Black-N-Gold Nation has been abuzz with many different topics over the past several weeks. Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold sits down to give you her takes on 3 things that are on her mind regarding our favorite Black-N-Gold Teams. It's time to catch Toni's Takeaways.
1)PENGUINS-There is no doubt about it in Mrs. Black-N-Gold's eyes. Our Penguins are the best organization in town, maybe in all of professional sports. They recently celebrated their 4th Stanley Cup win. In doing so, they combined youth from their farm system (thank you, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Pens!) with their core players (you know the names: Sid, Geno, Tanger, Flower) and mixed in some wily veterans and some key pieces that they plucked off the trade market. It all added up to a drink with Lord Stanley.
Yes, the NHL has a salary cap, an advantage that some leagues don't have (I'm talking to you, MLB). But year in and year out, Mario & Burkle are not afraid to spend the money that's needed to compete for a championship.
They're also an organization that's not afraid to admit error. Witness last season's dismissal of Head Coach Mike Johnston. Yes, this is not a organization that cuts off its nose to spite its face. And GM Jim Rutherford will pull the trigger on a deal when need be. Watch it, he'll rob you blind. Case in point, Trader Jim's larcenous haul of D Trevor Daley for Rob Scuderi last year. Or how about snagging a 5th round pick for 3rd G Mike Condon last week?
Yep, the Pens certainly have proven that they've got the best game in town.
2)STEELERS-This next take is directed at not only our Steelers but the entire NFL, including the league office. You know how so many people complain that a baseball game takes up to 3 hours? Well what about a football game? The propensity of penalties in the NFL has made the game virtually impossible to watch. Yes, the Steelers need to clean up their act and play more disciplined football but let's see the refs keep the flags in their pockets for a few. It's almost as if there is a penalty on every-other-play. Yoi! Who wants to watch that? No wonder the NFL's ratings are down.
True, the NFL is stuck in a catch-22 by trying to protect players from serious injury whilst producing an entertaining product. I got news for you, Goodell, it isn't working. Mrs. Black-N-Gold certainly doesn't want to see a guy get his block knocked off but she doesn't want to spend a Sunday afternoon watching flags fly, either.
3)PIRATES-The sound of crickets that you hear is coming from our Pirates offices over on Federal Street. You see, MLB free agency just began. It seems unlikely that the Bucs will retain any of their 4 free agents, UTL Sean Rodriguez, OF Matt Joyce, RH Ivan Nova & RH Neftali Feliz. All 4 have performed their way above what the Pirates would probably be willing to spend.
But wait! You say the Buccos still have plenty of holes to fill on their roster? You are correct. Unfortunately, it looks like another off-season of reclamation projects and dumpster diving. The Pirates are in desperate need of pitching, starting and relieving. However, the free agent crop for starters is thin and those that are available such as the aforementioned Nova stand to command big bucks (punny). Even if the Pirates cull together a decent bullpen, we learned last year that you can't afford to rely too much on your relievers for an entire season. They just won't hold up.
Meanwhile, the Buccos will need to make up for the losses of Rodriguez and Joyce. They got both of those players on the cheap and will surely look to replace them in the same manner.
You know what? Mrs. Black-N-Gold doesn't hear crickets. What she's hearing is the sound of Bottom Dollar Bob counting his millions while the Bucco faithful collectively groan.