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Morning Java: Pitt’s toughest player?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column visits with Jamie Dixon and the Panthers before their trip to face No. 2 Syracuse tomorrow, and it comes an odd conclusion about a team that can’t shoot.

Here’s a video of Dixon and Cam Wright talking about unselfishness …

Random blogginess from the scene: Dixon isn’t exactly the boastful sort, but neither is he timid about what he’s done at Pitt. Raise any kind of topic about the program in general, and he’ll proudly roll through a litany of numbers to back all the winning he’s done. Here, check this out from last night after the practice, the topic being Pitt and Syracuse entering the ACC on top: “I think when they brought our schools in, they wanted the best they could get.” It’s a fine line, but one he walks well. … This was cool, too, on if Dixon ever ribs Jim Boeheim about his outstanding record against the Orange — 10-4 overall, 5-1 at the Carrier Dome — over the years: “When I’m around Coach Boeheim, he does most of the talking, and I’ll just listen. My dad told me a long time ago you learn a lot more that way, and Coach Boeheim has done a lot of winning.” … Wright was so adamant that no Pitt players are looking ahead to all the drama of Duke and North Carolina over the next month that he insisted: “Honestly, I have no idea even what our schedule is, what the dates are. I just ask when the next game is.” … Fun matchup for me Saturday will be Talib Zanna against Rakeem Christmas, who’s got an inch and about 15 pounds — maybe more based on what I saw last season — on Zanna. Zanna’s been more athletic against bigger men this season and, in that sense, he’s been Pitt’s toughest player. But it’ll still be a challenge to get all the offensive boards Pitt’s been getting. … Watch for Josh Newkirk to get a little more time than usual. If James Robinson is busy tracking point guard Tyler Ennis — and he should be — Newkirk might be asked to contribute more even as they share the floor.

Here’s the Trib’s Pitt page for more.

>> Simon Despres is back in Wilkes-Barre for a reason, Rob Rossi reports.

And if any of you happened to catch that little hint I dropped here on the blog yesterday, you won’t be surprised by any of what he said to me hours before that demotion …

I taped that interview for a Monday column I’m writing on the Penguins’ defense, but it was nullified by the demotion, so there it is. Again, I stress, it was done before the demotion at the Wednesday morning skate.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Panthers news from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com, including one of the most unreal saves ever, courtesy of the Preds’ Carter Hutton

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio. at 11:30 a.m., and shortly thereafter we’ll do the weekly chat at noon right here on this 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.

214 Comments

  1. Hey DK – This may be a ridiculous request, but please reassure me that there is no way Shero moves Maatta regardless of what is offered. Thanks!

    DK: Not even worth addressing, Aaron.

  2. JAL’s Secret Agent Man Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdC9P58hJT8

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 MLB Important Dates

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

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2014

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Looking Back at Last Year’s Pre-Season Projection

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/first-pitch-looking-back-at-last-years-pre-season-projection.html

    Reese McGuire Ranks Among Top Catching Prospects

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/reese-mcguire-ranks-among-top-catching-prospects.html

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #12 – Clay Holmes

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/pittsburgh-pirates-2014-top-prospects-12-clay-holmes.html

    6 Baseball Nation

    Enjoy the neighborhood play while you can

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2014/1/16/5316640/mlb-baseball-instant-replay-neighborhood-play-phantom-double-play

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates avoid arbitration with Travis Snider

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/1/17/5318124/pirates-avoid-arbitration-with-travis-snider

    8 MLB

    View From Studio 3: Melancon the adventurer

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/view-from-studio-3-mark-melancon-the-adventurer?ymd=20140116&content_id=66727200&vkey=news_mlb

    9 Saber Bucs

    Who Should Start at SS? / Jordy Mercer’s 2014 Projection

    http://saberbucs.com/blog/2014/01/16/who-should-start-at-ss-jordy-mercers-2014-projection/

    10 Sports Grid

    Vernon Wells’ Crazy Contract Should Convince All Two-Sport College Athletes To Choose Baseball Over Football

    http://www.sportsgrid.com/nfl/vernon-wells-crazy-contract-mlb-over-nfl/

    11 First Post

    Million Dollar Arm: How two Indian boys went from cricket to baseball

    http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/million-dollar-arm-how-two-indian-boys-went-from-cricket-to-baseball-1344965.html

