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May 14, 2014
by Dan Stefano

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A Yinzer’s Guide to the Summer

It might be OK to finally say it.
Winter — that long, oppressive string of pipe-bursting months — is over. And spring, for that matter, seems to be passing us right by, if we even had one this year.
Long live summer. Who needs to wait for June 21? I’m calling it.
Temperatures are hopping into the 80s, the sun is shining at least a few times a week, and my mom is nagging me to mow the lawn of her North Side manse.
It’s a great time of year to live in Pittsburgh.
Sure, Western Pennsylvania is a full day’s ride from the ocean, and most Pittsburghers use these months to get out of town, but there are some great events and places to visit in the region while the weather is warm.
If you’re new to the area or a local who needs their memory jogged, here’s a quick guide to enjoying a yinzer summer.
Kennywood and Sandcastle
This West Mifflin amusement park and its wetter Homestead counterpart are obvious entries in our guide. They’re the quintessential destinations in the region during the hottest months of the year.
No summer is complete without at least one visit to Kennywood. Billed as America’s Favorite Traditional Amusement Park, it’s a unique place filled with world-class roller coasters and good eats alike — not to mention a rendition of Noah’s Ark that even Darren Aronofsky would find a little far afield from the source material.
Short on time? Your humble guide submits the following as the park’s best rides. Depending on the lines, you can probably knock these out in a few hours:
5. Raging Rapids — Arguably, this trip through the un-laziest of rivers is the park’s best water ride. And if you’re the unfortunate one to end up under a waterfall, it’s definitely the wettest.
4. Jack Rabbit — Any local will tell you the secret to this rickety coaster: sit in the back and wait for the double-dip.
3. Turtle — Hey, it’s a traditional park with plenty of “safe” rides. Give this one a whirl for old times’ sake.
2. Phantom’s Revenge — There was a time when this ride carried the appropriate title “Steel Phantom.” Back then, it boasted a serious set of loops and could be pretty brutal on your neck, to boot. Now, the tallest, fastest coaster at the park is just a lean, mean machine with a lap bar and a 230-foot second drop even better than the cliff-hanging first.
1. Thunderbolt — This lauded wooden coaster opens with a pair of drops before you even get to a lift hill. That’s about the only time you can catch you breath on this thriller. Hang on to your hats.
As far as Sandcastle goes, the closer the temperature climbs to triple digits, the busier the place gets — and potentially closes its doors to late-comers.
Once you’re inside, the highlights include one of the region’s few wave pools and a set of speed slides that double as a test of bravery. For a more relaxed trip, try out the lazy river, or if you’re old enough, the Sandbar is a great place to unwind and catch your breath.
Three Rivers Arts Festival
One of the keys to Pittsburgh’s growing recognition as one of the country’s up-and-coming cities is the growth of its arts and cultural scene. But the city’s massive arts festival has been a fixture for more than half a century.
This year’s 55th annual festival centered around Point State Park from June 6 through 15 features a rich blend of music, theater, film and dance. Simply put, there’s something for everyone — and it’s free, thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and other supporters.
Not into the arts? No problem. The amount of food vendors practically matches the artists. Come hungry.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit
EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta
Let’s all say it together:
You gotta regatta.
Pittsburgh’s rivers are a treasure to the region, and this is the best use of the three you’ll see all year. The three-day event from July 2 through 4 is packed with races, food, music and culminates with one of the country’s best Independence Day fireworks shows.
The highlights include powerboat racing across the confluence, which will host the F-2 North American Championships on July 4. And for creative types or anyone up for laugh, the Anything That Floats race is a must see.
Even if you’re not converging on Point State Park for the fireworks, there are plenty of great vantage points to catch the show. A personal favorite is Mt. Washington, but the North Shore is great for an up-close view with a slightly thinner crowd.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
There may not be a more unique summer event in the region. And certainly, few have a more worthy mission.
Starting as a single-day race in 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has grown to a 10-day celebration of vintage cars, the people who maintain them and their drivers. At no other time of the year will car lovers find such an eclectic and fascinating mix of autos in Pittsburgh.
The highlight of the expanded event remains the July 20 race through a challenging Schenley Park course. Even better, that race and many other events are free to spectators, though donations are encouraged and go to a crucial cause.
Over the course of its three-decade life, the PVGP has raised $3.5 million, according its website, for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Last year’s record haul of $350,000 was split between the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.
Even if you’re not that into cars, this is one of the city’s great summer shindigs, one that should be experienced at least once. And every little bit helps.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit
Get your kicks
It’s no secret, Pittsburgh loves itself some football, but there’s a growing market for futbol, too.
The Riverhounds’ new Highmark Stadium has reignited interest in the franchise, and soccer continues to thrive at the youth level in the region. Another step on sport’s climb in Western Pa. will come July 27 at Heinz Field.
The Steelers’ home field will host two of the world’s top teams in Barclays Premier League champ Manchester City — think of them as you would the reigning Super Bowl champs — and Italian stalwart A.C. Milan as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Heinz Field Rib Fest
Ribs and football. There are few better pairings on this planet.
Celebrating its 15th year from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1, Rib Fest coincides with the start of football season — the Steelers are home for a preseason game Aug. 28, and Pitt opens its season Aug. 30. The addition of a row of vendors beside Heinz Field hawking Southern-style ribs and other barbecued items almost makes for too much awesome in one parking lot. Almost.
There are six free concerts, as well, featuring a mix of local and national acts — and one that holds both distinctions in The Clarks, who play Aug. 29.
Of course, the return of football signifies fall is just around the corner, but the fest makes for a great way to wave goodbye to summer.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit

May 7, 2014
by Garrett Conti

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Memorable NFL draft gems of the Steelers


Earlier this week, we looked at some of the NFL draft busts that the Steelers have had over the past few years. Now, it’s time to look at some of the better picks they’ve made. These aren’t picks like Ben Roethlisberger or Mean Joe Greene. Those guys were picked high and delivered. No, these are afterthoughts, picked in the later rounds. Coming into the NFL with chips on their shoulders, they became starters the Steelers could depend on and went about establishing themselves in the NFL. Here are some of the hidden gems the Steelers have plucked from the NFL draft:


10. Brett Keisel (2002, No. 242, Brigham Young) A standout defensive end for the Steelers, Keisel became a regular starter in 2006. He played on two Super Bowl-winning teams, and was named a Pro Bowler in 2010. Presently, Keisel is a free agent, and even if he decides on retirement, the defensive lineman known for his wild beard has had a solid NFL career, even after being picked in the seventh round.

Super Bowl X - Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers - January 18, 1976

9. Ernie Holmes (1971, No. 203, Texas Southern) Picked late in the 1971 draft, Holmes, nicknamed “Fats,” became a key member of the Steelers’ legendary Steel Curtain defense as a feared defensive tackle with a knack for sacks. Holmes played six seasons with the Steelers, and was on the team that won Super Bowls IX and X. The Steelers dealt him to the Buccaneers in 1978, and he retired soon after.


8. Antonio Brown (2010, No. 195, Central Michigan) Scooped up by the Steelers in the sixth round, the speedy and reliable Brown has solidified himself as a No. 1 receiver and dangerous kick returner in the NFL. In 2013, he put up big numbers, hauling in 110 catches for almost 1,500 yards. A two-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Super Bowl XLV team, Brown looks to have a bright future ahead of him.


7. Darren Perry (1992, No. 203, Penn State) After a solid career in State College, the Steelers grabbed this safety late in the 1992 draft. Perry was strong out of the gate, picking off six passes in his rookie season. With Rod Woodson, he solidified the defense, and helped to lead the Steelers to Super Bowl XXX. He finished with the Saints, and retired after the 2000 season. He’s now an assistant coach with the Packers.

Andy Russell                   Steelers

6. Andy Russell (1963, No. 220, Missouri) A tough LB, Russell played his entire 12-year career with the Steelers. Russell lead the team into the glorious 1970s, and he was a member of two teams that won Super Bowls. He also had his fair share of Pro Bowls, collecting seven over his career. He briefly left the team to fulfill an Army ROTC commitment, and he was stationed in Germany for two years.


5. Mike Wagner (1971, No. 268, Western Illinois) A late-round draft pick, Wagner was originally looked at as a receiver, but he was switched to safety with the Steelers. The move worked out pretty well, as Wagner recorded 36 interceptions over a career that included two trips to the Pro Bowl and a key spot on a team that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Wagner retired in 1981 after a decade with the Steelers.


4. Greg Lloyd (1987, No. 110, Fort Valley State) One of the most-feared linebackers to ever play for the Steelers, Lloyd came to the team in the sixth round of the 1987 draft. Lloyd made his name as a pass rusher, and he recorded 54.5 sacks over a steady career that also included five Pro Bowls. He also played for the team that made it to Super Bowl XXX. Lloyd retired from the NFL after the 1998 season.


3. Mike Webster (1974, No. 125, Wisconsin) A fifth-round pick in 1974, Webster learned the game for two seasons under Ray Mansfield, before stepping into the starting lineup in 1976. He would go on to become arguably the greatest center in NFL history. Webster made the Pro Bowl nine times, and he was a member of a team that won four Super Bowls. He retired from the NFL after the 1990 season and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


2. L.C. Greenwood (1969, No. 238, Arkansas-Pine Bluff) The Steelers got a steal in the 10th round of the 1969 draft, taking Greenwood, a tall defensive end. Known for his gold-colored shoes, Greenwood was a big part of the team’s Steel Curtain defense. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. He recorded 73.5 sacks over a solid NFL career, before retiring in 1982.

Rocky Bleier

1. Rocky Bleier (1968, No. 417, Notre Dame) A member of a Steelers team that won four Super Bowls, Bleier had to battle back from a bad war injury — sustained in Vietnam, where he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star — to become a remarkable success story. Bleier was a running threat for the Steelers, but he made his name as a punishing blocker for Franco Harris. He retired from the NFL in 1980.


Honorable mentions: Carlton Haselrig (1989, No. 312, Pitt-Johnstown), Willie Williams (1993, No. 162, Western Carolina), John Jackson (1988, No. 252, Eastern Kentucky), Dick Hoak (1961, No. 90, Penn State), Dwayne Woodruff (1979, No. 161, Louisville), Frank Pollard (1980, No. 305, Baylor), Orpheus Roye (1996, No. 200, Florida State), Carlos Emmons (1996, No. 242, Arkansas State), Barry Foster (1990, No. 128, Arkansas), Clark Haggans (2000, No. 137, Colorado State), Lee Flowers (1995, No. 151, Georgia Tech), Myron Bell (1994, No. 140, Michigan State), Merril Hoge (1987, No. 261, Idaho State), Tunch Ilkin (1980, No. 165, Indiana State).


