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Posted on: September 21, 2008 1:00 am
Edited on: September 21, 2008 10:26 pm
 

What I Think.

This is will be like Peter King's "Ten Things I Think", because I enjoy his articles a lot.  Any feedback on what the readers think would be appreciated.  I can't promise it'll only be ten things, but definitely a few about each professional sports team in Pittsburgh.

  1. I think if it wasn't for giveaways, fireworks nights, and concerts post game that the Pirates would average less than 8,000 in attendance per game.
  2. I think that when a team's most notable free agent signing is a 36 year old utility player (Chris Gomez anyone???) it says the team will never compete.  Is there hope for the Pirates? Possibly, but with each passing year, I feel like Pirates fans will be like Cubs fans saying "We'll get 'em next year" but next year will last longer than most current Pirates fans (are there any?) live.
  3. I do think that it's Scott Boras behind Pedro Alvarez not signing.  If Alvarez was a man, he would be true to his word and sign the contract.  Scott Boras saw a player chosen after Alvarez get a larger signing bonus and told him not to sign.  When will baseball do what it needs to do and get rid of Boras?
  4. The highlight of the Pirates season has been Nate McLouth.  My only worry is will McLouth be a one hit wonder like Freddy Sanchez???
  5. It appears that the Steelers ownership situation is not in the players minds.  The team has looked dominant.
  6. I think its funny that the media is saying billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller withdrew his $800 million offer to buy the majority shares in the Steelers, he only withdrew the offer after the Rooney brothers told him they were decling his offer. So why doesn't the media say the Rooney's declined his offer?
  7. Limas Sweed needs to step it up.  I thought his issues were solved after the team got him contacts so he could see.  As a second round pick he should at least be dressing for games.  I understand it's hard for a receiver to adjust to the NFL, but without the wrist injury, Sweed would have been a first round pick.
  8. Could all of this Ben Roethlisberger injury talk be the Steelers impersonating the Patriots?  Saying he is injured and playing then causing confusion because of the information available.
  9. I do not think the Penguins will be back in the Stanley Cup this year.  Miroslav Satan is no Marian Hossa, Ruslan Fedotenko is no Ryan Malone, and try as he might Matt Cook is no Jarkko Ruutu.
  10. Why did Ray Shero resign Mark Eaton?  The guy hasn't even played a full season's worth of games in his two seasons in Pittsburgh.
  11. Will this be the year we finally get to see stud prospect Alex Goligoski in Mellon Arena?  With Ryan Whitney out until December, I can see Goligoski playing in Pittsburgh.
  12. Call be crazy, but I see Finnish import Janne Pesonen makin the Pens roster.  He's a better option than most of the players in the AHL like Jonathan Filewich, Ryan Stone and Connor James.
Thats what I think for this week.  Check back next week for new views and news.
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 19, 2008 5:55 pm
 

Anthony Smith: Superstar?

Steelers safety Anthony Smith has been in the media many time in the past year for various things, including guaranteeing a win against the undefeated Patriots (dumb) and laying out his own receivers in practice. Anthony Smith is not a “thug” as a certain Pittsburgh sports writer claimed. Let’s be straight, Smith is not Adam “Pacman” Jones, Michael Vick or Chris Henry. Define those three, among countless others, as thugs all you want, but not Smith. He has never been arrested for drugs, questioned about strip club shootings or put in federal prison for dog fighting like the three listed.

Smith is simply a young player trying to make a name for himself on the team. Yes, even Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stated Smith showed poor “practice etiquette” by laying out veteran receiver Hines Ward and Willie Reid, with the Reid incident taking place earlier in camp; however, football is a physical game, so how can you tell a person he’s only allowed to be physical during games and not practices? It doesn’t make sense. For now though, he’ll have to play behind Ryan Clark and know that if and when he gets a chance, it may be his last. Defensive backs coach Ray Horton had this to say about Smith in a recent Pittsburgh Tribune Review article “He’s not going to play until he does it our way.” If Smith does it the Steelers way he has the opportunity to be a star, a feared presence in the secondary. Smith could, unlike Ryan Clark, make opposing teams think twice about throwing across the middle if they value the health of their receivers. When asked about Smith, cornerback Deshea Townsend told the Trib “…he's going to be a star back there. He's probably the most explosive player we have in the secondary." That is quite a thing to say, for two reasons; one being Smith is a guy on the same team as Troy Polamalu and second because he’s only entering into his third season. If anyone would know how explosive Smith is, Townsend would have a good idea, given he has practiced with Smith everyday for the past two seasons.

The biggest knock on Smith is that he needs to learn how to play the mental game. Guaranteeing a victory against the undefeated Patriots last season was in hind sight a bone head move; however, at the time Smith was trying to get his team psyched up in the week leading up to the game. His play in the game made him look like an idiot. He was out of position several times and that led to no less than one Patriots score. No one is perfect in any game, but Smith’s miscues and lack of positioning on certain plays were put under a microscope because of what he said earlier in the week. If no comments were made, those mistakes would’ve most likely been chalked up to inexperience and nothing more. I believe strongly that Smith’s practice hits on Ward and Reid are over exaggerated. The hit on Ward came during his second practice after returning fro a groin injury, and he was most likely trying to say to the coaches “Hey, remember me?”. For awhile it looked as though Pittsburgh native and Michigan/ WVU product Ryan Mundy would take Smith’s roster spot. In time, and hopefully soon, he will learn that lighting up his own teammates in practice is bad.

