PITTSBURGH-Midweek news and commentary:
n Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis says the crime rate will rise without an NFL season.
Initially, I thought he was referring to problems NFL players would cause with time on their hands.
He meant that people will apparently turn to crime without the distraction of three NFL games every Sunday.
It's a reach, but it's the most interesting take so far on what's been a very boring story.
Without a law degree, it's tough to make much sense out of the court developments during the NFL lockout.
Remember this: They're arguing over how to divide up $9 billion.
n Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to Steelers fans.
Goodell is an effective commissioner because he can speak without saying anything.
The session with Steelers fans was perfunctory public relations that didn't really accomplish anything.
The NFL still wants to push for an 18-game season, although that doesn't seem to be as big an issue as it has been.
So how about this: If we're in agreement that pre-season games are mostly needless fluff, let's quit making them a mandatory buy for season ticket holders.
Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen, by the way.
n Jim Leyland removes his starting pitcher after eight innings of one-hit, shutout pitching.
That happened Sunday against the Pirates.
Rick Porcello got the hook in favor of closer Jose Valverde.
Valverde nailed down the game, but not without some stress.
He put two runners on base.
Leyland's reasoning was that a fresh Valverde was a better option than Porcello, who had worked the first eight innings.
Like it or not, that's the way baseball operates these days.
Closers make a lot of money, and teams are intent on getting value out of them.
Complete games don't matter.
That seems to bother some people, but it's hard to see what the issue is.
Does anyone really feel cheated that they didn't see the starter complete a game?
Pro football players used to play on both offense and defense. They don't any more. The game is better for specialization.
So what's the problem with that in baseball?
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org