Big Lead Sports Bar


Weekend Newsmakers

 This week, I'll be tinkering with a few different styles of posts, for a variety of reasons. 
 Today, I'm injecting a bit more of my personal opinions into recaps of the big stories of the weekend.

ROSS OHLENDORF gave up just two hits and two unearned runs over six innings of work, but it still wasn't enough to gain his first win of the season in a 3-2 Pirates loss at Oakland. Ohlendorf's botched pickoff move and failure to back up third base on an overthrow resulted in one of the three Oakland runs. Evan Meek gave up an eighth-inning home run to Kurt Suzuki, two pitches after Jason Jaramillo dropped a Suzuzki pop foul. Lastings Milledge hit his first home run of the season for the Bucs, who outhit the A's 8-3 in the loss. It was the 17th straight road loss for the Pirates, who are now 25-50 and 4-19 in the month of June. The Bucs finished interleague play at a ghastly 2-13.

My take: The Pirates seem to find new ways to lose every day, and this one ended on Jose Tabata's sizzling grounder hitting Pedro Alvarez on his way to second base.  Ugh. Ohlendorf pitched well, but his mental gaffes loomed very large; you can't take any plays off in this league and expect to win. As for Jaramillo, what else can you say? If he makes that catch, Suzuki doesn't homer and the game goes into the ninth tied. It's the little things, the "should-be-routine" plays, that make this team so frustrating to watch. On the positive side, there's only 87 more Pirate games left in 2010.

SERGEI GONCHAR and his pending free agency is a hot topic around Pittsburgh, and Rob Rossi took a look at the thinking that the Penguins might opt to beef up their blue line and not upgrade their wingers.

My take: Most everyone (myself included) had the Penguins and Gonchar parting ways this offseason. But if they can actually sign both Gonchar and newly-acquired Dan Hamhuis (or two other high-end defensemen), all of a sudden, an area of weakness becomes an area of great strength for the team. That won't help the winger situation, but then again, not much out there can help it right now.

BEAU BENNETT became the newest member of the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was chosen with their first-round draft pick on Friday night. The 18-year-old California native played for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League last season and led the BCHL in scoring with 120 points on 41 goals and 79 assists in 56 games. He's committed to the University of Denver for the fall, so you won't be seeing him in a Penguin jersey anytime soon.

My take: I'd call this a "high-risk, high-reward" pick for the Pens, a gamble you're willing to make when you're picking 20th. There has to be some patience involved with Bennett, but if he can eventually grow into the young scoring winger that this team so desperately needs, it could be a home run of a pick.

HINES WARD stirred the pot a bit on a recent appearance on the NFL Network's NFL Total Access, when he made these comments about Ben Roethlisberger's tumultuous offseason:

“A lot of players really don’t know the situation, other than what we hear in the news or the media,” Ward explained. “I think when he addresses the whole team going into training camp, we can all put it behind us and move forward.”

My take: It's not the first time that Ward and Roethlisberger have not been on the same page, with Ben's public wish for a tall receiver and Hines' questioning of Roethlisberger's injury in 2009 as two of the most memorable examples. But if Roethlisberger can address the situation in a way that will not affect his ongoing legal dispute in Nevada, he should do so sooner rather than later so the team can move on.


Nate said...

If this wasn't Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, I feel like the last thing would be a non-story. It seems like Ward's just saying that the team is ready to put the issues behind them.

As for the Pens, I like the Bennett pick a lot. Lots of upside there for the 20th pick of the draft.

The Pirates have just been infuriating to watch lately. What other team has things like a runner getting hit on his way to second from a batted ball be a deciding factor in a game?

If the Pens can sign Gonchar, I'll be absolutely thrilled. He's one of my favorite players and he's a big-time contributor.

Steve said...

I think if Hamhuis signs (at probably around $4 mil.) there's no way Gonchar stays. They can't tie up $8 mil. or more between those guys with only $12.5 mil. in cap room left. That leaves roughly $4 mil. to sign 3 forwards, that is; if Lovejoy can fill Eaton's spot and that still only gives them 6 defensemen.

The only way they can sign both Gonchar and Hamhuis, is if they trade a defensemen for a winger, Gogo for (insert player here) -- similar to the Kunitz for Whitney trade -- sounds good to me.

I still don’t think Gonchar should be resigned though. Defensively, his game has fallen off a cliff. Not worth the money, not worth the risk, even for just two years. His only saving grace is QB'ing the PP and like the saying goes; we sucked with you, we can suck without you.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Well, thank God interleague is over, now the pirates can improve to ONLY dropping 2 out of 3. As for the end of yesterday's game. We've seen it all too many times. Guy drops catchable foul ball, batter goes on to hit HR. And to officially end the game... another baserunning blunder. Ugg is right!

I just don't see how the Pens can afford to keep Gonch. He's gonna be too expensive & his play was just dreadful last year. If the only thing to say in his defense is "he's the PPQB", then why isn't he out of town already? There is NO excuse for that collection of players to put up such terrible terrible PP numbers. I won't be sad to see him go (i mean, i will be, but not at this stage in his career).

@Nate - of course it wouldn't be a story if this wasn't ward & ben. Ask TMZ (& TMZ watchers) if they'd be in business "if this wasn't lindsey lohan" or paris hilton or olivia newton john or whoever you kids are into nowadays!

Steve said...

I hear Olivia Newton John flipped off the Yankees.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

In order to further boost revenue, maybe the Pirates can trademark stupid bonehead plays so that everytime somebody else commits one or one is shown on BBTN, they can get some royalties!

Seriously, I watch bits and pieces of games and think to myself how can this team sink any further, but that is one area they never seem to let me down in.

Also, I am going to hop on my soapbox about Herr Hypocrite Goodell's refusal to suspend Braylon Edwards despite pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault....... Just one game would at least show some level of consistency. Also, Mike Vick may have violated his parole last week.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

@Burress - Goodell also said Vince Young will "probably not" be suspended because his strip club rampage is a "first violation". Glad our best player is suspended 4-6 weeks for never being charged with a crime, whilst other teams best players get off without even so much as a slap on the wrist.

Steve said...

Mike Vick is Goodell's poster child for how an ex-con can come back to the NFL. Goodell, Dungy and the NFL have invested too much PR time and spin into making him over. He can drown a litter of puppies on live TV and do no wrong now.

okel dokel said...

@Steve - why would any team send any type of NHL quality winger for Goligowski?

I would prefer they sign Hamhuis and someone like Zbynek Michalek from Phoenix. This could potentially give them some cap room to lure Jordan Leopold back or a mid range winger. The free agent market for wingers is slim so I would not be surprised to see them focus mostly on the defense.

I love "Sarge" but he looked old in the playoffs and the Power Play pretty much sucked with him at the helm so I am not eager to give him $5 million a year.

I don't think Ray is going to make any trades because the cupboard is bare and we need to develop some talent from within or we will be hurting in a few years.

Nate said...

@HomeRun I meant more to say that, if this wasn't the Steelers...say, if Tom Brady was the one in trouble, and it was Wes Welker saying what Ward said, it wouldn't be news. It would just be Wes Welker saying the team is ready to move on.

Matter of fact, I don't think it would be news if it were any receiver other than Ward saying what he said. The media loves to sell this "Ben vs Ward" angle like the two hate each other.

Steve said...

@ okel - I asked the same thing about Whitney, but we got Tangradi and Kunitz for him.

Goligoski's "supposed" skills are always in demand and he is still young, so like whitney, many teams will see his upside and be willing to move a player for his services. The fact that there are so few quality wingers on the market, tells you that many teams have good wingers signed that they may be willing to part with for the right player.

If Ray trades it won't be from the cupboard, it'll be from the starting roster...Kunitz, Godard, Rupp, Gogo, etc.