … Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik aren’t playing like a shutdown pairing. … If a novice fan ever asks how a ref can call both an obstruction penalty and diving on the aggrieved party, show them the clip from the final minute of Guenin legitimately holding Jussi Jokinen and Jokinen legitimately going spastic to try to jazz it up. It really can be both. … It’s got to be asked: If the Avs are the NHL’s No. 1 team right now at 8-1, and the Penguins just schooled them for an hour like a JV shinny session, then what does that make the Penguins?

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Avalanche news from the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater, who sat in the seat to my right on this night.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> What’s next for the football team? Alan Robinson looks ahead.

What went right for Le’Veon Bell? Mark Kaboly looks back in his weekly Film Session feature.

What went wrong for Isaac Redman?

I’m increasingly convinced that there’s no better sports talk in our town than that brought to TribLIVE Radio every weekday morning by Ken Laird and Guy Junker, and I don’t particularly care if that sounds self-serving. These guys are good.

Here’s their take on the W over Baltimore …

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Raiders news from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> If you thought the Vikings looked lousy in beating the Steelers in London, there’s a reason: They still stink.

>> Francisco Liriano is named the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year, by Rob Biertempfel.

Here’s what our panel on the Subway Final Word had to say about the World Series …

>> I’m off today, then the TribLIVE Radio show comes tomorrow at 2 p.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.

263 Comments

  1. Wow, Jim Leyland is gone. For good this time, most likely. The guy who could handle Barry Bonds and who turned around three different franchises. Baseball loses a good one.

    But I wonder if Lloyd becomes a candidate to take over the Tigers now? If he wants it (and I’m sure deep down he does), I hope he gets it. Lloyd was green when he was here. But he was fiery and he cared. The dark days of Pirate front office-hood doomed him to never have a fair chance. But a decade later, he’s probably a more sage baseball mind. Rooting for Lloyd to get that Tiger helm and meet us in the 2014 WS.

    • One of my favorite Lloyd memories, “going and getting the base.” I hope he gets it too. The dark days of pirate front office don’t reflect well on any manager except Russell. Dodger or Yankee money couldn’t make him look good.

  2. “You go, Ghost.
    Dont let anyone squash discussion of any topic you want.
    This is priceless!”

    Plan, I was referring to the discussion with AJ about going to the bullpen during negotiations and not my discussion with Ghost about AJ.

  3. A.J. tells Colin Dunlap he’ll either be a Pirate or retire.

  4. Song Four Days Counting Crows

    JAL’s Four Days Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S18LiHiJOXo

    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

    First Pitch: Should the Pirates Trade Francisco Liriano?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/first-pitch-should-the-pirates-trade-francisco-liriano.html

    Don’t Sleep on Joely Rodriguez as a Future Major League Pitcher

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/dont-sleep-on-joely-rodriguez-as-a-future-major-league-pitcher.html

    Winter League Recap: Double For Polanco, Tejeda Homers and Triples

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/winter-league-recap-double-for-polanco-tejeda-homers-and-triples.html

    2013 Bradenton Marauders Season Recap and Top 10 Prospects

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/2013-bradenton-marauders-season-recap-and-top-10-prospects.html

    AFL Recap: Two Hits For Dickerson, RBI For Hanson In Win

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/10/afl-recap-two-hits-for-dickerson-rbi-for-hanson-in-win.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates dominate Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year awards

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/10/21/4862508/pirates-dominate-sporting-news-comeback-player-of-the-year-awards

    6 KDKA

    AJ Burnett: “I’ll Be Back With The Pittsburgh Pirates Or Retire”

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/10/21/aj-burnett-says-he-will-be-back-with-pirates-or-retire/

    7 Bleacher Report

    World Series 2013: Cardinals vs. Red Sox Position-by-Position Breakdown

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1816638-world-series-2013-cardinals-vs-red-sox-position-by-position-breakdown

    8 The Green Weenie

    Pittsburgh – Outfield 2014

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

    9 Pirates Official Site

    Bucs played up to Hurdle’s lofty expectations

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pittsburgh-pirates-lived-up-to-manager-clint-hurdles-expectations-in-2013?ymd=20131021&content_id=63213622&vkey=news_pit

    Leyland’s impact in Pittsburgh proves lasting

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/jim-leylands-impact-in-pittsburgh-proves-lasting?ymd=20131021&content_id=63205120&vkey=news_pit

    10 City of Champions

    Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano wins Sporting News NL Comeback Player of the Year

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/10/21/pirates-pitcher-francisco-liriano-wins-sporting-news-nl-comeback-player-year/

  5. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 USA Today

    Why the St. Louis Cardinals will win the World Series

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/cardinals/2013/10/21/st-louis-cardinals-2013-world-series-advantages-boston-red-sox/3141531/

    12 SB Nation

    Jim Leyland, the most interesting man in the (baseball) world

    http://www.sbnation.com/2013/10/21/4862402/jim-leyland-retires-career-highlights-video-smoking

    13 Rant Sports

    Jeff Karstens’ Pittsburgh Pirates Career Is Probably Over

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/10/22/jeff-karstens-pittsburgh-pirates-career-is-probably-over/

