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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Vacation thread: 12-28-13

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

I’m off all week but will return Sunday to cover Steelers-Browns. Feel free to use this thread as a daily discussion forum. Game posts will go up as usual.

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Jandy says:

    Good Morning Loonies! Hubby and I are up early yet again, and off to breakfast.

    Ugly win by the Pens last night, but a win nonetheless. Nealer won it in Overtime.

    Dejan comes back tomorrow for the Steelers game, quick, clean this place up!!!!!

  2. Vette60 says:

    Hey Jandy!

    Hope the pancakes are good! My son was up at about 6:50 and of course woke up the dog, so I am down here with them both catching up on the blog while the rest of the crew is catching up on some zzzz’s…

    Agree it was an ugly win last night – was listening to Lange and the ol’ 29er and they pretty much called the Neal goal. Funny how they mentioned how close he was to scoring all night and BAM, OT winner!

    Take care all.

    Randy in RVA.

  3. hockeymonster says:

    How bout Engo coming thru with a goal and assist?!?! Who didnt see that coming? ;)

    Which leads me to my next point. Adding a RH shot in Engo is good for balance. Even if someone like dumoulin didnt deserve to be scratched. But going forward we basically just have two RH shots on D in our pipeline. Other than letang and bortuzzo we only have Nisky and Engo who are both UFA’s after the season. If letang or bortuzzo are out we’ll be left with a very unbalanced d-corp. Quality RH dmen arent cheap and with nisky showing he’s capable of playing 18-22 minutes I would look into making cap space for nisky sooner rather than later.

  4. Drew71 says:

    Clean it up? You kidding?

    It’s Dejan, not somebody, you know…well…somebody.

    This is our last day to play. Our last day without Bold Reamings.

    Our last day to do whatever we freaking WANT.

    So in honor of US…

    I declare this to be…

    !Venezuelan Winter Ball Stat Day¡

    (Somebody stuff Thunder in a piñata and pass out the sticks)

  5. You never mentioned the Fight Hunger Bowl.

  6. Drew71 says:

    The Texas Bowl sported the best named player in college football.

    Brisly Estime.

    Just look at the quotes you can find with that name. (Real post game quote from his coach)…

    “Brisly is as quick as a jitterbug”.

    You can say THAT again.

    And again and again and again.

  7. But which team won the uniform style show? That’s the real question.

    Out of those 6 teams that played, only BYU wore it’s “normal” look.

  8. Drew71 says:

    And PS.

    Washington FINALLY wins 9 games again.

    AFTER Sark leaves.


    Washington loses its coach…and UPGRADES its coach…and wins a bowl…and breaks the 8 Win Sark Ceiling…and hurts rival USC all in (sorta) one move.

    Leaves you, um, Hungering for more.

  9. Thundercrack says:

    I’m just counting the minutes before we read ‘Careful, we’re not allowed to say anything bad about Bylsma’ in the blog.

    Clint welcomes Disco Dan into the imaginary club


  10. Drew71 says:

    Friday night is Date Night in the Drew Manse. Following is an absolutely true recap of last night.

    – We eat at restaurantS. Yes plural. SEPARATE restaurants.
    – Return home about the same time and turn on the television.
    – She lays down on one end of the couch. I sit on the other end in the only remaining spot. I put my head back and we are BOTH sound asleep. Two hours.
    – Then we wake up and go to bed.

    (It’s PBP so it counts as a sports post. Besides. Dejan’s not here. We can do whatever we want. Today.)


  12. JAL says:

    Saturday baseball links

    JAL’s Let It Snow Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Mets Still Aiming High In Talks For Ike Davis

    Winter Leagues: Three Hits For Gonzalez

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates continue to discuss Ike Davis with Mets

    6 Green Weenie

    12/26: Mendoza Line, Danny O’Connell, Jeff King, Hanny Trade

    7 Baseball Nation

    The forgettable baseball stories of 2013

    8 Beyond the Box Score

    A look back at Bill James’ “Baseball 2015″ essay

    9 River front Times

    Jon Hamm Stars in Baseball Movie, Learns Life Lessons from Indian Teenagers

    10 Rising Apple

    Mets Speaking With Baltimore & Others Regarding Ike Davis

  13. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Pittsburgh Business Times

    2013 Newsmakers of the Year

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Kudos to Pittsburgh Pirates for helping build Little League ballfields

    13 Toronto Sun

    Bob Elliott’s annual list of most influential Canadians in baseball

    14 USA Today

    4 reasons the Baseball Hall of Fame should include steroids users

    15 San Francisco Chronicle

    Candlestick Memories, Dec. 28

    16 GMA News

    Red Sox high note, doping bust a low for MLB in 2013

    17 LA Times

    MLB wary that Masahiro Tanaka might ‘repay’ Japanese team,0,7728309.story#axzz2olodu5iz

    18 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie: Cards are very good … and lucky


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The BP Wayback Machine The Money of Matsuzaka

    20 Fangraphs

    Ervin Santana and Some New Kind of Weapon

    Song: Let It Snow Carly Simon

  14. JAL says:

    traveling this week so links may or may appear on some days and may be later than usual.

