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  • April 2019
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Steelers Training Camp

training-camp

I know that everyone is excited about the Pittsburgh Pirates and the amazing season they are having so far.  I was tempted to write about them, but I don’t want to take the risk that I might jinx things and cause another late season fade.  So, instead I will stick with the NFL and the Steelers!  I always love when the Steelers start training camp because I get to see highlights of Saint Vincent College in beautiful Latrobe, PA.  As a proud SVC grad it is cool to see my college on the news every night. 

Plus, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King called it his favorite training camp location.  The Steelers will be at Saint Vincent until Saturday, August 17th.  All the practices that are open to the public will be held from 3-5 in the afternoon.  There will be one night practice on Wednesday, August 14th from 5:30-7:30.  If you go to Latrobe I recommend the wings at Sharkey’s Cafe.  They are awesome, plus there is always a chance that you might see some of the Steelers there too!

As far as the actual NFL action looks, here are some my top thoughts and predictions about the upcoming season.  Sorry to all the Steelers fans out there, but I don’t see them making the Super Bowl this year.

AFC:

Playoff teams: Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Broncos, Colts (wild card), Bengals (wild card)

NFC:

Playoff Teams: Giants, Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Lions (wild card), Saints (wild card)

mattryan

Super Bowl: Falcons over Broncos

Super Bowl XLVII

logo

So what did you think of that Super Bowl?  It was definitely one of the most eventful Super Bowl games we ever had.  I know a lot of Pittsburgh fans were conflicted about the game since the Ravens are their bitter AFC North rivals and the Niners would have equaled their record of 6 Super Bowl titles.  But from the Ray Lewis controversies to the HarBowl to the 34 minute power outage, this was a game that had it all!  It looked like it would be a Ravens’ blowout before the Forty-Niners were able to rally after the power outage.  San Francisco rookie Colin Kaepernick led a furious comeback, but his team fell just short in the last few minutes.  The game also featured a halftime show by Beyonce.  All of this led to the game being the most watched tv show in history!

Not only was the game eventful, but I thought the commercials were awesome this year.  Of course, my favorite was the Oreo commercial with people fighting in a library and whispering the whole time.

But I also liked some of the other ones, including the Taco Bell one with the senior citizen party animals.

What was your favorite part of the game?  Were you happy that the Ravens won?  Did you have any favorite ads?

Jim-CLP Sheraden

How Disappointing; Pittsburgh Sports in 2012

Oh, sports. All year, through each and every season, you give me hope. I invest time and emotion into you and sometimes it’s even worth it. Then there are the other times, years like 2012, when you fulfill your awful, inevitable promise to ruin my life.

OK, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s been a bad year for Pittsburgh sports. This year, every team that I care about has completely self-destructed in one way or another. Let’s review, shall we?

The Pittsburgh Pirates The Pirates came into the season facing a seemingly inevitable Major League Baseball record-breaking 20th consecutive losing season. It was an ominous milestone, but the Pirates decided to temporarily shake the monkeys off their collective backs and put together a very solid season through the all-star break.

Their record shortly after the break was 67-54. That’s right–13 games over .500. Things were looking up. Nobody wanted to jinx it, but, at 13 over, people in this city seemed ready to come out and say it–there’s no way the Pirates will screw this up. No, sir, this is the year we at least finish above .500. And that’s just about the time the slide started.

The Pirates started to lose and lose big. Even then, with a September schedule that featured plenty of games against the Cubs, Astros, and Mets, the suddenly flat Buccos could find a way to limp into the playoffs, right? No. The Pirates kept losing, prompting me to calculate daily first their playoff chances and then the number of wins they needed to stay above .500.

That great feeling permeating small-talk around town began to fade. Sports fans who were excited to have a meaningful conversation about the Pirates had to come to the realization that 2012 was different, yes, but not in the way they’d hoped. It was, instead, the year the Pirates engineered the biggest collapse in Major League Baseball history. Better focus on the Penguins and Steelers, right?

Wrong. After a sad first-round exit last season courtesy of their hated rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, The Penguins haven’t played at all this season due the the NHL lockout. They have, therefore, disappointed fans by default. I won’t blame the players, but a lost season is a lost season.  Will we see the Pens take the ice at all this winter? It’s not looking good. All games through Dec. 14, along with the New Year’s Day Winter Classic and the All-Star Game, have been canceled. The last NHL lockout resulted in a completely lost 2004-05 season and Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby is talking about playing in Europe.

