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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

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, 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, 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. aaron says:

    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. aaron says:

    That is the exact response I was hoping for, thanks!

  3. Jandy says:

    Heck I coulda told ya that ;)

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s Secret Agent Man Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

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

    Reese McGuire Ranks Among Top Catching Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #12 – Clay Holmes

    6 Baseball Nation

    Enjoy the neighborhood play while you can

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates avoid arbitration with Travis Snider

    8 MLB

    View From Studio 3: Melancon the adventurer

    9 Saber Bucs

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

    10 Sports Grid

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

    11 First Post

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

  5. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bradenton Herald

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

    13 Denver Post

    Colorado Rockies’ signing of Michael McKenry adds insurance at catcher

    14 New York Times

    Baseball’s Expanded Replay Adds to Managerial Strategy

    15 Los Angeles Times

    Baseball gets it right with expanded replay,0,7237778.column#axzz2qegHVqKB

    16 CBS Sports

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

    17 St. Louis Post Dispatch

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

    18 FanSided

    Los Angeles Dodgers to launch a Dodgers-only channel

    19 Fangraphs

    Clayton Kershaw and the Rise of the Opt-Out Clause

    20 Sweetspot

    Happy birthday, Albert Pujols

  6. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers 2014 roster projections: Offensive guards

    The best Pro Bowl would be no Pro Bowl

    22 Steelers Depot

    Keith Butler Will Stay With the Steelers


    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

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

    24 The Telegraph

    Liverpool agree global partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts


    25 Pensburgh

    Future of Simon Despres?

  7. Noel Gallagher says:

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

  8. George Contis says:

    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.

  9. TJA says:

    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.

  10. Brandon says:

    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.

  11. Dom says:

    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.

    Sorry guys. I just had to.

  12. Steve says:

    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.

  13. Brandon says:

    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!

  14. Dom says:

    Woops. I thought for sure I said the 49ers in the final four but I actually said the g-men. I was a bit off on that one.

  15. Jandy says:

    The only G-men I’m seeing are the blue ones that replaced the ghostie snowmen.

  16. TJA says:

    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!

  17. Jandy says:

    You too TJA, enjoy the day :)

  18. Jim S. says:

    The biggest no brainer in the history of no brainers!

  19. Jandy says:


    Even for Bylsma and Shero…

  20. Brandie says:

    O answer TJA’s question above…

    Steelers fans would hope for a tie or the dissolution of the league before the big game.

    Steelers fans can also hope that this past season was a dream…ala Dallas. I don’t want to find Jerry Jones in the shower, however! Eww! Gross!

  21. Jandy says:

    I just lost my breakfast! :P

  22. Brandie says:

    Put out an APB!

  23. Jim S. says:

    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.

  24. Jim S. says:


  25. Jim S. says:

    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.

  26. carisi_99 says:

    That’s an interesting response, does that mean the Penguins have generally soured on the upside of the young d-men they have traded in the past? It doesn’t seem like that has prevented Shero from getting full value for them.

  27. Jim S. says:

    Meant last 20 years for Tonya.

  28. Jandy says:

    Skank! ;)

  29. Brandie says:

    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!

  30. Brandie says:

    What? Harlot wasn’t good enough?

  31. Jandy says:

    nope! LOL

  32. 21sthebest says:

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

  33. Brandie says:

    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.

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, it means Maatta is that good.

  35. Jandy says:


  36. Jim S. says:

    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.

  37. Jandy says:

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

  38. Stuart says:

    Good one Brandamento! Tomorrow’s game has to be the most anticipated one in years. Any idea what channel(s) will televize?


  39. Brandon says:

    ESPN flagship

  40. JohninOshkosh says:

    4:00 ET

    ESPN Flagship

    Biggest regular season games since 2009 matchups against UCONN, I would think.

  41. Arriba Wilver says:

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

  42. Brandie says:

    Thanks Stu-la-la. Consistency is key on both offense and defense.

  43. Ditto this one, not the one above.

  44. Eric Bowser says:

    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!

  45. Jandy says:

    Be safe and have tons of fun, Eric!

  46. Brandie says:

    You tell em Revvie!

  47. Brandie says:

    Happy Travels Eric B.

  48. Jim S. says:

    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.

  49. hockeymonster says:

    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.

