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Showing posts from 2012

Peterson or Peyton for MVP? It's AP

Adrian Peterson just capped one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.

The Minnesota Vikings running back rushed for 2,097 yards, just a few feet short of Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 set in 1984.

Oh, he did it less than a year after a gruesome knee injury.

Yet it's not a lock for him to win the league's MVP award.

Some guy named Peyton Manning is getting a lot of the love.

Manning finished the season with 4,659 yards and 37 touchdown passes with the Denver Broncos after missing the 2011 season with a career-threatening neck injury.

Pretty impressive numbers, but A.P. is my pick, and it's not even close.

Manning took over for a Broncos' team that made the playoffs in 2011. He has two high-end wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. They have a solid running game with Knowshon Moreno and, before him, Willis McGahee.


He was the Vikings' offense.

The Vikes lost their top receiver, Percy Harvin, and had no one else. Their quarterback, C…

Bowl season really starts to heat up today

It's been a long college football bowl season, with games starting Dec. 15, but things really get interesting with a trifecta today: the Independence Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The Independence Bowl features Ohio against Louisiana-Monroe, with ULM favored by 6, according to

Don't let the names fool you, ULM beat then-No. 8 Arkansas and earned a bowl trip. Ohio has a 1,500-yard rusher in Beau Blankenship.

Saturday, my favorite game out of the five scheduled is the Pinstripe Bowl, featuring high-powered West Virginia.

We get an off day for NFL on Sunday, but the bowl games get better on Monday.

New Year's Eve has four prime games, including LSU vs. Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

On New Year's Day, there are six games to watch, the perfect way to nurse a hangover from partying your way into 2013.

I'm looking forward to the Orange Bowl to see if Northern Illinois can hang with Florida State. I also want to see Geo…

Turmoil is knocking at Pitt's door again

Just when you thought it was safe to celebrate another Pitt football bowl berth in the BBVA bowl, signs are pointing in the direction of a coaching change.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema resigned as coach of Wisconsin to take the job at Arkansas. So there were immediate links of Pitt coach Paul Chryst leaving for Wisconsin before you could even finish the thought, why would Bielema leave Wisconsin for Arkansas? (Probably money and the allure of the SEC.)

Chryst was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin and he played for the Badgers, so, naturally, everyone began connecting the dots.

I think Pitt and Chryst tried to sever some connections with this statement, but I'm not so sure:
I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstandi…

I like Louisville to the ACC

I've been a fan of Pitt athletics since I was a kid.

I've grown accustomed to failures and shortcomings the past 25 or so years, so it's hard to not take a cynical view of things.

When Maryland announced it was leaving the ACC and moving to the Big 10, it seemed like a minor loss for Pitt fans. Maryland football is nothing exceptional, but the basketball program could excite.

Today, announced the ACC has landed Louisville to replace Maryland.

As a Pitt fan, that's good news.

I think Louisville is an upgrade in football and turns the ACC into a superior basketball conference.

In fact, I think the new ACC will be better than the Big East's basketball conference, which, before the defections, might have been the best ever.

Pirates' pursuit of Russell Martin a mistake

There's no question the Pittsburgh Pirates need a catcher next season.

The rumor is the Bucs are prepared to offer Yankees catcher Russell Martin a three-year contract worth $25 million.

That sounds about right for the Neal Huntington regime.

They overpay for washed up veterans.

It's like clockwork.

I'm sure Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes, Nate McLouth and Rod Barajas are still fresh in your memories.

Maybe Huntington has forgotten. He certainly hasn't learned from past mistakes.

If reports have any validity to them, Huntington is pursuing a player in decline.

Martin hit .211 last season, which follows a trend in falling batting average since 2007 (.293, .280, .250, .248, .237 and .211).

He played for the Dodgers before his move to New York, where his power numbers improved (7 and 5 homers with the Dodgers before 18 and 21 for the Yankees).

Maybe the rumors aren't true.

Maybe the Yankees will decided to up the ante.

Maybe someone like the Seattle Mariners will outbid t…

Pitt football still has shot at bowl?

The Pitt football team still has a shot at a bowl game.

While I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not, I'm pretty sure it's a sign of how watered-down the bowls have become.

But, if the Panthers (5-6 overall, 2-4 in the Big East) beat South Florida (3-8, 1-5) on Saturday, they should be on their way to the prestigious BBVA Bowl or the granddaddy of them all, the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl.

It's a game Pitt should win.

Which means it's very likely they'll lose.

I'm not sure how a losing record in the Big East should qualify any team for a bowl berth, but it does.

But I guess we should look at the bright side: a season that started with an embarrassing loss to Youngstown State could end up with a bowl trip, no matter what bowl it is.

At least that's some momentum to bring into the ACC.

Steelers find a way to reach another low


As in eight turnovers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense had more turnovers than points (7) in Sunday's brutal-to-watch 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The day was better served to prepare for Cyber Monday shopping than enjoying a Steelers game.

Charlie Batch looked like, well, Charlie Batch.

The running game was 4-for-4, as in four different running backs with four lost fumbles.

And despite all of the deficiencies on offense, the Steelers still had a chance to win the game in the closing minutes.

I guess that chance existed in theory only. If you turned on the television late in the fourth quarter, you might have clung to the hope of a last-minute touchdown drive.

The rest of us knew how it was going to end -- a loss to the lowly Browns.

And while I just called them lowly, they are better than their 2-8 record coming into the game indicated. Their problem was closing out games, something they were able to do against the Steelers.  

At least the defense looked stron…

So much for Byron the great backup

I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…

Can't wait for the Pitt football season to end

The Pitt football season started with an ugly loss to Youngstown State.

I guess you could say my enthusiasm for the season left before the Panthers left the field that night.

I think Paul Chryst can be a good coach and I think the move next season to the ACC should be good for the program.

I'm not sure Tino Sunseri is good for the program, however.

After nearly pulling off the upset against Notre Dame last week, Sunseri threw kicker Kevin Harper under the bus, backed up, drove over him again and tossed him in the garbage.

