May 28, 2019
This past weekend, two sports stars passed away. Major League Baseball’s Bill Buckner and the National Football League’s Bart Starr.
Starr was 85, while Buckner just 69. The former Green Bay Packers quarterback passed away after battling complications caused by a stroke five years ago while Buckner died from an illness called “Lewy body dementia.” For Starr, he leaves behind a very successful legacy have won the very first two Super Bowls.
But for Buckner, despite an impressive 22 year career in baseball where he played for several teams, he unfortunately has had his legacy tainted with one simple play that he made a terrible error on that nearly everyone solely remembers him for.
It was the 1986 World Series and Buckner’s Red Sox were on the verge of bringing home their first World Championship in 68 years despite having made it to the big dance three times prior to ’86 only to lose. With men on base by the opposing New York Mets, a simple ground ball came Buckner’s way as he manned first base but the ball skipped through his legs allowing the Mets to win game six and then they took game seven and the title.
The unfortunate error haunted Buckner for years despite how well he handled the knowledge of knowing he cost his team a title, but it’s not fair that he shoulders all the blame, because the Red Sox still failed to win game seven or manage to pull out game six. In fact, that fateful game six began with two outs and Boston leading 5-3. Calvin Schiraldi was the Red Sox pitcher on the mound and with one more out, it would have been series over and the long drought Boston had suffered would have been over.
But Gary Carter singled and then Kevin Mitchell did the same and Ray Knight stepped up with another single scoring Carter. In comes Bob Stanley who promptly threw a wild pitch allowing Mitchell to score from third. Then came Buckner’s error with the scored tied 5-5 and Ray Knight crossed home with the unthinkable.
It’s a reminder of the Chicago Cubs “Bartman” situation from a 2003 as the Cubbies in the National League Championship series, playing the Florida Marlins had a three games to two lead and in the 8th inning, with one out, and a man on second, Florida’s Luis Castillo hit a foul ball that Chicago fan Steve Bartman interfered with as Moises Alou tried to make the catch. He failed and the Marlins went on a tear scoring eight times in the inning.
Bartman’s fault? Perhaps for one play which would have only been the SECOND out. Chicago’s pitching staff is more to blame as they not only gave up a stupid eight runs, but also five hits, and an error at short. Like Boston, they lost game six and seven. Chicago’s World Series drought was MUCH worse than was Boston’s as they had not been to a World Series in 58 years and not won a title in 95 years.
The Cubs’ failure to win a World Series would last 108 years until they finally won the big one in 2016. So for those who want to blame Bill Buckner for Boston losing the World Series in 1986, slow your roll. In 22 years, Bill Buckner averaged just around 20 strikeouts a season. That is an incredible mark. He hit .289 lifetime with 2,715 hits, and he knocked in 1,208 runs. Impressive.
As for current day baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates had their tails handed to them over the weekend by the National League West Division leaders, the L.A. Dodgers then split a double header with the Reds on Memorial Day. The Bucs record now sits at an even .500 with 26 in the W/L columns but they are still just four games back from Chicago. However, they have dropped to three games back in the wild card race.
In the Pittsburgh Penguins camp, for those of you worried about Phil Kessel becoming an ex-Pen, you can rest easy…for now. That’s because a potential trade to the Minnesota Wild has been rejected by Kessel himself. Reportedly, there are eight teams on Kessel’s approval list for potential destinations but the Wild is not one of them. According to Kessel, since Minnesota is not close to competing for a Stanley Cup title in his opinion, he nixed the deal.
Finally for today, my JERK OF THE DAY…it’s ex-Steeler Joey Porter. Last week he was being interviewed on television and he attacked Ben Roethlisberger and defended Antonio Brown. Should we have expected anything else? This from a guy who has been shot, arrested, and opened his big mouth too many times when he was a player. What did Porter say about Big Ben?
“It’s clear he has the power, and how he uses it? He uses it for him. You want your locker room to love you. Once you have a bad situation, they’re not going to pick up the phone. If you feel slighted by any teammate — friends, teammates — once you feel like you’ve been betrayed in any type of way, I’m not picking up your phone call. You can’t call me and say, Oh, I’m sorry the next day. I need you to be sorry when you did it. You can’t be sorry that late, so those relationships went the other way. Now that he’s being a man and apologizing now, it’s a couple days too late. All of that probably could’ve been avoided if he was coming to them and saying, I didn’t handle that the right way. But that’s the way he chose to go about it. He’s apologizing now, and it’s a little bit too late.”
What an idiot. He just needs to shut up. He has NO credibility. If you don’t recall, before Super Bowl XL, Seattle’s Jerramy Stevens made the following declaration:
“It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy.”
He was talking about Jerome Bettis and Porter took offense to those comments and responded with:
“He should know his role. He hasn’t done anything that makes anybody fear him, while Jerome is a Hall of Famer and everybody knows about him. Meanwhile, this guy is almost a first-round bust who barely made some plays this year. He has the nerve to say what Jerome is not going to do when he isn’t going to be the deciding factor whether that happens or not. I’m going to make sure he don’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game.”
Both men should have sealed their lips. Porter finished Super Bowl XL with just three solo tackles and nothing else. Stevens caught three passes for 25 yards although he did score once. Ben Roethlisberger handled this entire Antonio Brown situation like a consummate professional and did it the right way. All A.B. has done is conduct himself in the most extreme immature and unprofessional manner and continues to do so. It’s pathetic and embarrassing for Brown but he just keeps on keeping on.