  50. Milo Hamilton says:

    Dry with highs in the 50’s & 60’s every day.

  51. Milo Hamilton says:

    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.

  52. Jandy says:

    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.

  53. Jandy says:

    Sweathshirt weather. Perfect.

  54. Arriba Wilver says:


    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.

  55. Jandy says:

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

  56. bpn8pitt says:

    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.

  57. Milo Hamilton says:

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

  58. Milo Hamilton says:

    Why, because he’s better than they are ?

  59. Jandy says:

    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.

  60. Jandy says:

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

  61. bpn8pitt says:

    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.

  62. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, Milo. Wasn’t aware of that, just the Rossi piece.

    Sorry, HM.

  63. Milo Hamilton says:

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

  64. Jandy says:

    Good point on the Sabres, Milo :D

  65. hockeymonster says:

    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.

  66. hockeymonster says:

    No problem. I was driving around yesterday and heard all sorts of stuff being tossed around.

  67. Jandy says:

    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.

  68. Milo Hamilton says:

    Wilver, don’t apologize. I just was throwing that out there in case some hadn’t heard it.

  69. Jandy says:

    AW was being considerate. :)

  70. Jim S. says:

    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.

  71. Milo Hamilton says:

    Indeed he was, as usual. Is it me or is it a lot friendlier around here than it used to be ? Or is it just because it’s not baseball season ? :)

  72. hockeymonster says:

    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.

  73. Jandy says:

    No comment ;X

  74. Jandy says:

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

  75. A1C McG says:

    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

  76. Jandy says:

    I don’t think it was ALL of the constitution, it was just part of what she had on there.

  77. hockeymonster says:

    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…

  78. Jandy says:

    Ahhh here it is:
    Vetter’s alterations — she was also required to remove a depiction of the Olympic rings and a Wisconsin Badgers logo, a nod to the University of Wisconsin, her alma mater — are not without precedent.

    Four years ago, U.S. goalies Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick had to change their masks. Miller had to remove the phrase “Miller Time,” and Quick had to drop the words “Support our troops.”

    Taken from:

  79. Jandy says:

    Oh my!
    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?

  80. Jandy says:

    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.

  81. Jim S. says:

    I read that article as well. At first, I thought it was about not allowing a US player to have something patriotic on their helmet. When I read the article, the message was that it was not about that but about any words being allowed. They allowed a Statue of Liberty and Eagle to remain.

  82. Jandy says:

    OMG these people crack me up!
    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?


  83. Jim S. says:

    We the People had to be taken off, I believe.

  84. Jandy says:


    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.

  85. Jim S. says:

    They should be holding open invitation camps at this point.

  86. Jandy says:

    Yup, that’s what I meant about part of it being allowed.

    I remember the “Miller Time” flap….found it amusing.

  87. Jandy says:

    Oh Lord, yes. It’s amazing how bad that situation has become. But…it can only go…UP!

  88. Jim S. says:

    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.

  89. Jandy says:

    Teamwork wins it…and what you contribute – or don’t contribute – to the win means a lot.

  90. Jim S. says:

    ESPN @ 4 p.m. Eastern, Stuart.

  91. 21sthebest says:

    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.

  92. Jandy says:

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

  93. Jandy says:

    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?

  94. Jandy says:

    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.


    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.


  95. Arriba Wilver says:

    My vote is it’s not baseball season.

    I’m ready to pounce!!!

  96. Jandy says:


    Tiger on the loose!

  97. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pirates avoid arbitration with:

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

  98. Milo Hamilton says:

    Only Walker & Mazzaro remain.

  99. Jandy says:

    good stuff! Thanks for the info, Milo

  100. Arriba Wilver says:

    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?

  101. Jandy says:

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

  102. Milo Hamilton says:

    By the way, the Sanchez deal was 1st reported by Jon Heyman. The Melancon & Alvarez deals by Joel Sherman. Another sterling effort by the locals.

  103. NMR says:

    Dejan’s intent seems pretty obvious to me, Jandy.

  104. Milo Hamilton says:

    Melancon should be $2.595 million. Sorry.

  105. Jandy says:

    Hey, they’re busy with the Despres story! Wait…wrong sport…carry on! ;)

  106. 21sthebest says:

    Oh it’s definitely funny.

  107. Jandy says:

    You have Jandy-typo disease??? ;)

  108. hockeymonster says:

    Damn Putin!