For Smith to understand the mental part of the game, why can’t veteran guys like Clark, Polamalu, Townsend and Tyrone Carter mentor him and help him? Smith isn’t a threat to their jobs right now, and helping him get his head straight would help the team in the season. To have Smith be able to come in when the game is on the line would be a great thing, just one of his big hits could swing momentum in favor of the Steelers, but in order for him to do that, he needs to learn to play the mental game and cut down on his mistakes that’ll cost 6 points. Here’s to hoping Anthony Smith can figure it out, and soon.

Category: NFL
Posted on: August 18, 2008 2:01 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2008 1:38 pm
 

Steelers Final 53 man roster.

When the horn blew to signal the end of the final practice at Saint Vincent College yesterday, many fans started to think about which unknowns will make the team.  I was one of them.  So here is my choice based on what I viewed at camp and read about camp performances for the final 53 man roster.  Please take note that the order in which players are listed won't be as they appear on the depth chart.

Quarterback (3):  Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon
      Notice no Charlie Batch,  I believe Batch will either be put on the injured reserve or just be released, even if Batch was healthy, the Steelers would be looking for a third quarterback after the season.

Runningback (5): Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Gary Russell, Carey Davis
     No suprises here, basically Dan Krieder and Najeh Davenport are replaced by Mendenhall and Moore.

Wide Receiver (5): Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, Nate Washington, Dallas Baker.
     Willie Reid has not shown enough to warrant a roster spot, time for him to go. The Eddie Drummond experiment is a disaster and the team would be better to go with Holmes and Mendenhall/Moore as their return men.

Tight End (3):  Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Cody Boyd.
    Jonathan Dekker may have taken Boyd's spot if he had not torn his ACL in the Bills game, but for now its Boyd.  Boyd is another large tight end for Roethlisberger to throw to near the goaline.

Tackle (4):  Marvel Smith, Willie Colon, Trai Essex, Max Starks.
     Smith will be the starter at left tackle, there's no question about that; however, Colon must prove he deserves to start each time he takes the field, as Starks will be waiting for a chance to reclaim the spot he lost in camp last year.

Guard (4): Kendall Simmons, Chris Kemoeatu, Darnell Stapleton, Tony Hills.
    There was never a threat to Kemoeatu's job at left guard; Tony Hills could become a really good guard if the team moves him inside.

Center (2): Justin Hartwig, Sean Mahan.
     Hartwig is larger than Mahan and should fare better against the bigger nose tackles in the NFL.

Defensive End (4) : Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Travis Kirschke,  Orpheus Roye.
    Roye gets the edge over Nick Eason and Ryan McBean, both of whom were underwhelming during camp and in the two pre-season games thus far.

Defensive Tackle (3): Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, Scott Paxon.
    Paxon will make the team, and other than special teams, will only see the field if Hampton or Hoke get hurt.

Outside Linebacker (4):  LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Arnold Harrison, Bruce Davis.
   Mike Humpal, a rookie from Iowa, had a chance, but after missing many practices due to a stinger, he'll end up on the practice squad.

Inside Linebacker (4): Larry Foote, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, Keyaron Fox.
     Fox replaces Clint Kriewaldt who left to join other Pittsburgh cast offs in the desert of Arizona.

Cornerback (5): Ike Taylor, Deshea Townsend, Bryant McFadden, William Gay, Roy Lewis.
    Only real suprise here is ROY Lewis, not Ray Lewis, who can player either corner or safety.

Strong Safety (2): Troy Polamalu, Tyrone Carter.
    Pittsburgh's Ryan Mundy has a chance to take away the spot from Carter or Anthony Smith, but a high ankle sprain limited his practice time and ability to take that spot away.

Free Safety (2): Ryan Clark, Anthony Smith.
   Would the media still call Smith a thug if he put devisating hits on a Browns wide receiver?

Specialists (3):  Jeff Reed, Greg Warren, Paul Ernster.  
   Reed and Warren are mainstays, and Ernster will use this opportunity to audution for a job next year.

This is my view of the team and we will find out later this month how close I am to correct.
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 9, 2008 1:12 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2008 1:13 pm
 

Steelers Quarterback Dilema

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch was injured with a little less than six minutes left in the second quarter of last night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  At first, no one thought it was as serious at it was.  It was not until coach Mike Tomlin came out after halftime and revealed in a television interview that it appeared as though Batch broke his collarbone.  A search on webmd.com reveals that the most likely course of action for adults is for the injured arm to be put in a sling for as little as a few days or as long as a week.  Webmd.com also reveals that a broken collarbone can take as little as four weeks to heal or as long as eight weeks.  As soon as the words left Tomlin's mouth, speculation began as to who the Steelers would bring in to replace Batch as the #2 quarterback.  Chad Pennington? Nope he signed with the Dolphins last night.  Daunte Culpepper? There are legitimate concerns about him.  Is his injured knee not fully healed? Or maybe he wants starter money for being a backup.  Byron Leftwich?  This is a real possibility.   There seems to be two options available to Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, one being ride it out with rookies Dennis Dixon and Mike Potts as the numbers two and three quarterbacks.  The other, most likely more realistic option is for the Steelers to sign a veteran quarterback to back up Ben Roethlisberger.

