Time for a Rant

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First, a little background. An editor for Pirates Report.com wrote a very interesting blog on May 17. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d suggest doing so. The problem is that the article has been removed from the site. Why, you ask? I can’t answer that question, but I will say that the subject matter was a little controversial…and just a tad critical of the Penguins. Through the wonders of technology, however, the article can still be read here.

This story has made the rounds through the local, and national, media. The popular theory is that the Pirates Report is basically operated by the Buccos, and this was their attempt to revel in the Pens’ earlier-than-expected playoff exit. Or, as some have speculated, it was some sort of petty revenge for Mario’s attempt to buy the team, which resulted in a tremendous amount of public support for Mario and the opposite for current ownership.

Whatever the reason for writing the blog, I was outraged when I first read it. As a Pens fan, it was insulting. As a Pittsburgh sports fan, it was embarrassing. As a Pirates fan, it was confusing. Why, and how, can anyone associated with the Pirates criticize the Penguins for anything?

Anyway, here’s a couple of my favorite lines from the blog:

“Now that the Penguins have gone belly-up in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years in the Sidney Crosby era…”

Wow. The writer is criticizing a team that’s actually made the playoffs the past four seasons.

“The fact is, despite every conceivable advantage from first or second overall choices in four consecutive drafts to the mother of all lottery picks to a league that operates with a salary cap to a pucks-mad fan base, the Penguins have been unable to dominate their own division let alone the entire league.”

OK…the Pens made it to the past two finals. Does it really matter if they win the Atlantic Division? How did that work out for New Jersey this year? Also, is it the Pens’ fault they play in a league with a salary cap? Is it their fault they’ve done an excellent job building their fan base? This reeks of jealousy.

“Like the Pirates over the years, the Penguins have made mistakes in the draft and the open market. For instance, take the 2003 draft, in which the Penguins owned the No. 1 pick on the heels of an anorexic 65-point season. The golden rule states that you never, ever select a goaltender at the No. 1 pick, but the Penguins chose Marc-Andre Fleury, anyway. Here are some of players that they could have taken instead – Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Shea Weber…”

Yes, the author is blasting the decision to draft Fleury, the goalie who led the team to a championship just one season ago; a goalie that earned a Gold Medal in the Olympics. And, yes, he’s ripping the Pens’ draft record. I won’t even bother going into the Pirates recent draft history. Let’s just say it’s been sub-par.

It sounds like he’s also condemning the Pens record of signing free agents. While there have been some questionable signings (Miro Satan, Petr Sykora), the team managed to win a championship with those players. As for guys like Sergei Gonchar, Hal Gill and Matt Cooke…well, they worked out just fine.

“Here it is, five years after Crosby was drafted, and the guy still doesn’t have a regular linemate that is in the same zip code as his talent level.”

This is undeniably true. However, the author fails to take into account the salary cap, which he used to help prove one of his earlier points. And he conveniently forgets to mention that the Pens have the strongest 1-2-3 punch at center in the NHL. All three centers were, ironically, drafted by the team. And finally…

“Before people wish for the Penguins to step in and save the baseball team in this town, they should remember that the Penguins have to help themselves first.”

Well, I think the Pens are doing just fine, don’t you? Granted, they suffered a setback this year. The Pirates have been suffering setback after setback after setback for almost two decades. Could Mario and Ron Burkle help the Pirates? I’m not sure. But they certainly couldn’t do a worse job than the current ownership. That would be impossible.

Rant complete.