  109. Jandy says:

    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.

  110. Jandy says:

    Yeah NMR, I agree. But…see above what I posted to 21… nuttin we can do about it :)

  111. Jandy says:

    yeah! LOL

  112. 21sthebest says:

    Wait. Can’t we boycott? :-)

  113. Milo Hamilton says:

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

  114. Arriba Wilver says:

    Don’t apologize, Milo. :-D

  115. NMR says:

    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.

  116. Jandy says:

    We can, but then I wouldn’t get to pick on you guys…I mean…learn more from you guys :D

  117. Jandy says:

    Yeah, spoken by the great apologist of the blog ;)

  118. Jandy says:

    Very poor….this one amused me more than the others.

  119. NMR says:

    I like you, Jandy. Sincerely.

  120. Milo Hamilton says:

    So much for that pie in the sky $90 million payroll. :)

  121. Jandy says:

    It could be that it’s being pointed out that a lie is a lie is a lie.
    and there are bigger lies out there…

  122. Jandy says:

    Dang, NMR, now you went and made me smile…and made my day.
    I like most of the people here too, but I do value your input more than many.
    Sometimes I go about making a point in a PITA way, but I think you get me more than most.

    For that, and your very kind comment above, I thank you :)

  123. bpn8pitt says:

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

  124. Jandy says:

    Hi, Frank :D

  125. Jandy says:

    Aha! you got h is attention, AW :D

  126. Jim S. says:

    I’m not saying Frank negotiated a good deal. Compared to the San Diego deal and others, it is a true head-scratcher if the $30 million figure is accurate.

    But, San Diego is not a smaller market than Pittsburgh. Most recent metro data I have seen says 3.2 million for San Diego (and growing) vs. a tick under 2.4 million for Pittsburgh (and pretty flat).

    DK: The figure is LESS than $30 million, and that’s accurate.

    Also accurate is the representation of Pittsburgh vs. San Diego, bearing in mind that the discussion here is about TV markets. Pittsburgh is 23rd, San Diego 28th.

  127. 21sthebest says:

    I think it was the 2 year, $40.5M deal Lincecum got for 2012-13.

  128. hockeymonster says:

    Ya milo…didnt you read mitt romneys book?!?! No apologies! :)

  129. Jim S. says:

    What do you think are the chances they might be trying to extend Walker, Milo?

  130. Arriba Wilver says:

    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.

  131. Jim S. says:

    Didn’t he also just get $35 million for ’14/’15?

  132. 21sthebest says:

    None. Walker signs for $5.75M.

  133. 21sthebest says:

    Yes, but as a free agent.

  134. hockeymonster says:

    EFF him and the horse he rode in on…topless :)

  135. Jandy says:


  136. Milo Hamilton says:

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

  137. Jandy says:


  138. Milo Hamilton says:

    Payroll now at $73.1 million.

  139. hockeymonster says:

    Who’s on 1st?

  140. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yep. What 21 said. He’s starting to get pretty expensive. For them anyway.

  141. Jag7 says:

    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.

  142. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’ve factored in $6 million for the 0-3 year players & the 40 man roster guys that end up in the minor leagues. That can fluctuate a couple hundred thousand either way. But without any outside additions, that’s where they are. Less than last year with all that new money coming in.

  143. Jandy says:

    I dunno…

  144. Jandy says:

    Third base!

  145. hockeymonster says:


  146. hockeymonster says:

    He’s on 2nd.

  147. Jandy says:

    See AW? Speed reading! ;)

  148. Jandy says:

    Oh My. Another bold reaming :D

  149. JohninOshkosh says:

    Way to keep watching the watchers, Milo.

  150. bpn8pitt says:

    Buccos top payout alltime?

  151. Jandy says:

    It’s jealousy.

  152. Jandy says:

    Dang, you’re good at this stuff, Milo!

  153. Dom says:

    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.

  154. hockeymonster says:

    What do you mean no? What is clearly on 2nd.

  155. Arriba Wilver says:

    Bonds settled for $4.7 mil + on-the-road accommodations to the West Coast cities in 1992. (Not sure if that’s the highest previous to Walker).

  156. JohninOshkosh says:

    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.

