Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

DC vs. Pittsburgh (football & baseball) Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

Myron Cope, poet laureate of Pittsburgh sportsLet’s all welcome back Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus (not pictured), to guest prognostication. The first Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series has passed and we’re now into gridiron Q&A. TMBCE emeritus, is of course a straight ticket black and gold fan. Just back from last night’s Bruce Springsteen concert he’s answering a few questions about tonight’s season opener between the Redskins and the Steelers and even a few Nats and Buccos.

WFY: Let’s talk about magazine covers – I saw your (yinz?) Stillers on the cover the other day. Are they a legitimate contender or did Sports Illustrated destroy that possibility? Where is the strength, offense, defense or special teams? Also, Northern Virginia magazine has Pittsburgh on the cover as a road trip. Not a bad place to visit, but with both the Steelers and Pirates on the DC September schedules, a slap in our faces down here.

TMBCE: Did you go to the Pirates/Nats series in July? (WFY: No) I remember that Sunday game was a classic. An 18 inning classic! In terms of the SI cover, I think that was a bad prediction by SI. The Steelers have potential, but the defense is still suspect and multiple players are on suspension/injury. The Steelers offense is by far the strength of the team. However, any significant injury to Big Ben ends the season.

WFY: Who, other that Ben Roethlisberger is left from those Super Bowl teams?

TMBCE: Three Steelers remain from the 2005 team: Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison (LB) and Greg Warren (the designated punt/extra point snapper!). Those 3 were also on the 2008 Super Bowl winning team, in addition to Lawrence Timmons (LB) and William Gay (CB). As an aside, William Gay is still a starter for the Steelers (which is a BAD thing). Of course, several others played on the 2010 Super Bowl (that lost to Green Bay in the final game). I still can’t believe we lost that game. It still gives me chills. But to quote Tony Kornheiser “That’s it…That’s the list.”

WFY: What’s the Pittsburgh perception of the opener against Skins? I mean, they are facing the defending NFC East champion on the road on Monday night. They’ll be burgundy towels given out too!

TMBCE: I think its an interesting match-up. This should be a game the Redskins need to win: Steelers #2 WR Martvaius Bryant is out for the season, TE Heath Miller is retired, and RB Le’Veon Bell is suspended. Plus, the Steelers secondary is still awful. However, Big Ben is the best player in this match-up. I expect a high scoring game. Isn’t it weird that the Pittsburgh and Washington are in two different conferences? I wish they could play more often.

WFY: You know, a number of Super Bowl winners have lost to Washington over the years, so losing might not be so bad, right?

TMBCE: A loss to the Redskins would not kill the Steelers, but I think this could be a big push for the Redskins. The Cowboys don’t have Tony Romo. The Eagles seem to be in transition. It seems to be a two-horse race with Brad Stratton’s team for the NFC East title. Most media types are already ignoring the Skins, but I think they are better than expected.

WFY: I’m going to be frank — the overt display of Pittsburgh sports fandom is not as prevalent in BeltwayLand as it was 10 years ago. What’s going on? Are more natives returning to Western Pennsylvania like you did or is it the lack of Super Bowls of late?

TMBCE: Its hard to measure. Usually, Pittsburghers growing up here either stay forever or leave and don’t come back. Doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. For example, this year is supposed to be my 20 year high school reunion (and YES, that scares me by itself!) Too many of my class have left the area and aren’t able to make it back consistently. I can only speak for myself, I really do like Maryland (although I do not approve of Ravens fans). It’s a beautiful area and very active too. You know one thing that is much better than Pittsburgh? The DC Metro. (WFY: Should I tell him?) That was well maintained and more effective to travel around. The Pittsburgh “T” needs significant improvement.

WFY: Who made the better cameo in a disaster movie, Hines Ward in that Batman movie or the entire 1975 team in Black Sunday? In fact, what’s the best Pittsburgh sports cameo in a major motion picture?

TMBCE: Sadly, nothing special really stands out. Pittsburgh is better known for hosting/filming some excellent movies, such as Silence of the Lambs, Pretty Woman, and Dogma. Of course, there were a few bad movies filmed here as well. Lets just move on.

WFY: There is one correct answer:

NFL players and police, still getting along!

WFY: Since you were there, any commentary on the Penn State at Pitt game the other day?

TMBCE: I don’t understand the overall obsession that Pitt has with us. I don’t hate Pitt, but the Pitt fans seem to HATE us with an anger that I don’t understand. They also copy things from us. For example, the Pitt fans now chant: “We Are…..PT! We Are….PT” They also started singing the “Sweet Caroline” (WFY: a stupid tradition ripped off from the Red Sox for no good reason) after the 3rd quarter, although PSU has been doing that longer. Further, the Pitt fans BOOOOOED the Blue Band at halftime. I don’t remember any opposing team band getting booed at Happy Valley. They need to think for themselves! I would add that I had expected to see more Penn State fans at the game on Saturday.

