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Morning Java: Gold, anyone?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SOCHI, Russia — Доброе утро, Lunatiks …

>> The Thursday column observes Shani Davis’ speedskating bomb and wonders where all the American gold will come from now.

The Sochi Hockey Notebook looks at Evgeni Malkin not on Russia’s top power play, Dan Bylsma not using the Penguins’ system and more.

Here are all six videos for Channel 11 News so far, including the latest one explaining out loud my hockey medal picks

I’m also doing weekday reports for TribLIVE Radio, and the Wednesday podcast included fresh stuff rom Bylsma and Ray Shero.

Here’s the Trib’s Olympics page.

Here’s the official Sochi 2014 page.

Here’s the official U.S. Olympic team page.

Here’s the official NHL Olympics page.

And here’s NBC’s Olympics page with all the highlights.

>> Organizers report about 75 percent of tickets being sold out, and that’s visible in the  higher-profile events being legitimately filled. But those that aren’t filled are getting some help: Once an event has begun and seats remain empty in significant blocks, organizers usher volunteers to take their place. That way, the atmosphere doesn’t appear as hollow to the participants or on TV. As a side benefit, it rewards volunteers for long hours of work.

Sounds like a practice worth praising, right?

Well, it is right up to the point that Sochi organizers deny that it’s happening. They’re adamant that Russian crowds are traditionally late arrivals.

>> Back home, Pitt gets dropped by No. 1 Syracuse on a Tyler Ennis buzzer-beaterKevin Gorman reports from the Pete.

The lame offense is to blame, writes columnist Joe Starkey, also on the scene.

>> A.J. Burnett signs with the Phillies, by Travis Sawchik. Cue the countless phony narratives about A.J. being some bad guy. This guy was a fierce competitor here. Some didn’t get that, but they can get this: He changed the franchise.

The Pirates open camp for pitchers and catchers today. Rob Biertempfel is in Bradenton, and so is Andrew McCutchen for that matter …

>> It troubles me to have missed Kevin Colbert’s annual media session, which brings you much more useful info about the Steelers’ plans than you might think. Alan Robinson was there.

>> Talked a whole bunch of Olympic stuff with Mark Madden via Apple’s FaceTime yesterday. Here’s the full podcast from 105.9 the X.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. I saw Dejan’s headline, Gold Anyone? And I thought, ah, finally. A column about AJ.

  2. Hey. How bout a link to Biertempfel’s article about the reigning MVP on the day the Pirates open freaking camp? Oh, well. I found it myself.

    Could you imagine the links and notes the morning Latrobe opens? Yes, even a year when the Steelers (again) do just about nothing in the offseason.

    At least there was SOME Pirates mention. The straw dog comment about hating on AJ.

    As those who, you know, read this blog yesterday, 90% wished AJ well. (I even wrote a goodbye song. But I’m an idiot.) The other 50% hated on the Pirates. And the, um, final 50% fought over who originally predicted what about AJ.

    But let’s discuss a false narrative about hating on AJ.

    It’ll kill time until Steelers camp opens.

    DK: Relax, Drew. I don’t even know what day it is at this point, I had NO CLUE it was pitchers and catchers day, and I didn’t see Rob’s article or the accompanying video until you just mentioned it. Both are up.

    I’m going 16 hours a day focusing on one thing here. I’m not even calling home but once every two days. I have people emailing and tweeting me fuming that I wasn’t discussing Pitt-Syracuse last night. Because, you know, Russian TV was airing Pitt-Syracuse. Your other comments are terribly unfair and, to be candid, not at all like you.

    When I’m in Bradenton in mid-March, the Pirates will get my all. When I’m in Russia, the Olympics will get my all.

  3. “Some didn’t get that, but they can get this: He changed the franchise.”

    I love what AJ did here but to me, he’s one of several components in helping to change the franchise. I think Hurdle, Searage, good drafting and development, an excellent defensive catcher free agent signing, and the National League MVP were just as important if not more.

    • Don’t confuse my mind with facts.

      It breaks the narrative.

    • Man, I do not envy Dejan.

      Does he really have to qualify every statement he makes? Considering he’s also written about the impact Hurdle, Searage, Rene Gayo, and others have had on changing the franchise, I’m positive he did NOT write that statement as AJ being the only one.

      Give the guy a break once in a while.

      DK: Thanks.

    • Exactly, 21. I said that yesterday. I thought AJ was great for the Bucs. I wanted them to resign him because I think that would have represented a few more wins over whomever takes the bump in his place every 5th day.

      But, AJ was a mess of a pitcher when he arrived in Pittsburgh. They got him to buy into their strategy of using his 2-seam fastball to induce groundballs, just like they are doing successfully with several other pitchers. He owes the Pirates as much for salvaging his career as they owe him for pitching so well the last 2 years.

      I have a feeling AJ is not going to like pitching in front of that group of defenders in Philly, in that park that surrenders a ton of HR, as he did in Pittsburgh. Maybe he’ll like the fact that they don’t believe in shifts. Of course, while the Pirates were #5 in MLB in turning balls into play into outs last year, the Phils were in the bottom 5 of MLB in that category.

      I really liked what AJ did for the Pirates last season. But, he is getting way too much credit for their success. They already had a pretty good strategy starting to take shape before he arrived, and they rescued him from the Yankees.

      • I like all of that, Jim.

        Even with AJ, they needed a lot of things to go right to meet or exceed 2013.

        A lot of my Phillies friends were stunned. They were blindsided by this. With Hamels going down in one hand and their billion dollar TV deal in the other?

        “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
        ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

      • I can think of 16 million reasons why I believe A.J. will survive the Philly fans even though he said in November it’s not about the money.***

        *** I would have given him the $16M. I had been saying that I would go to around $15M but I wouldn’t let one measly million be a deal breaker.

        • I had been saying that I thought it was worthwhile to give him around $14 million. Once you get to that point, 21, I guess you ask yourself if $2 million more is worth it. Seems silly to let him walk over the $4 million between what he got and their supposed offer of $12 million. But, I wonder whether he would have taken anything but a crazy high offer from the Bucs at this point. I am now buying into the theory that this was personal for him, that he was so angry about last October that he really did not want to come back. He may have just let us all think he wanted to come back so as not to look like a bad guy to Pirates fans who supported him so well the last 2 years. Just a thought.

  4. And for all you Slicks in Turtle Crick who are dealing with Weather Events, and now even all your ex’s in Texas and Atlanta, I just want you all to know that…

    You. Are. Not. Alone.

    From my local weather service:




    Even EYE have to admit. We really don’t have very big ones down here, do we?

