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Showing posts from April, 2010

I've heard this Roethlisberger apology before

The apology almost has become part of a professional athlete's uniform.

Do something wrong, apologize and get along with your career.

They all sound the same, probably because those apologies are written by public relations experts. They all know what to have their athlete say -- or not say.

So after reading Ben Roethlisberger's apology Monday, I remain skeptical. But I'm not skeptical because of my preconceived notions.

I remain skeptical because I've heard it all before.

Back in 2006, Roethlisberger apologized to teammates, fans and his family after his near-miss with death after a motorcycle accident.

"In the past few days, I've gained a new perspective on life," Roethlisberger said in a statement released by the team. "By the grace of God, I'm fortunate to be alive ..."

Good. He's learned his lesson. He'll get his life on track.

At least that's what I thought, and I suppose others did too.

Then came the sexual assault accus…

With Ben, it's all about the Benjamins

I wanted to see commissioner Roger Goodell step up to the podium Thursday night and announce that the Pittsburgh Steelers traded quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

I didn't care where; I wanted him out of Pittsburgh.

Deep down, however, I didn't think it would happen.

Despite all his problems, Roethlisberger still means something to the Steelers -- money.

If Dan Rooney weren't cashing in his endorsement of Barack Obama with his ambassadorship to Ireland, maybe things would be different. He's more of a no-nonsense kind of guy.

But with Art Rooney II calling the shots, I believe character still counts, but Rooney is more of a businessman.

And in the NFL these days, it's a business.

I don't think it was a coincidence that Roethlisberger's six-game suspension can be reduced to four games.

I don't think it was a coincidence that the end of Roethlisberger's suspension would end when the Steelers have their bye week.

And I don't think it was a coincidence…

Steelers make right call with Pouncey

Maurkice Pouncey is a Pittsburgh Steeler.

That's a good thing.

The Florida center is a perfect fit for the Steelers.

There's a lot to like about him, too.

Sure, there are his physical attributes, but I was impressed with how, after he blocks one defensive lineman, he looks for more opponents. Some players hit their blocks and wait for a running back to go by them and head back to the huddle.

With Pouncey, he attacks. And then he attacks some more.

That will fit in nicely.

What I really liked was his excitement with joining Pittsburgh.

"I'm so happy to be a Pittsburgh Steeler," he told the Post-Gazette.  "I'm so happy they picked me. I just like the Steelers so much."

That's refreshing.

I can't wait to see him play.

Pens' loss to Sens hurts

I love playoff hockey.

I really love overtime playoff hockey.

I'm convinced there's nothing better.

But it stinks when you invest three overtimes in watching a game and see the Penguins fall short.

So Thursday's 4-3 triple-overtime heartbreaker isn't the end of their series with the Ottawa Senators. Pittsburgh still is in control with a  3-2 lead.

But now I'm worried.

Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire stopped about 1,327 shots in the nearly six periods of hockey at Mellon Arena. Or did it just seem like it?

For a guy that hadn't seen much action and was making his first postseason start in the NHL, it was an impressive game.

It was as impressive as the Penguins' start to the game was sloppy.

They were down 2-0 before the NFL draft even got interesting. That the Pens rallied was good. It was even better when they led 3-2 in the third period.

Instead, they head back to Ottawa on weary legs looking to close out a team that's found new life.

Hopefully, they c…

Brewers series ends on ugly note for Bucs

The Penguins can advance tonight and we're all waiting to see if Ben Roethlisberger gets traded during the NFL draft or sometime after.

Before that action takes place, I just have to write about the Pirates.

Did you see the score Thursday afternoon?

20-0.

Yes. Twenty.

And, if you weren't sure, they lost.

That makes it 36-1 against the Brewers in the three-game homestand. The Bucs just can't beat the Brewers. And, for this series, they weren't even on the same playing field.

That drops the Pirates to 7-8 on the season.

To paraphrase the coach from "Bull Durham," how did they ever win seven?

You can check out the scene here, it's one of my favorites from the movie.  Beware, there is some R-rated language there.

Trading Roethlisberger makes football sense

The Pittsburgh Steelers should trade quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to send a message.

The Steelers should trade Roethlisberger to protect their image, or their brand.

The Steelers should trade Roethlisberger because he hasn't grown up.

I've heard plenty of reasons why Roethlisberger should be sent packing, and I agree with most of them.