The Pittsburgh SteelersThen there’s the Steelers. The Steelers made the playoffs last season like they usually do, but they were Tebowed. In fact, I think we were the only team to truly BE Tebowed. So sad. This season, the Steelers are confounding us all with injuries, inconsistent play, and some suspect coaching decisions. You know how the Steelers seem to always lose to bad teams? Yeah, they’ve done that a lot this year. The Steelers have lost to the sub-par Titans, Raiders, Chargers, and Browns. One week you get a gutsy, seemingly season-saving performance by 3rd-stringer Charlie Batch, and the next week you get a completely incompetent effort at home against the San Diego Chargers. (If the CBS sports guys didn’t pound it home enough yesterday, I will remind you that the Chargers had never won a regular season game in Pittsburgh until yesterday’s blase performance.)

Wow–reading over all of this reminds me that it truly has been a terrible year in Pittsburgh sports. (And I didn’t even get into college sports.) What good can come of that? Well, for me, there has been the surprising upside of finding a way to not let it ruin my day. Believe me, I’ve let a Steelers playoff loss, or Penguins’ first-round playoff exit, ruin my day(s) before. That’s why I don’t want to let it happen in the future. Why? Because it’s inevitable. All of these teams will lose again in excruciating fashion, so don’t think that it won’t happen. It’s a game, and while I totally understand getting caught up in the stories  and the emotions, out boys in black and gold will play and win again.

Need another reason to get over the latest sports disappointment? We’re spoiled! The Steelers have more Super Bowl wins (6) than any other NFL team! The Penguins, too, have won three Stanley Cups and recently captain signed Sidney Crosby to a 12-year deal that will keep him in town until he’s close to retirement. As for the Pirates, well, they haven’t done much in a while, it’s true, but that doesn’t invalidate what they have accomplished–five World Series championships and rosters featuring Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell.

I’ll leave you with this, video of the greatest, most clutch, home run in history, and proof that, sometimes, things do work out–it’s Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run against the juggernaut New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. It was the only walk-off, series-clinching, home run in World Series history and it happened across the street here in Oakland.

So, even though it’s the Monday after a Steelers loss, I hope you have a good one.

– Corey, The Labs @ CLP

It’s that time again-Football is almost here!

The Olympics are FINALLY over (thank God) and it is almost time for the NFL to start playing real games!  The season kicks off on Wednesday, Spetember 5th with a matchup between the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.  Of course the big game locally is the Steelers against the Denver Broncos.  That might be the most watched game of the first week since many people will be tuning in to watch Peyton Manning play his first regular season game for the Broncos.

There will be lots of interesting storylines this season, both with the Steelers and around the league.  Some of the questions with the Steelers include how the team will deal with the loss of veteran leaders like Hines Ward and James Farrior, how new offensive coordinator Todd Haley will mesh with Ben Roethlisberger, the inexperienced offensive line, and injuries to James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall.  It should be an interesting season as the Steelers try to hold off some up and coming AFC teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills.

Around the league some of the most interesting stories will be the soap opera of the New York Jets and Tim Tebow, the rookie seasons of top draft picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and how the Bountygate scandal will affect the New Orleans Saints.  It should be an interesting year for football fans that is for sure.  I am excited for the year to begin and my predictions are that the Packers will defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVII, Aaron Rodgers will win the MVP Award, the Steelers will not win the division but be a wild card team, and the Bills will end their streak of non-playoff years with a wild card appearance.

Super Bowl XLVI Preview

Remember the NFL lockout?  I didn’t think so!  Back in June and July, it was a struggle to even get football season started.  But now here we are in late January, awaiting the last game of the season.  Most people here in Pittsburgh are probably still upset about the Steelers loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, but it still promises to be a good game.  Super Bowl XLVI (that’s Super Bowl 46 for those of you not schooled in Roman numerals) will feature the New York Giants against the New England Patriots.  This is a rematch of one of the best Super Bowls of all time just a few years ago, when the Giants knocked off the undeated Patriots and ruined their perfect season.  Will it be Tom Brady joining Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls, or will Eli Manning lead the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl (and his second win)?  Hopefully, this game will be as good as the last one featuring these two teams!  Enjoy!

Who are you rooting for in this year’s Super Bowl?  Who do you think will win?