  5. Saint Jetersburg leads off Mike & Mike.

    Lord. (Not Jeter. I’m just asking for intervention.)

    This is gonna be a long season. Leading to Saint Sports Center Desk.


    Then they run the Syracuse shot.

    I think I’m gonna watch the weather channel.

  6. Was totally in favor of trading for AJ when it was only in the exploratory stage a couple winters ago, because I thought he would bring to the team exactly what he delivered — an attitude.

    That said, it’s now time to move on, and I’m more than fine with that. A guy like AJ making $17 million a year doesn’t want to be told he’s worth $8 million, or even $10 or $12 million. Money is how AJ measures himself against his peers.

  7. I gotta lot to do today, as I was goofing off yesterday.

    1) Dejan, you are a SAINT (eve bigger thanSaint Jeter) for putting up with us. Lord knows we provide you with comic relief, but sometimes you prolly want to :thwap: us.

    2) AJ ~ I loved what AJ brought here to this club. But as some astute persons said up there ^^ (don’t let it go to your head, guys :) ) AJ wasn’t the only factor in the Pirates having their first winning season in 20 years. Thanks for the fun and the memories AJ, and good luck. We’re gonna miss you but we have to move on. There’s a baseball season coming up.

    3) This weather SUCKS!

    That is all.

  8. (I even wrote a goodbye song. But I’m an idiot.)

    Line of the Day so far.

    But it is still early

  9. AJ officially left the Pirates yesterday.
    Pitt lost last night.
    I don’t know which is worse……………….

    The realization that Pitt played fairly well, but lost the game in the final 2-3 minutes last night, when one or two little things could have won it………. but only to lose on that 35-footer (that was well defended),


    The Pirates have lost AJ, and replaced him with Volquez……… and given Lambo the 1B platoon job. And, yes, I know that Volquez didn’t directly replace AJ, but that is the final effect.
    I did read somewhere that AJ was offered a $12MM deal…….. I also read in here yesterday that someone said Perrotto said $8MM was offered?

    In the words of the great Milo Hamilton…………. what a horrible Pirate offseason this has been so far.

  10. Oh, and I , for one am impressed that DK is even able to get the game threads up on time while suffering through that 57 degree “winter” weather over there. Especially since he can’t get his StarYucks.

    I wonder if, when DK is in Bradenton, the same people will e-mail, and tweet him about not talking about the Penguins and NFL combine stuff?

  11. JAL’s Waiting for Superman Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 BFFL’s 2014 Pirates Stats Spreadsheet

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Should We Change the Way We Value Pitchers?

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Spring Training Preview: The Rotation

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Draft Preview: Prep Hitters

    6 Rumbunter

    Pedro Alvarez: From Persecution to Pursuit of 50

    Pirates Want to Set Record, Will They Follow Yankees Lead

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Phillies a poor fit for A.J. Burnett

    8 Green Weenie

    2/11-12: Aldridge-Grimes, TRS, Dutch, Woody and Joe Garagiola…

    9 KDKA

    Grilli Reflects On Magical Season, Looking Forward To 2014

    10 Saber Bucs

    NL Central Starting Rotation xFIPs

    11 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Can Starling Marte Avoid Taking A Step Back?

  12. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Spring training | Five reasons to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates

    13 Rant Sports

    Projecting the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Depth at Shortstop

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Spring Training Profile: Jake Brigham

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Spring Training Profile: Tony Sanchez

    14 Pirates Site

    Pirates narrow focus in wake of Burnett’s deal

    15 SB Nation

    Derek Jeter: Greatest shortstop in Yankees history

    16 Fangraphs

    Stephen Drew And Where An Opt-Out Isn’t Insane

    17 Cadillac News

    NL Central teams at the start of spring training

    18 St. Louis Post Gazette

    No rotation roulette for Cardinals

    19 ABC News

    Pro Sports Glamour? Minor Leaguers Say They Barely Get Paid

    20 New Jersey Star Ledger

    Baseball wars: Did Cooperstown’s myth steal Hoboken’s claim to fame?

  13. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers brass impressed with recovery of Sean Spence

    Some random thoughts from Ben Roethlisberger

    22 Steelers Depot

    Report: Steelers Intend On Drafting Ben Roethlisberger A Tall Wide Receiver Early


    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Bundesliga Column: Hannover 96 Is Doing the Splits

    24 BBC Football

    Steven Gerrard scored a last-gasp penalty as Liverpool moved to within four points of the Premier League summit after a dramatic win at Fulham


    25 Pensburgh

    Pensburgh Writer Roundtable

  14. Cheapest owner in sports and a liar to boot. “We’ll spend whenever we become contenders.” FU, Nutting.

    • This is an interesting point.

      Lose AJ, sign Volquez. Don’t re-sign Byrd or Morneau, swap backup catchers, go internal with RF and 1B.

      The new national TV deal, increased attendance from last year, ticket price increase. Oh, yeah, Frank and his “top 50%” of TV deals talk.

      So, where is all the money at?
      I don’t have it……… other people in this here blog don’t have it, DK doesn’t have it, or he would be bribing people for StarYucks……………….. it surely isn’t in the payroll. Where is the money at?

      • Up until yestrday, they had $12m on the line for AJ Burnett. That would’ve put them around $85m.

        What else were they supposed to do with that much already leveraged?

        • How about a 1B…….. Loney, which I believe we both liked?
          How about giving the QO………. if they penciled in $12MM, $14MM would have been not much more. If AJ doesn’t accept the QO, Bucs get a pick. How about not signing Volquez? That is $5MM there.

          They could have done things differently.

          • NH said “We never assumed it was Pittsburgh or nothing,”
            Well in most cases you extend the QO. Protect the team’s interest and guarantee a draft pick.
            But what we see here is that it was not in the team’s best interest to extend the offer and have AJ accept $14 million.

            (that was what the team thought was in their best interest)

          • You’re not understanding what I’m saying, plan.

            If they had $12m on the line for Burnett, that is money they cannot extend to other free agents.

            • I totally understand you.
              I still say the QO was probably the best way to go. That ties up $14MM. No guarantee he signs it (no player has ever signed a QO in history) , and provides the Pirates a draft pick if he signs elsewhere. The key is, if AJ rejects the QO, the Pirates aren’t on the hook for anything technically.

              Then, they go and try to sign other players.

              Oh well, water under the bridge now.

        • You can always pull the offer before it’s accepted.

    • Don’t hold back. :)

    • Amen Cobra39

      There was no way Nutting was going to Nutting was never going to pony up the money for AJ. The only reason why he and some of the other key Acquisitions who helped bring this franchise out of the toilet for one season was on the Pirates last year was because their previous team was footing a hefty portion of the salaries.
      The question to ask is – “is this team better without him on the team” the answer is NO. That is all any fan should care about. The argument of not tying up a large percentage of payroll on one player is silly. Raise payroll like we were told would happen and his percentage becomes a smaller percentage of overall payroll.
      The team has gotten worse over the offseason. Nutting and his crew are going to shop at the dollar store and hope to pick up a couple has-beens that nobody wants in hopes of getting lucky and giving scholarships to a few unworthy minor leaguers. The goal of every team should be to improve over the previous season.
      Nuttings goal was to capitalize on last year’s miracle season financially….. period.
      The fans were lied to again….. some of you will fall for it again and make excuses….. again.

      • BFD………. Dollar Store?

        I thought you would have pulled out that chestnut…… “dumpster diving”. Love me some dollar store fig newtons……. great price. ;)

  15. 1) What I don’t get is this talk from NH about how $14 million is such a large chunk / % of the total payroll and would have impacted what they could have done at other positions. But then it is reported (in the Trib) that they offered him $12 million. That doesn’t seem like much of a difference in baseball’s economy.

    2) Regarding the QO, NH says this:
    “Teams that offer qualifying offers either feel very strongly that the player is going to get a multiyear deal elsewhere that incentivizes them to decline the qualifying offer, ‘or they have complete comfort with that player returning on the fourteen-plus-million qualifying offer,” Huntington said. “In both scenarios, the answer was ‘no’ for us.’ That reaffirms my believe that they didn’t think AJ was worth $14 million AND they didn’t want to pay him that much.

    3) I find it interesting how local reporters have such a different opinion of AJ, in regards to him being some type of bad guy or jerk. DK has one that seems to be very different than Ron Cooke. I’m not saying one is right and the other is wrong. Maybe they are both right.

    • re: 1) What you haven’t accounted for is timing. You’re looking at the situation as happening in a moment, removed from all other variables.

      I don’t fault Huntington at all for starting his offer low while trying to also snag other free agents. Nobody was saying back in October that this winter should be AJ or bust.

      What if they would’ve signed Josh Johnson for $10m instead of AJ at $14m? They had no idea at the time that it would take 3+ years for James Loney, either.

      • I don’t fault NH for starting his offer low either.

        But in regards to timing, NH keeps talking about how $14 million is such a big percentage of their payroll. He said it at the time of the QO and he says it now.

        • Exactly. And he’s right. STARTING at $14m and working up from there would’ve just about precluded them from doing any other significant (by Pirate standards) moves.

          In this instance, it looks like once he realized they weren’t going to land Loney or Johnson he increased his offer as much as he could.

          • But how does one figure the $5MM given to Volquez?

            If they don’t give him that, the $$$$ could have been used elsewhere.

            • They couldn’t wait around on AJ to make a decision forever.

            • In the end, they put together a $12m offer for AJ Burnett. Many, many people would’ve said that is an offer AJ was likely to take.

              You can fault them for not getting the results in the end, but this is what is going to happen more often than not when you’re forced to squeeze pennies.

              • Oh, I agree with you……….. but some posters have said the Pirates tried to be the smartest men in the room, and it didn’t work.

                Now, the focus has to be how Searage can help the staff…….. if JuanD is healthy, Locke not being a basket case, etc.

                Bigger fish to fry.

              • I don’t know. The comments I read from NH in the Sawchik article gave me the distinct impression that the Pirates are still learning how to play in the big leagues.

                “…If we had a crystal ball and seen this is the way it would play out, maybe things are different.”

                I don’t think that excuse is going to cut it anymore.

  16. 4) And I wonder if the Pirates have adopted some type of team building model that has them saving cash to use at the trade deadline.

    • I just hope they aren’t unloading our guys at the trading deadline.

    • It would really be nice if Huntington would explain what the heck it is that they are doing, Tc. Confusion reigns for us peons.

      I can sort of parse Huntington when he speaks. Nutting says little, and what The Prez says, well, who cares?

      • Wild Bill,
        I think they have told us — maybe in a not so direct manor

        1) They are waiting for Polanco in RF, and feel Tabata & Snider (and maybe Decker) can hold the fort down until he arrives. (it is a bit of a gamble)

        2) They didn’t like the choices and ‘acquisition costs’ in regards to first basemen out there. They are going to start the season by rolling the dice with Sanchez & Lambo

        3) They didn’t want to pay AJ what he was looking for (or much more than their internal value)

        4) They feel comfortable with Mercer at short and Barmes backing him up.

        • Your interpretation seems right to me – just not very satisfying.

          Want a job as Pirate spokesperson?

          • WB,
            That would take time away from me being ‘Defender of the Front Office’. That’s a full time job. :-)

            But seriously, if I can spell it out like that – wouldn’t be great if they came out and say it like that? But my guess is that if they did that, many would focus on the money part of the equation (and not the talent portion)

            • How is that any different than what they’ve actually, physically said?

            • Do you have to defend frank too?

            • I understand that last season bought a certain amount of goodwill and some benefits of the doubt for the organization, but a couple years ago, a description like that above would have been blasted by nearly everyone. I think a lot of that was over the top, but let’s also remember that these are the same guys making the decisions. They seem to be learning and getting better, but I still have grave doubts about their ability to judge and develop talent. I think their business and operational models as demonstrated over the years- not just last year- lead one to be sceptical. Hoping for the best…

              • No organization produces the top minor league system in baseball from only one year of good decisions. Just doesn’t happen over night.

                In hindsight, we have to admit we were wrong before for harshly criticizing their drafting and development.

              • I agree with that, NMR.

                But I still think they think they’re the smartest guy in the room. ;-)

              • +4.0 (Neal’s GPA) :)

  17. Time for some USA hockey, followed by much snow removal.

  18. Good morning everyone. I see the blob, er, blog is off to another roaring start as per usual.

    GO USA HOCKEY! Be careful Wild Bill!

  19. Carlson scires off a drop from Kessel. One to zip, USA.

  20. Finland KO’d Austria in hockey last night 8-4. Jussi had a goal and an assist. Maatta hada goal :)

  21. RUssia beating Slovenia 2-0 AO and Malkin with the goals.

  22. US beating SLovakia 1-0 end of first. Carlson with goal, off Kessel assist.

  23. Remind me to never guess the snow amount by quickly looking out the window.
    What I thought was only 2 inches on the ground, is actually 7.
    Off to shovel again.