A final note from the UFC today, Urijah Faber will be back in the Octagon. The former WEC champion who failed to win a UFC title will make his comeback at the age of 40 and most likely fight in July when there is a card in his hometown in California. I suppose Faber watched B.J. Penn lose again recently and felt he still had something left in the gas tank as well. Said Faber:
“Looking at today’s landscape, I just know that I can compete easily. I’ve stayed in great shape. It sounds like fun and the reason I stopped is because I wanted to. The reason I’m coming back is I have decided I want to … I just accepted a fight yesterday, I don’t know if that’s supposed to be put out yet.”
Looking at today’s landscape? I take that to mean he thinks the talent level that he might face is not very strong. He’s in for a rude awakening.
May 24, 2019
Remember when Andrew McCutchen was tearing it up for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 and would win the National League Most Valuable Player Award? Chants of M.V.P. were rampant in PNC Park and last night we heard it again, but this time for Josh Bell who is on fire in 2019.
In the 14-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies, the Bucs moved their season record to 25-22 and Josh Bell has been a massive reason the Buccos are winning. Playing at home yesterday afternoon, Bell went to the plate four times and all he did was bang out three hits that included yet another home run, a double, and a single to go with two RBIs, and three runs scored. Bell also walked once and his season average is now .339 which trails only the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (.394) who just so happens to be in Pittsburgh tonight for a weekend series with the Pirates.
The Bucs’ Melky Cabrera is also in the top five for average coming in today at .333. But look around the National League leaders lists and Bell’s name is everywhere. Hits? Bell has 60 which is good for fifth trailing the leader, again Bellinger who has 67. Home runs? Bell now has 16 which is just three behind Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich. Bell is leading the N.L. in RBIs with 47 and with 35 runs scored, he is just one run from sixth place in that category.
Bell is slugging the ball well too and with a slugging percentage of .718, that is good for third place in the National League with Bellinger at the top sporting a .765 mark. A second round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2011 after Bell played ball at Dallas Jesuit College Prep, the young man (now age 26) made his pro debut in 2016 and played in 45 games for the Bucs while hitting .273 in his first season with three round trippers.
He became the regular first baseman a season later and the rest is history with now 57 career home runs having passed his 2018 total of 12 already and is well headed for over 30 this year. He has M.V.P. numbers already and is simply red hot right now. The showdown with Bellinger this weekend should be a lot of fun to watch. The Dodgers are in first place and have an outstanding team, so the Pirates have their work cut out for them.
Around the Major Leagues yesterday, the Minnesota Twins are in first place and hitting home runs has a lot to do with it. Yesterday they smashed eight in a single game, making it twice they’ve done so in 2019. In the 16-7 victory over the Angels, it ties a club record but also makes Minnesota only the second team to have two eight dinger games in one season as the Texas Rangers also accomplished the feat in 2005.
This isn’t the first season in which the Twins had done this, as back in 1963 they also hit eight home runs in a game twice on April 20 and again on August 29 while playing the Orioles and Senators respectively.
In the NFL, ex-Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic did not stay on the unemployment line long. He has been signed to a contract by the Washington Redskins. In league rule changes, the NFL had endorsed a proposal for pass interference penalties that would permit head coaches to challenge questionable interference plays that don’t get flagged with the exception that any such plays that happened in the final two minutes would be automatically reviewed by a replay assistant.
Stop the presses…that rule change has now been modified. This week the league revised it by a 31-1 vote to allow coaches to make the challenge on a suspect interference call or non-call at ANY point of the game including the final two minutes of the first half or at the end of regulation or overtime.
Still on football, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell no longer part of the family, the social media posts have not gone away completely. When A.B. made his infamous “two face” Tweet, Terrell Edmunds gave it a “like.” Ooops says Edmunds.
“I didn’t see what was going on. I didn’t see the whole picture of everything until people started tagging me in it. I didn’t mean anything by it. I would never put down anyone on my team or anyone I previously played with. People just took it out of proportion.”
He had a conversation with Ben Roethlisberger who Brown’s Tweet was aimed at and according to Ramon Foster, Big Ben gave this reaction:
“Ben was cool. It was hitting the like button, that was all.”
I don’t buy or believe it. I think Edmunds read that post and liked it for one reason or another. Hopefully, we won’t be hearing about social media posts from players on the Steelers anymore. It’s all very stupid and immature.
Are the Penguins pulling a stunt that the Pirates and Steelers often do? That is letting a talented player go via a trade or free agency. I’m talking about Phil Kessel who apparently is on the trading block and its possible he is heading to Minnesota to become Wild. The Minnesota Wild that is are conducting talks with the Pens about a trade proposal for Kessel. Pittsburgh’s former goalie and current G.M. Jim Rutherford says other teams are also in the loop but I question why would you even entertain such a trade?
Phil Kessel is vital to the Penguins success and a four game sweep by the Islanders this past season is that devastating enough to shake up the team and deal away a talent like Phil Kessel? It makes no sense to me.
Closing out today, I give you some really idiotic admittance from one Lance Armstrong. He has done an interview with NBCSN which will air on May 29 after the Stanley Cup Final game being broadcast next week an in it, he said the following:
“I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't change the way I acted. I mean I would, but this is a longer answer. Primarily, I wouldn't change the lessons that I've learned. I don't learn all the lessons if I don't act that way. I don't get investigated and sanctioned if I don't act the way I acted. If I just doped and didn't say a thing, none of that would have happened. None of it. I was begging for, I was asking for them to come after me. It was an easy target.
We did what we had to do to win. It wasn't legal, but I wouldn't change a thing - whether it's losing a bunch of money, going from hero to zero.”
