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Morning Java: The real Neal, the real Grilli

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> One of my favorite qualities to my birth town is that we tend to be pretty shrewd judges of character. We can spot a phony — a Todd Graham type, if you will — with the best of them. And it doesn’t take us long to toss them out on their ears or, at least, to make it onto our don’t-trust-this-guy list.

But man, the bulk of the sporting public has thoroughly blown it in the cases of James Neal and Jason Grilli, at least based on the feedback I get and see elsewhere.

And both in very different ways.

Neal has been suddenly — and stunningly — vilified as some sort of locker room cancer who did even more damage for the Penguins on the ice by acting out like Matt Cooke 2.0. And it’s crazy. Both of them.

Think what you want about Neals’ behavior on the ice. We all see that. What I saw was a player whose effort was almost never questioned, whose production exceeded even the highest expectations set upon his being traded here from Dallas, and whose presence was pretty much demanded on Evgeni Malkin’s line by Malkin himself. The two were — and are — great friends. He had the three suspensions, each of which I criticized and in once case referring to his action as idiotic, but that was over the course of 200-plus games in Pittsburgh. And, in what was something of an oddity, he really didn’t have problems on a nightly basis. Those things would just kind of burst out in some situations, usually when stakes were highest.

I also saw a player who was so passionate about his work that, after a playoff win in Philly in which he was dominant, he slyly arranged for him and his teammates to skate out for the three-stars announcement, just to further stick to the Flyers and their fans. Visitors almost never participate.

Off the ice, I’m going to speak for no one else, but I do feel compelled to say that Neal was unfailingly professional, courteous and honest with me. In general, he also was — along with Sidney Crosby, Matt Niskanen and a couple others — among the few to show up and answer questions after losses, rather than sticking his teammates with those. Also, I never heard directly from any actual player that he was a problem in the locker room. Most of this is coming out now, quite  curiously, from some people who never dealt with him. Stop and think about that for a moment. People in the newly revamped Penguins front office are impugning him. Seriously. And people who never interviewed or dealt with Neal are jumping on board. Double-seriously. It’s ridiculous, and it’s false. Neal would get down in certain situations, but I’ll take guys who care and get ticked off over guys who don’t care.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Ray Shero’s best friend in the business, and his mentor, is David Poile, the man who just acquired Neal in Nashville. Poile just committed $20 million to Neal. Poile just told his new coach Peter Laviolette — another close associate of Shero — that Neal will be his big acquisition for the summer. What’s more, there’s thick speculation that Shero will inherit the Nashville job sooner rather than later, meaning Neal will be his guy again.

When our Josh Yohe asked Poile in Philly over the weekend if he’d consulted Shero about Neal, Poile declined comment. Which Poile rarely does. Read into that what you want.

Does anyone with a right mind think that Shero wouldn’t know what kind of a player or person Neal is?

Or that Poile and Laviolette didn’t consult with Shero to find out?

Come on.

It’s been disappointing to see the Penguins try to kick Neal on the way out, just as it’s been disappointing some of the fans do likewise. It isn’t deserved at all.

Jason+Grilli+Pittsburgh+Pirates+Photo+Day+NMDSeyWJWtIlGrilli is another story.

Most of the sentiment I gather is this gushing sentimentality over what a great guy this was, and how sad it is that he’s having his heart broken, both of which — and I’ll be painfully blunt here — are flaming nonsense.

I don’t have to comment on Grilli the player. You saw what happened to him this season. He hit almost surreal highs in the first four months of 2013 but really was never the same after clutching his elbow coming off the mound later in the season. This year, he’s been … well, again, you’ve seen it yourself.

As a person, and again I’m speaking for no one other than myself, I’ve never seen someone act 180 degrees one way around some people, then 180 degrees the other around others, quite like this individual. As soon as the cameras or microphones were on, he was Mr. Smile and all emotional and passionate and weepy or whatever. As soon as they were off, he was something else altogether. And again, I’m talking 180 degrees.

Honestly, in all walks of life, we all suffer jerks. But hey, I’ll take a genuine jerk over a phony one anytime. At least be who you are.

Some of this had started to kind of creep out, not least of which was in his amazingly narcissistic book in which he compares himself to Christ and all kinds of other weirdness. Check the Google machine, and you’ll find some hilarious reviews of the book.

And then yesterday, he did all of us who have known the truth for a long time a monster favor by tweeting this out to everyone after his trade …

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 10.02.08 PM

Well, hey, now there’s the way to insult the team that gave you the only chance of your baseball career at a very advanced age. Kick them on the way out. Nice.

Trust me when I tell you the players in that clubhouse will read it, and not one of them will be surprised.

I’ll stop there, other than to wish Neal good luck with the Predators and beyond. As I wrote in the Saturday column from Philly, I’m in favor of the actual trade because I like how it addresses the Penguins’ needs. But I also appreciate a good hockey player and good guy for what he did here.

Oh, and if anyone’s interested, here’s video of Grilli’s initial contribution to those powerhouse Angels.

>> The non-powerhouse Pirates, meanwhile, kept right on winning. Edinson Volquez and Pedro Alvarez both appear to be straightening out, and Mark Melancon did his job at the end. Rob Biertempfel reports from PNC Park.

Clint Hurdle prefers his closer to close, by Travis Sawchik.

Tommy John surgeries are way up, by Sawchik. Good stuff in here from Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and others.

Here’s Mets news from ESPN New York.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page, our Bucco Blog and our photo gallery.




>> Mike Johnston is mostly observing the Penguins right now, by Yohe.

Looking ahead to the 2015 NHL Draft and far bigger doings, here’s a Trib Q&A with presumptive top pick Connor McDavid, by Yohe.

If you missed it, this was the Sunday column in which I tried to paint a picture of the Penguins’ new management team in action and philosophy.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Penguins page and our Chipped Ice blog.

>> Netherlands and Costa Rica go through to quarters, the Dutch benefiting from a sickening dive by Arjen Robben to draw the winning penalty. If I start complaining about soccer dives, I’ll never stop, so I’ll let this New York Times pic of Robben’s dive do it for me …

Y30NETHERLANDSCUP1-master675

Quite the hero.

Here are the official World Cup 2014 page and the U.S. Soccer page.

>> WPXI-TV’s latest Subway Final Word had myself, Yohe, Biertempfel and host Bill Phillips going back and forth on the Pirates, Penguins, Neal, Grilli and, well, yeah, soccer dives.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

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.

Comments

  1. KING says:

    Neal might be my third FAVE Penguin ever, next to Recchi or Jagr. I thought he played with great effort and skill most nights. A fantastic shot and placement. Reminded of Mike Bossy who is one of my FAVE all-time players.

    Neal was an honest interview. If he didn’t like some questions, he would be up front about it. Pens going to miss 30-40 goals every year. Malkin, too. I keep hearing Malkin made Neal, but Neal scored nearly 30 goals with the Stars.

    Don’t know much about Grilli. He gave up too many big hits and home runs in 2014. They were justified in dealing him. Giving up two more runs in a game was the last straw.

    Grilli deserves great much kudos for 2012 and 2013 strong seasons. I wish him the best but he’s in the twilight of his career. Thought he was an interesting interview.

    KING

  2. JohninOshkosh says:

    This was a fascinating blog entry. Thank you.

    I have to say Grilli’s tweet was one of the more obnoxious tweets I’ve seen by a “professional” in any discipline, including politics. And Twitter being Twitter, that is saying something.

  3. AJS says:

    DK, great insight on these guys. I’ve never found Neal to be anything other than how he comes across. It is disturbing to hear the Pens’ new brass try to tear him down.

    As for Grilli, wow! You hinted at this a week or so ago, but I never would have thought him a two-face. Always seemed so passionate and genuine. Haven’t read the book, but sounds a bit narcissistic to me.

    Hoping Frieri’s change of scenery serves him well, and a little dose of Ray Searage cant hurt.

  4. AJS says:

    As for that Dutch dive, I have to laugh at the player’s comments after the match. Robben admits to a first-half dive and says it is a habit he has and needs to break. Saying that sometimes you think you are going to be fouled and the defending player pulls away and you go down because you thought you were going to be fouled.

    That says to me he makes it a habit of embellishing every foul which seems to be all too common.

    On the penalty that lead to the free kick he was barely touched of at all. To pull out the yellow card and award a PK there was just atrocious. I guess soccer doesn’t know the meaning of letting the players play in big moments.

  5. Baywatch says:

    Pretty tacky, what he tweeted. No doubt he worked real hard that summer he came back with the Phillies’ AAA team. But, yeah, if Huntington and his scouts hadn’t had their eye on him, wonder if anyone else would have. He was fun to watch in 2012, as our setup guy, the way he’d get ahead of a batter then sail that rising high hard one on them. And I knew enough about the previous steps of his career to know that he was really nothing special. Makes you good to see a guy like that succeed.

    As for his book, I say more power to anyone that has a story they feel strongly about. Go for it. Write it. But at the same time I thought it was tacky – in season – to see him promoting it, when the the TEAM has struggled pretty much all year. Can’t say that there was a direct correlation on the book and him not being focused or anything. Just seemed like the wrong time for that. Save it for the offseason, the signing and stuff!

  6. Wild Bill says:

    All of us, athletes or not, arrive one day and later, we leave. The biggest thing left when we are gone are the memories. I choose to recall the best from both these guys – and others like them who have come and have gone.

  7. Bizrow says:

    We WILL survive

  8. Sarcastic Sword says:

    In what platform are ” new employees of the penguins impugning Neal?”

    Media? Twitter? Off the record?

    Dont you need to substantiate this with facts like what and where you heard this?

  9. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Oh so interesting take on Grilli.
    Not being greedy, but I’d love to hear more.
    I never get a good feeling off of a player when they start to promote product on their Twitter site (ala Grilli last year).
    Powerhouse….

  10. Thundercrack says:

    I didn’t take exception with what Grilli tweeted. Not to dissect a tweet, I read that he was calling his new team a powerhouse and wasn’t saying that his former team wasn’t one.

  11. theplanisworking says:

    With the Pirates playing their 82nd game yesterday, I am going to take a look at the “half-way” point of the baseball season ………. including looking at some other teams that posters here have trashed for various reasons, as pertaining to our Pirates.

    ***Better than expected ………..

    Toronto, Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, LA Angels, Seattle.Milwaukee

    I don’t understand the need to bash the GM’s of these teams, like Alex Anthopoulos, Dan Duquette, Dayton Moore, Jerry Dipoto, Jack Zduriencik. One poster absolutely excoriated Zduriencik when I wished him success early in ST, because he is a local guy. I don’t see how this behavior of criticizing other teams helps the Pirates or their situation. I could care less about what Detroit does (but they provide great bullpen talk). Of all the teams listed above, I only care about what Milwaukee does, because they are a direct, division rival. And, they employ more cheaters and miscreants than most other teams.

    Pleasant surprises for the Bucs:
    Edinson Volquez. He isn’t an all-star, but he isn’t the train wreck the past few years stats made him look to be, and I am glad I was wrong about him. He has been serviceable, all one can really ask for.

    Josh Harrison. Never understood all the JHay bashing. He will never be an all-star, but he is good in small doses, at multiple positions, and he plays hard every game. Think a modern version of Phil Garner. A real gamer.

    ===================================================

    **What the heck Happened?

    Boston, Tampa Bay, Texas, Arizona, Philly.

    Curious that no one makes fun of Tampa Bay. They have had a huge dropoff this year……. but I know many people want the Pirates to model themselves after the Rays. I feel Oakland should be a better model. I also know some posters make Arizona and Philly this years punching bags, (rightfully so), but those teams have won a division title, and WS recently, something the Pirates have not. Again, I don’t care about what those teams do, I am concerned about what the Pirates do.

    I think as Pirate fans, we should concentrate much more on what will happen the 2nd half of this season. Will Pedro decide to show up? Will the starting pitching get better? Will the Pirates win more day games (currently last)? Will; they improve with the bases loaded? (They seem to waste many, many scoring chances in that situation)? Will Neal make some moves?