  24. Has it occurred to anyone that even if the Pirates made the QO to AJ, it might not have mattered because AJ had already made up his mind to go, due to him not liking whatever was or was not going on to put the final pieces of a team together who could seal the deal on a World Series championship?

    The man is a competitor. Perhaps he thought the Phillies, besides giving him a healthy offer, also gave him the nest shot at a championship before the window closes?

    I know…pure girlie speculation on my part.

  25. Suter coughs it up, no offside called, and it’s 1 – 1.

  26. With all this AJ talk, many have missed the point that DK, in his Channell 11 clip above, guaranteed Canada will not repeat with Olympic gold in men’s hockey. Predictocevic is at it again.

    Also, we may now see some money flow for a 1B. Polanco will be around soon enough, along with Taillon.

    Remain calm. The best is yet to come.

  27. Kessel scires again. This Bylsma is a pretty good coach.

  28. Monster Mash, what’s your take on the Slovakian team?

  29. Slovenia giving Russia a good game. I’m surprised.


  31. Stasny from Shattenkirk, and the rout is on.

  32. Looks like Halak is chased.

  33. Russian svinkter muscles getting tight…

  34. This is getting embarrassing.

  35. Wow. Might have to go back to grousing about the Pirates.

  36. Slovenia scores again. Still Russia up 3-2

  37. Well, that certainly was invigorating.
    By the time I shoveled to the finish, what I had started at was re-covered.

    Good thing I have albatross arms.
    And hot chocolate……..

  38. Forgive me if this has already been brought up but …Tomas Surovy ?

  39. Slovenian goalie looks like a player to me.

  40. Loonies, just got a text from my younger daughter that she was in an accident on Rt 219 north of Johnstown. She is ok, but her Subaru Forrester didn’t fare too well in the front end. Hit an icy patch, did a few donuts and the guard rail helped her stop. Thankfully she dropped Mischa off at day care already so she wasn’t in the car. SHe is fine, other than being shaken up. God is good!

  41. Pitt – Ugh! That, like all of their games vs. good teams this year, was painful (for those of us who want them to win, that is!).

    Nothing new there. Everyone here has pinpointed their weaknesses, which continued again last night. They played hard all night. Defended well, went to the glass, made key shots, etc. But, they just don’t have anyone who can take his man to the hoop, and the only consistent outside shooter they have is Patterson. Cuse has Ennis and Fair, who can both get to the hoop pretty much any time the offense breaks down, and Cooney can nail open 3′s.

    Even still, Pitt had the game seemingly wrapped up again. Then, the last 2 minutes happened again. Darn those last 2 minutes! Cuse started scoring on every possession, and Pitt just killed time on it’s possessions and threw up prayers at the end of the shot clock. Yet, they made a key play to take the lead with 4.4 seconds after 2 clutch free throws by Zanna.

    I know a lot of people probably criticized Jamie for calling the TO there, which allowed Cuse to set up a play for their final possession. I don’t see it that way. First of all, Jamie is a defensive coach. He doesn’t want players scrambling around on defense for the last possession. So, for everyone who says Cuse would have scrambled to get that last shot off w/o the TO, I would counter that Pitt’s defense would have been scrambling as well. And, do you really trust a defense w/o a set plan to stop Tyler Ennis from going all 94 feet for a layup? I don’t.

    So, they called the TO, set up their defense, and actually played the last possession very well. Give Ennis credit. He nailed a 35 ft, contested shot at the buzzer. With 4.4 seconds on the clock, and that guy with the ball, I’d say Pitt did pretty well on that last possession. It just did not work out. He made an amazing play. Everything has gone wrong for Pitt in crunch time against good teams this year, and everything has gone right for Cuse. Cuse has much more talent to turn to when it really matters. Please, Jamie, get some offense!

    • +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    • Jamie said the reason he called it was to force them to have to go the whole court. And Boeheim said that they ran the wrong play. That last play was all Ennis, and as Plan said, well defended.

      At least that’s what I understood between Gorman’s and Starkey’s reports.

      • I saw a tweet from Doug Gottlieb right after the game last night, where he sarcastically said Dixon called a timeout to allow Syracuse to set up its offense. I thought that was a hindsighted cheap shot. Had they not called a TO, I have no doubt Ennis goes 94 ft agaist a disorganized Pitt defense.

      • I like the timeout and as I said last night, I think you have to try and deny Ennis the ball on the inbounds pass.

        • They made him make a spectacular play. To his credit, he did make the spectacular play. But, I find it hard to fault them for forcing him to make that shot.

          • I completely understand that Jim but I would have liked to have seen them try to get a different player make a spectacular play.

        • I said last night it made me scratch my head a little, but after reading all the explanations, I get it.

          I thought it was kind of funny that Boeheim said what they were supposed to run was a long pass. ;-)

    • I’m with ya Jim.

      Just remember, against Pitt, the shot ALWAYS goes in. Doesn’t matter who, where or how.

      Kinda like the pre 70′s Steelers (SOS).

      It can be really frustrating to be a Pitt fan.


  42. My dog is curled up on top of pillows in a chair. What a life, what a princess!

    • My dog has never put in a decent day’s work in his life.

    • I kvetch at my cats Urchin and Fat Sajak about how disgusting they are and how they make me wanna wretch. And then I reach out and pet ‘em and bow my head in thanks that we have been blessed enough in our lives to spoil beasts of the field like this. And then Fat Sajak does something really disgusting like purr while Urchin reaches out with her front paws to pull my hand to her head.

      makes me almost wanna forgive ‘em for demolishing my hand-crafted shuttlecock. Just a little glimpse from Yer Ole Uncle Buggee

  43. 7-1 USA & Ryan Miller in a ball cap. Doesn’t get any better than that.

  44. At last the US comes through at Sochi, beating Slovakia in men’s ice hockey 7-1! It’s about time!

  45. Bug on windshield stuff for men’s hockey thus far today.

  46. Caught up on russia’s game on dvr and i think the slovenian goalie just earned himself a nhl camp invite if not a contract. Russia tickled the twine a few more times to make it 5-2 but that kristan dude was my #1 star for the game. And datsyuk doesn’t look anywhere near 100%. Surprised they played him today.

    Now gotta decide if i wanna work from home…

  47. So Gaby Sanchez is in the best shape of his life ? He’d better be. :)

    • He’s concerned with Matt Hague in camp.

    • Has any chubby guy from the previous season ever not shown up in the best shape of his life?

      LaMarr Woodley is currently getting “in the best shape of his life” as we speak.

      • Jermain Stephenson?

        Spelling prob wrong, but the #1 pick OL that Cowher drafted and then couldn’t finish the Training Camp sprint test his second year and was cut on the spot.