  15. Enjoy yourself. Thanks for the baseball links. DK will be pleased. :)

  16. scapper says:

    The NHL has concluded its investigation and confirmed that the first three Penguin goals did not even reach the back of the net. Weirdest, softest three goals since the last Joey Mullen hat trick.

  17. Truly wish the Bucs were in on somebody other than Ike Davis. It’s been repeated several times on this blog and in different pieces how his swing is a mess.

    We’re good at pitching maintenance and reclamation projects and not so hot on the hitting end. It may be different with yet another hitting coach, but I’d take more comfort in Ray Searage reclaiming than anyone else. No offense to Branson, but time will tell.

  18. Still hoping Bucs pick up Justin Smoak (for the 4th straight off-season).

    If one only looks at his numbers, he is a good lefty platoon for Gaby. However, I still think he has such upside that he could break out as Garrett Jones did here. He is no longer needed in Seattle.

    He has not peaked!

  19. Jim S. says:

    We agree on something, Groat! Actually, I’m pretty sure we agree on more than this!

    You have been on this for awhile, and I also think he is the best platoon option at this point. I don’t think he’s a star, but I think he can hit RHP well, and with the sudden influx of similar players in Seattle I would think they need to be looking at shedding Smoak.

  20. Jim S. says:

    I’m not a Davis fan, either, Lucky. I think he’d be adequate, but the Mets are supposedly asking for way too much.

    With the Mariners recently acquiring both Logan Morrison and Corey Hart – 2 guys with iffy knees – it seems logical that Smoak could be pried away for less than what the Mets are apparently asking for Davis.

  21. Thundercrack says:

    I’m not sold on Lambo platooning at first base. Far from it. I think he is probably a fourth outfielder at best.

    But I wish I had written down all the names of people that cried “Free Lambo” during last season.

    He’s freed and now people don’t seem to want him and have moved on to someone else.

  22. Jim S. says:

    I hear you, TC. But, I think the difference between last year and this year is “expectations.” Pirates fans have an expectation that this team will battle Cincy and St. Louis for 1st/2nd place this year. If Lambo is handed the job, what happens if he is a guy like, say, Moss who takes an extra couple of years for his lightbulb to go on? I would like to see a Plan B, rather than placing all of our eggs in the Lambo basket. That seems risky to me.

    If it is not somewhat of a known commodity (Moreland, Smoak, Davis), then who would be that Plan B? I don’t see Ishikawa being that guy.

  23. 21sthebest says:

    And about 61-76 before A.J. reports to Bradenton. :-)

  24. Drew71 says:

    Alright you guys. Get all that Pirates stuff outta your system.


    Because, you know, tomorrow…

  25. 21sthebest says:

    I think Moss’ issue was knee surgery and the lack of weight training afterwards for 9 months to allow the knee to heal properly. Unfortunately, his time just ran out here.

  26. Drew71 says:

    The Grim Reamer is back.

  27. What happened to yesterday’s thread where we talked so much about Lambo’s weaknesses and weaknesses? (few strengths)

  28. Jim S. says:

    I thought it was also a situation where he was projected to be an impact player, and he struggled in his first few chances over a couple of years. But, that is just my recollection, 21. You are right, though, that injuries were also part of it.

  29. Jim S. says:

    As I said on the other thread, Groat, I have to take my son to indoor BP at his club. Trying to create the heir apparent to Jordy Mercer, don’t you know. Always enjoy the banter about baseball.

  30. Milo Hamilton says:

    This place when Dejan’s on vacation reminds me of the Jimmy Buffett song “Gypsies In The Palace”.

  31. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I don’t know what is stranger….All this talk of Lambo platooning in a position he’s never played OR the constant hurrahs for Gaby Sanchez.
    Both have no business in the mix of a team that “plans” to contend.
    Plan is the key word because I have not seen any evidence of that as of 12/28/13.

  32. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of the BMTIB?

    The Shadow do!