  3. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Pittsburgh Pirates announce $1.2 million gift to Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County

    http://www.bradenton.com/2014/01/16/4939254/pittsburgh-pirates-announce-12.html

    13 Denver Post

    Colorado Rockies’ signing of Michael McKenry adds insurance at catcher

    http://www.denverpost.com/rockies/ci_24930724/colorado-rockies-signing-michael-mckenry-adds-insurance-at

    14 New York Times

    Baseball’s Expanded Replay Adds to Managerial Strategy

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/17/sports/baseball/major-league-baseball-adopts-expanded-video-review.html?_r=0

    15 Los Angeles Times

    Baseball gets it right with expanded replay

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-baseball-replay-plaschke-20140117,0,7237778.column#axzz2qegHVqKB

    16 CBS Sports

    Who will be baseball’s next $200 million pitcher?

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24411172/who-will-be-baseballs-next-200-million-pitcher

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie Bytes: Kershaw’s contract, and chasing the Cards

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-kershaw-s-contract-and-chasing-the-cards/article_712eb5c5-edfe-5c06-b94b-a671bab5b8b6.html

    18 FanSided

    Los Angeles Dodgers to launch a Dodgers-only channel

    http://fansided.com/2014/01/16/los-angeles-dodgers-launch-dodgers-channel/

    19 Fangraphs

    Clayton Kershaw and the Rise of the Opt-Out Clause

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/clayton-kershaw-and-the-rise-of-the-opt-out-clause/

    20 Sweetspot

    Happy birthday, Albert Pujols

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/43573/happy-birthday-albert-pujols

  4. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers 2014 roster projections: Offensive guards

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014-steelers-roster-projections/2014/1/16/5313276/steelers-2014-roster-offensive-guards-depth-charts

    The best Pro Bowl would be no Pro Bowl

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/1/16/5312264/nfl-pro-bowl-2014-schedule-time-roster

    22 Steelers Depot

    Keith Butler Will Stay With the Steelers

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2014/01/reports-say-steelers-would-alllow-keith-butler-to-talk-to-titans/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Creating Chances in the Premier League: Hazard, Silva & Ramsey

    http://www.bsports.com/statsinsights/football/creating-chances-premier-league-hazard

    24 The Telegraph

    Liverpool agree global partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/liverpool/10577500/Liverpool-agree-global-partnership-with-Dunkin-Donuts.html

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Future of Simon Despres?

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2014/1/16/5316186/penguins-trade-rumors-simon-despres-nhl-trade-deadline

  5. Is iTunes still carrying Triblive pdocasts? The podcasts haven’t been updating for me since Monday.
    Thanks.

  6. Panther’s News from the Sun-Sentinel? FYI, the embedded link is to the Caps page in the Washington Post and not the Sun-Sentinel.

  7. Nice column today, Dejan, on Jamie Dixon and the Panthers. Thanks. A special season is emerging with this team…kind of like the Pirates did last year. We were not expecting this. Early yet? Yes. But, we are seeing a nice surprise so far. A really good test tomorrow, indeed.

  8. Very interested to see the revised pairing with Orpik & Martin…..relying on a rusty Martin and a very slow Orpik doesn’t seem to be a winning shutdown pairing. My preference would be to put Depres or Bortuzzo with Martin – bench Orpik. He has been a great Penguin, but it has been difficult to support the coaching staff’s decision to keep him in the lineup…..I anticipate that he will be exposed on the larger open ice surface at the Olympics as well. I do hope that I am wrong because I really love Orpik’s passion and history with the team.

    • Agree wholeheartedly. Orpik has more turnovers per game than Letang. His passing is atrocious, but apparently there’s different standards for the veterans vs. the young Dmen. He’s very frustrating to watch every game.

  9. SI’s Don Banks, ESPN’s John Clayton, and DK Blog’s Dom. One of these successfully predicted the final four NFL playoff teams before the season began.

    http://blog.triblive.com/dejan-kovacevic/2013/09/05/morning-java-82-on-hold/

    Sorry guys. I just had to.

