Bob Smizik: Steelers between rock, hard place with Worilds

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Nobody asked me, but . . .

• The Steelers are seldom a winner -- or even a player -- in the high-stakes game of NFL free agency and their position with outside linebacker Jason Worilds puts them at an even greater disadvantage. Worilds is holding all the cards. The Steelers need him. He doesn’t need the Steelers. The Steelers could play their ‘ace,’ and put the franchise tag on Worilds. But that would mean paying an unproven player about $9 to $10 million for one season. For a team with cap problems, that’s not an easy solution.

• For those who believe the move from Pitt Stadium after the 1999 season is what’s wrong with Pitt football consider this: The Pitt football record in the final 10 years at Pitt Stadium was 37-67. The Pitt football record in the first 10 years after leaving Pitt Stadium was 74-48.

• If Travis Snider’s toe was bothering him from the start of the season -- and it was, according to him and Neal Huntington -- why was manager Clint Hurdle giving him the majority of the playing time in right field through late July? That defies logic. The Pirates were treating Snider like he was Dave Parker. Snider’s own words: ''Over the course of the offseason (2012-13), it just never healed.’’ Huntington’s own words: "It was bothering him longer than just the time we DL'd him in August."

• When Marc-Andre Fleury faltered badly in the 2012 playoffs -- 4.63 goal-against average, .834 save percentage -- overwork in the regular season was given as a primary reason. Fleury had started 78 percent of the team’s game. With his start last night at Ottawa, a 5-0 loss, Fleury has started 82 percent of his team’s games -- most of which are pretty meaningless.

• More Pitt Stadium fodder: Number of Pitt bowl games in the last five years of Pitt Stadium: 1. Number of Pitt bowl games in five years after leaving Pitt Stadium: 5.

* In four seasons with the Steelers, one of which he was not a regular, Santonio Holmes averaged 59 catches. He had a high of 1,248 receiving yards and a low of 821. In four years with the New York Jets, he has averaged 36 catches and never for more than 746 yards.

• If the Pirates are looking for a left-handed hitting first baseman with a career OPS of .815 vs. right-handed pitching and .748 last season, Lyle Overbay is available.

• This is a link to the media awards column by Richard Deitsch of SI.com. It’s worth a look. Some of the awards are a hoot and there are links to some terrific videos. Among my favorite of his ‘duds:’ ''ESPN mentioned Tim Tebow 137 times in 120 minutes on June 10.’’

• MLB Revenues for 2013 are expected to exceed $8 billion, a record. By way of comparison, in 1995, a year after the strike that cancelled the World Series, revenues were $1.4 billion. With new TV deals beginning in 2014, revenues might reach $9 billion.

• Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk.com on Frank Coonelly’s statement that the Pirates' TV revenue is in the top half of MLB: ''I spoke to a source with knowledge of the Pirates’ TV deal, and the source tells me that the deal is not in the top half of MLB TV deals in terms of average annual value. Far from it. If, as Coonelly says, the Pirates are in the top half of all deals it’s a function of some front-loading of the deal and that gave them a lot of TV money in 2013 and that, as time goes on, the deal will look worse and worse.’’

• I am not among those who believes Pitt lost to Cincinnati last week because of the weakness of its schedule. Nor do I believe Pitt has faltered, to be kind, in the NCAA tournament because of a weak non-conference schedule. Pitt was prepared for NCAA tournament after having just finished playing among the best in the Big East Conference. However, Pitt’s non-conference schedule often is a joke and totally unfair to its fans who deserve better. If Pitt were willing to go on the road or, better still, play some games at the Consol Energy Center, it would have little trouble securing more quality opponents. A tougher schedule also would impress the NCAA selection committee.

• Just a couple of examples of ACC teams playing more-than representative non-conference schedules: North Carolina played Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky in the space of five days. It also played Texas and Davidson. Boston College played Providence, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Purdue, USC, Virginia Commonwealth, Harvard and Auburn. Five of those BC games were on the road. Pitt owes it to its fans and itself to schedule better non-league games.

• The owner of the Colorado Rockies opened his books to the Denver Post earlier this month. Some interesting information. You can read it here. One point many might never think of is this: The Rockies spent $25 million on payroll for corporate staff, travel and pension/health insurance of all employees. Player salaries were about half of gross revenues.


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