Monday Buzz Column: Steelers Near perfect night against favorable matchup

 

Really Good Coaching on display in near perfect performance Okay, so which game was the fluke? Was it the game that left a stink last week that is still stinking up Philadelphia or was it the ridiculously easy blowout of the Chiefs Sunday night? As boring as the answer may be, both games were flukes. One fourth of the way into the season, the Steelers aren’t as bad as they looked against the Eagles and they’re not as good as they looked against the Chiefs. All you need to know is that, in one week’s time, they went from their worst blowout loss since 1989, which was two coaches ago, to their best first quarter since Art Rooney founded the team in 1933. That’s about as drastic a swing as you’re going to get from a pro football team. You know what else it is? Really good coaching. Not justRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: A tale of two coaches; Nova overhyped locally; Crosby World Best

 

  Monday Buzz Column “We play not to lose.” That’s not what Marvin Lewis said after his Bengals lost to the Steelers on Sunday but he could have. Remember what Mike Tomlin  said when he was asked about going for it successfully on fourth down twice against the Redskins, including a long touchdown pass? He said, “We play to win.” After a pass interference penalty, the Bengals were set up with a first and goal at the one-yard line with 2:58 left in the third quarter. The Steelers were leading 17-6. After losing a yard on a run up the middle, Andy Dalton’s pass to C.J. Uzomah was ruled incomplete when he landed out of bounds in the back of the end zone. Despite the replay showing Uzomah’s foot and a knee landing in bounds, Lewis, for some reason, decided not to throw the challenge flag. On third and goalRead More »

Tuesday Buzz Column: Players feeding off Mike Tomlin’s aggressive demeanor

 

Tuesday Buzz Column “We play to win.” That was Mike Tomlin’s answer to a question about the thinking behind having Ben Roethlisberger throw a 26-yard pass into the end zone on fourth and one in the first quarter Monday Night against the Redskins. Antonio Brown, of course, made the catch and the Steelers had a 7-6 lead on the Redskins. They completed a pass for a first down on fourth down prior to their second touchdown. Meanwhile, the Redskins’ coach, Jay Gruden was punting from the Steelers’ 41 and kicking field goals. That’s called playing not to lose. Mike Tomlin may not be the best game manager among NFL coaches but you have to give him credit for being aggressive. Nobody goes for two points as often as he does and he has the sideline demeanor of a guy who looks like he wants to be the one who willRead More »

Huntington’s unpopular moves saw the GM make an honest evaluation of this ball club

 

. So, how was your deadline day? The Pirates had a good one if sending the signal to your fans that the season is over on August 1st is a good thing. That’s what they did when they sent Francisco Liriano to the Blue Jays for an average pitching prospect, two days after sending Mark Melancon to the Nationals for two OK prospects. My favorite is Jon Niese back to the Mets for Antonio Bastardo, a left handed relief pitcher, who the Pirates had last year. Of course, Niese is the guy the Pirates got from the Mets for Neil Walker last winter. So, as it turns out, the Pirates got nothing for a second baseman who’s on his way to hitting 25 home runs this season. He has 17 right now. The last time we saw the Pirates on the field they were being swept by the Brewers inRead More »

Super Bowl Caliber Team or not, time is ripe for Steelers to send a message

 

Have you enjoyed your summer? Here’s hoping you have because summer ends on Thursday. Okay, maybe Friday. Steelers rookies report on Thursday, everybody else on Friday and, let’s face it, when Steelers training camp starts, summer ends. With temperatures in the 90s and humidity almost as high, it can’t end soon enough for me. I’d take 28 degrees and a blizzard over what we’ve been having lately, but it’s not about the weather. It’s about the conversation and the focus. Once the Steelers get to camp the focus is on September and the start of football season. Admit it, you will be in a football state of mind. This coming weekend is the last one without NFL football until February. The Packers vs Colts, 2016 Hall of Fame Game is Sunday August 7th. Maybe the feeling that summer officially ends when the Steelers show up at St. Vincent only happensRead More »

