Bob Smizik: Not the best player on the planet

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Nobody asked me, but...

• Based on his recent Bondsian postseason performance, does Sidney Crosby still deserve the designation, which has become almost part of his name, as “best player on the planet?”’ Perhaps after an MVP-caliber regular season, he should more properly be called: Best point accumulator on the planet -- playoffs not included.

• If Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is as good as gone, where does that leave general manager Ray Shero? He’s the man who convinced ownership to keep Bylsma and extend his contract two years just last June. He’s also the man who presented Michel Therrien with a two-year extension in July of 2008 and then fired him about seven months later.

• The most encouraging aspect of the Pirates’ 4-1 win over Milwaukee last night was the pitching of Francisco Liriano. In a performance that was reminiscent of his 2013 dominance, Liriano went six innings and allowed one run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven.

• In eight playoff series since the Penguins won the Cup, Crosby is a -4. In the four losing series in which he played, he is a -8, with five goals in 24 games.

• What was this all about? With the Pirates down by two runs and with no outs and a runner on first in the seventh inning Monday, Chris Stewart put down a sacrifice bunt. What’s with that strategy? Playing for one run late in the game while down by two?

• Tyler Glasnow, who some consider a better pitching prospect than Jameson Taillon, is struggling with his control in high Class A. In 17 innings, he has 15 walks and 15 strikeouts.

• The Penguins are 4-5 in playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 and the teams they’ve beaten aren’t exactly members of the NHL aristocracy: Ottawa (twice), New York Islanders, Columbus. Makes the Penguins postseason record look all the worse.

• Looks like there’s no protecting young pitchers from doing damage to their ulnar collateral ligament, other than having them throw at less than 95, perhaps 90, mph. Pitchers whose handling have been considered near-perfect are going off for Tommy John surgery.

• I am forever baffled by the excitement generated merely by ESPN televising a Pirates game. Are we that provincial that this is something significant? And to suggest, as some have, that ESPN coming to town is a sign of the Pirates’ relevance is nonsense. Their 2013 showing was the only sign necessary to indicate the relevance of the Pirates.

• The suggestion that the NHL regular season -- which can be highly entertaining -- is a meaningless exercise for teams like the Penguins, who are easily in the top half of the league, was regularly lambasted and ridiculed when posted here in the past. How does that stance look today?

• A mini-slump didn’t get Gregory Polanco down. He was 1-for-16 in a four-game stretch last week and this but came out of it with a vengeance -- six hits in eight at bats with two doubles, a triple and six RBIs.

• Even with their win last night, the Pirates have the fourth worst record in MLB at 17-22.

• In taking it upon himself to tell the world that first-round draft choice Johnny Manziel would not be the starter at quarterback, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a former minority partner with the Steelers, clearly shows he plans to pattern himself after Jerry Jones and not Dan or Art Rooney.

• Amazing stat of the week: Jose Fernandez, set to undergo Tommy John surgery, has a career batting average against of .183 with the Miami Marlins.

• Going into last night’s game Pirates starting pitchers were 14th in ERA in the National League, 11th in WHIP, 10th in BAA, 14th in K/9 and 14th in K/B.


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