PITTSBURGH-The Pittsburgh Pirates just had an 8-2 homestand that left them with one of the best records in baseball.
That left a lot of people saying, "Yes, but"
They've earned that skepticism. After two seasons where the team has collapsed in August and September, May success comes with perspective.
It's nice that they're winning, and it makes for a fun atmosphere at the ballpark. But those who invested in the Pirates over the last two seasons have had their hearts torn out and stomped on when the team folded at the end.
The season is agonizingly long, and comes with a lot of twists and turns. Who knew that Andrew McCutchen's July .446 average and 1.249 OPS would plunge to .252/.693 in August last season?
There's a long way to go, still 113 games to play. So far, so good, but understand that fans are waiting to see positive results in August and September.
Until that happens, "Yes, but" is a legitimate interjection.
The Pittsburgh Penguins should have had a four-game sweep over the Ottawa Senators in their playoff series.
The Senators' only life came from the collective brain cramp the Penguins had in the last 30 seconds of Game Three.
The New York Islanders posed a greater danger to the Penguins than Ottawa did.
Meanwhile, the Penguins get some valuable rest while waiting for the conference final to begin.
So Penguins coach Dan Bylsma won't discuss injuries or lineup decisions during the playoffs?
The first part is understandable: All hockey teams go CIA about injury information in the playoffs. But lineup decisions? Sooner or later, the other team will know Joe Vitale is dressing for the game.
Nobody can turn a simple "no comment" into an exercise in smugness the way Bylsma can.
When you write a book about sportswriters, you accept it won't be at the top of the best seller charts.
But Dennis D'Agostino has done an exceptional job with "Keepers Of The Game," (Potomac Books, $29.95), an oral history of baseball writing through the last generation of newspaper reporters in the pre-Internet age. He's interviewed 23 of the best about the unique experience of writing (often critically) about people with whom you are essentially embedded.
This is the long-awaited follow-up to Jerome Holtzman's "No Cheering In The Press Box," which spotlighted writers of an earlier generation.
Good stories abound, not just about the work but also about the life of a de facto spy in the midst of a baseball team. D'Agostino, a former publicist for the New York Mets and Knicks, knows the people he interviewed, and gets the best out of them. Bob Hertzel, who covered the Pirates for the late Pittsburgh Press, is among those included.
"Keepers Of The Game" is a keeper, a valuable contribution to baseball literature.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org