    Making fun of other teams misfortune won’t help the Pirates win one more game. It won’t help Taillon heal faster from surgery. There is enough to debate about the Pirates, their FO, their roster moves that make caring about other teams just a little silly.

  12. Jon says:

    Excellent per the usual Dejan. You call it as you see it and I think I speak for all of your readers in saying I appreciate that most about your fine work.

    From what i can gather;aside from his miscues, Neal was a consummate professional. He became a victim of being one of the very few moveable parts with value that could be enticing enough to fill multiple holes in the sandpaper department. I’m really not in love with the trade though. If Hornqvist scores big goals, creates traffic, and wrecks havoc in May then ill be happy, but lets not get ahead of ourselves they need to win 35-40 games and a playoff round before that can be seen through.

    As the SuperGenius would say. Jason Grilli is a Obi wan jabronie curtain jerker. He skipped much needed throwing sessions and simulations to do book signings at Giant Eagle. I’m pretty sure that’s what set his ship to sail. Good riddance, I say. Has anyone told him the batters he face can see his slider coming a mile away? Maybe work on shortening up that delivery or tucking that thumb in, that is if the writers cramp allows it. What a tool.

  13. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    No mention of adding corn dogs to the PNC Park concession menu?….lol

  14. theplanisworking says:

    Hard to get a feel for Grilli’s tweet.

    Was he joking? Excited to go to LA? Was it a dig at someone?
    He should have just said nothing, and let his results speak for themselves. Mr. Grilli was on the scrap heap before the Pirates signed him, and gave him a wonderful opportunity……… just thought that would hold some sway with him.

    James Neal? The more I think about him, I just think he was made a scapegoat for the playoff failures. But, he stayed silent and classy for the most part.

    I wish both men well for their new teams.

  15. theplanisworking says:

    That might take away $$$$ for the upcoming trade deadline.

    And, since Grilli is gone, does that heart attack 10 pound grilled cheese go off the menus also?

  16. T.S. says:

    Love it DK! You are on fire!

  17. Poole says:

    Now THIS is the kind of stuff fans love to read and is the blog is a perfect channel for it.

    DK – thanks for sharing!

    Neal in particular is someone I’ve always wondered about. Some people get a bad rap and never can live it down. It takes one incident in the sports world for someone to wholly be accepted with character issues -locker room cancer…whatever you want to call it. Neal always seemed like a good teammate.

    I have to think Mario was fed up with Neal’s ON ice stuff.

  18. HebnerRuled says:

    Nice job DK. You kind of confirmed what I thought I had been picking up about Grilli in the tone during the announcement and aftermath of the trade as it was presented and commented on by Pirates broadcasters. As for Neal, simply a case of the organization making a difficult but necessary trade.

  19. DJ says:

    “Does anyone with a right mind think that Shero wouldn’t know what kind of a player or person Neal is? Or that Poile and Laviolette didn’t consult with Shero to find out?”

    Not only do I believe they consulted but Shero probably gave Poile pointers in dealing with Rutherford. That said, still like the trade. My problems with Neal were his suspensions and what I saw on ice come playoff time, including senseless penalties. Others certainly disappointed but Neal was our most realistic / marketable trade chip to reshape the team, which was necessary.

    It’s business. No hard feelings.

  20. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Some people don’t know it but Anaheim is a different world from LA.
    It’s only an hours drive (depending on traffic) but it’s a whole other world out there.

  21. Maz In Iowa says:

    I haven’t heard much of anything from Pedro in a while….little surprised to hear from him.Hope he keeps on barreling up.EV did a good job of spreading out the hits.Good to see Cutch get a day off on a Pirate victory,with a 13 straight game streak starting on Tuesday.I’m not sure what to do on an off day for the Bucs.Maybe make a few more pot stirring posts. :)

  22. War_Horse says:

    Grilli is where he belongs–out there in La-la Land with the rest of the show biz celebs. If he continues to pitch like he did last night for the Angels, they’ll eat him alive. Or, maybe crucify. We reap what we sow.

  23. Mizery says:

    I love the inside take on both players DK. I am with you on Todd Graham too. I can’t even stand to see his ugly mug on TV when ASU is playing. I am a guy that does not care about if a guy is a jerk or not, as long as he helps my teams win. I know most would fall short of my expectations if I knew them on a personal level. Now if it distracts the team or creates a bad locker room is one thing, but just being a jerk doesn’t always do that.

  24. piratemike says:

    If DK wanted to be fair he would have shown the what should have been double play that the 2b blew by missing the easy throw from the ss that put the runner at 3rd. right before the hit that ended the game.
    It looks like thin skinned people can take Grilli’s tweet as an insult and other’s can see it as a player blowing smoke up his new team’s fans just like all players do when they are traded. Who really cares.

  25. War_Horse says:

    Actually, Pedro has been pulling his weight for the month of June: .299 .396 .483 with three HR, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored. In April, he hit .180 with six HR, 14 RBI and 13 runs scored. In May, he hit .255, four HR, 14 RBI and 9 runs scored. If he keeps up this progression he’ll be hitting .400 by the end of August.
    The new, improved Pedro summed it up in an interview after yesterday’s game. Robbie Unspellable-ski asked him, “What do you work on just in terms of being able to hit the ball and spray it all over?” Pedro answered, “Just trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched and not try to do too much…”

  26. Bill Eggert says:

    Well-reasoned & articulate look at the “tale of two J’s,” (James/Jason) Dejan. Effective use of testimonials & personal experience to compare the departures of two popular Pittsburgh players & how that played out in the arena of public opinion. Neal’s on-ice sins seem less damning than Grilli’s on-field transgressions & equally important, apparent insincerity on a personal level. His departing tweet salvo smacks of a lack of class & decorum in a game that usually celebrates good sportsmanship. And if one believes in karma, he will be repaid in kind… We can only hope, & more importantly, move on & celebrate his exit…

  27. Cobra39 says:

    It’s nice to know that fans take the opinion of a sports columnist as it pertains to the character of human beings as gospel. Both are former players for Pittsburgh sports teams; I could care less if they are jerks or gentlemen.

  28. Vic says:

    Yohe wrote this in Sunday’s Trib….’Neal also was known for having a surly personality. He has been suspended three times in his six-year career. The Penguins are eager to develop a stronger locker room next season, and Rutherford didn’t deny that eliminating Neal could help.’

    Yohe is there every day and covers the team home and road. Are you saying he is wrong?

  29. Cobra39 says:

    Where are the “testimonials” regarding Grilli and his duplicitous ways other than the vague generalization that DK wrote? As far as taking shots at former teams – which players from all sports do all the time – that Tweet was fairly tame.

  30. Dcpinpgh says:

    Grilli seems like he would make a good ‘face’ in wrestling after his baseball career. If someone tweeted ‘going to a powerhouse’ after a trade to the steelers or pirates. Pittsburgh fans would eat that up.

  31. tomf says:

    not positive – but yesterday after returning from church I believe I saw the image of Jason Grilli on my grilled cheese

  32. Tom P. says:

    The Pirates are 42-40. To get to 90 wins, they have to go 48-32, which is .600 baseball the rest of the way. the Brewers are 51-31. To get to 90 wins, they have to go 39-41, which is slightly less than .500.

  33. doug says:

    Dejan, I think your one of the better writer in Pittsburgh. I liked Jason Grilli from a fans view point and he did a lot for this team. What I dont like are writers like you that write bad things about a player when he leaves town. Why dont you write these type things when he is in town? It makes me kind of think your a phoney writer, to afraid of losing your cred with the players.
    So what you say about Grilli being two faced is the same thing you are doing when you write positive about a player and then negative when he is out of town it kind of makes me think your not being truthful about anything.
    Doug

  34. pensboy says:

    Asks one of the people who was busily trashing Neal based on rumor, innuendo and no facts at all.

  35. tomf says:

    I realize the season is long – but I believe the ‘patience’ is partially responsible for the Pirates slow start

    examples include the (continued) use of Rodriguez and Grilli

  36. Thundercrack says:

    ‘Want to thank everyone in the Burgh for the support and great times! I will Always consider this home. Cya at ballpark nearby’

    That was Grilli’s tweet on Friday.

  37. Thundercrack says:

    In season is when the book is going to get the most attention.

    Every post/tweet that I saw about a book signing at a Giant Eagle or Barnes & Noble was taking place from 11A to 12 or 12:30P. I think that is a good time before he was required to be at the ballpark.

  38. pensboy says:

    That passage is exactly what’s wrong with some journalism. It takes some known but actually unrelated facts then strings them together to imply something that (now has been confirmed by both
    DK and Rossi in their blogs) is not true (Neal was a locker room problem and goon on the ice).

  39. JoeyBats says:

    BUCCOS — Down on the Farm
    (We’ll keep you apprised of how some of the top prospects are doing; …..this week, the POSITION players. Games played through June 29).

    OF – Mel Rojas,Jr – Triple A – Indy – Bats: S … (53 games @ Altoona)
    .302/ .384/ .431 … HR 5, RBI 38,… G 80, AB 281, R 36, H 85, K 59, BB 35, SB 7
    .
    C – Tony Sanchez– Triple A – Indy – Bats: R
    .190/ .287/ .380 … HR 5, RBI 21,… G 30, AB 100, R 10, H 19, K 28, BB 12, SB 0
    .
    OF – Jose Tabata – Triple A – Indy….Bats: R
    .188/.278/.188 …HR 0, RBI 1 …..G 4, AB 16, R 1 , H 3, K 4, BB 1, SB 0
    .
    1B/OF – Andrew Lambo – Triple A – Indy – Bats: L ….on the DL
    .344 / .430/ .570 … HR 2, RBI 19… G 26, AB 93, R 18, H 32, K 22, BB 13, SB 3
    .
    3B – Stetson Allie – Double A – Altoona – Bats: R
    .224 / .341/ .444 …HR 12, RBI 33, ….G 62, AB 214, R 28, H 48, K 72, BB 35, SB 3
    .
    SS – Alan Hanson – Double A – Altoona – Bats: S
    .264/ .299/ .420 … HR 6, RBI 39… G 71, AB 295, R 34, H 78, K 56, BB 14, SB 15
    .
    OF – Josh Bell – Single A – Bradenton – Bats: S
    .332 / .380 / .512…. HR 9, RBI 49…. G 74, AB 289, R 36, H 96, K 40, BB 22, SB 5
    .
    .OF – Harold Ramirez – Single A – West Virginia – Bats: R
    .301 / .360 / .394…. HR 1, RBI 23…. G 47, AB 193, R 28, H 58, K 33, BB 11, SB 12
    .
    SS – JaCoby Jones – Single A _ West Virginia Bats: R
    264 / .337 / .417…. HR 8, RBI 35…. G 69, AB 254, R 37, H 67, K 76, BB 22, SB…12
    .
    3B -Wyatt Mathisen – Single A – West Virginia – Bats: R
    .263 / .348 / .344….. HR 3 RBI 24… G 74, AB 262, R 32, H 69, K 38, BB 30, SB 2
    .
    C – Reese McGuire – Single A – West Virginia – Bats : L
    .268 / .329 / .316 …..HR 1 RBI 21 …. G 53 , AB 209, R 23, H 56, K 24, BB 18, SB 4
    .
    OF – Austin Meadows –XXXXXXXXX – Bats: L (Injured…rehabbing)
    .
    SS – Cole Tucker – Bats: S – Round # 1…pick # 24……SIGNED…..Bradenton GCL
    .333 / .455 / .389 …..HR 0, RBI 1 …. G 5 , AB 18, R 3, H 6, K 4, BB 4, SB 1
    .
    1B/OF – Connor Joe – Bats: R – Round # 1 …..pick # 39 …..SIGNED
    .
    OF-Jordan Luplow – Bats: R – Round # 3 …pick # 100 ….SIGNED – Single A – Jamestown
    .344 / .405 / .625 …..HR 2, RBI 6 …. G 9 , AB 32, R 6, H 11, K 3, BB 4, SB 1
    .
    C – Taylor Gushue – Bats: S – Round # 4….pick 131 …. …..SIGNED – Single A – Jamestown
    .333 / .484 / .729 …..HR 4, RBI 15 …. G 14 , AB 48, R 13, H 16, K 12, BB 31, SB 0
    .
    BEAT ‘EM BUCS !

