The joint venture between WPXI-TV and Trib Total Media continues Sunday night at around midnight — after NBC’s Sunday Night Football and the local news — with the latest episode of The Subway Final Word.
>> Who’s on the panel: I’ll be joined by Rob Rossi, the Trib’s Penguins beat man, and Mark Madden, top-rated radio host of 105.9 the X. The host will be WPXI-TV’s Bill Phillips.
>> What we’re talking about: Steelers, Penguins, Pitt hoops and more.
>> How to participate: Each week, we also take comments from viewers through 20-second videos you submit on The Final Word’s Facebook page, as well as comments to The Final World’s Twitter account
>> Where to watch: In addition to the regular broadcast on WPXI-TV, we have WPXI’s live online stream for Pittsburgh’s many out-of-town sports fans, as well as video podcasts available on both outlets’ Web sites.
>> The Friday column from Consol ambitiously tries to figure out what’s wrong with Kris Letang. And what to do about it.
Part of our talk yesterday …
Chris Kunitz keeps building a case for Sochi with two more goals to sink a sizzling San Jose team, even with Evgeni Malkin out. Rob Rossi has the game story.
Here’s a couple Qs I had for Jayson Megna about his ridiculous short-side shot over Antti Niemi …
Random randomness from the scene: You’d almost never know the Penguins beat the Sharks by four, so complimentary were the victors. “That’s one really good hockey team over there,” Sidney Crosby told me. “They just keep coming at you in waves.” … Crosby was still better than anyone on the San Jose side, nothing three assists and apparently doing a lot more. “There are so many things that Sid does that people don’t see, little things,” Kunitz said. “He did it all tonight. He dominated out there.” … Joe Vitale helped one goal with a hard center drive, another with a screen. No points for that, but teammates notice … There’s no way Olli Maatta is really 19, is there? How diligent are the birth records in Finland? … Marc-Andre Fleury was really sharp against a team that never stopped coming. Shouldn’t be overlooked. … I won’t expound on this, but let’s just say the Penguins saw something in Niemi early on they felt they could exploit. … This Robert Bortuzzo thing is getting silly. Kid needs to play. … The Penguins’ brief tribute to Tyler Kennedy was just right. A goal, a lifting of the Cup and a thank-you message. Fans seemed to appreciate it, and Kennedy definitely did when responding to the applause by raising his stick on the San Jose bench. Nice touch. That’s how Pittsburgh should welcome back its champions. … James Harrison, anyone?
>>The weekly chat will begin at 11:30 a.m. — a half-hour earlier than usual — because of an interview I’ve got set up at Steelers HQ. It’ll happen right here on the blog, as always, and you can post questions in the chat field as soon as you see the post.
A sampling of locker room reaction, by video producer Justin Labar …
Mike Wallace talks candidly about his year with Todd Haley, by Mark Kaboly.
Random randomness from the scene: If Tomlin was bugged by anything, he sure wasn’t letting it show. Bounced through the locker room at one point, beaming a big smile and shouted, “Let’s stick together!” I can’t and won’t assume what he meant, but it was in quite the upbeat tone. … The media scene around Ryan Clark was pretty funny in that he just pulls up a folding chair, leans back, and the cameras and microphones all come scurrying to hear what he was to say. … Didn’t realize I’d get the day’s money quote out of Clark when I asked simply if he found it fair that the NFL would delay its decision on docking draft picks: “It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s Roger Goodell. When has he been fair?” … LaMarr Woodley continues to make a sight of himself in the locker room, loudly berating or jabbing reporters as he passes through. Which is understandable, really, in light of the reporters being the ones responsible for a $61.5 million starting player losing his job. … Woodley was a limited participant in practice, by the way. Makes him iffy for a third straight game due to a soft-tissue injury, the kind that almost everyone in pro sports believes can be prevented through solid conditioning. … Cam Heyward, on how the Steelers avoided the Tomlin stuff: “We watch cartoons.” Never asked which ones. Terrible reporting. Woodley’s right.
Out of respect to this being Joe’s column day, I’ll limit my own reaction to that topic thusly: I didn’t think on Thanksgiving that Tomlin did anything wrong intentionally. I didn’t think it after seeing the first video, second video, Zapruder video, All-22 video. And I didn’t think it after hearing the man yesterday.
Fine him for being on the field during play. That’s it.
There is a lot that I don’t appreciate about Tomlin. Some of that’s been in print. Some of it hasn’t. He isn’t particularly likable, to put it mildly. But I’ve never for a second questioned his integrity, and it’s stunning to me the number of people willing — no eager — to do exactly that.
>> Here are this week’s three winners in the Write-Your-Own-Column contest …
Patrick from Rhode Island on possible embarrassment in the Tomlin sideline aftermath:
Tomlin steps on the field, and ESPN hemorrhages. Days before, an NBA coach spills a drink to stall the game. Taken separately, these create only minor embarrassments to the teams. But if we could blow Tomlin’s misstep out of proportion sufficient to restore more sanctity to the playing field, all sports could improve. For example, the NCAA could give a basket and the ball to the other team every time a coach steps on a live court. An improvement like this would make Tomlin’s small step a giant leap for all sports fans.
DJ on Jeff Zatkoff as the Penguins’ backup:
Cannot take Zatkoff seriously until sample size is larger and he wins against better teams on a consistent basis, rather than the isolated game. Although bigger than Marc-Andre Fleury, there are more holes in his stance. He’s a flopper and slower to recover after an initial stop. Consequently, there have been many ripe second-chance opportunities when he’s flat on his back. Fortunately, most have been swept aside by teammates being in the right place at precisely the right time. He’s a bright kid who’s improved since early outings. But he still needs to prove he’s a solid second option.
Wild Bill on Bill O’Brien being a success at Penn State:
O’Brien’s work in Year 2 was even more impressive than the last. The obvious team leaders graduated. The number of scholarship players shrank even more to 61. A freshman had to play quarterback. The defense was lacking in speed. The alumni continued to fight with each other. In this environment, the Lions won seven, two as big underdogs. In any realistic appraisal, O’Brien’s work was magical. And the biggest bit of magic was, with the restrictions still in place, he continues to recruit incredibly well. By two seasons from now – three at most – the Lions will truly roar.