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Morning Java: Hey, where’d everyone go?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column from Heinz Field is critical of the Steelers’ loss. Yesterday and, really, all season since that’s now lost, too.

Here’s some of what a visibly displeased Ben Roethlisberger had to say …

And what a doggedly determined Cam Heyward had to say …

Random randomness from the scene: In the precise moment Antonio Brown burst from the Dolphins’ defense for that dazzling 43-yard touchdown, I unleashed my inner Mike Tomlin and looked the other way toward Heinz Field’s JumboTron. Not to get a better view of the play but, rather, to count the number of fans who’d walk out even while hearing the remaining crowd cheer. The count was eight. They paused, looked up at the board to see AB’s highlight, and walked right out. The Steelers trailed by three with an entire half remaining, and they walked right out. … Roughly 13,000 didn’t even bother showing. The NFL does attendance by actual turnstile count, and that was 52,489 with a capacity of 65,500. … Roethlisberger rang all the usual alarm bells, unwittingly or not, with this response when asked why the Steelers curiously got away from running the ball in the second half: “No idea. Coach Haley’s over there. You can probably ask him. Whether it’s scheme, I don’t know. There was no particular reason. We just tried to move the ball, and I thought we did a good job passing it there, too.” And people think the media keep that narrative alive. … Heyward was outstanding. Again. He had 10 tackles, one for a loss, with a QB hit and pass defensed. He also slammed bodies to the ground. He played like a Steeler. … Credit to Tomlin — and I mean this — for starting Jason Worilds on the left side. I don’t care if it’s a no-brainer, it still isn’t easy to bump a $61.5 million player out of position. Even if that player, LaMarr Woodley, isn’t earning a fraction of that money. … Quote of the day, predictably, from Ryan Clark: “If you out yourself in a position where Marcus Gilbert has the ball in his hands to win the game, a lot didn’t go right.” … Call me nuts, but I’m starting to think Danny Smith isn’t the answer as special teams coach. … Of all the zillion things I’ve written about the Steelers this calendar year, nothing was more wrong than counting out Jerricho Cotchery. Big mistake. Will never happen again. … If Emmanuel Sanders had a tenth of Cotchery’s fortitude and smarts, he’d be a Pro Bowl performer. … Impossible to see snow at Heinz Field and not think of Jerome Bettis vs. Brian Urlacher, one of the great moments at the place. … No setting in local sports moves me like snow at Heinz. So very us. Maybe someday it’ll matter again.

>> The game story assesses the ugly aftermath, by Alan Robinson.

AB’s almost-amazing finish, by Mark Kaboly.

Defense? What defense? Ralph Paulk asks the athletes.

Mike Wallace was mostly nondescript, by Bill West.

A draft pick will be lost for the Tomlin incident, by Robinson. When exactly the NFL will stop hiding that fact and avoiding the blowback — or whatever other motivation they might have — is unclear.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including key plays, game balls and more.

Here’s Dolphins news from the Miami Herald.

Here are official game highlights from

Finally, here’s our Steelers photo gallery by Chaz Palla and Chris Horner, which includes this snow-capped beauty by Horner of Charles Clay eluding Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen on the Dolphins’ deciding touchdown …


>> The latest on Brooks Orpik and all that stuff, by Rob Rossi.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including a look at tonight’s visit from the Blue Jackets.

Here’s Blue Jackets news from the Columbus Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights from

>> If you missed it, the Sunday column reached across a few thousand miles to touch base with the Pirates’ Mark Melancon on his latest global journey, this to South Africa.

>> If you missed it, Part II, WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word very late last night covered a veritable smorgasbord of sporting fare with Rossi, Mark Madden, Alby Oxenreiter and myself.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. today, then have the next couple days off. That link I always provide for our station puts you one click away from listening. No signup, login, registration, nothing. Just the best no-nonsense, no-frills sports talk in the city.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. The standard is the standard … unfortunately, now the standard has been lowered. It appears this level of talent acquisition and play has become acceptable to the Rooneys.

  2. Anyone think big changes are coming to the Steelers scouting department after this season? Too many misses with talent evaluation to not do so.

  3. Steeler positives: DeCastro, Bell, A. Brown, Heyward, Worilds, Roethlisberger, Miller, Polamalu, Beachum, Velasco, Cotchery, Suisham

    Stuck in neutral: Timmons, Gay, Foster, Taylor, Dwyer

    Need major improvement, to stay healthy or are questionable: C. Allen, Gilbert, Adams, McLendon, J. Jones, Pouncey, Foote, Moye, Paulson, L. Jones, S. Thomas, V. Williams

    Gone: Hood, Clark, Sanders, McBriar, Keisel, Stephens-Howling, F. Jones, Burress, C. Brown

    Wish they were gone: Woodley

    • Timmons, has played lights out this year and Gay has been pretty good. Dwyer when given the opportunity has
      done some decent things (you have to factor in O line issues).

  4. Before turning in, here are 2 new posters for Bizrow the Retired………

    Court Jester
    December 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Grafton, West Virginia


    December 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Sykesville, MD

  5. To let a mediocre team from South Florida traipse into a snowy Heinz Field and beat the Steelers is about as pathetic as it gets.
    It is signed, sealed and delivered proof that this was a bad team in pre-season….And remains a bad team in December.

    DK mentions the deserters and no-shows at the game, which amounts to lost concession and merchandise sales.
    This is precisely why I find myself wondering how long the leash will be for HC Mike Tomlin.
    Keep in mind that this is an ownership that has several fairly new partners.
    I can’t help to wonder if they will be as patient as the Rooneys.
    One of them (Thomas Tull) is well known in the Hollywood motion picture business.
    He is also famous for dealing with failure quite unhappily.
    The dueling site of a poor Steeler team AND lack of sales will not be taken lightly.

    • Thomas Tull has no interest in running this team. He’s ecstatic he can tell his Hollywood friends that he owns a small piece of his favorite franchise.

      Tomlin is going nowhere.

      • I didn’t say Tomlin is going anywhere and I certainly didn’t say that Thomas Tull was “running” the team.
        But he will have a say after the amount of money he has invested.

        • It’s a sideline for Tull. He’ll only ask if there’s any way he can help.

          Speaking of which, it’s “the sideline” for Antonio Brown and Tomlin as well. $#@! sideline.

          • ““There’s only one owner of the Steelers, and that’s Mr. Rooney and his son, Art,” Tull has said. “I’m just an investor and wanted the team to stay in the same hands and continue the success they’ve had.”

            • As usual….You speak of things you know little of.
              I’m SURE Thomas Tull has the utmost respect for the Dan and Art Jr.
              I am also SURE that Tull has gone to battle with Warner Brothers, whom his Legendary Pictures is connected with.
              It’s fact that Tull “wants to be a winner” in everything he does.

              If you think he’s going to sit in a board meeting (after buying “more” shares of the team from Jimmy Haslam when he went to the Browns) and sit in silent awe of the Rooney’s, then go ahead and keep dreaming.
              Tull (alone) is not going to be thrilled about the financial figures, and he’s not going to be excited about a team that has bottomed out for two years.

              Once again…Tomlin will be back next year…. BUT the leash (in my opinion) will not be as long as Bill Cowher had in his tenure.