  40. Wild Bill says:

    “Wouldn’t trade our problems for their problems” perspective: after being swept by the Braves, the Phils are 10 games below .500. And all this with a $190 million payroll.

    On the other hand, in the NL East, that lets you be just 8 games out of first place.

  41. Vette60 says:

    WYching the Mexico v. Netherlands match yesterday. The dive was awful as was the yellow card. Robben added an extra back arch and screech as he was falling, just horrible.

    Listened to some interesting post game commentary on ESPN. Former Dutch footballer said that Robben took advantage of a poor play by the Mexican player – basically the leg was there and he did what anyone would do. Espn deportes commenter thought it was clear that it was a dive and no foul should have been called.

    My take – bad call, worse dive.

    Later all

    Randy in RVA.

  42. Nate83 says:

    I’m not a Grilli fan but thanks for sharing that tweet as well. I do believe he is very self centered but isn’t pure evil and the other tweet is out of context without knowing what else he has tweeted in the last 48 hours or so.

  43. Jandy says:

    +++

  44. Jandy says:

    BOOM!

  45. chethejet1 says:

    Grilli like Neal when he was good he was really good. But when things weren’t going well, both responded accordingly. Grilli for me was a last chance guy who lost his top heat at age 37. Neal lost his poise just to many times for the Pens to think he would be that guy. It was his continued dumb actions that gave Pens pause. time will tell if it was a good deal for both. Shero and Bylsma can get together next season and play pretend GM and coach like the rest of us.

  46. cbmalet says:

    About Grilli why does it bother you about what his Tweet said, what do you think he is going to say”BOO HOOO “And cry about leaving? Life goes on he is 38 years old and really doesnt have many more years of playing .Your comment is a typical Yinzer sports fan comment . Get over it.

  47. bpn8pitt says:

    Whether Grilli and Neal were jerks or not, I dont care. Towards the end of their Pittsburgh careers they werent playing well, and thats pretty much the primary reason they no longer wear black and gold.

    I imagine their are quite a few guys on the local sports teams that are jerks in real life. Some of whom portray the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde routine like Grilli. Some of whom you never expect.

    Again, dont care. Put out and stay off the police blotter and im fine with it.

    I always wonder what people would think of Magic and Jordan’s lifestyle’s if they played in the Twitter, FB, Instagram, 24 Hr Sports Media world…

  48. Jandy says:

    +++++

  49. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  50. The Gunner says:

    Sports is a business, it is hard and cold. While I appreciate Jason Grilli’s contribution to the resurgence of the Pirates last year, it was quite apparent he was not the same dominant pitcher after his injury last July. It was time for him to go at least a month ago.

    As far as his personality, anytime I hear someone like him (or an AJ Burnett) singing the praises of Pittsburgh and constantly embellishing it over and over again, I see a huge red flag. I hate when people even try to insult my intelligence.

    I may have been born at night, but not last night!!!

  51. Dom says:

    I personally didn’t interpret that tweet by Grilli as a insult to the Buccos roster.

  52. I think he could be a jerk. Like him mouthing off at the ASB a couple years ago, then not having a stellar second half.

    And I guarantee you, Christ never used the F-word as Grilli did at that concert last season. I don’t dislike anyone, but I’m glad to see him go. So is Russell Martin’s neck, most likely.

  53. Arriba Wilver says:

    Me neither.

  54. Jandy says:

    I’m going to a concert next month, and I can’t guarantee you I won’t use that F Bomb ;)

  55. Jandy says:

    +++

  56. The Gunner says:

    TC

    There’s that embellishment I alluded to in my 8:18 AM post.

  57. Arriba Wilver says:

    We wouldn’t be hearing this stuff if he was still mowing them down in the 9th. One thing I haven’t heard is one instance of him being a jerk to fans.

  58. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-)

  59. Arriba Wilver says:

    Same thing going on in Anaheim. Where’s the beef?

  60. Sam says:

    After Rossi’s near insane ramblings of late, I wouldn’t take anything he says as factual in any way.

  61. Steve B. says:

    I think the perception that a lot of people had these opinions about Neal and Grilli is what happens when a few people with multiple blog identities spend their seemingly every hour regurgitating the same opinions about a topic to the point of nausea.

    More than likely; most people – myself included – probably thought Neal was a solid player who simply had a problem letting other teams get under his skin and would take stupid, Busch league penalties and hurt his team in the process. I also think he was too much of a perimeter player who actually excelled more the less he had to possess the puck…something this team can do with less of right now, or in the playoffs. Other than that, if they were deep enough at forward I don’t think he gets traded. It was simply a matter of a few options to try and fix a bigger problem and they can get more for Neal than Kunitz or Dupuis.

    As far as Grilli goes, I never got the feeling he was a “great guy” or someone fans should feel a special bond with, at least no more than any other player making millions to play a game. After hearing about the obvious Christ complex this guy has and has made obvious to everyone in his book, I don’t think anyone should feel bad he’s not a Pirate anymore. Reality is; I thought his tank ran empty last season and this was a no-brainer and long overdue move by the Pirates because trotting him out there over and over to see if he still had it because fans thought he was a good guy isn’t going to win many games, let alone get a team into the playoffs. Besides; he’s playing for a “Powerhouse” now so anyone who is a fan of Grilli, should feel good that he’s in a better position to succeed. Maybe now he can get on with his life’s work healing the sick and dying in between blowing saves for the Angels.

    Grilli an Angel now…how fitting.

  62. Emily says:

    You know, I was sort of sad we traded Grilli….then I saw that tweet.
    Not sad, and one less person to follow on Twitter.
    Go Bucs!

  63. ++++++++++++++

    I hope he does well in Cali. At least fares better than yesterday.

  64. NMR says:

    Reading comprehension is really tough for you, eh?

  65. NMR says:

    Shhhh.

  66. The Czar says:

    I always sensed Grilli was that type of guy. Especially after his concert antics during the winter.
    Dejan did his attitude nose dive once Melancon got the nod as the closer? Just curious.

    As for the Dutch-Mexico game. Epic ending, however let them play it out in overtime! This is a once every four years event and to have an official knock you out is tough to take.

  67. Ed says:

    I really didn’t find Grilli’s tweet offensive and there’s no evidence that he’s dissing the Pirates. I just think it’s the typical kind of thing you see when a player joins a new team. Now whether he was a jerk at times, I’ll take Dejan’s word for it, since he’s had infinite more personal dealings with the man than I have.

    As far as Neal, he made too many mistakes and didn’t rise up when it really mattered. Personalities aside, it’s a big reason why most people in Pittsburgh still hate Barry Bonds to this day. When you can’t perform when it really matters, that’s what gets remembered. It’s just the cruel nature of sports.

    I’ve also heard stories — I have no idea if true or not — about Neal blowing coke in bars on the South Side after games. If true, maybe that had some effect.

  68. NMR says:

    So Dejan was supposed to share his personal opinion last spring while Grilli was pitching lights out?

    Or later in the year after suffering a serious arm injury?

    You really think that would’ve been appropriate timing? Got it.

  69. Dave says:

    You’re contradicting yourself a bit here, Dejan. In your last piece you wrote that Neal DID have some personality issues, although “nothing stronger leadership couldn’t fix”. So obviously there’s some valid smoke here. It sounds like you’re trying to do damage control for a guy that seems to be a little more than a professional acquaintance for you. Neal wrote his own ticket out of town with his on-ice crap. I wanted him gone for that alone.

  70. Jeff says:

    Agree, Doug. I’m not interested in a writer’s opinion on a player’s personality unless it can be subtantiated with teammate comments. When the writer makes such an issue over a twitter comment that could also be interpreted as a “Glad to be here” for Angels fans, it makes his other comments suspect. I had the opportunity to meet Jason Grilli in the Pittsburgh Airport as he was standing in line to place an order. He got out of the line, losing his place, to get his picture taken with my family. That’s the way I’ll remember him.

  71. Jandy says:

    Oh Lord! Dejan would have been tarred and feathered and run out of town.

  72. NMR says:

    Guess what, Mr. Tough Guy Sports Fan. Other people out there DO have emotional attachments to players. For some, that is a quintessential part of being a fan.

    So yeah, I’m guessing a few of those folks would care to know if one of their favorite players treated others poorly.

    Try to walk a moment in their shoes, if you can ever manage to dismount your high horse.

  73. chethejet1 says:

    Neal had a rep in Dallas of just not doing more with his size, shot, checking and being a force on the ice. Same thing in Pittsburgh, you always wanted more as he would show glimpses of being that power forward. He at times was superficial and I always go the impression he was more concerned about his hair than keeping the cycle going.

  74. SeanAY says:

    I’ll be in Anaheim for work over the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Any recommendations on food / drink you can offer?

  75. Dave says:

    What “facts” do you expect? Do you expect team mates and staff to go on record trashing him? of course not, they didn’t do that for Bonds either and yet we all know how much smoke there was about him too.

  76. Thundercrack says:

    It didn’t stop DK from sharing other personal opinions about Grilli

  77. Bas Foster says:

    A year ago, Dejan, you made reference to a player who was something other than good w/ the press, especially off-the-record (I forget how you phrased it exactly), but you refused to identify him (at that time, presumably because he was still on the roster). I always suspected you may have been referring to Grilli, among other possibilities..assuming now that it was Grilli, I am glad, if only because it means you weren’t referring to the others I suspected, and didn’t want to think badly of.
    That said, I agree w/ the overall impression you convey here about him, but disagree w/ your interpretation of Grilli’s tweet, which I read as nothing more than an endorsement of his new team as opposed to a slap at the Pirates.

  78. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    That really wasn’t the issue. I’ve described jerks while they were still being covered here. Issue was — and some of you will recall hints to this effect — I wanted to be damned sure it wasn’t just me. Well, he took care of that in style in 2014.

  79. NMR says:

    About his personality? Such as?

  80. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    The Saturday column line was a direct reference to cleaning up any issues or friction that might exist. Thought that was clear.

  81. Thundercrack says:

    Isn’t that kind of weird? You would think that if an athlete just wrote a book he would be a little extra nice to the local media…..in hopes of getting some good publicity / help with selling books.

  82. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Your recollection of last year is both correct and seriously impressive.

  83. Jandy says:

    An article about Sam Lafferty, Penguin’s Fourth Round pick (he’s a Hollidaysburg native) :

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/588093.html

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    Huh?

  85. hockeymonster says:

    So i guess there are rumors surrounding Ehrhoff. If we can sign him on the cheap courtesy of the Pegula Buyout than that would be a total gift for our rebuild/re-tool. 2.5-3M per for ehroff for 3 years would allow us to really establish some quality depth.

    And please no Malholtra. He’s 34 and there’s a reason he spent time in the AHL recently. There are better options out there. Especially now that spaling is here and can play center. And would rather re-sign Sill on two way deal and gibby than malholtra anyway. Both would serve greater purposes.

    Buffalo and other teams are looking for bad contracts to get to the floor. Maybe we can free up more cap space after all…

  86. Scott says:

    If you are a classy player, you do not compliment your new team in a way that may disparage your previous team that picked you up as your last chance and gave you the chance to succeed.

    Grilli was absolutely a huge part of 2013, when he was effective, no doubt about that.

    The only numbers that now matter are that the “powerhouse” LAA currently has 3 more wins than the Bucs. Grilli blew 4 saves before leaving…

  87. Tina says:

    Thanks for your article on Neal. He is one of my favourite Pens players, and I was surprised to hear that he was traded, but even more surprised about the comments made re his character. Living in Australia, the only news we get is what is online and occasionally a game on pay TV, and as you have alluded to, I have only seen him play with heart and passion. Yes he had done some dumb things, but they have been few , and he is certainly not been on his own! I am sad to see him go, and only hope that he succeeds in his career and maybe will return one day. Thanks again for “balancing” the views!