One word for that commentary and Armstrong…LOSER. PEDs and steroids are obviously a major problem in professional and amateur sports. I’ve argued before that I don’t believe they help performances so much in the manner of skill. What I’m saying is you still have to know who to hit or pitch a baseball, you still have to know how to block, run, or tackle in football, you still have to know martial arts to be very good in that sport. BUT, in cycling, there endurance is KEY. Especially in the Tour De France. So PEDs and steroids ABSOLUTELY give an athlete an advantage.
For Lance Armstrong to say it was OK to do what he did? That’s disgraceful and a slap in the face to the sport of cycling. He should be ashamed of himself and instead admitting what he did was not just illegal as he mentioned but that it is also unsportsmanlike and unfair.
May 23, 2019
Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be an improved team or a worse team from the 2018 season that resulted in a non-playoff appearance and only nine wins?
Today I found one writer who believes the Steelers could in fact improve their performance from last year for four very simple reasons.
4 reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers could improve in 2019
By Wyatt Krehbiel, stillcurtain.com
Every NFL team heads into training camp full of hope for the future. The Pittsburgh Steelers are no exception. They finished the 2018 season at 9-6 and failed to make the playoffs – a fate they hope to avoid in 2019. To do that they will need to improve as a team. Here are four reasons why the Steelers could improve in the 2019 season.
1. The addition of an every-down linebacker
The biggest difference for the Steelers defense in 2019 will likely be the addition of a player that can play a similar role to the one Ryan Shazier used to hold. Devin Bush was drafted out of Michigan to play that role. He is fast for a linebacker and can play sideline to sideline. Bush can drop back in coverage as well as rush the passer as a blitzer. In all likelihood, Bush won’t be as good of a player as Shazier was but will have a big impact on the team’s defense. The Steelers need a guy that can stay on the field and impact a game in different ways from the linebacker spot and they traded up to acquire Bush because they believe he can do that.
2. Less drama surrounding the team
The issues surrounding Pittsburgh last season have been well documented at this point. Fortunately for fans of the team, the two players that appear to be at the heart of the issue have moved on. Losing players of the caliber of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown is hard to spin in a positive direction, however, a more unified locker room and less negative media attention can only be seen as a positive. On top of that Bell didn’t play at all last season as part of a contract holdout. Brown and Bell are both great football players but the team has an opportunity for a fresh start that could provide a boost next season.
3. An improved defensive secondary
The Steelers secondary hasn’t been a strength of the defense since the days of Troy Polamalu, and Ike Taylor. It may not be a strength next season either but there is hope that it won’t be a weakness either. Pittsburgh signed Steven Nelson this offseason and drafted Justin Layne to strengthen their cornerback room. They also have a pair of young safeties in Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds who should continue to improve.
4. A career year from Bud Dupree
One Steelers outside linebacker is a rising star in the league. T.J. Watt lead the team with thirteen sacks last season and appears poised to maintain that pace. On the other side of the field, there are questions, however. Bud Dupree has been a solid player but not the elite pass rusher Pittsburgh hoped he could be. He has shown flashes and has all the physical tools entering a contract year. The team has shown faith in him by picking up his fifth-year option and not making any big moves this offseason to find his replacement. Now it’s time for him to step up in a big way if he wants to get paid.
For you fantasy football players, if you are looking for members of the Steelers to add to your next season’s roster, you might consider the advice below.
Fantasy: 7 sleepers to steal near the end of your draft
Justin Boone, thescore.com
A fantasy sleeper can be defined in many ways, but here we aim to find players flying under the radar who could emerge as significant assets.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Steelers
The Antonio Brown-sized hole in the Steelers' offense is one that won't be filled by JuJu Smith-Schuster alone. After all, JuJu saw 166 targets in 2018, so there isn't much room for that number to grow. Replacing the 168 targets left behind by Brown will fall on Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, and tight end Vance McDonald. It's possible we look back a year from now and realize it was a collective effort by several members of that group, but at the moment, it seems as though Moncrief and Washington will have increased roles.
Moncrief comes with a three-round discount as a free-agent signing whose stock fell after stops in Indianapolis and Jacksonville were capped by injuries and poor quarterback play. The 25-year-old has flashed game-breaking ability throughout his career, including 13 touchdowns combined during the 2015 and 2016 campaigns, he's just never been able to put everything together over a full season.
The 6-foot-2, 216-pound wideout was a top-30 fantasy receiver during a seven-week stretch last year, which was highlighted by stat lines of 5-109-1, 6-76-0, 7-76-0, 4-54-0, and 3-98-1. He'll now get a significant upgrade at quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger. If Moncrief can win the No. 2 job, a fantasy breakout is still within reach.
Overachiever potential: ★★★★☆ 4 out of 5 stars
Average Draft Position: 13th round (WR57)
Why can’t the Pittsburgh Pirates put together long winning streaks? Their inconsistency will probably cost them a shot at winning the National League Central Division title or a wild card spot. After winning seven of 10 including three in a row following last weekend’s sweep, the Bucs have now lost two in a row and have dropped to 4 ½ games behind first place, 2 ½ behind second place Milwaukee.
Pittsburgh is also one game back in the wild card race.. The Colorado Rockies handed the Buccos a big loss last night and they play again today in the series finale at 12:35.
Finally for today, a recognition of several birthdays celebrated today. The first is of my favorite professional boxer growing up, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler who actually is only five years my senior at 65. Hagler hung up the gloves after losing a decision to "Sugar Ray" Leonard this after boxing changed the championship rounds from 15 to 12. Had it stayed 15, I believe Hagler wins that fight. Still, he was one of the most feared fighters of his era.