  6. LaMarr Woodley is this year’s Rashard Mendenhall. Both clueless.

  7. Tomlin is not up to snuff by Steeler standards. But I don’t expect he’ll be dumped. That’s not how the Rooneys – still firmly in control – operate. Not necessarily a bad thing. Tomlin’s tenure is beginning to play out strikingly similarly to Cowher’s. Cowher went to a Super Bowl with mostly key players from the Chuck Noll era (O’Donnell, Woodson, Lake, Green[Eric], etc.) Then Cowher went through his wilderness period in the late ’90′s. The team largely had to be rebuilt, but slowly players like Hines Ward, Deshea Townsend, Alan Faneca, The Bus, James Farrior and others were being added. The final touches were Polamalu, Big Ben and Heath Miller. Our current team must thoroughly be rebuilt. Big Ben, AB, Bell, Heyward, some of the O-line, and very little else should be retained. Coming out the other end of this all, hopefully Tomlin will have refine his craft, as Cowher did about a decade into his own tenure.

    Colbert needs to either reinvent himself or go, though. And LeBeau’s defense must just go.

    • I’m not as down on the 2013 draft. I think it’s the three prior that sealed our fate.

      Le’Veon Bell is a first-rate back. He played a lot as a rookie and he’s only going to get better. We don’t know what we really have in Wheaton since he didn’t play. Keeping Sanders this past off season stunted Wheaton’s development though, but that only with the benefit of hindsight. Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas need improvement so we’ll see where they are next year. Looked at the 2013 draft from mid-Round 4 on and did not see a lot of recognizable names. That said, you would like to think all of your late rounders would make the squad in their first year. You remember Justin Brown and Terry Hawthorne? Neither do I.

      • I’m not down on the 2013 draft, per se. I’m down on the Colbert/Tomlin era’s overall body of work in drafting/deciding who to let go/who to sign as FA’s. Strip away Cowher-era holdovers like Ben, Troy, Ryan, Ike and Heath, and there is truly little left to show for the last seven years.

        • I understand your point, but I would say Timmons, DeCastro, Bell, A. Brown, Wallace, Heyward and Worilds (based upon this year) were good choices.

          On Heyward and Worilds, they were either blocked or not healthy their first few years. We really need to sign both this offseason.

          • . . . and add Pouncey and Suisham.

          • Except for Wallace (it’s true; all he was was a one-trick-pony — and then he stopped even being that), I’d agree on those names. I’d even throw in Pouncey (not Colbert’s fault he can’t stay healthy). Yet, over seven years that’s a pretty paltry showing. I don’t dismiss the possibility that Colbert & Co. can get better. But they better. Or they should go.

      • ..that QB, Landry Jones # 4 pick was WELL SPENT !!! ;-)

    • if the Tomlin-Shuffle ends up costing the Stillers a draft pick, then sayanara Mr. Obvious.

  8. Well, safe to say there aren’t many positives out of yesterday’s mess. Thought for sure this would be a win with Miami coming into the wintery mess.

    I hate to say it, but I think it’s time for a change of command at defense.

    Haley needs to go without a doubt. The offense has been putting up good numbers, but can’t put together an important drive to save their @$$. That fourth quarter inside-the-10 thing was pathetic.

    I’m not even touching the clock management phase because there isn’t one. I seriously scratched my head on that fourth quarter possessions after they took the lead.

    I don’t know if Tomlin has lost his way, got lazy, or just relied on the veterans/captains to handle the discipline, but it’s not there.

    I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I think it’s also time to change out the head coach. Two years in a row is not Steelers football. The product on the field is not Steelers football.

    It’s not that they lost to Miami or aren’t making the playoffs, but it’s how they did it. If they get beat, they get beat. That happens.

    BTW, Antonio Brown and Mike Tomlin both need to realize where the sideline is. Game never should have come down to that trickery.

  9. 22 days. East bound and down.

  10. Might was well play the young guys more down the stretch…my guess is they go 1-2 to finish out the season.

  11. The main problem with the Steelers is a definite lack of talent on both sides of the ball.
    However….There’s something wrong with this team that I’ve had a hard time putting my finger on the last couple of years.

    • No, I think that you really did just put your finger on it. The talent level has been declining for the last few years, and that’s all there is to it.

    • yes, it’s called “buffoonery” and it’s rampant with this team starting with the HC–bypassing Mr. Lebeau of course.

      Etch that cup!

      • With a shuttlecock?

        • i’d like to take the entire boston bruins team, tie them to posts and bombard them for 24-hrs straight with shuttlecocks. You’ve heard of waterboarding? Shuttlecockboarding! that’s some bodacious torture.

          That game, even though Orpik wasn’t called for his hit on Ericksson, it was pretty borderline. His feet didn’t leave the ice but it was definitely shoulder into face.

          Neal’s knee to Marchand’s head, that was pretty questionable too.

          Thonton’s slew-footing and subsequent sucker-punching of Orpik… I seriously almost trashed my big screen over that one. I hope Thornton gets 10 games.

          • buggeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

            Brooksie pyt his shoulder into Ericksson’s chest, not his face, honey.
            Commence the Shuttlecockboarding!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Daq,

      I’m with ya. The biggest thing that might be lacking is leadership. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. This team without Farrior and Smith lack a tremendous amount of discipline.

  12. A defense GASHED by a bunch of no names …..former WIIC anchor Ray Tannehill @ QB, Charles Clay, Danny Thomas !!! Wow ….who are these guys!?

    Much better than the defense that Warren Sapp pointed at a few years ago as too old, too slow, over the hill.

    Worse yet…there is no fight.

    Back up the truck….time for a major, MAJOR overhaul. DISAPPOINTING.

  13. Scoreboard.

    Oh wait. That doesn’t work when they lose.

  14. I know that Steeler fans like to be thought of as tough, but I wonder if this is a realization that the entire NFL might be coming to:

    Inclement weather + a team that stinks = fans would rather stay home / go to a bar and watch the game on TV.

    I think the Steelers have come to this realization.

  15. Seeing that Bettis highlight makes yesterdays loss and this season that much more painful. What happened to that attitude? Thanks Dejan!

  16. Basically the same weather but colder in Green Bay and you could count the number of empty seats with one hand , yet a quarter of so called Steeler nation doesn’t even bother to show up. You’re a bigger joke than your team is Steeler nation.

  17. JAL’s Money Money Money Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Winter Meetings Preview

    When Will the Pirates Shed the Cheap Label?

    Winter Leagues: Four Hits For Diaz, Ramirez Stays Hot

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Mike Morse? Jason Kubel? Jeff Francoeur? Yikes, no

    6 Rumbunter

    A.J. Burnett: So There Still Is A Chance?

    7 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Lack of Offseason Movement Shouldn’t Shock Anyone

    8 PBC Site

    On eve of Winter Meetings, Bucs eye upgrades

    9 Baseball Nation

    Eric Wedge’s parting shots might sting the M’s

    10 Yahoo Sports

    AP Newsbreak: Schilling replaces Hershiser in ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ booth–mlb.html

  18. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Detroit Free Press

    Wooing of Shin-Soo Choo among intriguing story lines at winter meetings

    12 Arkansas Business

    History Hits Home on Hot Springs Baseball Trail

    13 Jackson Sun

    GENERALLY SPEAKING: Baseball’s Winter Meetings open today at Disney World

    14 LA Times

    Agent believes Dodgers’ Matt Kemp will be traded,0,4277030.story#axzz2myh466p2

    15 CBS Sports

    Two amazing photos of famous Juan Marichal-John Roseboro brawl

    16 NY Times

    Alderson Tempers Expectations About Mets’ Winter Meeting Plans

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    La Russa, Torre, Cox all should make Hall

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Aroldis Chapman says he won’t start


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    20 Fangraphs

    MLB Court Filing: It Rejected A’s Proposal For San Jose Ballpark

    Song: Money Money Money ABBA

  19. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Dolphins vs. Steelers final score: Miami all but ends Pittsburgh’s season in 34-28 win

    Steelers borderline miraculous play sums up some of Steelers season

    22 Steelers Gab

    Tomlin Talks On The Loss To Miami: “Not Enough Playmaking For Us”


    23 Sports on Earth

    Not Your Typical Team USA

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Cup Draw


    25 Pensburgh

    Brooks Orpik stretchered off ice after attack by Shawn Thornton

  20. Thought some might enjoy my latest piece

    She Wants to Hear Her Father’s Voice

  21. Evidently an exciting day of football all across the NFL.

    You’d almost think it was Saturday football.