  88. Jandy says:

    He’ll be 32 years old this week. Is he worth it?

  89. Scott says:

    By the by, the Angels were a powerhouse team in the previous decade (3 ALCS and 1 WS win). Haven’t made the playoffs yet in this one.

  90. Arriba Wilver says:

    ROSSI’s blog entry is a very insightful and informative look into the Neal issue.

  91. Arriba Wilver says:

    I suspect he’s done, but he wrung what he could out of the short window he had.

  92. aglebagel says:

    Grilli just Tweeted:

    “Just to clarify, I’m excited to play for ‘another’ powerhouse team. Very grateful for my time in Pittsburgh.”

  93. SeanAY says:

    Pretty interesting piece by Rossi.

  94. Cobra39 says:

    Nice potshot. It doesn’t rank with DK’s totally unsubstantiated one about Two-Face Grilli but at least you gave it a go.

  95. Eric Bowser says:

    James Neal was traded because he was basically a useless decoy come playoff time, far too often taking horrendous penalties and some of the worst back-checking routes. Is it in him to be a 200 foot player, yes because he has shown the ability but for whatever reason, he was far too inconsistent.

    38 playoff games, 11 goals, 11 assists, and 50 PIM.

  96. Milo Hamilton says:

    Thanks for your insights today Dejan. Many of us here were under the impression you had been referring to Grilli. Jim Leyland’s reaction to the guy was enough for me. In all the years he managed in the big leagues, Grilli was the only guy I can remember Leyland having harsh public words about. Pretty telling.

    As far as Neal goes, I wasn’t even bothered by the occasional on ice brain cramps. And I’m on record as saying the Marchand incident was just too good to pass up. I like the trade & said so here when it was made, but I also like James Neal & wish him well.

  97. NJ07035 says:

    Grilli just tweeted the following:

    Jason Grilli ‏@GrillCheese49 now

    Just to clarify, I’m excited to play for ‘another’ powerhouse team. Very grateful for my time in Pittsburgh.

    +++
    Is he on the Lunatics list as well??

  98. SeanAY says:

    No teammate is ever going to go on the record trashing a guy. More than likely, someone on the team – be it a player, staffer, etc. – corroborated DK’s feelings. Most likely, multiple did. I’m sure one of the conditions of their honesty was, “I will not put your name to this.”

  99. Jandy says:

    AW, thanks MUCH for sharing that…it says more than any other words could say…

  100. Arriba Wilver says:

    Any team with Pujols, Trout and Hamilton is a “Powerhouse” team.

  101. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m sure some of you will appreciate this. I’m off this week, and I was wide awake at 6:10 this morning.

  102. Patrick(ri) says:

    The potential for unintended consequences with cyber communication is enormous. While I trust and very much respect DK, And I have no reason to trust Grilli, nor doubt that he is a jerk, I find TC’s quote from Grill’s other tweet persuasive. In short, not sure his tweet about joining a powerhouse (think Puhols, Trout, etc.) means more than it says.

    On the other hand, what does say that when the game camera caught Grilli “saying goodbye” to his bullpen mates and seemed to get zero response????

  103. Jandy says:

    Ha! I was already at my desk and into paperwork at that time ;)

  104. Cobra39 says:

    Oh my gosh, look at that 180 by Grilli! DK was clearly right about him.

  105. Milo Hamilton says:

    In a former life I used to have to wake up when you do. Haven’t been able to sleep in since.

  106. NMR says:

    Yes! Thought I was the only one to notice that. Doesn’t it strike anyone as odd that not a single guy got up to even shake his hand?

  107. Arriba Wilver says:

    One of his friends on the Pirates probably forwarded the (over)reaction to him. :-)

  108. Eric Bowser says:

    A little slow on the ‘oops’ tweet by Grilli but he did his job helping this franchise and maybe the opinion of the fans would have been different had the information been out there in the public before this season and the book. He’s not a Pirates pitcher, so I could care less now.

  109. Jandy says:

    Hey, how was Gettysburg?

  110. Jandy says:

    LOL Milo. What ruined me was having children. Never slept thru the night since. I do well on 5 – 6 hours of sleep though, so it’s all good. You’ve got to be enjoying getting up and moving at a snail’s pace and doing what you want/when you want. Enjoy your vacation :)

  111. Arriba Wilver says:

    I saw the replay. Another overreaction in my view. There were three guys sitting there, they were all smiling, and my guess is the goodbyes were said earlier and he was yelling a couple last minute things. But who knows.

  112. hockeymonster says:

    Yup. Good skater, perfect d partner for tanger too.

  113. Jandy says:

    2 offensive defensemen on the same line? Hmmm….

  114. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Per Rossi, quoting Neal second or third hand…..“I’m really sorry, bud,” the player said. “We should have won that series. We let everybody down. I should have played better, so I’m sorry. I wish we could have don better for you.”

    After a number of rounds of drinks (presumably, hey he could be having seltzer water), James Neal coming to clean to a barkeep makes him a good guy then?

  115. Milo Hamilton says:

    Al McGuire had a great line. Let the day come to me.

  116. hockeymonster says:

    Ditto. I wish real deal all the best too. He was one of my favorites and his chemistry with geno was fun to watch. But he didn’t adjust his game for playoffs so he more or less traded himself. Pens had to reshuffle the deck for more depth and players who will drive center lane consistently.

  117. Arriba Wilver says:

    This is just a technical comment, but a journalist could still say unnamed players said _________. Then, we would be free to interpret that comment. Like I said, just technical.

  118. hockeymonster says:

    Ehrhoff is PM like. He’s just a good all around dman but i do think he has a better shot from the point.

  119. Jandy says:

    Maybe a few rounds makes him surly…maybe.
    Just maybe…since Neal brought it up himself…he meant what he said.
    And maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter anymore since he’s no longer a Penguin.
    But maybe, it means something to some of us fans who liked Neal.

    Let.It.Be.

  120. Eric Bowser says:

    It was great, have to go back again in a few years when the kids are a little bit older.

  121. JohninOshkosh says:

    You know how people like to deride the NBA by saying all you need to do is watch the last 1 or 2 minutes of the game ?

    Same can be said about the World Cup. Except, you don’t know when the last 1 or 2 minutes are in play.

  122. Arriba Wilver says:

    Not my take. Did you read the whole blog post?

  123. Jandy says:

    Of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never been to Gettysburg. I gotta get on hubby ;)

  124. Jandy says:

    ZING!

  125. Jandy says:

    I wish I had time for that to happen more often.

  126. I haven’t been at work in over two weeks, and I still can’t sleep past 6:00, Milo, so don’t feel bad. The spirit is willing but the flesh is programmed.

  127. NMR says:

    What year is it?

  128. Milo Hamilton says:

    Tell me about it. I’ve asked the powers that be :) here at the house to please allow me a few hours tomorrow afternoon for Free Agent Frenzy.

  129. NMR says:

    Boy, you must be an excellent judge of character.

    Keep believing it is just DK, though.

  130. Patrick(ri) says:

    ++ when I was a kid, the kid next door used to squirt vinegar on ant hills to watch them scurry about. I thought watching that was torture. Still do.

  131. Jandy says:

    lol I hope you’re granted that wish, Milo.

    Spunky, yup, it’s called the inner alarm clock.

  132. Milo Hamilton says:

    Are you itching to get back or could you (finances aside) retire yesterday ?

  133. Jandy says:

    You mean Ehrhoff is more cerebral ? Better instincts? :D

  134. Arriba Wilver says:

    Knew that was coming.

  135. Jandy says:

    I was actually holding my breath waiting for it LOL!

    (Just bustin on ya NMR) ;)

  136. NMR says:

    @21 – Pedro looks prettay good when he’s pulling the ball, eh?

  137. I am not itching to get back. I’ll be off through July and I’m going to take advantage of it. I had 55 weeks of leave built up, so no worries financially. I could retire as early as February from state government and I intend to and to get back in the full time ministry where my wife and I belong.

    Thanks for asking, Milo.

    And, again, thanks to all for the well-wishes and prayers. Could never have responded to all of them last week. Getting stronger by the day, though.

    :D

  138. Jandy says:

    Good for you, Revvie! Sure is nice having you around :)

  139. Hard to argue that, John. Also, a sport where they regularly score over 100 points each per game vs. a sport that may have a 0-0 tie that’s a great game is hard to compare.

    (JAL’s on vacation. I can get away with that crack this week).

  140. Milo Hamilton says:

    Rest up & enjoy your time off. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better.

  141. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good to hear, Rev.

  142. Nice being around. Thanks.

  143. Milo Hamilton says:

    :)

  144. Scott says:

    There’s a difference between saying Neal was a locker room problem and saying he had a surly personality. One is disruptive to the team’s goals, the other is not necessarily.

    By most accounts, Neal was liked by his teammates and by most in the media. What I recall from Yohe’s radio interview with Stan Savran was that both men seemed to indicate that Neal was a jerk when it came to dealing with other lower-level people in the building – which I took to mean administrative lackeys within the organization, or perhaps even the folks cleaning the floors and washing the uniforms.

    That could all be bunk. But it’s possible that both Yohe and DK are right. Note that DK only described Neal with regard to how his teammates and how he (DK) interacted with him personally. That doesn’t rule out the possibility that Neal treated other people poorly and thus earned his reputation.

  145. Naje says:

    You mean when he actually makes contact while trying to pull said ball.

    The guy draws more negative attention to himself through his inability to play the game consistently and well than any three PBC players… maybe five or more.

  146. SeanAY says:

    True, but even then it creates more of a stir. “WHO said it? WHICH players? So Grilli didn’t get along with his teammates? Was it Watson? I bet it was Watson!”

    (Note: I’m not actually implicating Tony Watson.)

    Point being, the guys in the clubhouse – again, be it player, staffer, etc. – need to feel like they can tell the guy something in confidence. If he said “unnamed players,” it wouldn’t take long for the guys in the clubhouse to figure out who said what, and that could cause them to say, “It doesn’t matter that you weren’t named. What happens here stays here. Now we look like a fractured clubhouse. Keep your mouth shut.”

  147. Thundercrack says:

    Did you hear and see all the interviews he did this weekend?!?!?!

    More talking, more production :-)

  148. Baywatch says:

    Correction: He only had ONE. :-)

  149. Arriba Wilver says:

    More production, more talking. :-)

  150. If only he could look just as good when he’s fielding the ball.

  151. Arriba Wilver says:

    Well worth the trip. Fascinating place.

  152. NMR says:

    It just hurts so good to see him do well, doesn’t it?

  153. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good post. AJ had that same rep, which could have caused some of the diverging opinions about him also.

  154. Wild Bill says:

    Really thought this was going to be the year when he’d explode to a new level of excellence. Now I’m just confused as to whether his whole career will be tantalizing/frustrating. I’ve always thought he’s capable of more than we’ve seen.

  155. JohninOshkosh says:

    Great to see you up and about, John!

    Just let the Commonwealth deal without you for awhile and work on rebuilding your strength.

  156. NMR says:

    @TC – I don’t know if you saw it last week, but I’m on board with the interview thing now that Dejan pretty much confirmed what you were saying.

    Guy doesn’t seem like he likes interviews, period, but ya can’t come out for the post-game after a 3-RBI day while leaving before the press gets in after going 0-3 with a couple K’s. At least not in my book.

  157. Thundercrack says:

    Great. But if you feel that way why did it take confirmation from DK? Shouldn’t he have been doing it all along – - no matter what he did on the field that day?

  158. cmat0829 says:

    Just look at that question Robby asked Pedro…seriously… “what do you work on just in terms of being able to hit the ball and spray it all over”… exactly HOW is Pedro supposed to answer that??? Tip to the Robby’s of the world…. SHORT OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS and let the athlete speak. So, to rewrite that for Robby:

    EITHER:

    “Pedro, you are having a good week, month at the plate. What’s been your approach?” or even better:
    “Pedro, you are known for being streaky – when you get hot, HRs come in bunches. Why do you think that is?”

