Sports Columns

Mehno: MLB should shorten spring training

PITTSBURGH — Exhibition baseball starts this weekend with the Pirates playing the first of their 30 games. That’s about 10 more than they need. Spring training is too long, and has been for a while. There was a time when six weeks of spring training was necessary. Players needed that ...

Goodman Shaffer: Nature and nurture of dynasties

Women’s college basketball was atop the national news last week as the University of Connecticut surpassed the 100 consecutive win mark, an incredible feat by a modern sports dynasty. But after that century-mark victory, UConn had to overcome a tough road test to reach 101. With one leader ...

Mehno: ‘The Animal’ was good man and character

PITTSBURGH — Jim Myers died the other day. George “The Animal” Steele did, too. Even though they were the same person, Myers was just short of his 80th birthday, while Steele had just turned 50. It was all part of a fascinating and profitable double life that ended for one of pro ...

Orr a staple around Curve

BRADENTON, Fla. — Friday was one of the nicest days I’ve spent at Pirate City in a long time. It was a beautiful morning, the Pirates’ entire squad was on hand for the first time, and I had an enjoyable conversation with good friend David Orr. If you’re an Altoona Curve fan, you ...

Skipping White House trip not bad

Commentary PITTSBURGH — There are some members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots who will treat their invitation to the White House as junk mail. That’s their right. There is some mild outrage that at least a handful of Patriots players have announced they have no ...

Movement in outfield mostly positive

PITTSBURGH — On the first weekend without football since September, the focus shifts to baseball. The Pirates welcome pitchers and catchers to workouts tomorrow after a sleepy offseason. They’re counting on plenty of in-house improvement, and they’ll try to jump-start that process ...

Pitchers and catchers reporting this week; Prince optimistic

BRADENTON, FL. — Baseball is on the horizon. Pirate pitchers and catchers report Monday and Tuesday and the full squad won’t be far behind, signing in Friday. Grapefruit League action begins the end of the month, and a few Pirates already are getting in some early workouts at Pirate City ...

New England simply the best right now

PITTSBURGH — Are the New England Patriots the best ever? Who knows? That’s a barstool argument that has no real answer. Pro football is always changing and evolving, so comparisons to the past are hard, if not impossible. Are they the best now? Absolutely. Coach Bill Belichick and ...

Super Bowl remains great spectacle

In spite of Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow, the days are getting longer and it’s actually starting to feel like spring is on the way. Some general observations as the seasons change: n According to Nielsen’s TV ratings, Sunday’s big game, televised by Fox, drew 111.3 million ...

Florida is place to be this time of year

BRADENTON, Fla. — People often ask me: Why do you go to Florida? Don’t you miss your kids? Don’t you miss your granddaughters and watching their soccer and basketball teams compete? Don’t you miss the camaraderie of the Thursday morning breakfasts? Don’t you miss the high school ...

Replacing Big Ben will be hard to do

PITTSBURGH — Steelers chairman Art Rooney II allowed last week that maybe it’s time to start looking for a quarterback who could eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger. That’s prudent. It’s also frightening. It was either Einstein or Lombardi who first postulated one of the basic ...

Preliminary approval given to semi-automatic hunting rifles

Last week, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to several measures that could change the way many of us hunt in Pennsylvania. The most dramatic of those is a proposal to permit the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting big game, small game and furbearers ...

There’s a new age of turkey calling competition now in the air

Across the state right now, many turkey calling contests are being staged. Some of these are strictly for fun and local entertainment, but most are deadly serious events. Called “sanctioned” contests, they are approved and often sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, the ...

US men’s soccer team in must-win situation

The USA Men’s National Soccer Team is on the hot seat. The team’s path to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will go through San Jose, Calif., after U.S. Soccer announced Sunday that Avaya Stadium will host the men’s national team’s pivotal World Cup qualifying clash against Honduras ...

Mehno: Steelers not planning on big changes

PITTSBURGH — Art Rooney II held his annual season-ending chat with reporters on Tuesday, and it wasn’t exactly bubbling over with news. n He doesn’t think Ben Roethlisberger will retire now. n He would like to keep Antonio Brown for a long time. n He doesn’t know if the Steelers ...

Indoor track important at PSU

While snow flurries are flying, Penn State’s spring sports teams are practicing indoors: batting cages, turf fields and weight rooms standing in for infield dirt and golf courses. While the outstanding facilities make it possible for the varsity teams to work out year-round, it’s ...

Steelers need to keep eyes on the enemy

PITTSBURGH — Back when the Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years, they had a significant rivalry with the Houston Oilers. The Oilers were fond of saying that the path to the Super Bowl ran through Pittsburgh, knowing they’d have a likely showdown with the Steelers in the ...

Risk, reward coming to NASCAR

Commentary The countdown to the Daytona 500 continues, with drivers adjusting and reacting to some major announcements and significant changes coming to NASCAR’s top series in 2017, designed to bring new excitement, heightened interest and an expanding fan base to stock car racing’s ...

Pittsburgh can win today if …

Commentary PITTSBURGH — Can the Steelers win in New England today? Of course they can. Will they? Probably not likely. This evening’s game is something of a Super Bowl unto itself, a clash of powers worthy of its own spotlight without those NFC infidels serving as the opening ...

Planting native trees and shrubs helps wildlife

Last week, I discussed here some warnings about not putting out food for wildlife in the wintertime. Having grown up in the country myself, I know how satisfying it can be to see wild birds and mammals literally in your backyard, so the temptation to attract them with offerings of food is easy ...