  22. No matter the game, DK, you can ask the quarterback why they didn’t pass more or run more… and honestly, I believe you’ve done pretty much precisely that. When you ask that question, you are extending the Haley v. Roethlisberger narrative.

    It’s a question. You got an answer and you interpret that answer the way you want…and that is what keeps extending the narrative. You could ask that question after every NFL game of every QB and you’d be able to create an O.C. v. QB narrative. But you keep asking, after every game, and call it a narrative. And we’ll keep taking sides.

    When the QB doesn’t make turnovers and the ball stays clear of E. Sanders, the Steelers have won. QB made a bad turnover that resulted in a TD and Sanders had his usual day of several drops. And the defense… oh well, at least we have the Ben and Todd show.

    • I think Ben was off his game pretty much the entire day. Passes slightly behind, passes low, overthrows. He deserves a good deal of the blame. That said, there were points where we had the lead in the second half and we were calling virtually nothing for Bell. Even if you don’t let Bell run it on 3rd down and 3, why not use him out of the backfield instead of pitching it deeper? On a snowy day, where the RB knows exactly where he is going, a RB who can catch can be very effective. We essentially stopped using him. I’d therefore say that the question asked about play-calling is relevant, even if asked in the last four losses. Whether it’s on Tomlin, Haley or Ben, the question is still relevant and persists.

      And especially after a second half like yesterday, the play-calling is definitely under the microscope.

      • I don’t blame Ben at all for yesterday’s loss. Not a great performance but 23-39, 349, 3,0 is a pretty good statistical day in poor conditions. We missed tackles and they ran all over us.

    • You’re not making any sense here. It’s a simple, logical question – why didn’t you run the ball more? If Ben wanted to, he could’ve given the typical vague answer. Instead, he specifically called out Todd Haley, which shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he and the OC are not on the same page.

      And you want to blame the media for asking the question? Good grief.

  23. Eddie (Boo) Bouchette was on the Fan this morning. When they asked him about Ben throwing Haley under the bus, EB pointed out that a number of those passing plays were called from the no-huddle…which would have been by Ben.

    He also seemed to note that when the offense is going good Ben wants the credit for that play calling. ( I think that is what he was getting at)

    • Those guys who have covered the Steelers for 35 years see the narrative, too…and they provide some answers. When Roethlisberger doesn’t turn over the ball, the team wins. Yesterday, his one turnover, deep in their own end, led to an easy touchdown. That wasn’t the major reason they lost as the defense was really bad, but to say the play calling or Offensive Coordinator was to blame is really way out there.

      Seems like Bouchette is on to something: when the team wins, the QB wants the credit for his genius no-huddle play calling. When the team loses, it’s the OC’s fault. That’s been the consistent, post-game narrative all year.

  24. Somebody remind me how much money the Rooneys would like Pittsburgh to pay for their stadium expansion?

    Seems a fitting time to ask.

    • Sure doesn’t look like they’ll be needing one, does it NMR?

    • Two losing seasons and no playoffs (probably) for the Steelers…Pirates make the playoffs and are way, way up in merchandise sales…Steelers have player/coach issues….Pirates and their fans love their manager…13,000 no shows at Heinz Field and people leaving early only down a few points….incredibly hard to get a ticket for the October 1st game at PNC Park…you get the point. Wow…times are sure changing in the ‘Burgh. Indeed they are.

      • Check back in a year or two and see if the times have really changed. Given the long term results of the two organizations I suspect the Steelers will be able to return to their winning ways while the PBC levels off and goes downward. Much of that has to do with the difference in how the leagues operate. $$$$

        • Like both posts here. I do think that fans, looking at the price of tickets and looking at the quality of the product, will support what is worth their time and money and won’t support them if they think they stink.

    • Pro Nutter. :-)

    • I don’t know. But I do believe the Rooney’s feel that there is a contractual obligation by the city. If that is the case, the Rooney’s would expect the city to live up to it’s contractual obligations.

      Why wouldn’t you?

      • Why wouldn’t I? Personally?

        Because spending $30m for 3,000 seats is indefensibly insane in the first place. Passing the buck along to your fans only makes it worse.

        • Unless, of course there is a contract that requires it.

          I don’t know if that is the case, but I’m pretty sure that is the Rooney’s arguement. A couple of them are lawyers and I would probably give them more credibility than ANYONE representing the City of Pittsburgh on almost any subject. That being posted, I think the court is the proper setting for resolution.

          I am puzzled at why anyone would think that the Rooeny’s would pay for the upgrade out of benevolence or altruism, IF there is a contractual obligation by the city.

          • You’re missing the most obvious part, tpbco. This is a project.

            The very first question when building a project should be whether or not it is needed and can it be feasibly built.

            I promise you that the contract does not REQUIRE the additional seats to be built, only paid for.

            If the Steelers cannot come up with a feasible plan in which to build these seats, it should not be the City’s obligation to fund it.

            • “The very first question when building a project should be whether or not it is needed”

              You really think so? A lot of times a Company doesn’t need to build something but if it adds profits, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

              • I cannot imagine this project would be profitable for the Steelers unless it was heavily subsidized, which is what they’re requesting.

                The issue then becomes whether or not it is ethical to request a public subsidy for an infeasible private project.

              • On the ethical question, I agree.

          • “and I would probably give them more credibility than ANYONE representing the City of Pittsburgh”

            That is just way way off base, IMO. I know who is representing the SEA in this matter, it’s a private firm, and an excellent law firm. His name has been made public and it’s Walter DeForest if you want to research him.

            • I’ll take your word for it, largely because it’s a nonissue to me since I don’t live in the area anymore. But reading what comes out of the Pittsburgh city government (on a variety of subjects) led to my opinion. If in fact that they have retained someone “competent in this case would be the exception, rather than the rule.

              My point was simply if there’s a legal document out there that requires the city to pay for an expansion, why would any one think the Steeler’s wouldn’t pursue it, regardless of any other factors?

              • I didn’t see the posts below until after I posted. If AW is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, then I would drop my credibility statement. My lack of respect for Pittsburgh City Government remains.

              • It is sad commentary on current thought in this country when bad projects benefitting private companies get passed along to taxpayers and the action is seen as good business.

          • It’s not the City of Pittsburgh. It’s Allegheny County.

          • NMR – then would also hope that you feel it’s a sad commentary for the people to vote in these “politicians” who would agree to pay for this kinda stuff, using tax payer money.

            Again, this is subject to there being contracual obligation. I have no dog in this fight either way.
            If it’s in the agreement, I side with the Steelers. If not, then I would side with AW’s Enertainment Group.

  25. Wanted to ask the hockey crazed members of the blog about an idea I mentioned on the Pens thread the other night. Why shouldn’t inactive players be allowed to dress, and then, if an injury occurs due to another team’s foul, be allowed to immediately use one?

    After the attack on Orpik tho other night, the Pens had to play a man short on defense the rest of the night. Why be further disadvantaged by another team’s foul? The violator being thrown out of the game is not enough. Pucknutz, Hm, Sarah, others – what say you?