    Pedro probably will still answer with the “working hard, battling every at bat, trying not to do too much” answer but at least it will be a quicker interview.

  159. Naje says:

    No, it doesn’t. It sucks the life out of the team and any fan when watching him butcher the game in the field and do nothing for weeks at a time at the plate. Glad he’s dropped the K rate. Glad he has greatly improved and is an asset running the bases (it’s the small things that matter). But 17 errors in half a season for a stud 3B?

    But that’s ok… we all want the same thing: a reliable, consistent player. I don’t care about the 40 home runs or the 100 rbi as much as I do want him to be a reliable, consistent player. His defense hasn’t been reliable nor consistent and his bat as we well know comes and goes on a whim… or a drop in the order. Definitely not there when he’s in the 4 spot.

    Are you coming to Forecastle again? I will promise a robust referendum on all things Alvarez then, if you really want to do that!

  160. Bridger says:

    Agree

  161. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  162. Thundercrack says:

    Did you see/hear the questions he asked Jerome Bettis?

    He asked what has the Bus learned about baseball, and does he have a new appreciation of the game, from coaching first base for his son’s baseball team? His son can’t be more than 13.

  163. cmat0829 says:

    The Brewers are actually 51-33; to get to 90 wins, they must go 39-39.

  164. Milo Hamilton says:

    John in Oshkosh,

    Jason Kidd ? Really ?

  165. NMR says:

    And you just can’t help yourself from regurgtating this diatribe when someone says something remotely positive, eh?

  166. Arriba Wilver says:

    I know, but we’re not talking All the Presidents Men here. ;-)

  167. JohninOshkosh says:

    Is it just me, or is it surreal that Independence Day is Friday. Today marks the half point of the calendar year! Slow down, year.

    I think the Pirates will have a huge second half. Not sure why I feel this way. Just have a feeling the Brewers will start to crack up and won’t be able to make any significant contributions at the trade deadline. The Cardinals have been inconsistent but, as I said last year, my days of underestimating them are over. Fear the Reds. Starting to look like a strong club.

  168. toochca says:

    What do you like to eat?! We have all kinds of different venues here “behind the Orange Curtain”!!

    Anaheim is in Orange County, for those who didn’t know. It’s very conservative and don’t judge us by the “Housewives of Orange County” reality show!!

  169. NMR says:

    Why did I need confirmation from an actual journalist that the things being said about him on an internet blog are true?

    Really, TC?

  170. cmat0829 says:

    careful, you will be admonished by some for posting about other team’s misfortunes, since this does nothing to help the Pirates….

    seriously, though, since hating other teams is part of being a fan, I’m so glad to see the Phailing Phils continue to Phlounder. Ruben Amaro, Jr. is a real idiot and/or is being directed by ownership to keep the aging team together…even John Kruk last night on the ESPN broadcast was wondering why they were holding this team together….

  171. NMR says:

    Lord knows everything you read on the internet is true.

  172. Arriba Wilver says:

    They should hire Blondie. She could ask those questions. And they could tell her that her high heels are banned in Spring Training. :-)

  173. JohninOshkosh says:

    I know. I know. Apparently, he is buds with one of the new owners. I’m not happy about it.

  174. Naterosboro says:

    Your take is pretty much how about everyone feels, but, to echo the sentiments of van Nistelrooy, Robben did what a lot of players will do.

    He’s aware of the situation, the time left on the clock, etc.

    If you’re going to stick your leg out to make a tackle or go to ground to make a tackle inside the 18-yard box, you better win the ball. If not, you see what can happen. When things happen in real time, sometimes the referee will get fooled. This is exactly what happened.

    So is it Robben’s fault for diving or Marquez for not winning the ball, and leaving himself open to having this happen?

    Personally, it’s a bit rough when you see a player of the quality of Arjen Robben do things like this, but (even he admits) he does them all the time. You’d like to see players be honest, and try and stay on their feet at all costs, but is it any different than an NBA player flopping to get a foul or the ball back? An NHL player embellishing to get a power play for his team? It’s all about gaining an advantage, any way you can.

    While this World Cup has been a fantastic advert for the game in this country, I fear situations like this might ruin any momentum the sport had at gaining real popularity.

  175. NMR says:

    Really don’t see how a specific comment to a specific member of the Blog agreeing with an observation he previously made this season has turned into a referendum on Pedro’s entire career.

  176. pensboy says:

    I find it amusing that someone thinks DK should back his words up with facts while blythly ignoring his/her own use of innuendo and rumors to form an opinion. And that someone else thinks Barry Bonds, who never pretended to be anything other than what he was, is a good comparison.

  177. cmat0829 says:

    barry bonds is another one that leyland famously had some issues with early in his career. but that didn’t linger.

  178. JoeBucco says:

    Late to the party, but on Grilli: I heard many cases where Grilli’s own teammates thought perhaps he could have spent his spare time working on a third pitch instead of his own book pitch, to put it nicely. I know this guy has come across to myself and others as a phony bum (at a minimum, jerk more likely) many times. Not saying all players have to be good dudes, and it was fun to watch what he did for this team last year. But as a person and I teammate, I don’t think he’ll be missed in the locker room. I applaud DK for calling him out on this today.

  179. SeanAY says:

    One of my best friends from college grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, and I got the opportunity to visit a few years ago. Just awesome. He’s in Newport Beach now, and I’m sure I’ll have some time to catch up there as well.

    I’ll settle for the best burger in town. I’m not terribly high-falootin’.

  180. Naje says:

    Dude, what is up with you and your posts today? A little edgy? Odd.

    I’ve stated my case, you stated yours. I could take him. I could leave. I don’t care. I’m not a fan of his from a production standpoint. His production comes nowhere close to his perceived value and perceived talent. The guy can hit the longball. The guy is not very good in the field. The team needs him to produce and help them win, not throw the ball away and make errors at a 1.4 errors per week clip (and lead all 3B in errors going on the third consecutive year).

    Whatever you think of him, fine. I think his ego and his talent aren’t quite on the same page. The team doesn’t need a player of his talent and ability consistently making plays that hurt the team, whether with the glove or the bat.

  181. JoeBucco says:

    I agree, it’s going to be an interesting 2nd half. I think the Giants fade and the Dodgers run away in the west again. And Atlanta fades in the East. Maybe both wild cards from the Central yet again with the 4th place team being close.

  182. Arriba Wilver says:

    Huh?

  183. The Gunner says:

    Let’s take the position that Pedro is about to start on a real hot streak that will carry the Bucs for a while.

  184. Milo Hamilton says:

    Especially here.

  185. Jim S. says:

    I wondered the same thing, Arriba. I don’t know one way or the other, but I also don’t know for sure if that little pop in by Grilli was the official goodbye.

  186. Thundercrack says:

    NMR,
    Pedro wasn’t doing any pregame or post game interviews. I could see and hear that with my own eyes & ears. I didn’t need DK to confirm that for me.

    But I see that Perrotto ( you may not think he is a journalst) and Rob Biertemphel say the same thing.

    My world doesn’t revolve around DK. ( It revolves around his blog)

  187. Paul says:

    My “impression” of James Neal is different than the reality of what I saw on the ice. a 40 goal scorer during the regular season in 2012/13 and a more frequently injured/suspended player in 13/14… and NO production in any of the playoffs. Why are we so willing to move on without Neal and look to the future? My point is that we Steeler, Pirate and Pen fans reserve our applause and appreciation for those athletes who deliver championships through clutch performances. Neal did neither (and I acknowledge that he wasn’t alone). My only disappointment in the Neal trade is that the Pens couldn’t have pried away an additional high draft pick or a developing player from the Pred’s minor league roster.

  188. Thundercrack says:

    I wonder if they wanted him to work on a third pitch in 2013.
    And as I stated above his book signings were earlier in the day – — before he was required to report to PNC Park.

  189. Thundercrack says:

    I saw a tweet that Grilli was going to be on MLB XM. It is probably over now.

    Anyone hear it?

  190. theplanisworking says:

    Your team gets Jason Kidd, and Jabari Parker.

    My team got an injured center that might never play, and a guard that will play in Croatia or Turkey for 3 years.

    Wanna trade spots?

  191. cmat0829 says:

    DK: Another provocative start to our blog-week..thanks for your insights. My perspective:

    1) I think most are skipping past an important part of your post…that “Honestly, in all walks of life, we all suffer jerks. But hey, I’ll take a genuine jerk over a phony one anytime. At least be who you are.” It is pretty clear that sports, business, politics…it’s a results business. People will deal with tough personalities when times are good. But when things turn, and you need support from your personal network of friends/supporters, that is when you realize that it matters not what you do, but how you do it. But you are right… there is something about ‘two-faced’ people that is way worse than any other personality traits. Those are the people in my world- the business world- that I want little to do with. The jerks, that at least do so consistently, can be dealt with. I’m not looking for any type of personal affirmation from those folks, just business results.

    2) I will say it is one thing for someone to be a jerk with the media, say Barry Bonds for most of his career, and another to be jerk with his teammates. If it is the latter, and again if it is impacting results, no question you need to get rid of someone.

    That said, good luck to Grilli and Neal in their new situations. Performance matters, if they play well, they will be loved by many, tolerated by those that know different.

  192. cmat0829 says:

    your team, the Sixers, are deliberately optimizing for 2017. Check back then.

  193. NMR says:

    But that was never what I was debating, TC. From the start.

    Your claim was that Pedro REFUSED to do interviews, not that he simply wasn’t doing them.

  194. NMR says:

    Really struggling with the whole reading thing today, aren’t you?

  195. cmat0829 says:

    My definitive post on Pedro, IMHO:

    1) I think whether he gives interviews or not is between him, his teammates and the media. I really don’t care, though I greatly prefer players that are open with their time and thoughts.

    2) While Pedro may skirt attention, I haven’t heard anyone opine that he is a jerk to his teammates, doesn’t work extremely hard, doesn’t want to get better, feels entitled, etc. If anyone has any objective information to the contrary, can you please share? I have oodles of content speaking to how hard he works, etc.

    3) No one in this lineup has the ability to change a game with one swing like Pedro. And we desparately need that.

    4) The lineup has never been more able to ‘put up with’ Pedro’s peaks and valleys than it is now. Expecting anything other than 25-35 HRs, 75-100 RBIs and an average around .230-.250 is not supported by anything other than false hopes. But I’ll most gladly take those productive inputs. That said, he needs to reduce the throwing errors.

    5) I honestly think Clint is ‘overhandling’ Pedro. It is time for them to let Pedro play, tell him to just swing hard and let it fly…and that he will be in the lineup most every night against RHPs.

    Back to your original blog programming of complaining about the look on Pedro’s face, the way he wears his hat, and all other such important topics.

  196. toochca says:

    Feel free to send me an email when the time arrives if your college buddy doesn’t have any ideas. Plenty of great hole-in-the-wall places and can never go wrong with an “In-n-Out” Burger!!

  197. Thundercrack says:

    By not making himself available = refusing to do interviews. At least in my book.

    You tried to make the claim that nobody was asking him for interviews. Which I wasn’t buying.

  198. cmat0829 says:

    exactly its a business. results speak. i work with a ton of people i cannot stand, but you work together to put results on the board. But I won’t lift a finger to help these people if it is outside the lines whatsoever. But I don’t let results suffer because of it.

  199. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good post, cmat. Not sure if acting one way with the media and another with the fans is “two-faced.” There are self-promoters in the media as well as sports figures.

  200. MB says:

    Thank you, Tina (and you, Arriba Wilver, but I thought it best to just reply once). I know that I can have my surly moments and James Neal is entitled to his, on the ice, in the locker room, in a bar, sitting on his back porch. Pens fans are better than this. I’d hate for the guy to have a sour taste about Pittsburgh just because of some negative and possibly uninformed comments. He was my favorite Pen, I loved watching him with Geno, and I’m extremely sorry to see him go. A lot of us will miss him. I’m more sorry that he’s being tossed out with such disdain. I wish him all the best in Nashville.

  201. NMR says:

    “His production comes nowhere close to his perceived value and perceived talent.”