Harper, you see, missed a field goal that would have won the game.

"We missed a field goal; that's why we lost the game," Sunseri said after the game. "It came down to a special teams play, we didn't make the play. Give credit to Notre Dame for being able to finish it off."

Maybe I'm being too harsh.

I don't think so. I'm pretty sure Sunseri has cost the Panthers a game or two in his career.

He certainly should know better…

Those Steelers uniforms were awful

It's not too often that I have to stop and do a triple-take while watching football on Sundays.

It might happen for an amazing play.

It never has happened for a team's uniforms.

Until Sunday.

The Steelers' throwback uniforms were awful.

The only thing worse would have been the Steelers losing in those horrible uniforms.

Someone at Heinz Field needs to throw away and burn those hybrid bumblebee-jailbird outfits.

Sorry it's been a while

I simply can't believe it's been more than a month since my last post.

And, as a writer, I can't believe how easy it is to get out of the habit of posting something here.

I'll try to get back in the habit of posting regularly again.

There certainly has been enough news going on in the sports world to comment on.

The Steelers have a two-game winning streak, the Tigers looked inept again in the World Series, and there's no hockey.

Penn State football seems to have recovered, Pitt football actually has won a couple games and Hurricane Sally lived up to it's billing.

Again, sorry I've let things slip. Thanks for checking in with the site and please return again.

Pirates' collapse is one of epic proportions


I was truly wrong about this year's Pittsburgh Pirates.

A little more than two weeks ago, I though the Bucs were on the right track this season.

It took me a little bit of time, but I was there.

Again -- wow.

I was wrong.

Maybe I should have waited a little longer.

Then I would have seen this epic collapse coming.

The Pirates enter Monday night just two games over .500.

I'm not thinking playoffs anymore. I'm not sure they finish with a winning record.

Clint Hurdle doesn't have a magic touch.

James McDonald isn't anywhere near the pitcher he was in the first half. He doesn't even look like a major league starter at this point.

A.J. Burnett hasn't been the stopper either.

There was a seven-error game, bad managerial moves (suicide squeeze?) and yesterday's meltdown by minor league pitchers called upon to protect a lead against the Cubs.

This has been a complete and utter disaster.

The joy of the first four months of the season are gone.

This stench…

Pitt football reaches all-time low with loss to Youngstown State

The Pitt football team lost to Youngstown State 31-17 Saturday.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The Panthers, in the first game of the Paul Chryst era, lost its home opener at Heinz Field to Youngstown State.


And it wasn't that close.

Youngstown State did what it wanted on offense.

Pitt couldn't do much on offense or defense.

An ugly loss? It was worse than that.

An all-time loss.

In their last season in the Big East, the Panthers didn't even look ready for Division III football let alone the ACC.

There's no way to erase the stink and stench of this loss.

It almost makes you yearn for the days of Todd Graham, who just happened to win his team's season opener 63-6.

But Pitt fans have to live with the fact that their team lost to Youngstown State.

That's not the way to start a season.

On the bright side: It can't get any worse.

Believe in the Bucs? It's about time

There comes a time when a team believes in itself.

Then there are times when a fan starts to believe in a team.

For me, I think that happened last night after the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0.

It took me 130 games, but I'm there.

I admit it, I fully expected the Pirates to crack this series against the Cards. Nothing changed after the Bucs lost 4-3 Monday.

Well, I thought they might get swept.

Instead, the Pirates responded with back-to-back shutouts of one of the teams they're trying to chase down for a wild-card playoff berth.

Today, before they enter a series against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates are just one game away from that coveted spot.

I'm not sure they'll reach it, but I have faith they won't utterly collapse either, which was a big fear before the Pirates bounced back and beat the Cardinals 9-0 Tuesday.

Maybe Pedro Alvarez will stay hot through the end of the season.

If he does, then I think the Bucs have a very good sho…

Summer's (un)officially over

Yeah, I know there's still a couple more weeks before the calendar says fall begins.

For me, however, summer ends when my kids go back to school.

That was today.

Golf's over (the PGA Tour's playoffs are a joke), baseball pennant drives are heating up and the U.S. Open has started.

Couple that with football around the corner and our vacation to Myrtle Beach, S.C., wrapped up, and it's over.

I'm just waiting for the trees to fall.

Why did they remake 'Total Recall'?

Every so often, I go off topic here.

After a barrage of commercials, I still have no desire to see 'Total Recall.'

Not even Jessica Biel or Kate Beckinsale can bring me to the cineplex.

Maybe it's because I was a fan of the original.

Maybe it's because I found the trailers uninteresting.

I'm still not sure. But I can say you won't see me buying tickets for it.

Maybe it'll be a rental.

Maybe you can convince me it's worth my time.

What's worse: Badminton or a badminton scandal?

Badminton is an Olympic sport.

Yet baseball isn't.

On top of it all, eight athletes have been booted from the badminton competition.

I'm still not sure what's more shocking -- badminton as an official sport or a scandal where eight athletes were tossed for intentionally losing.

And they were doing a terrible job at losing, too.

Maybe they should have been kicked out for being poor at losing.

Either way, gimme some good ol' football.

Or baseball -- the Pirates still are contenders.

One final question: Did NBC have a channel dedicated to badminton?

Pirates make a play for power

The Pittsburgh Pirates have their power-hitting outfielder.

The question is: Will it pay off this year for them?

The Bucs picked up Travis Snider from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher Brad Lincoln.

On the surface, it appears the Pirates got a minor league player for a successful reliever.

This trade should be better than that.

Snider provides a power-hitting threat needed. He's also under control for at least three seasons, meaning the Bucs should have an outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Snider for a few years.

That should be a very good outfield.

I'm not sold on Lincoln as a starting pitcher in the future. I think he could be a future closer, which always is appealing.

However, relievers aren't as difficult to find. Plus, they can bottom out really fast. Remember Evan Meek, the former All-Star for the Pirates?

