ROOT makes it hard to root

PITTSBURGH – If you were watching the Pirates-Giants game from San Francisco the other night, you probably weren’t wondering what rookie backup catcher Tony Sanchez thought about it.

But there was Sanchez, with a headset and microphone in the dugout, answering irrevelant questions from the booth.

It was all part of the curious Root Sports agenda to veer from the game as often as possible. Never mind that the Pirates are playing meaningful games for the first time in two decades. It’s important to hear from a guy whose major league career consists of 14 games. It’s not enough to have endless shots of Clint Hurdle chewing gum and fans wearing team gear and the viewer Tweets and the pointless updates from unctuous sideline reporters.

They actually have production meetings to map out this stuff.

Try not to worry

The Pittsburgh Steelers first-team offense played the entire first half Saturday and these things were good:

n They scored their first touchdown of the preseason.

n They cut back on the alarming number of penalties.

n Ben Roethlisberger didn’t need medical attemtion.

So you’ll take all of that, look for continued improvement and hope they can get the last pre-season game out of the way without incident in advance of the Sept. 8 opener at home against Tennesee.

The Steelers still have some issues, but they have two weeks to work on them and get better.

In the meantime, count the hours until No. 2 draft pick Le’Veon Bell can get back and run the ball, and count the weeks until Heath Miller can return at tight end.

This is going to be one of those seasons where they need all the help they can get.

The Bus reloads

Jerome Bettis is getting another chance at national TV.

NBC hired Bettis in 2007 when he was a hot story, retiring after winning the Super Bowl in his home town of Detroit. Two years later, though, NBC bumped Bettis off its Sunday night NFL show.

Now ESPN has hired him to appear on “NFL Live” and “Sportscenter” when he starts on Sept. 1.

Bettis is a nice guy, and that was the root of his problem at NBC. Those shows want strong opinions. They don’t care so much if the opinions are wrong, just as long as they’re definitive.

Big league overkill

Remember when ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” used to broadcast the championship game of the Little League World Series?

It was an offbeat annual diversion from major league games, watching the kids compete on a kids-sized field.

Now because there are too many cable channels with too many hours to fill, you get the entire tournament. Worse, it comes with analysis and scouting reports and close-ups of kids crushed after striking out or making an error.

ESPN’s Chris McKendry, flanked by two analysts, said the other day, “Harry Azadian embraces the big moment.” Harry is 12. He’s probably just a few years removed from embracing his favorite teddy bear.

Can’t they just be kids and not chattel for a TV show?

Mehno can be reached at