Benz: On Kang’s Season ending injury and MLB applying rules in the name of safety


So much for the 24 hour sports-news cycle. That happens when you cram in two games over roughly a 12 hour span. Here in Pittsburgh, we were barely a half day into our well earned grousing about the latest head scratching call at home plate under the “Buster Posey” rule. This after Pedro Florimon was called out at home on what could have been argued a violation of rule 7.13 by plate-blocking catcher Miguel Montero late Wednesday night. Then, shortly after Thursday’s 12:35 start, Pirate SS Jung Ho Kang was splayed out in pain on the infield dirt after he was taken out on a slide by Chris Coghlan who was trying to break up a double play. (Kang underwent season ending surgery tonight at Allegheny General Hospital on a displaced lateral tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscal repair. His estimated return to action is six to eight months.) BeforeRead More »

Benz: The commissioner has been neutered


When Judge Richard Berman handed down his ruling against the NFL, and in favor of Tom Brady, many of us wondered what the “post-DeflateGate” NFL would look like. After one week of football, we have our answer: It looks like the commissioner has been neutered. I’m talking lop off the twig and berries. Remember Gene Hackman as the bad-ass law man in “Unforgiven”? I always pictured Roger Goodell looking in the mirror and seeing that reflection. And, in his mind, every NFL player accused of wrongdoing was playing Richard Harris’ role of English Bob. Now though (to complete the entertainment reference cycle) Goodell comes off more like Steve Carrell in “The Office.” And his underlings are walking all over him. Here’s a quick summary of the first regular season weekend in the NFL since Berman deflated Goodell’s balls. Repeat offender of the highest order Ndaumkong Suh kicked the helmet offRead More »

Benz: Steelers Protecting the NFL Shield over their own team


HEADSETS AN EXCUSE? NO! WORTHY OF COMPLAINT? YES. In New England, my experience has been that if you aren’t a Patriot fan, and you have the audacity to even acknowledge any of the Patriots’ past transgressions (real, imagined, or alleged) many within their fan base are quick to drop you into one of three categories… 1.”Jealous Hater” 2.”Conspiracy Theorist” 3.”Troll” Since I’ve already been labeled all three in that region, I shouldn’t feel obligated to do this, but I’ll do it anyway. Here is my mandatory-Pats-suck-up preamble-disclaimer before writing about the Gillette Stadium headset snafu Thursday night as the Patriots were beating the Steelers 28-21 so I’m not immediately cast as a “jealous, hating, trolling conspiracy theorist”: I think the Patriots would have beaten the Steelers without the headsets going out. I get the Pats were affected too. I realize the team is responsible for the “installation and maintenance ofRead More »

How the Steelers CAN but still WON’T beat New England


I’ve been saying since the NFL schedule was released that “There’s no way the Steelers will beat the Patriots in the Thursday opener if the courts overturn Tom Brady’s suspension.” Well, of course there’s always “a way.” In fact, when it comes to beating New England, there are a number of ways the Steelers COULD do it. I just don’t see enough of them happening…maybe ANY of them happening…so that the Steelers actually will do so. Here’s a look at the remote prospects that could come together to help the Steelers pull off what I would consider to be the biggest road upset in the Mike Tomlin era. 1)Brady is too fired up: If you’ve seen the Patriots at all over the years you know that Tom Brady can…what’s a nice way to put this…”run a little hot?” You’ve seen him get into it with Bill O’Brien. He chased afterRead More »

Benz: James Harrison….The Moderate voice on a Roger Goodell matter


TUESDAY-COLUMN James Harrison can speak about this from an educated point of view. He knows what it is like to get picked apart by Tom Brady. He knows it’s actually possible for Pittsburgh to win in Foxboro if Brady doesn’t play. And he knows what it is like to wrangle with Roger Goodell. So the quotes he gave Monday about the looming DeflateGate ruling…and how he gave them…spoke volumes even though Harrison granted them in his usual taciturn way. When asked for his opinion on what Federal Judge Richard Berman may do, this is what the linebacker flatly stated: “I don’t see what a federal judge can do with something the players signed in the CBA which gives Roger Goodell the power to do what he wants to do. So if he is going by the letter of what it says then there is nothing he can do.” Interesting. FinallyRead More »

