Mehno: Pirates’ Walker surging at right time

PITTSBURGH – Some Pirates-related thoughts as Pittsburgh gets ready for its postseason baseball game in 7,660 days:

* Neil Walker has seven home runs this month, a power surge that’s better late than never.

Walker has had a disappointing offensive season, but he can salvage it if he takes this hot month into the postseason. It’s remarkable the team has posted 93 wins (entering today’s finale) considering how many soft touches the batting order has had.

* The postseason isn’t always for the best hitters. Sometimes it’s for whoever happens to be hot at the right time. People like to think that the best players consciously raise their performance level, but it doesn’t always work that way. Ted Williams hit .200 in his only World Series. Willie Mays had a .239 average and no home runs in four World Series.

On the other hand, journeyman Gene Tenace batted .348 with four home runs in the 1972 World Series after he’d gone 1-for-17 (.059) in the playoffs.

* The postseason roster offers some flexibility with each round. The Pirates have no need for Jeff Locke on Tuesday, but they should find a spot for Kyle Farnsworth. As wobbly as the back end of the bullpen has been in the last few weeks, another pitcher experienced in closing is a necessity.

* Funny, there haven’t been any complaints lately about how the Milwaukee Brewers have a bigger payroll than the Pirates.


The winner of the annual Pirates contest will be posted on the “Mainly Mehno” blog at later this afternoon.

Stuck in the middle

Three games in, we have ample evidence that the Steelers aren’t a good team.

But it’s also unlikely that they’re completely awful, and that’s too bad.

As painful as a 4-12 season might be, it would a long-term benefit to the organization because it would translate into a much better drafting position.

The Steelers went 8-8 last year, missed the playoffs, but didn’t get their draft call until the 17th turn. Franchise-caliber players are gone by then.

Unless the whole AFC improbably sinks into a morass of 8-8-ness, the Steelers aren’t a playoff team.

If you can’t make the playoffs, make the top five list at the draft.

The Steelers are in a unique position where they can easily absorb a bad season. They don’t have tickets to sell. People will continue to buy “LAMBERT 58” jerseys. The only downside is the endless babble of talk radio, and what does that mean? People were complaining when they were 12-4.

For all the gloom that has come with the 0-3 start, it looks like the Steelers have a bunch of games they can and should win, starting with today’s overseas date with Minnesota.

After next week’s bye, they play the Jets, Raiders, Bills, Lions and Browns over the course of seven weeks that includes games against the Patriots and Ravens.

The Steelers are going to win some games – not enough to get them in the postseason, but too many for their long-term good.

SUBHEAD: British invasion

England sends us the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and we send them the 0-3 Steelers vs. the 0-3 Vikings?

That doesn’t seem fair.

Then again, maybe this is the way we pay them back for George Michael and Wham!

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