I haven’t written in a few days because of life and such, but I had a some random thoughts about the major Pittsburgh sports teams, so here they are.
The Steelers won this past Sunday—and that’s great–but they were really supposed to beat the Bills. As worried as I was before the game (see my previous post) and as unsurprised as I would have been had they lost, they should have won simply because they are more talented than the Bills. That isn’t saying a whole lot, but I would’ve been have been a lot more concerned about this team if they had come out and played a bad game against a bad team.
Now, I’m not getting too excited over this win, but there were positives, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The defense’s ability to stop a good running game was encouraging. The offense settled for field goals too many times (again), but Antonio Brown had a really nice day for himself. It was a solid win against a bad team. It’s certainly not time to start talking playoffs or anything, but 3-6 looks a lot better than 2-7. This weekend will be a real test with Megatron and the Lions coming to town.
Side note: Honestly surprised by the attendance at Heinz Field on Sunday. I really did not expect there to be 60,000 at that game. Glad to see so many fans still showed up despite the Steelers’ record and the blustery weather.
Sad to see Marlon Byrd go (and to Phillies, no less!), but I can understand why the Pirates didn’t sign him. Not that the price was outrageous. Two years at $8 million per is a good deal and one they could have probably afforded. I’m guessing they probably didn’t want to sign him for two years, given that Gregory Polanco seems headed to the majors sometime in 2014. Byrd’s contributions to the 2013 Pirates cannot be underestimated though. He was a big part of their late season success. I don’t think there is a single Pirates fan that will forget him sending a Johnny Cueto fastball into the seats in the second inning of the Wild Card game against the Reds. He was a big part of the magic in September and October. I think/hope he’ll be recognized for those contributions by a standing ovation at PNC Park when the Phillies come to town on the July 4th next year.
Really disappointed Neal Huntingon lost Executive of the Year to Ben Cherington of the Red Sox. Boston’s payroll: $159 million. Pittsburgh’s payroll: $66 million. Those teams won 97 and 94 games, respectively. Huntington made the move to acquire Russell Martin in the offseason. A deal some (including me) did not think would pan it. But it did. It was nice to see the Pirates have a real MLB-caliber catcher. Huntington also made the moves to acquire Justion Morneau and Marlon Byrd at the end of the season. Morneau didn’t really pan out, but Byrd certainly did, as I’ve mentioned earlier. Not to mention the acquisition of Mark Melancon, who was solid for most of the season. NH did a whole lot with not a lot of money. I admit that I actually wanted him fired after last season. Luckily, the guys in the Pirates organization know a whole lot more about baseball than I do, and kept him around.
On a happier note, Clint Hurdle ran away with the NL Manager of the Year Award. A very well-deserved award. To go from a 57-win team in 2010 to a 94-win playoff team in 2013 is pretty amazing. Hurdle absolutely infuriates me at times, but have to give him credit where it’s due. I remember before the season when he said the Pirates were a 95-win team. When I heard him say that, I groaned and said out loud “why would he put a number out there?! Why?!” I thought ahead about how all season long, people were going to bring up that number anytime the Pirates were slumping. Well, like the Pirates organization, Clint Hurdle knows a lot more about baseball and his players than I do (or maybe he’s just magic).
The MVP awards will be announced tonight. If Andrew McCutchen is not the National League MVP, I give up.
I don’t have much to say about last night’s game, which is surprising for a Pens-Flyers game. Sidney Crosby had a goal, which was nice to see. Evgeni Malkin did not have a goal, which everyone will be talking about. I thought he had a good game all-around, just didn’t have any goals to show for it.
I am not a Kris Letang lover or hater (I prefer to think of myself as “Letang Neutral”), so keep that in mind for my next statement. Letang just looked bad standing there watching Brayden Schenn’s second goal go in the net.
It’s pretty disturbing to me that the Pens couldn’t score more than one goal on Ray Emery. Not much more to say about this game but that right there. They couldn’t get pucks behind Ray Emery. That’s never good.
The Pens have dropped three in a row and have two games this weekend. Hopefully they can figure something out and start a winning streak. I’m not really sure what else to say about this team right now. They look average. They aren’t playing like a talented team despite a lot of undeniable talent on this team. I’m not in full-blown panic mode like some fans because, well, it’s November. If they look like this come February, then I’ll be worrying. They still have time to figure some stuff out and let’s hope they do.
Oh and I don’t think Dan Bylsma is getting fired anytime soon.