        And yes, there were OL draft pick busts before Tomlin.

  48. One small bit of nice news. Micah Mason is now leading the country in 3 point shooting. 49-84, .583.

  49. So, AJ took the money. The Pirates supposedly offered $12 million, and he opted to string them (and us) along all off-season. Out of the blue, Philly offers $16 million, a week after saying their pitching staff was set. An injury to one of your best pitchers has a way of forcing the hand of teams with huge local TV contracts and not so bright GMs.

    This season could prove me wrong, but I believe the Phils are a hot mess. People can buy into advanced metrics or not, but it is a fact that Philly was #28 in MLB last year in turning balls in play into outs, and that stat doesn’t even take into account that they play in the most HR-friendly park in MLB. The Pirates were #5 in that category. AJ is potentially walking into a situation not all that dissimilar from what he left in NY a few years ago. Philly does have a lot of great pitchers, though, so maybe they can overcome their questionable defense. As for AJ, he does have that extra $4 million. Enjoy 2014, AJ! Thanks for 2012/13! This fan appreciated your effort.

    I get as frustrated as everyone here when I think the Pirates are being cheap. And make no mistake, I think their tendency is to be cheap. I know they have to be frugal, but I see a distinction. I think they determine an acceptable level of profit for the season, and they don’t budge from it – even to put a better team on the field. That is their right, but it frustrates me as a fan. Plenty of other teams do not operate that way. This year, it appears (to me) they will now exceed their profit target. Maybe I have all of that wrong, but that is how I see it. I think Pirates fans deserved better than what the Bucs have done this off-season.

    Putting that aside, I really do believe Huntington knows what he is doing and has assembled a staff that knows what it is doing. They are now recognized as having one of the best minor league systems in MLB. They were awful in this regard 5 years ago. The only chance for a team in a market the size of Pittsburgh to compete regularly is to be smarter than most of the other teams. That means they need to consistently draft well, acquire well, develop well, and have a successful plan of execution at the MLB level.

    I believe they are doing all of that. The cornerstone of their MLB strategy appears to be building around pitching and defense. They acquire and develop pitchers who keep the ball down with 2-seam fastballs mainly, throwing to strong defensive catchers who specialize in pitch-framing. As we know, they also use advanced positioning strategies. You can either be in the camp who believes this stuff works, and point to last season as proof, or say last year was a fortunate aberration and this is all a bunch of hooey. You can say that guys like Burnett, Liriano, Gomez, Mazzaro and others turned their careers around in large part because the strategies the Pirates employ have made it possible. Or, you can say that one year doesn’t prove anything. I recognize that they have not sustained anything yet. But, I still believe they are on the right track. I am disappointed, however, that they did not find a way to sign AJ because, right now, I believe he could have been the difference between a WC slot and missing the playoffs.

    • Agree, Jim.

      In the end, until we know how AJ (and Byrd) performs for the Phillies how can really give this a pass/fail?

      PNC Park and Citizens could not be more different.

      • Given the differences in ball parks, the evaluation of AJ and Byrd is a little more complicated.

        My personal frustration is that appears the TBMTIB really does think it’s collectively the smartest guy in the room and that’s dangerous.

        This year will tell us if last year was “Lightening in the Bottle” or true progress. At this point in time, one has to lean toward the former.

        It’s one thing to think that AAA hopefuls can come up in midseason and have an impact. It’s a whole nother thing for them to HAVE to make a contribution in a potential wild card race. I hope folks recognize that, because a whole lotta posts are suggesting otherwise.

        • But, doesn’t every management team in MLB think they are smarter than everyone else?

          Have you ever heard the things that come out of the mouth of Brian Cashman? How about Stan Kasten in LA? Does John Mozielak ever dispute anyone telling us how wonderful the “Cardinals Way” is. They all have pretty healthy egos.

      • I think it will continue to always be frustrating to be a Pirates fan, bpn. Even though I think they are going about building a team the right way, I believe this payroll should be in the $90 million range this season. If they miss the playoffs by a couple of games with a very similar payroll to last season, that makes it even more frustrating to me. I am still hopeful they will upgrade at 1b, and also add elsewhere as necessary. They should have the $$ flexibility. They admitted it by making a $12 million offer that was not accepted.

    • One small nit. The report is the Pirates offered AJ $12 mil, but the implication is that was fairly recently. I don’t think it automatically means the $8.5 offer wasn’t made earlier. My only point being, I don’t think it means AJ strung us along all offseason with a $12 mil Pirate offer in his pocket.

      • Good point, Arriba. I think you may be right on that. We don’t know exactly how any of the negotiations went this winter with him. It is entirely possible that AJ didn’t string anyone along.

  50. Thats the only two offers Im aware of. 12 million from the Pirates, 16 from the Phillies. The others that seemed to have interest, we havent heard anything. Why isnt anyone calling them cheap?

    Another park factor page.

    • I think fans in Balt are calling their team plenty cheap.

    • Can’t figure out what I like more, park factor pages or prospect lists.

      2013 AJ Burnett home ERA – 3.53
      2013 AJ Burnett road ERA – 2.74

      • -1

        Thats SO/BB walks slick.

        His ERA was almost 2 runs higher on the road.

        • Slick, I like that. I met Slick once (the doctor of style, that is) and he was much nicer than you just were. But I digress. Thanks for pointing that out.

          • Was his first name Arnold and was he from Turtle Crick?

          • Its fine. Ive whiffed on blogs a lot more than you.

            By that same rationale, its why I have doubts about Volquez. Liriano and Burnett came from the AL, more offense, deeper lineups, DH as opposed to pitchers.

            Volquez to me looks more like Jonathan Sanchez. Got hammered in two of the best pitchers parks last year. I dont like that the Reds are very familiar with him, as is the rest of the NL Central.

            But he might benefit from Searge and the Pirates two seamer philosphy Jim mentions, the Pirates utilization of shifts.

            • I have big doubts about Volquez, bpn. I initially HATED the signing. I looked up his stats and tried to put a good spin on them anyway I could. There was just nothing good about how he has pitched the last few years.

              But, I am being open-minded. Some have said, and rightfully so, that he still has a good arm, and he does throw ground balls when he uses the 2-seamer. Maybe there’s hope for a decent pitcher if he totally rethinks himself and listens to Mr. Searage.

              • This might be apples and oranges but Id like your take on this.

                Something somewhat similar happened with the Mets and A’s. The A’s let Colon walk without a qualifying offer. He went to the Mets for two/for 20. While I like him pitching in Citifield back in the NL, him running the basepaths is a joke. We’ll see.

