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Morning Java: Greatness abounds

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column is about one the greatest handful of athletes to ever grace Pittsburgh’s sporting stage. And a guy who just might be doing so for the last time tonight.

Here’s the actual column on Page 2 of our print product, as designed by our Matt Rosenberg


And here, as the column attempts to describe, are the highlights of one of the most memorable games in franchise history …

Let’s hear your thoughts on the still-great Jaromir Jagr down in comments. In particular, I’d love to hear from those of you attending the game tonight as to what kind of reaction you expect to hear.

>> And just like that, with two more national awards, Aaron Donald ascends to the list of Pitt’s all-time greats. Congrats to an exemplary young man and to everyone at Penn Hills and at the university who helped along the way.

Here’s the news coverage, by Jerry DiPaola in Lake Buena Vista.

And here’s a neat highlights package produced by the athletic department …

>> Dick LeBeau wants to return next season, if the Steelers will have him. Alan Robinson reports.

Troy Polamalu also looks ahead, by Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Bengals news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from

>> The Penguins’ peripheral numbers are shaping up nicely, Rob Rossi reports in advance of the Devils’ visit.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Devils news from the Newark Star-Ledger.

Here are official game highlights from

>> The Pirates brought back Clint Barmes on the fourth and final day of the Winter Meetings. Rob Biertempfel and Travis Sawchik covered the event in Lake Buena Vista.

>> The weekly chat will be pushed back an hour today to 1 p.m. so I can cover the Devils’ morning skate and Jagr’s availability. As always, you can submit entries — inside the chat field — as soon as you see the post right here on the blog.

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. Dejan,

    I don’t know what I think of your column.

    Sure, it’s well written as usual … but I am uncomfortable with you telling me that I have to like Jagr because he was so good.

    Yes, he won some important games——games that I lived and died with. However, Jaromir Jagr let me down. He told us he was “dying alive” here in Pittsburgh. He forced his trade for three bits of nothing. He deserted us … he deserted me!

    And just when I was willing to try and forgive him, when he desperately wanted to come back to the Penguins from Russia and be on “Mario’s Team” again——money was no object, HE SAID——he deserted us/me again and signed with the dreaded Flyers!!! And, as usual with Jagr, it really WAS about the money. He cared nothing about retired numbers hanging from the rafters. He cared nothing about renewing loyalty. It was all about the money!

    I’m going to have to sit down and spend some time figuring if what you say is true: That Jagr was in the Top 10 athletes of all time in the ‘Burgh.

    However, in putting my thoughts down here, I have decided what I think about your column. Jagr’s actions speak louder than your words … I do NOT like Jaromir Jagr. Great hips——2 cent head/personality/bell cow. It’s only about the money with him, and I don’t like those kinds of guys, in any profession. Ever.

    DK: I respect that view across the board.

    I feel compelled to add here, because I know it will come up (at least until the Tigers’ bullpen talk takes over) that the Flyers not only doubled the Penguins’ money but also offered a top-six forward spot. That, as Jagr has demonstrated with every choice since then, meant even more. The Penguins absolutely didn’t have that to offer. He would have played on a third or even fourth line here.

  2. Man, that IS a great clip from that game.

    Miss the organ.

    DK: John Barbero, Vince Lascheid and the old Civic Arena siren tug hard, don’t they?

  3. And he will be booed. Why exactly? Anyone remember?

    Because of that ridiculous “dying alive” remark? That was more than a decade ago.

    Dejan, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was. When Mario came back, Jagr felt it wasn’t “his” team anymore. He demanded a trade … doesn’t matter if it “had” to be done. You don’t act like a petulant jerk about it.

    The column today reminds me of another Pittsburgh player that is still booed today … Barry Bonds. Bonds was a first-class ass here, but I don’t see anyone telling people they have to cheer him. Both Bonds and Jagr deserve all the booing and bad feelings they get.

    Both great talents … among the best ever. Both colossal jerks, who dont deserve our cheers or respect.
    If he would have stayed quiet when he left and wouldn’t have played the Pens against the Flyers, I might give your column some thought.

    But I cant and wont.


    DK: First off, the column had not one thing to do with baseball. Second, comparing anyone to a notorious, nationally reviled cheater had better come with a lot more teeth than what you’ve got there.

  4. Posted this on the link DK provided on his Facebook page, but I wanted to bring it here and elaborate a bit more.

    I’ll admit it, I was one of those boobirds after he initially left. And yes, it was because of the “dying alive” comment. As I’ve grown older and wiser I’ve learned to appreciate what Jagr meant to the organization growing from precocious rookie to star of the league.

    Yes, he was traded for what turned out to be 3 schlubs. But what choice did Craig Patrick have? The team was still bleeding money, they were going to lose with or without Jagr, so trading him ended up being the best option. I didn’t resent Jagr for wanting out. I resented him for the “dying alive” comment while the team was chasing a Stanley Cup in 2001.

    Was I angry when he teased us all with Jagrwatch only to go to Philly and haunt us in that epic playoff failure in 2012? You bet, turned out it was all about the money for Jagr. He’s become a hired gun at this point in his career.

    Does that tarnish who he is as a human being? Probably. Does that tarnish the things he did on the ice for the Penguins from 1990 until 2001? Absolutely not. Scoring an OT winner in the playoffs as a rookie. Scoring a goal against the Flyers from his rear end. The game mentioned in DK’s column. Feeding Mario a perfect pass for a one-timer in 66′s return from retirement. Those things stick out for me much more now than what happened to cause him to leave and what has occurred since. It doesn’t bother me that his number might not hang from the rafters at Consol, I understand why, but he left us with enough great memories that it shouldn’t really matter that much.

    DK: Really well done, Jason. Glad you brought it here.

    Now, what about the Tigers’ bullpen? Or does that not start until the morning?

    • Jason, I respect this.
      Well thought-out and well worded.

      I just cant cheer a petulent bum, no matter how great he was.
      See my comparisons to Barry Bonds and Ron Francis above.

    • Thanks, DK. That Tigers bullpen is something else. Something else I don’t want to talk about. :)

      Also, thanks to you, plan. I wouldn’t cheer Jagr at this point in his career. Maybe some polite applause if the organization was doing some type of tribute video, but outright cheer, no. Booing? I’ll save that for Flyers and Ravens.

      Bonds is a fairly good comparison, although leaving for the money combined with his “apparent” PED use makes him much, much easier to boo in my mind. Ronnie Franchise, he just oozes class.

    • I can agree with the things he did on the ice. Jagr was and still is, a great player. he still makes things happen.

      I still don’t respect him.

  5. In addition to theOutland trophy win, Aaron Donald wins Bednarik, Nagurski, and Lombardi trophies.

    Not too shabby for someone “undersized”.

    Also, Memphis fans show true class helping a RB who lost everything in fire………………………………………………………

  6. I’m really annoyed at the growing sentiment that Pens fans who boo Jagr do not appreciate what he did for the franchise. We all recognize that he was an elite talent who carried the team for years. The series that he won almost singlehandedly against New Jersey remains one of my favorite all-time hockey moments.

    But there are any number of valid reasons to continue disliking Jagr. ‘Dying alive’ actually never bothered me. The reason I despise him is because he once swore he would come back and play for Mario for the league minimum salary if he could.

    And then when that very opportunity presented itself, he spurned his idol to go to Philadelphia for a few extra bucks. Despite having earned more than 100 million dollars in his career, Jagr turned his back on Mario, the franchise and the city for an extra $1 million – mere pocket change for someone with his bank account.

    That incident confirmed that Jaromir Jagr is a repugnant human being. If people want to suddenly start cheering him, that’s fine. I won’t be among them. Forgiveness will come, but it can wait until after retirement.

    DK: ‘Repugnant human being.’ Because he signed with the Flyers, who offered not only double the money but also a legit top-six spot.

    • Because he broke his word and showed that he’s totally insincere. If the r word is too strong, I’m happy to swap it for plan’s “petulant bum,” which very much captures the essence of the man.

    • I’m with you on this one, Scott. All jagr had to do was shut his mouth and not spout empty promises. he looked good making them. When he failed to fulfill them, he looked bad. And he still does.
      Nuff said!

      • Except to be a little fair, and who knows how honest Jags was being, I do recall DK reporting late in that season, or maybe it was when the playoffs started, from an interview with Junior that Jagr wasn’t truly sure the Pens wanted him. Lemieux, yes, but not Shero. Not sure if there was an opinion about Bylsma. But if a team doesn’t want you or may not use you to best utilize your skills, why would you go to them?