    • Even if it’s something that could be negotiated, no idea how plausible, an issue is – not enough room on the bench. Frequently, the back up goalie has to sit in the runway to the locker room…expansion of the bench area somewhat problematic.

      I do agree in principle though.

  26. Probably. the Steelers lost heart when they heard that they’d lose their draft pick next
    season, unless it was indeed the weather and the half empty stands.

  27. Taking that timeout prior to the 4th down attempt at the end of the game was yet another example of poor clock management by this coaching staff.

    Betting on Cortez Allen to = or exceed Keenan Lewis’ performance was a huge error.

    We saw the “old” Troy Polamalu on his interception return for a touchdown (should have had one on the Dolphins first series) and we saw the old Troy Polamalu when he fanned on a tackle on a third down pass that allowed the Dolphins to convert and again when he failed to bring Clay down on the Dolphin’s final touchdown.

    Heyward and Worilds seem to be the only two players performing “above the line” on a weekly basis.

    Given the disruptions to the offensive line, I thought they did OK.

    Ben was off at times but I will attribute some of that to weather conditions. Receivers could not plant their feet and make catches on off target passes like they usually would. Bell seems to have a lot of upside potential. Antonio Brown can play on my team any time, even if he did step OB on the crazy last play which was probably going to be called back for a forward lateral. Heath Miller is still as good a tight end as any. Cotchery has had a great season.

    Ryan Clark is going to kill himself or someone else with his constant head shots.

  28. One more thing. A missing person report needs to be filed for one Jarvis Jones. Has this guy done anything other than bite on every inside handoff fake?

  29. Bruce Arians is 8-5 with the decaying carcass of Carson Palmer. Hope he’s enjoying his retirement.

    • I thought it was mummified.
      Prevents decay but kind of a stiff.

    • I was just in Phoenix. I think everyone does retire to Arizona.

    • I have to admit I wasn’t a big Arians fan and I was completely wrong. The man is proving his chops with two different teams. Ben liked him and he’s good at calling plays. Maybe he should be our GM and our OC.

      • Many weren’t because he didn’t use a full back and it wasn’t the “Steeler Football” that they all knew and loved.

        Oh well, back to the way it was, without the results.

        I hope many like their fullback style offense now.

        • I love it, all three to five plays that I get to see it.

          There was nothing wrong with Arians offense. There is nothing wrong with Haley’s offense. You could win in the NFL running the single wing, as long as you had talented players who were suited to running it. The problem with the Steelers isn’t the coordinators. It’s the players.

  30. The Keystone Kops, rugby-style, desperation offense the Steelers employed yesterday is emblematic of the season and a team in the process of disintegrating. At least it was fun to watch.

  31. I want to recommend Bill West’s story on Mike Wallace that DK linked to above. Not because I care about Mike Wallace but because Bill is a good guy & you should read him. Even if he did go to Char Valley. :)

  32. I drove back into Cocoa Beach in time to watch the last five minutes of the game.

    I felt like Ray Liotta in Goodfellas after Karen shoves a gun in his face.

    “I gotta come home…for THIS ???”

    I like how he always called her

    I don’t know why THAT’s important to me. But it is.

  33. Begin bracing yourself for Bronson Arroyo.

  34. Torre, LaRussa, & Cox are great choices. But, when will Murtaugh get his due? Not even on the ballot this time from what I can gather. Some year, I suppose, the wrong will be righted.

  35. Question,

    How were the roads around the burgh and western PA yesterday? I assumed that the empty seats were because the roads were poor…

    Here in the mountains of MD, we had 6+ inches in about 3-4 hours, followed by an ice storm. I had tix to see a comedy act in Hershey, PA last night but decided against hauling my pregnant wife 1.5 hours up the road. Is it possible that some of the no-shows were for safety reasons? Or were the roads fine, but people just used that as an excuse for more obvious reasons?

    Although… my buddy from Cleveland (his dad is from the burgh) drove down for the game and thought the roads were fine. But I never know how to gauge conditions one somebody who’s used to lake effect snow says the roads were fine.

  36. Word leaking out about possible interest in Arroyo could also be a not so subtle nudge in the direction of another 37 year old righthander currently mulling retirement.

  37. I dont know which was worse yesterday…….. the Steelers loos in general, or the poor defensive effort. The D this year has made Terrelle Pryor look like Steve Young, and yesterday, Ryan Tannehill looked like Joe Montana. Add the inability to stop the run, and you get a microcosm of the 2013 season. And Coach Sideline had another series of brain cramps yesterday with clock management…….. which is patently funny, because he is in denial that there is a problem in that area.

    I have said all year this team was going to have an awful time. Poor personell decisions from the offseason to training camp, poor schemes and execution, injuries, no depth to soften those injuries………….. and Tomlin has been constantly one step behind to fix the problems. I see this team going 1-2 the final 3 games, giving them a 6-10 record……….which I humbly called this preseason.

    Major changes are needed across the board, from the FO to the roster. Colbert needs to up his game in player acquisitions, Tomlin needs to up his game with player development, new co-ordinators are needed, which is a shame, because LeBeau is one of the best, but the putting square pegs in round holes approach isnt working anymore.

    Adding to this mess are the cap problems and lack of options to fix said problems. I just dont think the Rooneys have the stomach to make the necessary changes. I foresee “stay the course”, “make minor tweaks”, and all will be fine. This is the course that the Steelers took from 1985-1991, resulting in middling draft picks, and no tangible improvement, just kinda treading water with 6-10, 7-9, 8-8 and 9-7 seasons……… only one playoff berth, and not bad enough to get great draft choices (with the exception of Woodson).

    Good Luck to us all.

  38. Lost in yesterdays suck in the snow was this: more helmet to helmet hits, and nothing done. It really makes me wonder what is going on in GODell’s mind that he places much greater weight on docking the steelers a draft choice for a blunder, and he ignores the h2h hits still going on every game. Still waiting for the explanation of Bells concussion………….. which was an illegal hit due to him being outside the tackles………… but silence.

    Then one looks at the Gronkowski hit yesterday………. CBS studio correctly called it, players will go low as not to get fined/suspended for the high hit, so look for knee/leg injuries to mushroom. Again a mess the NFL stays silent on. Way to go, Rog !

  39. I have been reading about the Orpik assault/mugging, and it astonishes me that most NHL talking heads are saying this would have been avoided if Orpik dropped the gloves with Thornton earlier in that 1st period. Just unreal.


    Orpik hits Eriksson woth a CLEAN check, but Eriksson gets injured…..
    Thornton tries to engage Orpik in a fight, but Orpik refuses,
    Then in a stoppage due to Neal kneeing Marchand in the head, Thornton goes the length of the ice, slewfoots Orpik, drags him down from behind, and sucker punches Orpik from behind, and people are blaming Orpik???

    That is why the NHL will never move forward. Never.
    If people want great, clean hockey, they will have to continue to wait every 4 years for the Olympics.

    And, I have a bad feeling that Bettman, on direct orders from Boston Owner Jeremy Jacobs, will do a slap on the wrist to Thornton, if anything at all. Bettman is beholden to Jacobs, so I think that this will be another missed opportunity to clean up the game, just so the neanderthal GM’s Owners can keep their blood sport. Wonder what they will say when there is a death due to their mentality?

    I predict the following:
    Neal gets 4-5 games for kneeing Marchand.
    Thornton gets 3-4 games for his assault…………. due to the fact he was able to fly home with the team, Thornton never being suspended before, and Jacobs/Bettman protecting the “shield”.

    I am not going to insult any garages by comparing them to the NHL.