                My point is, did the Mets even kick the tires on AJ at all? Was he a firm no to play back then? Thats what I think the whole Phillies/Hamels getting hurt last minute thing is really being overlooked. I cant really sit there and get mad if the Pirates waited it out and made I think a competive offer and then someone swooped in the last minute with 4 million more. To the Pirates, 4 million is a decent amount of change, whatever anyone wants to nitpick.

                I remember when Sabathia left the Brewers and they made an offer of like 5 years/100 million which at the time was pretty good. Then the Yankees came a long and dumped what 6 years/140, lightning fast. The Brewers owner was furious.

                And I think the fact Philly was so close to home was a factor too…If Cole Hamels doesnt get hurt, we all might be on here today congratulating the Pirates for waiting it out, and saving 2 million dollars with a one year 12 million dollar deal.

                Sorry Jim, theres a lot of angles to this. I dont think it was just one thing. Even the run production might have been an issue to AJ. Thats why he overlooked Citizens ballpark.

          • If we’re going to start using nicknames, I’ve got dibs on “T-Bone”.

      • I think those are actually his K/BB rates, aren’t they Milo?

        I think his home ERA was 2.37 vs. 4.22 on the road.

    • John Perrotto reported the $8.5 mil offer. You may not believe him, but you are now aware of it.

      • FWIW, that kind of journalism is why I don’t trust anything Perrotto writes.

        I can’t ever imagine Dejan making a story out of an offer mid-way through negotiations.

        • Hey, NMR! BTW, I sure hope you are right about this Volquez guy possibly being the latest pleasant surprise turnaround project for Searage and company.

          • Think about this, Jim…

            Right around this time last year many on this blog were wondering why the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano while letting Kevin Correia go, coming off a season in which he pitched to a 4.21 ERA. That same season, Edinson Volquez pitched to a 4.14 ERA with more K’s and IP.

            Volquez is just not as bad as he’s being made out to be.

            • I chortled about keeping Correia, but that was before Jonathan Sanchez got several starts and others rounded into shape. (Their broken arms healed).

              I wouldn’t want Correia now and I don’t want Volquez.

              (By saying that, maybe the Dejan-effect will kick in and he’ll be the Comeback Pitcher of the Year).

            • I’m starting to think you are right.

              I think Volquez is not very much like Correia. Volquez has a much better arm. I could never stand Correia, although I realize he was serviceable while here. He was more of a fly ball pitcher, I believe.

              And, I think Sanchez was just a bonehead who refused to change anything.

              It really does seem that if a guy has a decent arm and is willing to consider throwing that 2-seamer a big chunk of the time, he has a chance here.

            • & FWIW, I always valued Liriano more than his stats indicated. I always loved the swing & miss stuff and movement.

            • Im not following.

              What about Bedard and Sanchez? Why couldnt they fix them? Why were the unable to get Mcdonald right?

              Who else bid on Volquez?

              • I honestly don’t mean to be condescending, bpn, but you can’t expect EVERY pitcher to work the same way. Baseball just doesn’t work like that.

              • Jonathan Sanchez has become such a red herring. This is guy guy who was signed as the epitome of AAA depth lottery ticket, and even then not until AFTER Liriano hurt himself.

                There is no reason for him to be included in these discussions any more than guys like Kris Johnson.

              • I know this could ignite a small brush fire if I just mention his name. So, I’m hesitant to do it. But, I often like his stuff. Not always, but I admit to often liking it.

                Ok, the “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” disclaimer is out there.

                Tim Williams wrote something yesterday about how to look at building a pitching staff. Yes, I know it is easy to say he takes the Bucs position then tries to work his story into those parameters. But, if you can get past that part, I think it was an interesting read.

                (Ducking and slowly walking away backwards).

              • Glad you feel that way, NMR. Shame he started any games for us at all. He threw like a fish. A red herring or a carp, he still stunk like a fish and he still got in games.

                I believe Volquez is better than Sanchez was then but not better than what we’ve got coming.

              • NMR, I think sometimes the whole “Ray Searage/Jim Benedict pitching guru” naratives get a little overblown sometimes. For every Burnett and Liriano, theres a Sanchez and a Bedard. For every Morton (and thats pushing it some) theres a Mcdonald.

                Hurdle was the hitting coach for the Rangers before he was named the Pirates manager. Before that he managed the Rockies. All those teams hit. Because of his teaching abilities? No, those team all had some nice sticks!!!

                Volquez even pulled a Burnett/Liriano when he came from Texas to Cincy, his first year in the National League. Since then, its been steady downhill. How he garnered 5 million is amazing

                I hope your right man. I think this dude got figured out awhile ago. The fact he might get a bunch of starts against Cincy really bothers me. They got tons of tape on this guy. The Pirates might need to change him a lot, and thats not always a good thing.

              • @bpn

                “All those teams hit. Because of his teaching abilities? No, those team all had some nice sticks!!!”

                This is exactly why I’m calling Jonathan Sanchez a red herring!!

                I don’t think it makes much sense to point out that a guy like Jonathan Sanchez couldn’t be fixed when the player you’re comparing him to is significantly more talented. And yes, Edinson Volquez is significantly more talented than Jonathan Sanchez.

                That being said, I agree that sometimes Searage’s influence gets overblown.

        • What do you mean by ‘making a story out of an offer’?

          If DK found out that the Pirates had made an $8.5 million offer to AJ (and had it confirmed by his sources) I think he would have reported it.

          And yes, I believe DK’s reporting more than JP’s

          • I believe Dejan would’ve reported it, but not DURING negotiations. Since, you know, offers can change.

            • Isn’t it up to the “source” when it’s reported, not the reporter? I mean, if its not off the record or deep background, why would DK or any reporter make a personal decision not to report it because of the status of the negotiations?

              • Because when you write an article based around how a team won’t raise a low ball offer BEFORE the negotion actually ends, the chances of you turning out to be wrong are obviously high.

                Think about how much speculation has been thrown around based on that alone. Perrotto knew exactly what he was doing.

              • Did he say they wouldn’t raise it?

              • NMR,
                I don’t recall JP based his on the fact that he heard the Pirates had offered him $8.5 mil.
                He didn’t say that they didn’t raise it.

                I think if DK or any reporter finds out what the offer is they report it, unless their source asks them not to until after the player signs.

                And I wonder if this is the same type of thing in regards to stories of how AJ is a bad guy/jerk. They will come out now that he is gone.

  51. Just wondering if people would be feeling better ( or how much better) today if AJ signs for $16 m and the Pirates received the comp pick (somewhere in the 40′s)?

