Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

Kris Letang’s neck, Nick Bonino’s shirt, Jameson Taillon’s arm, beating Penn St. and marathons: Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

Nobody panic. Except everybody panic.

Hold on, IceBurgh. This could get rough.

Hold on, IceBurgh. This could get rough.

USA Today Sports/The Incline
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Last week in this column I wrote the following:

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?

I sense no one promised. Sad! Perhaps you will heed my words in this week’s edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings.

10. Necks

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, necks, you are a real problem. The herniated disk that will keep Kris Letang out of the playoffs? It’s in his neck. The concussion symptoms that robbed Sidney Crosby of two years of his prime? They stemmed from his neck. The lips tattoo that failed Pirates prospect Jose Tabata had? It was on his neck. Watching Steelers defensive backs get torched in the AFC title game and the resulting whiplash it caused? That gave us pain in our necks. There are many fine medical and research institutions in the City of Pittsburgh. It’s time one of them finds a way to do away with necks.

9. Getting dressed properly

Nick Bonino

Nick Bonino

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Them, an uninformed sports fan: The biggest issues facing the Penguins entering the playoffs is all the injuries and the difficulty of getting through the brutal Metropolitan section of the bracket.

You, a smart sports fan: Actually, the Penguins still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and it’s always a safe bet the Capitals and John Tortorella will fail. So the team’s biggest issue is that many of the players don’t know how to button a shirt the right way.

Nick Bonino is an unrestricted free agent after the season and his inability to button a shirt properly might mean his time in Pittsburgh is soon over. Unfortunate, but a franchise has to maintain some minimum standards.

(Editor’s Note: We seem to have a consensus on the shirt fiasco. Thank goodness.)

8. Montgomery Burns

As part of the Penguins 50th anniversary festivities, the team gave away season tickets to one lucky fan for the next 25 years. What a dream come true for someone who can’t afford tickets to get to see their favorite team! Or, in lieu of that, a chance for someone who already can afford season tickets and, in fact has them already, to get more season tickets he can use for his business clients!

7. Buc Night

MLB: New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates home opener is Friday, but tickets are hard to come by for that. However, Monday night is Buc Night, with a limited number of $1 tickets and $1 hot dogs available. Except now all the $1 tickets are gone, too. Crap. I bet that Penguins Golden Ticket winner bought them all up for his clients. You better get to the stadium early before he gets all the hot dogs, too.

6. Pittsburgh Marathon

For any procrastinators out there, you only have until April 9th to register for the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon.  And for any extreme procrastinators out there, you only have 30 days to train for a marathon. Get running.

5. Franchise depth

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have the longest playoff streak in the NHL and the WBS Pens now have the longest active playoff streak in the AHL, too. They also happen to have the best record in the AHL this year at 47-19-3-1. And that would probably be even better if Pittsburgh didn’t take their top players all of the time to replace the many broken Penguins.

4. Beating Penn State at stuff

Pitt has now beaten Penn State in football, basketball and baseball this year. Even better, the University maintains a 1-0 lead in defeating polio.

3. Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The good: After a very promising rookie season last year, Taillon looked dominant on Wednesday night, matching Red Sox ace Chris Sale pitch-for-pitch at Fenway Park.

The bad: The Taillon vs. Gerrit Cole “Who is the Pirates actual ace?” debate is probably going to be the Matt Murray vs. Marc-Andre Fleury argument of the summer.

2. Humiliating Henrik Lundqvist

Two years ago, Henrik Lundqvist emptied his water bottle on Sidney Crosby’s face. Since then Marc-Andre Fleury referred to Lundqvist’s actions as “baby stuff,” the Penguins dispatched the Rangers with ease in last year’s playoffs (with third-string goalie Jeff Zatkoff outplaying The King in one game) and then this week Crosby banked in a goal off of Lundqvist’s head.

The embarrassment just keeps getting better and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

1. Panicking

THE PENGUINS CUP HOPES ARE OVER WITHOUT LETANG! (Although … they have gone 24-9-5 without him this year.)

THE PIRATES ARE ALREADY TERRIBLE! (But there are still 160 games left to turn it around.)

THE STEELERS DIDN’T ADDRESS ANY OF THEIR DEFENSIVE ISSUES THIS OFFSEASON! (However, the draft hasn’t happened yet.)

PITT BASKETBALL IS TERRIBLE AND DOESN’T HAVE ANY PLAYERS LEFT! (Okay, I don’t have any counterpoint to that.)

EVERYBODY PANIC!