Feeling lucky about the Pirates?


PITTSBURGH — The baseball season is nearly upon us, so it’s time to go into the two-minute drill and launch the annual contest.

Pardon the mixed sports metaphors, but time is growing short and the contest is a tradition.

In the past, the contest has been confined to my blog at the Mirror website. However, they made changes there and I no longer know how to post to the blog.

Therefore, it’s right here in print for you loyal subscribers who picked this morning’s paper out of the damp hedges and now have it propped up against the Cocoa Puffs box.

Here’s how it works: You predict how many games the Pirates will win in the 2017 season. As a tiebreaker, you also predict how many home runs they’ll hit.

There are 162 games in the season. The Pirates won 78 last season. They hit 153 home runs.

Here’s how you play: Email me your two numbers. The email address appears at the bottom of this column.

Here’s what you can win: A box of leftover Pirates’ promotional stuff, mailed directly to your home.

There aren’t a lot of rules. One entry per person. Employees of the Mirror are not eligible because they’re already living a dream existence and don’t need a prize.

So put on your thinking cap. Or get out your dartboard. Pick the two numbers you think will win, and we’ll announce the winner as soon as the regular season ends on Sunday. Oct. 1.

Maybe by then I’ll have figured out how to post to the blog.

Tough choice?

The NHL playoffs are almost here, and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan may face a choice he didn’t expect he’d have to make.

Backup goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been clearly outplaying preferred starter Matt Murray recently. Fleury seems to have settled in after the trading deadline passed and clarified his status.

Meanwhile, Murray is showing the shakiest glove hand since Dale Berra left town.

What to do? Play the hot goalie in Fleury, or go with the No. 1 guy who got most of the games in last year’s Cup run?

The situation could be further complicated if the Penguins wind up with a difficult first-round match-up against Columbus.

Beyond the goaltending dilemma, the biggest issue facing the Penguins is defenseman Kris Letang’s status.

He’s been out with an injury and, of course, the Penguins are offering little information about what’s wrong with him and how close he might be to returning.

Without Letang in top form, the Penguins will be severely challenged to win the four rounds necessary to repeat as Cup champions.

SUBHEAD: On the move

The Oakland Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas in a couple of years. While that’s not surprising, it does qualify as big news.

The NFL used to be so allergic to Las Vegas, that it wouldn’t even allow the Pro Bowl to be played there. Now a franchise is relocating.

Las Vegas landed an NHL expansion team, which will begin play in the fall. But the NFL is so much bigger than the NHL and legitimizes Las Vegas as a pro sports town.

One of these days, one of the major leagues will sanction legal gambling on its games and rake in millions. The Raiders’ move probably advances the timetable on that sad development.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com