The much-hyped Stadium Series game at Heinz Field is finally upon us. But before you put on your beach attire to watch outdoor hockey in balmy February, take a minute to read the latest edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings.
10. South Side
Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter pled guilty to summary disorderly content Tuesday following an incident outside a South Side bar in January. That plea came just four days after former Pitt star Darrelle Revis turned himself in on charges related to his own South Side incident.
Of course, Porter and Revis are far from the first football players to get into trouble on Carson Street. Some Steelers, thankfully, are becoming wise to the trend.
If things don’t calm down on the South Side, it may become known as the biggest cause of football player arrests outside of putting on a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.
9. Philadelphia Flyers
Saturday night is the Penguins-Flyers swim trials at Heinz Field, and the lack of ice and a proper opponent threatens to further dampen the already slushy atmosphere. But let us all take a moment to remember that the Flyers are bad. And I don’t mean bad at hockey. (Although they are indeed quite bad at hockey.)
Gird yourself against the onset of any natural, human empathy setting in for the Flyers or their fans due to the fact that the organization is well out of the division title chase, probably missing the playoffs and will continue its decades-long Stanley Cup drought.
Don’t feel bad for them like you may have grown to pity the Browns. Reject compassion. Convince yourself anew that the Flyers are vile, orange creatures even worse than the vile, orange creature running our nation. Let the hate flow through you. Good!
8. Joke set-ups
Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty, a retired NASCAR driver and Ben Roethlisberger walked into a Christian men’s conference in rural Virginia …
7. Pirates starting pitching
Spring training is underway, and the Pirates still appear to be a starting pitcher or two short of being playoff contenders. But there may be an arm on the roster they can turn to. Shortstop Jordy Mercer was asked in a Reddit AMA this week if he thinks he could pitch. The Pirates shortstop, who set Oklahoma State’s record for saves, is confident he could:
“You better believe I could still pitch. Two-seam fastball with a slider and a change to mix. I pitched off demeanor more than anything. Basically here it comes and try to hit it.”
So it’s settled. Jordy Mercer will start this year’s wildcard game on the mound.
6. Kevin Stallings
Pitt still had a remote shot at the NCAA Tournament entering Wednesday night’s game at Wake Forest. A 36-24 halftime lead made things look even brighter. The second half collapse that followed on 16.6 percent shooting from the floor officially extinguished those hopes. Oh, well. At least Pitt will get a better draft pick now. Oh, for real? Only in professional sports? Uh-oh.
5. James Harrison
The ageless linebacker (He turns 39 in May, if you must know.) reportedly wants a two-year deal from the Steelers to continue his career. Considering Harrison lifts 135-pound bars over his head with ease, the Steelers are probably going to have to do whatever he tells them to do.
4. Robert Morris
The Penguins aren’t the only local hockey team scheduled to play at Heinz Field. The Colonials will host Niagara on Sunday night, and admission is free. Air temperatures are also supposed to be near freezing at gametime which is great for, you know … ice.
3. Your fridge
Now you can tell your friends: “Yeah, my fridge actually has the exact same technology the Penguins used to freeze the ice at Heinz Field. Sure, you can take a picture with my fridge. Single file, please. No flash photography.”
2. Quotable Malkin
Here is Malkin on Sidney Crosby’s 1,000 points milestone: “Hey, Sid. I want to say congrats on your 1,000 points. It is a huge number. We both know that 999 [of those] points is because of my help.” That’s the actual quote.
When Malkin’s career is over, he should be honored with a jersey retirement and a commemorative coffee table book of his best quotes.
1. Pipe dreams
There is no other time on the calendar better than late February for sports fans to daydream about their teams loading up on star players. It’s the season of the NHL trade deadline, Major League Baseball rosters rounding into shape and NFL free agency and draft talk kicking into high gear.
Undoubtedly, in this very city, there is some diehard fan walking the streets who truly believes that in the coming days, the Pirates will trade for Jose Quintana, the Penguins will nab Jaromir Jagr and the Steelers will end up with Darrelle Revis. Unlikely? Certainly. But anything is possible. Pittsburgh is about to host an outdoor hockey game in 60 degree weather.
DJ Gallo is the founder, editor and writer of the sports humor site SportsPickle.com. He has also written for, contributed to or appeared on ESPN.com, Saturday Night Live, The Onion, Comedy Central, Funny Or Die, SportsCenter, The Guardian, CBS Local, USA Today, AOL, ESPN The Magazine and The Cauldron. He was almost the ‘Harambe kid’ of the ’90s when his Bobby Bonilla hat fell into the polar bear pen at the Pittsburgh Zoo.