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JOSHUA DOBBS

The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to be making a move toward claiming the National League Central Division crown.

That statement is theoretical.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are experiencing untimely injuries to key performers at the most inopportune time of the 2017 season.

That statement is factual, and as former Pirates broadcaster Lanny Frattare might say, “There (is) noooo doubt about it.” So far in 2017, at one time or another, the Pirates have lost the following players for multi-game stretches because of injury; outfielder Gregory Polanco, catcher Francisco Cervelli, OF/IF Adam Frazier, pitcher Jameson Taillon, pitcher Antonio Bastardo, third baseman David Freese, center fielder Andrew McCutchen, catcher Chris Stewart. Many of the aforementioned have been forced to appear on the seven or 10-day disabled list, or even longer. These are just some the physical injuries that have occurred in 2017.

Now let’s address a few of the possible mental issues affecting the team, shall we? As if it weren’t enough, the Pirates have been psychologically smacked around by one their star players (Starling Marte), being suspended the first half of the 2017 season and also relieved of close to half of his season’s pay for allegedly ingesting illegal performance-enhancing drugs. What was the reason for Marte using a PED that has allegedly been monitored since the Cold War? Who knows? Marte’s suspension also happened after the Pirates had taken a huge risk and juggled the lineup of their starting outfield by moving former NL MVP McCutchen from his ordained position of center field to the real estate of right field that had previously been sanctified and glorified by the late Roberto Clemente, all without consulting or receiving the consent of McCutchen himself. When McCutchen was originally moved from center field to right field during spring training this year, he had this to say: “That was one of the first times that there was something that I wanted to go against,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was ready for or I wanted to do. But as I keep saying that, I’m talking about myself. So, I just had to not be selfish and just accept that’s what I had to do and move over to right.”

T.J. WATT (Photos by Will McBride)

At this point the Pirates may be in need of both a neurologist and psychologist in order to even contemplate making the playoffs in 2017, or as ex-NFL coach Jim Mora might say; “Don’t talk about— playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?”

If not this year, then in the near future the Pirates should possibly make sure that as many as seven of nine starters have the ability to play at least three positions (both infield and outfield) and their subs should be able to do the same in in order to minimize the effects of injuries to their starting lineup.

A star is born, maybe

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Giants 20-12 in their first 2017 preseason game, at MetLife stadium. Although this was a turnover-filled contest benefitting the defenses of both squads, one of the lights at the end of the defensive tunnel for the Steelers was rookie and first-round pick, linebacker T.J. Watt. Of course he’s the brother of Houston Texans megastar defensive end, J.J. Watt. Although it was the first NFL game for his younger sibling, J.J. said he received a text from one of the world’s greatest entertainers, Kendrick Lamar, about the performance of T.J. Watt.

J.J. seemed to be slightly gushing when he spoke to reporters about the incident. “I came out of my meeting and I actually had a text on my phone and the first text that I saw, it was the most crazy thing in the world. I read the text and it said, ‘I see your little bro out there balling. I hope all is well.’ And I looked and I was, like, ‘that was from Kendrick Lamar.’ I was, like, ‘wait a second. What did my little brother do?’ So, I go on Google. I check it out and it said two sacks in four plays. So, I texted him so he could see after the game what Kendrick said and I just thought that was like, the craziest thing in the world, to see one of the best rappers in the world—possibly the best rapper in the world—text me about my little brother.”

Although Steelers rookie QB Joshua Dobbs appeared to be slightly nervous in his first NFL start, Dobbs still completed 8 of 15 passes for 100 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT. There were a few talking heads still spewing nonsense about what a dreadful game Dobbs played. Well they may be overthinking it a bit. If “yinz” guys get too critical, think Landry Jones. Game, set, match.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

 

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