In the dull heat of a Pirates summer collapse, sports notes are refreshing like a cold Coors Light from a Styrofoam cooler on a Steelers training camp slope. Sharky’s or Dino’s? There is no bad choice!
• Ratings are out for the Madden video game. The Steelers’ Kenneth Pickett is a 73. He is tied for 27th among quarterbacks with San Francisco’s Brock Purdy, who was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2022 draft, and Houston’s CJ Stroud, who has never taken an NFL snap. Not great optics.
• Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is ninth with a rating of 84. I see Cousins as Pickett’s ceiling, and that would be OK. Many years, many meters, a lot of money. Just no Super Bowls. Cousins has been showered with respect because he comes off positively in the Netflix series “Quarterbacks.” Patrick Mahomes called Cousins the most underrated QB in the league. If Pickett can be cousins, we should be happy. Because Pickett won’t be Mahomes.
• Pickett probably won’t be Deshaun Watson either. Watson was one of football’s best quarterbacks when he was with Houston from 2017-20. He’s only 27. Why do so many assume Watson won’t return to that level in Cleveland? Here he is betting that he is significantly better than Pickett this season.
• ESPN’s Kimberly Martin called Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts the NFL’s most disrespectful player. Yet Hurts’ contract somehow has the league’s second-highest average annual value at $51 million. Respect isn’t about video game ratings. It’s about winnings and money. Hurts has both.
• Steelers training camp preview: Extreme makeover
• Madden Monday: The Steelers’ team-building approach is only good enough to beat smaller NFL teams
• 5 players to watch as the Steelers report to training camp
• NFL running backs had a Zoom meeting “workers of the world unite”. We hope someone brought Viagra because it was impotence on parade. Austin Ekeler was the catalyst for the rally. He got the starting job with the Los Angeles Chargers when Melvin Gordon was injured. Ekeler showed he could do the same or better for less. Now, Ekeler took to Zoom to lead his peers in whining about the exact business model that got him his job.
• Mike Tomlin has coached 16 seasons, has 163 regular-season wins, has earned 10 playoff berths, is 8-9 in the postseason and has a Super Bowl ring. Mike McCarthy has coached 16 seasons, has 155 regular season wins, has been to the playoffs 11 times, is 11-10 in the postseason and has won a Super Bowl. Why is Tomlin revered and McCarthy compared with low regard? PS – McCarthy beat Tomlin in Super Bowl XLV.
• Is Pat Freiermuth overrated? He’s a 6-foot-5 tight end on a team that got just two touchdowns outside the red zone last season. The Steelers’ offense is red zone oriented to a prehistoric level. But Freiermuth only caught two TDs. Maybe he’s just popular because MUUUTH! sounds like HEEEATH!
• Fantasy football draft is approaching. Obviously, Pickett should be the first choice overall. If the entry fee to your league is under $500, you are a cheapskate taking no risk and should be embarrassed. You are a fake by being a fake GM.
• San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson says Seattle and Toronto are in the mix to acquire him, not just the Penguins and Carolina. With Karlsson’s move to Pittsburgh not feeling imminent, the idea that another team could join the pursuit late and steal the deal seems like a legitimate fear. But Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap makes the process difficult for everyone.
• Karlsson would hate Carolina’s close-west style. He would love the Penguins’ wide-open approach. Carolina has a better chance to win a Stanley Cup than the Penguins. What would affect Karlsson? The focus here is on style. It’s also easy to convince yourself that Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin always give a shot, even at their respective ages. Heaven knows we do.
• If the Penguins don’t get Karlsson, would free agent defenseman Tony DeAngelo be an option? DeAngelo’s character, behavior and politics have made him a journeyman: Four teams in seven seasons. But he is a skilled playmaker and power play man. DeAngelo is 27 and would likely play cheap. The penguins are incapable of moralizing. They really are on their last chance and haven’t added enough (or even changed much) if they don’t get Karlsson.
• In MLB, why does Baltimore’s plan work, Cincinnati’s plan works, Tampa Bay’s plan never stops working, and the Pirates just keep promising? What is the difference between the Pirates and the other franchises?
• Third baseman Scott Rolen entered the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. In 2018, his first year on the ballot, he received 10.2% of the vote. 75 percent is needed. This year, Rolen got 76.3 per cent. How did it happen? The role’s stats did not increase in the meantime. No great new video appeared. How did Rolen’s percentage skyrocket? He has the lowest first ballot vote of anyone who ultimately made it. When you leave out the more deserving, strange things happen. The role is above average, not better.
• The US women’s soccer team looked meh in their World Cup opening 3-0 win over Vietnam on Friday. But this isn’t necessarily a vintage version, and the US isn’t head and shoulders above the competition now. There are several good teams. USA will play better and be able to win. But it won’t be easy.
• It is said that the United States could become the first team, men’s or women’s, to win three consecutive World Cups. It is a false equivalence. The men’s tournament is much more difficult to win. More better teams. These are two different competitions. We are too often foolish in our mad rush to make things right when they are not.