    14 Chicago Tribune

    FACTBOX-Baseball-2013 World Series factbox

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-baseball-worldseries-factbox-20131021,0,2616931.story

    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 Sports Media 101

    Could Nate McLouth Really Garner a $10 Million Deal This Offseason?

    http://www.sportsmedia101.com/baltimoreorioles/2013/10/21/could-nate-mclouth-really-garner-a-10-million-deal-this-offseason/

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cardinals trying not to think about Fenway’s Green Monster

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-trying-not-to-think-about-fenway-s-green-monster/article_4c30c48d-689f-5088-a399-17b1cf521c9d.html

    Bernie: Series matchup is a worthy one

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-series-matchup-is-a-worthy-one/article_09242b64-89f3-52c1-9204-1032cf6b0158.html

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Daugherty: For Reds’ manager, Bryan Price is logical guy

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131021/COL03/310210162/Doc-Price-was-the-logical-guy-for-Reds

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week in Quotes

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

    20 Fangraphs

    The Worst of the Best: The Season’s Wildest Pitches

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-worst-of-the-best-the-seasons-wildest-pitches/

  6. So in that clip of The Final Word the hosts asks for a prediction as to who will win the World Series and rants about payroll break out.

  7. Exercising molars again today and tomorrow. (Burpees.)

    Everybody have a good day. Even Thunder.

    Yes. Obviously. I’m drunk already.

  8. Well I suppose JS gets all three stars…..

    Re all the blocked shots, as a G myself, I’d suggest that when you know who is going to be shooting on PPs (Malkin or Sid) and they don’t move that much….AND everybody is a lefty shot so the lanes are predictable….you wind up with lots of blocks.

    Additionally when there’s little traffic in front, it gets easier for the G.

    Not to take away from JS…but as many shots as we generated, how often did we make him go laterally? How often did we generate open lanes? when there’s a million blocked shots, the answer is “not often”….

    I know, I know, we schooled them. And JS was great.

    But I think the PP needs at least 1 righty (even if that’s Nisky – and I can’t believe I just wrote that) and more triangle passing to open lanes and keep the G moving his feet.

    Oh and if Kunitz could get in front of the net once in awhile/win a battle/not fan….that would be an improvement.

    Sour grapes over LOL!!

    Hats off to JS.

    • When you have 7 PP’s and you don’t score on ANY of them, something is dreadfully wrong.
      JS was good, bet we made him look like the second coming of Roy.

      • Even one righty shot makes a huge difference to available lanes.

        But if I had to pick one thing I would say net-front presence. (I’m looking at you, Kunitz….)

        • Jokinen tried a couple times to get in front of the net during the later PPs, but he was more off to the side of the goalie. You’re definitely right though – Kunitz or whoever needs to get in front, screen and whack at rebounds. Even if they had Sid or someone go in and out of the crease to create more havoc that would be good. I’m getting tired of seeing perimeter passing and sharp angle shots….I feel like a broken record.

    • That game was like watching the Boston series all over again…

      • When you collapse around your net and have a strong G, and the PP has a tendency to be perimeter-oriented anyway….well, this is what happens. And you’re right it has happened before – and not just vs. Boston.

    • How bout just wristing the puck to the net instead of slap shots with huge backswings? Easier to get it thru traffic that way. Overall im not a fan of telling world class players what to do when they have the puck but its worth getting some practice time in getting wristers thru traffic.

    • Sarah, you are totally right. DK was ranting on Twitter about how there’s nothing to analyze in this game because it was all about the goaltender, and anyone who believes otherwise knows nothing about hockey. That’s just flat-out wrong, as this conversation proves. Giguere played well, but most of his saves weren’t spectacular, and the Pens constantly shot the puck right into Avs defenseman.

      The Pens must have attempted 15 slapshots from near the right wall on their power plays. They were never going to beat Giguere that way. Even the announcers commented very early on about how predictable they were being. Until that 7th PP, they did nothing to switch up their strategy.

      It’s not the end of the world. The Pens still dominated. But there are certainly lessons to be learned from this game beyond “we got beat by a hot goalie.”

      DK: Ranting? That’s not your only hyperbole here, Scott, even amid several other good points.

      I don’t write in absolutes. I might tweet in absolutes because of 140 characters, but not actual writing. The very blog entry above, in which I analyze all kinds of stuff, backs that.

      As for Giguere not making great saves … Good Lord, dude, I can’t help you if you didn’t see great saves in that game. That’s insanity.

      • Scott has some valid points here.

        “and the Pens constantly shot the puck right into Avs defenseman.”

        The Pens also shot the puck directly a JS’s chest or right into his glove.
        The made it very easy for him. No one really crasdhed the net.
        Not saying JS didn’t have a good game. He did. He didn’t have a great game, IMHO.

      • Agreed DK! Giguere looked he was back in his prime. But how bout that equipment?!?! Those pads regulation? :)

        We could’ve gotten more shots thru but the avs played good team d. Long season…stuff happens.

      • “There’s almost nothing to analyze beyond Giguere.”