    I’m not sure it really makes me feel better. Not much, at least

  52. In other news, from the Pens’ website:

    Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis underwent successful knee surgery today on his torn right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

    • Hopefully closer to the 6 months number to rehab. Maybe they delayed the surgery to improve the odds.

      • The delayed the surgery in order for him to strengthen the surrounding muscles so he could do better in rehab. Read that somewhere, prolly on the Pen’s site. Not sure.

        • I think DK said it in a chat. ;-)

        • Doesn’t it also take awhile for inflammation to subside?

          • Yes they often wait a little bit before surgery to let fluid/swelling go down.
            But this was a long wait. Not sure what that means. I would imagine his strength was better right after the injury than it could be several weeks later. Almost like they were thinking of letting him play on it after some rehab. It has been done before, depends on the nature of the tear.

  53. The Pirates pick up approx 30 million more in revenue from last year. So the net payroll goes from 65 million to 75 million. Quite frankly there was no splash players to sign in the positions of need. But more importantly, it appears the cards are on player development, Polanco and Tallion for this year. Both are prime time talents and will be significant upgrades over what is presently on the roster. A trade has to be done to upgrade 1st base at some point.

  54. Who is this AJ guy everyone keeps talking about?

    • Pierczynski.

      He’s an offense-first catcher, with a bristly temper that the Pirates stupidly did not sign as a free agent. Real jerk in the clubhouse. :-)

      • Curious Jim.

        I may be in the market…Outback or Forester?

        • I usually drive an Outback as a demo, and I really like it.

          My wife just got a new Forester and loves it. It won SUV of the Year. Foresters are usually sold before they arrive at the dealerships right now. Outback tends to skew more male, and Forester more female. But, it is a personal preference.

          Outback is a little pricier, depending on equipment.

          Crosstrek has only been out for abot a year and a half, and it is pretty cool if you want something a little smaller. Those are hard to keep in stock also.

          New Outback coming late summer. It should be another winner.

          Hope I’m not boring everybody. But, since you asked tpb.

          • Thanks!

            Been leaning towards the Forester w/the bigger engine, for Colorado driving.

            • We love Colorado, tpb. I think we have been the #2 or #3 top seller there over the last few months. Amazing, since we are #9 or #10 nationally.

              But, if you throw mountains, snow and people who enjoy both together that always works for us.

          • I gotta check out this Crosstrek. I’m not too familiar with it.

            :) Thanks Jim.

            • I think you’ll like it. Smaller, sportier, SUV.

            • I didn’t answer the 2nd part. Yes, Impreza is staying. It was new 2 yr ago – sedan and 5-door versions. Bigger than the old Impreza.

              This is like a Car Talk segment.

              • LOL! Sorry, but I like cars :) And thanks for your patient answers.

              • Never a bother, Jandy. You know that!

              • My fault I guess, but always want to hear from those that are informed, then make my own decision.

              • Absolutely, tpb. I’d probably have to know more about what you use the car for, who drives it, how many people ride in at once, what kind of gear do you need, etc. But, overall, those two cars are shopped against one another. They definitely have crossover appeal.

                BTW, Jandy, I know you are a dog lover. Have you seen any of our commercials with the dogs? We started doing some funny commercials a few years ago with dogs driving our cars because we did some research and we think our owners have the highest propensity to own dogs. Anyway, the commercials tested so well that we actually run some of them on prime time. All of the dogs used are rescue dogs.

  55. WOOP WOOP….staying home today! :) :) :)

  56. It’ll be interesting to see what AJ does next after his one year stint with the Phillies.

  57. When is someone gonna freakin facewash someone?!?! What is this? 2014 selke’s?

  58. Travis Sawchik has a new Bucco Blog up with a bunch of good AJ info.

    • Great job by Travis as usual.

      So where does this rank them in what teams wanted to spend ? Huntington should just keep his mouth shut.

    • My biggest disappointment this offseason, and my concern going forward, is they didn’t get Loney because they refused to go 3 years. That’s the kind of thing that gets me.

      • I thought he had said he preferred staying with the club.

        You think simply matching Tampa’s offer would’ve convinced Loney to sign?

        • I don’t know for sure. I do know that it’s been reported that Neal said they had offered the yearly price but weren’t willing to go 3 years. And that’s by people who are patting Neal in the back.

          Not sure him saying after he stayed with the club that that was the reason should be given much weight. What would you say?

          And it’s the thought process that worries me, so whether he would have come for that or not isn’t what I’m talking about. They said the reason they backed out was the 3 years.

          • I may be getting who you’re talking about mixed up so I’ll put your quote and you can corret me if I’m wrong…

            “Not sure him saying after he stayed with the club that that was the reason should be given much weight. What would you say?”

            If “him” is Neal Huntington, then I think you may be mistaken. Loney himself said he wanted to stay with the Rays, and that was before he actually signed. He was quoted.

            As for the thought process, I would agree if I thought there was an absolute no three year contract offer rule. But there isn’t, since we know they offered Russell Martin three last year.

            I know I personally wouldn’t be comfortable going that many years (and dollars) with a guy coming off an unsustainable career year and only a season removed from being terrible.

            • I was talking about Loney. And the timing of the comment doesn’t really change my point.
              (See AJ comment about staying in Pittsburgh— ;-) )

              But I had forgotten about the Martin offer. Was that a 3 year deal or the famous 2 year with a team option for the third?

              And they may have offered that Colorado pitcher a couple of years ago 3, but I can’t remember about the details, if that was also a team option. (I remember he got a player option from Colorado that I agreed the Pirates shouldn’t do.)

              But my main concern is they are too financially risk averse to accomplish what they want to accomplish on the field. Works for the pocketbook for sure. Just a concern.

              • Here’s the thing LAST offseason. They overpaid a bit (as it looked at the time), quickly striking with an above market offer to Martin to fill their greatest need, C. And it was Martin, not the Pirates, who rejected a longer offer and agreed to two years.

                Here’s the thing THIS offseason. They did NOT strike quickly to fill their greatest need, 1B. And it was the Pirates, not Loney, who rejected a longer offer.

                We’ll never know. But had the Pirates struck quickly and offered a three year contract to fill their greatest need, they may have snagged Loney.

                And then we’d be moaning about Mercer today. Or about something.

                At least EYE would. I like to moan.

              • OK, thanks for the clarification. And you’re right.

                I believe it was reported the Martin offer was three years, but Martin preferred two so he could hit free agency sooner. Talk about ballsy. I love that guy.

                Are you thinking of Jorge de la Rosa? Also can add the infamous three year offer to Edwin Jackson.

              • Good point.

