The Pirates aren’t going to make the playoffs, even if GM Neal Huntington keeps talking as if they will do just that. The team is pretty much out of it despite splitting the four game series with the Chicago Cubs. The Buccos lost back to back 1-0 games. They got great pitching but the offense couldn’t do a thing. I sat through a nearly two hour rain delay Friday night and then watched the Pirates hit into seven double plays. You don’t see that too often. Pitching is the key to winning in the big leagues and the Pirates have had really good performances from their starters lately. They just don’t have much to show for it.
* Pirates’ fans wanted the team to make a big move at the trade deadline, both to show they cared and to get the team in the playoff race. Neal Huntington made a big move when he acquired Chris Archer. I thought at the time that it was a bold and good move by the Pirates. I also said I thought the Pirates gave up too much. Now that we know that the player to be named is last year’s first round pick, pitcher Shane Baz, I think the Pirates really overpaid. Archer will need to be great to justify this trade. Through three starts, and again it’s early, he’s been mediocre. Austin Meadow, Tyler Glasnow and Baz have a chance to be really good for a long time in Tampa. I hope they have great careers there. I also hope that Archer can deliver after all the Pirates surrendered to get him to Pittsburgh.
* Most of the time, the numbers don’t lie. The Pirates aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by a longshot. But to get there they’re going to have go on an incredible tear and also hope the many teams in front of them lose. On talk radio in Pittsburgh the other day, the hosts were speculating that the Pirates would need to go something like 29-11 in their last forty games to even have a shot at making the playoffs. There’s just no way that’s going to happen. The Pirates could still have a winning record this season, something I never thought possible when I predicted a 75 win season. The Pirates are good at times, but they just aren’t a team that’s going to the playoffs.
* The Steelers flat out stunk up Lambeau Field against the Packers. Thank goodness it was just a pre-season game. The defense was simply atrocious. The secondary couldn’t cover anyone. Heck, if I’m a team getting ready for the Steelers I throw the slant pattern all day long because the Steelers can’t stop it.
* I liked the way second year running back James Conner ran the ball against the Packers. I think the Steelers need to use him more this year, even when Le’Veon Bell comes back. I also really like rookie wide receiver James Washington. He looks like a future star.
* Ben Roethlisberger is the most important player on the Steelers by far. No one else is close. Keeping Big Ben healthy is also the key to the Steelers’ success in 2018. Steeler Nation nearly had a heart attack when Ben injured himself at training camp the other day and was in concussion protocol. Fortunately, Ben was all right and will be ready to go for the regular season. Let’s just hope he stays healthy all throughout the season.
* After watching Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph at quarterback I challenge anyone to say that either player will beat out veteran Landry Jones for the backup job. It just won’t happen. Neither player is anywhere near ready to take on that role. The smart money is on Rudolph to be number three and for Dobbs to be cut. I don’t see any other scenario unless there’s an injury over the next two weeks.
* Antonio Brown may be the most talented wide receiver the Steelers have ever had. He might also be the biggest diva the team has ever had. AB is all about AB. He needs to grow up. He had no right to go off on veteran reporter Ed Bouchette the other day when the former IUP grad simply tweeted that he saw Brown limp off at training camp. Bouchette is no TMZ reporter. He’s a Pro Football Hall of Fame reporter. I like AB the player. I’m getting really tired of AB the drama queen.
* High school football kicks off this Friday night. Where did the summer go? I’ll be back on the Indiana High broadcasts for the fifth year in a row. Where did those five years go? Veteran Jack Benedict will be doing his thirty-fifth year of Indiana High football. Good luck to the Indians and all the local teams. Hope you listen to games on all four of our Renda Broadcasting stations each Friday night.
* This is the first year I have ever watched the HBO show Hard Knocks. The Cleveland Browns actually look like a good team in the series, which is saying something when you consider they’ve won one of their last 32 games. I’m sure Steeler fans are enjoying seeing former assistant Todd Haley work for their division rivals. The Browns actually have a lot of young talent. They should win a handful of games this season. Then again, they’re the Browns so don’t be surprised if they stink up the NFL all over again.