Cleaning out the Mental In-Box, Wide, Wide World of Sports Division.....
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a spectacular month of July, sporting a record of 17-9 that shot them back into playoff contention. August has not been so kind. With three games remaining, the August ledger shows them at 8-16. Fourth place in the Central, 14 games out of first place. Eight and one-half games out of the Wild Card spot with nine (9!!) teams ahead of them. With thirty games remaining, they have to go 18-12 just to finish over .500.
And here is some more good news. On his weekly radio show on Sunday, Neal Huntington led off with this quote:
"As we look at next year's club, the core of it is this year's club."
How would you like to be a ticket sales rep for that Pirates with THAT as your marketing slogan this off-season?
Le'Veon Bell has indicated that he will sign his franchise tag deal with the Steelers and report for practice on Monday, one week before the regular season opener. All the Steelers players and coaches are saying the right things. You know, "He's the best...it's just business....we're glad he's back...we need him to get where we want to go"...and blah blah blah.
When this season ends, and Bell goes and collects his pot of free agency gold in 2019, these same players, the ones who have been banging their heads at training camp and in exhibition games will no doubt tell us what they REALLY thought of Bell's hold outs these last two seasons. You know, like they all told us about what kind of a teammate James Harrison was in his final year with the team after the Steelers canned him.
Pitt opens its 2018 football season on Saturday against the mighty Great Danes of Albany University. I am looking forward to being at Heinz Field on Saturday to see Albany collect it's huge paycheck, and to spending another convivial season, my sixth, amongst the members of the ticket group I am in. That's will always be fun.
As for how is Pitt going to fare this season, I can claim no insight or expertise to make a valid prediction. However, I do know this: In the three seasons under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi (or HCPN, as he will be known for the remainder off this blogging season), Pitt has gone 8-5, 8-5, 5-7 (0-2 in bowl games; they failed to qualify for a bowl last year, and that's not easy to do in college football these days). It's time for the Panthers to take that proverbial "next step" under Narduzzi. Not sure what that means, but it would sure be nice to see Pitt in the race for a slot in the ACC Championship game in November. HCPN has already predicted that they will be in that game. Can't say that he's shying away from putting himself on the spot.
Oh, and Pitt is relying heavily on sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett, who as started all of one game in his career. Granted, that game was a spectacular upset win over a 10-0 (or were they 11-0 at the time?) Miami, and Pickett sure was great in that one. Still, Pitt is putting a lot of eggs in the inexperienced Pickett's basket. I hope it works out.
On the national scene, you are all familiar with the sordid tale of Urban Meyer and the ridiculous slap on the wrist that Ohio State handed him last week. This has been written about extensively by many, many talented national sportswriters and commentators, so I won't restate the story here. Suffice to say, most people, at least most people outside of the state of Ohio, feel that Meyer should have been fired. I especially like one columnist I read, and I regret that I can't remember who it was, who has renamed the Buckeyes coach "Urban Liar".
Well, at least we know who and what runs the show at THE Ohio State University, and considering their track record over the years with Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel, I guess we shouldn't really be surprised.
As for me, I have decided to effect any own form of protest. I have decided that I will NOT watch any college football game this season involving Ohio State. That could include several games of consequence, including games against Penn State and Michigan, and it could also include games in the College Football Playoffs in January. Although I would think - hope? - that that CFP Committee would bend over backwards to NOT include Ohio State in that four team set-up, no matter what their record.
Now, I know that little old me sitting in Pittsburgh, PA not watching a given football game or games on a given weekend or weekends will not amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but it will make me feel better about myself. So I have that going for me, which is nice. (Two classic movie lines referenced in one paragraph!)
The other big announcement in recent days was confirmation that Tiger Woods will meet Phil Mickelson, head to head, in a $9 million televised golf match over Thanksgiving weekend. Of course the Nine Large will be coming from someone else's pockets - yours! Yep, this made for TV event will be available only on a Pay-Per-View basis, probably cost you twenty-five to thirty bucks to watch this event.
Now I love Tiger and Phil, and they are arguably the two greatest and most important golfers (and in the case of Woods, one of the most important athletes) in this century, but this is pure money grab, worthy only of fading boxers, MMA fighters, and Vince McMahon. Also, between them, Woods and Mickelson have won exactly one tournament in the last five years. I don't begrudge anyone making a buck, but guys of their stature should really be above this.
Now, if they were going to play a skins game for $1,000 a hole OF THEIR OWN MONEY....that I might be willing to watch.