  10. Have to go to a wedding tomorrow so I’ll have to DVR the battle for first place in the Big East I mean ACC. This Pitt team has been really impressive so far. They pass the ball so well but I think that’s always been the mark of a Jamie Dixon coached team. In the midst of his shooting struggles the other night, Lamar Patterson made a couple of awesome passes.

    I just can’t believe the earlier speculation by many about Pitt’s challenges in adjusting to the ACC. It’s clear so far at least that the ACC better adjust to Pitt (and Syracuse for that matter).

    Big key tomorrow is limiting CJ Fair. That kid is smooth and really has game. Thinking Cam Wright may have the job of guarding him.

    • I think without Pitt and Cuse this year, the ACC would be in really bad shape. Even ND might be an upper echelon team in a down year for them. It’s early, but that is how it is shaping up to me right now. I think the B1G looks a whole lot better right now.

      I really admire the way Coach Dixon just quietly goes about his business of putting a good team on the floor every year. The NCAA game last year was a disaster, with Wichita State “out-Pitting” Pitt. I did not like how Pitt played, but Wichita St. did end up going to the Final Four, and they are off to an undefeated start again this year as of earlier this week.

      So, Jamie added (I think) more athleticism and kept the trademark toughness. I do believe the inability to consistently make 3-pointers will bite them at the wrong time this year, unfortunately, though. Chris Jones is going to need to step up in that regard. With Johnson out, there will just be too much pressure on Lamar Patterson otherwise. As the season goes on, teams may figure out ways to limit all the Pitt layups. So, they need versatility on offense. I’m not complaining. I really like this team. It’s just that we’ve gone down this offensive efficiency road before, and it generally ends up with teams figuring out how to make Pitt inefficient at the end of the season.

  11. Latest ESPN bracketology has Pitt as a 5-seed playing N Mex St. in the opening round and Creighton in the 2nd round. Only 6 ACC teams currently projected in the NCAA’s, with Cuse as a #1 and Duke a a #5 like Pitt. They have a chance to continue to move up if they take care of business in the league. They will need to find an additional outside shooting threat in addition to Patterson if they expect to keep good defenses from packing the interior passing areas that Dejan’s article emphasizes. Good read which highlights the programs signature – the mainstream media continues to point to Pitt as a defense 1st program and miss the great offensive philosophy and efficiency which Jamie has instilled – top notch coach!

  12. Heading out for the day, but, my quick prediction for the conference title games: Patriots and 49ers…the two visiting teams. If that would be the case, who do Steeler fans root for in the Super Bowl? Have a great weekend everyone!

  13. I listened to John McDonald on the drive in this morning being interviewed on MLB Radio. He said he had the World Series trophy one day this week to take around his town. He said he lives S of Boston. I didn’t even realize he ended up with the BoSox last year.

    He doesn’t like that the “neighborhood play” is non-reviewable under the new video replay system. As a middle infielder, he said there is no reason a guy can’t stay on the base long enough to receive a throw and still get out of the way of the runner.

    Oh, yeah. It’s nice to see Tonya Harding has aged gracefully over the last year, and doesn’t hold any grudges.

    That is all.

    • Meant last 20 years for Tonya.

        • What? Harlot wasn’t good enough?

        • I only watched about 20 minutes of that. I was trying to explain what happened 20 years ago between Harding and Kerrigan, and how bizarre it all was to my 12 year old son. He thought it sounded like the plot of a bad movie. Actually, I do think that about sums it up.

          I will say, though, that some part of me feels a little sympathy for Harding now. Don’t get me wrong. I think she was absolutely part of the planning of that plot to hurt Kerrigan. And, I don’t think she should have ever been allowed to take part in the Olympics because of that. But, her penalty – becoming a national outcast and source of ridicule – was pretty harsh for a young person to deal with, deserved or not. And, it will stay with her forever. That has to be hard for anyone to take.

          She said that she got married a few years ago, and has a happy marriage and a small child. I hope she really does have her life in order. I like when people who make huge mistakes early in life find a way to get it right eventually. She has to let go of the bitterness and resentment she still feels, though. She brought it upon herself.

          I also don’t think it would kill Nancy Kerrigan to find a little forgiveness in her heart at some point. She ended up having a nice life and achieved a lot of wealth as a result of all that.