This also reminds me of the deal that sent Ricardo Rincon to the Indians for Brian Giles.

We'll find out soon enough.

Is this the begining of the end for Mike Wallace?

Antonio Brown got paid by the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday night.

Mike Wallace hasn't.

And maybe he won't.

Brown got the long-term deal Wallace wanted.

Brown's five-year extension is worth a reported $42.5 million. Wallace currently is sitting out, wanting some big bucks that likely won't come from the Steelers.

Wallace can earn $2.7 million this season.

It looks like it will be his last with the Steelers.

Brown, the team's MVP last year, is the better choice for the long-term deal.

He clearly passed Wallace at the end of last year and looks like a legit No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

LeBron James must be Dreaming ...

First, Kobe Bryant claimed this year's U.S men's basketball team would beat the 1992 Dream Team.

Now, LeBron James said the same thing.

It's nice to talk, but James and Bryant must be dreaming.

This year's team would not beat the 1992 team.

No way.

This year's team would not beat the 1996 team.

And I'm not sure this year's team is a lock to win gold in London, either.

The 1992 team was stacked with Hall of Famers in Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. But the list doesn't stop there. There were 11 Hall of Famers on that team.

Other than Kobe and LeBron, I'm not sure anyone else from this year's team makes that 1992 squad.

And you can say the London team is more athletic, but tell me who on that team would stop David Robinson, Patrick Ewing or Karl Malone in the post?

No one.

That's this team's biggest weakness, no big men.

But it looks like dreaming could become a bigger shortcoming. They should focus on gold before they lose.

I'm back, but will Penn State be after NCAA punishment?

After several days of recharging at Allegany State Park near Salamanca, N.Y., I get back to reality with some big news.

The biggest has been the punishment handed down by the NCAA to Penn State.

It's quite a lot to take in:
$60 million fineNo bowl appearances for four yearsLoss of scholarshipsLoss of all wins dating to 1998Players can freely transfer Boom.

Now, Penn State starts to rebuild.

Coach Bill O'Brien has rolled up his sleeves to keep the team together.

Quarterback Matt McGloin and others are saying that they'll stay with the team.

That should be the least of O'Brien's worries. In fact, I think he'll be able to keep everyone on the team. He'll be able to rally the players and fans to support the team through this four-year postseason ban. The Us. Vs. The World cry will win over the players already on the team.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is the loss of scholarships. We won't know the full effect of that for years.

As for the punishment itsel…

Paterno family defends JoePa

A headline on said it all: Family says no Paterno coverup for Sandusky.

You can read the story here.

My question: What else would Joe Paterno's family say about the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State?

If reports are true, Thursday is the day we'll hear about the Sandusky scandal.

The Bucs' first half has been a blast

I took the family to a beach yesterday.

On our way in, we needed to stop to pay admission.

That's when I got a little surprise.

The cost ($3) wasn't a problem; it was the person taking my money.

"How 'bout them Bucs?" he asked.

For a second, I was stunned. Why would he ask me about the Pirates?

Then it hit me, I had on a Pirates T-shirt I got during a promotion a few years ago. It was old and worn, but perfect for a day in the water.

"Heck of a first half," I said to the attendant. "Let's hope they keep it up."

I never would have believed they would be in first place in the NL Central Division at the All-Star break.

They've been a real treat to watch this last month, especially with the hitting coming around.

And how about that Andrew McCutchen guy? His first half has been incredible.

Not only does he lead the majors in hitting (.362), but he's among the NL leaders in homers (18) and RBIs (60).

To no surprise, he's my pick -- a…

Federer reminds us how great he really is

Is Roger Federer the greatest to play tennis?

It seems hard to argue.

He's won all of the Grand Slams, including Wimbledon seven times after Sunday's four-set win over Andy Murray.

And he's No. 1 in the world again.

Pete Sampras was my favorite  player, but Federer has surpassed him.

Sunday's win, the 17th major for Federer, cemented it.

There's no other way around it.

Why's La Russa the NL manager at the All-Star Game?

Tony La Russa won't go away.

The guy retired from baseball after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.

But he won't go quietly into the sunset. He's back for the All-Star Game and he's ticking off some people.

The Reds and Brewers aren't happy with La Russa's picks. Milwaukee thinks Zack Greinke (9-2, 2.82 ERA) should be on the team, while Cincy says Brandon Phillips (.285-10-46) and Johnny Cueto (9-4, 2.26 ERA) should be, too.

It's hard to argue.

The fact is, La Russa is the one who shouldn't be there. Commissioner Bud Selig asked him and La Russa accepted.

Mike Matheny, the current Cards manager, should be the one making the picks, not La Russa.

And Matheny should be the one getting the criticism for the picks.

End MLB's tradition of one player represented from each time at the All-Star Game

I get it. Baseball is all about tradition.

When it comes to the All-Star Game, I've had it with the tradition of every team being represented.

I didn't agree with it when the Pirates were represented by Mike Williams, and I like it even less when Bryan LaHair is named as an All-Star.

I have nothing against LaHair personally. He's just not worthy of being an All-Star this season.

I'm not sure anyone from the Chicago Cubs deserves to be at the game, but LaHair was named as the guy to represent the Cubs, so it's his name that gets the attention.

LaHair is having a respectable season, hitting .284 with 13 home runs and 28 RBIs, but it's not All-Star worthy.

And when you look a little deeper and see that LaHair hit .390 in April but followed that month up with averages of .253 and .231 in May and June, and you see something that got a nice little bonus living off that one hot month.

But this isn't about one player. This is about ending one bad rule.

I understand…

Another major, another miss for Tiger Woods

Can you call Tiger Woods' performance in the U.S. Open as a disappointment?

Not if you're like me and you didn't think he would win.

Most people though Woods was back entering the tournament. After the first two rounds, many still believed, thinking this could be his big return.

I didn't. I held firm after 36 holes of the tournament at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

After seeing Tiger struggle at the Masters, I knew something wasn't right with his game. I didn't think his game could hold up over four days against the best in the world.