WFY: How many Pittsburgh fans do you expect at the game? I’m guessing 10,000 to 15,000.

TMBCE: I’m going higher. 20,000 Steelers fans (of course, not all of them are from Pittsburgh).

WFY: Predictions! This game and the respective seasons of the opponents.

TMBCE: Washington 27-24. I predict the Redskins will start off with a big lead and the Steelers will come back. A late FG will win it for the Skins. Overall, I see both teams at 10-6 (WFY: 6-10 for Skins) and both finish in 2nd place in their divisions (and both make the playoffs).

WFY: Meanwhile on the other side of the Fort Duquesne Bridge, what’s going on with the Pirates? Their annual appearance in the play-in game seems in jeopardy. Has their window closed? Has anybody noticed since it’s football season?

TMBCE: It is not in jeopardy. Its done. Over. Collapse complete. I have predicted since spring training that meeting tried to put together a $et of player$ that could $upport the team win at an “affordable” price. I am extremely angry and upset about it. (Yes, I should be happy since our city has won a championship this year, but I’m not). The Pirates decided to trade productive players for “more affordable” options; all the while, the Pirates raised ticket prices. I am upset. The best thing the Pirates have done is the “Stand Up for Cancer” night, which a portion of the tickets go to cancer research (a important event that I was happy to support). Otherwise, the Pirates had a terrible off-season and made horrific trades. Are you happy with Mark Melancon? Last week I gave up on the Pirates. I don’t even know what their record is anymore, but I expect a losing season (which I predicted back in March). And yes, the fans are definitely unhappy.

WFY: Andrew McCutchen doesn’t seem to bat .550 against DC anymore. What’s going on with him? Was it cutting off his hair?

TMBCE:Cutch seems to want to obsess with the strikezone and what the umpire is calling. Its insanity. Some speculation around here includes that Cutch is trying to play his way out of Pittsburgh. At this point, I am fine with it. As long as they trade him for an ace
starting pitcher, I will be good with it. I’m sure that will never happen.

WFY: Gio for Cutch – let’s make it happen.

Oh look, bonus questions from TMBCE:

Bonus #1 Question and answer provided by Sam: What are your thoughts on the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup?

GREAT QUESTION! The highlight of the playoff run was beating the Washington Capitals in the 2nd round of the playoffs. (Sorry William, but its true). Overall, the Penguins continued their playoff dominance of the Capitals. I really didn’t think the Pens could beat the Caps in the playoffs, because the Capitals had such a dominating season. But once the Pens beat the Caps, I knew we would win the Stanley. Aren’t Capitals fans disappointed to have such a dominating regular season but lose to Pittsburgh in the playoffs?

Bonus #2: Question and answer provided by Sam: How was the Bruce Springsteen concert last night?

It was TREMENDOUS! It was my first concert to see BRRRRUUUCCE, and The Boss did not disappoint. It went 3 hours and 45 minutes! That was a bucket list item that I can cross off for me. It was very emotional, and I’m extactic that he played so many songs from The Rising album. It was such a great mix of old songs with newer albums and kept the momentum strong. THANK YOU BRUCE!

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2012 Redskins at Steelers Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

The Washington Redskins travel to the Steel City to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in four years. Western Pennsylvania native, Sam, also known as The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

WFY: I was going to make a joke about how the Redskins usually beat the Super Bowl winner in the regular season (Giants and Packers are two recent examples) but the Steelers only have 3 wins, just like the Redskins. What in the name of Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala is going on at the confluence of the three rivers?

TMBCE: Technically, the Steelers are 3-3, but expect things to get worse very soon (spoiler alert!) Without Troy Polamalu, the Steelers are an average defense. Polamalu is out indefinitely, the defense has gotten older, and the younger defensive lineman they drafted haven’t stepped up. So in summary, the defense sucks. Add into the mix a crappy special teams unit, a team second in the league in penalties, a patchwork offensive line, and you have the recipe for a mediocre team. I expect them to finish 7-9. The only reason they are competitive is due to Big Ben.

WFY: Having until recently lived in Columbia, Md. area for about a decade and dealt with fanbases (Ravens, Redskins) regularly, how is it being just surrounded by Steelers fans? Has you perspective on Pittsburgh sports (or your native region in general) changed after being away for so long?

