Sports Columnist

John Steigerwald has been a fixture of TV, radio, and newspaper sports in Pittsburgh, and has a Sunday column in the Observer-Reporter.

Pirates pitchers and catchers report tomorrow.

Are you excited?

Ready for another losing season?

After trading their two best players while other teams in their division, including the Milwaukee Brewers, were adding better players in an attempt to, you know, win, your Buccos are just about guaranteeing their 23rd losing season in the last 26 years.

That’s OK.

They’re making up for that by threatening to sue the Sports & Entertainment Authority, the owner of PNC Park, for reimbursements on the cost of renovations.

There is a disagreement between the Pirates and the SEA over what items should be funded under the lease agreement.

Forget the boring details and keep in mind that Western Pennsylvania taxpayers overwhelmingly voted no on a sales tax increase to fund PNC Park and Heinz Field back in 1997.

And in July it will be 20 years since the Allegheny County RAD Board fixed the vote to pass Plan B, which, according to polls, taxpayers also opposed overwhelmingly.

So there’s not a justifiable dollar available to the Pirates or the Steelers when it comes to paying for their buildings.

The Pirates said they needed a new ballpark to be competitive. PNC Park came in the nick of time. They only had 12 consecutive losing seasons after moving from Three Rivers Stadium, where they hadn’t finished above .500 for eight years.

Imagine how much they would have stunk if not for the new ballyard.

Even if the Pirates are entitled to the reimbursements according to the lease, now isn’t a particularly good time for them to be demanding money from taxpayers.

Then again, maybe now is better than later, when they’re in the middle of another losing season and maintaining the tradition of being a source of misery for everybody who has any lingering affection for baseball.

  • Art Rooney II acknowledged that the Steelers will have to make improvements on defense in 2018, but he also said, “By looking at things in the playoffs, it’s not easy to play defense in this league anymore.”

Yeah, Art might be on to something.

Tom Brady threw for 505 yards in the Super Bowl and lost.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards in a divisional playoff game and lost.

In the three biggest games of the year – the conference championships and the Super Bowl – with what should be the six best teams in the league, quarterbacks were 159-for-246 (65 percent) for 2089 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Two of those quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Casey Keenum, started the season as backups and another, Blake Bortles, was considered a laughing stock early in the season.

Think about that for a minute. There were 246 passes thrown in those three games and only three interceptions. One of those was a fluke on a pass from Foles in the Super Bowl that should have been caught and was batted in the air twice.

In the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl, Foles completed 71 percent of his passes for 725 yards, six touchdowns and the one fluke interception.

Nick Foles?

Remember Joe Montana’s great comeback against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI? He was 14 of 21 for 157 yards and one touchdown.

Remember when Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX? He was 15 of 23 for 209 yards and one touchdown.

Were you complaining about the lack of defense in the postseason?

I wasn’t. I was throughly entertained from beginning to end.

But it might be time to readjust what we consider greatness when it comes to a quarterback statistics.

  • The last time the Eagles won an NFL championship was in 1960. They beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13. Their quarterback, Norm Van Brocklin, was 9 of 20 for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. That’s 209 yards on nine completions. When they threw the ball back in those days they meant business.
  • I’ve been watching sports around here for a long time and I’ve never seen anything like the reception Marc-Andre Fleury got at PPG Paints Arena Tuesday night. He deserved every bit of it.
  • Did I mention that the Cubs are getting pitcher Yu Darvish for six years and $126 million? Do you think the Pirates will guarantee a player $126 million in your lifetime?

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In.