Winter Soup Recipes or The Stages of Grief Become Edible

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Last night, the Steelers lost to the Denver Broncos in the Wildcard round of the NFL Playoffs. A Steelers’ playoff loss means mourning for the city of Pittsburgh and Steeler Nation, and mourning means working through the grieving process. This is a multistage process that we all go through when dealing with loss:

  1. First comes shock and disbelief.
  2. Next is denial, or statements such as “I don’t believe it — ten completions for over 350 yards!”
  3. The third step is bargaining, or making promises such as, “I’ll volunteer at a local food pantry every week if it means the Steelers win it all next year!”
  4. Guilt is next: “If only I hadn’t washed my terrible towel after Super Bowl 43, we wouldn’t keep suffering these crushing defeats!”
  5. Anger is a difficult phase to face: “Come on Ike! I praise your game 24-7 and this is how you do me?”
  6. Depression can come and go, so give yourself time to heal.
  7. Resignation means you have finally grasped the finality of what has happened.
  8. Acceptance and Hope come when you realize there will be a 2012-13 season…but you don’t have to think about that for a while.These are helpful steps to keep in mind, but, it being January and all, I suggest we add another step to this list.

These are helpful steps to keep in mind, but, it being January and all, I suggest we add another step to this list.

9. Eat a bunch of tasty soup, warm up, and move on!

Really, you can add soup to all of these stages of grief and it will help–trust me! So, with that in mind, be sure to check out some of these great books on soup:

50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley – If you want a thick, rich soup, the slow cooker is your best friend. Lynn Alley, author of The Gourmet Slow Cooker, is famous for creating flavorful homemade meals using the kitchen’s most coveted countertop appliance–the slow cooker. This book features combinations for 50 new vegetarian and vegan soup dishes that are as hearty as they are flavorful.

 365 Vegetarian Soups by Gregg Gillespie – I think the title of this one says it all — tasty meals-in-a-pot abound from recipes inspired by regions as far flung as Japan, Italy, Russia, and New Zealand and as close to home as New York, New England and the Southwest. Chase the cold away with Hot & Sour Tofu Soup, Acorn Squash and Apple, and Roquefort Soup with Cauliflower.

 The Big Book of Soups and Stews: 262 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food by Maryana Vollstedt – Here you’ll find 262 comforting recipes for soups, chowders, and stews! From a hot and hearty stew for a cold night to a cool, refreshing Vichyssoise for a sizzling afternoon, there’s a recipe here for every occasion. Also included are nostalgic classics (like everyone’s favorite Chicken Noodle Soup) as well as innovative new creations inspired by the cuisines of the world.

Finally, be sure to try Mark Bittman‘s recipe for lentil soup. MMMMMMMM!

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Lentils make soup making easy—they cook quickly and are incredibly tasty. And unlike many lentil soups, which are so thick they put people off completely, this one is nicely balanced with some simple vegetables. The lentils break down a bit during the cooking to give the soup a hearty consistency, but you can purée it if you prefer. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

1 cup lentils, washed and picked over

1 bay leaf

6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt

1. Put the oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, just a minute or two. Add the carrot and celery and keep cooking and stirring until brightly colored and hot, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and stock; sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. (At this point, you may cool and refrigerate the soup, covered, for up to 2 days; reheat gently.) Add more stock if the soup is too thick. Just before serving, taste, sprinkle with salt and more pepper if needed, and serve.

21st century football, or ‘how physical is too physical?’

By Justin K. Aller, Getty Images

If you live in Western Pennsylvania, chances are you know a fair amount about football. This region is often referred to as the “Cradle of Football” because of all the great players who grew up around here. (And, of course, Pittsburgh is home to the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.)

In Pittsburgh, football is everywhere. Even if you aren’t a die-hard Steelers fan, you can probably still recognize Troy Polamalu’s flowing mane, Hines Ward’s smile, and Brett Keisel’s beard. In Western PA, Mondays after a Steelers’ loss are unbearable (everyone is in a bad mood!), and the excitement in the air before a playoff game is palpable. Why? I could speculate, but what it ultimately boils down to is this — football just matters here. 

We love the Steelers because they represent something tough and enduring and, despite some necessary strife and struggle, successful (attributes modest Pittsburghers may secretly identify with).