        I thought there was a good bit to analyze, not least was the PP, the nbr of blocked shots including 10 between Geno and Sid as you noted.

        • You’re spot on in your analysis of the PP Sarah. And not just becausei posted tr same thing on Flyer thread.

          They need a threat from left side (right hand shot). It is exacerbated by their lack of movement. Both things make for a predictable PP. Teams set up 2 in slot and 2 on right side and rarely have to move from those positions.

          If the Pens are going to field a left handed PP unit, movement (puck and personel) is paramount to get the PK moving and creating lanes.

          I’d still rather see a right handed shot out there.

  9. Tough loss for the Pens last night. My eyes didn’t see the Avs beating the Pens. My eyes saw the Avs goalie, Giguere (sp?) standing on his head and beating them all by his lonesome. He was brilliant. It happens. Give him credit.

    We had a bunch of PP chances, and I thought for the most part we did what we were supposed to do – generated many quality chances. I know we didn’t score, but sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other guy. The Pens could have scored 3 PP goals with those chances many nights.

    It gets mentioned all the time, so this isn’t news to anyone. But, there were sequences when 87 was on the ice where it looked like he was playing against cardboard cut-outs. Think about how hard it is to be that dominant with 1 puck and 10 guys on the ice fighting for it. He is 100% back at his best now, IMO, and he is far and away the best player in the game.

    Fleury’s arm is going to fall off by summer. Oh, wait. This is hockey. Whatever breaks down on over-worked goalies is going to break on Fleury by January at this pace.

    • His head will fall off from him standing on it
      lol

      • Actually IMO the issue is Sid is playing WITH cardboard cutouts. Dupes and Kunitz just not keeping up with him (it may be the 1-3-1 for Kuni, not sure Duper’s excuse)….

        And in the playoffs, teams just focus on Sid, cos the other guys cannot hurt them. Has happened repeatedly.

        Same thing going on for Geno, though he’s had a revolving door on wing.
        Bennett will help a lot there.

        • I always like your analysis, Sarah. There probably is a mesmerizing tendency to watch Sid try to do everything when you are out there with him. Or, maybe Kuni and Duper just can’t hang with him. But, that would most likely be an issue with almost anyone they could put on his line, right?

          I think Geno is still too careless too often. I don’t think he has gotten much better over the years. Sid seems to constantly reinvent himself. He dissects every facet of his game and adds each season. Couldn’t win face-offs – conquered it. Wasn’t a great shooter – much better now. Geno is a terrific talent, for sure. But, is he a better player than he was when we won the Cup? He is right in his prime. He should be getting better still. I’m not sure I see it. I only see maybe 1/3 of the games, though. So, I’m just speculating.

          • Well SId appears to prefer playing with Kuni/Duper….more head scratching for me.

            Duper is a 3rd line guy. Kuni has looked great with Geno.

            I like chemistry as much as the next fan, but really, Sid had to do everything himself last night, and Kuni booted about 6 chances.

            Dunno.

            • I’d like to see Bennett with Sid when he is healthy and put Kunitz back with Geno. I don’t see Bennett clicking with Geno at all. Kunitx could geet Geno going again. I guess I am just beating that dead horse again…

              • I agree completely. Kunitz worked very well with Malkin and Neal a few seasons ago.

                Geno’s level of comfort (in my opinion) dictates his productivity. Neal and probably Jokinen might help Geno feel like he doesn’t have to do it all/force the situation. Just as long as Geno stays away from those blind passes with his comfortable line mates!

            • It seemed to me, for awhile in the first 2 periods, every time Sid was on the ice he seemed to have the puck and he was laying perfect passes on the sticks of several players time after time.

              I’ve been noticing that every game I’ve seen this year (6 so far). I just feel like he has taken his game to yet another level so far this season. I can’t imagine any playmakers performing much better at any point in hockey history than Sid right now.

        • I thought kunitz was hurt last post season…atleast looked like it. Speaking of which…heard some talk about kunitz riding shotgun with Crosby to the Olympics. How bout duper? Who does team Canada have that could do a better job in the bottom 6 at killing penalties, forechecking and backchecking on the big ice? Fleury should def be on the radar for team Canada. Unless yzerman thinks Holtby is the answer…please…

  10. Disappointing result last night but we should all be encouraged with the patience pens showed. Avs came in with same game plan that we’ve had this season. Be patient in the neutral zone, don’t give up the middle of the ice and block as many shots as possible. More of a chess match last night and looks like bylsma has graduated from checkers after last few post seasons. HOWEVER:

    Connor over Jeffrey is a joke. Wouldn’t blame Jeffrey for demanding a trade at this point. Connor couldn’t get the puck out of the zone along the wall that led to 3 GA in the Vancouver game. Vitale leaving the zone early didn’t help but connor whiffing on the clear was bigger issue. After the 1st period against van whatever adrenaline rush he had wore off but he still put him in last night? WHY? He’s a career quad A player…good for depth but to take out Jeffrey who has been solid defensively during a great start to season is downright stupid. Atleast they realized HZ needs to play but bylsma needs to get over the fact that Jeffrey isn’t a physical player and accept him for the skilled positional role player he is. Especially is he’s going to partake in similar chess matches this season.