TMBCE: It is wonderful, although on days like today (Monday after a Ravens loss and a Steelers win), I miss being in Maryland and listening to a) how the referees stole the game from the Ravens, b) how the other team cheated and/or got lucky or c) its all Joe Flacco’s fault. The thing I miss the most is regularly listening to the Tony Kornheiser show (don’t flog me, I know you aren’t a big fan of his). My office has some non-Steelers fans as well (Raiders, Patriots and Eagles are all represented). I think I’m less of a homer than I used to be. When the team is playing bad, its easier to point out. Plus, the Steelers have been to 3 Super Bowls since 2005, so its hard to get too upset when they struggle. The main obvious benefit is not having to listen to Ravens fans when the Steelers lose, although I do miss the drama that always surrounds the Redskins.

WFY: What are the best and worst units on the Steelers?

TMBCE: The worst unit is obviously the defense, but specifically the secondary. The “best” cornerback is Ike Taylor, who either gets beat for a first down, touchdown, or holding call on just about every play. Without Polamalu to help cover up mistakes, they are extremely vulnerable. The offense is the best unit, but specifically the passing attack. We have a hall of fame quarterback in his prime, surrounded by 3 lightning quick receivers and a very underrated tight end (Heath Miller). The running game features Rashard Mendenhall (when healthy), but I haven’t liked him since he was at Illinois.

WFY: Who is the better coach, Mike Tomlin or Bill Cowher?

TMBCE: This is a point of serious contention in town. Right now, I would have to give a slight nod to Tomlin, but not by much. My Dad would vigorously dispute that, as he believes that Tomlin won a super bowl with Cowher’s players. I don’t dispute that, but Tomlin has gone to 2 Super Bowls in 5 years, while Cowher went to 2 in 15. Neither one strikes me as a great Xs and Os coach, as both seem to be more of the motivational “rah rah” types. For what its worth, both coaches had Dick LaBeau as the defensive coordinator, who is largely credited with being the brains by the exotic blitz schemes the Steelers run.

WFY: What Steelers gear do you own?

TMBCE: I have plenty of shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and memorabilia. But my two favorite Steelers possessions are my Hines Ward jersey, and the Terrible Towel. DOUBLE YOI!

WFY: Please order your favorite Pittsburgh teams for our readers.

TMBCE: Any discussion of my favorite Pittsburgh sports teams has to begin with the fact that I am a proud Penn State graduate, and they will always be first in my heart and mind. (Yes, I know they are in central Pennsylvania, but they are still #1). Ten years ago, the Steelers would be a clear second, followed the Pens and the Pirates bringing up the rear. Well, the Pirates are still in last, but I have the Steelers and Pens in a tie for second. Hockey mania has gripped this town, and most people younger than I seem to have the Pens 1st, and the Steelers 2nd.

WFY: Steely McBeam, discuss.

TMBCE: No Steelers fan takes Steely seriously, so he warrants no additional comments.

WFY: The turf at Heinz Field, best field in the NFL now or best ever?

TMBCE: The turf is awful, which I’m sure you know. I don’t understand why they haven’t called our alma mater for tips on a proper grass to use to build a better field. I’m sure doing so would irritate the Pitt faithful (which is an excellent reason to do it).

WFY: How is the Heinz Field gameday experience? I understand they have troughs in the men’s rooms. Is there anything you miss about Three Rivers?

TMBCE: I enjoy the game day experience, although I do not enjoy the beer prices. I usually take the shuttle boat over from Station Square to Heinz Field. It beats parking anywhere near the stadium and is much cheaper. I typically walk around the lower concourse and through the “Great Hall” exhibit, which is a must see for any Steelers fan (memorabilia, exhibits, pictures, Steelers history, etc). My goal is to see every NFL team play at Heinz Field at least once. (Note: I saw the Steelers beat the Redskins in a sloppy game in 2008), so I try to get to 1-2 games a year. Its worth noting that Quaker Steak and Lube wings and Primantis are sold at Heinz Field. The scoreboard is really nice, and from where we sit, you get a great view of the game and the river.

WFY: Who is Greatest Steeler of your lifetime?

TMBCE: Hmm….terrific question. There have been some great ones over the last 25 years (my timeline of watching Steelers football). I am not sure I could pick just one. The group would include Rod Woodson, Dermonti Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Big Ben, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Levon Kirkland, Jason Gildon, and Jerome Bettis. If forced to choose…….I’d probably have to take Big Ben. The only super bowl victories they have since the 70s are due to him. Bonus question: You didn’t ask who is the favorite Steeler of my lifetime: Answer: Hines Ward.

WFY: What concerns you about the Steelers playing the Redskins?

TMBCE: The Redskins seem to have a pretty good offense, which is a concern because Troy isn’t playing and again, our defense sucks. (I am irrationally concerned and skeptical when it comes to the Steelers chances of winning any game that Polamalu doesn’t play). I think the best chance for a Steelers victory involves getting out to an early lead. The Redskins have just played two emotional games in a row, and may (I hope) come out a little flat. If the Redskins can stay in the game, they’ll have a shot to win in the end because our defense does not hold 4th quarter leads.