Yeah, he can win a normal PGA Tour event against a weak field. That doesn't mean he's back.

Saturday and Sunday confirmed it.

Maybe next time Tiger's game will be up for it.

Only time will tell, but he's slowly running out of it.

Tiger's not out of woods just yet

By many accounts, Tiger Woods is the favorite to win the U.S. Open.

It's just like the Masters, when Woods was coming off a convincing win and was tabbed as the favorite.

Tiger told us he was ready for a win and his game was in shape.

It didn't work out that way.

Tiger looked normal and didn't win a green jacket.

The Open starts Thursday and Tiger is coming off another convincing win.

We're also hearing similar comments about everything clicking for Woods before the tournament.

We'll see how that works out for him.

I think Tiger is trying to convince himself, the media and the rest of the PGA Tour his game is back.

He's trying to bring back the intimidation factor.

I don't think the top players are buying it.

And I don't think Woods' game is tip-top shape.

I think he'll eventually win another major, maybe even two.

It won't be this week at the Open.

Kordell Stewart retires as a Steeler

Kordell Stewart retired from football Wednesday.


Kordell Stewart retired from football.

It's so bizarre, I had to type it twice.

Does anyone really miss the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback? Was his time that memorable that he needed to sign a contract to officially "retire" as a Steeler?

I would have been OK with Stewart retiring as a Raven.

It's been seven years.

So now we can start his countdown clock for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame?

Baseball and poker similar in how action unfolds

The game of poker has received a bad rap for years for being too boring. Due to longperiods of inactivity in a game, players tend to tune out of the game. The funny thing
is, Baseball is also one that many of these same people happen to like even though
sometimes it also has has similar long periods of inactivity, even if those long periods are
not shown on TV.

In big poker tournaments, such as the highlights we see in the World Series of Poker, has
skewed the reality of how long of a process that the game can really be. Sometimes even
in baseball, during the World Series there are long period of innings where there isn’t
much going on, like in poker except one person raising and others folding.

That can change quickly and sometimes just as dramatically as a big solo shot homer. A
player can make a raise, followed by a three-bet from another player. The original raiser
then moves all-in and gets called. Now, all the people watching the event are on their
feet cheering and screaming fo…

Penguins still have a pulse


Shocking score in quite an entertaining series. It likely would be more entertaining if the Penguins were leading or even tied in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Unfortunately, they trail 3-1 after shellacking the Flyers 10-3 in Game 4.

Evgeni Malkin scored twice, Jordan Staal had a hat trick and the Penguins exploded on offense.

Marc-Andre Fleury played well in net, too -- at least after the first period.

It's just too bad this win, the first in the series if you haven't been paying attention, came in Game 4.

If this had happened in the first three games, then I'd give the Pens a shot to rally from 3-1 down.

It's nice they get to return home for Game 5. It'd be even better if they won it.

A nice 5-1 win, or even better, a shutout, would do wonders after a laugher like Wednesday.

At least the Pens aren't going down without a fight.

Penguins look lost against Flyers

I had a little more rooting interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins this year than I have in the past.

It was nothing special, but for me it was added incentive to follow them in the playoffs this spring.

I got to the Consol Energy Center for the first time about a month ago and had excellent seats, just four rows from the ice.

Like I said, nothing special, but it felt like I had more of an interest in this year's squad. There was something special about seeing them in person.

The Penguins beat the Coyotes that night, playing wonderful defense and getting great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.

Today, just a day away from Game 4 of the Penguins' series against the Philadelphia Flyers, I wonder what the heck happened to that team I saw a few weeks ago. The team I saw then wouldn't be trailing the Flyers 3-0 and be a good bet to book tee times as soon as Thursday.

I was fired up about the postseason. I thought they were a threat, but I wasn't as blinded by loyalty to pick…

Bad start for Penguins against Flyers

It was one heck of a way for the Pittsburgh Penguins to open the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night.

They had a 3-0 lead and plenty of momentum.

So much for that, along with home-ice advantage in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Stanley Cup contenders don't go around losing games when their up three goals or two goals in the third period.

Luckily, it was only one game, and it was the first game of the series.

There's plenty of time for the Penguins to rebound.

However, the Flyers have owned the Penguins this season. Now the Flyers know they can recover from being three goals down in a game.

I'd like to think that one game doesn't make a series.

But this one left Penguins' fans with a sour taste in their mouths.

Pirates' offense should improve

Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates likely will struggle to score runs this season.

However, I'm not overly concerned about their listless start to the season.

They've scored seven runs in three games, and managed just one run in their fourth (through six innings).

Three of the four starters they've faced have been pretty darn good pitchers -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw. All three have won Cy Young Awards.

That the Pirates managed to get a win in Lee's start is remarkable.

While the Bucs are looking at a 2-2 start, fans should be grateful it's not 0-4.

And the hitting should get better when the opponents' starting pitchers fall below Cy Young levels.

Is Tiger Woods the new John McEnroe?

I watched the Masters last week and couldn't believe the outbursts by Tiger Woods.

Was I surprised? No.

He's been doing it for a while, but I thought Woods could have shown a little more restraint and decorum.

I don't recall a golfer who consistently gets upset and displays it as much as Woods does.

He expects every shot to be perfect, every putt to find the hole. The problem is, it's golf. You can't be perfect.

While I was rooting for Phil Mickelson (I expected a meltdown and got it) and was amazed by Bubba Watson's shot that set up his playoff win, I couldn't help but compare Woods to John McEnroe.

Mac was the best in tennis at one time. He wasn't as dominant for as long as Woods was, but his touch around the net and shotmaking was brilliant. Oh, there was that temper, too.

Woods has that same temper.

It seems that with each passing day, there could be a growing audience in golf to see if Woods explodes on the course.

That number might not approach th…

Three straight years missing opening day

It's getting easier and easier for me to miss opening day.