    • I posted on the thread Dejan wrote in response to the crime omitted in Boston, that the problem with “talking heads” saying Orpik should have fought with Thornton, is that Orpik doesn’t fight. He hasn’t been in a fight for years. If Thornton or whomever wanted to “get even” they would have to trade clean hits with Brooksie. But they won’t. That would take too much skill and skating. Orpik isn’t stupid. But what Thornton did was very stupid. SO, here we go, blame the victim mentality. Brilliant. Shows how much the talking heads know.

    • I agree with what you post. Just saw that Orpik was placed on IR, so I will revise my guess on punishment.

      Neal will be the scapegoat and get 4-5 games, to placate the “knuckledraggers” and Thornton will get 10- 15.

      REALLY disappointed in Neal, low class move, then his denial, after the fact, was pretty lame, because all it does is give the “knuckdragges” a cause.

      • I wish I could be positive and see thornton get 10-15 games. Keep in mind, the NHL knuckledragges did absolutely NOTHING to Ray Emery for his assault earlier this year.

        If this was any other team besides Boston, where the single most powerful owner in the NHL is, I would see Thornton getting at least 10 games. I just feel he will get his fingers tapped, nothing more……..

    • I find myself still p!ssed off over the assault of Orpik. If they don’t give a huge penalty, then crap teams like Philly are going to take this as a permission slip to pull these types of stunts on other players. If they other team has a great player…..just send an AHL scrub out to throw them to the ice from behind and beat them to oblivion.

  40. Roy Halladay has apparently announced announced his retirement. Will sign a contract for one day to retire a Blue Jay.

  41. The Issue:

    In a season where much of the blame has been put on, coaches, aging players, lack of overall talent and general inability to make winning plays (all true by the way), I have an opinion that I believe has been overlooked. Kevin Colbert is responsible for putting players on the field that can play winning football. From there it is on the coaches to put them in positions to make plays and its on the players to do so. However, I would argue this team does have the general “want to” and “moxy” needed to win in this league. Unfortunately the talent level is very average (that’s being nice) across the board, this team is built more on players who were “above the line” type guys from say 2005-2010 but are too old, to slow and too unavailable (injuries) to play winning football at this point.

    The Responsibility:

    To me Kevin Colbert has to be mostly, if not solely, responsible for the Steelers 8-8 type play for the last 2 years. Speed, talent and an average age of less than 29 wins in todays NFL period. The Steelers, even in the last super bowl appearance, were built mostly of guys who used to be fast, use to have talent and are now on the wrong side of 30. Colbert’s job is to put guys in the funnel, so that when the current guys show signs of aging, we can plug somebody else in. He has not done that. Period!

    The General Practice of Late:

    Recent draft classes he been below average to put it nicely. The young, proven talent we did have, we chose not to re-sign (Wallace & Lewis). Colbert, as he always has, thought he could buy one more stretch run out of the same cast of washed up characters. The guys we have tried to draft to replace are lackluster aging vets are not, and have never appeared to be, more than “special teams” type guys. Nobody in there right mind can really believe that Shamarko can replace Troy or Ryan in their prime. You’d have to be a fool to believe that Vince Williams or Steve McClendon were at some point destined to be difference making starters in this league. Lastly, anybody who looked at Jarvis Jones’ body and thought he was a ready to start, much less a ready to excel type of guy, can not properly evaluate talent.

    Status Quo:

    My point is you cant expect the formula to change, unless the guy responsible for the formula has changed. While Tomlin, Haley, Ben and even Lebeau have had their issues over the past two seasons, all are able to get it done with the proper personnel at their disposal. Ben has no line to protect him. Haley, doesnt have any “possession type” receivers or run game to rely on. Lebeau has resorted to playing his aging star at linebacker because that is the only place on the field he isn’t a complete liability. And Tomlin has to try and manage all of this. The issue is clearly the guy in charge of personnel. The result is a trickle down effect and its clearly not working. If a change isn’t made, might as well open up the flood gates. Steeler nation will spend the next 5 years watching their franchise quarterback win 8 games annually, in what was expected to be the super bowl or bust portion of his career.

    • Interesting, long post.

      Tip of the hat for the most part, but I’m not ready to call this past years draft class a bust, with the exception of Landry Jones. I’m still shaking my head about that one.

      I think Jones, Bell, Thomas, and Wheaton are going to be good. The expectations were aweful high on both Bell and Jones, perhaps too high on a the rookies. I do like those 4 guys out of last years draft.

      • Kenny Powers: I just wanted to tell you that this is probably the best day of my life. I just thought you should know that before we go any further.

        April Buchanon: Thank you, Kenny. I’m happy too.

        Kenny Powers: Okay, now get naked.

      • Jarvis Jones will be a total bust, a la Huey Richardson. But even missing with that pick, Bell, Thomas, Wheaton, and maybe even Vince Williams will make last year’s draft a successful one.

        • It’s way to early to call Jarvis Jones the same thing that every other LB has been called with the Steelers if they’re not playing adequately (Huey Richardson).
          Jones has not had a good rookie season, but it’s no worse than Troy Polamalu’s first year (and he turned out rather good).
          Bell is the only rookie that has had any real moments this season.
          Hopefully….They will all take the next step in 2014.

          • You’re right about the Richardson label. I’m certainly guilty of that.

            I hope I’m wrong about Jones. I watched him play a lot of ball at Georgia. If he could beat the tackle to the outside, he was a pass rushing beast. He doesn’t seem to be able to beat many NFL tackles to the outside.

            I think the Troy rookie year comparison is apples and oranges, but I get your point. Maybe season 2 will be his coming out party. Or maybe season 4, like Worilds.

          • +1 Daq

            • I believe (outside of the typical rookie mental errors) Jones is WAY undersized arm wise.
              He doesn’t even compare to most DB’s!
              He needs a strong off-season of conditioning, and that would mainly include strengthening himself mightily.

  42. Ok, Steeler fans, it’s time to face the music. If Todd ” I must’ve completely slept through the first quarter” Haley is fired today, then there is truly no shame in this world. And as much as I hate to say it , I think it’s time MT was shown the door as well. I have never seen such a poorly prepared and coached team as this one (yesterday’s debacle not withstanding), but it’s obvious, things are on the downslide, and will most likely continue under this regime.
    Sorry Mr. Rooney, but it’s time to cut losses and move on.

  43. Best game of the weekend was Everton at Arsenal. End to end action to 1-1 draw. Tim Howard, Everton goalkeeper is the top US goalkeeper and made some excellent saves. The draw kept Arsenal on top of the Premier League and Everton stayed 5th.

    • “And it’s Ar-sen-al
      Arsenal FC
      We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” :)

    • Nice about Howard.
      He has had to overcome a lot , from Tourette’s, to being an American in the Premier league, to demotions at Man U.

      In next years “group of death”, Howard will be a great asset for the US team……..

  44. No question there have been a few solid moves made in the draft but they’ve been mostly value based in late rounds. We have to make an impact with the first 3 picks in the draft on an annual basis. Those picks are meant to be used for impact players from day one. Guys like Ziggy Hood, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Curtis Brown and Jarvis Jones to name a few, have not been that guy. Kids put Ferrari posters on their wall not Honda Civic posters. Nobody aspires for mediocrity and that’s what the Steelers have drafted in early rounds in recent years.

    • Why does everyone want to write Jarvis Jones off already…geeezzz…give the kid more than one season before you throw him away…

  45. LAMO: 8:59am: The Pirates plan to meet with agent Terry Bross to discuss his client, Bronson Arroyo, at the Winter Meetings this week, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). (from Jal & MLB trade rumours, above)

  46. So, with Orpik, Martin and Scuderi out…what are the chances of Bortuzzo getting playing time tonight? Pens recalled Dumoulin for depth. What has Bortuzzo done to deserve such a long stint in the doghouse DK? At this point, his misuse is beyond laughable.