    Anyone else notice PM step up in the neutral zone on the GA last night? He got caught out of position which led to orpik being hung out to dry on that rush. Overall he played ok last night but he’s been responsible for 3 out of 4 GA last 2 games. Not starting anything here…just saying :)

    • Yeah if you’re going to sit DJ for Connor, might as well trade him. Head scratcher there.

      • Maybe they want to get guys like connor an nhl paycheck.

      • If Jeffery demanded a trade would anybody notice?

        JMO, but I do not see the offensive skills to be a top 6, nor the the physcial/grinder defensive skills to be a bottom 6 – on the Pens (injuries not withstanding). To me he is the classic AAAA player that needs to be on a different team or back at WS. That’s not to say that I understand why Conner dressed last nite, I don’t…but Jeffery lilely wasn’t changing the outcome, regardless.

        BB and Neal really change the dynamics of the lineup (duh), hard to say what Matt Agostino (sp?) brings yet. HZ (not even trying) is a known and so should be Jeffery. Perhaps they justed wanted a look at Conner?

    • HA! just saying. I thought it was an important game we played last night, result be dammed. We need to play those tight close games to get into that mind-frame. And agree, patience is important and kept us in that game until the bitter end (last puck in the glove of Giggy weakly shot by Malkin).

      Things ended last night:
      - games this season where penguins scored atleast 3 goals
      - 1st loss for Fleury on the season
      - 1st loss for penguins on home ice
      - Crosby failed to record a point (obviously)
      - Olli Maatta try-out period (no longer a try-out, soon to be extended stay for the dazzling finnish defender)

  11. Catching up after 2 weeks of no internet. Steelers on way up, my Pats down. Red Sox in WS, yes. Pens up, my Rangers ?? College football top 25, unreal. And what free agents return to the Bucs?

    • For me, I’m hoping AJ signs for one last year. That is priority one, radio. After that, I’d like to see Byrd come back. But, I think there are other options if he goes elsewhere for more money. I do not want to see Morneau come back. I think we can do better because he is sliding. We’ll have to see about Barmes. I believe they want him back, and he said he wants to come back. But, I doubt he will be the starter and won’t receive starter money again here, so that one could be interesting.

      Not as many pressing needs as in prior seasons. But, now the expectations are higher and maintaining and adding a few final pieces is key. It all starts with AJ, though.

  12. Oh yeah, the most amazing factoid I gleaned from the game: Cole Harbour has now produced not only 2 first round picks, but the first pick of the first round 2x in the past, what, 8 years?

    Hockey is an amazing game. But, can you imagine the heights this game could go to if there were more people in more places playing it? I mean, if a little town like that can produce so much talent, imagine if it were played by as many people as a sport like soccer.

    Maybe that’s a good question, actually. Do you think hockey would be a better game if it were able to develop players from a much wider geographic radius? I know the NHL is trying to spread its appeal. But, what do you think that would do for the game if they accomplished that goal? Think of the increased talent level in MLB as a result of Carribean and SE Asian players over the past 40 years. Just wondering what others think.

    DK: Which team sport, other than soccer, has a broader geographic radius than hockey? Maybe basketball, and that’s it.

    • Cost.

      If you’ve ever priced equipping a kid for hockey, you would’ve answered your own question. And then there’s ice time, expensive AND rare. Like in 5AM weekday practices and or 11 PM weekends. Also, unless there is an exising hockey culture, which even Pittsburgh has only had since Lemieux, tough too see where there’s the interest.

      Relatively speaking, soccer is free (just need a ball and a open field), baseball not much more expensive, same with basketball, unless you start talking about advanced levels.

      • Thought – if your child wants to play football for their school in this area, they are given all the equipment they need. I wonder if in Canada it works that way with hockey equipment.

        • They must be doing something in Canada to get equipment for middle and lower middle income kids who cannot afford it. I assume in the US most of our best prospects come disproportiately from upper middle to upper income families due to cost. Maybe that is a bad assumption on my part, but it seems logical.

          Maybe the economics just will never work to spread the game to other countries and to people of less means in countries where it is already being played – like the US.

        • ha, yeah, maybe its part of their universal health-care system “up there”.

      • I wasn’t asking why hockey is less popular. Ice time & equipment is very expensive, especially in the US. My son actually played a couple of years at a young age. I’m very familiar with the expenses. On that note, a whole lot of lower income Canadian kids are playing at a high level as youths. I’m sure they save on some ice time by being able to play outside for a big chunk of the year, which obviously you can’t do in very many places. But, I also assume as popularity grows and the need increases for more ice, costs go down.

        I was simply asking if the game could be even greater if more great athletes were exposed to it. Canada does not have the market cornered on 2/3 of the great athletes in the world the last time I checked.

        • When asking the question generically, the answer would be yes, of course.

          No different than the quality of where US Soccer would certainly be if the best US athletes participated.

          However, they are already playing hockey in the cold weather countries, probably to close to the max in Europe/Russia and Canada and the Northern US. I can see no scenerio of hockey expanding much where the climate doesn’t help.