        I used to boo Jagr, too, and not wear the replica sweater with his name. But after DK reported that interview, as well as reporting more in depth quite a few years ago regarding the complete context around the “dying alive” comment, I really can’t boo him anymore. And won’t not wear the sweater bearing his name and number. Just hate that he’s been on the other team that has eliminated the Pens from the playoffs each of the last 2 seasons. Especially that first one.


  7. In the Alan Robinson story linked to above, Dick LeBeau says:
    “In 2004 we went 15-1 and I think we had defensive numbers that are off the charts,” LeBeau said. “But there is almost no one around here that was on the 2004 team. So we’ve gone through this progression and turnover.

    The 77 year-old gentleman may want to come back for yet another year, but somebody really needs to tell him that his faculties are starting to betray him. Frighteningly, lot of the same faces from the 2004 defense ARE still around. Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel (a third-year bench player then), the now-injured Larry Foote, and Ryan Clark (though a different team, he nevertheless was playing). That’s essentially half of our starting D at the beginning of this season. The coach needs to have an “Emeritus” put after his title and be allowed to roam the practice field and sidelines as he wishes, but no longer be allowed to actually run our defense.

    • I think that’s harsh Ghost. There were 25+ defensive players in ’04. You’re right, good memory citing the 4 that played for the Steelers. Can’t count Clark because that’s taking LeBeau’s comment out of context to help make your point. Not a very nice thing to do to a 77, excuse me 76, year old man you are trying to paint as in the beginning stages of senility.

      Some people would like to see a new defensive coordinator. I can understand that. But don’t embellish the argument, particularly if the argument is about his mental faculties. He deserves that much respect, hell anyone still working in their chosen profession at 76/77 deserves that much respect.

      I like your posts. Most are clever and entertaining. I just thought this was a low blow.

    • The Steelers do NOT need an NFL version of Joe Paterno.

      • Nobody said they do.

        I didn’t say he has to be retained. And shouldn’t be retained only on age or past success.

        I’m simply asking that he be treated with respect.

        I think he deserves that.

        Rbilak makes an argument without resorting to the tired senility/too old comments.

  8. First of all….Dick LeBeau won’t be 77 years old till the 2014 season kicks off next September.
    In the meantime (If he returns)….The Steelers might think about supplying him with “at least” a few players that can run his schemes effectively.
    Do you really think he’s going to throw any of his “past their prime” players under the bus?……..

    • Well that changes everything — he’s not 77 but 76! As for “throw(ing)… players under the bus,” that’s a non sequitur. Monsieur LeBeau was trying to claim that a defensive roster turnover is well underway and that virtually nobody remained from the 2004 defense. This is just false. Year to year no team, of course, returns every starter anymore. But I, in fact, seriously wonder if ANY other team in the league had five starters on their D this year who were playing 10 years ago, all but one of them (Ryan) right there with the same team.

  9. Have to give Jagr credit for still being able to bring it at his age. I remember him being really impressive in that playoff series last season.

    I understand the trade and why it had to happen. And I think the “dying alive” comment is way overblown, considering there are many other athletes, beloved in this city who have done, or have been accused of, doing much worse.

    While I was upset over Jagr going to Philly, I don’t hate him and never really have. Still, while he is one of the all-time NHL greats, he just doesn’t rank up there with other greats that played all, or at least most of their career in Pittsburgh.

  10. I just saw the video of Andrew McCutchen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Don’t usually like these kind of public displays of personal moments, but Cutch and Ellen pulled off a nice one this time. Cutch really sounded nervous, and by the time he was choking up, I was too, a little. Really happy for him.

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    • Well, those supposedly embeddable links to the video turned out to be just a cheezy scam. Anyway, the video I’m talking about should be all over the net today. Congrats to Cutch and his lucky lady.

    • My man Cutch jumped the shark with that move. Still love him, but taking such a private, intimate moment and making it more about his celebrity….ick!

      That being said, can’t wait to watch him do his thing all summer next year! Talk about another stirring athlete.

  11. Thanks for this column.

    I will forever be perplexed by the negative feelings toward 68. Of all the great Pittsburgh athletes, no single person has made me feel more pure, simple joy than Jagr. I see him on the ice and I’m happy. I watch him in an interview and I can’t help but smile. The man is a treasure.

    As for him being in the all-time Top Ten of Pittsburgh athletes, you could easily go Top Five. He was better at his sport than any Pirate was at baseball save for Honus Wagner. (Please…stop right now with the Clemente stuff. Not even close.)

    And despite some revisionism, Jagr laid it out for Pens fans on a higher level and on a more consisten basis than any Penguins superstar save for 87. If you bought a ticket for a Pens game when Jagr was playing, you got your money’s worth every time.

    The whole Jaromir Jagr experience, even when he played for other teams, remains one of the greatest sports memories of my life.

    • Jagr sure was a joy to watch. I watched him play in person many times.

      His mouth is what killed that.

      • See, that’s where I guess I’m in the minority. I would rather listen to him talk more than any other athlete. No filter. No polish. No empty blah-blah-blah. He just says what’s in his heart and five minutes later he probably feels differently. He possesses a joie-de-vivre that I just makes me smile any time I see or hear him. He’s what I wish every athlete was like. It’s just a sport, and god knows he loves it.

        Take that “dying alive” throwaway comment for which he is so vilified. It’s not like he said that in a formal sitdown interview after a lot of reflection. It was after a game. He was upset. Give me comments like that over the usual mindless dreck I have scan through and ignore in most post-game stories.

        It’s like with the video links DK and others post. I quit looking at those long ago because they are mind-crushingly boring. But if he puts up one of 68? I’ll probably watch it twice and smile and feel good the whole time.

        Hey, we like who we like and dislike who we like for our own reasons. I’d never try to tell anyone that they “should” like him, but I just want to make sure I add some positivity to the whole Jagr thing.

        • I can appreciate your stance, scapper. And it’s not that I don’t appreciate his stories and stuff. It’s I don’t appreciate him playing with us the way he did.

          • You know what I can compare this to, Jandy? I never liked Andy Van Slyke despite my appreciation of his other-wordly defensive skills and pretty decent bat. Yet when I tell Pirates fans that I didn’t like him, most just can’t understand that type of thinking. The guy was revered for some reason but hejust rubbed me the wrong way.

            Guess it’s like that with Jagr. Neither camp is going to understand how and why the other feels the way they do about 68.

    • And you obviously didn’t see Clemente (“not even close”). But apparently you DID see Honus Wagner?

      I’m just fooling around. I get that you feel how you feel and others take things more personally.

      And nobody’s trying to tell anybody that they’re wrong. (Well, except for that Clemente thing.)


      • Not a shot at The Great One. Just saying that Jagr’s rank on the all-time hockey greats list is much higher than 21′s is on MLB’s list. As a Pirate? Sure, top 3. But MLB? Maybe top 20 but that’s a stretch.

        Funny thing about your comment though. I’ll go weeks without adding anything to this, but when it comes to 68, I’m the one who seems to have taken it personally today!!! I’m laughing at myself for how much I feel I need to defend him here. So silly but….It’s my boy Jagr!!!

  12. I’ll be at the game tonight with my son and can’t wait to cheer for Jagr. He is one of the hardest working athletes across the board, which is why he has been so good for so many years. It’s also why teams are attracted to sign him because he s such a good role model for their younger players. I read an article last year during the playoffs describing his workouts wearing a weighted vest while skating after games until late at night. I’ve also read that he attributes his longevity to never drinking alcohol. What better role model to show my 9 year old hockey player?
    I loved him when he was a Penguin and would have loved to see him come back, but if he’d been stuck on the 4th line he might not still be playing at this point. Give the guy credit for being smart as well.

  13. #68
    Superb hockey player, Still very entertaining to watch.
    Top ten in Pgh – close call – but a strong case can be made there,
    ” repugnant human being.” – Nah, I see him as just a bit of a “flake”. (Ya Scott, I know you softened that to petulant bum, still a bit strong for me)
    Would I boo him? Nah, but I do wish he would have just shut up before hand and went to the Flyers.
    Sorry Plan, but the Bonds comparison ain’t even close,

  14. I dunno. To some degree, I don’t care. So of course I’ll write a 1,000 word essay when I don’t really care.

    Cheer him. Boo him. Whatever.

    You’re fans. It is your birthright. Ask Lucky. It’s the Eleventh Commandment.

    Booing SOME returning players…but not others? It is a LONG tradition in sports. And not just in Pittsburgh.

    So no angst needed. No embarrassment either. Just be a fan, however you define it.

