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Addressing the local pro teams

February 13, 2013
By John Mehno (johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Now that the state of the union has been addressed, how about the state of the local pro teams?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are more than a quarter of the way into their shortened season, the Pirates are just starting to prepare for a new year, and the Steelers are still sifting through the fallout from their disappointing 8-8 finish.

n Penguins: A legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and positioned for sustained success because of their core of young stars. They could use a scoring winger and one more quality defenseman for the playoffs, but they could also win as presently constituted. Sidney Crosby's concussion history will always be an issue, but he seems to be doing fine. The future is bright for this season and beyond.

n Pirates: Progress has been obscured by the inability to break the streak of losing seasons, which is now at 20. The Pirates head into the season with an abundance of starting pitching options, nearly all of which come with significant question marks. Andrew McCutchen rightly received support for the Most Valuable Player, but his collapse over the last two months was one of the main reasons the team faltered so badly down the stretch. Some prime prospects are in the system, but the Pirates have to figure out how to win at least 82 games this season.

n Steelers: Bad year or the start of a trend? The Steelers stumbled badly at the end of the season. Ben Roethlisberger played poorly after returning from an injury, which made everyone forget he was having a career year before he got hurt. There are lots of issues, lots of tough personnel decisions that have to be made with an eye to a tight salary cap situation. The Steelers need to have a productive draft. You're never out of it with a franchise quarterback, but the Steelers are looking up at Baltimore and Cincinnati in their division.

No wrestling

I would have wagered money that I wouldn't write anything about Olympic wrestling.

But it was announced Tuesday that wrestling will be dropped from the Olympics in 2020 because the International Olympic Committee says it isn't one of the core sports.

Understand this: wrestling is an acquired taste. People who like the sport are zealous about it. The majority don't get it at all.

That's fine. But its role in the Olympics' history should be undisputed. It's as basic as can be, one against one. There's no equipment, no frills. It requires physical skill and mental discipline. Competitors matched by weight class wrestle.

The problem for the Olympics is wrestling doesn't do well on TV because of the sport's limited appeal. Synchronized gymnastics work better for TV.

It's a shame, and further evidence that our sports sellout to TV is all pervasive.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

 
 

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