          Anybody see the Jamaican Bobsled team lately?

          • I hope the NHL can find a way to expand the % of kids playing even in the US. They figured it out in Canada.

            • I agree.

              But again, the climate has a great deal to do with it. I suppose the Beau Bennett route (roller hockey) is a possiblity.

              The NHL image problem would also have to be over come.

              On one hand you have the side that believes that removing fighting is important to expand the popularity of the sport…but I’ve lived in two different warm weather cities (OKC and Houston) who have/had minor league teams and at least 75% of the crowd could care less about the game and were just there for the fights.

              A conundrum.

    • It’s a great point, Jim. Another factor, in addition to the points made by tbco, is availability of rinks. I live within 20 miles of three rinks and kids also play pick up games on lakes and ponds in the winter. Several parks in the area flood areas for ice as well. A lot of communities in USA have no facilities in the area. Plus, those facilities are costly to maintain.

      • Just saw your post, Jim. Nevermind.

      • I agree. Families around here often buy kits to install in their back yards each winter. You can do that in the Chicago area where most everything is pancake flat!). My son has buddies to do that, and he spends entire weekends playing on them in Dec/Jan/Feb.

    • That’s a good point, DK. Geographic radius was probably a bad way to phrase it. Maybe I should have said “Could it be played at an even higher level if a higher % of the world’s population were exposed to it?”

  13. Thought it interesting that DK mentioned the lack of grit up front. Not to take anything away from Giguere, but the Pens did absolutely nothing to try to change the game, just continued to do what they do, (which is clearly successful most of the time), and let the Avs do what they were doing. No attempt by any player to get under the skin of a very young Avs team and try to get them off their game. Likewise, it did not appear that the coaching staff tried any adjustments either….haven’t we seen this before? An inability to adjust?

    • Well normally you’d want to agitate and get under their skin just to get chances on the PP. Considering all the PP’s we had probably wasn’t good idea to give refs a reason to put us on the PK. Pens are fine. Avs I thought played the game of their lives. Especially defending the front of their net.

      Maybe working on some set plays off the point when there are no shooting lanes would be good idea. Maybe if point man cant get the shot thru we can move puck to half wall and have the forward from front of net pop up into the high slot and have another forward crash the net.

      • Another set play I always liked for the PP is to have the dman move the puck to the half way then crash the net essentially clearing sticks out of the way and creating a shooting lane for oncoming shooter….So lets say you have nisky and malkin on the point playing their off sides…nisky can move it to Crosby on half wall then crash the net while malkin skates across and lays into a shot with nisky and other forwards crashing the net and looking for loose change. Trick is to tell Crosby and malkin(or whoever is there) that they need to assume defensive responsibility in case puck goes other way.

        P.S. in case pens and mr. shero are wondering if they can afford me…they can! :)

      • Agree, Pens are fine.

        Anyone seen Brandon Sutter lately?

    • I think JSG played a superior game, but he is a backup for a reason.

      After the last few years I have gotten VERY cautious about saying “oh we lost to a hot goalie”…..and not go deeper than that.

      We tend to do poorly esp on PP vs. passive schemes, with teams that collapse around the net and take advantage of the Pens preferring pretty perimeter passing to ugly scramble goals, and inability/unwillingness to simply crash the crease/bump the G/screen/deflect and do all the other dirty-fingernails stuff that looks awful but scores goals.

      So while I am the first to tip my hat to JSG I also hasten to point out the lack of net front presence, and screens and rebounds, and general predictability on the PP re shooters and lanes that result in loads of blocked shots….

      All that demands some adjustments, and I’m probably not the first to note that that is a significant weakness of this coaching staff.

      Again, hats off to Giggy. He partied like it was 2003.

      • This year’s performance by the coaching staff is on Shero. He went all in.

        (I know, it’s early).

      • Maybe trying to score off the rush on PP is worth trying more often.

      • Wow, this is going to be a very long season.

        I think we are way over analizing a 1-0 loss to a team that probably could not play any better.

        I have already read on other blogs that the blame is on MAF…for giving up one goal.

        Here it’s the coaching staff.

        You know the ones that have:

        Won a Stanley Cup

        Was the fastest to 200 wins in league history

        Have been the highest scoring team since 2009.

        Voted the Jack Adams Award

        Named US Olympic Team Coach.

        Are they perfect every night…no. Am I being a little snarky…ya. But I think there are at least a couple of very learned hockey people that think they are pretty good…starting with #66. I am pretty sure they are doing what he wants with the type of hockey team that he wants. You will not see them playing New Jersey style hockey as long as he is around, so with that, I struggle to believe that they are not thinking of or trying any “adjustments”.

        It’s great to be a fan and part of that is cussing and discussing the outcomes.

        Sometimes it really is on the players.

        • Bob Errey interviewed one of the bench coaches during the game – I think it was Granato, and he said when a goalie is seeing the puck like he (JSG) is, you need to get traffic in front. Makes me wonder if it is on the players…

        • Hey tp -
          Don’t disagree, but re coaching staff I don’t think we can objectively look at the last 4 years in which we’ve been repeatedly outplayed/coached by lesser teams and be remotely happy. But that is another discussion!