This is my third straight season of missing opening day for the Pirates, and the Bucs are making it simple for me to extend my streak.

It used to be a given for me to get a ticket to go to PNC Park in early April. Now, with ownership being frugal, I watch it on television.

Until the Nuttings put money into the team to make it competitive, why should I put money into the Nuttings' pockets?

It's everyone else's choice, and I've made mine. I'd rather drive to Erie or Altoona to see a minor league game than endorse the way the Nuttings run their business.

Mike Wallace wants to be paid how much?

Who's the best wide receiver in the NFL?

Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings and Andre Johnson come to mind.

Mike Wallace? He's not in that company yet.

If a Sacramento Bee report is correct, Wallace wants to be paid more than Fitzgerald.

We're talking more than the eight-year, $120 million deal Fitz signed last year.

That's some serious cash.

It good be good news for the Steelers keeping Wallace in 2012.

It's bad news when he's an unrestricted free agent.

Pitt in CBI title game

Congratulations to the Pitt basketball team on a 20-win season after beating Butler 68-62 in overtime.

My question as they enter the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational championship series next week against Washington State: If they win the CBI, will they hang a banner?

And what would that banner say, "We're No. 101"?

The hammer falls on the Saints for Bountygate


That was the hammer coming down on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty program.

Coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, and the team will lose a second-round pick in 2012 and 2013.

That's what happens when commissioner Roger Goodell stresses player safety and Bountygate breaks out.

The Saints got what they deserved.

Goodell needed to send a message.

I'm sure the rest of the league heard.

I just can't help but think this won't put an end to it. The players will be much more secretive in the future.

Broncos need Manning but he's not the answer

I look at the Denver Broncos' pursuit of Peyton Manning and I see an intricate storyline.

It's almost like AMC's "The Killing," where multiple plots are weaved together. If you missed "The Killing" or are boycotting the show because of its Season 1 ending, try a more popular example, "Seinfeld," where two plots meet at the end.

First, there's Manning's search for a new home after the Indianapolis Colts decided to go in a different direction.

While there are plenty of people hailing the Broncos as Super Bowl contenders with Manning as quarterback, let's not crown them -- or Manning -- just yet.

Manning missed the entire season with multiple neck surgeries. He's also 36. Those are two big strikes against him.

He'll also be without All-Pro receivers like Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne. Manning's top running back, Willis McGahee, will hit an over-the-hill-for-a-running-back 31 during the 2012 season.

And will the Broncos…

Crosby to return Thursday night

Sidney's back.

That's great news for Penguins fans.

The hottest team in the NHL (9-game winning streak) gets the best player on the planet back -- with apologies to Evgeni Malkin, the likely MVP.

There's only one question I have going into Thursday's return of Crosby against the first-place Rangers.

Will he finish the season?

My fear is he's the next Eric Lindros, someone who will be forced to retire because of concussions.

However, I'm not sold on Crosby being the next Lindros.

My hope is the neck injury was more of a cause of his latest setback than anything else. If that's the case, and he just happened to be an athlete who had a concussion, the Penguins will be fine.

With the playoffs near and the intensity higher than it was when Crosby made his brief return earlier in the season, I think we'll find out soon enough.

Bracket Racket 4.0 picks your national champion

There are many ways to pick an NCAA tournament champion.

Some might pick their alma mater, others could go for a long-time favorite team while some could pull a name out of a hat.

Me? I have a pretty good formula going. It's called Bracket Racket. The success is uncanny.

Here's how we go from 68 to 1:

First things first, first-round games are a joke: Seriously, the NCAA wants us to think the eight teams playing "first-round" games have a chance while 60 others get a bye into the second round? Missouri Valley State, Western Kentucky, BYU, Iona, Lamar, Vermont, Cal and South Florida all are eliminated.

It's not sweet being a 16: Don't be a hero, scratch off the No. 16 seeds remaining.

Capital losses: Teams that go by capital letters are outta here: VCU, UNLV, WVU (go home, Mountaineers).

Wrong statement: I hate to break it to you, but schools with state in its name won't win it all this year. That means Iowa State, Wichita State, New Mexico State, South Dakota…

The NIT passes on Pitt

Everyone knew the Pitt basketball team wasn't good enough to get invited to the NCAA tournament with a 17-16 record.

It didn't seem to be a stretch for it to end up playing in the NIT tournament.

It turns out the Panthers weren't good enough for the NIT.

Instead, Pitt will host Wofford (19-13) in the CBI tournament Wednesday at the Petersen Events Center.

I'm sure we'll hear all the good reasons why playing in the College Basketball Invitation is a good thing.

It'll probably be along the lines of a young team will continue to develop, it'll give the seniors a chance to extend there careers a little more, and other happy thoughts.

I'm not buying it.

Pitt should have stated Sunday it would not accept any postseason invitations and spared itself of the embarrassment of being snubbed by the NIT.

The only thing worse would be a loss to Wofford.

Don't think it can''t happen.

NIT or CBI for Pitt?

What do you think: Will the Pitt college basketball team get an invitation to the NIT tournament or the CBI tournament Sunday night after the NCAA bids are handed out?

Maybe they should just pass after a 17-16 season.

RG3, Sanchez, Manning: Big QB news Friday night

Robert Griffin III a Redskin? Mark Sanchez an extension by the Jets? Peyton Manning could be a Bronco?

Crazy stuff.

The biggest, boldest move was the deal reported by, where the Redskins will trade up to get the Rams' No. 2 pick. The deal, everyone is assuming, was made to get RG3, the Heisman Trophy winning QB from Baylor.

It's quite a move, which could set up the Redskins or doom it.

It also allows the Rams to beef up their roster. They'll get two future first-round picks and a second-round pick from the Redskins.

The move I don't like is the three-year extension of Sanchez by the Jets. Sanchez has been overrated and overhyped by the New York media. Clearly Manning wasn't interested in the Jets or this move wouldn't have taken place.