May 4, 2014
by Garrett Conti

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Memorable NFL draft busts of the Steelers


Despite the success of the Penguins and the sort-of resurgence of the Pirates, the Steelers are still at the top of the mountain when it comes to Pittsburgh sports teams. Arguments can be made, but the Steelers still hold the key to the city. With the NFL draft upon us, hope springs eternal. Can the Steelers nail down a pick that will help out immediately? Can they snag a sleeper in the later rounds? Will they reach for a project that doesn’t pan out? Despite the success the Steelers have had, they’ve certainly had their share of busts in the draft. Here are some of the bigger ones:


10. Ziggy Hood (2009, No. 32, Missouri) The defensive lineman’s NFL career isn’t over yet, but he never made the impact the Steelers were looking for up front. Hood had trouble cracking the starting lineup and didn’t do much in his time in Pittsburgh. Maybe that’s why the Steelers let him walk. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2014 season.

Steelers Dolphins 21

9. Ricardo Colclough (2004, No. 38, Tusculum) The Steelers moved up to grab this unknown cornerback in the second round, and it wasn’t a wise move. Colclough struggled with the Steelers — on special teams and defense — before being bounced in 2007. Colclough’s been in the CFL since he was waived by the Chiefs in 2009.


8. Will Blackwell (1997, No. 53, San Diego State) The wide receiver looked to be a can’t-miss prospect after enjoying a fantastic career in college, but he failed to make his mark with the Steelers. Blackwell’s highest output came in 1998, when he caught 32 passes. It was all downhill from there, and he was out of the NFL by 2001. He now coaches high school football in Oakland, Calif.


7. Scott Shields (1999, No. 59, Weber State) Standing around 6-foot-4 with good speed, Shields was expected to bring some physicality to the defensive backfield. However, Shields never seemed to be a great tackler. His rookie season was OK, but his time was short with the Steelers. The safety lasted only two seasons with the team and bounced around a bit after that.

Tom Worley

6. Tim Worley (1989, No. 7, Georgia) A stud running back out of Georgia, Worley was expected to carry the load at running back for the Steelers for a long time. After amassing an impressive 770 yards in his rookie season, Worley floundered. The running back had problems holding onto the football and with substance abuse. The Steelers dealt him to the Bears for a fifth-round pick in 1993. More off-the-field issues plagued Worley with the Bears, and he was out of the league by 1994.


5. Limas Sweed (2008, No. 53, Texas) A big target out of Texas, Sweed had all the skills to become a successful NFL wide receiver. Unfortunately, he had problems catching the ball. The drops plagued Sweed throughout his short career with the team. He was released in 2011 and failed to make another NFL roster. He’s presently trying to make his way in the CFL, but that’s not going too well.


4. Alonzo Jackson (2003, No. 59, Florida State) With veteran Jason Gildon getting older, Jackson was selected by the Steelers as a possible replacement. The team looked to transition Jackson from defensive end — where he starred with the Seminoles — but it never worked out. Jackson was released before the 2005 season and had short stints with the Eagles and Giants.


3. Troy Edwards (1999, No. 13, Louisiana Tech) An undersized receiver, Edwards scored a lot of accolades in college before landing with the Steelers. He even had a productive rookie season with the team, recording 61 catches and performing well as a returner. After that, Edwards sank, and he was traded to the Rams in 2002. He played a few more years in the NFL before ending up in the Arena League.


2. Jamain Stephens (1996, No. 29, North Carolina A&T) Arguably the greatest reach the Steelers ever made in the first round, the team drafted the 6-foot-6 offensive tackle as a project. Stephens, though, didn’t last long due to a poor work ethic and a lack of development. He was quickly released by the Steelers in 1999 after coming into training camp out of shape. He landed with the Bengals soon after, and was released in 2002.

Huey Richardson

1. (tie) Huey Richardson (1991, No. 15, Florida) and Darryl Sims (1985, No. 20, Wisconsin) Richardson should be considered the Steelers’ biggest bust ever, but Sims is a close second. Richardson was an All-American defensive end for the Gators, and the Steelers tried to turn him into a linebacker. The plan didn’t work, and Richardson was out the door. He was dealt to the Redskins the following year for a late draft pick. He tried to catch on with the Redskins, Jets and Dolphins, but was out of the league by 1993. Sims was picked by the Steelers as a defensive tackle, and lasted a little bit longer than Richardson. He played two seasons for the Steelers, but never made an impact. He moved on to the Browns, and was out of the league two years later.

Steelers Jeremy Staat

Dishonorable mention (in no particular order): Walter Abercrombie (1982, No. 12, Baylor), Mark Malone (1982, No. 28, Arizona State), Kendall Simmons (2002, No. 30, Auburn), Tom Ricketts (1989, No. 24, Pitt), Aaron Jones (1988, No. 18, Eastern Kentucky), Jeremy Staat (1998, No. 41, Arizona State), John Reinstra (1986, No. 9, Temple), Kraig Urbik, Gabe Rivera (1983, No. 21, Texas Tech).