          Re last night, in fact I was trying NOT to over analyze, and just look at the PP as a microcosm of issues….

          Worry-wart that I am, I see other teams looking at Avs PK and marking it down for how to play against us in playoffs…..ugh!…..

          • Good point, Sarah. I’d like to see it play out over a bunch more games where teams employ that same shell strategy. If it continues to be a problem, I would agree PP changes must be made. I still think, though, that last night a lot of good PP shots were produced and Giguere was just up to challenge. Could they have situated some players in front for deflections and shielding purposes? Yes. But, overall, isn’t their PP still over 20% while in this mini-slump?

        • Hey, you guys know way more about hockey than me. I’m just saying it’s on Shero this year, good or bad. And it’s been long enough (years), that if the players aren’t listening to the coaches that’s on the coaches. Yeah, I know, the players, including the present owner, ran Scotty Bowman out of town. How’d that work out?

  14. RIP Noel Harrison. May the windmills carry you to heaven…
    http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=835441

  15. When do the Pens plan on sitting Fleury? He was due for a rest a few games ago. I know our backup situation isn’t ideal but he has to play sometime. We can’t keep MAF in there game after game.

    • Our next game isn’t until Friday, Dom, so that’s three days’ rest. On the other hand, we play back to back Friday and Saturday, so I’m, guessing Zatkoff will see one of those games. Islanders on Friday and Leafs on Saturday. Which on would you rather he plays, Dom?

      • What, nothing til Friday? Oh No !!!

        Just popping in for a quick lunch, then back to solving crisises at my friend’s garage. May pop in later, if not, see you Friday? ( I kid, I kid).

        Happy National Nut Day!

        And, for DARYL, …….. HAPPY CAP LOCKS DAY !!!

      • I guess he should play Friday since we are on such a long break. For some reason, i thought we were playing again tomorrow.

    • He still has all of his limbs attached, Dom. Not time yet! Haha!

  16. Hurdle wins Sporting News Manager of the Year.

  17. Congratulations, officially, to Clint on the Manager of the Year award. Well deserved.

  18. Me. Hasis must be happy.

      • He’ll be even happier when we sign Barmes as Jordy’s backup and Presley hits .210 for the Twins AAA team next season.

        • Mr. Bob cannot be too happy. Presley actually batted nicely for the Twins after he left us. .283 BA and a .336 OBP because the walks started coming.

          • He’ll fall off, and even of he doesn’t who cares? :-D

            • “…who cares?”

              That was a bit cruel. But… I can’t say I have an answer for that. :)

            • He’s a spare piece, at best. The move made sense. No disrespect intended.

              • Exactly. I hope Presley gets that OBP up and carves out a niche in Minny. But, he was a spare part, as Arriba says. Not a problem filling his slot.

              • Yes, yes. I know you meant know disrespect. And what you say is the hard truth. Now, way up their in Minnesota, nobody but his own mother is every going to hear from Alex Presley again. A groundskeeper up there poked around behind a field tarp and apparently found Ryan Doumit alive and well.

                Meanwhile, we got Mourneau for the stretch and he got on base in front of Byrd for us a lot. It was a good trade for all parties.

  19. Congrats to Clint Hurdle on Manager of the Year – well deserved.

    DK – saw your take on World Series in the Final Word spot. Never let facts get in the way of a good take on the Series. The last three years, only 1 team (2013 Red Sox) have been in the top 5 of payrolls in MLB. Cardinals were 11th in 2011, 9th in 2012, and 11th in 2013. The whining over payrolls in weak and tired. Spend some money if you want to win. St. Louis is a smaller market than Pittsburgh (or at least around the same size). Cincy spends like St. Louis in a small market, why does Pittsburgh constantly whine about payrolls? Ask Pirate management to buck up. Spend some money on the team and watch the revenue and wins rack up.

    • The St. Louis “market” is an outlier, in that people from all over the Midwest have been solid Cards fans for generations. Pirates fans can be found everywhere, but really, they’re mostly in Western PA and maybe West Virginia. The Cards fan base truly stretches from North Dakota down to Okalahoma, across Arkansas and well back up into Illinois. It’s a Midwest thing and it goes back to the days of radio and the Cards being team located the farthest west in the country.

      • So the Cardinals’ competitive payroll (and subsequent success) is due to the fact that their fanbase stretches from Oklahoma up to North Dakota. Okay, that explains it. Glad you cleared that up for me. It’s all those North Dakotans packing the seats at Busch we can thank for all this success. Certainly not owners that care about winning more than taking their fanbase to the cleaners.

        • You don’t have to snark off on me. I agree with your general point that fans will “come” to Pirate ball games if the owners “build it.” This year’s turnaround in attendance shows that. But yes, fans from North Dakota DO faithfully make it down to Busch Stadium to take in games. So do tons of fans from Iowa and all around. Heck, I just met a guy here in Las Vegas who makes it back to opening day at Busch *every year.* (Not sure if that anecdote helps or hurts my “wide Midwest” theory for the Cards. But it’s true.) Anyway, here are the final 2013 attendance numbers for the entire MLB. No. 2 is the Cardinals. Something’s going on if “St. Louis is a smaller market than Pittsburgh (or at least around the same size).”
          http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance

          • Whole lotta snarkin’ goin on today.