I'm still not sure what to make of Manning's visit to the Broncos. I don't think Tim Tebow is the answer for Denver, but I don't think Manning makes them an instant Super Bowl favorite.

Is it worth it to continue with 'Alcatraz' and 'The River'?

I've had some bad luck with television shows in the past and it looks like I could be going down that same path again.

I got hooked on ABC's "V" and "Flash Forward" and Fox's "Human Target" not too long ago, only to have the shows end with cliffhangers and no conclusion.

I was a fan of TNT's comedy "Men of a Certain Age," only to learn it was canceled early. Same thing with the cop drama "Dark Blue."

I got a reprieve with AMC's "The Walking Dead," which might be my favorite right now.

But I waded into some new shows the last couple of weeks only to find out they could be canceled.

Yes, I'm one of the apparent few that watch "Alcatraz" and "The River."

And, you know what? I'm into 'em.

It just remains to be seen how much longer I'll have to enjoy them.

Maybe I should just bail before I get caught up in each show.

What do you think?

At least I can fall back on "The M…

Roethlisberger should have chosen his words wisely

The Pittsburgh Steelers put on a solid front in their introduction of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Thursday.

Mike Tomlin introduced Haley and made it a point to say that he was the one doing the interviews to find a replacement for Bruce Arians. Tomlin was trying to show he still was the one in charge, although if you read some accounts, it makes it look like he's going along for the ride.

Tomlin said the right things and hit on the right topics.

Haley, too, said all the right things. He made it a point to say he'll do anything to win, run or pass.

So far, so good, in smoothing the transition.

Then the media found Ben Roethlisberger.

You can tell he's still miffed at losing Arians.

It's understandable, but he shouldn't go public about it.

"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. "Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and the…

Nothing great or terrible about Haley's hiring

Call me indifferent on the hiring of Todd Haley as the Pittsburgh Steelers' new offensive coordinator.

I don't fall into the camp where Haley has lost his mind and is worried about people bugging his office.

And I don't fall into the camp where anyone will be an improvement over former coordinator Bruce Arians.

Now, I was happy that Arians was relieved of his duties. I did not like how he called games and I thought his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was too chummy for a coach-player relationship.

It might seem wishy-washy to be indifferent on Haley, the former Chiefs head coach and Cardinals offensive coordinator, but let me explain.

For all of Arians' shortcomings, the Steelers did win the Super Bowl with him and made another. I think only the truly excellent offensive coordinators can elevate a team and the truly poor ones can sink a team.

For most coordinators, I think they are as good as the players they have.

So while I believe Arians deserved h…

Super Bowl safety talk doesn't add up

I've seen one too many writers claim that if it weren't for a safety by the Giants at the beginning of Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots would have been able to kick a field goal to win the game at the end.

The theory, I gather, is since the Giants won 21-17, you would subtract two points for the safety, making it 19-17. Thus, a field goal wins the game.

I say it takes a simple mind to adopt that view.

Let's take away the safety, for argument's sake, making it 19-17.

Think back to the Giants' last touchdown. They went for two, to make it a six-point game. I guarantee you that there is no way -- none -- that the Giants would go for two if the game was 19-17. They kick the extra point to make it 20-17.

The Patriots don't get a chance to kick a field goal to win the game. The best a Patriots' field goal would do is tie the game.

There's one other point I'd like to make.

I'll even concede the Giants trying to covert two after their touchdown. I'll g…

Eli the best QB today? Nah.

I get it.

Eli Manning led the New York Giants past the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night.

He's a two-time Super Bowl MVP.

I get that too.

I understand the euphoria and the accolades beings thrown his way. But, please, don't call him the best quarterback today.

I'll take Aaron Rodgers (remember him) and Drew Brees over Manning any day.

The Giants simply own the Patriots

The comparisons between the Giants' Super Bowl championship four years ago and the one won Sunday in Indianapolis are eerily similar.

I grew tired of it after the Giants beat the Packers. And it grew and grew and grew.

And it became reality late Sunday when Tom Brady's Hail Mary fell to the turf.

The Giants not only beat the Patriots again, they rallied for a late score to win it, just like in Super Bowl XLII.

Strange stuff.

It's also amazing how the Giants have owned the Patriots.

There once was an old saying about how you couldn't beat Bill Belichick twice in a season.

The Giants just did it.

Personally, I think Belichick is overrated. I think Spygate tainted is other Super Bowl wins and his failure to win since those revelations confirms it to the doubters.

Belichick needed this win.

He didn't get it.

The Giants -- and Tom Coughlin -- own the Patriots.

In season of offense, a defense will win the Super Bowl

For a team favored to win the Super Bowl, I've seen way too many people pick the New York Giants over the New England Patriots.

So many are picking the Giants that I'm sure the Patriots are playing the Disrespect Card as one of their rallying cries before the game.

I'm not sure it will be enough for the Patriots to prevail.

Tom Brady has the offense, but Eli Manning and the Giants aren't too far behind on defense either.

The big question is whether super tight end Rob Gronkowski will play and, if he does, how much that high ankle injury will hinder him.

Gronkowski is a big part of that offense, and without him or with him less than 100 percent, it slows down the Pats.

Manning has the weapons, too. Victor Cruz emerged as one of the top wide receivers in the game. Hakeem Nicks is the other favored target who has plenty of upside as well.

Each team has the ability to score plenty. But, in a season highlighted by high-powered offenses, I think the Giants defense will be th…

Some of the Steelers' worst losses

The Steelers' loss to the Broncos in the playoffs still is fresh in my head, even though in was way back in wild-card weekend.

Also notable from that loss was a comment made by Hines Ward after the Steelers' surprising loss 29-23 loss:
"This will stick with (us) a lot as one of the worst games we ever lost." Yeah, that was a tough loss to take, but I'm not sure it cracks this list:
Steelers lose 24-7 to the Raiders in the 1976 AFC Championship Game. The Raiders beat a Steelers team without Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. This was probably the best Steelers team of all time and the injuries prevented the Steelers from winning three straight Super Bowls.Steelers lose to Cowboys 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. Neil O'Donnell makes Larry Brown the Super Bowl MVP.  Steelers lose to Patriots 24-21 in AFC Championship Game in January 2002. Troy Brown returns a punt for a TD.Steelers lose to Chargers 17-13 in AFC Championship Game in 1995. Ugly loss to a team the Steelers sh…

Who's the bigger goat: Cundiff or Williams?