May 1, 2014
by Mike Palm

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20 from 20 years ago: Alternative rock albums


1994 proved to be a golden year for “alternative” music to hit the mainstream. It wasn’t easy to narrow the list down with plenty of albums that have stood the test of time.

We’ll just go in chronological order below:

Alice In Chains — “Jar of Flies” EP — Jan. 25, 1994

Other highlights: “Nutshell”“I Stay Away”

Green Day — “Dookie” — Feb. 1, 1994

Other highlights: “Longview”“Welcome to Paradise”“She”

Nine Inch Nails — “The Downward Spiral” — April 8, 1994

Other highlights: “March of the Pigs” — “Closer”

Soundgarden — “Superunknown” — April 8, 1994

Other highlights: “The Day I Tried To Live”“Black Hole Sun”“My Wave”

Various artists — “The Crow” soundtrack — March 29, 2014

Other highlights: Rage Against The Machine’s “Darkness (Of Greed)” — Violent Femmes’ “Color Me Once”

The Offspring — “Smash” — April 8, 1994

Other highlights: “Gotta Get Away”“Come Out and Play”

Hole — “Live Through This” — April 12, 1994

Other highlights: “Doll Parts”“Miss World”

Live — “Throwing Copper” — April 26, 1994

Other highlights: “White, Discussion” —  “Stage”“Lightning Crashes”

Sunny Day Real Estate — “Diary” — May 10, 1994

Other highlights: “In Circles”“Song About an Angel”

Weezer — “Weezer (The Blue Album)” — May 10, 1994

Other highlights: “Say It Ain’t So”“Undone — The Sweater Song”“In The Garage”

Beastie Boys — “Ill Communication” — May 24, 2014

Other highlights: “Sure Shot”“Root Down”

Stone Temple Pilots — “Purple” — June 7, 1994

Other highlights: “Unglued”“Interstate Love Song”“Big Empty”

Helmet — “Betty” — June 21, 1994

Other highlights: “Wilma’s Rainbow”“Speechless”“Rollo”

Kyuss — “Welcome to Sky Valley” — June 28, 1994

Other highlights: “Gardenia”“Conan Troutman”

Toadies — “Rubberneck” — Aug. 23, 1994

Other highlights: “Mister Love”“Velvet”“Backslider”

R.E.M. — “Monster” — Sept. 27, 1994

Other highlights: “Bang and Blame”“Crush With Eyeliner”

Smashing Pumpkins — “Pisces Iscariot” — Oct. 4, 1994

Other highlights: “Plume”“Hello Kitty Kat”

Nirvana — “MTV Unplugged in New York” — Nov. 1, 1994

Other highlights: “Polly” — “About A Girl” — “All Apologies”

Pearl Jam — “Vitalogy” — Dec. 4, 1994

Other highlights: “Not For You”“Immortality” —  “Better Man”

Bush — “Sixteen Stone” — Dec. 6, 1994

Other  highlights: “Everything Zen”“Little Things”


Missed the cut:

  • Ramones “Acid Eaters”
  • Meat Puppets “Too High To Die”
  • Beck “Mellow Gold”
  • Blur “Parklife”
  • Sonic Youth “Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star”
  • Rancid “Let’s Go”
  • NOFX “Punk in Drublic”
  • Dinosaur Jr. “Without A Sound”
  • Oasis “Definitely Maybe”
  • Bad Religion “Stranger Than Fiction”
  • Veruca Salt “American Thighs”
  • The Cranberries “No Need to Argue”
  • Korn “Korn”
  • Sublime “Robbin’ the Hood”

April 24, 2014
by Garrett Conti

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The best actors from Western Pennsylvania


Western Pennsylvania is known for its great collection of athletes, but there are also quite a few actors who have made it from our end of the state. With the area gaining a reputation as a hot spot for filmmaking, why not take a look at some of those who have made a successful career in Hollywood. So, here’s a look at some of the best. And, if we forgot anybody, please let us know.



10. Charles Grodin — Before taking off for the University of Miami and movie fame in Hollywood, Grodin was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Mostly known as a comedic actor, Grodin is best remembered for lead roles in “Midnight Run” and “Beethoven.” He has a Golden Globe nomination and an Emmy win to his credit. Grodin has somewhat stepped away from the silver screen, moving into political commentating and wrtiting.



9. Bill Nunn — The son of William G. Nunn Jr., the legendary editor of the Pittsburgh Courier and NFL scout, Nunn is a solid character actor who’s played a ton of roles on TV and in the movies. Perhaps, his best roles were Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s groundbreaking “Do the Right Thing” and Joseph “Robbie” Robertson in the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Other movies you’ve seen him in include “He Got Game,” “Regarding Henry,” “Sister Act,” “New Jack City” and “Runaway Jury.”



8. Sharon Stone — The Meadville native will always be linked to her role as a beautiful serial killer in “Basic Instinct,” but really, she’s got much more going than that. Her best role came in Martin Scorsese’s “Casino,” a performance that landed her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe victory. As she’s gotten older, Stone has transformed herself into quite a character actor, boosting films like “Alpha Dog,” “Bobby,” “Lovelace” and “Broken Flowers.”



