Sid not really a kid anymore

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby turns 31 in a few weeks.

In a lot of ways, he’s still Sid the Kid, the 18-year-old phenom who came to town in 2005 — he’s driven to succeed, consumed by hockey and one of the NHL’s elite players.

But he’s different, too. He owns a mansion instead of boarding at Mario Lemieux’s house. He has tons of money in the bank. And he’s closer to the end of his career than he is to those teenage days.

The last point was driven home recently when AT&T SportsNet hockey analyst Jay Caufield casually noted during a radio appearance that the Penguins’ “window” for championships is probably no more than two or three years.

He’s correct. It’s getting later than most of us probably realize.

Crosby is in remarkable shape and still plays ample minutes at a high intensity level. It’s a young man’s league, though, and he’s soon to be 31. Evgeni Malkin turns 32 on July 31. Kris Letang is 31 and has a long and scary medical history.

The Penguins aren’t going to be on top forever. They know that, and Jim Rutherford has been making his plans for the here and now rather than looking much further ahead than the current season.

That’s the right way to handle it, because the clock is ticking with every birthday Crosby celebrates.

Two for one

The Pirates played a doubleheader against Milwaukee on Saturday, and that probably stoked some nostalgia for people of a certain age.

This doubleheader was created by an earlier rain postponement, but doubleheaders used to be part of the schedule, especially on Sunday afternoons.

The Pirates played 16 doubleheaders in 1968, 50 years ago. They had 11 in 1978. By 1988, they were down to two.

The doubleheader has gone the way of four-man starting rotations, $1 bleacher tickets and games played in less than two hours.

It was two games for the price of one, starting at 1 o’clock. You could come late or leave early and still get your fill of baseball.

Owners figured that buy one, get one free was a proposition best left to the super markets when they were overstocked on London broil.

Most modern doubleheaders are the day-night variety, which means separate admissions. They play the first game, clear the park, and then open the gates to scan fresh tickets for the second game.

It’s a long day for everybody, but that’s a by-product of the revenues that fill everybody’s pockets. There are teams that come close to selling out a majority of their games, and making good on more than 30,000 rain checks isn’t really feasible.

There are no such worries at PNC Park this season, so the Pirates and Brewers did it the old school way. Play the first game, take a 30-minute break and start the second game. Nobody has to leave his seat, much less vacate the park.

For the true baseball fan, it’s the ultimate bargain.

Which is why it’s so rare these days.

It’s a wonder

It’s amazing that baseball games can be broadcast on the radio without a “sideline” reporter.

Somehow they get by without interviewing fans, talking about what’s available at the food stands and offering trivial information.

TV can’t live without that stuff.

Easy trip

Gregory Polanco has hit home runs in three consecutive games.

Two good things about that:

1. The Pirates need all the power they can get.

2. That easy trot means there’s less of a chance Polanco will have some sort of calamity navigating the bases.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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