The Andrew McCutchen Problem is Growing

 

The Andrew McCutchen Problem is Growing Does Andrew McCutchen stink? Sunday night ,on WPXI TV’s Final Word, Mark Madden asked the question : “Are we allowed to say that Andrew McCutchen stinks?” I’m afraid the answer is yes. His body of work as a Major League player doesn’t stink. In fact, he was on a pretty smooth path to the Hall of Fame. McCutchen had just gone 0-8 in an 18 inning win over the Nationals on Sunday and his average had dropped to .244. Going 0-5 in Tuesday’s 9-5 loss now has McCutchen hitting .242 on the season. As has been pointed out here before, McCutchen has been bad since last August. He’s been a .245 hitter for about five months. Pedro Alvarez is hitting .254. Come on. McCutchen’s hitting .225 against left handed pitching. Last season he hit .328. Have left handers figured him out? It’s possible. We’reRead More »

Buyer or Seller & What to do with Josh Bell

 

Buyer or Seller How about them Pirates? They sure fooled me. How about you? Did you see winning five out of seven against the Cardinals and Cubs coming? That’s what they did before the All Star break and now they’re within striking distance of first place in the Central Division, seven and a half games back. Striking distance is nice but if that’s the best you can say going into the second half of the season, chances are pretty good that you’re not going to win the division. That’s based on lots of history, not just opinion. It’s a long season and the Pirates will cool off again just as the Cubs will get hot again. The 9-19 record the Pirates put up in June will probably end up defining the season and right now the only realistic hope is a wild card. The last 10 days may have madeRead More »

Has Gregory Polanco Arrived?

 

Polanco’s 1st half in line with Dave Parker Has Gregory Polanco arrived? Remember when he first came up in 2014 and looked like he was ready for Hall of Fame consideration after about three weeks in the lineup? From July of that season through the end of last season he looked like a guy who wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. He was a .250 hitter with average power. After being compared to Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Barry Bonds, he had put up numbers that were more in line with Orlando Merced at his age. Have you seen him lately? Did you see the two home runs he hit against the Cardinals on the Fourth of July? The first one, a line drive into the right field seats, was off of Carlos Martinez, who had been just about unhittable in his last six starts and hadRead More »

Officially a Bridge Season? Math is not on the Pirates side

 

2016 Playing Out as a Bridge Season? Who saw taking three out of four from the Dodgers coming? That’s what the Pirates did just when their season appeared to be taking it’s last swirl before heading down the toilet. They’re still way too far behind the Cubs – 13 games – to have any realistic hope of winning the division. Especially when the Cardinals are ahead of them in second place, 10 games out. As of Tuesday, the Pirates were still three games under .500 and in fifth place for the wild card, 4 ½ behind the Marlins and Dodgers in the wild card race and that really stinks. The Dodgers, Mets and Cardinals are all ahead of them. And all three will be happy to spend millions at the trading deadline to get better. The Pirates won’t. It’s not July yet and the math is still not insurmountable, butRead More »

Key ingredient of Penguins Stanley Cup Run – Having The best “grinder” in the world

 

“He’s the best grinder in the world.” That’s what Carl Hagelin said Sunday night about Sidney Crosby on NBCSN after Crosby had carried the Conn Smythe trophy around a few minutes earlier. Having the best grinder in the world is obviously a good thing to have because winning the Stanley Cup is the biggest grind in sports. NBC analyst Keith Jones, who, despite being accused of hating the Penguins and Crosby, does an excellent job, agreed with Hagelin. Maybe Crosby winning the trophy that goes to the most valuable player in the playoffs, after scoring no goals in the Final, will be a clue for the hopelessly clueless who measure him only by goals. There are lots of things to learn from the Penguins winning their fourth Stanley Cup. Many of those things should have been learned a long time ago. It’s a long season. If the Penguins don’t lookRead More »