ROUNDING THE BASES…
FIRST: With not much happiness among sports fans due to the COVID19 mess, Pittsburgh Steelers fans smiled wide when Tom Brady quit the Patriots to move to Florida last week. Indeed, the message brought some joy to the entire AFC’s drab little lives because the greatest quarterback of all time was taking his age-worn game to Tampa Bay, which no doubt made NFC fans hoping for a flag thrown for piling on.
And while Brady has more records than Elvis, Crosby, the Beatles, and Streisand combined, he has been particularly hard on the Steelers during his 20-year career, which saw him chosen for 14 Pro Bowl games and hoist six Vince Lombardi trophies in nine tries, both records.
Brady dominated the Steelers throughout his career, posting a 12-3 record. He owns a 9-3 regular season record and a 3-0 post-season mark after three AFC title wins (by a combined 40 points) in 2001, 2004, and 2016. He’s never lost to the Steelers at home going 5-0 in regular-season games record and a 1-0 playoff mark. And the Steelers vaunted defense did not intercept Brady in six Foxboro games.
Brady left New England with a jaw-dropping 121-21 record.
No wonder that Brady stands alone as the most despised opposing player among Steelers fans.
And while Steelers fans rejoiced at Brady’s departure, CBS wept at his change of conferences.
The network that carries AFC games no longer will get all those Brady-led Patriots games. Naturally, haters still have owner Robert Craft and head coach Bill Belichick to kick around, but it’s just not the same with Number 12 not on the field.
And while not all of New England’s games are on CBS, they were involved in the five most watched programs of the year: 2019’s super bowl, this year’s AFC championship game, and the first, second, and fourth most watched non-Thanksgiving games of the season.
FOX airs the NFC games and benefits from having teams in population centers in Washington, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia; traditionally American’s Team in Dallas; and now Tampa instantly joins that list of great markets with Brady single handedly dragging the Florida west coast team into the mix.
SECOND: AT&T SportsNet is doing its best to keep baseball fans engaged during MLB’s down time.
Last night, the network aired the Pirates 2013 wild card game, the only post-season series the Pirates have won since the 1979 world series.
There’s just nothing like seeing Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto drop the ball as jam-packed PNC Park chanted his last name en masse. After the righthander dropped the ball, Russell Martin deposited his next pitch into the leftfield bleachers, giving the Bucs a 2-0 lead in a 6-2 win.
Next Tuesday at 7 p.m. the network will broadcast a long-lost film of game seven of the 1960 world series against the Yankees, culminating in [SPOILER ALERT] Pittsburgh’s 10-9 win, thanks to Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run.
If you catch the game, please watch the 1-2 pitch thrown to Hal Smith in the bottom of the eighth inning. As a recent Extra Innings column indicated, that pitch was called a ball, despite the fact that Smith almost screwed himself into the ground.
On the ensuing pitch, Smith’s three-run homer gave the Bucs a 9-7 lead, which they promptly blew in the ninth as the Yankees tied the game.
THIRD: While the Pirates are not frequent winners on the field, there are few who can criticize them in times of crisis.
The most recent examples came as the Pirates donated $50,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Band and hosted a drive-up food distribution event at the ballpark last Saturday and James Taillon led the players in donating and delivering 400 pizzas and several pans of pasta to their neighbors, the staff at Allegheny General Hospital on Monday.
HOME: Tomorrow is supposed to be the Pirates 2020 regular-season opener in Tampa. Most guesses now see the season on hold until July.
JIM SANKEY is a baseball columnist for The Allied News.