                (That’s to both Drew and NMR)

                And on Jackson, yeah, we dodged a bullet.

      • I thought Loney was a nice fit also, Arriba. Doesn’t whiff so much, and plays solid defense. But, I also thought his asking price and years were a bit much. In the end, I had no problem with them not extending to what that likely would have taken.

        But, when you see Tampa and the Bucs looking at the same guys, I think you get a glimpse of the future. We are clearly modeling a lot of what we do after what Tampa does. That means shoestring budgets, but hopefully it also means stacking 90-win seasons.

    • To the Bat Blog!

  59. Team canada playing like arse right now. Babcock had Msl on SIds wing for a bit.

  60. Salo talking about Maata:

    “There’s poise, there’s talent and … I don’t see the ceiling. I really don’t. He’s special,” Salo said. “And you know, it’s good for Finnish hockey. It’s good for all of us. We’ve been waiting for someone like him to arrive for a while.”

    Read more:


  61. Does anyone think jeff carter is looking better than Neal would on SIDS wing??

  62. Hmm. I think he’s been awful. Not saying he’s not a fine player in his own right. But he’s been awful thus far this game IMO….

  63. Moral victory for my Norse ancestral homeland!

    Only 2-0 after 2 periods to the big bad Canadians.

    My cousin in the old country just called. Very excited!

    Go you descendants of Thor, Go!

  64. He’ll yes!!!!

  65. Wow Carey Price just made a boo boo

  66. I’d love to see Sid and Kunitz manufacture a goal.

  67. Famously mild mannered and reserved Norsemen getting chippy with Sid!

  68. What set Sid off?

  69. Scrum involving Kunitz, who goes to the box.

  70. Stupid goal differential tie breaker. Norway not pulling goalie even with PP under 2 minutes.

  71. Canada wins 3-1.

    The Norse acquit themselves well.

    Price not really tested. Babcock ought to start him next game, but his plan is not to do so.

  72. Rob Biertempfel has some video up on the Trib website asking Locke and R. Martin about AJ being gone.

    They’ll miss him, but I think those guys will be fine.

  73. Can someone refresh my memory?

    Is Olympic hockey like the NCAA’s one and done, or is it best of _____.

    Apologize in advance for my ignorance. ;-)

  74. NBC features a question from Brady McCollough at DB’ s presser. Not sure if Fearless Leader was there or not. Byslma compliments USA defensemen and refuses to name goalie against the Russkies. DB says he felt the importance of Olympics today and looking forward to Saturday’s match with Russia.

    Mike Milbury highly complementary of venue, Bolshoi Ice arena. It does look beautiful on the TV, I must say. Love how they illuminate the roof with the competing nations colors.

  75. US not looking good in the medal count right now. DK mentioned something to this effect in a tweet last night, and my response is it may be time for the good old US of A to create some more new sports that we can dominate for the first 8-10 years to boost our medal count. We can’t even dominate the snowboard stuff now.

    I think we need to get NASCAR vehicles on some sort of skis. Create about 15 different medals. That would boost our medal count for at least 3-4 Olympics cycles before anyone catches up.

  76. Bob Walk says that AJ’s signing with the Phillies is a loss to the Pirates, but that Gerrit Cole has what it takes to be the Pirates’ ace. Also, the Phillies are trying to draft an option that might let AJ pitch for them for more than a year.

  77. Also, it seems that AJ was insulted that the Pirates didn’t extend the qualifying offer, and that’s why he did what he just did.

  78. Hey Hipposter, you still alive after shoveling? We are up to 8 in. now in Snyder Co.

  79. Think of the groups like baseball divisions. Three groups. Top two from each group advance to quarterfinals. Three points per win. I think one point for shootout loss. You play round robin-within your group. So, for example, USA does not play Canada in group play. However, remaining 2 teams are wildcards, if you will. There is a dizzying tiebreaker system with an emphasis on goal differential. The final two spots require a qualifying game to join the other six. An extra game.

  80. Clint Hurdle called AJ Burnett today. This time it was Burnett telling Hurdle he wouldn’t be pitching for the Pirates tomorrow.

  81. Blog gearing up for Pirates season.

    450 posts and counting.

    May I suggest a USA/Russia game thread ? I’ll be up.

  82. Any truth to the rumor that AJ borrowed one of Jim’s Subarus to drive over to Pittsburgh to tell Volquez to STFU?

    Unless Neal has some magic up his sleeve for a deal/signing at the end of ST, I just simply do not like the offseason moves. Or, more aptly, lack of moves.

  83. Former Bucco & all around good guy Jim Fregosi has died after falling ill on a cruise earlier in the week. He was 71.

  84. RIP Jim Fregosi

  85. * Great win for Team USA

    * Maybe Shero can get Tomas Surovy back to Pittsburgh. Pens need a LW for 3rd line.

    * Paul Stastny didn’t disappoint!

    * Quick was steady and that’s what Team USA needs.

    * Where have I heard this one before…. Gaby Sanchez in the best shape of his career.

    * Sorry I haven’t stopped laughing since news broke about AJ Burnett signing w/ Phillies.

  86. You may all have heard by now that Vice President Joe Biden called Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis last night to congratulate him on that buzzer beater over Pitt. I don’t know if that was good judgement while it showed where his sympathies lay.

  87. LHP Yao-Hsun Yang was shocked at his own signing to a minor league contract by the Pirates.

  88. I see why Frankie was unable to secure a good media contract. Painfully obvious from today’s news that media giants like Comcast simply don’t have any money to spend.

    Hi Frank.

  89. “Women weaken legs”

    - My hero Mick

  90. You may also have heard today that Ed Reed, formerly of the Ravens, then the Houston. Texans and now the NY Jets, had $50,000 in a paper bag stolen from his car which was in a bank parking lot in Houston, Texas at the time. Apparently, thieves smashed the front windows of Reed’s car and stole the money while he was in the bank.

  91. You have also likely heard of today’s bobsledding accident in Sochi in which a track worker who failed to hear the warning call suffered two broken legs and a concussion when hit by a bobsled while making ice on the track with a blower.

  92. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, guys.

    Ignore or forget at your own peril.

  93. +500 comments today

    Not too shabby

    Hi Frank

    If I were you, I’d do the usual and practice selling snake oil in front of a mirror

  94. I think I’m having a déjà foo moment

    I think I’ve been here before and I think I don’t like it.

    • But if the new morning thread was gonna say anything about freaking valentines day, maybe I should be happy with this old thing.

      Besides. I like Groundhog Day better than valentines day.

      Same goes for the other 363 days.

      Plus leap year day.

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