          • You have a smart son, Jim.
            You’re also a very sweet person.

            • Ditto this one, not the one above.

              • I heard that last night as well, bpn. Oddly, because of the controversy surrounding that incident, the TV ratings for skating in those Olympics were the highest ever. And, after the Olympics, the popularity of the sport grew immensely due in large part to the interest surrounding Harding. So, Kerrigan and many others made a lot more money as a result, and a sport that had been largely anonymous in this country became more popular. Harding, obviously, didn’t see any of that.

            • Thanks, Jandy. I assure you, hes’ smarter than I am sweet. :-)

              I’m a law and order person, for sure. But, I also believe in redemption. And, most of all, I believe in the healing power of forgiveness, and that letting something go is good for both parties in a situation like this. They are both likely carrying a burden which has an expiration date that is long overdue. Remaining stubborn keeps bad feelings going for far too long, in my opinion.

              • Hubby tells me I am the most stubborn person he knows.
                What can I say?
                I still think you’re a good person.
                Much better natured than I am.

              • I read somewhere last night how much more popular Figure Skating became for awhile after that ordeal. That because of all the attention it drew, a lot of people benefitted financially. Harding was one of the few who couldnt partake because of her bans. Looking forward to catching that documentary sometime. Crazy country we live in sometimes.

          • Nancy Kerrigan ain’t no day at the beach, either.

        • They aren’t coming up because of us. They’re coming up because its the Winter Olympics.

    • I think it’s going to be a hoot when there are disagreements over the positioning of runners!

      • If AJ does not retire, maybe he can use Instant Replay to argue with Hurdle to place the position players where he wants them, since AJ wants to be a coach.

  14. Two Lions are going up against each other tomorrow as Pitt faces Syracuse. Here is hoping Pitt plays smart defense, consistent offense with fundamentals such as passing because you do not need anything cute, and takes Syracuse off of their game.

    GO PITT!

  15. Be happy all…. heading to Orlando…. so Drew, all of your hot air…. please, make sure it gets to about 70 starting Sunday through Saturday. ;)

    Until then… keep your head up and stick on the ice!

  16. Heard about some comments from Rossi and Yohe saying despres pouts and is an outcast on the team. Those are some harsh assessments to be making about a 22 year old whose been caught in a number crunch and would be playing top 4-5 minutes on most other teams. If he pouted after being scratched, to me that just shows he cares. Should he mature enough to realize he needs to vent in the weight room instead of locker room? Yes, but to suggest he’s an outcast is harsh and i hope they have 1st hand info to back that up. Especially when i believe his mindset was messed with when he heard “top 4″ and his name in same sentence in off season. Chances are he wanted coaches to show some faith in him when he got called up and played well and contributed to significant amount of team wins. Including games 4 and 5 in philly series when he and Strait stepped in for 7 and 4 and saved the pens from being swept by philly.

    That all being said, despres still is not a complete player. Offensively i’d like to see him work on his shot. Doesn’t seem like he has any confidence in his wrist shot or one-timer from the point. Don’t see much velocity or awareness of traffic in front. Fortunately his deficiencies are fixable with improved effort and technique. Hope pens give him some PP time in WB.

    Defensively, he’s solid along the boards and haven’t noticed gaffes in front of net but he still forces the occasional pass and that needs to stop. But up to yesterday haven’t heard much about despres being anything other than hungry to play and now he’s an outcast cuz pens were forced to send him down due to contracts? I dunno, sounds like a media driven drama to me.

    Overall, if his biggest problem is that he cares enough to show emotion about being scratched than atleast you have a competitive player that wants to play and contribute more than he has. He just needs to look at bortuzzo as an example. He marinated in peace and worked hard while he was on his entry-level contract then was able to get a one-way deal, but he still isn’t playing as much as he would like either. If the pens really feel like he’s not a fit for rest of group than i would understand a trade but to trade a 6’4 22 year old dman with his mobility and confidence with the puck would be a mistake. Especially, when no team will give us what we perceive as equal value for despres. And the team record with him playing isn’t too shabby.

    DK, if you need a headline for upcoming column on defense how about “shero’s twelve”? :)

    Wow cant believe i wrote all that…just blurted out.