7. Jeff Goldblum — Born and raised in West Homestead, Goldblum moved to NYC at the age of 17 to become an actor. It was a good move, as Goldblum has been a major player in some of the biggest movies ever made. He’s played key roles in “The Fly,” “Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day” and “Silverado.” Goldblum has also done extensive work on Broadway and on the small screen, landing roles on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Simpsons” and “Will & Grace.”



6. Michael Keaton — Born in Coraopolis and raised in Robinson Township, Keaton started out as a stand-up comedian before working at WQED. That’s where he found an interest in acting. After moving to L.A., Keaton found success in movies like “Gung Ho,” “Night Shift” and “Mr. Mom.” A few years later, he would become a household name when director Tim Burton tabbed Keaton to play Batman. Keaton has also played big roles in moves like “Beetlejuice,” “The Paper,” “Jackie Brown” and a critically acclaimed turn in “Clean and Sober.”



 5. Scott Glenn — “Silverado,” “The Right Stuff,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Urban Cowboy,” “Training Day” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” Those are just some of the pictures that Scott Glenn, a Pittsburgh native, has starred in. Glenn developed a rep as being a tough guy in the movies, but moved toward more challenging roles as his career moved forward. He continues to work, and his filmography reads like an actor who’s had an accomplished career.



4. Charles Bronson — Talk about tough! Bronson, who grew up around Johnstown and once worked as a miner, was a legendary performer on the big screen. Movies like “The Great Escape,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Battle of the Bulge,” “The Dirty Dozen” and, of course, the “Death Wish” series made him a favorite to an entire generation of movie fans. Besides his move career, Bronson also appeared in a number of popular TV shows, including “The Twilight Zone” and “Gunsmoke.”



3. Frances McDormand — One of the best character actors of all time, McDormand wasn’t born in Western Pennsylvania, but she grew up in Monessen. Her career took off with her role in “Blood Simple,” the first film of the Coen brothers. From there, she’s graced the screen in titles like “Mississippi Burning,” “Almost Famous,” “Wonder Boys,” “Raising Arizona” and “Fargo,” for which she won an Oscar. She’s been nominated for four Academy Awards. McDormand also has a Tony for her work on Broadway and four Golden Globe nominations.



2. Gene Kelly — Born in Highland Park, Kelly is always going to be recognized as a Pittsburgher. One might say he’s Pittsburgh’s favorite son. The actor, who specialized in dancing and singing, made his mark in popular films such as “An American in Paris,” “Anchors Aweigh” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” Not only was Kelly a great performer, but he also had a big hand in revolutionizing the musical, and he’s credited for many changes that were made in the genre. In 1952, Kelly received an honorary Oscar for his versatility as a performer.



1. Jimmy Stewart — Born and raised in Indiana, Stewart will always be a key part of the conversation as the best actor that ever lived. Consider some of the movies he’s starred in — “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” etc. — and it’s a safe bet that he’s one of the best. As far as honors go, Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, and he took home one. He also has a Lifetime Achievement award from the Academy.


Honorable Mention — Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek” franchise, “Margin Call”), Joe Manganiello (“Magic Mike,” “True Blood”), Julie Benz (“Dexter,” “Rambo”) and Adolphe Menjou (“Paths of Glory,” “The Front Page”).


April 16, 2014
by Mike Palm

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10 top postseason scorers in Penguins history


With the playoffs set to start tonight, Sidney Crosby could be climbing the ranks on the Penguins’ all-time list of postseason scoring. Here are the top 10 in team history:


1. Mario Lemieux — 107 games, 76 goals, 96 assists, 172 points


2. Jaromir Jagr — 140 games, 65 goals, 82 assists, 147 points


3. Kevin Stevens — 103 games, 46 goals, 60 assists, 106 points


4. Sidney Crosby — 82 games, 40 goals, 65 assists, 105 points


5. Ron Francis — 97 games, 32 goals, 68 assists, 100 points


6. Evgeni Malkin — 83 games, 36 goals, 61 assists, 97 points

Larry Murphy

7. Larry Murphy — 75 games, 15 goals, 57 assists, 72 points


8. Kris Letang — 80 games, 13 goals, 34 assists, 47 points


9. Martin Straka — 65 games, 19 goals, 27 assists, 46 points


10. Sergei Gonchar — 60 games, 7 goals, 34 assists, 44 points

Here’s where the rest of the current Penguins stand on the all-time team list:

11. Chris Kunitz — 64 games, 13 goals, 29 assists, 42 points

15T. Pascal Dupuis — 77 games, 14 goals, 19 assists, 33 points

31T. James Neal — 25 games, 9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points

38T. Paul Martin — 25 games, 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points

44T. Brooks Orpik — 87 games, 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points

57T. Craig Adams — 64 games, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points

72T. Rob Scuderi — 49 games, 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points

96T. Matt Niskanen — 26 games, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points

131T. Brandon Sutter — 15 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points

131T. Jussi Jokinen — 8 games, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points

155T. Marc-Andre Fleury — 80 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points

177T. Tanner Glass — 5 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point

177T. Beau Bennett — 6 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point

177T. Chris Conner — 8 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point

177T. Joe Vitale — 10 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point

177T. Deryk Engelland — 13 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point

Making their playoff debuts for the Penguins: Olli Maatta, Lee Stempniak, Brian Gibbons

{All photos by Tribune-Review photographer Chaz Palla except Ron Francis (Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review) and Larry Murphy (Getty)}


April 9, 2014
by Mike Palm

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19 of the biggest concerts at Consol Energy Center


With word of Paul McCartney’s third stop at Consol Energy Center in July, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look back at some of the top acts to perform at the arena since its opening in 2010. In no particular order…

PAUL McCARTNEY — Aug. 18 & 19, 2010 — “Get Back”
(Note: McCartney will be back at Consol on July 7, 2014.)