Benz: The Steelers downhill roll is getting faster by the day


FRIDAY-COLUMN Anybody take a look at the first two games on the on the Steeler schedule? At New England and home for San Francisco? Boy! Those are two teams that have had some bad offseasons, huh? In New England, LeGarrette Blount got suspended for the opener. The Patriots lost the likes of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Shane Vereen, & Dan Connolly off their Super Bowl roster. The organization lost a million bucks and a 2016 sixteen draft pick because of Deflategate. Tom Brady’s status is still in doubt. Brandon Spikes faked a deer strike accident. And former Pro Bowler (Aaron Hernandez) got convicted of murder. Meanwhile, the Niners lost coach Jim Harbaugh in a messy divorce. Chris Borland retired out of nowhere. Former player Ray McDonald got indicted on a rape charge. Ahmad Brooks is charged with sexual battery by the same woman. Aldon Smith got arrested again.Read More »

Benz: Michael Vick paying his debt to society doesn’t mean that you’ve paid your debt to humanity


TIOPS WEDNESDAY COLUMN I’m not sure what sickens me more: The Steelers decision to sign convicted dog-fighting killer and washed up QB Michael Vick? Or the length the fanbase is going to in an attempt to justify the move. What Michael Vick did makes him human excrement. And I don’t want him playing on the team I’ve rooted for my whole life. I’m not telling you that you have to feel the same way I do. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t. After all, we are the same fan base that disparaged the Patriots for employing Aaron Hernandez. We mocked Bengal felons over the years. We turn our nose up at the Ravens for building a statue to Ray Lewis and paying Terrell Suggs. And we wag our finger at the legacy on the “White House” era Cowboys. But, sure. Let’s bend over backwards to rationalize the signing ofRead More »

Friday Column: Ben and Sid, the failures to maximize the window of success in each players prime


FRIDAY – FEATURE In mid-June of 2009 things couldn’t have been looking better for Sidney Crosby and Ben Roethlisberger. Crosby was fresh off a Stanley Cup win and his second straight finals appearance in just his fourth year. He had already pocketed a scoring title and an MVP and was only 21. The once-in-a-generation career we were expecting to see was already unfolding at an even more rapid rate than even the most optimistic Penguin fan had a right to expect. Roethlisberger was coming off his second Super Bowl win in which he played the role of hero, leading the Steelers to a legendary fourth quarter touchdown drive. He had already been to the AFC title game three times in his first five years and was to embark on a season in which the majority of his Super Bowl teammates would be returning. This was the summit of “On IceRead More »

Friday Column: Going-For-2, The Kicker, The Fogg Machine, Wheaton & Safeties


TIOPS FRIDAY COLUMN Ha! Brady looks distracted! The court case is getting to him! Gisele may be leaving him! Garopollo stinks… Sorry. Got ahead of myself there. If we are judging on pre-season performance in advance of the big NFL Week One opener in New England, then that Hall of Fame Game outing shouldn’t make any Steeler fan feel great even if the scrubs played a lot of the night. So with that being said, here are some angles/trends/players to keep an eye on during game two of the pre-season tonight in Jacksonville. When will Tomlin go for two?: Speaking of the Patriots, Bill Belichick became the first coach to try for a two point conversion after a TD under the new rules because… well, because he’s Bill Belichick and this is the kinda stuff he does. F-you everybody else! Keep in mind, he also had Brady throwing from hisRead More »

Benz: Moderate Opinion needed for the biggest sports story in the country


WEDNESDAY FEATURE: DEFLATE-GATE “Hey, Tim! Welcome back to Pittsburgh.” “Thanks! I liked Boston. But it’s good to be ba…” “So what’s the story with Deflate-Gate anyway? Those Patriots fans in New England don’t really think Tom Brady is innocent do they?” There you go. That’s been pretty much every conversation I’ve had with every person I know since I moved back to the ‘Burgh ten days ago. People ask with a curiosity in their voice as if I was in some mystical foreign land, or like I was live in the courtroom when the OJ decision was read or something. But I get the interest. After all, for the past six months I was at ground zero for the biggest sports story in the country, and I was swirled up in the blender of controversy surrounding it. Nice business if you can get it for a sports talk show hostRead More »