After watching the two championship games Sunday night, one thing became clear.

An argument can be made that the Ravens and 49ers both lost the games instead of the Patriots and Giants winning.

That being said, which goat from the two games would you rather be
Billy Cundiff, the Ravens kicker who missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the AFC Championship Game into overtimeKyle Williams, the 49ers punt returner who had to bad miscues, the last set up the Giants' game-winning kick in overtime I think I'd rather be Cundiff. And I made that decision before reports surfaced that Williams was receiving death threats.

What's your take?

Ravens should meet 49ers in the Super Bowl

This entire postseason, we've heard all about the offenses in the NFL.

Then they played the games.

The defenses have stood out the past couple weeks, and I'd expect that to be the case for today's conference championship games.

The consensus is a Patriots-Giants Super Bowl, and there's nothing wrong with thinking that.

I'm not sold on it happening, however.

AFC Championship Game: Ravens at Patriots

It's all about Tom Brady in New England.

He's gotten all of the hype, and after a six-touchdown pass game, he deserves it. However, it's the defense that people will talk about after the game.

The Ravens know how to beat the Pats. They have the running game to keep the ball away from Brady and the Patriots' offense.

The big question is whether the Ravens will get the play needed from their quarterback to win.

Many people have their doubts, including members of the Ravens.

Somehow, with Ray Rice running the ball, and the Ravens smacking the Patriots around …

Overrated Arians might not be back with Steelers

Is Bruce Arians on his way out of Pittsburgh?

I fell for that two years ago when it was reported Arians wasn't going to return.

I'll refrain from cheering until I hear it's official. I'll also refrain until I hear who replaces him.

Instead, I'll repeat my position on Arians.

If he is such a good coordinator, as some might say -- or, at the very least, his supporters say Arians doesn't deserve the criticism -- why is Arians never mentioned as a possible head coaching candidate?

Seriously. Why is Arians never on the short list of any vacancy in the NFL? I simply do not recall him getting any mentions as a head coach.


The Steelers have been to two Super Bowls recently, winning one of them. Usually coordinators on successful teams have teams beating down their doors for interviews.

With Arians? There's no such clamor.

The clamoring is from people asking for him to leave.

They might get their wish.

I'm in that camp, but I'm hesitant.

Can the Steeler…

Let's not crown the 49ers' Alex Smith just yet

Alex Smith to Vernon Davis.

Seriously? Smith to Davis?

The next Montana to Clark in 49ers' lore?

That's what they're saying in San Francisco after Saturday's thrilling 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.

It's a great win for San Francisco fans. And Davis' grab at the end of the game was one heck of a play. He took quite a hit in the end zone.

But let's not make them legends just yet. So excuse me while a rain on their parade.

Once Smith continues to perform at a level warranted of legends like Joe Montana, then throw him in that class.

San Francisco's defense deserves some credit, too, for picking off Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice and recovering two fumbles. The Niners offense, however, continued to look like it was allergic to the end zone until the end of the game.

So, San Fran fans, enjoy the win. It likely won't happen next week.

The 49ers still are flawed and I would pick against them in the NFC Champions…

NFL championship weekend will be Pats-Ravens, Packers-Saints

I had a rough weekend picking the wild-card round.

I had too many outside influences on my choices.

Fantasy football leagues, home teams, allegiances all came into play.

I've eliminated all the outside factors this week.

It's time to bounce back.

Saints at 49ers:

Classic matchup between great offense and great defense. The Niners are at home and on grass, which should slow down the Saints, but I don't see how Alex Smith can lead San Fran past Drew Brees and the Saints.

If the Niners are to win, the defense will need some turnovers and probably score at least one touchdown.

The Saints are just too much.

Saints 27, 49ers 16

Giants at Packers:

Don't look now, but the Giants defense on a roll. They will face a serious test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but they are peaking at the right time.

Will it be enough? I don't think so.

All season, Rodgers and Co. have come through, putting up the points when needed.

The Giants might shut down the Packers for a quarter …

'Bama rules, but not in my book

I know I'm on the wrong side of the majority here, but I don't see Alabama as the deserving No. 1 team in the country after Monday's win over LSU in the BCS championship game.

Part of that is my belief that Alabama didn't deserve to be in the game in the first place.

The Crimson Tide didn't win their division in the SEC and didn't play in the SEC championship game. That enough should have kept them out.

But the way the BCS is rigged, deserving teams like Oklahoma State didn't have a chance.

And, yes, I did want to see Oklahoma State in the title game.

I think the Cowboys would have beaten LSU, especially the conservative one that showed up Monday night at the Superdome.

I don't think the Tigers would have been able to slow down Justin Blackmon, which would have given the Cowboys the edge.

And I think the LSU offense was overrated, too. They couldn't score a single touchdown in two games and an overtime against Alabama. Rave about the 'Bama defen…

What happened to that Steelers' defense?

I'm still scratching my head wondering how the Pittsburgh Steelers let the Denver Broncos win Sunday's AFC wild-card game.

The defense was supposed to be No. 1-ranked defense and No. 1 in passing yards allowed. Yet Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards.

Ike Taylor will get a brunt of the criticism because he couldn't cover himself with a blanket during the game.

But it's not all his fault.

The defense did not sack Tebow. In fact, it looked like they were afraid to deliver a hit to Tebow, who looks more like a tight end than a frail quarterback.

It appeared the Steelers sold out to stop the run, daring Tebow to beat them with the pass. In fact, it looked like they didn't think Tebow could complete a pass.

I have to admit, I, too, don't think he's much of a passer, but he completed enough to win. And, man, those completions were long.

