Here at City of Champions, we don’t keep our thoughts to just local sports. With that in mind, here are three national and local takes for thought.
1. I was at PNC Park Tuesday night and the lineup was absolutely horrid.
It was almost like a white flag was waved. Jayson Nix was at third, a much less than 100 percent Neil Walker at second, Starling Marte – who got one hit in 12 at-bats while at his rehab assignment – got the start in center field, Gaby Sanchez still batting cleanup against a left-handed starter, Chris Stewart catching and Josh Harrison being pushed to third in the order.
I hate Harrison batting third, Stewart catching is almost a concession and the rest goes without saying. Stewart cost the Pirates a run in the field after Harrison had troubles getting a ball from left field. Harrison’s throw home was in plenty of time but Stewart could not make the exchange. The groan in the crowd was the same groan I had when the official line-up was revealed shortly after 4:30. Then Justin Wilson again frustrated Pirates fans with his eighth inning or lack thereof. Many see promise in him, I see another one year wonder.
It was a very frustrating game to watch. Statistically, albeit a very small sample size, the Pirates have won more with Andrew McCutchen out of the lineup than with him in it. Obviously, McCutchen is a great player and the numbers lie with that statistic. That lineup may have shown the Pirates need more major-league ready depth.
2. Tiger Woods arrived at Valhalla Golf Club Wednesdays ending questions as to whether or not he would play in this week’s PGA Championship.
Woods withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational with a back injury, yet less than a week later enters another tournament. Yes, I understand it’s not just any golf tournament, as well as quite possibly his last of the year. I also get that he won the 2000 PGA Championship here and has good memories as part of the 2008 US Ryder Cup team that won there, but at this point, once again his stubbornness is getting the best of him.
Woods badly wants to make the Ryder Cup Team this year, and appreciates the team environment now more than ever. What he needs to appreciate more is the fact that his back is in order. He always seems to recover quickly, but coming back this soon is a terrible idea. His doctors fixed the problem, but you know that if this was not a major, he likely would not play.
3. Initially I was a little unsure of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but now my thoughts are changing.
The Steelers do have a great opportunity with their schedule and the AFC North is wide open. Baltimore still trying to find itself offensively until they do, Torrey Smith will continue to draw double teams. Cincinnati needs to find a consistent performer to compliment A.J. Green, especially with Andy Dalton’s ridiculous new contract. Cleveland is not quite ready yet, but I do believe in Johnny Manziel and thus their future is bright.
In the meantime, the Steelers will have a 10-6 season and make the playoffs.
4. The San Antonio Spurs made the best move of the offseason, bringing Becky Hammon in as the first ever paid female assistant coach in the NBA.
Hammon is retiring from the WNBA after this season and immediately joining the Spurs bench. She has played 16 years in the WNBA, (although just one game in 2013) averaging double figures in 11 seasons. In her time with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars, Hammon was a leader and her aggression early on made her a crowd favorite. She was a co-captain after joining the Liberty in 1999.
With the San Antonio Silver Stars, she became known as “Big Shot Becky.” Hammon scored over 5,000 points in her WNBA career and shot 89.6 percent from the free throw line. I love this hire from the Spurs. Hammon is a passionate leader, and this is a great step to pair her with Gregg Popovich, the best NBA coach in my mind. I know she will do well and this may open doors not just in basketball, but in all sports.
5. You may have missed it, but the Pittsburgh Power had a great season this year.
The Power had their first winning Arena Football League season, compiling a 15-3 record, including a 12-game winning streak to end the regular season. It’s a shame that one sloppy loss ended the year, however that is the playoffs. The Power did have a lot to prove this season and thus had a roster overhaul in the off-season.
After an opening week loss which included a blown lead to the Cleveland Gladiators, ownership also decided a coaching change was in order. Ron James was the right fit in Pittsburgh and despite several key injuries, the team was able to find success. This is a great sign moving forward. The team’s quarterback Tommy Grady will be rejoining the team next season; he had 115 touchdowns putting up consistent numbers which included 4,717 passing yards.
I do believe the Power are in it for the long haul, and if more Pittsburgh sports fans were made aware of the team and show up, then the success will be more than just on the field.
6. Let’s face it, Cleveland has become SportsCenter’s new Tim Tebow. Now with the reported addition of Kevin Love, Cleveland has him, LeBron James and Johnny Manziel under one roof.
James himself is a big draw but with all of the Manziel coverage these past couple of years, Cleveland has now become a hotbed for sports. I know personally I plan on attending a Cavaliers game, after all Cleveland is a couple of hours away.
I know this may not be the majority opinion for Pittsburgh sports fans, but I actually kind of like this. Cleveland has not received any respect frankly, since James left, but now that he is back, in addition to Manziel and now Love, Cleveland will receive attention it has never seen. I do think the Cavaliers make the Eastern Conference Finals, especially with Paul George’s injury.
Now all of a sudden, the Cavaliers are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. The Browns are getting closer and the Indians showed promise last season, but also are building. I hope Cleveland takes advantage of this attention