But here's one reason that I haven't heard much: Trading Roethlisberger makes sense from a football standpoint.

Yes. I think it would be a smart football decision to cut ties with a quarterback that has two Super Bowl rings.

There are a lot of numbers that you can discuss when it comes to Roethlisberger. You can talk touchdown passes, interceptions, wins, comebacks and more.

But there's one thing worries me about Roethlisberger: The number of concussions he has suffered.

He has had at least three concussions. Chances are he has had more than that.

How many more hits will it take to his head that will force him to retire? Steve Youn…

Wow. The Bucs sweep the Reds

Do you think the St. Louis Cardinals are getting nervous yet?

Probably not, but it's fun to think that they might be looking in their rear-view mirror as the Bucs sit one game out of first place after sweeping the Cincinnati Reds this weekend.

What was particularly encouraging is the way the Bucs are going about business.

They rallied in the ninth inning Friday and Saturday to win the first two games of the series.

With a chance to sweep, Paul Maholm had a strong outing on the mound, giving up just four hits.

Meanwhile, the Pirates made the most of their five hits, scoring five runs in the fourth inning against the Reds on Sunday.

Key hitting. Strong pitching. Good bullpen.

It's a recipe for success, and the Bucs have followed it in four of their past five games.

Yeah, it's been fun. And I know the bottom can fall out at any given moment for this franchise. After all, they were 9-6 last season.

But at least not everyone is satisfied with the start.

"It doesn't mean…

Time for someone to suspend Roethlisberger

I hate prepared statements.

Any time I see an athlete read from a prepared statement, I doubt their sincerity.

Anyone can read from a piece of paper. Anyone can rehearse and deliver a speech written by someone else.

I can't help but think that was the case Monday when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger delivered his short words.

Can't an athlete speak from the heart these days?

I know, I know, there are those worried that an athlete could misspeak, so prepared remarks can keep him on topic.

I don't buy it.

And I hope the league or the Steelers aren't buying it either.

One or both need to suspend Roethlisberger.

I'm tired of his antics. I'm sure the Steelers are too. Probably throw in NFL commish Roger Goodell.

Maybe the return of sensibility to the Steelers organization won't end with Sunday's trade of Santonio Holmes.

Santonio Holmes is the fall guy

So long, Santonio Holmes. Thanks for winning the Pittsburgh Steelers a Super Bowl.

I'm not even sure he got that kinds of sendoff after the Steelers traded their Super Bowl MVP to the New York Jets late Sunday night for a fifth-round draft pick.

Yeah, a fifth-round pick.

It seems like a low price to pay to acquire a gifted athlete, but a checkered past can do things like that.

Holmes is facing a lawsuit from a woman who claims he threw a glass at her. Holmes denies it and a witness has claimed responsibility. In 2008, Holmes was arrested for possession of marijuana, and he was involved in a domestic violence incident in 2006; the misdemeanor charges were dismissed.

That can be overlooked by some teams -- but not the Pittsburgh Steelers. Especially when your franchise QB has problems of his own.

Who's easier to replace: the QB or the WR?

That answer's easy. The receiver can be replaced. Holmes is expendable.

Could the Steelers have gotten better than a fifth-rounder? May…

I was afraid the Bucs would do that

The first road trip of the season started with a loud thud in Arizona on Friday night.

The Bucs got clubbed by the Diamondbacks 9-1, bringing to a screeching halt any warm, fuzzy thoughts about that quick 2-0 start to open the season.

Manager John Russell sent Charlie Morton to the mound and the D-backs sent him to the showers early, tagging Morton for eight runs and nine hits. Morton didn't make it out of the fourth inning.

"I just didn't bear down," Morton told reporters after the game.

Diamondbacks starter Rodrigo Lopez looked like an All-Star, tossing six-hit ball and giving up just one run. The trouble was Lopez is a pitcher the Pirates should be able to beat. He missed the 2008 season after Tommy John surgery. He had seven uneventful appearances last season and finished with a 5.70 ERA.

To add insult to injury, the stoic Adam LaRoche had two hits against his former team.

It doesn't get any better Saturday with Arizona sending out Dan Haren, a real starter.

Now those were the real Pirates

Garrett Jones didn't hit a home run Thursday.

So, naturally, the Pirates didn't beat the Los Angeles Dodgers either.