    You mean what what YOU perceive his value to be. And what YOU perceive his talent to be.

    Pedro Alvarez is a strikeout prone power hitter. Just about everyone understands that by now. Those players simply are NOT “reliable” and “consistant”. They don’t exist. You can continue to judge him based on what you WANT him to be. Or you can udge him by what he is.

    And your continued spouting off about his “ego” and “killing the team” is nothing more than your unfounded perception from watching baseball games on TV. Nothing based in fact.

  202. Arriba Wilver says:

    Nope, just trying to understand your strange posts.

  203. NMR says:

    TC, not making himself available is exactly what Dejan confirmed, and what my original comment was referencing.

    This is not that hard to understand, dude.

  204. cmat0829 says:

    If Pedro NEVER gives an interview again, but hits 40 HRs per year, I think I’ll learn to live with that. If it is an issue with his teammates, then Clint can demand that all players stay in the locker room to be available for media access, as a rule.

  205. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m sure YOU know what you mean. Also sure it’s not clear to me.

  206. Eric Bowser says:

    I just don’t get this backlash… he didn’t need a third pitch in ’12 or ’13 before the injury. I think he’s toast with elbow and knee problems, all of this talk about some attitude… could care less. The Pirates need to win, I don’t care if they have Barry Bonds with an attitude if it means winning baseball games.

  207. theplanisworking says:

    Actually, I don’t know what they are doing.

    Last year, they traded for an injured forward/center. They gutted the roster for second round picks, which rarely pan out.

    This year, they draft ANOTHER injured center, who might never play, and trade for a guard that will be overseas for 3 years.

    2017 might be optimistic.
    2027 might be more accurate.
    Bizarre only starts to explain it ….

  208. Tom P. says:

    Thanks. Missed that one.

  209. I’ll head your advice my good man.

    ;)

  210. NMR says:

    “Pedro looks prettay good when he’s pulling the ball” < specific comment

    "@21" < specific member of the blog

    Do I need to help you out any further?

  211. dennis g says:

    Doug I was just reading the blog comments to see if anyone would say what I was thinking as I read DK’s assessment of Grilli. I agree with you 100%. If there is some honor code that prevents a sportswriter from talking about things he observes in the locker room when he is not actually interviewing the person observed then don’t even waste your time in the locker room. Clint already tells you everything he wants you to know.

    Grilli’s tweet seemed like harmless puffery. The exact same thing to one degree more or less that every other athlete says upon arrival at his new home.

  212. cmat0829 says:

    YES. And guess what? Being a jerk, especially ‘behind the scenes’, pretty much is like 100 out of 100 in terms of most important qualifications for a job. And not just sports. There are scores of actors, business people, politicians, sportsmen and women, who are absolute jerks and two-faces… and it matters not if they achieve results.

    In my business, I had to terminate a salesman that had been on the job for 20 years, nicest guy around, everyone loved him, including clients, but no one bought anything from him, he couldn’t deliver his numbers, and had to be let go. IT sucked because he tried really hard, did things the right way, etc.

    My top sales rep is an absolute egotistical a-hole, but puts up the best numbers on the team. I manage him probably a lot like Clint managed AJB…try to assert myself at times, but mostly if he is delivering results, let him be. My bosses never ask about personality, ego, ‘off-the-field’ stuff when ranking my team, setting promotions, etc. It is always about the results.

  213. cmat0829 says:

    AGREE EMPHATICALLY

  214. cmat0829 says:

    i actually think embid is the right choice…seems like a great kid. but when you are low, might as well aim high and not aim at mediocrity.

  215. NMR says:

    But the injury happened, and he clearly ISN’T succeeding using those same two pitches in the same ways now.

    He has to change, or else he will no be a major league baseball player for very long.

    I don’t think it takes a leap in logic to connect the dots between a guy who pens a laughably narcissistic autobiography and a guy who refuses to make adjutments despite cotinued failure.

  216. Thundercrack says:

    I read Rob Rossi’s blog post.

    A few paragraphs into it I wondered “When did Rossi get his psychology degree?”

    :-)

  217. Naterosboro says:

    Thoughts on thoughts on a Monday…

    * I personally don’t care what a player’s personality is like. Yes, we’d all like them to be great humans, but that simply is unrealistic. Help my teams win, and don’t do anything too stupid. That’s all I really ask of the pro athletes I support.

    * As Chuck Barkely once said: “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

    * The only reason I’m OK with the James Neal trade is his lack of playoff production. Losing a 40-goal scorer is never good. But, this team had needs to address & a cap situation that was pretty maxed out. Neal was a player who could bring back a decent return. I never thought he was a “lockerroom cancer”. He was a playoff cancer though. Once the post-season started, it’s like he forgot how to play the game he had just been very good at for the previous 82 games. Nashville can deal with that.

    * Jason Grilli was a nice story, and it sweetened the pot for me that he was plucked from the Phillies AAA affiliate (when they [Phillies] needed all the bullpen help they could get and Grilli was sitting right under their nose). That said, there was something different after the injury last year. Add to the fact he had already spent a time on the DL this season, and a lot of his pitches were finding the fat part of the plate when he was healthy. I thank him for his contribution to the Pirates, and now LA can deal with the second coming…

    * Let me defend Arjen Robben. Yes, he dove to win the penalty to win the game for the Netherlands. But Marquez went for the tackle in the 18 yard box, didn’t win the ball, and left his leg out. Any player is probably going down there. It’s about gaining an advantage to help your team win, even if that means making it look like you were fouled.

    * What is this nonsense about letting them play in the final minutes of the game? So all the rules go out the window? You can do whatever you want in the final minutes with no repercussion? If it’s a foul or penalty in the 1st minute, it’s a foul or penalty in the last (just need consistency in the refereeing so the players know what they can & can’t get away with). A referee or official should not “swallow his/her whistle” just because the game is almost over.

    * The real beef should be with the ref and not Arjen Robben. I didn’t get to see the game, but I’ve read that Mexico could’ve had a penalty in the 1st half, and the Netherlands probably could’ve had 1 or 2 in the 2nd. Consistency. That is what is needed. Apparently the ref didn’t have ti yesterday.

    * Congrats to Costa Rica for making the quarterfinals. My boy Joel Campbell is an absolute beast, and I can’t wait to see him get his shot this year for Arsenal (he’s been on loan the past 2 seasons; yes, in club soccer you can loan players to other teams for a certain amount of time). They play the Dutch in the quarters…well, if there is such a thing as karma, then Costa Rica will be going to the semis. I’ll be rooting for them. CONCACAF!

    Hope everyone enjoys their powerhouse of a day ;-)

    HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL!

  218. cmat0829 says:

    i have to question what qualifications are required for that gig Robbie has… and what training he is getting..Dan Potash is very good in that role….but why can’t media types learn that the best questions are short and open-ended? Pretty sure they teach that in Journalism 101 class.

    Maybe it is ‘talk radio’ ruining journalism…bc talk radio is the opposite… talk a ton, give lots of opinions, etc.

  219. Arriba Wilver says:

    Well, unless you point is to just diss others.

    I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  220. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  221. cmat0829 says:

    good post.. I will only say this:

    Being FANS of a sports team usually leads to one bashing other teams, especially their rivals. It’s part of being a fan…ever heard of Steelers fans hating on the Browns and Ravens?

    As to GM criticism, pretty funny that you position Dayton Moore as one who shouldn’t be bashed and yet it is fair game to criticism Neal Huntington for every single move he has made, will make, hasn’t made, is considering making, what he wore today, what he says on interviews, etc.

    But I am glad you didn’t include Kevin Towers, Ruben Amaro and Sandy Alderson as the GMs ‘we should not dare criticize’. But as someone who travels to most every city in the US and Canada, I’ll tell you that Jack Z is highly criticized by M’s fans…who want him out. Alex A is hanging by a thread in Toronto, and if they fade, he will be working on MLB Network. If KC falls out of it, Moore is toast. And if the Angels don’t get at least a wild card, DiPoto and Scoscia are gone. And it won’t matter one iota if DK’s blog is ‘focused on the Pirates and avoid bashing other teams and GMs’ or not.

  222. cmat0829 says:

    and the Bucs demoted him, then traded him, so Sir Grilli ‘reaped what he sow’. End of story.

  223. cmat0829 says:

    great post. Not a soccer fan nor hater, and LOVING THE WORLD CUP. But the flopping has to stop. Just as it does in the NBA.

  224. Chef automatic says:

    Hockey player bad, baseball player good.

  225. Jandy says:

    quit being so blasted logical
    :D

  226. Arriba Wilver says:

    I didn’t question those, but good feignt.

    My confusion was to:

    “Guess what, Mr. Tough Guy Sports Fan”

    “if you can ever manage to dismount your high horse.”

    AND

    “Really don’t see how a specific comment to a specific member of the Blog agreeing with an observation he previously made this season has turned into a referendum on Pedro’s entire career.”

    WTF? [Wow, That's Fantastic]

  227. Naterosboro says:

    Never will. In some cultures, it’s considered a smart way to play the game. If you can fool the ref, and gain an advantage for your team (at the expense of the other team)….

    I liken it to fighting in hockey.

    Would the game be better off without it? I think so, but it’s so engrained in the culture of the sport I don’t think you can ever get rid of it.

  228. Jandy says:

    End of chapter. new story over in Anaheim :)

  229. cmat0829 says:

    I used to work in a high-end hotel in Denver where most of the sports teams would stay. By far, the best ‘behaved’ are the NHL players… noticeably, all the players doing things together, team meals, everyone hanging out, etc. The worst are the NBA. Tons of ‘groupies’, players out all night, doing their own thing, etc.

    I was shocked one time walking through the hotel at 10am. Dennis Rodman was ‘just getting home’ from a night on the town with about 20 ladies and men with him to head up to his suite. 2 minutes later, Michael Jordan emerged from the elevator with a body guard on his way to the gym to work out. That ‘picture’ spoke 1000 words.

    Baseball was somewhere in between. Lots of teams had players with ‘star treatment’…the Braves starting pitchers – Maddux and Smoltz – even were permitted to play golf one day instead of going to the park with their teammates for a getaway day game…

    not sure what all of this says but sports people are people… all types of people.

  230. cmat0829 says:

    good analogy re: fighting in hockey. I’m not a hockey fan nor a hater, love NHL Playoffs, best thing going. And fights don’t add anything to the appeal to me as a casual fan. IF that’s what it’s for, to draw casual fans, it is misguided. If it’s for the diehard hockey fans, then so be it and enjoy. But to me it’s pretty stupid. As are bench clearing ‘brawls’ in baseball.

  231. cmat0829 says:

    yes Book of Jason, Chapter 1, Verse 1.

  232. david v. ogurkis says:

    since I am not as close to the action as you are ,I will bow to your opinion ,.only because you have demonstrated in the past ,to be honest , up front and concise about your opinions . funny though ,my gut feeling fits right in with your observations . keep writing ,man ,keep writing.

  233. Jandy says:

    Amen!

  234. Jandy says:

    I see many new names again.
    Please feel free to post your hometown, and Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum :)

  235. JohninOshkosh says:

    Plan, some time ago you posted an article about the historic folly that is the Milwaukee Bucks past.

    Jason Kidd is just part of their ignominious history of bad decisions.

    Even our good friend, Trenni, tweeted about it!

  236. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    I just don’t see Rutherford making this type of move. I think he’s determined to give the Penguins’ defensive prospects every opportunity to play key roles this upcoming season. I don’t think the defense is going to change until the season is well underway and Johnston has had a chance to evaluate what he has.

  237. NMR says:

    Giving me the benefit of the doubt, by calling my posts strange?

    You sure are altruistic in your own mind.

  238. Wild Bill says:

    Get to see any NFL guys?

  239. cmat0829 says:

    yes, but the NFL teams typically would check in Saturday afternoon, have team meeting and team meal in banquet room, and then early bed checks. Never saw a player roaming around, though rumors were plenty of ‘guests’ were snuck into their rooms/floors.

    I think that schedule allows for much tighter control over the players.