Not with us anymore but he lived a very long life passing at the age of 99 is William Ellsworth Hoy more commonly known as "Dummy." Hoy was born 157 years ago today and made it as a player in Major League Baseball besides being deaf. Hoy is credited with the creation of signals for player being called safe and out derived because of his inability to hear. When mentioning Hoy, it reminds of of another player from a different era, Pete Gray who also had a short career in pro baseball all while taking the field without an arm, a dilemma he was born with.
May 21, 2019
Is the Pittsburgh Steelers' Artie Burns on the "hot seat?" Are his playing days in Black and Gold over? One reporter believes the answer could be yes.
NFL offseason agendas: Barnwell's to-do lists for all 16 AFC teams
Bill Barnwell, ESPN.com
No NFL team manages to fill all of its holes during the offseason. Each has a weak point or two that gets revealed by injuries or disappointing play over the course of a season. Even the most successful offseasons of 2018 prove that point. The Bears surrounded Mitchell Trubisky with talent, acquired a dominant pass-rusher in Khalil Mack and won the NFC North, only to see the kicker who signed a four-year extension sputter out and collapse at the worst possible moment. The Colts needed to turn to midseason acquisition Dontrelle Inman when their wideouts were struggling to stay healthy.
Every NFL team still has some work to do. In some cases, that's filling a roster spot or supplementing a positional group. In others, it's locking up a player who is about to hit free agency. Some teams have much more to do over the next few months than others.
After identifying on Monday the key things all 16 NFC teams have to accomplish before the calendar turns to September, let's finish up today with the AFC, where we still have one team in need of a general manager as we approach June:
Explore the trade market for Artie Burns. It's too early to give up on Burns, who looked to be a promising cornerback as recently as this time last year, but the former first-round pick was torched during the first half of 2018 before being benched for virtually the entire second half of the campaign. The Steelers declined his fifth-year option and signed Steven Nelson to take Burns' place in the lineup; at this point, it's probably more important for the organization to see what Cameron Sutton and Justin Layne have to offer.
Burns should have some trade value, given that he's still just 24 and would cost the acquiring team only $1.8 million. Teams like the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots are fond of taking shots on rookie deal corners, although you would understand if the Steelers didn't exactly want to pick up the phone and dial any of those rivals. It might instead make sense to target NFC teams like the Lions and Cardinals as possible trade partners.
Then we have an opinion on who the best rookie for the Steelers will be in 2019:
Predicting every NFL team's breakout rookie
Michael McClymont, Jack Browne, theScore.com
With rookie minicamps in the rearview mirror and mandatory minicamps set to start in June, theScore is highlighting one first-year player from each NFL team with the best opportunity to succeed from Day 1.
Pittsburgh: LB Devin Bush
The Steelers' offense didn't miss a beat without Le'Veon Bell in 2018 but the same can't be said for the team's defense without the injured Ryan Shazier. His athleticism and coverage skills were perfect for today's pass-happy NFL, and without him, Pittsburgh was routinely torched in the middle of the field. Bush is a similarly modern prototype due to his ability to excel in coverage and rush the passer while not being a liability in run defense. He won't immediately replace Shazier, but his ability to wreak havoc on every level should spark a return to form for the entire Steelers defense.
Finally for today, the MMA fighter that just won't go away...Conor McGregor. The former champion is still making excuses for his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov:
"The injury itself led me to have to halve my work. I couldn't road run anymore. My weight was too high. So, when you're cutting weight, if I can't get my weight because of injuries or whatnot I have a more intense weight cut. So, I was severely dehydrated. I didn't sleep for 48 hours before the weight cut. But these are all just nonsensical excuses. I attack. I am an attacker. And my attack defends. But this camp, for some reason, the entire focus was defense. It still irritates me to this day."
May 21, 2019
Credit and kudos to "Big" Ben Roethlisberger today for manning up and take responsibility for the distractions and rifts that occurred during the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season.
In an interview focusing specifically on his relationship with the now departed Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger said the following:
“I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him. I genuinely feel bad about that and I’m sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably. That’s the thing about media and social media. As soon as you say sorry, it only goes so far. You can’t take it back. And I wish I could because if that’s what ruined our friendship and relationship, I’m truly, genuinely sorry about that.”
Hats off to you Big Ben...you did the right thing. As for Brown? What else but to give an immature, idiotic, and pathetic response to that.
LOSER...It's actually a joke at this point. Brown just doesn't know how to get off social media nor how to ignore anything said about him. The Raiders think they are getting a stud receiver? They are. Do they think they are getting someone that won't be a locker room cancer? NOT! They have no clue what they are in for...
The Pittsburgh Pirates are preparing for their next series, this at PNC Park as they host the Colorado Rockies. The Bucs are on a mini-roll and find themselves in third place in the National League Central at 24-20 and 2 1/2 games behind the first place Cubs. The Pirates are currently the #2 seeded wild card team so 2018 thus far has to be considered a success.
This time last season on May 20, the Buccos were nearly identical to this season having won 26 and losing 20 but were a bit closer to the top spot in the division just 1 1/2 out.
Finally for today, I get an update from ESPN sports each day on my phone. Today one of the headlines was about the WWE. HELLO??? Pro wrestling is NOT a sport. Yet millions upon millions of wrestling fans follow this ENTERTAINMENT and attend its events. It's theater folks. Any common sense person knows this. ACTING. It belongs in Entertainment Weekly or on the Jerry Springer Show or something.