PEARL JAM — Oct. 11, 2013 — “Pendulum”

THE WHO — Nov. 11, 2013 — “Baba O’Riley”

FOO FIGHTERS — Sept. 23, 2011 — “Everlong”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN — Oct. 27, 2012 — “Glory Days” with Joe Grushecky
(Note: Springsteen will be back at Consol on April 22, 2014.)

GREEN DAY — March 31, 2013 — “Holiday”

WIZ KHALIFA — Dec. 12, 2012 — “Black and Yellow”

VAN HALEN — March 30, 2012 — Full concert

KATY PERRY — June 23, 2011 — “I Kissed A Girl”
(Note: Perry will be back at Consol on July 22, 2014.)

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS — June 20, 2013 — “Refugee”

KANYE WEST & JAY Z — Nov. 27, 2011 — “Gotta Have It”

BILLY JOEL — Feb. 21, 2014 — “Piano Man”

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE — Dec. 14, 2013 — “Mirrors”

FLEETWOOD MAC — April 26, 2013 — “Go Your Own Way”
(Note: Fleetwood Mac will be back at Consol on Oct. 14, 2014.)

LADY GAGA — Sept. 5, 2010 — “Poker Face”
(Note: Lady Gaga will be back at Consol on May 8, 2014.)

ERIC CLAPTON — April 6, 2013 — “Layla”

RUSH — Sept. 11, 2012 — “Working Man”

BON JOVI — Feb. 11 & 12, 2011 — “Wanted Dead or Alive”

ROGER WATERS — Sept. 26, 2010 (& July 3, 2012) — “Comfortably Numb”


March 31, 2014
by Dan Stefano

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7 most memorable PNC Park moments


We all remember the promise. The line that came across as a twisted take on “Field of Dreams”:
If the taxpayers finance it, the wins will come.
Or something like that.
Either way, in the late 1990s, one of the biggest talking points supporting the construction of PNC Park was the notion that the Pirates’ long-dormant success was tied to a brand-new stadium. So, a piece of the North Side became the North Shore, Three Rivers Stadium went kaput, and one of Major League Baseball’s finest facilities was conceived.
Then came 2001 and 100 losses. Then came 11 more losing seasons.
Then came 2013.
The jewel of the Allegheny River finally hosted a team that matched its builders’ and fans’ hopes. And as the city witnessed the Pirates’ long-awaited return to the postseason in 2013, that beautiful ballpark became the beating heart of Pittsburgh for a summer (OK, maybe the giant rubber duck across the river had an argument, too.)
It feels as if a new era is starting in PNC Park’s history, and with a new season beginning today, it’s time to take a look back at a handful of the most memorable games and moments to take place on that grass — warning: not all are pretty.



(Photo: Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review)

While fans first filled the seats at PNC Park for a pair of exhibition games, it wasn’t until April 9, 2001, that the facility hosted a game that mattered in the standings.

In the stadium’s inaugural home opener, the Reds rolled the Pirates, 8-2 in front of 36,954 fans. But at least it was a hometown boy who christened the park.
Reds first baseman Sean Casey, an Upper St. Clair native, collected the first hit in the ballpark’s history with a two-run, first-inning home run off Pirates starter Todd Ritchie.
Casey — so well-liked by the Cincinnati fan base he was nicknamed “The Mayor” — made plenty of return trips to Pittsburgh with the division rival, but he also played 59 games in a Pirates uniform in 2006.
(Photo: Associated Press)

Say this for Lloyd McClendon: The guy cared.
Manager of the Pirates from 2001 to 2005 — and about to begin a new tenure in the dugout with Seattle — McClendon might have been the most entertaining part of that ugly first season at PNC Park. His meltdown on July 26 certainly got one of the biggest cheers that summer.
Arguing a close call at first base after Jason Kendall was called out, McClendon unleashed a lengthy tirade with the umpire and escalated it to an Incredible Hulk level. After chucking his hat halfway to second base, he was thrown from the game — but he took a parting gift.
Ripping the base out of the ground and hugging it under his arm, McClendon stomped with purpose back to the dugout, where he chucked the base to the ground before leaving. The incident had some life to it, too, even making it to No. 6 on a “SportsCenter” list of top meltdowns.
But as an eyewitness to the scene, I always felt there was a sad end to this tale. When the bat boy sprinted onto the field with a new base, the crowd booed the poor kid.
Brian Giles
(Photo: Getty Images)

