Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings

Adam Frazier’s walk-off, Penguins 3-peat wish and NFL moms: The best in Pittsburgh sports

Ben Roethlisberger telling fantasy owners he’s done with highlight-reel throws is the worst — if you believe him.

Adam Frazier hit a walk-off home run against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Adam Frazier hit a walk-off home run against the Milwaukee Brewers.

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The Pirates won their first game in nine days on Wednesday night in walk-off fashion over the Brewers after being shutout in the two previous games, so you know where they’ll be in this week’s edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings, right? You got it. Still nowhere near No. 1.

10. Attendance

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
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Pitt didn’t get close to filling Heinz Field last Saturday for a game against highly-ranked Oklahoma State, and the Pirates aren’t drawing anyone either. But attendance isn’t only a Pittsburgh issue. Iowa isn’t selling out their home game against Penn State this Saturday. No one is going to the NFL games in Los Angeles. Even the CFL has seen attendance drop. And we’ve all seen the coverage about the dip in TV ratings for the NFL, the Kaepernick-free sport of soccer, and for all sports across all networks.

There’s a good chance we have seen the peak of sports interest in America and are now past that age. Fewer kids are playing sports today than in previous decades, so interest likely won’t grow in the future either. Attendance and ratings couldn’t go up forever. And the cost of attending games and the competition for the entertainment dollar in major cities is higher than ever before. Plus, you know … Netflix is neat. And a lot cheaper than a ticket. Sports are still hugely popular, but in a noticeable decline. So before you drag Pitt or the Pirates down, realize the broader, national and international picture.

Anyway, I have two tickets for the Pirates-Orioles game next Wednesday if anyone wants them. Upper deck. Face value. Thanks.

9. Adam Frazier

In case you missed the Pirates first win in a very long time — and maybe their last of the season? — here is Adam Frazier’s walk-off from Wednesday night.

The Pirates have only five home games left this season: Friday through Sunday against the Cardinals and then next Tuesday and Wednesday vs. the Orioles. As you can see in the video, plenty of seats are still available.

8. Ben Roethlisberger

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers quarterback was on 93.7 The Fan this week and said he’s putting ball security over highlight-reel plays this season: “In the past I’ve done that, where I’ve tried to keep guys happy, and it creates a bad issue, whether it’s a turnover or a bad play because someone else is open and I’m trying to force it. At the end of the day, if it’s going to hurt the team, I just kind of say, ‘Well, you’re going to have to just deal with it. Winning’s more important. [Receivers] can be mad at me all they want. But they better realize if we won the game, that’s all that matters.

Uhhhhh … I mean, I’m happy if the Steelers win all their games. But I would have liked to know about this scaled-back offensive approach before the season and BEFORE I picked every Steelers player in my fantasy draft. Thanks a lot, Ben.

7. Fielding

Pirates minor leaguers Ke’Bryan Hayes and Edwin Espinal were both named Rawlings Gold Glove winners this week. Of course, because the Pirates can’t have nice things, Hayes had a .708 OPS at Single-A this year and Espinal a .710 OPS at Triple-A. But fielding is important, right? Great.

6. Call Of Duty

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva are in the new Call Of Duty game:

Villanueva is in it because he is a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, and Bell is in it because … he likes video games, I guess?

5. Penguins preseason games

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In the past, I have laughed at people who watch spring training games or tune into ever NBA summer league game like they’re watching the NBA Finals. But then hockey preseason rolls around, and any hockey is good hockey to watch. Let this be a reminder: your favorite sport has a GOOD preseason, and every other sport has a DUMB preseason. Just facts.

But if you’re not one who can handle the excitement of preseason Penguins hockey, good news: the 2017-18 season starts in just 13 days at home against the St. Louis Blues.

4. Pitt soccer

Hey, if you’re down on Pitt football, perhaps I can interest you in some Pitt football?

3. Jake Rodgers’ mom

The Steelers signed a free agent offensive lineman to their practice squad Wednesday. If he’s half as awesome as his mom, they got a Hall of Famer.

2. A Pitt education

Max Browne got the start for Pitt last Saturday against Oklahoma State and had fan support. But when Ben DiNucci entered the game, no one missed a beat.

The University of Pittsburgh: You’ll probably never see a national championship or even a conference championship, but you will learn good.

1. Mike Sullivan

Perhaps you’ve found yourself wondering late at night: “Would it be bad if the Penguins were awesome again?” Well, you’ll be happy to know that head coach Mike Sullivan has also considered this eternal question of humanity and has hit on an answer.