  15. It’s morning.
    The Detroit Tigers added Joba Chamberlain to their bullpen.

    And I’m still booing David Wright, I don’t have time to boo Jagr

  16. I am considering wearing my old Jagr jersey to the game tonight but I don’t want beer “spilled” on me….ha ha

  17. “Honestly, I would say no,” Cano said. “I didn’t feel respect. I didn’t get any respect. I didn’t see any effort. We never got to the point where there was close commitment to anything.”

    Apparently an offer of a $175 million contract is a sign of disrespect to Robinson Cano.

  18. I think the one we all need to boo tonight will be Shanahan who’ll probably dish out a light sentence today to Thornton.
    I sometimes wonder if Bettman and/or Shanahan are just plain afraid to act or just suckers for the usual “I feel really bad; I didn’t mean to do it; I hope he’s OK; I texted him to tell him I’m sorry ” sob story.
    Then again…..maybe he’ll actually throw the book at him?

  19. To me it has nothing to do with ability to coach, it has to do with the fact the defense needs a complete overhaul. Heyward and Timmons are the only starters next year with upside, Worilds is a guy who they have proven they will not pay ( see K. Lewis) market value for. His defense takes at least two years to learn, so where would any improvement come from? We have to sign retreads like Foote, Gay and Will Allen because no one else is capable of learning it. By the time they rebuild, Coach LeBeau should be retired, you turn the rebuild project over to a coach who will be here to see it thru. Steelers have to think with head, not heart. That also goes for player decisions next year. There is no QB pressure, nuclear explosion plays, few takeaways, blown assignments, and poor tackling. Look at the list of QBs who beat us this year. Not very impressive and for most, career games.

  20. My emotions about Jagr are appreciation and sadness. The talent and determination have always been world class, and what else can we do but appreciate that? The sadness is that, as a player, he’s become a “man without a country” – a paid mercenary. Played everywhere, it seems, but beloved nowhere. And he’s brought much of that on himself, which I think is sad.

    Thanks for a great retrospective, DK.

  21. I was under the impression the whole Jagr wanting out, was more to cover Mario. The Pens couldn’t afford the 2nd best player in the world and had to trade him. So instead of getting the “cheap” label that’s correlated with every Pirates move, the “dying alive” thing was played up and Jagr was thrown under a bus so fast it made Fraud Graham jealous

  22. JAL’s 9 to 5 Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The 2014 Pirates Are a Better Team Than the 2013 Pirates

    How Much Bargaining Power Does James Loney Have?

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Bucs Dugout Podcast: The Pirates’ frustrating offseason

    6 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh PirateFest Guide


    Pirates bring Clint Barmes back for $2 million

    8 Green Weenie

    12/13: Dale Berra, Josh Fogg, Jay Bell, Todd Ritchie, Damaso Marte…

    9 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates rumors: A.J. Burnett edition

    10 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Make Wise Decision To Bring Clint Barmes Back

  23. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 MLB

    Bucs must Hurdle complacency trap

    12 Wheeling Intelligencer

    Pirates’ Charlie Morton Thankful to Be Staying Put–Charlie-Morton-Thankful-to-Be-Staying-Put.html?nav=523

    13 Altoona Mirror

    Pirates players reflect on big year

    14 KDKA

    USA Today’s John Perrotto: Pirates Moves Are A Risk, But Worth It

    15 Port City Daily

    Tony Womack featured speaker at Diamond Hawks spring banquet

    16 Daily Mail

    ‘I want the world to know I love you’: Star baseball player Andrew McCutchen publicly proposes to girlfriend on the Ellen show

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Report: Mattingly thinks Cards stole signs in NLCS

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Yankees-Reds trade talks continue


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Hot Stove Scouting Report Robinson Cano

    20 Fangraphs

    Jerry Jr. and The Amazing Hairstons

    Song: 9 to 5 Dolly Parton

  24. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Troy Polamalu still a single meeting room guy, despite dual defensive role for Steelers

    Kelvin Beachum vs. Mike Adams in Week 15 vs. Bengals

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers 2013 Scouting Report Week Fifteen: Cincinnati Bengals


    23 US Soccer

    U.S. Soccer and Jurgen Klinsmann Agree to Four-Year Contract Extension

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Cristiano Ronaldo is World Soccer’s Player of the Year 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Has Kris Letang turned the corner?

  25. He is nothing like Bonds, stupid comparison. Bonds hated being in pgh and Jags NEVER choked in the playoffs like Bonds. Jags just wanted more money and a chance to win. I’m sure everyone would leave their job in a heartbeat if they got double their salary so come off your high horse. Everyone acts like they remember ’99 like it was yesterday and they talked with him. You have no clue but for a couple of quotes in the paper 15 years ago. You really know him personally to say he is a jerk or just from the paper? So he played hall of fame hockey and did charity work but wanted to leave hoo. I have new for you, at that time the pens couldn’t come close to paying him and he would have been traded. Does everyone hate Staal? Same thing.


  27. Congrats to Aaron Donald!

  28. I love Mario but I think he is #2 behind Wayne Gretsky…sorry DK

    • Don’t get me started!!! Gretzky had decent wingers his entire career. He didn’t have to battle Leukemia. Oh man. I’m shutting up now!

      • What I love and loved about Mario was he never really made much of an excuse out of the bad back – or, at least I don’t remember him whining about it. It just was what it was, and he dealt with it. But, that condition stripped him of championships and maybe 1,000 lifetime points. He didn’t get to play a billion games like Gretzky and tack on point after point. That’s not Gretzky’s fault, though. His scoring records are way out there for the ages.

        Mario also dealt with the Hodgkins, and he never complained about that either that I can recall. I think that was because he knew even though it was difficult to go through while playing a rigorous NHL schedule a lot of people aren’t lucky enough to recover from it. I don’t think he wanted to diminish their plight.

        • Just to clarify – there’s Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (ironically titled NHL!)….

          Mario had Hodgkins, which requires radiation treatment and is highly curable (though side effects can damage your thyroid) and it’s possible that his atrial-fib a few years later may have been related.

          John Cullen, another former Pen, had Non-Hodgkins, which can be fatal, and generally requires not only chemo but may also require a bone-marrow transplant. Fortunately he survived.

          People get them confused, understandably. If you had a choice, believe me you’d opt for Hodgkins, not NHL.

          • Neither one offers great conditions for playing rigorous NHL hockey. Like Jim said, had Mario been healthy and had great line mates, I’m sure his numbers would be out there too.

          • Thank you for clarifying, Sarah. That was actually my point, but I’m not sure I made it very well. I think Mario realized what he went through with the Hodgkins (or “Odgkins” as he used to say) was nowhere near as serious as what many people go through with NH-lymphoma. So, he never played up his condition because he knew it was most likely not life threatening and not as serious as what many people have to endure.

            • Yup, agreed. Of course – anytime you hear “you have cancer” it’s a terrible moment…certainly don’t want to minimize that!…..but I think once Mario got over it and learned more about his condition, he understood that it would be a few months of a tough time, some fatigue and so on….but something he should be able to come back from 100%. And he did.

              And our Jandy is spot-on, that should Mario not have missed as much time as he did with various ailments, good Lord he could have wrecked the record books even more than he already did.

              Such as it is though!!

              As a tennis fan myself – I often wonder what levels Monica Seles could have reached, had she not been stabbed by a deranged fan in 1993….the corollary being – would Steffi Graf have won as many Major titles as she did. Giant asterisks there, all around.

              As Mario should get an asterisk….for being deprived of so much of his prime years……

      • Can you imagine if mario had kurri, messier, coffey, tikannen, anderson and so on from the jump?!?!?

  29. DK-

    Excellent column, as usual. Much like our collection of stars, I really have to avoid taking your excellance for granted.

    Its been pointed out above, and I agree, that Jagr’s feats here are not diminished by what he did after he left; and its OK not to like him for his later actions. No bigs either way. BUT… top ten all- time? Not sure there. May not be top three Pens when all is said and done- and I think he is currently AT #3 in Pens at present. Figure in Wagner, Traynor, Clemente, Starg, Greene, Lambert, Ham, et al, ad nauseum….

    Great night for Aaron Donald !!

  30. For Pirates fans, JAL link #5 is a must listen.

    This is very simple, as of now (and that’s all the information we have) the extra $20 plus million in TV money is not being used. In any area.

    • Milo, unlike Jagr, we would NEVER boo you!
      Thanks for pointing this link out.

      Hi Frank. ;)

    • The link talking about Loney’s bargaining leverage is interesting as well. It claims he has leverage because he’s one of the few available options but if the Brewers go elsewhere for first base it only leaves two teams interested in his services. The Pirates and Rays. They Rays have already said they want him back but can’t afford him at his asking price. There are trade options that are much more affordable like Smoak, Moreland and Davis for the Pirates to go after.