  240. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, I just said “Huh?” originally.

    Lets stick to the facts, man.

    “Strange” didn’t come up till you didn’t respond except to doubt my reading abilities.

    Your serve . . .

  241. hockeymonster says:

    I believe the rumor was that he’s looking to move PM and replace him with Ehrhoff. Although i’m not as down on Scuderi as the rest of you, i think if we can replace him with Ehrhoff that would be tremendous. If PM turns into Ehrhoff and a forward that would be good too but would be great to find Scuderi a landing spot. Would really like to see Ehrhoff-letang and PM-Fayne as top 4 with Maatta, despres, bortuzzo, dumoulin and harrington rounding out the D. If we get a strong offer for PM it would be worth considering but i think our D corp would be more legit if we didn’t play despres, dumoulin and harrington at the same time.

  242. Jim S. says:

    So, maybe he wanted to make it clear that he was thankful for the support of the fans, but also letting the organization (and maybe some teammates) know that he wasn’t happy they gave up on him? Just guessing here.

  243. Jim S. says:

    You tend to make peace with guys who put up gargantuan numbers.

  244. yakatuus says:

    I definitely fall into the camp of some of what others said, namely Naterosboro.

    I never saw him as a locker room cancer. But over the course of the past season and a half I began to dislike what I saw in Neal’s on-ice performance. Not just three suspensions; many instances of a lack of mental discipline where opposing agitators disrupted his play. Importantly in the context of this trade, it has to be brought up that Geno and Sid showed evidence of this as well. As each of those players would never be moved, the discipline aspect of this trade has heightened importance. Similar to breaking up best friends at the back of the class who both have a lot of potential but feed each other’s negative tendencies.

    For me, as cmat0829 is so correct in pointing out, was the drop off in production at critical moments. When I watched the Cup final, I think only goal in the entire season was not a redirect or rebound. No Neal Play(TM) goals. They just aren’t going to work against that elite goalie; in fact Neal himself had a perfect chance in our series that he couldn’t put past the King. I’ll grant you that Neal showed he could grind, but he wasn’t consistent with it.

    I saw a large winger who could play physical but not consistently enough for a top 6 winger to create space for his center. I saw a player who could get frustrated by his lack of production and by the other team too easily, and took way, way too many stupid penalties, often at critical times.

    Here’s where I get to the more speculative part: I saw a winger who as you mentioned in your last column, was not elevating his center, but being propped up by him. And I think part of that went to his head. It seemed he bought into the elite NHL sniper hype, forgetting the fundamentals that gets every player into the NHL. It seems a top down mentality that resulted in the firings of his bosses and my guess is that Lavy has the chops to fix it. But trying to stay open in his favorite spot like a point guard, taking time and space away from Malkin instead of giving it to him is not my ideal winger. Neal hit, not often enough for my liking. Neal went to the front of the net, but again, not enough for my liking.

    In summary, I felt like Neal became an easily shut down one-trick pony against the top tier goaltenders and opponents. Between the frustration at his own lack of production and his penchant for allowing others to heighten that frustration led to a self-perpetuating downward spiral. Could he have stayed in Pittsburgh and turned things around? Absolutely.

    But you can’t whip a Prince. Perhaps Neal was traded to send a message to the team, specifically the three guys who you can’t trade who have been troublingly trending towards allowing frustration to get them off their game. But slew foots and retaliatory penalties are not effective solutions in the spring.

  245. Wild Bill says:

    Wow, they still do bed checks. Hope they aren’t counting how many are in it?

  246. Jim S. says:

    I had a Post Gazette route when I was about 11-13, Milo. That was back when such jobs existed for kids. Had to get up at 5:00 everyday on my own, so that my dad didn’t come into my room and wake me up in a not so gentle voice. I don’t think I’ve slept past 7:00 since then.

  247. SeanAY says:

    RE: Your Jordan / Rodman story. The funny thing is, I’ve heard tales that anytime the Bulls were in the NY / NJ area to play, that guy was in Atlantic City until practically the start of shootaround.

  248. SeanAY says:

    That guy being Jordan.

  249. Jim S. says:

    Lucky:

    I often hear people compliment another person by saying, “You’re doing the Lord’s work.” In your case, it is literally the case. I applaud you for your priorities, and I hope you get to continue your mission for many healthy years ahead.

  250. Jim S. says:

    Hey, plan!

  251. Wild Bill says:

    Jandhi, back from the beach? Sounded like you were having a superb vacation.

  252. theplanisworking says:

    Hi Jim.

    Off to the grind, but wanted to say hey.

    So, HEY! ;)

  253. theplanisworking says:

    I remember that now!

    There is a reason our teams are bottom feeders, Osh.

    Kidd might, or might not be a good fit there.

    But you simply do NOT trade for/draft/acquire seriously injured players, then say they are your future.

    Wasn’t there a lockout recently to address this type of incompetence, among financial issues?

    Out the door, we will just have to commiserate about the folly that is our teams. I need a drink!

  254. theplanisworking says:

    cmat,

    they aimed straight for their bloomin head!
    I think they didn’t miss!

  255. The Gunner says:

    Lucky

    If you can retire, do it ASAP!! I retired on 5/1/2014 after 43 years of working in Corporate America. I love being in total control of my time!

  256. Jandy says:

    Oh man, Wild One, with that little one along, it was FUNtastic :)

    She’s not a backwards type child by any means and had us howling several times. We buried her in the sand up to her chin and she never got upset. She won’t be three until September 23rd.

    :D

  257. Jim S. says:

    Good post, Nate.

    * I hear that Barkley quote quite often. I think it’s a cop out, an excuse, a way of trying to not be held accountable for any sort of behavior – like, for instance, being arrested in a car with a hooker performing a certain act on him. No one ever asks Charles Barkley or any other athlete to raise their kids. Most of us don’t care if they act like jerks to other teammates in the locker room. But, I don’t think it is such a stretch for people to ask athletes, who very much want kids to buy their shoes, jerseys, etc. to not break laws repeatedly and then act as though they have no responsibility to society.

    * So far as I know, Jason Grilli is not breaking laws.

    * I cannot stand all the diving in soccer. It is worse in soccer than any sport I know. But, I will say that I really can’t stand all the NBA players flopping or wildly throwing their hands in the air when a ball gets stripped from them in an effort to draw a foul. Also, we complain about diving quite a bit in hockey. Again, nowhere near to the level that it exists in international soccer.

    * Love your comment about officiating in the final few minutes. I never understood why it should be officiated any differently. If you don’t want a basketball game to end with free throws, don’t foul your opponent on the last possession. Similar things could be applied to several sports IMO.

  258. Wild Bill says:

    The trust of little kiddos is awesome; too bad the world won’t let it last.

  259. Jim S. says:

    I’ve always heard that Jordan was not shy about “partaking” when it came to female groupies.

  260. Botherhood of the Redus says:

    The Crab Cooker

  261. Pete in Dayton says:

    I think the collective fanbases of Montreal and Vancouver have no problem with anyone kneeing Marchand in the head.

    Another columnist in Pittsburgh seems to have an axe to grind in regards to the Pens, and seems to enjoy kicking them when they’re down- although, since talk radio is where the big bucks are made anymore, it’s not going to get ratings, etc, if you’re not obnoxious (see Madden, Mark). I wish Neal well, but I agree, you have to give to get in this league, and I’ve always liked Hornqvist as a player.

    As for Grilli, his uncle used to be a VP in my old company- all the VPs were jerks to us store managers, and he was no exception. Not surprised that Jason played a little “game” about his feelings.

  262. Naterosboro says:

    No one said the man didn’t like to gamble…….

  263. Naterosboro says:

    Btw, not taking a shot at ya Sean, just pointing out that Michael had his vices, just like erryone else in this great wide world.

  264. Jandy says:

    Now I’m having more fun. The Boss’s son (who will be taking over some day) just got 2 – 8 week old Australian Shepherd/Lab mix puppies. The boy is Gatsby and the girl is Aspen. Taking turns to potty is fun! lol

  265. Jandy says:

    True, that, Wild One. Thankfully, her parents are awesome!

  266. Jandy says:

    LOL!

  267. Arriba Wilver says:

    Here’s a thought. You could address the two posts I referenced that caused my confusion. That would be good. If the response is they are clear, then go with that.

  268. Pete in Dayton says:

    I agree, we can’t go all rookie in the back end. What do you think of all the buyouts happening today? More to come?
    I wouldn’t mind getting someone for a year on the cheap to help them to another payday (rescue their careers) while a couple of the rookies get their feet wet.
    If Martin doesn’t want to stay in Pittsburgh, then it makes sense to trade him now for forwards and/or cap space and sign a cheaper vet on a one year deal. He’s been the best Penguin defenseman for a couple of seasons, but this is a cap world. And despite the sudden buyout spree, good, puck handling defensemen are expensive. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Niskanen sign for over $6.5 million a year over 7 years.

  269. Jandy says:

    Pond water ;)

  270. JohninOshkosh says:

    I don’t count chasing skirts, gambling or drinking as vices. I count them as living. :)

  271. Botherhood of the Redus says:

    What stat supports your assessment that Pedro’s ego is a problem?

  272. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    Successfully executing a swap (trade PM and signing Ehrhoff) requires an aggressive GM and a deft touch. If Rutherford can pull it off, his approval rating would take a huge jump…

    Ehrhoff is set to be a UFA, and the line is already forming with suitors. With a lot of teams not able to meet the terms Niskanen is looking for and others concerned about offering a long-term deal to Boyle because of his age, Ehrhoff is poised to fit in rather well between the two. I think the sweet spot for the Penguins would be signing Ehrhoff for 3 years at an average hit of $4.5M. Would Ehrhoff commit to those terms? That’s a tough one to call…

    Martin would attract considerable interest on the trade market, especially for teams that couldn’t land any of the offensive-defensemen on the free agent market. I could easily see Rutherford getting a talented young two-way forward in return. Again, though, this would require the Penguins to sign Ehrhoff first.

    Keeping Ehrhoff and PM? I don’t see how with the cap space and team needs. Scuderi isn’t as bad as advertised (I agree. He was a bad fit for Bylsma’s system), but no one is going to absorb his contract. I think the defense can be effective with Letang, Ehrhoff/PM, and Scuderi anchoring three pairings alongside younger prospects, although it leaves the backfield quite thin. Still, the Pens may not have much choice…

  273. Arriba Wilver says:

    You’re my man, Osh. :-)

  274. hockeymonster says:

    Pete, no expert on Buyouts but i would imagine teams want them done before FA. And i think Niskies floor is 5.5M for 7 years on a good team(just based on # of teams interested) and more $$$ on crappier team.

    RF, put together this roster so i think cap wise it could work:
    http://capgeek.com/armchair-gm/roster/29804

    Think Ehrhoff will want chance to win since he’ll be paid by 2 teams but he will have his pick. 2.5-3M would be great but would be willing to do more if we move Scuderi. PM i’d only move if we get legit player or 2 coming back. Maybe a spaling like player and a 2nd pick. Ehrhoff for scuderi would be a boost, especially with nisky walking.

  275. pattonbb says:

    Some days, this place just makes my head hurt.

    I don’t care if Neal liked to party. I don’t care if Grilli was two faced. While here, they both seemed to play hard, kept their noses clean and helped their teams win a lot of games.

    Maybe one day all professional athletes will be friendly 24 hrs a day, build orphanages and raise abandoned baby bunnies in their spare time. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  276. Wild Bill says:

    Stressful to do all three at the same time, though.

  277. Jandy says:

    Just don’t cross your eyes, or you won’t see straight ;)

  278. Wild Bill says:

    That was a two beer read, Yak, and a good one.

  279. Wild Bill says:

    Like this, as it’s akin to the post I left late last night.

  280. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    That’s twisting the statement. Never said there was behaving one way with media, another with everyone else. Duplicity was across the board.

  281. NMR says:

    Ha, I like you Bill.

  282. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    That’s not media. Root is paying rights-holder.