These days, an Andrew McCutchen highlight-reel catch in the outfield is almost as much of a nighlty ritual as pierogie races. We could build quite a list trying to document them all.
But the celebrated center fielder may not have the best catch in PNC Park history.
Brian Giles, who roamed the outfield for the Pirates from 1999 to 2003, was known primarily for his big bat — he hit at least 35 homers four times while in Pittsburgh. And though his split from the Pirates and revelations of his clubhouse behavior irked fans, for a time, the two-time All-Star was the best of the Bucs.
His finest moment in black and gold might have been June 21, 2003, against Cleveland.
The game itself was one of the longest ever at PNC Park, with the Pirates winning, 7-6, in 15 innings. The extra innings, however, may not have been needed had Giles not made a game-saving play in the eighth.
With a man on, one out and the Pirates trailing by a run, the Indians’ Brandon Phillips drove a pitch deep down the left-field line. Giles sprinted to the wall near the foul pole, leapt, planted his left foot into the wall’s padding and stretched into the stands for the ball.
He robbed Phillips and the Indians of a three-run lead, the look on his face barely concealing his own amazement with the play. Seven innings later, the play still stood out in a night full of wild moments.
And there was a nice gash in the left-field wall in case anyone forgot.
JCS All-Star 12 02
(Photo: JC Schisler  |  Tribune-Review)
From the start, PNC Park, with its traditional feel and striking backdrop, was regarded as one of America’s best sporting venues. Yet, with the Pirates then hardly a draw for big networks, the field didn’t make a true debut to a national audience until the 2006 All-Star Game.
Pittsburgh shined up well for the event, with plenty of highlights outside of the game, including a parade of players across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and an entertaining Home Run Derby — be careful, some of the balls David Ortiz launched into orbit finally may be on a return trajectory.
And though it was low-scoring, the game itself provided some late dramatics.
The National League was looking to break a nine-game losing streak in the series — not to mention clinch home field advantage in the World Series. Those goals were in grasp, with the NL holding a one-run lead for most of the game, but the AL scored twice in the top of the ninth to grab a 3-2 victory.
As for the Pirates presence at the game, outfield starter Jason Bay went 1 for 3 at the plate, while Freddy Sanchez was hitless in a pair of at-bats yet made an outstanding leaping catch at shortstop.
CAH Bucs Brewers 22 3
(Photo: Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review)
Sitting in my closet is a green Pirates cap. Never have been much of a hat wearer, but this one I keep as a special memento. This giveaway item on April 22, 2010 — Earth Day — came along with history.
Brewers 20, Pirates 0.
That grey afternoon was the worst loss in the history of a franchise founded in 1882.
Against six Pirates pitchers, the Brewers collected 25 hits, with 12 going for extra bases. It was the final game of a monumentally malicious three-game series that saw the home team outscored a combined 36-1.
The capper on the day? When the Brewers scored their 20th run, a portion of what little remained of the crowd sent up a sarcastic cheer.
Given recent developments, maybe it’s time to burn that hat.
CAH Bucs Cubs0709 8
(Photo: Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review)
It was in 2011 that the Pirates finally were showing signs of maybe, possibly, hopefully, perhaps turning the corner. Of course, now we know the answer was yes, they were. Sort of.
The season still ended with 90 losses, but there was a flash of excitement in July, when the Pirates mingled among the NL Central leaders for a week or so before the bottom fell out.
Still, the Pirates contending so late in the season was unheard of at PNC Park. When the Cubs visited for the opener of a weekend series July 8, the Pirates were three games above .500, and buzz around the ballpark was hopeful, if wary.
It was a tight game that saw the Pirates rally from deficits twice before Chicago took a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. For the Pirates of the previous two decades, a comeback likely wouldn’t have been in the offing.
Enter Michael McKenry.
The stocky catcher — nicknamed “The Fort” for his defense and his name’s similarity to the national anthem’s Fort McHenry — had just eight hitless at-bats in the majors before the Pirates acquired him in June 2011. Suddenly thrust into a big role and as blue-collar as they come, he endeared himself to Pittsburghers against the Cubs.
After the Pirates knotted the game at four runs with two outs, McKenry put every member of the crowd of 37,140 at the edge of their seat with a dramatic eight-pitch at-bat that ended with him crushing a three-run homer to left field. It was the first home run of his career and even drew a curtain call.
For that night and through the end of the month, the city was reminded of just how exciting a playoff chase could be. Two seasons later, the chase was finally over.
(Photo: Philip G. Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

In a city fortunate to have a deep roster of vivd sports memories, it’s hard to tell how the Pirates’ 2013 Wild Card Game victory against the Reds will hold up over time.
This was no Immaculate Reception. It wasn’t Bill Mazeroski’s World Series-winning home run. Those moments stand among the greatest scenes in American sports.
No, the Pirates beating the Reds, 6-2, for their first postseason victory since 1992 felt more personal to Pittsburgh. It was the cathartic conclusion to a two-decade nightmare.
On a night full of priceless pictures — Andrew McCutchen’s mom singing the anthem was a brilliant idea — there’s one moment, a second-inning at-bat, that stands out more than any other.
Minutes after Marlon Byrd hit a solo home run to put the Pirates ahead, 1-0, catcher Russell Martin came to the plate. Already jazzed up by Byrd’s blast, the fans were haranguing Red pitcher Johnny Cueto with the simplest of heckles:
Shrugging off the noise, Cueto soldiered on. Sure. With a 2-1 count, he stepped on the rubber and…
… dropped the ball.
Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it just slipped. Maybe they could hear the ensuing cheers in Cincinnati.
Cueto gave an aw-shucks grin. and Martin flashed one, too. Then, he launched Cueto’s next pitch into the left-field stands. Cue the sea of waving jolly roger flags.
In that moment, it seemed as if the fans — those patient, patient fans — had actually willed the ball over the wall. Home-field advantage never felt so palpable. PNC Park never felt so alive.
It was the type of moment the place was built for.