Could Dennis Dixon really be a realistic option as the number two quarterback until Batch recovers?  I'm not so sure.  I know an argument could be made that Roethlisberger was a backup his rookie year; however, Roethlisberger was also expected to be the starter at quarterback in his second pro season.  The expectations are not the same for Dixon, a fifth round pick from Oregon.  Dixon is expected to develop into the role of the number two quarterback, behind Roethlisberger.  We should also remember that it has not even been a year since Dixon had surgery to reconstruct his ACL.  Is his knee 100% yet?  That is a good question.  Does Dixon have the knowledge of the playbook and the poise under pressure to have the ability to lead the team if Roethlisberger goes down?  I'm not so sure.  From all accounts, Dixon has been less than spectacular in training camp practices, often throwing passes behind/low/high to receivers with a significant number being intercepted. As for Mike Potts, an undrafted free agent from William and Mary, he was unlikely to make the team with Batch and Dixon in front of him.

Could the team sign a veteran free agent to come in and be Roethlisberger's backup?  As was stated earlier, Byron Leftwich appears to be the most viable option.  Leftwich was cut by two NFL teams (Jaguars, Falcons), I won't try to deny that; however, he could be a pretty solid backup quarterback.  At 28, Leftwich still has a number of productive NFL years left.  While Daunte Culpepper is still available, who can really forget his years with the Vikings, he hasn't had a good season in years.  Culpepper had forgettable stops in Miami and Oakland.  There must be something wrong either with Culpepper's injured knee or his contract demands.  Leftwich is a career 58% passer and was forced out of Jacksonville, where coach Jack Del Rio opted to go with David Garrard at quarterback last season; Leftwich was then forced out of Atlanta with the selection of Matt Ryan third overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.  Another thing to consider is how will signing a veteran quarterback affect the other roster positions?  Should the Steelers want to develop Dixon, they would have to carry four quarterbacks on their roster, or risk losing Dixon before they can sign him to the practice squad.

Which way will Colbert and Tomlin go?  Only time will tell if they elect to sign a veteran quarterback or if they'll stick with the Dixon/Potts combo behind Roethlisberger on the depth chart.
Category: NFL
Posted on: July 26, 2008 1:28 am
Edited on: July 26, 2008 1:29 am
 

Nady and Marte to the Yankees

What exactly is Neil Huntington thinking, I mean seriously, Xavier Nady is hitting over .300 and Demaso Marte is pretty much lights out.  We would've been better off getting a few bags of batting practice balls for Nady and Marte.  Of the four players we got from the Yankees in return for Nady and Marte, only Jose Tabata will probably be a ML All-Star.  Ross Ohlendorf couldn't cut it in the majors this year so we take him and let him add to our pitching issues?  The other two players Phil Coke and George Kontos, are in their mid 20s and only in Double A.  That's not a good sign at all... At the pace Coke and Kontos are developing, they'll make a major league roster when they are 30.  If Huntington was smart, he would've shopped Marte to teams like the Red Sox, Phillies, and pretty much any team, as left handed relievers are hard to come by.  He also would have talked to the Mets, Rays and Padres among others about Nady.  Had Huntington shopped those guys, he could've gotten a more substantial return than a five tool player (Tabata) who has had some character issues in the past, a relief pitcher who couldn't cut it in the majors (Ohlendorf) and two questionable players at best.

I'm starting to wonder what the Pirates front office is thinking, do they honestly believe that by trading away two of their best players for players who can help in the "future", a term Pirates fans have heard for no less than ten years and we are still waiting, and people will come to see the team so the Nutheads can make money?  All the Pirates did was shed money so they can only sign 36 year old utility men (Chris Gomez?) next offseason.  When a team wants to compete you generally don't sign only a 36 year old has been.  Anyways, back to Nady and Marte. 

You could make a case that the X-Man would have been the team's represenative at the All-Star game if he didn't miss time with injuries.  Nady is currently batting 52 points higher than his highest single season (.278 in 2007) and 49 points higher than his career .281 average.  Who replaces Nady in the outfield?  Steve Pearce is the logical choice because of his ability to play right field and the power he has, but the organization would have to bring him up.  Doug Mientkiewicz is also a choice because he has been tearing the cover off the ball recently.  Who knows with this front office though, they may bring up Andrew McCutchen to play instead of waiting until September when the roster expands.

Marte has been the team's most consisten pitcher, and with the team's current pitching situation, why trade a player of Marte's caliber and not get a pitcher who can help in the majors immediately.  Who will close out ball games until Matt Capps comes back?  Maybe John Grabow, I don't know and I'm not sure Neil Huntington or John Russell know.

Mark my words.  The Yankees will make the playoffs and this trade will be remembered in Pittsburgh like the Aramis Ramirez trade is.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com