    • People need to stop making excuses for this kid. Olli Maata has faced all the same obstacles this guy has & blew right past him. Play well enough that the coach has no choice but to play you.

      • Exactly.

        And I didn’t see anything in Rossi’s story about being an “outcast,” just that he wasn’t on the the coaches good side. And Rossi said the coaches contrasted Maatta’s reaction to being benched and Despres’. Maybe I have a different view of pouting than HM.

        I thought about asking DK in the chat if he knew what Rossi was referring to about the coaches also not being thrilled with Despres’ ” off field” activities., but he hates commenting on other writers’ work.

        • I heard Yohe on the radio yesterday afternoon & specifically used the word outcast.

        • I’m pretty sure it’s Depres work/training ethic that isn’t liked. I don’t think he has the strong work ethic Letang has…or even Ollie for that matter. This subject has come up time and again.
          Heck, some of the grinders/role players work like crazy to stay on the fourth line. No one will hand Depres a spot on the roster.

          Sure, Depres has come a long way. His defensive game is vastly improved.
          Myself, I wish we could keep him. cuz some of the veterans are getting old and just plain worn out.
          But, if we can get a GOOD winger for him, so be it. I don’t mind. We have a wealth of defensemen.

      • I’m thinkin right now, there’s some guys that don’t like Ollie too much.

        • Why, because he’s better than they are ?

          • pretty much…it won’t be talked about, or visible, but I’m sure they feel jealous.

            • So, they evidently must have gone through that with Sid … and Geno.

              And, Mario … and Jagr – once upon a time.

              I think it takes awhile for the new guy to get the respect of the vets. But, if you can play, you can play. And, if you aren’t a spoiled little jerk, I think you’re one of the guys pretty quick. These guys want to win most of all.

        • Ya originally i was just gonna point out what i wanted despres to work on but thought i’d mention the timing of him being called an outcast or essentially lazy. Regarding off-ice activities…if he’s enjoying the life a little too much than he needs to realize that being the Mayor of Carson St. will make you expendable pretty quickly. Just ask Ryan Malone.

          Wasn’t making excuses for him but thought i’d atleast stick up for him a bit. Lets say i know what its like to have people ride you harder than others cuz they believe in your talent. Overall, i believe people like crosby and maatta who are natural born workers are the exception not the norm. But at this level you better work on making it the norm very quickly if you want to excel.

          • Even Malkin embraced a more extensive workout in the off-season. And he was already granted “star status”.
            I like Depres and would love to see him stay, but if he doesn’t do what is expected and ASKED of him, he won’t be coddled.

            • I dont want him coddled either, thats why big picture i dont mind him being sent to work on rounding out his game. Overall, at this stage i’d rather have pens work with him on work ethic than trade him for a 3rd liner that may or may not be here for long term.

              • I agree with you hockeymonster.

                He shouldn’t be coddled but don’t trade him if the offer isn’t right.

                If his work ethic needs to improve, the coaches should let him know that in no uncertain terms.

                And the coaches could do themselves and the whole team a favor by not coddling the vets. The vets seem to get a pass on bad decisions with the puck, especially the stars. No one should be above being benched for a shift or two in a regular season game.

              • +++

    • I heard those same comments. I like the fact Yohe brought up that before the playoffs last year, Letang was in the conversation for the Norris.

      I cant remember if it was Rossi or Yohe who also said that Eaton took a lot of playing time from Depres last year, that maybe he shouldnt have.

      I think Lovejoy said it when he came here playing time was hard to come by at times. I think its fair to say the best guys are always gonna play, but it wouldnt surprise me if one of these D-men goes somewhere else that everyone is writing off, and develops into a good player.

      I think even in pro sports sometimes coaching staffs and front offices play favorites.

      • Playing time being hard to come by is a very good thing. I’m guessing that’s not the case with the Sabres.

      • Indeed. And when it comes to having depth the last thing a GM or coach with cup aspirations is gonna worry about is a youngsters feelings when he’s still on his entry-level contract. No way can they risk losing bortuzzo or even engo on waivers just to keep despres on roster….oh wait…isn’t that how we lost Strait?!?! Maybe they’re learning…

      • Agreed on favorites. Always going to happen to a degree. But I don’t think I’ll ever understand why Letang, Malkin or even Crosby can’t sit for a shift or two in the regular season if they’ve been coughing up the puck in a given game.

