1. One more quality defenseman makes the Penguins a contender in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins defense is not big. It is not physical. It is exceedingly fast. The emergence of Trevor Daley gives the Penguins three legitimate top 4 defensemen (Letang, Maatta, Daley), two of whom are adept at navigating the neutral zone and who are fast enough to recover for or from mistakes. And Maatta doesn’t make many mistakes. No team in the east, except for Washington, is close to complete.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t won a playoff game in five years. This is a major talking point on talk shows and in the blogosphere. How many NFL franchises would accept a head coach, who has never had a losing record, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl win in nine years?
3. Why have the Steelers not turned over every stone for more cornerbacks? In my library of monologues from my time on air at 93-7 The Fan, I have numerous segments from 2014 which hammered the Steelers for their lack of addressing the cornerback position. Patience is a virtue, but inaction is not. The Steelers may waste a Super Bowl offense with a Pop Warner defense.
4. In the discussion of roles and control within the Steelers, if the organization has ceded a majority of personnel decisions to Mike Tomlin, that needs to change. If they have not, changes in scouting and organizational personnel should be reviewed; too many skinny, ineffective linebackers, too many slow, small cornerbacks.
5. The Pirates are going all-in with their ability to find diamonds in the rough, eh? And yet, their payroll is already at 98 million.
6. Did the Rocky II ending bother anyone else? Having caught the end, for the one million and second time on Friday, it still bothers me that the referee counted on both Rocky and Apollo Creed. It clearly should have been a knockdown and fall. Rocky could have laid there for 30 seconds and still won. Sham!
7. If you haven’t bought in to Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan—here is my piece on Sullivan being the right coach for the Penguins—you should start. The locker room certainly has. The cohesion of the Penguins game is as good as the current roster will allow. It’s OK to buy in. Your heart will not be broken, if you have proper expectations. A Metro playoff round win with this roster would be a victory. If they are in the Atlantic Division playoffs, anything could happen.
8. I hope to see DFA’d Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez in the major leagues. His defense is below average, but I believe he possesses an above average bat, for a major league catcher. Surely some team will take a chance on a catcher, or back-up catcher, who can hit .260+.
9. The Pirates move to small-ball with John Jaso at first base is perplexing. The game is changing. Pitchers now dominate. To score via small ball is to string together at least three baserunners, hits, or other on-base activities. Crooked numbers will get even tougher, especially with the Pirates inconsistent line-up. Neal Huntingdon has proven me wrong several times, so I do not bet against him, but this feels like the year the Pirates struggle.
10. There is a media announcement coming later this month or next. Sorry, I can’t share more, yet. You will be hearing more of me, again.
11. Perhaps Rob Manfred will learn from Gary Bettman. Bettman’s great accomplishment is convincing big market owners they were outnumbered, and they would benefit from transforming the economics of hockey. Baseball has, instead, bribed its lower payroll owners with piles of cash.
Baseball took away the only advantage small market teams had; paying over-slot fees in the amateur draft to lure better players. Tell me again how small market owners agreed to that without demanding international free agents pass through the draft?! Oh right, the piles of cash…
12. If Ben Roethlisberger plays poorly against the Bengals, he may ascend to scapegoat status. Hell hath no fury like Steelers fans after bad losses.
13. Fans have not noticed the rapid regression of Martavis Bryant, who has not been worthy of a hat for several weeks, and Markus Wheaton. After Wheaton’s 201 yard breakout in Week 12, he has amassed 275 yards in the last five games. The pair has not been worthy of #2-#3 status, which has forced Roethlisberger to lock in on Antonio Bryant.
14. The spate of NHL trades means the store is open for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. A few weeks ago, GM’s were not shy discussing the lack of potential deals. Several trades this week creates momentum, and some fear in the GM ranks; fear of losing a coveted player. The iron is hot, with the Joanthan Drouin shoe yet to drop. A protracted Drouin saga could delay the next dominoes to fall, however.
15. Bobby Farnham has six goals with the New Jersey Devils, which means he has as many as the Penguins fourth line combined, and one less than Matt Cullen, Eric Fehr and Nick Bonino combined. One wonders what Farnham would have done with the Penguins and a coach who believes in him, like John Hynes in New Jersey. Belief from a coach makes a player better.
16. Ryan Johansen made two teams better this week. He made Nashville better by arriving, and Columbus better by leaving. Johansen had too many squabbles with Columbus, and they manifested in “screwthisplaceitis”. Nashville is now the best team in the West. They will miss Seth Jones, but the Predators still have a solid top-4 blue line, and Chicago proved, last season, a Stanley Cup can be won with only four defensemen.
17. If the Pirates struggle this season, how will Andrew McCutchen handle the frustration? As an emerging face of the game in his prime, playing on a well below market contract in order to help the team sign complimentary pieces. If McCutchen expresses frustration with the franchise, I will not criticize him. I also predict, in an ironic twist, the perpetually unhappy segment of the Pirates fan base will criticize him.
18. The Steelers learned a lesson last season, when they entered the playoffs with a practice squad running back. They appeared to learn their lesson by signing DeAngelo Williams to be the back-up running back. The lesson bore fruit when Bell went down for the year on November 1. They completely forgot that lesson by not scouring the market for a back-up to Williams, after November 1. Fitz Toussiant is the best available?
19. How many others were up all hours of the night, unable to turn off Making a Murderer on Netflix? The injustice done to Steven Avery is obvious. Brow beating a 16 year old with an IQ of 70 was unconscionable. The small town system decided the result before any facts were known. There were felons on the property the same day, carrying the potential murder weapon (a .22 gun), who had no alibi. Another suspect hid under the covers in his bedroom when police came to ask questions. Suspicious behavior? Also, amazing that the victim’s car key magically turned up, with only Avery’s finger prints and not the victim’s.
I hope amateur sleuths take up this case. I hope investigators begin to put pressure on the largely un-investigated suspects, who had proclivity and opportunity.
According to an investigation by the Milwaukee journal, there are four additional suspects with violent history, all of whom were on the property or had access that day. How many dirt bags lived within one square mile of that crime scene?!
20. The 2015 vintage of Mad Elf was not as good as previous years. It was not as smooth as years past, but I found a place selling it for only $4.50. Only visiting this place, a couple times, has required enormous self-restraint. Staring at my Christmas bills, also helped.
Pittsburgh Post Game will be off, Sunday. Enjoy both games!
Follow us on Twitter: @pghpostgame
Like us on Facebook Here