As the headline implies, it's safe to say that last night produced a lot of interesting storylines in the world of Pittsburgh sports.
In Canton, Ohio, Steeler D-Coordinator Dick LeBeau was at long last inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in front of a packed house complete with the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers team. The LeBeau cheering section also included US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, who once dabbled in the pro football business for a few years as well.
LeBeau, who finished his career with a league-record 171 consecutive starts at cornerback and 62 interceptions (3rd All-Time) was introduced by his older brother, Bob.
Two former Pitt Panthers, Russ Grimm and Rickey Jackson, both received football's ultimate honor last night as well. Grimm was surprised by the attendance of Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and fellow assistant coaches Kevin Spencer, Matt Raich and Mike Miller, who scheduled a private plane after practice. They were joined by former Steelers and current Cardinals Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, and Clark Haggans, who sat with their old Steeler teammates during the ceremonies.
Meanwhile, things got very interesting back in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates pulled out an 8-7 victory of the walk-off variety in the 10th inning last night against Colorado.
Pedro Alvarez hit the game-ending three-run home run in front of a sellout crowd at least partially aided by the added attraction of a postgame George Thorogood concert. The home run was Alvarez's second in as many nights and 10th of the season, the third of the game for the Pirates. Newly-acquired catcher Chris Snyder also did some yardwork (his 11th of the year and 1st with the Bucs) and Garrett Jones clubbed his 16th of 2010.
Ross Ohlendorf pitched six effective innings, yielding just four hits and one earned run while striking out six. But alas, the win would end up in the hands of the Pirates' final pitcher of the night, Sean Gallagher, who raised his mark to 2-0.
Naturally, the appropriate way to celebrate a big win is to clean house, which the Pirates did on Sunday, relieving pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho of their duties.
John Russell, who is very much on thin ice himself and grasping for some momentum going into the final stages of the season, took all the responsibility for the moves:
"It was a very gut-wrenching decision," Russell said. "There are some issues I've been working through for quite some time now that could not be resolved in a way I felt would be for the betterment of this organization. I respect both men greatly. I lost two friends today. That's tough to deal with. But my main focus is this team, this organization, and I felt moving forward that this was the time to do this. With two months left in the season, I wanted to accomplish something this year moving into next year."
Kerrigan oversaw the worst rotation in team history, one that holds a record of 21-58 with a 5.38 ERA at this point in the season. Ross Ohlendorf, Brad Lincoln, and Charlie Morton all either regressed or failed to improve on his watch, so the question obviously was what exactly Kerrigan was bringing to the table, other than a reputation he failed to live up to. As far as Varsho, I don't know what he did to deserve his dismissal, but it sounds pretty obvious that there was some sort of problem in the air.
Kerrigan will be replaced by his assistant, former big-leaguer Ray Searage, while Varsho will be replaced by another former big-leaguer, minor-league field coordinator Jeff Bannister. Bannister has spent 25 years with the organization as a player, minor-league manager, and coach.