Sorry if I offend anyone, but the WWE is for morons. It's the most ridiculous embarrassing form of entertainment on the planet. Plain and simple. For those who know me from my childhood, they may come back at me and say I used to watch it and attend it at the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
True I did. But the entertainment factor of pro wrestling then was MUCH different. Those men tried to make it seem like some sort of wrestling match despite some of the crazy stunts like George "The Animal" Steele used to pull such as biting the corner ring pads apart and using them as a weapon. But absent were the pre-scripted drama lines, the stories, the sexual innuendos, and the STEROIDS.
This is not entertainment in any sense of the word unless you really can't find anything more worthwhile in life to be entertained by. In the words of the late Myron Cope...YOI!
May 20, 2019
The hype is officially on…that is regarding the Cleveland Browns. Who out there has jumped on the Browns as one of the best teams for 2019 in the National Football League?
It’s getting to the point of laughable. If the Browns do indeed go out this season and win the AFC North or qualify as a wild card and get to the post-season where they don’t bow out in the first round, then of course they will have the last laugh. But for Christ’s sake, we even haven’t had training camp yet!
The hype is out of control. All these sports writers are becoming believers based solely on who is on the Cleveland roster. Sure, I’ll grant them improvement in talent. But how are we to believe that a team that has not been in a playoff game in 17 years and in the last 10 years has won only 41 games in the last 10 seasons averaging just four wins a season is all the sudden a Super Bowl contender?
In comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won 103 games in the last 10 seasons or a little over 10 wins a season and has been to the post season 11 times in those same 17 years that the Browns missed the party. That includes three Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi Trophies. So now all the sudden in one season they are so much better than Pittsburgh?
The link and article I’m about to give you is the icing on the cake for the bandwagon Brownie fans. Pittsburgh is nowhere to be found in the nine teams in this article but just look where Cleveland is. Adam Schein, a supposed NFL expert writer has obviously gone gaga over the Browns.
Los Angeles Chargers, Rams head NFL's most complete teams
By Adam Schein, NFL.com
My sensational editors at NFL.com asked me to rank the most complete teams in the NFL. Notice that adjective, complete. This is NOT a power ranking. It's NOT a playoff prediction.
I think the Packers are going to win double-digit games, yet they are not on this list. Neither are the Seahawks, even though I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Co. do damage in 2019. I wanted to add San Francisco, but had a few too many questions about that roster. If Carson Wentz weren't rehabbing from his second straight season-ending injury and/or my last name rhymed with ten, the Eagles would be listed below. And I just couldn't get myself to buy the Vikings.
I'm sure everyone will agree with all of my choices and there will be no debate whatsoever. So, without further ado, here are the most complete teams in the NFL as of May 2019, Schein Nine style:
1) Los Angeles Chargers
2) Los Angeles Rams
3) Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are loaded. Still feels weird to say, but it's unquestionably true. Baker Mayfield is a budding star. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are the most talented 1-2 punch at receiver in the league today. Nick Chubb is quite good. Kareem Hunt, when he's eligible to play, is even better. And don't sleep on David Njoku's skills at tight end.
The Myles Garrett-led defense doesn't lack for talent, either. Not with a front that also features Sheldon Richardson, Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi. And snagging Greedy Williams to stick opposite Denzel Ward was a steal in Round 2. Freddie Kitchens faces a whole lot of pressure in his debut season as a head coach. He also has a whole lot of talent at his disposal. Cleveland has to field a winner in 2019.
Bias aside, the Pittsburgh Steelers roster is LOADED. Yes, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are no longer on the team, but in 2018, Bell did not play anyway and Brown was a distraction and not the reason we missed the playoffs. We failed to make the post season because of four losses to the AFC West teams, three of which were an abhorration and should not have gone down the way they did. Only the Kansas City Chiefs loss was legit and if Pittsburgh wins any of those other three games, they would have extended their season for at least one more game.
Now, a new crops of rookies are on the team, several veterans have joined forces with the Black and Gold, and in my opinion, they are going to be a MUCH better team than from last year. With that said, Devin Bush is set to begin a new chapter in Steelers linebacker lore and he has believers out there in his talents.
Top 25 NFL rookies in best position for Year 1 success
By Dan Parr, NFL.com
Now that rookies have had their first taste of life in the NFL at the minicamps held over the past two weekends, I've had a chance to think about a question that's probably been on the mind of some fans since the 2019 NFL Draft wrapped up: Which of the newbies is in the best position to kick some butt this season? I can't think of a better way to answer that question than to do that thing we all love -- more rankings, please! So, I'll take a stab at it with my top 25, ordered based on how well they are set up for success in Year 1.
Top contenders for ROY honors
1) Ed Oliver, DT, Buffalo Bills:
2) Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers: I like everything about the Steelers' bold move to trade up for Bush, who offers an intoxicating blend of speed and coverage ability. The 10th overall pick is an ideal fit and leader for this unit. He will post gaudy numbers as an inside 'backer for Mike Tomlin.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are streaking again but how long can they keep up the consistency? With another series sweep this past weekend, the Bucs have won three in a row and seven of the last 10. They are 24-20 and just 3 games behind Chicago, 1 ½ behind the Brew Crew. One of the better additions to this year’s squad is Melky Cabrera and today he’s getting props.