  33. Agree with both Jim and Groaty on this one.

  34. I want to see him platooning in right with Tabloid. I was one of the criers. I’ve followed him through his massive minor league career and I’d just like to see him get a shot.

  35. Didn’t know you were a minister and lived in a manse, Drewski. Good to know. I know several preachers who are beer drinkers. (I’m not one of them).

  36. Daq. Hope you had a good Christmas out in sweltering LA. Gaby can hit lefties don’t forget, and he plays a solid if not stellar 1B.

  37. Joni says:

    Geno photobombs James Neal’s post-game interview last night :)

  38. Here are the Drew requested Venezualan Winter League baseball stats:

    Yesterday Andrew Lambo went 0 – 2 with a strikeout. He was pinch hit for in the 5th inning of a game his team was leading by at least 3 runs. He played right field again, beat out at 1B by the famous Gilder Rodriquez.

    Lambo’s average is now .216 —— he has 21 hits in 97 at bats. He also has 11 walks and 30 strikeouts.
    Unfortunately, Lambo has been unable to hit a single homerun in those 108 plate appearances. His slugging % is around .320 and his OPS is around .616.

    0 HR — .216 — .296 — .616 Pretty good against AA type pitchers for a non-1B that Bucs project as the platoon 1B

    But wait!!! Here’s something interesting:
    Lambo hits lefties at a .364 clip—9/33—and a .515 Slugging %
    Lambo hits righties .at .141 clip—9/64—and a .225 Slugging %

    There’s the lefty hitting platoon slugger to throw in against righthanded pitchers Bucs have been looking for!

    The Venezuela Winter Beisbol League regular season ends tomorrow, December 29. So Andrew Lambo has 2 games left to buff up those stats and learn to play 1B.

  39. Thundercrack says:

    ‘the constant hurrahs for Gaby Sanchez.’

    Constant? Here?

  40. Hey Kentuck Knob,

    Next time Sarah is here, explain to her who “Abraham’s Pretend Sister” is,
    and how she got to be pretend.

  41. Thundercrack says:

    You know what will get everyone back on the Lambo bandwagon and make them all forget his stats in Venezuala?

    Lambo will hit .500 with 9 home runs in Spring Training.

    ST = that’s what matters

  42. Cracker,

    Made me laugh! Loudly!

  43. Drew71 says:

    Walk on the Wild Side

  44. She probably knows, Groaty. She is pretty astute. Especially about hockey, but I’m sure she has some Bible knowledge, too. She’s a pretty good kid.

  45. Joni says:


    Abraham lied/pretended twice about his wife being his sister. Which one did you mean? Abraham’s bodily donation of Sarah to the Pharaoh or King Abimelech to save Abraham’s skin?

    I can see why being compared to that particular matriarch might be a bit off putting, although I’m sure you did not mean it to be so.

  46. Drew71 says:

    Nah. Let him learn at the MLB level. On a playoff team.

  47. Groat is the ultimate best with re-working blog monikers, even real names. I’m 100% certain he meant no ill to Sarah.

  48. Joni says:

    I agree :)

  49. It does mean more than the Venezuelan League. At least ST is against mostly AAA pitching with a mix of ML and AA.

  50. Drew71 says:

    “and Kentucky girls go doo doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo-doo doo,
    doo doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo-doo doo”

  51. Joni says:

    For clarification, I was replying to how Sarah came to be pretend.

  52. Very astute Bible knowledge, Joni!!

    Sarah was so beautiful that Abraham feared he would be killed if it was discovered she was his wife;
    so he presented her as his “sister.”

  53. Joni says:

    That’s why they pay me the big bucks (says the Religion teacher)!

  54. Thundercrack says:

    On a blog, far far away, someone is posting “Our guy Gilder Rodriquez beat our Andrew Lambo for playing time. So we should be OK at first base”

  55. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, that’s the theme song every day.

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    But good shout out to the late Lou Reed. (I always thought he was British.)

  57. Jim S. says:

    Great song, Milo.

  58. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think the soccer talk crashed it.

  59. That is wonderful. Where do you teach, Joni, if you don’t mind my asking?

  60. Jim S. says:

    Now, that’s funny, TC!!

  61. Drew71 says:

    Well. In some ways.

    But he was a Village guy. NYU briefly, if I’m not confusing him with another of the Village crowd.

    John Cale, one of the Velvet Underground!s founders, was Welsh-British.

  62. Drew71 says:

    He probably still is

  63. Jim S. says:

    I believe Lunchbox is ticketed for that job, Lucky. Lambo could end up with it, but I think Travis will get first shot. They want to see if his tailspin in the 2nd half was mostly about the injured foot, which is now healed.