        To your point on young D leaving and being successful, just look at Lovejoy. I’ve heard Ducks announcers rave about him. I’m not saying he’s a cornerstone D to build around but he’s been much more effective than I thought he would.

  17. I think AW just got a reaming without the bold in the chat ;)

    • I know! And EYE think the “Moderator” didn’t read my second sentence, which made clear that I was not questioning, by a long shot, Pitt’s placement in the top 25. But he obviously was ” feisty” today. He didn’t get the questions till later where the bold reamings were appropriate.

      I guess I’ll just stick to the Blog and baseball, where I’m used to the bold reamings. ;-)

      DK: I missed your meaning on that, AW?

      • Nah, don’t give up. I think he sometimes “speed reads” and messes up…either that or he deliberately mis-reads ;)

      • Aha! you got h is attention, AW :D

      • DK–It was a dumb question, poorly stated, anyway. But I wasn’t questioning them being in the top 25 (which I did clearly state), just asking if your pre-season and/or pre-ACC season expectations would have had them in the top 25 at this point. I love them being in the ACC just based on my own personal situation. But I’m not shocked they’re this good.

        DK: Oh, wow, no, I didn’t get that out of the question at all.

  18. i know we are on the depres topic but did did anyone see the IOC made the US womens goalie take the constitution off of her mask. kinda silly rule if you ask me that you cant have words on your mask during the olympics

  19. Oh my!
    Yimmy:
    Given how wrong you were on the Kyle Stark military training story, why should we believe you on this latest Frank Coonelly TV deal story?

    • Dejan Kovacevic: This stuff cracks me up, honestly. The Pirates had a wonderfully successful 2013, but there’s absolutely nothing about the Navy SEALS/Hoka Hey columns that’s one iota less than factual. That didn’t change. Not in the slightest.

      The Pirates MADE history in 2013. They didn’t REWRITE it.

      But hey, since you brought it up, go ask someone if the team used those wacky military practices just now during this past Instructional League. Or if they heeded Bob Nutting’s orders to knock it off.

      • Loved this response from DK.

        I believe every reader has the right to decide for themselves how severe or detrimental the whole Hoka Hey business was, but I can’t see any logical way the Major League team’s record in 2013 has anything to do with that.

        Simply reader’s way of taking a shot at DK, and a poor one at that.

        DK: That mindset actually crosses over into a lot of places, NMR, and it’s really weird. I saw recently that one of the Pirates blogs came at me because of the system’s recent No. 1 ranking by Baseball America, and they did so by linking to something I wrote TWO YEARS AGO, when the system was, um, 17th. It’s as if somehow everything that came before was erased.

  20. OMG these people crack me up!
    Max:
    Why dont you post on your blog all the questions you choose not to answer because they are tough questions?

    Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, I’m really ducking them, huh?

    LOL!

    • Well he didn’t exactly answer Bring Back the Jolly Roger’s question, if you ask me. He as asked about Frank’s statement tying attendance into payroll and DK went off about the TV contract.

      • It’s still funny….maybe it’s Friday so I’m easily amused today :)

        • Oh it’s definitely funny.

          • 21, I think Dejan skirts a lot of things, and he also plays favorites in here AND on the chat.
            I make a lot of snide remarks that he always chooses to ignore.
            But bottom line is, I admire his work, I love this blog, and there isn’t too much any of us can do about it So I choose to enjoy it.
            :)

      • Here’s Jolly Roger’s question

        Bring Back the Jolly Roger:
        Were the previous statements by Pirate management that the major league payroll would potentially match the increases in ticket sales outright lies, stretching of the truth a little white lie or an “I have some swamp land in Florida” lie or none of the above?

        • and Dejan’s answer:
          Dejan Kovacevic: Ironically, the biggest lie I’ve heard so far this offseason is the one where the Pirates claimed to have this super-fantastic TV deal — “upper half” of the industry, per Frank Coonelly — a point that only emboldens those who ask why they aren’t spending it.