The hardest player to strike out on every MLB team
By Will Leitch, mlb.com
The world of baseball has embraced the strikeout in a way that is sometimes obsessive: For the second consecutive year, we’re on pace for more strikeouts than hits. Even the best hitters in baseball don’t sweat the strikeouts anymore. It’s all part of the game. This ends up making those hitters who specialize in contact all the more rare and all the more valuable. In this day and age, there is extra value in putting the ball in play.
So, today, we look at the player on each team who is the most difficult to strike out. Some of them are power hitters, some of them are defensive specialists, but all of them, no matter what, are players who, when batting, fielders need to be on their toes for.
Pirates -- Melky Cabrera, OF: How’s Melky still hanging around deep into his 30s? His ability to make contact provides a big clue. He's got the third-lowest strikeout rate in the NL, just under 11 percent.
The UFC was in action this past weekend with bouts that were not worth writing home about. Rafael Dos Anjos choked out Kevin Lee and maybe just maybe shut his big mouth once and for all. But in the world of MMA there was one vicious knockout and in the world of pro boxing another explosive KO that was one of the best you will see in recent memory.
In the word of MMA, Sage Northcutt was once regarded as the next “big” thing in the world of MMA. Having been a karate and mixed martial arts student from a very young age, Northcutt has been on multiple magazine covers but over the last few years began to lose fights in the UFC. So he moved to ONE Championship and the other night, he was iced in a big way in a bout with Cosmo Alexandre. Cosmo hit Northcutt so hard on the jaw he probably sent him into the cosmos.
The damage Cosmo actually did was break Sage’s face in pieces to the extent that he suffered eight fractures of the face. It took nine hours to put his head back together. OUCH.
Finally for today, you want to talk about domination? The New England Patriots have won enough that they are making non-New England fans sick of their winning ways. But in the National Basketball Association, the Golden State Warriors OWN the league. After making it to the Western Conference semi-finals in the 2006-2007 season where they lost, the Warriors would miss the post season for the next five season.
Then in 2012-2013 and the following season, they were back in the playoffs only to lose in the semis and first round respectively. Since then, the NBA is theirs. In five straight seasons including this current season still running, Golden State has won three NBA titles and been to four straight finals which will be five mostly likely after they knock off the Portland Trailblazers tonight. Portland has yet to win a game in this current best of seven series.
May 16, 2019
When it comes to PED usage in professional sports, athletes getting popped for injecting themselves or ingesting illegal substances obviously are taking a chance at being suspended but knowing the rules and the lengthy history of those who have got caught, why do they continue to do it?
Two latest incidents highlight the news. First in MMA UFC’s Neil Magny was scheduled to fight this weekend but after failing an authorized USADA drug test, he’s out of the lineup. This is a guy that gave the impression he fought on the up and up and much respect for the sport. So this comes as a mild surprise. Magny was supposed to go into the Octagon against Vicente Luque but now that’s not happening.
It was he himself who let the world know via Instagram that he got popped. Said Magny:
"On Saturday, May, 11, 2019, I received an email from USADA stating that I have failed an 'out of competition drug test' due to the banned substance Di-Hydroxy-LGB-4033."
Naturally, he is saying he’s unsure of how it got in his system. So many athletes try that excuse but it simply DOES NOT WORK. He knew what he was doing just as all the others have done as well.
I just don’t understand why? For me, there is not that great an advantage in performance when using but the bottom line is that they are illegal so punishment fits the crime. Perhaps in Lance Armstrong’s case, he did have an advantage because in the sport of marathon cycling, endurance is vital.
Over in the NFL it seems every month one of the league’s athletes is being handed a suspension for PEDs and this week it’s Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, a cornerback that was once being talked about in regards to getting dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, he is facing a six game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. He’s not appealing. In other words, he leaves no doubt that he is guilty.
It’s really ridiculous. The behaviors of some of these men not just with PEDs but other news making issues is pathetic. Former Steeler Antonio Brown might be on of the worst culprits. A.B. is coming off a tumultuous season and off-season and this week he showed up back in Pittsburgh to appear in court so he could plead guilty to the driving violation he incurred while in the ‘Burgh.
Brown got a slap on the wrist by pleading guilty to driving at unsafe speeds and for it he pays a fine and has additional points added to his driving record. This so he can avoid having his license suspended. Whoop-te-do. Then you have Le’Veon Bell who is in the new again responding to his new coach’s comments about his signing with the New York Jets.
Adam Gase is the new coach in the Big Apple and it has surfaced that before the Jets fired G.M. Mike Maccagnan, Gase and he did not see eye to eye on the amount of money being thrown at Bell. For the time being, Gase will take over as G.M. until management finds a replacement but Bell responded with this via Twitter:
“There’s been a BUNCH of false reports and speculation about me in the past about things I’ve said and done, so I’m used to this. I don’t jump to conclusions when I hear or see a story that may affect me. Even if reports are true, that won’t stop me from doing what I came here to do...everyone has a job to do, and I’m gonna do mine whether people “like” me or not. I’m here to win football games.”
Whatever dude…while on the topic of football be sure to visit the NFL page where I have provided my insight into the current Steelers roster.
May 14, 2019
This past weekend the two top MMA leagues were in action with Bellator and UFC staging major events and both saw title belts change hands.
At UFC 237, the main event had Rose Namajunes defending her strawweight championship against the hometown favorite, Jessica Andrade with thousands of Brazilians making noise all night. As the Brazilians in attendance cheered “Uh vai morrer” (“You're going to die”) as they always do, Rose dominated the opening round and into the second round before Andrade put herself into position for her patented “Bate-estaca” or what Americans term as a “pile driver.” That’s a pro wrestling move but this one unlike in the WWE is REAL.