  64. Drew71 says:

    Walking the beach with my oldest son.

    It’s 80 but the clouds are making it a bit chilly.

  65. Milo Hamilton says:

    If you want to be happy for the rest of your life,
    Never make a pretty woman your wife.
    So from my personal point of view,
    Get an ugly girl to marry you.

  66. Jim S. says:


    I believe the definition of constant hurrahs is if you think he will do what he has done for several years, which is hit LHP well. Pairing that sort of player with a guy who, conversely, hits RHP well has apparently never been done successfully in MLB. Some of us mistakenly think it has been done successfully.

  67. Drew71 says:

    You just had to bring wives and marriage into it, didnt you?

    Wanted to ruin a perfectly good (but chilly) day, didnt you?

  68. I believe you’re right, Jim. But, all joking aside, can he and Lambo truly battle in ST for that spot? Didn’t Lunchbox hit over .300 in ST last spring?

  69. Joni says:

    I teach at an all boys Catholic school in Buffalo, NY :)

  70. Excellent. We’ve got some smart people on this here blog. Teachers, engineers, accountants, builders, college professors, case managers, retired folks, executives like Drew, Jim S., John in Oshkosh and many more varying vocations.

    Truly a cross section with common ground.

  71. Looks like Bolder Dam will win the New York Yankee Bowl. Another team Pitt beat winning a bowl.

  72. Clicking on the picture of Mischa sleeping you posted last night brings you to your Facebook page, J-girl. Got to see all your pictures. Some pretty good looking people on there. Is that your hubby with the beard? Nice looking guy.

  73. Patrick(ri) says:

    Speaking of wives, mine is with me stopped on the Starlight Express on its way to Seattle, from LA. A freight train is disabled in front of us in the mountains of Oregon – possibly for several hours, as the plan is is to break the freight train in two and push both parts up the hill! Up to now, the trip has been a hoot(even taking a shower in a phone booth, encumbred by anundersized toilet).

    Thought of you guys when the steward tried to get a bigger tip, assuming I would be a Bruin fan. He really is from NE, and engaged in a decent chat, during which I mentioned how disgusted you guys are with the hoodlum who mauled your guy. He quickly agreed with this view and earned his tip. Apparently some guys get it?

    Happy new year to all — looks like I will not be spending it on a train as we just lurched forward.

  74. Sisyphus says:

    Remember, though, that the Pirates won divisions back in the early 1990s with fourth outfielders platooning at first base and fifth outfielders platooning in right field. And they won 94 games last year with a similar arrangement

    You don’t need to have stars at every position to succeed in MLB.

    I’m not a huge fan of Davis either, or any of the other first basemen who were available this off season. All of them are seriously flawed, and have bad seasons in their recent histories. Some say that Davis’ swing is a mess. Justin Morneau had a beautiful left handed swing. The problem is that it looked like a slow motion replay. Loney had a decent season last year, but was horrible the year before. Morales can’t play the field. Most of the other guys were similar to Garrett Jones, out machines with a little power and suspect gloves. I’d just as soon take a shot with Lambo, rather than overpay for any of those guys. If he doesn’t work out, you can always overpay for them in a trade on June 1.

  75. Sisyphus says:

    Sanchez was in the plans of a team that did contend just last year.

  76. Looks like UNC in the Belch Bowl. Another team Pitt lost to winning a bowl game.

  77. Sisyphus says:

    Wow, that’s terrible.

    Cuz, you know, 64 at bats in the winter leagues is a certain indicator of future performance. Much more important than 501 plate appearances against AA and AAA pitching was.

    Jose Castillo is hitting .353 in the VWL. Maybe the Pirates should bring him back to play first. After all, those VWL numbers don’t lie.

    Ronny Cedeno is hitting .299. We could put him at shortstop, move Walker to third, and put Alvarez at first. That should solve all of our problems.

  78. theplanisworking says:

    Maybe you could incorporate all of the teams Pitt both beat and lost to winning bowl games into the sermon for tomorrow.

    Or use baseball metaphors.

    Or channel your inner Drew.

  79. Arriba Wilver says:

    I love that song. I didn’t take it’s advice, but I loved the song.

  80. Brandie says:

    Happy New Year to my favorite blog famalee!

  81. pattonbb says:

    Bill O’Brien sounds to be the new Texans coach. Who does PSU look to now?

  82. scapper says:

    Another bigtime college coach, about whom countless sappy stories were written, bolts for another team?

    College athletes should be allowed to smoke joints on the sidelines and collect booster cash payments outside the tunnel as they return to the locker room after the game.

