August 27, 2019
There has been so much fallout since Andrew Luck surprisingly retired last weekend when he seemed to have so much football left in him. Is his retirement being criticized too heavily?
For those who think Luck screwed his team by suddenly retiring, it may have not been so sudden and there are signs that Indianapolis knew this announcement was coming. But Luck certainly did not set any precedents. Athletes retiring in their prime are nothing new. There have been plenty of star players of different sports who simply walked away when they have plenty of game left in them. Examples?
Just last year Rob Gronkowski fresh off another Super Bowl victory said I’m done. There have been rumors of his return as well as he going into the world of professional wrestling. There have been other football players as well who called it quits while still young.
Aside from the sport of football there athletes in other sports who also had plenty of gas left in the tank but walked away without expending it.
With Andrew Luck now on the sidelines as I mentioned yesterday, their chances in the AFC South have diminished greatly. The Colts come to Pittsburgh on November 3, so without Luck, what’s the impact?
NFL futures odds: Which teams benefit most from Andrew Luck's retirement?
C Jackson Cowart, theScore.com
Two days after Andrew Luck stunned the NFL by announcing his retirement at age 29, the NFL futures market is just beginning to settle down. The Indianapolis Colts predictably took a massive hit from Luck's sudden departure. The Colts were 12-1 to win the Super Bowl before the news; their odds moved to 30-1 on Saturday night and sat at 60-1 by Monday. Indy opened at 20-1 in January and was one of the most-bet teams in Las Vegas before the Luck news. With the star quarterback stepping away, here are some other team’s bettors could target and whose Super Bowl odds tightened.
Pittsburgh Steelers (20-1 to 18-1)
In theory, the Steelers' playoff odds were boosted with Indy slipping out of the race, though Pittsburgh hasn't exactly had a stellar offseason that would suggest shorter than 20-1 title odds. We've already discussed the under potential for this year's Steelers team, and they'll have to stave off Cleveland (18-1 to win the Super Bowl) and Baltimore (40-1) from within the division. If you didn't like Pittsburgh at 20-1, there's little reason to jump at 18-1. Grab one of the other AFC North teams whose odds remained steady and have as good a chance to win it all.
With the NFL season on the horizon, there are all types of rankings and player evaluations out there. As Steelers Nation should always expect the respect for success of our team in the ensuing season is minimal and the disrespect of the team’s players and how good they really are not credited as it should be. An example follows.
2019 NFLRank: Predicting the NFL's best 100 players for this season
Jeremy Fowler, ESPN.com
With the 2019 NFL season about to kick off, it's time for our annual ranking of the top 100 players in the league. We asked a panel of more than 40 ESPN NFL experts to rate players based on how good they will be in the 2019 season in comparison to their peers. Emphasis was entirely on predicting potential greatness for the upcoming season, rather than past performance or positional value. From those ratings, we were able to rank the best of the best.
#35. JuJu Smith-Schuster
2018 rank: NR
Smith-Schuster is taking the responsibility of replacing Antonio Brown seriously, showing up to camp in excellent shape and catching everything thrown his way. Last season, the Steelers had a 67% completion rate throwing to Smith-Schuster, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt. He knows the next step is consistently beating double teams, and he says he's ready for that.
Signature stat: Smith-Schuster leads all wide receivers with 1,316 receiving yards from the slot in the past two seasons.
2019 projection: 103 catches, 1,310 yards, 8 TDs
#38. Ben Roethlisberger
2018 rank: 18
Roethlisberger hasn't won an MVP, but might have an argument for one with a successful 2019, as it's all on him now. He led the league in passing attempts in 2018 with 675, and there's no reason he won't get close to that this season. Tight end Vance McDonald says Roethlisberger has been an "excellent" leader this offseason.
Signature stat: Roethlisberger's 11 touchdown passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield last season were tied with Russell Wilson for the most in the NFL.
2019 projection: 4,777 passing yards, 29 TDs, 16 INTs
#79. James Conner
2018 rank: NR
Conner has big plans for his second season as a starter. He wants to play a full 16-game slate, and the numbers will be there if he does. Conner averaged 113 yards and one touchdown per game last season but missed three weeks with an ankle injury. Conner has Ben Roethlisberger's full trust in the passing game, as well. -- Jeremy Fowler
Signature stat: Conner scored 13 scrimmage touchdowns last year, tied for third most by a running back in Steelers history and two more than Le'Veon Bell ever had in a season as a Steeler.