      I’m not seeing what leverage he has. He has two low spending cost conscious teams interested that have trade options. I’m guessing he gets 2 years for 15 or 3 years for 24. Not the 3 at 27-30 he was asking.

      • When you say “much more affordable” you do realize they can comfortably afford a guy like Mike Napoli ?

        • I do realize that but nothing that has happened in recent history would lead me to believe they will do that so I’m left with thinking they would go the route of more affordable. I can’t remember the last time they signed an outside of the organization free agent to a 3 year contract.

    • So what do you think, Milo? Is Nutting going to pony up and bring back AJ and address 1B? He damn well better do both!!

    • You are so correct, Milo. That podcast is a great listen. David and Charlie voiced my thoughts pretty much exactly on this payroll/additional money issue.

      I do not want the Pirates to go about building a team the way Milwaukee did a few years back. That worked fairly well for all of about 2 years. I don’t even like the way Cincinnati did it, even though they have had some success, because I think we are now seeing them try to shed some big contracts. I want the Pirates to reasonably spend the money they have and sustain this thing through a strong development system and key additions at the big league level when they make sense. I recognize they will need to be in the bottom 1/3 of MLB payrolls on an annual basis. But, they do not need to spend like Tampa. We all know that.

      I don’t begrudge Mr. Nutting for wanting to make a profit. But, when the fans know you have more money than in previous seasons, due to the extra $20 million or so in national TV money, + the spiked attendance, + the playoff games – it is disingenuous not to invest that money in payroll when you and your team Pres. said that is exactly what you would do.

      I do want to include the caveat that there is still time for them to do some things to bolster this roster in the next few months. I hope they do it. Right now, I feel like I, as a fan who travels in and spends a lot of money at PNC several times a year, am having my goodwill taken advantage of by this organization this off-season. I can only imagine what some of the folks here who invest in 20, 30, 40+ games per season are feeling when they see what is going on.

      • One thing we keep forgetting is that last year some of it wasn’t his money. The Yankees and Astros picked up good portions of AJ and Wandy’s contract’s. If the payroll ends up at 85 million maybe that is 20 million more then Nutting’s actual money spent on payroll last year. Is that enough? I personally do not think so. They have always said money would be spent when the time is right. Well that is now so it would seem to me the TV money should be in addition to the promise of increased payroll when the time is right.

        • True, Nate. And the other thing is that they have done a good job of not being hamstrung for future years because of their shrewd avoidance of Brandon Phillips-type long term deals. For instance, the only guy we have extended out very far is Cutch, and I think he is owed about the same money as the far inferior Phillips, and for more seasons. So, not only do they not have boat anchor contracts going forward, but they also will shed Wandy after this season, and Burnett is in the process of being shed now. Russell Martin, for that matter will most likely be shed for a cheaper alternative next season. Barmes’ $5.5M per year just got trimmed to $2M. The only off-setting increase I can think of so far, other than usual year-to-year increases that will occur, is the extension for CM.

          Wandy, Volquez and AJ’s salaries will be replaced in the rotation by guys like Taillon, Kingham, Glasnow over the next 2 years. That will be, maybe, the cheapest rotation in MLB. Was it really outrageous to think a Mike Napoli could be afforded for 3 years, much less a James Loney for a little more money than his market value would dictate for 2 years? Would it really be so awful to have added a bat like Napoli to this team when we know how well positioned they are, contract-wise, for the next few years? You might not want to pay market value, but sometimes when you pass on market value you end up Travis Snider and Andrew Lambo in your starting lineup, and you hope they grow up fast.

        • Without the money kicked in by Houston & the Yankees, the Pirates themselves paid $74.4 million in salaries. Currently, with all raises figured in, their 40 man payroll stands at $73 million. Still lots of time.

          • Remember, they promised.

          • I hope you had your 10 year old double check this.

            • Tim Williams has the same figure. I double checked but I’m a little older than 10.

            • It’s right this time ! :)

              • Good point about ticket prices being stagnant for 10 years. That was a good thing. But, it was also good business. They didn’t do it out of the goodness of Mr. Nutting’s heart.

                We are in agreement about them not spending just because the money is there. I don’t want dumb, long, boat anchor contracts (Cano, Ellsbury, even to a lesser extent, Phillips). I don’t ever want to see deals for longer than the Cutch deal, and for that matter I only want to see them do it for rare talents like him.

                But, NH has proven he can work a roster to fit his budget limitations as well as anyone. I’m pretty sure he could contain himself from going insane and turning into the Mariners if he had an extra $20 million to work with – especially since he also knows he has set himself up well already in future years.

              • Milo, AW, and Jim are spot on.

                I remember Frank promising, but “hedging” at the same time.
                Hope he wasnt drunk when he said it………..
                ( and I am being serious about that).

                Other than that, doesnt matter what they promise, didnt promise, or lied about. Proof will be in the pudding, and yes, I know there still is time, but I am underwhelmed so far this offseason.

                Hi Frank.

              • Jim, one point about the Mariners that I think is relevant. Their financial statements in 2009 showed zero debt. None. And I don’t see any reason why they have incurred any since. The Pirates had $120M in debt as of the July 2009 financial statements.

            • Jim, as far as I can tell, Frank said that they needed certain things to happen in order to reach a certain payroll range. Not sure that’s a promise. Anyways, they hit that range this past year. And if they did make a promise, I think that’s a stoopid thing to do. Maybe Nutting made a promise or NH did, I really don’t know, really don’t care.

              • I think Coonelly came pretty close to making a definite promise, 21. If he says he didn’t, then that is parsing words on his part IMO. I believe Nutting has said similar things in the past as well.

                I’ve never been in the “Nutting basher” camp. But, I’m clearly in the “don’t gouge your patrons” camp. When you receive a windfall of revenue, such as the Bucs have received in the past 6 months, and you have previously implied that you will invest such a windfall in the payroll, I think the right thing is to do what you have implied. And, if you simultaneously raise ticket prices to generate even more revenue yet don’t increase the payroll, you are breaking a trust with the people that keep your business afloat. He doesn’t have a legal obligation to do this. But, I think this will become a bigger issue as the winter goes on if nothing else is added.

                I think they already have a contending team, but that isn’t the point. The point is, they can add to this roster to have an even better team, and that is exactly what they implied they would do.

              • I pretty much agree Jim but I don’t want them to spend for the sake of spending. But I can’t find any other quotes.

                They didn’t raise ticket prices from 2002-2012 and decreased them once in that time period. I have no problem with whatever they do with ticket prices. You respond to the market and I think they’ve done that fairly. Ticket prices are still reasonable, IMO and among the cheapest in the league.

              • I haven’t listened yet, but even though they hadn’t raised ticket prices they did last year and this year and had increased attendance. That’s extra money even BEFORE adding the national TV money windfall.

              • Then put your money where your mouth is Plan. Find the quotes. I did.

              • I agree AW. They’re taking advantage of the market.

                On the podcast, David and Charlie seemed critical that the money was there and they haven’t spent it. Then later in the podcast I thought they seemed supportive that they didn’t spend it just to spend it. Charlie complained that they weren’t connected to Kazmir, Hart or Colon who he thought all got reasonable deals. Personally I didn’t want any of those players.

              • Don’t take the bait, Plan, just ignore. :)

              • Can’t have your cake and eat it too Jandy.

              • says who? :P

                I’ll have chocolate with cream cheese icing…

              • oh, and a glass of red wine would be nice too :)

              • I’ll go dark chocolate with dark chocolate icing!

                No bait, btw. Just talking sports.

          • There is a lot of time so I’m willing to them the benefit of the doubt but if the out of pocket payroll was 74.4 million last year then I expect nothing less then 95 million for this year based purely on increased revenue and spending the TV money. Add on top of that the comments about spending when the time is right and there is no reason payroll should stay around 80 million.

            • “Coonelly draws a direct line from the team’s success at the turnstiles to the transactions the team made during the year.

              “The increased attendance this year allowed us to bring in Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, and John Buck at the tradedeadline,” Coonelly said. “And the increased attendance and excitement for next year will certainly allow us to increase payroll.”

              His only out is the word “allow”, but that is nitpicking. The direct line is there, increased attendence means higher payroll. Those who want to defend the FO at all costs will say that “allow” doesnt mean they will, but that is bunk.

              Jandy, you and that wine………..