    College sports are ickier than boxing is or ever was.

  83. Sarah says:

    Sarah was the grand-daughter of Terach, Abraham’s father. So it would be common enough to consider her his sister.
    No pretending needed.

    Depends what book you adhere to.

  84. That would be dangerous.

  85. And to you Brandelita.

  86. theplanisworking says:

    Keep the Faith, Reverend. ;)

    Maybe say some prayers for us all, as the “boss” returns tomorrow.

  87. I don’t think we’ll get too many reamings. He’s usually in a good mood when he comes off vacation. Takes a few days of BMTIB and who’ll be the bullpen catcher this season to tick him off.

    Besides, we can talk about the three S’s all week and he’ll be happy. (Soccer, Shero and Sochi)

  88. theplanisworking says:

    You forgot his beloved Staryucks.


  89. Arriba Wilver says:

    I have no complaints about Coach O’Brien. He performed the heavy work.

  90. Arriba Wilver says:

    Sisy—I don’t think you have been following along on the narrative. You are WAY off base.

  91. Arriba Wilver says:

    But, you agree Groat meant no offense?

  92. Right you are. Four S’s.

    (Shave, shine, shampoo and I don’t use the other word)


  93. theplanisworking says:

    You dont shower? ;)

  94. Sarah says:

    I’ve no idea

  95. Sarah says:

    Although FYI most adult women I know do not take remarks such as “I like your spunk” to be complimentary. On the contrary, it’s generally taken as demeaning.

  96. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Sanchez is “at best” a bench player….Which is what he was as the pennant chase unfolded last year.

  97. Once a week whether I need it or not.


  98. scapper says:

    Whatever he did he did, in the end, for himself and to increase the value of the Bill O’Brien brand.

    Which is fine, but I don’t want to read any glowing columns about what a game guy he is and how wonderful he was for that program.

    Sorry. It’s just college sports. The whole thing nauseates me.

  99. I don’t think Groat would purposely try to demean you, Sarah. He has girl children and has utmost respect for ladies.

    He just has fun with names and doesn’t intend to offend people.

    He calls me “Kentuck Knob” which could be taken as a dirty term, but that knob thing is common around here and it’s used as a term for a hill or grade quite frequently.

    It’s none of my business and I’ll stay out of it, but I like you both and I’d hate for you to be offended when he’s just trying to be funny.

  100. theplanisworking says:

    +++++ many.

    Coaches get to move from place to place, get pay increases, and make a mockery of “contracts”.

    Players get to stay put and shut up……… if they dont, they can transfer, sit out a year….. in some cases, the coach denies their transfer request (see Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt denying Sheldon Jeter’s transfer).

    Scapper, you hit the nail on the head when you said college sports is “icky”.

  101. Jim S. says:

    I can agree on the nickname thing with Groat, Sarah. I did not understand that at first, and took initial offense before quickly realizing he is just kidding and likes word play and puns. He’s definitely good hearted from my standpoint. And that is coming from a guy who rarely agrees with him on baseball. :-)

  102. Jim S. says:

    The “adults” in college sports definitely get more wiggle room to move from place to place than the kids.

  103. Sarah says:

    Fair enough guys

  104. Jim S. says:

    “A few days of the BMTIB and who’ll be the bullpen catcher this season to tick him off.” That’s very funny, Lucky. I got a good laugh from that, especially the “few days of the BMTIB” part.

  105. Jim S. says:

    As in Houston Texans, patton? I have not followed it that closely, but I thought he was interviewing at the Univ. of Texas.

  106. theplanisworking says:

    Well, Jim, since the Dallas Texans have been gone for many years………………………… ;)

  107. Well, Miami is losing the Russell Athletic Bowl. Another team that beat Pitt losing a bowl game.

    (Is this as annoying as talking about the 1-3-1 yet, old pal?)


  108. theplanisworking says:

    No, not at all.
    I just keep getting confused if you are referring to hockey or basketball.

    Maybe we will have to use the 1-3-1 to find a 1B for the Bucs…………..

  109. steelkings says:

    That june 1st thing only matters if you are a buyer and not a seller.

    BTW: Lambo is hitting .218 in 100 AB’s in winter ball with zero homers… theres that.

  110. Sisyphus says:

    No, at best he’s a platoon player. A platoon player is a pretty nice thing to have, if you can find somebody who doesn’t suck as much as Jones or Morneau to team him up with.

  111. Sisyphus says:

    No, way off base is representing the results of 64 at bats to have any meaning at all.

  112. Arriba Wilver says:

    Shoulda known.

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