  157. bpn8pitt says:

    That sounds about right. I dont ever remember something above 5, but I could be wrong…Makes you wonder what their limit will be down the road. Id say anything after 10-12 would really be tough, depending on where the rest of the payroll is.

  158. bpn8pitt says:

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

  159. Jandy says:

    Good gracious! Betty White is 92 today!

  160. NMR says:

    That actually rings a bell, now that you say it. I do my best to forget when I see nonsense like that.

  161. NMR says:

    But containing facts and links. I love facts and links!

  162. Jandy says:


  163. Dom says:

    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.

  164. Miss Inga Molar says:

    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

    “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:
    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?

  165. Arriba Wilver says:

    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.

  166. Joe Denar'doh says:

    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.”

  167. Milo Hamilton says:

    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.

  168. Karen22 says:

    Perusing the posts…you guys put a smile of my face!


  169. JohninOshkosh says:

    Fascinating link. Who’d thunk Mnpls./St. Paul would be 15th ?

    Also, Green Bay-Appleton coming in at 70th. Yet, still has a thriving major league professional franchise. Nah, Bud, economic disparity doesn’t make a difference.

  170. Arriba Wilver says:

    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).

  171. JohninOshkosh says:


  172. theplanisworking says:

    The only reason those 2, (and other bad people) continue to stay in the spotlight, is because we talk about them on places like this blog.

    Ignore them, and they go away.

  173. Arriba Wilver says:

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

  174. theplanisworking says:

    This story wouldn’t have any legs if people didn’t talk about it, Olympics, or not.

  175. hockeymonster says:

    They’re in jersey….

  176. theplanisworking says:

    Pedro’s number seems a little low, being he led the league in HR’s ….

  177. theplanisworking says:

    Wow, that was quick!

    Walker did pretty good for himself……

  178. hockeymonster says:

    Jandstar is good for sweeps…

  179. Jim S. says:

    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.

  180. Jim S. says:

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

  181. Jim S. says:

    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.

  182. Jim S. says:

    I think Walker is due for a nice bounce back year. He has to stay away from the nagging injuries, and he may not be able to do that.

    But, if he stays healthy, I think the average will climb back up into the .280+ range, and he improved on his walks a lot last year. He also got plunked a lot, which may or may not be something that will happen again. His power was up. I’m pretty bullish on Picksburgh’s own, Neil Walker this year.

    I would like to see Jordy snag a bunch of Neil’s starts vs LHP.

  183. theplanisworking says:

    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.

  184. Jim S. says:

    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.

  185. Jim S. says:

    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.

  186. Jim S. says:

    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.

  187. BillyBaduka says:

    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.

  188. Jim S. says:

    You are correct. I was using metro size, and these are TV contracts.

  189. BillyBaduka says:

    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.

  190. Jim S. says:

    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.

  191. NMR says:

    Welcome to Jack Z’s fantasy!

  192. Jim S. says:

    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.

  193. NMR says:

    This SHOULD quell some of the thought that Huntington doesn’t respect/appreciate/like Neil Walker.

    That number is about a million chickens more than he was projected to make, and they have a track record of going to arbitration with players over much less.

  194. BillyBaduka says:

    This is not a shot at AW or Milo. I think either would own up to a mistake.

    I hear the “never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness” in my corporate setting. I can’t stand it.

    My grandfather always taught me to take responsibility and apologize when I did something wrong. He said that not apologizing when you should is a greater sign of weakness and insecurity than apologizing. If you do something wrong or make a mistake, own up to it. I’m sticking with his advice.

    That being said, some one that apologizes 20 times in every conversation for no reason gets annoying and is usually being passive aggressive. Like anything else, apologizing should be used in moderation and when appropriate, not to deflect blame or cull sympathy.

    Please excuse the soapbox, we bring you back to the sports blog already in progress…

  195. Jim S. says:

    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 …

  196. BillyBaduka says:

    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.

  197. theplanisworking says:

    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……

  198. NMR says:

    Bahaha, that is a great story, Jim. I can picture it.

  199. BillyBaduka says:

    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.

  200. hockeymonster says:


  201. BillyBaduka says:

    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.

  202. theplanisworking says:

    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.


  203. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yeah, but still left with the same response. Says something.

  204. Jandy says:

    you want fries with that? :)

  205. Jandy says:

    Jandstar is whack :D

  206. Jandy says:

    Oh My!

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