AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Sports

July 3, 2013

EXTRA INNINGS: It's 'aboot' time to ice the hockey talk

OPINION — ON SUNDAY, the Pittsburgh Pirates had just finished their unexpected, unanticipated performance of the 2013 baseball season, their 51-30 record good for the National League Central lead and as owners of the best record in the majors. After opening the year 1-5, the Bucs reeled off 50 wins in the next 75 games.

The Pirates had 50 wins prior to July 1 for the first time in franchise history and were the first team to reach 50 wins this season; they had been the first to 50 wins only twice before in the past 100 years—in 1921 and 1960.

Only twice previously had the Bucs gone 51-30 to start the season—41 and 42 seasons ago, in 1971 and 1972.

The Bucs had just won nine straight for the first time since they won 10 consecutive games in 2004, swept the once-invincible Brewers in a three-game series for the first time since 2009, knocked off Milwaukee in five consecutive meetings for the first time since 2002, and for the first time ever had swept an interleague series on the road (against the Angels).

The Bucs won their last nine home games that were decided by a one-run margin (10-3 overall in one-run home games in 2013) and haven’t enjoyed a longer home winning streak in one-run games since they won 10 straight in 2004.

Nearly every game seems to result in another “first ever” or “first time since 1992” statistic.

The six relievers who yielded two hits and no runs on 12 Sunday put the exclamation mark on the first half of the season with the franchise’s best relief pitching performance: For the first time in their 127 history, Pirate relievers tossed 12 shutout innings in a game. Vin Mazzaro set the tone by throwing five perfect relief innings, the first time a Pittsburgh reliever had retired that many consecutive batters since 1919. And it was the first 14-inning (or longer) game where Pirates pitchers didn’t allow a walk since 1976.

No wonder that after 22 years of negativity, the national media are taking note.

Headlining SportsCenter, USAToday sports pages, and news wire reports across the county, the Pittsburgh Pirates have become the darlings of the baseball world.

Evidently, someone forgot to pass on this rather significant info to the misguided souls who run the Sunday “Sports Showdown” following the late news on KDKA television.

With the Pirates a no-brainer as the number one topic for the night, the little kid next door could have picked the biggest sports story in Pittsburgh—if not the country at baseball’s halfway point. The same obviously could not be said of KDKA sports director Bob Pompeani, who inexplicably zeroed in on the probability of the Pittsburgh Penguins extending the contract of Chris Letang as the lead.

You gotta be kidding me.

It has been weeks since the so-so talent on the Boston Bruins humiliated the Stanley Cup favorites in four straight embarrassing performances by a team that boasts the two best hockey talents on the planet in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

It’s aboot time for Pittsburgh to melt the ice on the Canadian sport. (Of the 211 players drafted Sunday, only 31 were from the USA.)

This is not meant as a hockey-bashing column, but nationally hockey is about as popular as pro basketball. Its seven-month regular season eliminates only 14 of the 30 teams from the post-season, during which time 16 teams play for two months. The league is still unable to get a favorable network contract, with games on the NBC Sports Channel (remember the Versus network broadcasts) unavailable to huge chunks of the country.

Although the inordinate number of hockey-hysterical Pittsburgh talk show hosts would have us believe otherwise, the NHL and NBA COMBINED are not as popular as Major League Baseball.

And most area hockey fans couldn’t name 10 Penguins who played before the Sidney Crosby era.

Shame on Pompeani for not giving the Pirates their due.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SRU Hall inductee Wise set for SRU Hall

    SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Former Grove City High athletic great Tom Wise has been selected as a 2014 inductee to the Slippery Rock University Athletic Hall of Fame.
    Wise was former three-time All-American and three-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion track and field student-athlete at Slippery Rock.
    As a Rock student-athlete, Wise claimed a fourth-place finish and two sixth-place honors in decathlon competitions at NCAA Division II national championships.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • THE CHECKERED FLAG: Western Pa.'s Zeigler scores big

    LAST FRIDAY, I headed west to Attica Raceway Park for the FAST “410” Sprint Cars and UMP Late Model “Summer Nationals Hell Tour” along with the first appearance by the UMP (E) Mods.  A great field of 37 Late Models, 28 Sprints, and 23 E-Mods were on hand along with a packed house.  Overcast conditions made for a fast 1/3-mile track that provided great racing all night long. 
    Craig Mintz picked up the win the last time I was at Attica on June 6, but shortly thereafter suffered a back injury that kept him out of action for a month.  On Friday night, Mintz returned and led every lap of the 30-lap Sprint Car feature for his season’s third win.  The Gibsonburg, Ohio driver’s victory was worth $3,000 and had to hold off a last lap slide job by Christopher Bell. 

    July 27, 2014

  • THE CHECKERED FLAG: Up and down week for Sodeman

    LAST FRIDAY I headed south to add I-77 Raceway Park to my track attended list, which made for 162nd track all-time.  I-77 is located south of Ripley, West Virginia just off Interstate 77.  This season, I-77 moved from the crowded Saturday night line-up to Friday night racing and teamed up with Ohio Valley Speedway.  I-77 normally runs Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, E-Mods, Mod Lites, and 4-Cylinder Mini Stocks.  With the Sprint Cars on the schedule, I decided to make the trip and they were joined by the Super Late Models, Semi-Late Models, and E-Mods.

    July 21, 2014

  • NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U

    Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).

    October 19, 2011

  • steez pc.jpg NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return

    Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • wheldon, dan pc.jpg IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life

    Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.

    October 19, 2011 3 Photos

  • pens pc.jpg NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2

    The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.

    October 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • canadiens logo pc.jpg NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh

    A breakdown of the National Hockey League game Thursday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and visiting Montreal Canadiens.

    October 19, 2011 4 Photos

  • High School Highlights: Oct. 19, 2011

    A look at the last few days in local high school fall sports action.

    October 19, 2011

  • washington, ron pc.jpg Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011

    News and notes from the local, regional and national sports scene.

    October 19, 2011 5 Photos

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide