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.