Sports journalism at its worst

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Nobody asked me, but ...

• The Pittsburgh media owes a vote of thanks to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com for providing it with at least 24-hours of talk-show fodder and newspaper commentary. But his baseless speculation was the height of journalistic irresponsibility. To suggest Roethlisberger might be traded is one thing -- anyone can be traded -- but to go further and say he is frustrated with the direction of the team and with multiple coaches goes beyond typical speculation. It suggested Rapoport knew something. There’s been no indication he did. A prime example of why people don’t like or trust the media.

• Neal Huntington gets an "A" for honesty in telling David Todd of 970 ESPN that the Pirates did not make a qualifying offer to A.J. Burnett because "$14 million in one player was a bit steep for us." For one season, such a payment does not seem unreasonable. However ... the plan is the plan is the plan.

• With apologies to John Steigerwald: I had every intention of predicting back in early October that Evgeni Malkin would score only three goals in his first 17 games and be tied for 146th in the NHL, but I got distracted by the PGA Tour.

• The notion that the Pirates would enjoy some sort of negotiating advantage in retaining Marlon Byrd because he finished the season with them never made any sense. Byrd would be most available to the highest bidder, not to his most recent team. He signed yesterday with Philadelphia.

• Along those same lines, while the Pirates might be the leading candidate to secure the services of A.J. Burnett, if he continues to pitch, the notion that it is either Pittsburgh or retire also makes no sense. Professional athletes, particularly baseball players, rarely choose to play for a team that does not offer them the most money.

• Pitt will have to forget its big win over Notre Dame when it faces North Carolina Saturday. After starting 1-5, the Tar Heels have won three in a row and outscored their opposition -- Boston College, North Carolina State and Virginia -- 106-43.

• I love it when couch-potato analysts describe a coach -- be it Mike Tomlin, Paul Chryst or Dave Wannstedt -- as having that "deer-in-headlights" look. Like they can really tell what's going on in a coach's mind by a TV shot.

• MLBTradeRumors.com, which is pretty good at this stuff, predicted the following arbitration awards, should they get that far, for Pirates players: Garrett Jones, $5.3 million; Neil Walker, $4.8 million; Pedro Alvarez, $4 million; Charlie Morton, $3.9 million; Mark Melancon, $3 million; Gaby Sanchez, $2.3 million; Travis Snider, $1.4 million; Michael McKenry, $900,000; Vin Mazzaro, $800,000. The site further suggested Jones and Snider would be non-tendered.

• T.J. McConnell, who sat out last year at Arizona after transferring from Duquesne, is the starting point guard for coach Sean Miller and playing to rave reviews early in the season. Through two games he leads the team in minutes played and assists.

• A banner year for Pirates' No. 1 draft choices. Gerrit Cole, class of 2011, performed like the No. 1 overall pick that he was; Rick Renteria, class of 1980, was named manager of the Chicago Cubs. Next up: Andrew McCutchen, class of 2005, who easily should win National League MVP award.

• The good news about Penn State's mediocre football season is that it could cause the NFL stock of coach Bill O'Brien to decline significantly.

• In a conference call with Buffalo writers last week, Tomlin has this very straightforward and excellent response to questions about Roethlisberger's style of play: "Ben has been in this league for a decade. He has a style of play in which he plays. It's produced a lot of positivity for us. It's done with one purpose in mind and that's winning. I like who and what he is as a quarterback."

• The description of the ESPN team of Mark May and Lou Holtz by Phil Mushnick, TV critic of the New York Post: "A tortuously forced partnership."

• This tweet from Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com: "Pirates GM Neal Huntington indicated today that the team is open to discussing an extension with Neil Walker this offseason." No kidding! And with every other member of the team -- if the price is right for the Pirates.

• A few major media outlets have stopped using the nickname of the Washington team in the National Football League. Sounds like a plan.

• Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who will be 27 next season, is said to be available in a trade and the Pirates have been listed as a possible destination. After hitting 32 home runs in 2012, Davis, a left-handed batter, slumped badly last season (.165 batting average in the first half) and was sent to the minors for a time. But in the second half of the season, he posted .954 OPS in 105 at bats with the Mets. In 1,087 career at bats vs. right-handed pitching, he has an .827 OPS.


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