  31. Jagr has compiled some really great career stats. He’s been a remarkable talent. He’s a HOF player, for sure. But, he’s not close to the NHL’s Mount Rushmore. I just never felt like he lifted anyone up, or did any sort of leading on the Penguins or for the parade of other teams after the Penguins. He has been very entertaining, though, because of his wonderful talent.

  32. I was not one of those who booed Jagr through the 2000s. I didn’t like the dying alive comment, but I understood what was going on with the franchise at the time. I wanted to forgive him.

    Then came the flirtation in 2011. That one struck at my heart. I think I, and most Pens fans, really did want him to come back and end his career as a hero. Whatever his (perhaps valid) reasons were, he toyed with our emotions. Then he ripped our hearts out, much worse than he had done the first time. Not only did he not sign in Pittsburgh, he went to the hated Flyers. It was as if he was just rubbing salt in the wound by doing that. You can’t tell me the Flyers were the only team that offered him that combination of money and a top 6 role. But he chose our bitterest rival. Then he proceeded to help knock the Pens out of the playoffs. That’s a wound that just hasn’t healed. Heck, I have only recently forgiven Max Talbot for signing with that fetid organization, and only after he was traded to Colorado.

    Yes, I respect Jagr the player for all the great things he did for the city, the organization, and the fans. He was (and still is, really) an amazing talent. One of the best ever. But I have zero respect for Jagr the person. He was, is, and likely always will be a petulant baby. Had his emotional development ever matched his talent even to a small degree, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  33. I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to be Aaron Donald right now, knowing that you have worked your butt off for all of this and you are being rewarded. It is so great to see a local kid (and a really good kid at that) do so well. Congrats, Aaron!

    Thanks to DK and the Trib for great coverage of Aaron as well. Reading from a distance, I love this kind of Burgh stuff that I would never get where I live.

    Finally, the Jagr column was top shelf, upper 90%, above the fold stuff!

  34. Someone has to invite me to the next fans meeting so I can figure out who I’m supposed to boo.

    So far David Wright. Jagr. I guess any Patriot, Raven and Flyer. Tim Neverett, I guess.

    Who else ?

    • Shawn Thornton.

      • It’s funny, Jandy. You love Matt Cooke. As a Wild fan, never could stand the guy from his days in Vancouver. Now, he plays for my team. You have to be careful who you dislike in the free agency era, because they might just end up on your team!

    • I will add Cooooooooooooonelly, any Broon, A-Fraud, Cryin Fraud of Milwaukee fame, and a few others.
      Just dont let a columnist, or anyone else tell you who to boo, or not to boo.
      Its everyone’s right to boo or to cheer anybody for any reason.

    • I will add Cooooooooooooonelly, any Broon, A-Fraud, Cryin Fraud of Milwaukee fame, and a few others.
      Just dont let a columnist, or anyone else tell you who to boo, or not to boo.
      Its everyone’s right to boo or to cheer anybody for any reason.

  35. If anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt its Jagr. If you want to boo him cuz he played mario and shero for more money from philly then thats fine. But his “dying alive” comments were result of him not playing up to his standard. It had nothing to do with his personal thoughts on pittsburgh and it was a lost in translation moment for many yinzers. He could’ve helped that year we lost to philly but we didn’t lose cuz he was in that disgusting orange jersey. We lost cuz of lack of discipline and structure.

    Jags was a generational talent we were fortunate to have due to Craig Patricks foresight to draft a Czech player 5th overall when it wasn’t a popular trend. Watching mario and mario jr play with the tocchets, stevens, coffeys, francis’ and so on was one of the most entertaining spectacles on earth. I think we should thank and show respect to someone who battled, bleed, produced and won as much as Jagr did.

  36. Ah yes, May 2, 1999. My dad was lying in the hospital dying of cancer. He told me I’d better hurry or I’d be late for the game. I told him I figured I’d just skip it & just hang out and watch it with him. He looked at me sternly and said, “It’s the playoffs, something might happen you don’t want to miss.” When I went back after the game he just looked at me and said, “Told you.”

    I kinda cut Jagr a break after that.

  37. I loved watching Jagr in the 90′s. I remember watching his first few years in complete awe that a left-hander was playing on the right wing was doing things that I’ve only seen a handful of players to. Older players, not someone 18, 19, 20 years of age. I was the one sporting a “Mario Jr” t-shirt. I was even a fan when he almost ran me over in his Camaro in the Civic Arena’s parking lot while trying to get autographs. (never did get one from him) His “dying alive” comment seemed like a comment from someone who just didn’t know when to not talk. The booing in the last few years, I think, stem from him choosing Philly over the Pens for his comeback, not necessarily the “dying alive” comment. But, please people, get over it. He’s played for 3 other teams since then. Just enjoy the player and what he can do. As long as he’s not doing it against us, I’m good. Should he have his number retired? Absolutely. Statue-worthy? Sadly, no.

    • I agree with you 100%. There are some people that will never let it go with this guy. But that little song & dance he pulled a couple of summers ago just reopened the wound for many others. Including many in the Penguins organization itself.

    • I think Mike Lange deserves a statue.

      Chicago has two statues of broadcasting icons. Jack Brickhouse on Michigan Avenue and Harry Caray at Wrigley Field.

      Fans have long associated their fandem and love for a sports franchise with their team’s long time voices.

      • I feel about Lange the way I felt about Bob Prince (not to bring up…..BASEBALL!!!….or anything!!)

        I believe he is already in the HOF. He should have some sort of statue or monument in this town.

        Fox Sports embarrassed themselves with their treatment of this icon.

        • +++++ Osh Kosh, and Sarah

        • You’re old enough to remember Bob Prince?

          • Erm… Dad told me about him LOL!!!

            Kidding – Actually my Dad took me to games when I was like FIVE… I got to see Bobby Clemente and hear Bob Prince, even as a tiny squirt!!!

            It always stayed with me!!! When I got to HS and played volleyball, I always wore #21.

            A treasured gift was an album of Pirates WOrld Series Bob-Prince-called highlights from 1971! I may have been a squirt, but I loved it! “BUG LOOSE ON THE RUG!!!” “WE HAD’EM ALLLLLLL THE WAY!!”

            Oh for lost youth…..

            • My son wears #21 on his travel baseball team. I remember when he played his first year, the coach asked the boys to all submit their desired #’s. He was only 9 at the time, but he asked for #21 because of Roberto. Another boy picked #21, and when the coach asked them each why they picked that number, the other kid had no idea why he picked it. He just liked the number. The coach decided to give it to my son.

            • Neat. Didn’t think you were that old. Doesn’t look like it on the picture.

      • maybe after he retires, they will name the broadcast booth at consol after him.

  38. Well written column as always, DK, and your points are both valid and well made. That said, Jagr was, and likely remains,an immature, self centered, punk. I will never forgive him for playing the Pens against the Flyers and then choosing to play for the most hated organization this side of AQI.

    • Do you feel the same way about Max Talbot?

      • I feel worse about Talbot than I feel about Jagr.
        Really I just feel like EFF YOU MAX.

        I’m not that over the top about Jagr, I just thought he was an immature guy, never grew up.

        Max betrayed us.

        Not saying my emotions are rational LOL!

        • Sarah, you and i would’ve done exactly what mad max did. Don’t think he had a choice. And after suffering thru pergatory aka philly he’s now in the land of bigfoot. So i think he’s happy with his decision.

          • Hah! Well… question Max was in DB’s dog-house. So I totally agree he had little choice but to leave. Not sure he HAD to go to PHL tho!!!!

            I worried about it because he gave us a LOT of what Malkin needed on a wing. He has not yet been replaced. That is HUGE. Geno’s LW is a merry-go-round right now.

            I worried about it more, because Max was such pals with MAF and seemed to stabilize him (they had numerous habits/rituals, were close pals)…..

            So losing him was “more than” just losing a roster spot IMO.

            Beyond MAF’s mental frailty (which I agree, we should be careful about indulging), Malkin’s LW has NEVER been sufficiently fulfilled. Unless you count Kunitz, who apparently is wedded to Crosby.

            I really think one of the primary issues that CONTINUES, is the club’s inability to provide the proper Ws for Crosby and Malkin. Malkin has always needed someone in the Talbot/Fed/Malone (Kulemin anyone?) mode, to balance the sniper in Neal.

            Crosby has ALWAYS needed the Sniper/elite finisher that he (briefly) had with Hossa. NEVER ADDRESSED.

            We gave Letang a squillion dollars whilst keeping Duper on Sid’s RW and on Malkin’s LW.

            After FOUR YEARS, it’s shocking to me that RS could not make these additions. Esp in light of the Letang contract.