2019 projection: 1,434 scrimmage yards, 13 TDs
#83. T.J. Watt
2018 rank: NR
Watt racked up 13 sacks despite playing in coverage on 131 snaps, which PFF says ranks second among outside linebackers last season. Those numbers highlight Watt's versatility, and he might have more chances to rush the passer thanks to secondary upgrades. He said he's spent this offseason trying to refine every area of his game. --
Signature stat: Watt had six forced fumbles last season, tied with Khalil Mack for third most in the league. Who did Watt trail? Big brother J.J. and Dee Ford, both with seven.
2019 projection: 69 tackles, 12.0 sacks
The Pittsburgh Pirates recent success last weekend did not last long. The all-Pennsylvania battle began again last night and with former Bucco Corey Dickerson facing his old team for the first time since being dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this year, Dickerson chipped in with a home run in four at-bats to help his new team defeat Pittsburgh 6-5. While Phillies fans showed up at the ballpark about 28,000 strong, down in Miami, their attendance on a nightly basis in an embarrassment.
In losing to the Cincinnati Reds last night, there were just over 5,000 fans in attendance at the ugly Marlins Park. It doesn’t help that the Marlins are in last place in their division with a record of 47-83 and are 31 ½ games behind first place. But Miami’s front office should not feel too badly. After all, on April 29, 2015 because of security concerns the Baltimore Orioles were hosting the Chicago White Sox and NO FANS were allowed to attend so basically the game was played in an empty stadium.
But when tickets have been sold, nothing beats what took place on April 17, 1979 when in Oakland at the Oakland Alameda County Stadium for a game with the A’s and Seattle Mariners, just 250 fans showed up. That’s right…250! Reportedly 653 tickets were sold but the official attendance was listed as those 250 that were in the seats.
For the Athletics it goes down as their worst night of attendance in history and by some accounts, the worst ever for a Major League Baseball game. On that night, Oakland first baseman Dave Revering is said to have attempted to count all 250. The weather probably played a part, cold and overcast and some rain. The temperature was said to be in the 40s.
At one point in Oakland former infielder and team captain Sal Bando started calling his home stadium the “Oakland Mausoleum.” With baseball having been around long before 1900, on the internet I found news of a game that took place on September 28, 1882 between the Troy, New York Trojans and the Worcester, Massachusetts Ruby Legs where only six fans came to watch at the old Worcester Driving Park Grounds.
For my Pittsburgh Pirates, attendance at their stadiums in Exposition Park, Recreation Park, Forbes Field, Three Rivers Stadium, and now PNC Park have always been an issue. At the old Exposition Park where the team played from 1882 to 1886, they never averaged more than 3,000 fans but still their season total of 195,000 was better than the National League average for its teams that was 119,968.
At Recreation Park, the Bucs in 1890, the final season at that stadium drew just a 236 per-game average and only 16,604 as a season total. The team went back to Exposition Park in 1891 only to have a per-game average of 1,896. That would improve to 5,707 in the final year at that stadium a total of 4,967. Pittsburgh played in that stadium and partly in Forbes Field in 1909 when Forbes became their permanent home.
The largest average attendance for one season at Forbes Field came the year that Bill Mazeroski became a hero with a walk-off home run to win the World Series in 1960 when an average of 22,154 watch the Pirates finish the season with a series victory of the mighty New York Yankees.
In 1970 the Pirates moved into their new 50,000 seat home at Three River Stadium. This would be the site of many sellouts for the Pittsburgh Steelers but for the baseball playing Bucs, sellouts did not happen as often. In fact the highest per game average the Pirates achieved came in 1991 when the final figure was 25,498. Even in the two years the Pirates knocked off the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series again in 1971 and again in 1979, the final marks for fans in the seats was 18,532 and 17,722.
Football has been #1 in the Steel City since the Steelers first made the playoffs in 1972 with Franco Harris making a name for himself with the infamous “Immaculate Reception.” I can still recall in 1978 the Pirates had gone into the final weekend of the season trailing the Philadelphia Phillies by 3 ½ games with four games to play for the weekend. I bought my tickets at the gate on Friday for the games to be played.
It began with a twi-night double header something they used to do back then. With a sweep of the series the Pirates would be in the playoffs. Two crazy finishes that were victories for Pittsburgh propelled the Buccos into Saturday’s game now just 1 ½ back. The attendance was a near sellout with 45,134 butts in the seats.
A passed ball by in the bottom of ninth by Philadelphia’s Bob Boone allowed Ed Ott to score the walk-off winning run. In the night cap with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Dave Parker scored a walk-off on a balk by Phillies pitcher Warren Brusstar and now the Pirates were still alive for a shot at the division title. It would be Brusstar’s second balk of the game.
With the 45,000+ in attendance on Friday night I went back to Three Rivers Stadium on Saturday expecting another huge crowd given the circumstances. Incredibly but not surprising because of the lack of interest in the Pirates versus the Steelers there were 16,229 (28,905) fewer fans at the stadium. It was highly disappointing and a real disgrace.