    Perhaps more time previously spent in the ECHL and WHL would get the coach’s attention ***sarcasm alert***

  47. Like I said yesterday…it sees that this Steelers team/organization is ok with being mediocre.

  48. Been listening and reading up on the assault and cant help but see a connection to the hit boychuk took in game before. Anyone else surprised that apparently pacioretty’s hit on boychuk wasn’t even reviewed by the league? Especially since pacioretty has been responsible for some borderline hits himself. Didn’t he concuss tanger from blind side not too long ago? From what i can tell boston wasn’t even upset with that hit but orpik lines up eriksson straight up and they lose their sh%$?

    From the replay i saw pacioretty caught boychuck a few feet from the boards while extending into his numbers. How isn’t that atleast a double minor or major? No wonder boston was wound tighter than a drum. And dont try telling me that neals knee put thornton and boston over the edge…not even clear that thornton saw that play and it was clear he and others were out to get orpik no matter what.

    I can see neal getting 3 games for accidentally on purpose allowing marchand’s head to run into his knee. Regardless if marchand would or wouldnt get out of the way in same situation. But if the league wants to consider themselves a legit major league sport Thornton needs to get atleast 25 games. If it was someone with more suspension history i’d say for the whole season and playoffs but dont think shanny will do that.

    If the league cares about player safety and concussions they’ll change the culture by making plays that lead to ugliness more punitive, i.e. boarding, head shots and violent slashes where there is intent to injure. Why are high sticking calls double minors and majors? Cuz its dangerous to have sticks flying around eyes and heads. Shouldn’t boarding calls be subject to same interpretation as high sticks?

    That being said orpik wasn’t responsible for any frustration boston was feeling but the league needs to stand up in defense of clean checks and hits while coming down extra hard on anything that isn’t!

    • ” From what i can tell boston wasn’t even upset with that hit but orpik lines up Eriksson straight up and they lose their sh%$? ”

      Thats because the Broons know Montreal has Subban to re-arrange faces, and the pens have no one. Boston sees the Pens as “sofffffffffffff”, so they will take more exception to the Pens actually playing physical.

      As for you seeing 25 games for Thornton, I want whatever you are smoking today. No way Jacobs allows Bettman to allow Shanny to give any more than 5.

      • Thornton will likely get 10 games, Hipposter.

        • I will believe it when I see it.

          No “priors”.
          Orpik flew home with team.
          Orpik “started” all this with hit on Eriksson.
          Bettman coward.
          Jacobs controlling things.

          I hope Thornton gets 40 games, or more.

      • Well if its under 20-25 games then bettman, daly, and shanny should all be laughed out of the room next time they even utter the words “safety” or “concussion” or any other related word. Tired of my favorite sport and league giving the benefit of the doubt to all the scrubs and knuckledraggers while blaming the player that plays clean and hard. Its a fast contact sport. If you dont like a hit…get even with another clean hit. If its dirty…challenge the player responsible. But assaulting and stalking players 10-20 minutes after a clean hit is unacceptable!

  49. Pens game tonight is the national game on NBCSN.

    Oh, goodie, goodie gumdrops. We get to hear Jones and Milbury talk about Thonrton.

  50. Pats TE and Woodland Hills native Rob Gronkowski is out for the season yet again. The poor guy tore both his ACL and MCL. I’m guessing he will not return till well after the 2014 season has begun. The Pats needed TE help before he got injured. Now, since the Steelers are pressed up against the cap and are looking to cut either Ike or Heath next years, why don’t we trade Heath to the Pats and at least obtain something in return. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we’ll have to pay Heath anything but his 2.5 million that is guaranteed.

    • How do we know they are looking to cut Heath next year? Yes, he will be at a higher number, but why not redo a deal for him? TE is one position this team has no young depth. Heath is still productive..I say they should keep him.

      • Agree.

      • I really don’t see how we can’t part ways with either Ike or Heath. Ike took a pay cut for us this year so we will save more but cutting heath. The other option is Troy but I think his job I safe as they won’t want to go with two young guys at safety. Maybe we can avoid cutting either one if all three take a pay cut which I guess could happen. It’s not that I want to cut him but our options are limited. This way we at least get something for him.

  51. Neal suspended 5 games.

  52. “The Pirates are discussing first base upgrades and the names of Logan Morrison and Adam Lind have come up recently, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports ”

    Not much of an upgrade if you ask me. My guess is they go cheap/young on LoMo. At least he’s really cool on twitter. Him and Tony Sanchez will probably become good buds.

    Lind, IMO, is over priced and over hyped. Not worth the money, even if Toronto pays the majority.

    • I might have exaggerated a bit on Lind. With the platoon in play with Gaby, he is an upgrade over GFJ, but a steep price tag. $7 mill, this season, with 2 team options.

  53. Last week, rumor was that trumbo from the Angels could be had for 1B.
    Dont know how credible the rumors are/were.

    Would Neal ever give up enough to get Trumbo?
    Or would even he not be worth it.

    • Would he? No way

      Worth it? Yes way

      Will cost quite a bit as far as prospects are concerned though. I’m a huge fan of Trumbo, especially in a Pirates uniform.

      • And I’m assuming the cost for him wouldn’t be cheap. I have no idea how that crap works and I’m not a numbers junkie to crunch them. Future costs and all that crap.

        Really cool stuff to read, but not to figure out.

  54. The fighting debate in hockey goes back generations. The movie “Slap Shot” mined great laughs from it. I remember Canadian actor, Michael J. Fox, directed an anti-hockey fighting movie short when he hosted SNL in the eighties. (As I recall, it had a symphony orchestra come to blows at the end of it). Even a few years ago there was a decent indie film, “Goon”, starring the solid, Liev Schreiber, that got into the debate.

    There are powerful forces that resist any change. The NHLPA, for one. Significant, powerful players in NHL management and administration. And, probably, most fans as well. My wife, for instance, is a (very) casual hockey fan, and one of the most enlightened persons I know, yet she will stop what she is doing to watch a good bout on the ice. There is no denying that fighting is engaging theater. Remember in middle school when there was a fight (prior to the zero tolerance days)? The school would be abuzz the whole day. That is why talking heads on television don’t, or are instructed not to, denounce NHL management. I sort of follow the line of thought by some expressed this weekend: I liked it when I was younger, but not that interested in it now as my appreciation for the beauty of the game, itself, has grown since I was a child.

    The only person I can find that has eloquently argued for change is Dejan. I have to admit that I only regularly follow national guys like Bob Mckenzie and Kevin Allen, but I have tried to monitor more writers concerning this weekend. The only group that are going to effectuate change are the hockey writers. Dejan seems to be at the forefront. He’s been on Bettman like a “pit bull on a poodle” concerning this, and other things. He was the only one at that New York presser that challenged Bettman during the lock out, and he seems to be part of a tiny minority getting after him this season.

    • :pushes oshie’s shoulder:

      hey, dude, I take exception to the “pitt bull on a poodle” comparison. I have a pitt bul!

      Ya wanna go or are your gloves glued on????


      • Ha! The only fight I have ever been in was in eighth grade outside the gymnasium of my Junior High School. My strategy was to avoid the punch and tackle my opponent thus having it degrade into a wresting match until (hopefully) the school administrators could break it up. Instead, Billy Pierce, landed a solid blow to the right side of my face (damn, those southpaws) and I dropped like a two foot putt.

        Billy Pierce, wherever you are, I salute you, my foe.

        • nice stragegy, too bad it didn’t work out that way…thanks for sharing that little tidbit :)

        • Knees buckled huh?