          Coonelly made the remark at PirateFest and did so from a defensive posture — not uncommon — because a fan essentially questioned why Coonelly, the man responsible for the deal, culled infinitely less for the Pirates than other teams have gotten since. Notably, the Padres, based in a smaller market than Pittsburgh with nowhere near the ratings, are now getting roughly $80 million per year, the Pirates less than $30 million.

          Oops.

          But rather than confessing that the Pirates just blew it or didn’t hire the right outside advisers — they didn’t — they’ll expect you accept BOTH that their TV contract is fantastic AND that they can’t afford more than what they’re spending.

          Double-oops.

  21. :snicker:

    Matt in Ann Arbor:
    Instead of a Lightining round, can we just skip all the questions from Trolls?

    Dejan Kovacevic: I like that. Every once in a while, they’re fun to take because it’s just so, so, so easy.

  22. Pirates avoid arbitration with:

    Gaby Sanchez – $2.3 million
    Mark Melancon – $2.295 million
    Pedro Alvarez – $4.25 million

  23. Current 40 man payroll – $72 million
    2013 40 man payroll – $74.5 million

  24. Im curious, what player did the pay the most out, in arbitration ever?

  25. Walker agrees to $5.75 million. Mazzaro 950 K. Arbitration all done.

  26. Before the season began I predicted a Seahawks-Patriots super bowl and I see no need to change that now.

    The Seahawks will defeat the 49ers.

    The Patriots will defeat the Broncos.

  27. Now that arbitration is over, does anyone think the Pirates will make a free agent signing before ST ?

    Brewers were so desperate at 1B, that they signed Mark Reynolds to a minor league contract.

    Thankfully, Ike Davis is still in Queens.

    • I wonder what the pricetag is on Smoak. I think he would be intriguing going from Safeco to PNC with RF.

      • I’ve been wondering that forever, bpn. The Mariners seem to have a glut of 1b types. I would not mind seeing the Bucs get him to partner with Gaby. Hopefully, the Mariners get to panic stage soon. Smoak, Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, Kendrys Morales. Morales might leave, and somebody will play RF and DH. But, still, that is a whole lot of slow guys with bad knees whose best position is 1b for one 25-man roster, if you ask me.

        • Welcome to Jack Z’s fantasy!

          • I heard him on MLB Network before Christmas, NMR. That was right after the big story came out about him having no idea about any SABR stuff. He had just signed Cano, which is why he was being interviewed.

            He kept awkwardly inserting random metrics into the conversation. He cited Cano’s WAR, for instance, out of nowhere. It was like when you watch a TV show and they randomly mention a specific product and brand where it just doesn’t fit. Like Tony Soprano suddenly mentioning a Nissan Sentra or something like that. You know it was a product placement that just got forced into the script. That was what it was like listening to Jack Z. He seemed very clueless about a lot of things. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all. But, sheesh …

    • I have a hard time believing they will go into the season with just Lambo and Gaby. Plus, they have the money. I think/hope the issue is what do they give up prospect wise, but, hey, it is the 2008+ Buccos, so who knows?

      The players they have added that are really good haven’t really cost them that much (Burnett, Liriano, Wandy) compared to their real worth in the world of baseball economics.

    • Remember this, they supposedly made an offer to James Loney similar to what he signed for in Tampa. That was about $7 million a year. So I figure they’re willing to go to about $80 million.

      • Here’s my take on that, which could be total BS—I think they offered something similar yearly, but they wouldn’t go 3 years unless it was a team option. And that’s not the same thing, other than yearly. That’s just how I read these guys. And they are STUBBORN. Even in the good stuff they have done (in the FA market) they have only done it after getting burned, sometimes multiple times (e.g., SS, catcher).

      • And, they still claim they would add AJ. Of course, they have not said at what amount they would add him. I’m guessing $10 million might be their limit there.

    • The Mets just settled with Ike (and Tina) Davis yesterday, Osh, to avoid arbitration.

  28. Good gracious! Betty White is 92 today!

    • It’s also the birthday of Steve Harvey, Jim Carrey, Michelle Obama, Zooey Deschanel, Muhammad Ali and Andy Kaufman.

      A bunch of famous people were born today.