March 24, 2014
by Garrett Conti

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10 most disappointing moments in Pitt sports


Pitt fans always have heartbreak in the back of their minds. Those who cheer for the Panthers realize this is a way of life, and can point to several moments in which they were let down. With the NCAA Tournament going on, what better time is there to point out some of the most-crushing blows Pitt fans have experienced. Choosing from football and men’s basketball — the most popular sports at the school — here are some of the more heart-breaking defeats:

10. Pitt vs. Ohio State (football, 1996) — It wasn’t so much a letdown, but the Buckeyes unleashed a 72-0 beating on the Panthers in Columbus. The game was over by halftime for coach Johnny Majors and the Pitt football team, as they trailed 52-0.

9. Syracuse vs. Pitt (basketball, 2014) — No. 1 Syracuse was undefeated and on the ropes at Petersen Events Center until freshman guard Tyler Ennis hit a buzzer-beating miracle bucket to crush the hopes of the Pitt men’s basketball team.

8. UConn vs. Pitt (basketball, 1998) — The Pitt men’s basketball team was enjoying a sort-of resurgence under coach Ralph Willard, but the season went down the tubes after UConn guard Khalid El-Amin shocked Oakland with this game-winner.

7. Pitt vs. Kent State (basketball, 2002) — The Panthers had a good shot at a Final Four berth with Indiana knocking off NCAA Tournament favorite Duke, but they couldn’t get past future NFL star Antonio Gates and Kent State in the Sweet 16.

6. Pitt vs. Notre Dame (football, 2012) — No. 3 Notre Dame was undefeated and charging toward the national title, but was down by two TDs against Pitt in the fourth quarter. The Irish regrouped and knocked off the Panthers in triple overtime.

5. Pitt vs. Vanderbilt (basketball, 1988) — The highly regarded Panthers — paced by Charles Smith and Jerome Lane — were expected to make a run in the NCAA Tournament until they ran into Barry Goheen and Vanderbilt in the second round.

4. Pitt vs. Butler (basketball, 2011) — Butler had been to the national title game the year before but wasn’t as good in 2011. Still, the Bulldogs managed to knock off the Panthers, holding a No. 1 seed, in a second-round upset in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Cincinnati vs. Pitt (football, 2009) — The Big East championship and a trip to a BCS bowl were on the line, as the high-powered Bearcats clawed back for a win to take it all away from the Pitt football team on a frigid day at Heinz Field.

2. Pitt vs. Villanova (basketball, 2009) — With a No. 1 seed and a shot at the Final Four at stake, the Pitt men were unable to stop speedy Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, who hit a shot with a few seconds left on the clock to boot the Panthers.

1. Penn State vs. Pitt (football, 1981) — Pitt had Dan Marino at quarterback, a perfect record and a probable shot at the national championship with rival Penn State coming into town. Pitt jumped out early, but it was all Nittany Lions after that.


March 18, 2014
by Mike Palm

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14 foods you forgot were endorsed by Pittsburgh athletes


If you’re at the right store (or, you can find Brett “The Diesel” Keisel salsa, Pascal Dupuis’ dijon mustard or Steel City Mustard featuring Neil Walker.

You may also remember the Hines Ward 86 Steak Sauce. How about Jerome Bettis’ World Championship Crunch cereal, mustard, salsa, peanut butter, pickles or BBQ sauce? Or Heath Miller’s Heath’s Big Money Bar? Or City of Champions cereal (with either Hines Ward or Max Talbot)?

Here are 14 more foods you may have forgotten were endorsed by Pittsburgh athletes:




Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw — Terry’s Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy).



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Penguins right wing Jaromir Jagr — Jagr Creamy Peanut Butter (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)



Steelers quarterback Bubby Brister — Bubby candy bar (Produced by Pittsburgh’s Chris Candies)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox — Tommy Gun Flakes cereal (Produced by PLB Sports). They also made Tommy Maddox BBQ Sauce.




Steelers running back Franco Harris — Franco’s Cheese Pizza (Produced by Burgettstown’s Panhandle Food Sales)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis — Kasparaitis Kruncher’s premium dill spears (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Penguins center Mario Lemieux — Mario Bun (Produced by Clark)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Steelers receiver Lynn Swann — Super 88 cereal (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)




Steelers receiver Louis Lipps — Lippsmackers Gourmet Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Pirates catcher Jason Kendall — Kendall Krunch cereal (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Olympic sprinter Lauryn Williams —  Fast Flakes cereal (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)


(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Steelers special teams ace Chidi Iwuoma — Geronimo Salsa (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)

On a side note, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans had very similar salsas at the same time.




Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — Big Ben’s Beef Jerky (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)



(Photo: Phil Pavely  |  Tribune-Review)

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — Fleury Flakes (Produced by Pittsburgh’s PLB Sports)


And finally, the Czech Republic leaves us with two mysteries:

1. Penguins defenseman Jiri Slegr reportedly had his own cookies around 1999

2. Jaromir Jagr breath mints? The text translates to “for fresh breath” and “eucalyptus extracts.”




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