          • Essentially, what I’m saying is two-fold: A) St. Louis is a special case because for historical reasons their fan base is actually “large market,” but B) the Pirates can indeed create a virtuous cycle by investing in players who create a product that brings out the fans. I think the FO is now on to a formula that allows them to be competitive within their own market realities.

            Detroit drew over 3 million fans. So did Milwaukee when they were winning. Those are closer examples to what Pittsburgh can be.

          • You are absolutely right about the Cards and the huge swath from which they draw, Ghost. No doubt about it. They own the bottom half of Illinois, for the most part.

            And when they draw like they do, they obviously have more money to spend on payroll.

    • The Cardinals in St. Louis = Steelers in Pittsburgh. 3 million+ fans. 40,000+ per game for the Cards.

      The Rams in St. Louis = (until this year) the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Fans show interest when they win. They don’t even sell out all their home games unless the team is really good.

      So, the Cardinals have a lot more revenue than the Pirates. Cincy may well be spending to a point where they are unprofitable, although they did draw 200,000 more fans and have a better local TV deal.

      • But I’ve always felt that if the Steelers had a bunch of really bad years in a row, you might see attendance change. There were a couple of years there with Bubby when you could see empty seats and I know the season ticket wait list dropped from 11 to 5 years during one offseason. And we’ve seen it with the Penguins.

        • Probably so, and I believe that would happen to the Cards as well if they fell on hard times. I think people only commit to season tickets if they feel their team has a chance to compete – and even then, only if they feel they will be frozen out if they don’t do it.

          • Completely agree. Not many fanbases stick around when losing becomes a habit. Rams/Pirates is a good analogy too. Both poorly run organizations (at least the Pirates are turning it around). We shall see if they continue to increase spending or go back to the old model of hosing their fanbase with payrolls that won’t field a competitive team. If they want to make money, go buy some stock. If you want to win, spend some cash.

  20. I’m thinking about renting out PNC to renew my wedding vows.

  21. The official Manager of the Year Award voted on by the writers will be announced in November

  22. Weddings are for churches.

  23. Hey Milo, what did you think of the WPIAL’s decision with resepect to Wash High? Kind of odd, eh?

    • Seems a bit harsh to me, basically wiping out an entire season. But the kids always bear the brunt, not the adults that didn’t do their jobs. There will be an appeal, and it would be just like the PIAA to rule in Washington’s favor just to stick it to the WPIAL.

      Maybe they should spend some of all that time they apparently have on their hands investigating what happens in the 8th grade. Kids, prospective athletes, are repeating the 8th grade either by homeschooling or private school so they’re a year older than everyone else through high school.

      • Really? That’s sad.

      • Really odd to me that they also make the kid eligible going forward. If this had happened before the start of the season and he was ruled eligible then, the record stands. Makes no sense to me.

        As to kids repeating 8th grade, I presume you remember Tom Droney. That name just came to mind.

        • I did not know that. My buddy with no heat in his car went to Sewickley Academy. Micah Mason repeated 8th also.

          • Didn’t know that about Micah. I read a while ago that Duquesne was trying to get a waiver to allow him to play this year due to his medical situation. Can’t find an update.

            • I saw him 2 weeks ago & he still hasn’t heard. The NCAA takes it’s good old time in these cases.

            • Is he the kid that was originally offered by Drake and had a debilitating illness of some sort? That was sad.

              • He’s OK as long as he’s on the proper diet. It’s a gluten issue I believe. He finished top 10 in the country in 3 point % as a freshman while he was feeling crappy all season. Dukes fans will be happy to have him.

              • I hope he has a great career. I know it was bad for awhile until they figured it out. The story I originally read about him said he was a shooting machine. Tireless worker.

        • I don’t know the specifics, but isn’t Ron Rowan’s kid who is supposedly coming to Pitt going to be pretty old for a freshman when he gets there? I think there were some odd educational circumstances there as well.

          I think it is Ron Rowan’s kid, although maybe I am mis-remembering.

    • There was a kid at Peter Township HS a few years back that was already a bit older than his classmates and then repeated 8th grade at a catholic school. He was a decent basketball player, but his real sport was golf. The line around the South Hills was when he got out of high school he could go straight to the Senior’s Tour…

  24. Afternoon, Y’all! Happy to see Clint Hurdle named “Manager Who Took His Pitchers Out Too Late Of The Year” LOL! Seriously, congrats to the Big Guy! Honestly, I figure a guy who knows how to relate to his players, can keep them loose and have fun with it all is MUCH better than the guy who is great at the X’s and O’s and has the personality of a 2 by 4 with nails in it! Of course, it takes all kinds to make a managerial world just like it does people to make a regular world. Even John Russell … I felt sorry for him because of the way people made fun of him for being a quiet guy. If he’d have had the talent, who knows …

    • Howdy Bay Man :)

    • Russell’s coaches didn’t even support him. He had no talent and no hope. That job was doomed from the start, even with his laid-back demeanor.