So real in fact that anyone witnessing the championship winning maneuver might have thought the former champion just had her neck broken or worse. It looked that bad. Reflecting back on the moment, now the question is did Rose Namajunes make a fatal mistake in how she handled the slam that ended her title reign?
Andrade may have led on to what Rose did wrong with this commentary after the fight:
“He (her coach) had said to me that if she got you in a triangle or an arm-lock, for me to pile-driver and I was good at that. It worked out in the end. He yelled out, Get your head out and, when I did that, I picked her up like a feather. She was really light, I didn’t even imagine she would be that light. When I threw her, SHE DIDN’T LET GO OF THE ARM, so that’s what happened. I wanted to throw her on the back to work the ground and pound and that ended up happening. But it was good for me, it ended quicker.”
What I put in uppercase and bold up there could be the reason Namajunes is champion no more. Had she released Andrade’s arm it is in question as whether the slam would not have been as impactful and perhaps the former title holder would have landed differently or would it have had the same result?
Regardless, Namajunes was rendered unconscious just long enough that the fight was stopped and we have a new women’s champion. Namajunes’ post-fight comments and feelings however have absolutely tainted her legacy. What she said is this:
“I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m not going to make no decisions right now. It’s just hard to keep having fun with this.”
She’s talking retiring from MMA and walking away. Following her loss to Amanda Nunes, Ronda Rousey did the same thing. A sign of a poor loser. Namajunes is trying to tell us now that she was thinking retirement in days leading up to UFC 237. That’s bullshit. She fought about as good a first round against Andrade that any fighter could have. She was DOMINATING. She was so sharp that if not for that one slam, she would have won this fight easily and then we have to wonder would she still be talking retirement if she had retained her belt? NO.
Here’s the difference between the ex champion Namajunes and a REAL class champion in Anderson Silva, who also lost on Saturday. Silva had his knee crushed by Jared Cannonier and lost his fight but while others are calling for his retirement, there is no quit in one of the greatest MMA fighters ever. Just listen to how he sees his future:
“The saying is, I’m going until the end and the more they pressure me, the more I’ll want to go until the end. There’s nothing more wild than feeling sorry for yourself. An old lion, surrounded by hungry hyenas, crazy to eat him, and he stills fights until death without ever feeling sorry for himself. And it won’t be different with me. Strength and honor."
As for Andrade, while she was completely outclassed in the first and part of the second round, credit to her for showing heart and courage and staying the course despite being bloodied up. She’s a tough little cookie and while Joanna Jędrzejczyk has beaten Andrade in the past, watch for the former champ to challenge the new champ again thinking it will get her the title back. But I say to that, don’t count your chickens before they hatch because Andrade is a different fighter now as is J.J. who has taken a step backward.
As for the rest of UFC 237, there were eight bouts between a Brazilian and a fighter from another country and the hometown combatants lost five of those eight. That included the loss by Silva, and a loss by Thiago Alves, Beche Correia lost again and looked awful in doing so, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira got KOd when Ryan Spann landed a nearly perfect blow to his chin in the first round, and then perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night was Alexander Volkanovski upsetting former champion and the man who got the loudest cheers on Saturday, Jose Aldo. In a word, Aldo DID NOT SHOW UP.
One last word on the UFC 237 action, congratulations to B.J. Penn as he establishes a new record for futility by losing his SEVENTH straight fight. This one to a much more active Clay Guida. Who is allowing this fool to keep fighting? Ridiculous.
Over at Bellator 221 which started at the same time the UFC did, their main even was Michael Chandler vs. Patrício “Pitbull” Freire and Chandler loses his belt in the first round by TKO. Pitbull got revenge for his brother who had lost to Chandler. IN the co-main event, the undefeated Michael “MVP” Page suffered his first defeat in dramatic fashion as Douglas Lima knocked him out with a perfect leg kick and strike combination.
How about those Pittsburgh Pirates? They spent the weekend sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals with a mixture of solid pitching, timely hitting, and some heavy bats. The Bucs now find themselves in third place behind the Milwaukee Brewers who Pittsburgh trails by just 1 ½ games and only 3 ½ behind front running Chicago. The sweep gives the Buccos a 20-17 record and while tied with the Cards in games behind, the Pirates have fewer wins and fewer losses thus being listed ahead of St. Louis.
It might be very early in the season, but the Pirates are third in the wild card race at the moment. Where to the Bucs land in power rankings at this point?
MLB Power Rankings: Astros take top spot, Red Sox back in top 10
theScore Staff, thescore.com
Welcome to the fifth edition of theScore's MLB Power Rankings for the 2019 season. Rankings will be published every second Monday throughout the regular season with the next installment coming May 27.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Bless you, Josh Bell. Not only is the Pirates first baseman one of the game's hottest-hitting players (.400/.455/.825 in May), but he also showed his mom some love Sunday that really tugged at the heartstrings. With his mother Myrtle in attendance, Bell posted a career-high five RBIs, including a clutch homer in the seventh. Bell leads Pittsburgh in homers, RBIs, slugging, and OPS.
If you didn’t think President Donald Trump believes the world evolves around him, then just read one of his latest tweets:
“Has anyone noticed that all the Boston @RedSox have done is WIN since coming to the White House! Others also have done very well. The White House visit is becoming the opposite of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated!”
May 10, 2019
As we await the start of the 2019 National Football League season Steelers Nation hopes for a bounce back season and another playoff appearance for the Black and Gold.