While the 2011 Steelers love to pass the ball (utilizing their impressive corps of talented young receivers) the franchise is traditionally associated with a tough up-the-gut running  game and crushing defense. The hard-hitting defense has been a mainstay since the vaunted “Steel Curtain” defense of the 70s, but recent rule changes have begun to shift the way the game is being played and, therefore, the way the Steelers are allowed to play. Hits and tackles once considered textbook are now drawing penalty flags, while the players responsible are fined and sometimes even suspended.

Just today, Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker and “repeat offender” James Harrison (the man responsible for THIS PLAY) was suspended for one game without pay after a helmet-to-helmet hit left scrambling Cleveland QB Colt McCoy with a concussion. (See the play at NFL.com HERE.) This is Harrison’s fifth illegal hit on a quarterback in the last three seasons.

To better understand this ruling we have to look at the 2010 NFL season when the league decided to crack down on tackles they considered to be dangerous. Take a look at an excerpt from this Associated Press story from last season:

Not only is the league worried about defenders turning themselves into human missiles, but also with them aiming for the head with the forearm, shoulder or any other body part.

”We’re certainly concerned,” said Anderson, a member of the league’s competition committee and one of its loudest voices on the need for enhanced player safety. ”The fundamentally old way of wrapping up and tackling seems to have faded away. A lot of the increase is from hits to blow guys up. That has become a more popular way of doing it.

”Yes, we are concerned they are getting away from the fundamentals of tackling, and maybe it has been coached that way. We’re going to have to look into talking to our coaches.” (AP, 2010)

The league not only talked to coaches, but also modified its rules (read the NFL – Rulebook here) in an attempt to cut down on these dangerous hits. The NFL Rulebook reads more like a phone book, but here’s the specifics of the roughing the passer penalty that James Harrison was flagged for last Thursday (and a bunch of other Sundays in recent memory):

A.R. 12.47 ROUGHING THE PASSER
Second-and-3 on A35. Quarterback A1 rolls out of the pocket, and while moving, throws a pass to A2
who is downed at the A40. Just after A1 released the ball, B1 tackles the quarterback making helmet-to-helmet
contact in the process.
Ruling: A’s ball, first-and 10 on B45. Roughing the passer because of the helmet-to-helmet hit. (12-2-12-3)

We can probably all agree that helmet-to-helmet hits are dangerous, but what if they’re unintentional? In that case, who’s to say whether a helmet-to-helmet hit was intentional or not? It’s a slippery slope, which is probably why the league has begun to penalize all helmet-to-helmet hits regardless of intention.

It’s confusing and frustrating, but you could make a strong argument that these rule changes are a step in the right direction. Believe me, I know it’s frustrating that the Steelers won’t be dressing #92 against the Forty-Niners on Monday Night Football next week, but at least they’re being proactive about preventing injuries (even if they’re spouting off mixed messages to their fan base about big hits).

For years the NFL turned a blind eye to player injuries resulting from repeated head trauma. That is until 2002 when Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist here in Pittsburgh, discovered a new disease — Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). That year, Dr. Omalu found CTE in the brains of Mike Webster, Terry Long, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Tom McHale.

What is CTE? It’s a degenerative brain disease found in those who have suffered repeated head trauma. People with CTE may show symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. What’s worse is that these symptoms may appear within months of the trauma or not until many years later. (Read more about CTE HERE.)

The first deceased athlete examined by the CSTE researchers was John Grimsley, former Linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Miami Dolphins, who died in February 2008 at the age of 43 from an accidental gun shot wound. Examination of Mr. Grimsley’s brain confirmed extensive CTE. In both sets of photographs, below, the brain tissue has been immunostained for tau protein, which appears as a dark brown color. (2011, CSTE)

And CTE doesn’t just affect football players–the disease is prevalent in hockey and professional wrestling, too. In May of this year, New York Rangers brawler Derek Boogaard died of an accidental overdose. When doctors performed the autopsy they found his brain was riddled with the disease.

How do you solve this problem? In football, some have suggested removing face masks, having lineman begin each play standing (rather than in the 3-point stance that results in repeated blows to the head), or even getting rid of helmets all-together (so players theoretically hold back on the big hits). So far, other than the new rules, nothing has changed.

So, yes, I’m upset that James Harrison won’t dress next week, but knowing what we know about CTE, maybe these rule changes are for the best.

What do you think? Take our poll and let us know.

– Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

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