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The Incline Illustration

Crosby’s stick, Opening Day and playoff health: Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

DJ Gallo’s weekly spin around all things Pittsburgh sports offers some really bad options for the Mount Washington sign.

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The Penguins are 0-2-2 in their last four games and have dropped their two most recent contests by a combined score of 11-3. Someone let them know that if they don’t get back on track, they risk poor placement in the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings. There is no greater motivation in sport.

10. Saying goodbye

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates-Media Day
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates cut reliever Jared Hughes on Wednesday after his sinker stopped sinking on the way to an 11.57 ERA in spring training games. Hughes joined the team in 2011 and was a huffing, puffing bundle of positive energy from day one. Just look at this photo of him pretending to be mean. Hughes was basically the team puppy. Let’s all hope he finds a nice, new baseball family who will give him a good home.

9. Kevin Stallings

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Duke Stallings
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

While former Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is on the brink of leading TCU to NIT glory (or the NIT-equivalent of glory), the Panthers’ current head coach is reflecting on his first season at the helm. “As I’ve always heard, the fastest way to a basketball player’s head is through his behind,” he told the Post-Gazette, a comment that thankfully receives some context if you read the whole article.

8. Suzie McConnell-Serio

Suzie McConnell-Serio

Suzie McConnell-Serio

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt landing Suzie McConnell-Serio as head coach of the women’s basketball program was viewed as a home run hire four years ago. But after back-to-back 13-win seasons were capped Friday by the transfer of star forward Brenna Wise, McConnell-Serio will enter her fifth season in Oakland under some pressure. New AD Heather Lyke (who made this esteemed list last week) has to at least call Sean Miller to see if he’d take the job, right?

7. Signs

A Hollywood-style PITTSBURGH sign has been proposed for Mount Washington. First, no. Second, if Pittsburgh is going to be unoriginal, why not get in on the numbers-for-letters trend captured by these shirts I saw for sale at the Penguins-Blackhawks game on Wednesday night?

The sign overlooking the city could be adaptable to whatever sports team or athlete Pittsburgh wants to honor at the moment. PITTSBUR6H for the Steelers six Super Bowl titles. PITTS87RGH if Sidney Crosby scores. PITTSB0.08H if Jung Ho Kang is allowed back in the country.

The point is: The bad options for a Mount Washington sign are unlimited.

6. Detroit Red Wings

Detroit’s playoff streak ended at 25 this week, meaning the Penguins’ run of 11 consecutive postseason appearances is now the longest in hockey.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you feel inclined to complain about a team that is the reigning Stanley Cup champion and has featured Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin over the past 30 years.

5. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds hosted D.C. United in a U.S. Open Cup game. They lost.

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds hosted D.C. United in a U.S. Open Cup game. They lost.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Riverhounds season kicked off last weekend, and they’ll play FC Cincinnati at Highmark Stadium on Saturday in their second match of the season. Don’t forget that the organization still plans to join MLS by 2023. Now is the time to jump on the bandwagon and bank those soccer hipster points so you can be cooler than everyone else in the city in six years.

4. Duquesne basketball

Do the Dukes now have the best basketball coach in the city in new hire Keith Dambrot?

While we’re considering that question, let’s also start rumors that LeBron’s sons are going to play college basketball at Duquesne. It can be the Sean-Miller-to-Pitt of 2017.

3. Sidney Crosby: Terminator

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby is out there smashing puck bags and chopping off fingers and getting complemented by his victims.

That’s when you know you’re the king: When people are honored to be flayed by you.

2. Healing

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes

Letang has an 'upper body injury' which in hockey terms, could mean almost anything.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

I remember being amazed to learn in elementary school that some lizards can regenerate their tail. As an adult, I am far more excited to learn that Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and Jake Guentzel are all expected to be healthy for the start of the playoffs, with Carl Hagelin, Ron Hainsey and Olli Maatta not far behind. Penguins > lizards.

1. Opening Day

Opening day is so close you can almost reach out and Cutch it.

Opening day is so close you can almost reach out and Cutch it.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates start their season on Monday in Boston. Now, considering the team is opening on the road against a Red Sox squad that is expected to be one of baseball’s best, there is a very good chance the Pirates get off to a 1-2 or 0-3 start. If that happens, you promise not to give up on the entire season with 159 games left in the season and before the Pirates even play their home opener next Friday?

Say you promise. Say it.

Okay. See you back here next week, and don’t forget your sacred promise.