However, in one ESPN column online today, the prognosis for Pittsburgh making a run at a post-season spot is not too promising. Reading the early power rankings below, where ESPN has the Steelers is more of a joke than anything else. Steelers fans are used to seeing their team disrespected but this might be the worst example in a really long time.
Just consider some of the teams ahead of the Steelers. First and foremost, CLEVELAND? The Titans? Green Bay? Chicago? I believe this team with or without Antonio Brown is better than those just mentioned. There are some promising rookies that will make this year’s team and last season’s failures stemmed much in part because of the distractions from Le’Veon Bell and A.B. now two EX-Steelers.
With that said, here you go with the rankings and commentary placed upon the Steelers.
2019 NFL Power Rankings: Projected wins and playoff chances from 1-32
Free agency has mostly run its course, trades have been made, and the 2019 NFL draft has concluded. So it's a perfect time for another edition of the NFL Power Rankings. We're doing things a bit differently this time. Rather than compiling rankings from our throng of reporters and experts, we're using this edition to unveil the first set of ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) ratings. Each team's rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams efficiency, as measured by expected points added per play, and that rating is the basis for FPI's game-level and season-level projections.
The FPI has established the 1-32 order that follows, with our NFL Nation reporters giving their takes on where their teams improved the most in the offseason. So enjoy as you get ready for OTAs and minicamps to start.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Los Angeles Rams
4. New England Patriots
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Chicago Bears
8. Houston Texans
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Philadelphia Eagles
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Tennessee Titans
14. Seattle Seahawks
15. Cleveland Browns-Projected wins: 8.8. Chance to make playoffs: 51.5 percent
Where the team improved this offseason: League image. The Browns have gone from longtime league laughingstock to the NFL's trendiest team. Cleveland rode the momentum from a turnaround 2018 season and became one of the most aggressive teams in adding high-profile talent. The Browns upgraded with playmakers such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., running back Kareem Hunt, pass-rusher Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Owners of the NFL's longest playoff drought (16 seasons), the Browns are now a popular pick to win their first AFC North title.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
By Jeremy Fowler
Projected wins: 8.5. Chance to make playoffs: 45.8 percent
Where the team improved this offseason: Pass coverage. The Steelers have shown a commitment to improving their pass defense over the past three months. The signing of free agent Steven Nelson gives Pittsburgh a legitimate starting corner alongside Joe Haden. The franchise drafted linebacker Devin Bush No. 10 overall in part because of his speed and coverage ability, areas in which free-agent linebacker Mark Barron will also help. Third-round cornerback Justin Layne was considered one of the most aggressive press corners in the draft. The back end looks stronger, which is necessary for a team that has struggled drafting cornerbacks in recent years.
One of those Steelers rookies who should make the team is Isaiah Buggs and he has an immediate advantage. Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar was his coach at the University of Alabama. In fact, Dunbar was responsible for recruiting Buggs while he was playing football at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Dunbar’s lowdown on the sixth round draft pick:
“Very explosive guy who can get to the passer. We were surprised he was still on the board. We jumped at the opportunity after filling other needs earlier in the draft. I think he is a good pass rusher over the guard. A guy who can play the four-eye and a guy who when we go to sub can get over the guard and center and be a productive player.”
For the record, Buggs played two years for the Crimson Tide rolling up 102 tackles, 44 solos, 11 sacks, three passes defended, and 17 ½ tackles for a loss.
Sticking with the NFL there is some newsworthy items today. How unfortunate for Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul. Several years ago he blew off some digits on his hand while messing with some fireworks. Now, he was in a car accident last week and suffered a fractured neck. Pierre-Paul will visit a specialist but word is he may have to have surgery and could miss the entire 2019 season.
Then you have one of the new additions to the Cleveland Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. who is predicting this for himself and his new team:
“I plan on being in Cleveland for the next five years and trying to bring as many championships there as possible, turning the Browns into the new Patriots.”
HUH? Ok. Everyone is jumping on the Cleveland bandwagon believing they are a playoff team in 2019 with some even thinking Super Bowl. I don’t buy into that and until I see victories piling up in the win column, the Browns for me are improved but not better than the Steelers and nowhere near a Super Bowl run…yet.
Remember, Cleveland has not been to the post-season in 17 years and over the last four years has won just 11 games.
Speaking of OBJ, check out his getup for the 2019 Met Gala held recently in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Now we move to Le’Veon Bell now a member of the New York Jets. To no one’s surprise, one Green and White fan tweeted the other day, “When @leveonbell gone come to practice.” As Steelers fans know, Bell made it a practice of waiting until opening day or later to actually show up and play some ball. Now he’s at it again.
Bell’s response to the fan’s tweet?
“When it’s time to play football…I got to stick to the formula that I know works for me to be the best player I can be…I’m not just tryna win football games, I want a ring! I want to desperately show everybody what I can what I can REALLY do…I’ll take the heat right now, everybody will forget that once January comes around.”
Aahhhh dude…when January comes around you’ll be like me…sitting at home watching the NFL playoffs. RING? You won’t be wearing a Super Bowl ring as long as you are playing for the New York Jets. Who is he kidding…REALLY?
Happy birthday to Bill Cowher who turns 62 today!
One little hockey note here…odds are out already for the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup chances and the Penguins have been listed by Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as 16-1 odds to win the cup. Fresh off being swept in four straight games by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2018-2019’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightening who tied an all-time record with 62 victories, have the best odds at 6-1.
The UFC and Bellator are in action tomorrow with Bellator staging Michael Chandler vs. Pit Bull in the main event but in the UFC its championship #237 and I break that down on the MMA/Boxing page.