      The epitomy of a sacrificial lamb.

      • I wonder if he’ll ever manage again.

      • They still could have done better. No pass there for me. It’s not like they planned on getting a sacrificial lamb. Pure and simple, they didn’t know what they were doing then. What a dumb move!

        • I couldn’t agree more. Felt it when they made it. He was fired as a 3rd base coach, now he’s the manager.

          You have to be “sommers” before you can be promoted usually, except in sports.

          I don’t think they exactly planned on roasting him, but they sure did.

        • Of all the mistakes this front office has made, hiring Russell stands out far in front to me.

          • Me too, 21.

            That and trading Joey Bats………..here we go!!!

            • I wasn’t a Lloyd fan, either, and there are lots of people saying he should get the Detroit job.

              In my lifetime there’s Murtaugh, Tanner, Leyland and Clint.

              And I liked Harry the Hat as a hitting instructor. ;-)

              • I was reading some of the articles on the Detroit Free Press web site after the Tigers got eliminated the other day. A lot of readers had a lot of venom towards Lloyd as the Tigers’ hitting coach. I have to wonder how many of them want him to be the managers. (but hey, what do people on blogs know?)

                I did hear some talk today (on MLB XM) that they should go with an experienced manager because they have a veteran team that still has a chance next year and maybe one after that

              • I hadn’t looked at the Detroit blogs, just saw some strange support for him on Pirate blogs. (Strange to me).

              • My guess is they will have to go with someone with experience, just to keep peace with their many veterans.

                Bobby Valentine is available. Oh, that’s right. He’s still a high powered college AD.

              • It’s funny, it seems like a lot of the Pittsburgh support for him goes back to him picking up that base. I’ve also seen, elsewhere, that picking up that base was one of the dumbest moves in recent baseball history.

              • Unless Cabrera and Verlander endorse him, I don’t see Lloyd getting the job.

              • During his last year here I was not a fan of Lloyd’s. I thought he almost became paranoid regarding the umpires.

            • “picking up that base was one of the dumbest moves . . .”

              ;-)

              • Yeah, that was one of those ones where I think you probably start questioning what you are doing right away. But, you kind of dig your heels in and refuse to back off. He stomped off so indignantly with that base. I remember being embarrassed for him.

  25. The Yankees are planning on adding Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, and keeping Robinson Cano.

    http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/9845063/sources-say-new-york-yankees-go-offseason-shopping-spree

  26. Every pitcher in MLB just now popped champagne corks.

    Tim Lincecum reportedly just signed a 2 year/$35 million contract.
    This is not a typo.
    That is $17.5 million for an average pitcher, folks.

    Wow.

    • Wow is right.

      The insanity is coming back to baseball.

      I know it is a short deal but that is a lot of money for a pitcher on the decline.

      • Wonder if this is TV contract money we have heard about?

        • My view on all this new TV money is, yes teams have a lot of money to spend but that doesn’t mean they have to spend it stupidly.

      • It’s all relative to the new TV money.

      • There is a lot at play here more than just a financial contract.

        1. Tim Lincecum is a major reason the Giants won 2 World Series. In 2010 he was the backbone in their sensational rotation. In both postseasons he pitched tremendously and was integral to their success.

        2. It was Lincecum who came up at 22 and led the Giants with their development phase until they were ready for postseason success. He is homegrown. His debut was a major event in SF baseball history. Billboards heralded it all over Northern California. The WS win in 2010 broke a long drought in the franchise history for winning a title and erasing years of Cubs like failure in the postseason. That 2010 team is beloved beyond words.

        3. He is still a tremendous marketing draw, especially for young fans.

        4. The Giants are a loyal organization and reward their own. Its admirable. They are willing to spend money.

        What if Gerrit Cole goes on the help the Pirates win two of three World Championships and then has some downward years ? Would you be supportive of the Pirates casting him aside over a mere two year contract to see if he could regain the old form ?

        I think its worth the Giants gamble. I think its the right thing to do. People are always complaining about player loyalty. Nice to see an ownership group that is loyal. It’s a gamble but they arn’t spending it on a FA home grown in another organization. Spending it on one of their own.

        • Excellent post, John. And excellent North Stars avi.

        • I dont know Oshie……………

          You bring up some good points. I just see Lincecum as on the decline. If he regains his “touch” so to speak, its a great deal. If he continues to go south, its an awful deal.

          I do know that mediocre pitchers all over baseball are hugely happy.
          Think Frankie Liriano isnt salivating over this deal? If he has another great year next year, he will be looking at 20-23 million a year. Scary stuff.

        • What Lucky said.
          Love the old North Stars logo. Along with the Whale.

        • +1

          I don’t think of Tim and “average” at the same time.

  27. Hey, Hey, Hey! Nice to see so much BASEBALL discussion on an out-of-Pirates season thread! Very encouraging! I thought maybe I might not have anybody to play with for awhile!

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