            So….I guess I’m saying there’s more going on with Talbot than just him going to PHL….

      • I did, but not to the same level of distaste I have for Jagr. Max got an offer a player of his type/skill level couldn’t refuse. I hated it, but understood. With Jagr, he’d already made untold millions. How much more did he need?

        • Didn’t Jagr blow alot of that money though? If I recall correctly (and again, I was young so I could be completely off base), wasn’t there some thought that his funds were drying up? Sure it was stupid of him to make mistakes with his funds, but once you’ve already made those mistakes, you cannot take them back.

          • The rumors I heard were a gambling issue. Dunno. But I do not think he was as financially comfortable as you’d think….hence the Hired Gun/Follow the Money…..

      • Max didn’t play Pittsburgh with false promises the way Jagr did. No comparison.

  39. Musing over morning coffee, it is clear that the players are not the only ones who beat each other up in Hockey World — just kidding. I am more interested in the concept of “cheating” in the professional sports world. JAL posted an article noting that Mattingly thinks the Cards stole signs in the W.S. In baseball, stealing and cheating (spitballs, pretending to make a catch, etc.) is often highly regarded. I suspect no one in Pittsburgh is more reviled than Belichick (not even Tomlin). I have no strong feelings about this stuff, but am intrigued by the conundrum of whether cheating is fair in sports (or love, war and p……s)?

    • Stealing signs in baseball is not illegal. I hate the term “Stealing signs”. I prefer to call it obtaining information. I coach baseball and I don’t appreciate when people obtain my signs. If somebody does, I don’t whine about it, I change the signs. There is a proper way of relaying “obtained” signs to players and a wrong way. I could go on about this for hours… But I won’t.

      • Good points, tooch. If a major league team is dumb enough to let their signs be that simple they can be figured out, then it’s just as much their fault.

        Cheating is inexcusable, but careful study of another team to determine tendancies, signs, tipoffs, etc. is part of the game.

        And I dislike the Cardinals immensely, but not for that.

  40. Got some stuff to attend to , maybe catch ya’ll in time for the chat :)

  41. I truly do not get the booing of Jagr. The comments he made years ago when he left for the first time were stupid, but that was a long time ago and like someone else said earlier, Jagr just didn’t (doesn’t) seem to have much of a filter speaking to the media. He’d rather just say what he is thinking then some dumb PR mumbo jumbo. I believe he is one of the greatest athletes to play for a Pittsburgh team and he was one of the most enjoyable players to watch. He wanted a bigger payday (don’t we all. We vilify Jagr for doing this, but if we could receive a huge raise from another company, wouldn’t many of us take advantage of that).

    During #JagrWatch, I truly believe he wanted to come back and play for Pittsburgh. I highlight “play” in this sentence. I think he was worried with all the talent Pittsburgh had and no commitment from the team, that he was going to be playing small minutes on the third or fourth line. He may have not even been on the first PP. Jagr shows that he loves playing the game and this just didn’t sit right with him when he could go and be top line, top PP player in Philly. Ya it sucks how it turned out, but I don’t blame him.

    Lastly, how do you not respect a man who puts in the work he does. Remember him being given a key to the practice facility in Dallas so he could go early/late to the ice when no one else was around. At 40 years old, he is still training and working harder than pretty much everyone else out there. I wish more people in this world and in the NHL had that kind of work ethic.

    TL:DR – Jagr is a hardworking, exceptional athlete, who decided to take some extra money and playing time. I don’t think that makes him the villain some believe.

  42. Interestng column today and fun stuff to think about…

    My wife got us tickets to Jagr’s (and Max’s) return game with the Flyers…I didn’t boo him then and probably wouldn’t now…he even scored coming down the wing and snapping one by MAF…typical Jagr move.

    That ’99 Devils series was awesome. Remember that series well watching it when I was living in the Lehigh Valley. Wild stuff for sure, especially since the Pens weren’t given much of a chance going into the series.

    Was bummed by the whole dyin’ alive comments and trade, and really more frustrated during the whole most recent flirtation with the Pens. Think it was more the getting my hopes up that things would come full circle and it didn’t work out that way, but that’s life.

    Kudos to 68 for still going strong at age 42. Maybe he will play until he’s 50!

    Take care all.

    Randy in RVA.

    PS. Heard the Pens will release their “sweaters” for the outdoor game today, right? Plus Thorton’s meeting with Shanny is at 1PM today as well….I am hoping for more than 10, but won’t hold my breath.

    • Yes, today is what I also heard, Vette. Love that avatar!

      • Thanks Jim about the avatar…I was debating what particular pic to put up. I have a thing for ’60 Vettes since we have had one in our family since my Dad traded in his ’56 Bel Air way back in ’62 for ours. Love that car…

        The particular Vette in avatar is the class winner from the ’60 LeMans and is currently in the Chip Miller Collection and owned by his family. It was really cool in 2010 at the 50th anniversary year at Corvettes at Carlise they had that Vette on display and had John Cooper Fitch there who was one of the winning drivers. The Miller family had taken the car to LeMans for the 50th and John and Lance Miller, Chip’s son, did Laps in the Vette around the historic circuit.

        John Fitch was a true legend from WWII P-51 Mustang Pilot, extraordinary driver, and fellow Lehigh U alum. Had the pleasure of meeting him and having my pic taken with him and Lance and have a poster autographed. One of those really neat moments…

        Ok, that’s a way too long of a post for your simple comment, but I am kinda passionate about those cars!

        Take care,
        Randy in RVA.

  43. If anyone ever questions Dejan’s characterization of Pirates bloggers as insanely optimistic homers, check out that link up there titled “The 2014 Pirates are a Better Team Than the 2013 Pirates.” All I can say on that one is… wow.

    • The fanboy culture strikes again.

    • Cutch, Pedro, Walker, Jordy, Marte, Tabata, Cole, Charlie, and some guys in the bullpen, I could see them being better as a group. Maybe significantly. I don’t think too many people last offseason predicted what happened in 2013 let alone a .500 season.

      • Hey look, a post that actually talks about the topic so many apparently object to so much.

        • Honestly, anyone care to actually state why they think the article is wrong?

          • I actually do think the team, on balance, may be better than last year as currently constructed. 21 pointed to a bunch of reasons. Several young players are still ascending. More are on the way. But, a case could also be made that they may slip back a bit.

            My only objection right now, and this has nothing to do with the article, is that a whole lot of teams seem to be acting as though they got a sudden influx of money this winter, while the Pirates seem to be acting as though they didn’t.

            • Thanks, Jim.

              FWIW, I couldn’t stand the article because Williams pulls the Kovacevic right/wrong way to think card. Just stop. Williams is a baseball fan who was entrepenurial enough to make a career out of covering the team. For that, he should be commended. But he knows no more about baseball than anyone on this board right now. No training, no experience, no skills. He reads others work and regurgitates it.

              As far as the CONTENT of the article, I think he made some strong points that you and 21 touched on. The Opening Day roster is stronger, there is more depth, and they’ll have the same opportunity to add players like Byrd and Morneau in July as they did last year.

              • I actually haven’t gotten around to reading the article yet.

              • I would argue that Williams knows as much as ANYONE on this board right now.

                He has access to scouts. Those scouts tell him things and he’s probably learned more than a few things about baseball, especially prospects.

              • I read each of Tim’s articles independent of the last one. Sometimes I agree with what he says, and sometimes I disagree. I’m quite sure if he read my posts here, or those of most other people here, he would agree sometimes and disagree other times. Overall, though, I probably tend to agree with him more often than I disagree.

                As 21 said, there are hundreds of thousands of Pirates fans. And there are a bunch of issues always going on. How could we all ever agree?

            • Here’s the thing I don’t get. There are hundreds of thousands of Pirate fans. Right? Maybe million(s). Are we all supposed to think the exact same way? Aren’t there bound to be all kinds of opinions out there on every issue? Is it so radical to think the 2014 team right now could be better? Toronto and the Angels had a good offseason last year and they had pretty bad years. That’s baseball.

              • Absolutely agreed.

                I don’t fault a soul for fearing the 2014 team will not be as good as they were in 2013.

                But I absolutely object to somewhere reverting to hyperbole and condescension (“wildly optomistic homers”) without offering a shred of reasoning. Serves no pupose what so ever, other than to rile up other posters.

    • Indeed…..Fresh garbage and more from Tim Williams….Top line “Propagandist Extraordinaire” that lives, breathes and sweats through the Nutting Regime.
      One of numerous “snake oil salesmen” that make up the self-proclaimed “upper crust” of the Pirate fan base.