          • Yep. The gym teacher broke it up and asked us if everything was square. In those days the school didn’t even bother contacting my parents. I told Mom that someone hit me with a snowball.

            • They made you apologize, shake hands and go about your business.

              Today’s schools seem to just wash their hands of things like that. The easiest thing is to just send them home instead of teaching them how respond to those situations.

              That’s all I’ll say, I don’t need to go off on a rant about all that.

    • Hockey “expert” Pierre LeBrun said it was Orpiks fault for not fighting Thornton. The writers are afraid of not getting “inside info”, so they are towing the NHL’s line.


    • Matt Kalman follows the Bruins (CBS Boston) and wrote this article:

      I thought the article did a good job (despite obvious Bruins bias) of focusing on how the Bruins lived up to their reputation of being bullies first, hockey players second on Saturday night.

      • excellent read, Joni, thanks for sharing.

      • Thanks, Joni loves Chachi ! Good read.

      • I need to be “really” careful how to bring this up in light of recent events….but….

        A couple of years ago Ray Shero promised us a team that would be “hard to play against”.
        The metaphor was “sandpaper players” I believe, I.e. guys that were scratchy, annoying, irritating, pesky to go up against. NOT DIRTY. Just tough and irritating, get you off your game guys.

        It seems clear now that this very area is a gaping deficiency. Liberties are taken nightly against our stars, with minimal response.

        When our assistant Captain was laid out unconscious – did anyone respond? I think I saw Letang hiss at Thornton but that was it. When Marchand clubbed Kunitz in the teeth earlier – anything? (Neal’s knee I guess – NOT what im talking about….want a pesky sandpaper response, not a suspension response)…. I still recall last ECF when Marchand pinned Crosby’s arms and Chara tried to re-break his jaw. Nothing. No sandpaper response, only Sid losing his mind and chirping at Chara and the whole team’s collective discipline disappearing. This was G1 or 2 I believe.

        Point is – teams take liberties with us and our stars all the time, and are we Sandpaper? Nope. On the contrary, we are EASY to play against . Is this what Ray Shero wanted? Cos this is what he got us.

        I never thought I’d miss Matt Cooke, (and I DON’T MEAN the old Cooke)…..

        But today I miss the sandpaper, pesky, Cooke, Talbot, Malone, Kasparitus, Samuellson guys.

        A lot.

        • My guess (hope) is that Shero has a plan and that plan is to “cowboy up” at the trade deadline for the sandpaper, with however much cap flexiblity that he has. Didn’t need to muck up the roster- capwise for the early regular season.

          In Shero, I still trust.

  55. What’s more embarrassing than playing a 3 loss MAC team in a bowl game in Detroit ? How about being a 5.5 point underdog to said 3 loss MAC team.

    • Man, you arent making my Monday any easier………….

    • Oh they will lose and lose big……..Pitt is terrible and shouldn’t even be in a bowl, regardless of who they’re playing.

      Very weak.

    • Hey, but at least recruiting is looking up, Dravon Henry just committed to West Virginia.

    • You neglect to mention that the “three-loss MAC team” is a team that went 10-3 overall, with its losses on the road at Indiana (B1G), at Mississippi State (SEC), and at home against a very good Toledo team in a cross-town rivalry game.

      Oh, and a team that just blew out a legitimate BCS bowl contender that hadn’t lost a conference game since midway through the 2011 season, that itself beat a pair of B1G teams this year.

      I know that’s not the narrative people like to see about MAC teams, so I feel like I need to be the ambassador to the conference and urge you to remember that the #MACtion is very real.

  56. A good recap on Thornton Orpik by Kerry Fraser

    I don’t agree that Neal stuck his knee out, but do think Crosby could have been called for tripping, and that Neal could have gotten a major.

    Agree that the refs blew it badly.

    Also think Julien should subject to fines and suspension for fairly obvious directed retribution, sending Thornton out v Orpik repeatedly trying to goad the fight (also getting a roughing penalty).

    Don’t lose sight of the fact that Julien is maybe the biggest thug in this whole mess, and the biggest whining crybaby, still saying that DB was the ONLY person calling the Orpik hit clean. WHINING THUG.

    BOS fans officially worse than PHL IMO.

    • Wow, Kerry Hairspray telling it like it is :)

    • You have to read the entire reply by Kerry Fraser to appreciate what he is saying above. I encourage you to click on Sarah’s link and read it, it’s not long.

      • Apparently there was a hit on Boychuk the night before that the Bs did not respond to….so they were on a hair trigger in the Pens game.

        THESE are the things refs must be aware of and nip in the bud. Imagine if Thornton would have been ejected on the roughing for trying to instigate. Or if Neal had been ejected for attempt to injure.

        I once had the opp to sit and talk with Terry Greggson about the difficulties of reffing, and he had some compelling things to say about how much harder it is now that there are two refs on the ice. You never can have consistency.

        All too true IMO.

      • I did, great link, thanks Sarah.

        My hope (we’ll see) is that by giving Nealer 5 games – which he deserved – the league can now suspend thornton as long as they want. My concern is that they would only give Neal 1 or 2 and then to appease the “knuckledraggers” they would only give thornton 6 -10. May still happen that way.

    • Bos fans are true losers….You can always tell losers – because even if they win, they have no idea how to act.

  57. Does anyone know if the PBC got one of those competitive balance picks for 2014? Have they been announced yet.

    (As I duck for asking a baseball question)

  58. It’s official. Neal got a five game suspension. Sorry if somebody posted it already.

    • NP, Bill. Joni posted it at 1:03, but you’re only the second. People usually don’t start complaining until people keep posting it the next day. ;-)

    • Interesting, given Neal’s “repeat offender” status had expired (18 mos), and there was no injury, which the League considers (bad idea IMO….result is not as important as the act).

      Does this mean more for Thornton? Neal got the max allowed, and there was no repeat offender and no injury.

      Thornton I believe is not Repeat. But clearly an injury. Do they also take into account AFTER WHISTLE, I.e. stop play, vs During Play? This would go towards Pre-meditation. As would HC Julien putting Thornton out there repeatedly v Orpik.

      I really think Julien is criminal here also.

      Anyway, here is where I start entertaining more creative ideas like making teams play with a short roster for the duration of the suspension.

      Interesting to think about.

  59. Sorry, Joni. Just saw your post. I should read more before posting.


    (where there will be NO snow, NO cold, NO sidelines to step on or over, NO bullies to hit from behind and give concussions)

    • Thank you.

    • A beautiful thought, Groat on a cold winter’s day! :)

    • Better send this news to the BMTIB, their roster, as it currently stands, is not even close to the one that finished the season. They gots some work to do.

      • 20 of the 30 Big League teams added players on those 2 big days last week.

        Guess which group Pirates in?

        • Not a tough choice.

          I give credit to them where it’s due.

          To me THIS offseason is the most important one in the last 21 years. After making the playoffs, if they try to fill the roster in with dumpster dives and AAAA players – and it doesn’t work, almost from Opening Day…may not be pretty.

      • The current roster is one contributor short of the roster that had them +10 over .500 through August of last year.

        • National Mart of Records,

          Last year was obviously a career year for the Pirates, where everything came together just right. 9th on runs scored yet in the National League playoffs.

