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Showing posts from November, 2011

Yes, the Pirates ornament goes on the Christmas tree

Call me a Pittsburgh Pirates fan? Yep. Guilty as charged.

Can me a fan of the Nutting ownership group? No way.

I'm so dissatisfied with the way things are with the Pirates that I haven't been to a game in two seasons. That broke a long-running tradition of attending opening day.

Today, we finished decorating our Christmas tree. My one son found a Pirates ornament at the bottom of the box.

"Here, you have to put it up," he said.

Well, no, I don't, I thought.

Instead, I did put it up. It's on the back of the tree however.

That still doesn't mean I'll be going back to PNC Park for opening day in 2012.

Penn State needs clean break

I agree Joe Paterno had to go at Penn State.

Tom Bradley was the logical choice to fill in while the university conducted a search.

However, John Smallwood from the Philadelphia Daily News thinks Bradley would be the best choice as the replacement.

Penn State needs a clean break from all things Paterno. Bradley has done the right things as the interim coach, but any reminder or link to Paterno or Sandusky needs to go away.

If that means losing Bradley, so be it.

Bad call helped Del Rio get extension

Maybe, just maybe, if officials at the Steelers-Jaguars playoff game after the 2007 season had called a holding penalty, Jack Del Rio would have been fired as the Jaguars coach before this week.

The Steelers completed a remarkable comeback against the Jaguars in that wild-card game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh led and had Jacksonville facing a fourth-and-2 late in the game.

Jags quarterback David Garrard ran for the first down, but Jacksonville should have been called for holding on the play, setting up a fourth-and-long. Nearly everyone who watched the game knew it, except for the officials.

Jacksonville went on to win the game 31-29.

Garrard got an extension after that season. So did Del Rio, who was hailed as one of the league's up-and-coming coaches.

Since, Jacksonville's franchise quarterback got released just days before the 2011 season started and Del Rio got fired before the season ended.

The correct call could very well have sent Garrard and Del Rio into a different dir…

Thank goodness Haywood's not at Pitt

I never was a big fan of the Mike Haywood hiring by Pitt last year.

I thought he was overrated and got too much credit for his Miami (Ohio) team's 9-4 record.

Why, nearly a year later do I bring up Haywood? A quote from today's Post-Gazette:
Pitt senior Chas Alecxih: "Our first meeting with Haywood, he came in with a wrinkled suit, the worst suit I've ever seen, then acted like we owed him something. He was very arrogant. And when we walked out of the meeting we all said, 'Wow, this is going to be our next coach.' So when he got fired, I was happy, and obviously we got a great coach in Todd Graham to come in." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Haywood. That quote alone should keep colleges leery about hiring Haywood.

Palko helps cure Steelers' lack of turnovers

The Pittsburgh Steelers sure know how to make an inferior opponent look good on Sunday night.

After escaping a game with the terrible Indianapolis Colts earlier this season, the Steelers survived the Kansas City Chiefs.

A defense that had six takeaways all season entering the game took four away from Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko in Sunday's 13-9 win. The clincher was an interception by Keenan Lewis with less than a minute to go.

And you have to thank Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for his lack of effort on the game-ending interception. Bowe looked deathly afraid to take a hit with the game on the line.

But for as strong as the defense looked, the offense never found a rhythm.

Throughout Sunday's game, the announcers praised the Chiefs' defense. However, the Chiefs had the 28th-ranked rush defense in the league, and Rashard Mendenhall picked up just 57 yards for the game.

However, when Mendenhall did get the ball, he looked strong.

Roethlisberger looked fine playing wi…

Pitt should sit Sunseri vs. Syracuse

That wasn't a Backyard Brawl in Morgantown, W.Va.,  on Friday. It was a display of how to lose a football game. And it was classic Pitt football from the 2011 season.

I bailed on Tino Sunseri as Pitt's quarterback back in September. Pitt escaped with a win against Maine, and Sunseri looked like a quarterback better suited for Division II or Division III, not a team that had aspirations for winning a Big East championship.

Nearly two months later, Sunseri hasn't changed.

Left with a chance to beat West Virginia, Sunseri looked awful. I'm not sure awful is strong enough, but Sunseri stunk when it mattered most.

Faced with a three-man rush, Sunseri got sacked four times on the team's final series and had an intentional grounding call, all of which were poor decisions.

Sunseri can't be counted on when the game is on the line. Heck, he can't be counted on to protect a lead.

Maybe things would have been different if running back Ray Graham didn't suffer a s…

Couldn't the NBA stay away longer?

I woke up Thanksgiving Day to find out the NBA will be back in time for Christmas.

I never asked for hoops as a Christmas gift.

Can I get a do-over, please?

Cash, maybe? Anything?

I could use a season without greedy owners and greedy players.

Now I can just go back to rooting against LeBron James.

All this Tebow mania is too much for me

I'm sorry, I just can't catch the hype with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Maybe I can't catch it because Tebow can't throw it without it bouncing to me. I watch him play quarterback, a position that usually requires the player to throw the football, and I see a first baseman.

The reason I make that comparison is not because Tebow reminds me of a power hitter capable of hitting 40 home runs in a season. I see him as a first baseman throwing groundballs to infielders between innings, because that's what his passes look like.

Look, Tebow seems like a fantastic person. He has high morals, strong convictions and doesn't come across as a phony individual.

That doesn't mean he can play quarterback or is immune from criticism.

Last Thursday he led the Broncos on a game-winning drive to beat the New York Jets. Then the hysteria began.

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige immediately jumped on the bandwagon. Tebow's 95-yard march drew instant comparisons to …

Welcome back, Sidney

Wow.