      These imps will tell you what to like, and when to like it.
      They will predict the future, and when proven wrong, it will be cited as heavily as a fraction of a grain of beach sand.
      They are interested in nothing but promoting their own supposed intelligence…..And of course the Nutting Regime.

      • “These imps will tell you what to like, and when to like it.”

        C’mon, Daq, don’t you tell us what not to like and when not to like it?


        • He called DK an Imp!

          • DK isn’t even in the same universe as the one’s I speak of.
            Though he might not describe them as harshly…..He know who they are better than I do.

            • You are questioning the uber-defenders of the FO?
              The ones who deny they ever do it?

              Come on, Daq, ………… LOL!!

              • Of whom do you speak, Plan?

              • Both some of the “writers” Daq referenced, and some bloggers here.

              • Again, anyone care to actually talk about the article?

                Do I have to call someone an imp first?

              • I have absolutely zero interest in defending the front office. I think Nutting owed it to us to sell the team and I have made that comment for several years. Three years ago is when I wanted Coonelly gone and still do. I thought Huntington should have been fired after 2011 and then again after 2012. Now, I don’t think it makes any sense to fire him.

                My interest is in trying to analyzing things the way that I see them. I look at facts and try to come to logical conclusions. If people don’t like my conclusions because they’re different from their own, so be it. I just like talking through these issues on this board.

              • Which ones here. Don’t be shy.

              • Hipposter…please, be shy ;)

              • Very well said, 26.2. Until I read that, I totally thought you were an “imp.” :-)

              • I continue to think it is incredibly ungrateful to mock some of the same posters who welcome newcomers with open arms and encourage them to come back.

                Appreciate what you have, because success can be fleeting.

                DK: The subject matter was being addressed, not the posters. It’s tired, man. Day after day, FO, NH, blogger wrote this or that, honestly, does anyone grasp how small that world is?

          • haha, call me an Imp…I’ll try to live up to it :P

            • AW, wont go there.
              If I name names, they will deny. What is the sense of that?

              Sorry, not going there, but you know of some who do as I speak of.

            • Imp-ette, Jandy. That’s the female version.

              • Gold, Jim, Gold. :)

              • Thanks for that compliment above Jim. And I have to admit, I like it when you refer to me as 26.2.

                Honestly though, I don’t know why anyone would think someone wants to defend the front office unless they’re related, friends, or have some type of a financial interest. It’s just not so black and white, IMO.

              • I think you are exactly right, 21. I am not a universal kind of guy. I try to call each situation as I see it.

                I think that is usually what most people do here.

              • I think you do that as well Jim and I do like going through issues with you because you don’t put people down simply for having an opinion different from your own.

              • I’ve often wondered the same thing, 21.

                People defend the idealogy that this current FO represents, since it is so far different than previous executives. Somewhere along the line both sides of the argument made it personal, and that is where we’re at right now.

                I absolutely promise anyone reading that if Neal Huntington came out next winter and said he’s now going to quit signing international prospects or high dollar draft picks and instead pour every dime into expensive free agents who rack up pitcher wins, home runs, and RBI, NONE – not a single one – of these so called Front Office defenders would praise him.

                DK: Same stuff, day after day after day. And all it does is discourage people who want to come here and talk about something other than the same stuff, day after day after day.

              • Thanks, 21. And, I just want to forewarn everyone that when Thomas Alva Edinson Volquez posts a 1.1 WHIP this year, I’m going to be saying I loved the signing right from the start.

              • I know you will Jim, I also know you will be the first one to say you were wrong if he pulls a much more costly impression of Jonathan Sanchez.

                +++ to 21 and NRM for pointing out it’s not black or white and people legitimately are calling them how they see it one move at a time. There may have been some but I didn’t see any I told you so after this year from the people who have been “defending” the front office. It was a great year and we all enjoyed it more then we didn’t.

                Now to get this blog back on track. Does anybody have an opinion on the Tigers bullpen, Nutting being cheap or Navy SEALS training.

    • ++++++++++++++++ Scott.
      Are they “petulent bums” also ?? ;)

  44. I heard some speculation last night that the delay in the hearing until today was because the NHL thought they needed to get Legal involved. If correct, not sure which way that cuts.

    • Could be because of the implications of it being after the whistle and possibly assault.

    • If true, I looked at it as a good thing in that they might be thinking outside the box in terms of length. But, on the other hand, they may be thinking if they give him too little in terms of games, does that hurt them down the road on concussion lawsuits.

  45. i know i am toward the bottom of the list so this may not get read by many but i wanted to share my thoughts on Jagr. i am by no means a pittburgher, i am from down the river in Wheeling, WV where hockey ranks behind football, basketball, golf, track, and just about evey other form of competition you can think of. Anyway i was fortunate enough to be a kid and watch the early 90s Pens which featured 2 of the greatest hockey players the world will ever see. I remember the early 90s featuring pure offensive forces in their prime. i remember through the years francis leaving, and not feeling upset, same with straka, kovalev, zubov, barasso, hedberg, and even mario retiring way too early, but nothing compared to jagr leaving. i may just be speaking for myself but i think a lot of it at the time was i knew what he was capable of, everyone did, everyone knew after lemiuex retired jagr was the best player in the world, he was the guy who was going to keep us afloat single handedly after mario left, and then he left and it felt like he left us, not just he was gone but he said “hey this has been fun but i’m done here” and it hurt and we had to watch him go to washington and then new york and leave for russia and it was closure. we had hoped one day he would ride back into town with his mullet and jean everything and teach malkin and crosby and the rest of the young core we had/have how to take their game to his level and he would be that final piece to turn us from contender to dynasty. he came back and toyed with us we had the idea in our head, i felt like i was 10 on Christmas getting another hockey poster of him and then he went to philly and it felt like a slight against pittburgh. i finally relized he wont be back in pittburgh and today i realized that this wont be the last time i can watch him play but it could be his last trip to town. this could be the last time the people of pittsburgh and the surrounding areas have a chance to go see 68 in person and wait outside the arena for an autograph from one of the greatest talents of my generation.tonight i will watch the game on the center ice package from my home on Wright-patt AFB and i will tell my wife that despite all of the complaining i have done about him since we have been together and how all she sees is a bad guy, he was a great talent and a great role model to hockey players around the world, not just pittsburgh. and i will watch the game knowing if right now i was offered tickets i would find a way to make the drive from here to there in time for puck drop and i would stand outside waiting for a glimpse of the guy who was the 2nd biggest influence on my hockey world just to say thank you for the memories.

  46. I sent a note to the GMs of every MLB team this morning begging to be disrespected for $175 million. I even promised not to grow a beard afterward. So far, no response. But, the day is young. I’m sure some of them are still flying back from the winter meetings. I’ll keep you posted.

  47. “Spoiled rotten.”

    Yep, that was Jagr. And that’s why he’ll be booed. Don’t care how talented he was, he stuck his skate in his mouth way too many times.

  48. Pens fans have a lot of love for the players when they are here…..and that love turns to hate when they leave. I was at the game last week when Tyler Kennedy returned. TK didn’t ask for a trade or leave in free agency….he was TRADED BY THE TEAM. When I stood to clap for TK and his contributions that he made as a Penguin, I was amazed by the number of people booing him. When Max Talbot left, he did it for more money. Do I hate him for that? No way! If I was offered a job making more money I would absolutely take it. We lose sight of the fact that this is a job for these people. Jagr went to Philly to make more money, but also because he was almost guaranteed to get more playing time. I wouldn’t have wanted to come back to be a 4th liner in Pittsburgh if I had the opportunity to play significant minutes in Philly. I will be at the game tonight, and people behind me can yell and boo when I clap for a Pittsburgh Penguins legend who I will always respect for his hard work and play when he wore our team’s uniform.

  49. Boone Logan, LOOGY: 3/$16.5M w/ Colorado. This is exactly the type of deal I do not want the Bucs to make. I think Brian Sabean disguised his voice and contacted Logan’s agent on behalf of the Rockies.

  50. I was going to say this way earlier, but I just re-remembered … In JAL’s famous #5 link, above, I think NH looks a lot like a young Jack Nicklaus.

  51. So when’s the big Edinson Volquez press conference ?

  52. Had to duck out for an hour to do some Christmas shopping. Who am I kidding? I do Christmas “buying.” The boss tells me exactly what to get and where to get it, so that I don’t screw anything up. And, I’m in and out of each store in under 5 min. My kind of shopping!

    I do enjoy it, though, when I see the cars circling the mall parking lot over and over, in search of the perfect spot to save 100 ft. of walking. There was a car circling in vulture mode today when I arrived. I parked in the hinterlands, went in and bought a few things, and I swear that person was still circling when I got back out of the mall.