It's too early to tell if Jones needs to hit a home run for the Pirates to win a game. But it is quite easy to determine that the Pirates team that took the field played like the one we saw all spring and the one that closed out the 2009 season with a 19-46 record.

The pitching struggled, the hitting was spotty and the defense was bad, too.

It's not what we were treated to for the first two games of the series.

Maybe it's too much expecting a solid game from them against a Dodgers team that needed to get a win and a starting pitcher the caliber of Chad Billingsley.

We knew the Pirates couldn't win them all, but a 3-0 start would have been on heck of a treat. Luckily, they won the opener, proving they weren't going to lose them all, either.

We'll get a better idea of this team in the weeks ahead. And I have a hunch we'll get a clue wit…

"For Love of the Game" underrated baseball movie

Early April is one of my favorite times of the year.

College basketball wraps up with the Final Four, the Masters tees off and baseball returns.

The return of baseball is the best part.

Each year I bust out my favorite DVDs to get ready for the season.

Among my favorites: "Field of Dreams", "Bull Durham", and "Major League".

Another that doesn't get as much fanfare is "For Love of the Game."

It's one of my favorites.

I'm not saying it deserves to be mentioned as one of the best sports movies of all time, but baseball fans should like it.

As a side note, why doesn't "Back to School" get any credit on the best sports movies list? After all, it features Rodney Dangerfield diving.

Jones gives Bucs chance to believe for a day

Today is a day to remember.

A quick scan of the National League Central Division standings has the Pittsburgh Pirates in first place.

There's no game today, so the perfect record will stay -- for now.

But it won't last forever. A spot in first place won't, either.

And a winning record? Nah. This team's not gonna do that.

But for one day at least, the Pirates are in first place, thanks largely in part to Garrett Jones' two home runs.

Jones smacked a tying two-run shot that bounced into the Allegheny and later hit one that had just enough on it to float into the left-field stands.

The home runs turned around the game. The Pirates went from trailing 2-0 and ended up winning 11-5.

How good of a day was it? The Post-Gazette's Ron Cook went from predicting a 59-win season on Saturday to comparing Jones to Albert Pujols after the win.

I know the Bucs are perfect, but let's not get carried away.

It's just one game, and Jones isn't going to hit two home runs…

Here's the scoop for the baseball season

National League
East
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Florida Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets
Skinny: The Phillies look too tough. The Braves are re-tooled and look out for Jason Heyward, my new favorite player. The Mets have the worst team in the division. It was easy picking them last behind the Nats.

Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Houston Astros
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Skinny: This is the Cards' division to win or lose, and they'll win it again. I like the talent on the Reds. If it comes together, they should make it to second place, edging the Cubs. The Astros and Brewers seem close, but I'll give the Astros the edge. The Pirates ... well, they're the Pirates.

West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Colorado Rockies
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres
Skinny: The Dodgers are the best in the division and are an easy choice, let the rest of the NL divisions. The Ro…

Yankees-Red Sox opener way too long

Major League Baseball returned Sunday night.

Of course, they couldn't resist by stuffing the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox down our throat.

If you made it through the game, you were treated to a 7-5 Red Sox victory.

However, I wonder just how many people survived the game.

The opener lasted nearly four hours for a nine-inning game.

Four hours.

The game ended at 11:56 p.m.

Couldn't baseball start the game at 7 p.m.? Do they even care?

At least the Yankees lost and we can say they're in last place.

3 good reasons to root for Butler

I'll be up front from the start: I'm not a Duke fan.

With Duke, it's either you love 'em or you don't.

I don't love 'em.

Then The Indianapolis Star ran this illustration last week.

Pretty funny, I thought.

Coach K didn't like it, though.

Here's what the Associated Press reported from Coach K:
"It was kind of juvenile. Not kind of, it was just juvenile. You know, my seven grandkids didn’t enjoy looking at it: ‘That’s not Papi.’"It reminds me of Krzyzewski complaining to an official after not getting a call.

The Blue Devils could be up 25 points with five minutes left in the game and Coach K would complain about not getting a foul call.

The Indy Star didn't like the finished product and pulled it after 30,000 copies ran.

Noted newspaper designer Charles Apple recently commented on the illustration. Apple, like me, liked it. Apple thought it could have been better.

I’d have asked the designer to tone it down just a notch, perhaps. For st…