Maybe the Steelers just had a bad game plan.

Maybe the team was too old on defense.

Maybe Ben Roethlisberger hurt them more than helped…

Steelers leave Denver stunned and beaten

The Steelers got Tebowed?


For a team to get Tebowed, it must have the game in control and have Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow pull out a stunning victory.

Outside a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, the Steelers never were in control of their AFC wild-card game against the Broncos on Sunday.

Tebow made the Steelers defense look silly, making big play after big play. He passed for 316 yards, a career high.

The last 80 yards came in overtime on a catch-and-run on the first play.

Game over.

Season over.

But  it shouldn't come as a big surprise.

Even though the Steelers won 12 games, they hardly looked like a dominant team. They never really had the look of a team ready to compete for a Super Bowl championship.

They especially struggled on the road, barely getting b weaklings in Indy and K.C.

And now comes the Tebow game.

The defense should be embarrassed for allowing the number of big plays.

I warned of a perfect storm brewing for an upset. It all came to pass.

You can blame …

Perfect storm forming for Broncos' upset

Everyone is saying this should be a playoff game the Pittsburgh Steelers win.

The Denver Broncos backed into the playoffs, quarterback Tim Tebow is struggling and the team doesn't deserve to be in the postseason.

I don't see it that way.

I see a dangerous team playing with house money in front of a home crowd.

I also see a beat-up Steelers team.

The game certainly can be a lot closer than people expect, and the Broncos can pull off the upset.

Fans point to Tebow's struggles the last three weeks, especially last week's 7-3 loss to the Chiefs.

They don't say much about a healthier Steelers' team that only scored 13 points against those same Chiefs.

And if you want to talk about struggles, how about Ben Roethlisberger's hard time playing on a bad ankle? He hasn't looked right in his two starts since suffering the injury. Will he be OK?

And I'll leave you with this final thought:

If the Broncos are trailing by six points or less with under three minut…

Pitt goes in wrong direction at Compass Bowl

The Pitt football team scored six points in its spring practice game Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.

The defense, however, gave up 28 points at Legion Field.

OK. It wasn't Pitt's spring practice. It easily could have been.

It was Pitt's BBVA Compass Bowl loss to SMU on Saturday, and it certainly wasn't any more entertaining than a spring practice.

The Panthers gave up 21 straight points before you knew it and had to go through the motions for three more quarters to secure a 6-7 record.

The highlights of the game included a blocked punt, a field-attempt hitting the post, a lost fumble by quarterback Tino Sunseri and a pass bounce off the helmet of one player and into an SMU player's hands.

Yep. It was that kind of a day for Pitt.

Actually, it was a fitting ending for a season that spiraled out of control, highlighted by former coach Todd Graham bolting before the bowl game.

Now the Panthers can look forward to the future with new coach Paul Chryst.

The actual spring …

Wild-card round in NFL playoffs should be wild

The NFL playoffs finally are here, and, if you're like me, you can't get enough of the stuff.

It looks like we should be headed for some high-scoring games, defensive struggles and some close calls this weekend.

Here's how I see the weekend unfolding:

Bengals at Texans:

The Bengals are lucky to be in the postseason, while the Texans are lucky to have a quarterback after going through about 16 during the regular season.

Arian Foster should get plenty of carries for the Texans, along with Ben Tate. The big question is whether quarterback T.J. Yates will be able to find Andre Johnson. If he can, it would go a long way for the Texans to win.

However, something tells me rookie QB Andy Dalton finds some way to win against a tough Texans defense. Maybe he hooks up with A.J. Green on a big play. Maybe the Bengals defense pressures Yates into a big mistake.

Bengals 20, Texans 17.

Lions at Saints:

This game should be fun to watch.

The Saints, powered by record-setting QB Drew Brees, s…

Big Ben's bum ankle acts up again

I was leery of the Pittsburgh Steelers playing Ben Roethlisberger against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

It wasn't worth the risk, sending a hobbled quarterback into a meaningless game, unnecessarily risking further injury to someone vital to the team in getting back to the Super Bowl.

Maybe there is something to worry about.

Roethlisberger had a setback with his injured ankle, making a road game against a struggling Broncos team that much more interesting.

For those thinking the game is a gimme, think again.

The Steelers have struggled on the road all season, getting crushed at Baltimore, struggling to beat the Colts, losing against the Texans, barely getting by the Chiefs and edging the Browns.

The wild-card game was going to be tougher before news of Roethlisberger's injury.

Now, it just got a little tougher.

No Mendenhall? No problem

I wasn't impressed with Rashard Mendenhall this season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back finished the season with 928 yards rushing on 228 carries, good for a 4.1 average. He also had nine touchdowns.

He tore his ACL in Sunday's win against the Cleveland Browns, and now the Steelers will enter the playoffs without their leading rusher.

No problem, I say.

Mendenhall didn't have it this season. He had just two 100-yard games, 146 against the Jags and 116 against the Rams. Other than that, his best total was 70 yards against the Patriots.

I don't think the Steelers will miss Mendenhall.

Isaac Redman, despite his two fumbles against the Browns, is a capable fill-in. He totaled 479 yards on 110 carries, a 4.4 average.

I expect the Steelers to use Redman, John Clay and Mewelde Moore against the Broncos.

The bigger worry, to me, is Ben Roethlisberger's health and how he can handle the Denver defense.

It's a shame Mendenhall was injured, but that won't be the ma…

Steelers get shot to tame Tebow

It was looking like Steelers-Broncos for a couple weeks.

Now it's official.

Pittsburgh will travel to Denver for the first round of the playoffs and get a taste of Tim Tebow mania.

It's a game the Steelers should win.

Just one quick warning: Don't get too confident.

Last year, the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record. Their opponent that wild-card weekend was the New Orleans Saints.

Seattle jumped on New Orleans early and held on to beat the then-defending Super Bowl champs 41-36.

Keep that in the back of your mind during the week.