    • Online shopping, Jim. With my Amazon card, I even get free shifting. Can do it at 3:00 AM in your jammies.

    • Very true and you operator the same way that I try to. Know what you want, where it is, and go in and get it and get out! Ok to park in East Jabip – can hoof it faster than it takes to find a “better” spot….

      Favorite game to play is to head out and pick up a car stalker on the way – you know the folks who slowly follow you on the walk back to your car so they can get your spot…once they are on the trail, cut over an aisle! That really get them or head back to the car only to head back to the store – oh, sorry, forgot something! Not leaving yet!

      Merry Christmas for sure!


      • That’s great, Vette. I always feel bad for the parking stalkers if I forget which row I had parked in – as if I’ve let them down somehow. The more I think of it, I believe you have it right.

  53. Why is blog not posting?

  54. AW, hippo and Jandster…trying to reply above to our canadian golden boy subject but blog isnt letting me…WTF?

  55. At UCF Commencement now. Procession started. In two hours my youngest will be throwing his cap in the air.

    Not quite a play by play opportunity but that’s ok.

    Have to make sure my money was well spent. Yep. That’s why I’m here.

  56. OK guys, I really gotta go. Stuff to do so I can go home.

  57. Wow when i break things up one line at a time it posts. If its more than that it doesn’t let me post. Weird.

  58. Did he mature late? Yes, but at some point i think its unhealthy and counter-productive to hold grudges, especially when the reasons are up for debate.

  59. Would like to see fans and team take high road regarding one of teams all time greats!

    • Geez why was that so difficult??? Blog didn’t like my thoughts in one post…made me break it up into multiple one liners. Not cool! But an original form of censorship!

  60. I agree the booing needs to stop. Think the louder message would be just to ignore him.

    He was a great, great player and a shame that it ended the way it did but actions have consequences. His actions caused the strong feelings from the fan base and time obviously hasn’t yet, and my never heal the wounds.

    I still respect his game and give him credit for still impacting the game but in no way, do I want to celebrate his career with the Penguins.

    Think it will be interesting to see if Mario and the organization eventually honor his career. I am guessing that Mario’s silence to date on the issue speaks volumes.

  61. I appreciate what Jagr did as a player while he was here, but I have no respect for his business related social skills. I’m not going to the game, but I’m not sure I would be spending much time thinking about whether I would cheer or boo him ahead of time. I’d just let it happen, possibly follow the predominant crowd reaction for the fun of it. But since I have thought about it now, I think an appropriate response would be silence. He wouldn’t know how we feel about him or if we care at all about him, and wouldn’t give him a basis for motivating himself to become a factor in the game.

    BTW-I wonder how Washington and a few other cities where he collected a check feel about him?

  62. Thanks for earlier comments.

    Just conferred.

    Now the individual procession and handshakes and sheepskin.

    Wow. Our baby.

    Earned his BS in 29 months. Starts his Masters of Science in January. At age 20.

    He wants to be a Sports Columnist.

    DK: Congratulations, Drew. Can’t even imagine.

  63. Just crossed stage, name announced, hand shake.

    I kissed my wife.

    Did you read what I just wrote? I kissed my wife.

    Luckily that’s the last of our undergrads so we’ll have no more of that.

  64. Did anyone else find it a bit of an oversight that Pitt is not currently ranked in the Top 25? Only 8 teams from the 5 top conferences are undefeated. They have not played a killer schedule, and weren’t expected to be great given their lack of returning talent. But, they have destroyed most of the teams in their way, including a 21 point win over Stanford on a neutral court. It’s not really a big deal so early in the season, but they have looked like a definite top 15 or so team to me so far.

    DK: They’ve gotten votes, plus some national praise, but it sure feels like nothing concrete will come until ACC play.

    On that note, found out today I’m covering Pitt’s ACC debut Jan. 4 at NC State. Very cool.

    • I wonder if voters just have not caught on yet that this team is different from what Jamie has allowed in the past. I know that caught me off-guard until I saw a couple of games.

      A Pitt team running so many fast breaks, and also taking the first available open outside shot … that is a truly a first in the Dixon era. I must admit, my respect for Jamie as a coach has gone way up already this year. To change so dramatically, and so swiftly upon entering the new league is impressive. For a coach to allow his team to move away from his comfort zone like this shows what a confident coach he is, IMO. I thought he was stubborn and would insist on trying to force the ACC to adapt to his rigid style, rather than the opposite.

      Of course, we have not entered the regular season yet.

  65. DK: Same stuff, day after day after day. And all it does is discourage people who want to come here and talk about something other than the same stuff, day after day after day.

    DK, I am not being confrontational with my question. But can you explain how people are discouraged from coming on here and talking about something different? If we look at the past few weeks we’ve had a ton of talk about hockey, Penguin, Steeler and Tomlin. I think we’ve even had some college sports too. (yesterday about the Pitt football player that won all the awards)

    I always thought that if someone wants to talk about a topic – go ahead and post your thoughts and see if it gains traction. But I don’t see how baseball talk reduces that traction.

    Is it the baseball talk you are talking about? Because maybe it is too much of the “hi” “How are you” “be back later” posts.

    DK: Your last point there is a very good one. Bottom line is we get some good conversation going right when the post goes up, it might pick up steam overnight and … thud … same stuff brings it down.

    • Ever consider maybe, just maybe, by the time the afternoon of the next day rolls around people are tired of talking about YOUR content?

      Two winters in a row I’ve stopped commenting for at least a week, as per your wishes, because I truly only care to talk baseball. I’ve made the same observation both times. You write, people comment, and then discussion dies down. Most of the time the baseball-heavy stuff doesn’t come out until that time, because most of the baseball crew also comments on the topics of the day as well.

      Fact is a lot of your regulars like talking Pirates, and baseball in general. Maybe you wish it wasn’t that way, but it seems like an awfully big leap to continue claiming that they are killing conversation. Especially when these same guys are the ones welcoming newcomers to the blog and telling them to come back.

      Again, very ungrateful.

      DK: When you’re right and I’m wrong, I’ll say so. You ARE right, and I AM wrong. Simple as that. Your description there sounds much more accurate than the one I threw out there.

      I have kind of a red button that still gets pushed when I’m attached to baseball. It’s been almost three years since I’ve been on the beat. So I guess that aspect of the blog comments still gets to me that way.

      No excuses. I’m an idiot sometimes, and I apologize for that. To you and everyone else.

      • Maybe there should be a 48 hour moratorium on baseball talk here, if only as an experiment.

        Would that bring in more of the observers who don’t feel welcome? Maybe they would find they enjoy the banter, and would stick around. Maybe they would bring up other topics, and stoke the flames of discussion.

        Would it drive away some of the regulars?

        I honestly don’t know because I am not a “baseball only” guy, and I think a lot of people here are not “baseball only” fans. It’s just that baseball conversation, to me, just seems to have more legs because it has a more active off-season and in-season the games are almost every day. Also, avid baseball fans always seem to follow the entire league and that brings up ancillary discussions. So, there is always ample fodder to discuss.

      • I agree with you, NMR. I’m sure Dejan gets e-mails and such from people talking about the blog, but I have never sensed that the blog regulars want to stifle discussion about any topic. Many welcome new commentators and comment on their posts. I know I try to comment on colleges, hockey and football. I try not to slam soccer and certainly don’t mind it if people talk about it. The fact of the matter is that some of those discussions go nowhere. Drew, for example, will post very informative and thoughtful information on college football and, splat, nothing. I know there are tons of college sports fans in Dejanverse, I used to see it on the twitter feed. But they don’t comment here. The last dedicated Pitt basketball thread I commented on, where no baseball was discussed, had me, Plan, JRAY and maybe one or two other stragglers on it. Lots of great hockey talk here everyday.

        I’ve sensed for awhile that you are sick of the regulars, Dejan. Which is fine, this is your sandbox. I’ll take some time off from it and go play with other kids. See if any newbies show up to talk about something other than baseball.

        DK: Please see reply above to NMR, John. I just blew it. I’ll buy you coffee next week in Green Bay.

  66. Buster Olney says Loney is on the verge of a multi-year deal with Tampa.

  67. Way to go Jim!! More baseball talk!! ;)

  68. Like 24/7 tweeted, who now?

    Smoak is probably the best one out there.

  69. I want to know the reason you titled this posting, “Morning Java:
    Greatness abounds | Dejan Kovacevic’s Blog”.
    In either case I personally admired the article!Thanks a lot,Brock

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