After missing almost 11 months of hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby returned to the ice Monday night and didn't miss a beat.

Rarely has a hockey game in mid-November been must-see television, but Crosby's much-anticipated return made it a can't-miss game.

Boy, did Crosby deliver.

He picked up right where he left off in January when two concussions forced him from the game when he was the best player on the planet.

Less than six minutes into Monday's game against the Islanders, Crosby delivered his first goal. He followed with two more assists.

In the third period, Crosby's backhand found the back of the net to give him two goals and two assists in his return.

Every time he touched the puck, it was excitement. It felt like watching an overtime hockey game in the playoffs. You just knew something could happen at any second.

And it nearly did, too.

Crosby's game sure hasn't missed a beat while he was gone, but we sure did miss seeing him …

McQueary said he stopped alleged incident with Sandusky

When news of Jerry Sandusky's alleged sex abuse scandal broke, my first reaction to the reported incident that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary witnessed, was why didn't McQueary do something.

Well, NBC News obtained an e-mail from McQueary to former teammates. The e-mail indicates McQueary did something.

"I didn’t just turn and run," McQueary says in the e-mail. "I made sure it stopped … I had to make quick, tough decisions."

The New York Daily News has a story.

I also didn't understand why McQueary was still on staff when others, including Joe Paterno, were let go.

After hearing Gov. Tom Corbett on Sunday, and he didn't say this specifically, but I'm of the opinion that McQueary's testimony is important. If McQueary ended up being charged or implicated, he could plead the Fifth, and not help the investigation. Maybe his paid leave is one way to keep him cooperating.

On a separate note, Sports Illustrated has an interesting article on…

AFC race is wide open

Entering Week 10 in the National Football League, it appeared that the Houston Texans might have been the best team in the AFC.

The Texans tumbled from the top after news reports revealed quarterback Matt Schaub could be lost for the season.

The Texans (7-3) have a great running game, an excellent defense and have one of the best wide receivers in the game in Andre Johnson. Now they won't have a quarterback to throw Johnson the ball when he returns after his bye week.

Matt Leinart is Schaub's backup, which means the Texans don't have a quarterback. Leinart couldn't win the quarterback job in Arizona after Kurt Warner retired and Leinart's former coach, Pete Carroll, didn't work out a reunion.

The Texans' woes is good news for the Steelers, who have a week off to get healthy. The Steelers close out the season with the Chiefs, Bengals, Browns, 49ers, Rams and Browns again. The only tough test will be the road game against the 8-1 49ers.

The main competition w…

Sandusky scandal takes another bizarre turn

What do you do if you've been charged with sexual acts with minors? If you're former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, you do an interview on national television and admit that you've showered with kids.

From there, we're to believe Sandusky did nothing wrong.

I watch with stunned silence the denials from Sandusky during his interview with Bob Costas. To me, Sandusky sounded cold and calculating.

What really was revealing was Sandusky's reply to this Costas question: Are you sexually attracted to young boys?

After an uncomfortable pause of about two seconds, Sandusky tells us he's not, but he enjoys being around young boys.

I was expecting a defiant, "No!" Instead, Sandusky said, " I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.

The whole setting for the interview was out of normal as well. Costas interviewed Sandusky by phone while Sandusky's attorney was seated next to Costas…

Joe had to go

It had to happen.

Penn State needed to get rid of coach Joe Paterno.

I don't care how many wins he has or how much money he has given to the university.

Joe had to go.

Did Paterno do the minimum required in the scandal that's rocked State College? Apparently.

But there was a moral obligation, too. Paterno had the power to stop Jerry Sandusky but failed.

Paterno's a man that was bigger than anything at State College. He called the shots there, and he knew it.

He was even defiant earlier Wednesday. Check out his statement:

"At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can."

Joe thought he could go when he wanted.

The school's trustees thought differently. They rightly showed him who was in charge.

In my opinion, Paterno was all about Paterno, building a legend, setting records and coaching forever -- or at least …

Suisham isn't so sweet for Steelers

After almost a day to digest the Steelers' loss to the Ravens on Sunday night, there are a few things still unanswered.

-- If Shaun Suisham can't be relied upon to kick a field goal, why still have him on the team?

Kickers are booting 50-yard field goals with regularity these days, so why can't the Steelers find one?

Yeah, I know Heinz Field is an awful place to practice your craft if you're a kicker, but this wasn't a 50-yarder, either.

I'm not sure if the delay of game penalty on the Steelers' last drive was planned or not, but it certainly wouldn't have been my call.

You either go for it or kick the field goal. The punt shouldn't have been an option.

-- Will the NFL review the hit on Hines Ward?

It certainly looks like only Steelers get helmet-to-helmet penalties these days.

-- I thought the line was fine protecting Ben Roethlisberger.

-- Antonio Brown looks like a star in the making.

-- Rashard Mendenhall appeared to have Chris Johnson Disease,…

Sad day in Happy Valley

I'm sure the events from this weekend surrounding the Penn State football program and former coach Jerry Sandusky have made the rounds.

AD Tim Curley and Gary Schultz have stepped down, and coach Joe Paterno is said to have been shocked.

I'm not ready to call on Paterno to step down, as Jason Whitlock has, but I'm having a hard time coming to grips over one thing involving JoePa.

If Paterno, the man more powerful and influential than the Penn State athletic director and university president, was so concerned about an alleged incident being reported to him, why did he simply follow the line of command and report the incident to his AD and forget about it?

Paterno couldn't do anything about it? He was helpless?

I think we're in the early stages of information being released. I can't see JoePa emerging unscathed from all this.

And, without a doubt, the university will be rocked by this scandal.