  283. SeanAY says:

    How could I interpret that as you taking a shot at me? I thought we were agreeing!

    :)

  284. Jandy says:

    +++++

  285. Jandy says:

    I’ve got yall beat. I accept Petey for what he is. however, if a better option is available, take it!

  286. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    This wins today’s First Prize.

    Guy hammers Neal’s performance, pretty much dismisses his value in games that matter, then bemoans that the Penguins didn’t get more for him in the trade.

    Winnah!

  287. Maz In Iowa says:

    ++++

  288. Bizrow says:

    +++++++++

  289. NMR says:

    Well this is pretty fun…a bunch of documents from the Houston Astros internal – priate – database have been leaked.

    “[Neil Huntington] offered Heredia + comp pick for Norris. [Luhnow] said no.”

    http://deadspin.com/leaked-10-months-of-the-houston-astros-internal-trade-1597951970

  290. SeanAY says:

    This, on Deadspin today. Apparently the Houston Astros keep a database of all front office talk, especially in regards to personnel moves such as trades and free agent signings. Well, 10 months worth of logs from last year have been leaked:

    http://deadspin.com/leaked-10-months-of-the-houston-astros-internal-trade-1597951970

    For those only interested in the Pirates’ angle, it goes into detail what trade chips the Pirates were willing to throw in for Bud Norris.

  291. Jandy says:

    Dang you two are good :)

  292. Jim S. says:

    I agree with every word of that post, JoeB.

  293. SeanAY says:

    HIVE MIND.

  294. JohninOshkosh says:

    Deadspin is great. Deadspin and the New York Times are some of the few United States media outlets I’ve seen that have been doing pieces during the World Cup on FIFA’s corruption.

  295. Jim S. says:

    Looks like the Bucs really wanted to get something by moving Heredia. Can’t say I blame them.

    The fact that Glasnow’s name was anywhere near a deal for Bud Norris scares me for the Pirates. The fact that Houston didn’t think it was enough, scares me just as much for them.

  296. Bert says:

    The tweet noted here was taken out of context though. Look at Grilli’s tweets (https://twitter.com/GrillCheese49) before the trade (all pirates voting for ASG, PNC park love, etc.), immediately after the trade (thanking pittsburgh), and upon finding out how this tweet was miscontrued on this blog (clarifying his powerhouse statement). Look it is one thing to say Grilli is two-faced or whatever, but to insinuate that this one tweet–which I believe was meant as a shoutout to his new fanbase and not a dig at his old team–is representative of his PUBLIC persona is entirely misleading. I have never seen Jason Grilli off camera or off of the record, so I withhold judgment on that, but in public he has been a professional.

  297. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    pow·er·house
    noun \ˈpau̇(-ə)r-ˌhau̇s\

    1) a group of people or an organization that has a lot of power

    2) a person, team, etc., that has a lot of energy, strength, and skill

    3) someone or something that is full of a particular thing

    4) the California Angels of Los Angeles via Anaheim

  298. Wild Bill says:

    Just couldn’t get Luhnow to say “This Bud’s for you……”

  299. NMR says:

    Houston asked for Dylan Bundy and Xander Bogaerts, as well.

    I think this is a very interesting lookinto the process.

  300. Arriba Wilver says:

    You must hate Pittsburgh, Playoffs. :-D

    Good to see you, my friend.

  301. NMR says:

    Hahaha, would’ve sealed the deal for me.

  302. Thundercrack says:

    I think I saw that the Marlins are denying that they offered Stanton to the Astros – - or any other team

  303. Arriba Wilver says:

    Examples . . .

    Or, as Jon Stewart would say, “Gowon . . .”

  304. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    Any city with a casino is a great city in my book.

  305. Arriba Wilver says:

    What DK is trying to say, Paul, is Welcome. Be sure to give you town so Biz can add you.

  306. Thanks, Jim and all.

  307. NMR says:

    I’m shocked. #notshocked

  308. Thundercrack says:

    My guess is that the Astros were looking for pitchers that were closer to the majors.

    I wouldn’t get too nervous that the Astros rejected our alleged proposal. There were a lot of other teams in the mix. Just a guess.

    What did they end up getting for Norris?

  309. NMR says:

    Talent and guts only matched by their own immaturity.

  310. AJS says:

    Playoffs, best I can tell the difference between this year and last is that you don’t throw up a nightly line. C’mon man give the team a boost with some 2013 mojo!

  311. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-D

  312. NMR says:

    Ha, LJ Hoes and Josh Hader…so yeah.

  313. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    I offered to hand over the keys to the window, no one wanted to take over.
    Can’t say that I blame them. Running the window 162+ days a year is grind, to put it mildly.

  314. NMR says:

    Couple things I found interesting…

    Many Assistant General Managers apparently conduct trade talks. All Pirate contact was from/with Neal Huntington.

    The Mets and Red Sox both admitted the likely valued their first base candidates (Ike Davis and Mike Carp) more than the market and were comfortable holding onto them.

    Astros turned down some legit interest in starter Lucas Harrell at the ’13 deadline and into the winter. Harrell went on to be designated for assignment already this season. If you know you’re a seller, and you’re trying to get rid of pitching, do it yesterday.

  315. Cobra39 says:

    He won’t provide any. This seems more the case of butthurt reporters than being a “bad teammate.”

  316. scapper says:

    Not sure how much I trust my “source” (a semi-drunk guy in Montreal), but did anyone else hear that because the Algerian team is following the fasting requirements of Ramadan (no food or water from sunup to sundown), the German team agreed to follow this, too, in an effort to avoid any nutrition/hydration advantage.

    If that’s true…wow, now THAT’S some sportsmanship.

    But if it’s not true, blame this man who wouldn’t stop yammering to my wife and me when we stopped in for a drink on the way back to the hotel.

  317. Cobra39 says:

    +++

  318. Bizrow says:

    +++++

  319. Jim S. says:

    My guesses for how MLB races turn out:

    NL East: Washington takes over in the 2nd half and wins the division. No one else makes the playoffs.

    NL Central: Brewers win comfortably, but Reds and Pirates take both NL Wild Cards. The play-in game is in Cincy this year, but the Bucs win again. The Bucs then lose in 6 to LAD.

    NL West: LAD end up winning the division going away with 94 wins, as SF continues to fade away.

    Dodgers defeat Washington in 6 games to take the NL pennant.

    AL East: The most overrated division in baseball produces one playoff team – Toronto.

    AL Central: The Tigers grab the divsion and #2 spot in AL playoffs, with 90 wins. KC sneaks by Seattle for the 2nd AL Wild Card.

    AL West: Oakland wins 97 games and runs away with the division title. Anaheim wins 88 games and gets the top Wild Card slot.

    The A’s take out Detroit for the AL pennant.

    The Dodgers’ superior pitching leads them to a 7-game World Series victory over Oakland.

    Trout wins the AL MVP. Lucroy wins the NL MVP. Tanaka wins the AL Cy Young. Kershaw (who else?) wins the NL Cy Young.

    What do you say?

  320. JoeBucco says:

    That’s my point too. If the slider is broken, you might want to work on something else. Besides a book, that is. And writing a book, as if he accomplished something other than having one pretty good year in the majors, was weird enough. I’m a little familiar with his work before his comeback years when he was more focused on a tech company he was running, and we have some common connections in that space as well. But yea, he wasn’t performing, so he’s out. He had one and a half good years here, and as fans, we’re happy for that.

    But he’s probably done at this point. I’d be willing to wager he gets DFA’d by a certain powerhouse team in California before the end of August. Like with anything, you shouldn’t want to burn bridges on your way out of town. Unfortunately, that is what he’ll be remembered for as much as anything.

    Speaking of burning bridges, I’m looking forward to a little Jeff Locke vs. A.J. Burnett matchup of mentor and student on Sunday. Wish I was in town for that one, should be a fun game.

  321. JohninOshkosh says:

    Be safe, Jim! Derecho is no joke. My relatives in Iowa were hit hard. Hope Maz is OK.

    That is one ugly, colorful blotch moving its way across the plains.

  322. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think you have too much time on your hands. I’m trading in my Subaru. :-)

  323. Milo Hamilton says:

    I read that the decision whether or not to fast is being left up to each individual Algerian player. They’re certainly playing as if they are well nourished.

  324. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    NL East: Atlanta wins 7 of their last 9 against Washington, and win the division by 1 game.

    NL Central: St. Louis comes on like mad after the break and wins the division by 4 games. Milwaukee takes the 1st WC spot.

    NL West: Dodgers and it won’t be that close. SF takes the 2nd WC spot, and beat Milwaukee in the WC game.

    Dodgers over the Giants in 4.
    Cardinals over the Braves in 5.

    Dodgers take the pennant in 6 over the Cardinals

    AL East: Orioles find a way, some how, some way.

    AL Central: Tigers laugh their way to another division title.

    AL West: Oakland yet again. Seattle and Orange County Angels take the WC spots, with Robbie Cano leading Seattle to victory in the WC game.

    Tigers beat Seattle in 3.
    Oakland beats Baltimore in 5.

    Detroit beats Oakland yet again in 7.

    Dodgers beat Tigers in 7.

  325. Arriba Wilver says:

    I think it’s egFIP.

  326. 100 fake units on the over.

    ;)

  327. Jim S. says:

    I just read a Jon Morosi tweet that said MLB and the MLBPA are negotiating about playing regular season games in Europe (London) next year.

    I wonder if anyone has consulted Europe.

    Maybe War Horse can weigh in. I didn’t realize there was any interest from the locals in baseball? Or, are there enough transplanted Americans to fill a stadium over a weekend? Do they even have baseball stadiums?

  328. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-)

  329. They love cricket and baseball is better.

  330. Arriba Wilver says:

    They do. They call it “soccer.”

  331. Jim S. says:

    Vacation week, actually.

    Taking my son to, of all places, Miller Park early tomorrow for an on field (hitting & fielding) experience.

    We have partial season tickets in our office, and this was a perk.

  332. Jim S. says:

    Scary stuff, indeed.

  333. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  334. NMR says:

    Zach Grienke is not amused. ;)

  335. Jim S. says:

    I would have thought there was a fairly general consensus on the value of a player like Norris. But, teams like Houston still apparently ask for the moon.

    I sense that if the Pirates show any interest whatsoever, even just a minor kicking of the tires for AJ, Philly is going to be looking to hit the lottery.

  336. Jim S. says:

    I saw where you went there. :-)

  337. Milo Hamilton says:

    So it’s going to be France vs. Germany. Let’s see, the unsuspecting French are overpowered early by the quick striking Germans and then wait around for the United States to bail them out.

  338. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-)

  339. Jim S. says:

    I’ll be doing my best to wreak havoc on their entire organizational structure as much as possible in a 3 hour span of time. No thanks necessary. Just doing my part.

  340. Jim S. says:

    Sometimes I think they just try to be smug in soccer … er, football.

    I Googled FIFA World Cup results, and the first search result was the Fox Sports website. But, it could have been any of them.

    The bracket, or is it table? … lists the games, I mean matches, played so far in the Sweet … I mean, Round of 16. They show the Brazil vs. Chile and Costa Rica vs. Greece results as 1-1. It doesn’t even tell you which team won in shoot out … I mean PKs … or, that the outcome was determined by PKs. I guess it is just assumed that the teams on the left were ultimately victorious.

    Seriously? C’mon.

  341. Jim S. says:

    FWIW, Austin Meadows saw his first game action in the GCL this year today, after battling hamstring injuries all season. He played 5 innings and batted 3x – 2 doubles and a walk. So, there’s that.

  342. Bizrow says:

    Well, that would be at least the third time? ;-)

  343. Bizrow says:

    Can you bury a Jolly Roger there? ;-)

  344. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  345. Arriba Wilver says:

    +++

  346. pattonbb says:

    Jake Arrieta has a no hitter through 7 at Fenway.

  347. Milo Hamilton says:

    Beano said that only Germany in World Wars had a worse record than Bo Schembechler in the Rose Bowl.

  348. Thundercrack says:

    +1

  349. JD says:

    Good one Cmat!

 
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