          ——Do you really think Grilli and Melansen will be as good as last year?
          ——Do you really think Francisco Liriano will be as good as last year?
          ——Can McCutch have an MVP season two years in row?
          ——Which “ONE” is the one you say is missing: Garrett Jones to platoon at first or AJ Burnett to lead the rotation? Or Clint Barmes starting at short?
          ——Which Jeff Locke appears in 2014: 1st Half Jeff or 2nd Half Jeff?
          ——Can Charlie Morton be a #2 Starter?
          ——Can Jordy Mercer field that most important of defensive positions for 150 games?
          ——Can Neil Walker hit from the right side with any credibility this season?
          ——Can Jordy Mercer hit righthanders?
          ——Sophomore Slump for Gerrit Cole?

          Seems like more than one player is missing to me. Seems like a team with holes——not a bad team, mind you——but one I’d be trying to patch up.

          • Damn, I need to type faster, but you nailed it doubleplay.

            • So the appropriate response to a season in which you guys claim everything went right is to come up with as many worst case scenarios as you can thinly veiled as questions?

              Yep, completely sensible.

              • Sorry to disagree with you, National Mart of Records, but your dismissive answer does not deal with the issues above.

                Not one of them is a “worst case scenario”! Every one of them is a legitimate question:
                can Walker hit righthanders, can Jordy Mercer hit righthanders, can Jordy Mercer be a full time fielder at short, what evidence do you have that Liriano will repeat his 2013 numbers because his career numbers say he always follows a good year with a terrible year, can Pirates succeed without Burnett AND Jones (who seemed to follow each BAD year with a GOOD year) and Barmes, is Grilli at age 36 a one season wonder, on and on?

                Those are legitimate questions to ask and patches that need to be addressed.

                Not criticism, just facts that need to be addressed at some juncture before all the goodies are gone.

              • Pretty tough for one year to over come the previous 20, unless they aggressively show that 2013 was just the start. To this point they haven’t.

                Which of the comments/concerns aren’t legitimate?

                Would the comparable lists from the Cards or Reds be longer or shorter?

              • The teams success does not hinge on Walker and Mercers ability to hit right handers, Lirianos success was directly tied to mechanical improvements, Garrett Jones stinks, Clint Barnes stinks, and Grilli has been good for two years, not one.

                Feel better now?

              • Please take this caustic version of National Mart of Records back to the basement . . . . .

                . . . and return the witty intelligent National Mart of Records who did his homework and used statistics to substantiate his arguments and counter presentations, instead of putdowns.

                I miss engaging him!

              • Oh I apologize, Groat. Monday afternoon NMR, I suppose.

          • After reading that you should be posting how many days until the trading deadline.

        • JMO, but this team currently does not have legitimate 4 or 5 slot hitters, neither closer was effective at the end of the season and has at least 2 holes in the starting rotation. They caught ligthning in a bottle with Liriano (and I will give them credit for that). Dempsey worked as well as anyone could have possibly hoped and a lot of other things went right, not that they weren’t due for some of that.

          To EXPECT that to happen again, along with Cutch repeating an MVP season and all those other things that went right, is exactly what could see them be the ’13 Nats.

          • Dempsey, as in Jack?

            Oh, and the Nationals won 86 games last year. So yeah, that is a perfectly likely outcome for the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates.

            • My mind said type Martin, fingers said no, Dempsey. It is Monday.

              But I do not believe you would find a lot of Nat fans who were happy with that outcome, realistic or not, given the expections from 2012.

              • True, not many Nats fans were happy with where they ended up last year. But, I think 86 games might be on the high end of where I’d predict for the Bucs right now.

              • Ron?

              • But that’s not what you said. You said that the roster wouldnt work from opening day on and it would not be pretty.

                That doesn’t sound like an 86 win team to me.

        • You may have miss read.

          “After making the playoffs, IF they try to fill the roster in with dumpster dives and AAAA players – and it doesn’t work, almost from Opening Day…may not be pretty.”

          My point was that it would not be pretty with the fans. I would suggest a significant percentage would/will not be happy with 86 wins if that is 3rd in the division and out of the playoffs. I will stand by that.


  61. Not sure if anyone saw this, but Garrett Jones signed with the Marlins. 2 years, $7.75m.

    Good for him.

  62. Logan Morrison about to be dealt. Possibly to Tampa ?

  63. I wonder if Neal gets to order room service at that swanky Swan and Dolphin ? Or did he pull up to the lobby with his beef jerky and Budweiser in his cooler on wheels ?

  64. Haven’t been around since the middle of last week. I see everyone seems to have enjoyed both the Steelers and Penguins latest games. Ugh!

    I was in North Carolina watching my daughter play that sport we don’t mention here much – and, usually we duck when we do mention it! Haha! Horrible weather across the country made an odyssey of our return yesterday. Finally, we touched down at O’Hare @ 10:30 last night and as we walked to baggage we saw the world’s longest line of stranded United Airlines passengers. Instantly I was reminded that what we went through was merely inconvenient compared to what they were still dealing with.

    I was watching the Steelers, and boarded my first flight with them just having received the ball with a 28-24 lead. Apparently, as I am reading, they went all 2013 Steelers after that. What a mess!

    I read that the Bucs have had some passing interest, maybe a bit more, in Bronson Arroyo. I’ve never been a fan of his. I don’t much like soft-tossing, fly ball throwing RHP in PNC Park. But, I must admit, I’m probably being a bit harsh on him. He has had several good seasons in a HR-happy field. I still don’t see the Bucs signing him to the multi-year deal he wants. The Twins are on him now, and they are determined to corner the market on bad free agent pitcher signings this year.

  65. Winter Meetings Update – Day 1

    Still plenty left on the shelves at Nordstrom’s. Doors just opening at Macy’s. Some nice bargains at Target. Pirates still checking out K-Mart.

  66. Humor, at the expense of Neal, always entertaining.

    He’s the Victorian era street urchin standing outside in the cold with his nose pressed against the frosty living room window where, inside, bathed by the fireplace light, the stuffy rotund guv’nors from New York, Boston, Los Angels and, now Seattle, smoke cigars and laugh heartily about the plight of the meek.

  67. Rumor is that if AJ Burnett decides to hang it up he’s going to sign a 1 day contract with The Walking Dead & retire a Zombie.

  68. WOW DK is gettin it on with Thug Life Bruins trolls on Twitter!!!

  69. Jim Bowden maintains Bucs will still make a splash this week. Maybe Neal is planning on doing some cannonballs.

  70. So if I’m reading some of these right, NH and FC are getting bashed again because they haven’t done anything as of late.

    A lot of “what if’s” are being asked. Honestly, if this was the first time I’ve visited the blog or heard of the Pirates, I would assume they were a last place team.

    I dont know how much these off season deals rely on AJ’s decision, but I seriously only a see a couple of holes that they need to fill prior to the start of the season.

    Assuming Wandy is healthy, I know that could be a big assumption, they have a spot in the rotation, but a lot of young arms coming up.

    I believe a bench role needs filled for someone with defensive ability for the infield and a 1B to find.

    I’m not sure this is really that difficult or deserving of the heartburn being thrown around.

    Reeeelllllaaaaaaaaxxxxxxx, man.

    • Actually, I was bashing Bowden, not the front office. I just threw Neal’s name in there because Bowden mentioned him. Some think this is the year the Bucs will spend $20m at the meetings. Now that’s funny.

      But since you brought up needs…I think they have a couple more than just bench players. 1B, SS, and RF need addressed to some extent. I like Gaby in a platoon with…..somebody. Jordy’s defense scares the crap out of me, and as long as anyone BUT Tabata is in RF, I’ll be happy.

      Yea, I know Tabata will probaby be in RF to start the season, but it’s Christmas, and I’ve been a good boy this year, Santa!! Real good!!! Bring me the RFer I’ve been asking for big guy!!!

      • Sorry I’m late to respond on this Patton, but I wasn’t referring to you.

        I thought the cannonball comment was hilarious.

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