    • She’s up there. Chloris Leachman has to be closing in on 90 also, I think. Must have been something in the water on that old Mary Tyler Moore show.

  29. Consol Ice Improved?

    With a team record 13 wins consecutively at home, how bad is the ice?

    However, with that said:

    From November 2010
    From November 2010
    http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_708960.html

    “The only flaw at Consol Energy Center has been its poor ice surface, and the NHL is making sure the problem is temporary.”

    “The problem has been with air flow in the building,” he said. “It’s a trial-and-error process. We’re working on it, and it’s going to work out.”
    From November 2010 /
    From November 2010 /

    It is truly “air flow” or is it:
    piping?
    design flaws?
    maintenance crew?
    Steel Mill SMOG?
    Pittsburgh Pisces Games?

    Have there been any DEFINITIVE answers as to why the ice is still sub-par?

    Are there any investigative journalists left?

  30. Consol ice problems are due to Analogous Propagation.

    To those that might try to ‘investigate’ further, the WTAE RADAR will fry your brain into a mush worse than Pronger’s.

    Back to you Don…. Don, where are you!

    Don, get your mouth off the Consol Ice, that wasn’t vodka that Mario poured out.

    Or was it?

    Paul, “Alcohol melts ice.”

  31. Alan Robinson just posted an article about the Steelers’ cap situation. He also showed the cap situation for everyone else in our division, as well as all the teams in very good or very bad cap position. I will keep you in suspense as to where the Steelers fall, and let you look for yourself.

    I’ll just say that once again next year we will be placing a great deal of pressure on our QB to carry us to the playoffs, because the free agent cavalry ain’t coming.

    • Not pretty.
      Just think how bad the Steelers cap position would be if Omar Khan wasn’t such a “cap guru”…………

      This will also continue for years to come.
      I dont’ see them escaping this for at least 2 more years.

      • The Woodley contract + his restructurings were devastating, plan. De-va-sta-ting!

        I don’t know who deserves the blame. Probably a collaborative effort. I think the company line is they had to do it to stay competitive. I’m sure that is WHY they did it. But, some teams on the good side of the equation are proving they might not have HAD to do it.

        The Steelers have more dead space than The Walking Dead.

        • That’s why I’m all for cutting Woodley and taking that hit this year. Time to move on and stop pouring good money over bad.

          I think you’re right Jim that it’s a collaborative effort. And there’s enough blame to go around. I can’t pin most of this on Khan (although his name does lend a nice pop culture reference to label this period for the Steelers as “The Wrath of Khan”). Putting the blame on Khan let’s Tomlin and Colbert off too easy in my opinion. I think they decide who to keep and Khan just works out the numbers but I’d be surprised if he decides the ceiling for a player. He certainly doesn’t seem like the wunderkind that he did 5 years ago but I think the cap dropping and stating flat plays a large role in this situation.

        • And as long as they keep certain players around, they will continue to have dead space around for many years.

          Truly poor cap management, which is now coming back to bite them……

          • Yep. I hope the entire organization has learned a lesson. Be careful which contracts you restructure; some players may not perform as well after being paid up front and some players may be close to the end of their career and unable to perform at a level consistent with their cap hit. They bet that the 2011 team could make another run or two and lost. Need to learn from it and move on.

  32. The small market teams always had an advantage by having a roster heavily stocked with younger players with “years of control” left. Neil Walker now makes $5.75 million, and David Price makes $14 million. I guess years of control isn’t what it used to be.

  33. I appreciate you pointing out my error, above, in stating that San Diego is a larger market than Pittsburgh, DK. I was not comparing apples to apples in showing metro population of the two markets. Pittsburgh is still a larger TV market, which is what the discussion was about.

    • Honest mistake. Easy to make too strong a correlation between metro population and TV market for those not in a ratings driven industry. Makes me wonder about the geographical size of the TV markets. I have friends in Lancaster county that get Roots Sports. Not many would think of Lancaster as part of the Pittsburgh area.

  34. As if Pitt needed any more incentive to win tomorrow…..

    Mike Wilbon, on PTI, just said Syracuse will win in a beatdown…….. minimum double digits.

    I like Wilbon, and Kornheiser, but they are as good at predictions as DK.

    :D

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