PITTSBURGH - Be very careful this afternoon if you're watching the Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game on CBS.
Stay back from the screen, especially if you have a hi-def set.
The sweat and spit and blood and swearing are going to be flying as two teams with a lot of animosity square off with plenty on the line.
If you were around in the '70s, this is an awful lot like those games when the Steelers and the Houston Oilers would slug it out for the division title.
It should be fun - from a safe distance.
Sports shut out
Sportscaster Jon Burton will be leaving WTAE at the end of the month.
His contract wasn't renewed. OK, that happens. Personnel changes are common in TV, especially since the market size has dropped and Pittsburgh has become a stepping stone to a bigger job rather than a destination for most.
The bigger issue here is the future of the sports segment. Station insiders say WTAE is contemplating a major de-emphasis of sports.
Could the sports report become a few headlines delivered by one of the anchors?
Certain things sell - the Steelers, always. High school football. The Penguins when they're competing for the Stanley Cup.
That Florida Marlins-Pirates game on a weeknight in June? Not so much.
People are often surprised to learn that sports is the least-watched part of a local newscast. News and weather trump it easily.
That's why stations were always looking for unique talents like Myron Cope and Bill Currie. They had enough personality to hook viewers who didn't care that much about sports.
There's also an assumption that sports fans' needs are served by cable channels devoted solely to sports. It's interesting, though, that they don't presume The Weather Channel fulfills the same purpose.
So in recent years the sports portion - aside from the transcendent Steelers - has been shunted to the end of the show, and greatly abbreviated.
Now WTAE is supposedly contemplating handling sports on an ''as-needed'' basis.
That's a pretty stunning change for Cope's old station.
Not that many people noticed, but the Pittsburgh Xplosion was supposed to open its Continental Basketball Association season on Friday.
Instead, they've gone out of business, at least for this season, after three years of amazingly low attendance.
They racked up big losses trying to play games at Mellon Arena and Pitt's Peterson Events Center.
Their biggest mistake was probably not paying their way onto television somewhere so potential fans could at least sample their product.
Job well done
Best retirement wishes to friends Bob Smizik and Paul Meyer, who took buyouts offered by their newspaper.
They should both be proud of their careers.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org