WFY: Last week our alma whipped Iowa Hawkeyes. I have noted a number of times that Iowa has better Steelers uniforms than the Steelers do at this point. Would you like to see them return to the classic block uniforms of the Chuck Knoll era? Also, the Steelers really need to wear black shoes all the time. Maybe the d-line can wear gold, but that’s it. Are you we going to see the throwbacks this Sunday?

TMBCE: We will be seeing the throwbacks this weekend, and I am not excited about it. The uniforms look like Bumble Bee, and are hideous in my view. I really liked the Steelers uniforms during the 90s, which are more similar to what they wear today. The 70s uniforms would be a better choice for a throwback then the striped uniforms they will wear Sunday.

WFY: Do you still listen with the sound turned down and the radio turned up (as Frank Herzog used to say during Redskins broadcasts) even though Myron Cope is gone?

TMBCE: No, those days are long gone. I enjoy the game on my flat screen tv. Plus, I flick over to NFL Redzone during commercials and get updates on all the game. (Note: I do not enjoy listening to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, because the Steelers typically lose games they broadcast.)

WFY: Where do you get your Steelers coverage?

TMBCE: My favorite Steelers beat writer is Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by far. However, I enjoy the overall coverage of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review better than the PG.

WFY: Would a Primanti Bros sammich and an Arn (Iron City) be the perfect accompaniment to a Steelers broadcast? Would “The O” be acceptable?

TMBCE: I am in a Sam Adams Octoberfest mood of late, so a Primanti’s sandwich with that would be ideal.

WFY: How much are the Steelers going to win by?

TMBCE: I do not assume that the Steelers will win. In fact, I am predicting a 34-31 Redskins victory for the reasons discussed earlier. The Bengals did not attack the Steelers secondary this week, but the Redskins will not make that mistake. It will be a high scoring game, but I just don’t think the Steelers defense will make the late game stop needed to win the game.

WFY: New feature!

In keeping with the spirit of Glenn Brenner’s original Guest Prognosticator series, I’m going to ask you to pick a winner of each NFL game this week (please just bold the winner).

TMBCE’s picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

WFY’s Picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tenneessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

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PITTSBURGH AT DALLAS

It has come to my attention that Maryland Bureau Chief Sam Basile’s favorite NFL team, the Stillers, is playing the team I followed as a youth, the Cowboys. While I have, by in large, lost interest in the Cowboys and NFL, I can still get fired up on occasion and bragging rights is certainly a good reason.

However, sometimes bragging rights are not enough, so, I propose a wager to Mr. Basile, but not with money. It is certainly understood that the universal currency of RESPECT and ADMIRATION and/or HUMILIATION* is at stake here and I propose to add more to the humiliation of the loser.

My proposal: the loser shall wear a Cowboys jersey to Poli-Tiki/Pennsylvania Pour House on Capital Hill in the presence of the winner. The photo shall be posted on WWN for all to see. The loser shall also have to consume an entire draft Iron City (not IC Light) beer at said establishment. Also, Sam suggests that should the Stillers win, I sing Myron Cope XMAS songs, since he has to suffer the personal humiliation of wearing a Cowboys jersey, in addition to the public humiliation. There will also be a concession speech by telephone immediately following the game. It works for me.

* Thanks Brenda


CRACKHEAD IS GOING TO FIGHT D.C. BASEBALL

Barry to block building pactsThe Wash. Times

Future council member Marion Barry is determined to prevent a D.C. ballpark. Attention, IRS/FBI/DEA — now would be a good time take a look at Mr. Barry’s finances and business associates again. Hopefully, this is all self-promotion and not a serious threat.


COMING HOME

Officially, Expos Up, Running In DistrictThe Post

Though it is only a hotel room so far, this is great news, Marion Barry notwithstanding. Now, all they have to do is get ownership, a new name, a GM and some staff. When can I buy tickets?


RED ZONE TROUBLE

Red zone offense a problem for Penn StateCDT

Is anybody surprised that Penn State is the worst in the Big11Ten in the red zone?


For Mills, Sundays are ‘pretty bad’Patriot-News

You know, I was just thinking that for us, Saturdays are pretty bad. Okay, that is not too fair, is it? Maybe? Anyhow, this article reminds us how tough Zack Mills is and how well he played given the beating he took vs. Purdue.

ICERS

Coming back, togetherThe Collegian

A season preview for the #2 Penn State ice hockey club team. They actually did not win the title last season for the first time in a long time.


STEAMED HAMS

Cheeseburgers in paradiseThe Collegian

A place on W. College Ave. makes cheeseburgers by steaming them. Sounds odd, but I would give them a try.

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