As for the game, it was a wild one. The Pirates opened up a first inning 4-1 lead and then by the seventh inning had fallen behind 6-4 only to surrender another four runs in the top of the 8th. They tried to make a heroic comeback to stay alive in the division race in the bottom of the ninth scoring another four but fell short losing 10-8. Philadelphia pitcher Randy Lerch had an amazing day on the mound and at the plate. Two at bats and the Phillies pitcher smacked two home runs. Both dingers were single home run blasts giving him two runs scored, two RBIs, two hits, and two homeruns.
Lerch also got the win and in the process pitched five innings giving up five hits and four earned runs but also striking out four. Willie Stargell had the Pirates only home run that off of Lerch. Former third baseman for the Pirates Richie Hebner had a bit of revenge on his old team as he now was a Phillie and Hebner went two-for-four with four RBIs including two doubles.
The next day in a meaningless game, the Pirates won 5-3 to finish the season 88-72 and two games behind first place Philadelphia. Oddly enough 30,224 fans came to the stadium in a game that had no meaning. So here we are in 2019, the Pirates are having an awful season, attendance is low…again and what do Pirates loyalists have to look forward to?
30 potential callups to get excited about
By Jim Callis, mlb.com
The 2019 Major League season is heading for the home stretch as the final month of the schedule is just around the corner. The big marker of that final turn comes on Sunday, Sept. 1. That’s the date when teams can expand their rosters at the big league level as the Minor League season comes to a close. Teams can add as many players who are on their 40-man rosters as they desire. And those September callups can serve in a number of roles. For teams out of the race and looking to the future, September can provide an outstanding opportunity to evaluate what that future looks like by giving prospects a month-long look in the big leagues. For teams still vying for a playoff spot, callups can give a boost of energy and talent for that push.
There are many things that come into play in terms of trying to determine who will get a September callup, including whether a player is already on a 40-man roster, whether there’s an opportunity to contribute in some capacity at the big league level and even if a player would be better suited developmentally to experience a Minor League playoff run or head to the Arizona Fall League, now with its earlier start time of Sept. 18. The potential callups listed below are far from guarantees, but we should see many of them in September.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (Pirates No. 2, MLB No. 37)
Hayes hasn’t set the world on fire in Triple-A, but no one questions that he’s the future at the hot corner for the Pirates. He’d certainly be a defensive upgrade for a team that has struggled on that side of the ball this year.
One more football story to share…former NFL player and running back Le’Ron McClain has gone to social media on Twitter to post some very disturbing declarations. What he tweeted follows.
“I have to get my head checked. Playing fullback since high school. Its takes too fucking much to do anything. My brain is fucking tired.... @NFL i need some help with this shyt. Dark times and its showing. Fucking help me please!! They dont care I had to get lawyers man!”
“Need help and but more paperwork....Fuck man."
“Like im mad im pissed im crying im upset im a fucking mess!!!! Please man.”
“Need to tell my story of how my head is crazy and how football did it.... Please someone help me get this out the @NFL puts paperwork in out faces and thats it. Yes its programs fuck all that I need help now I need a plan..... Fuck Man. They dont fucking get it man.”
“Watch how fast they come to aid if I was som3 QB or anything but no I was fucking fullback that did it all. @NFL I need help and i need the process to speed the fuck up Im about to crash out and its paperwork I dont wanna hear it. Fuck man im done.... Im out.”
“Man had a moment but just know Imma fight this thing and block it like im blocking 60 Pwr on the goaline. We gonna score!!!! I got this. Its just LiFE. #AlphaMental.... Thank you to my biscuit lol. Control what I control.”
“Great career Luck I pray you don't have to go thru shyt on your mental like me now. I swear if you called and I answered cool but if I aint answered stop fucking calling me please. Yall dont care!!!!!! Leave me alone got damn it. Imma handle this the best way I can....”
Can someone say psychiatrist?
Let’s talk a little MMA. After two straight losses to Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal Great Britain’s Darren Till is returning to the Octagon to face Kelvin Gastelum who is also coming off a loss his to Israel Adesanya. The fight will be on November 2 in Madison Square Garden at UFC 244. Also on the card thus far is light heavyweights Corey Anderson who battles the fast rising Johnny Walker, and a few big boys in Derrick Lewis who will fight Blagoy Ivanov.
If you like grapping then you’ll be watching Demian Maia vs Ben Askren which has become the main event for UFC Fight Night 162 on October 26. Some negative UFC news as middleweight CB Dollaway has been popped for use of anastrozole, growth hormone-releasing peptide 2, and growth hormone-releasing peptide 6. For testing positive Dollaway gets a two year ban and at 35 years old he’s pretty much finished.