U mad, bro?: Steelers, Pirates fans can't decide if they are madder at teams or media for criticizing them

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Tim Benz, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·6 min read
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Apr. 7—Steelers fans are mad at the team. Pirates fans are mad at the team.

Steelers fans are mad at me for being mad at the team. Pirates fans are mad at me for being mad at the team.

And everybody is mad at Skip Bayless.

So, you know, a fairly typical week. Here's this week's "U mad, bro?"

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Edwin is at his wits' end regarding the Pirates. And this email was sent a few days before they lost 14-1 Tuesday.

"Please, please, please trade (Gregory) Polanco soon. He is a complete dud with no upside. Oh, throw in (Mitch) Keller too. I realize it's early in the 2021 season, but enough is too much."

Edwin, when it comes to Polanco I absolutely "would, would, would" if I "could, could, could."

But I "can't, can't, can't." And my guess is Pirates general manager Ben Cherington is having the same problem.

Regarding Keller, relax. I have no doubt he will be traded. Probably to the Tampa Bay Rays in a year or two, when he will inevitably start the opening game of a playoff series.

Unless Tyler Glasnow gets the call, and Keller gets Game 2.

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Speaking of the Pirates, "Dr. Chris" is a history professor at a college in Erie. I know this because he sent me an email that included a digital watermark from his university.

He thinks I'm a little too tough on the Pirates.

"Just do yourself and the rest of us a favor, Tim, and stop. Stop writing about the Pirates. What is the point? How does your sour snark contribute in any positive way to our understanding of this team?

Answer: It doesn't."

Well, as a professor of history you should know that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

The Pirates have often helped prove that theory over the last 40 years or so. Aided by fans like you who never want to be told why things are bad and want to pretend everything is fine. "This year will be better."

Every year. All the time.

It's my job to tell you that you are wrong, whether you want to believe it or not. It's not my job to "contribute to positivity."

Again — as a professor of history — how did it go for past societies that frowned on freedom of opinion in the press and preferred to operate in a world of establishment propaganda? How'd that work out for them?

Anyway, here's the good news for you, Doc. That team has gotten so inconsequential, I don't feel the need to write about them very often anyway. So that should make you happy. But when I do, I'm balanced. Especially when they win. As you should've seen Friday.

But I've gone on too long. You need to get back to comfortably massaging some version of history for your students, which makes it as appetizing as possible for them.

What are we working on these days? World War II Germany? Russia during the Cold War? Vietnam-era America? Let me know how all that goes.

How was that for sour snark?

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Tom didn't like my column comparing this offseason's conversation about the Steelers to that of the Pittsburgh Pirates in recent years.

Tom, you really need to understand ... I didn't do that.

The column isn't a comparison about how the franchises are run. It's about the state of both rosters. And it's admitting that massive questions exist for both teams right now. Maybe you should admit it, too.

Try it, Tom. The truth shall set you free.

Not as free as all the free agents the Steelers lost. But free nonetheless.

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Ken wasn't exactly bullish on that piece either.

OK. Those "good" Steelers players still weren't good enough to offset a 1-5 dive off a cliff at the end of the season.

Ben Roethlisberger threw eight interceptions during that stretch. T.J. Watt was a ghost against the Buffalo Bills and in the playoff game versus the Cleveland Browns. Minkah Fitzpatrick wasn't part of a turnover the last seven weeks of the year. Cameron Heyward had one sack the last five weeks.

Don't even get me started on the drops from all the wide receivers.

And, as you said, those are the good players. The tackles, centers, running backs, inside linebackers, backup tight ends and depth defensive backs are the major questions.

So aside from that, they are totally solid.

Yup. No questions to worry about whatsoever.

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Like me, Gill is concerned about all the holes the Steelers have created for themselves in advance of the NFL draft.

"I couldn't agree more about every point you made. It's almost like revisiting the Steelers heyday when they supposedly selected the 'best available' in the first round. The difference is that was due to them having no immediate needs, unlike the opposite now.

I believe that CB is the most critical need. Then either OLB or ILB. I also wouldn't mind seeing a freak athlete on the edge.

All in all, the Steelers can't afford to have many (if any) misses on their picks. Any chance they trade their first-round pick, moving up or down?"

Gill, I hadn't thought of the "reverse '70s" comparison, but that is a good point. As far as trading out, I doubt it. I think they probably want a starter-capable guy with that first pick. I bet they keep it and get the best cable-ready athlete they can.

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Finally, FS1's Skip Bayless infamously poo-pooed the tremendous buzzer-beater from Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs in the NCAA Final Four game Saturday night.

I ripped him for it. And my new best friend, Wayne, piled on with me.

"In reference to Skip Bayless, I have always referred to him as 'Skip Clueless.'

Let's see how lucky they were.

1. The Zags were well-coached enough that they immediately got the ball inbounds after the score, not allowing UCLA time to set up defensively and contest the play.

2. They inbounded to (Suggs) who had the skill and ability to dribble only three times and go almost 60 feet, taking a 40-foot shot instead of heaving up a 75-foot shot.

3. Suggs was smart enough to know that he had enough time to get in a reasonable distance and still get off a makeable shot.

4. While keeping his eye on the clock he was able to get a shot, not a throw.

5. After the game (head coach) Mark Few said he makes that all the time in practice.

Good teams execute. I doubt 'lucky.' You should be making the $8 million 'Clueless' does."

Wayne, thanks. I appreciate that. But you could shave a zero off that number and split it with me 50/50 and I'd still be happy.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.