Sports

A Modest Proposal

Mother Nature has a sense of humor and the soul of Monet. The change in the yard was startling. In just a week it went from being a crabgrass plantation to a breathtaking carpet of fluffy, soft-white clover, a pastel hand-delivered from the French master himself. But lawns are supposed to be neat and clean …

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The Lure of Fishing

One of my earliest memories was Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s big home with its very high ceilings in Cincinnati. I was 4, and my aunt gave me a tackle box. As I examined the various fishing lures, my father said, “Be careful that the first fish you catch isn’t yourself.” I didn’t understand him …

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Steelers Draft: Matt Milligan Gives the Scoop

The theatrics of the NFL draft reached new heights this year. Between a touching tribute to the late Dan Rooney and a pandemonium-inducing tirade by former Cowboys Wide receiver Drew Pearson, there were plenty of made-for-TV moments. A total of 6 trades were processed during the 1st round, 3 of which involved the eventual drafting …

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Hard Hitter

They’re not really going to miss Ralph Cindrich, those suits with the NFL’s 32 teams. If they think of him at all, it’s in vulgar adjectives attached to the devilish contracts he extracted from them for his clients, such as Bill Fralic’s Rabbi Trust, Will Wolford’s Blind Side contract and Dermontti Dawson’s first-ever option-year double …

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Troutward Bound

Since 1926, when Zane Grey published “Tales of the Angler’s Eldorado,” fishermen have trekked to New Zealand—the other side of the world— to stalk the monstrously huge and famously wary rainbow and brown trout. If only they’d known about Spruce Creek, Pa. If only I’d known… I knew Spruce Creek was famous for fly fishing—that …

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Golf’s Gold Standard

The U.S. Open, the toughest golf championship to win and generally considered the most coveted, will be played for a record ninth time across 89 years at Oakmont Country Club June 13-16, 2016. And the Open perhaps owes its existence to a big man with a big mustache who, more than 100 years ago, kept …

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The Holmes Precedent

Time was when yogi Berra had to work off- season as a restaurant greeter. Richie Hebner dug graves. Nolan Ryan pumped gas. When Pirate slugger Ralph Kiner asked for a raise, scripture-quoting general manager Branch Rickey told him: “We finished last with you and we can finish last without you.” During this winter’s off-season, perhaps …

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Sports town bragging rights

Go to any city with a professional baseball, football, basketball or hockey franchise and chances are you’ll find at least one guy in a bar who’ll argue his is the best sports town in America. It’s likely there’s even one in Charlotte after a Hornets victory and a few too many beers. The guy in …

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Breaking the chain

With the approach of autumn, we come to yet another era in Pitt football. Meaning another new coach. Over recent decades, this means that you barely get to your seat with your beer and pompon before there’s another one. It may be a strain, but coaching at Pitt seems something like Sisyphus, of Greek mythology, …

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Moneyball?

The morning after flying in from Texas in March, Greg Harris and his mother downed an oatmeal breakfast and coffee before heading to the basketball game they’d traveled more than 1,000 miles to see. They came to Pittsburgh to watch their favorite team, the University of Texas, play Butler University in the opening round of …

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In a class of her own

Just behind the first tee of the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, looms a brooding stone edifice of baffling architectural lineage. Call it Ponderous Nondescript. This is the clubhouse of the famous and historic Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, hulking guardian of golf. A big brass telescope sits on the …

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Start Your Engines

Pittsburgh’s Vintage Grand Prix is celebrating its 33rd year, making it the longest-continually-running vintage road race in America. The 10-day event attracts some 250,000 visitors to Schenley Park, and, since it began in 1983, the Grand Prix has donated more than $3.5 million to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. From …

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Arnold Palmer

Arnie Palmer was at home in Latrobe that September afternoon having a quiet birthday when the doorbell rang. There, wearing a warm grin, stood a kindly old gentleman, gray where he wasn’t bald, who was just five years out of the White House and who, some two decades earlier, had saved the world. “Any chance …

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The art of contrition

There once was a “golden age” in sport, the glorious time of Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey and all the rest. Today, we are in the Mea Culpa Age, in which frolicsome, rich athletes turn to passionate, broad-spectrum apologies, seeking forgiveness for such foibles as juicing, gun-toting, wife-beating and the like. Great penitents such as …

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The old college try

Every year at this time, as college football arrives, I’m reminded of an old movie that pops up on the classic channels now and then—“The Male Animal.” The tale deals with the two principal functions of the American college: education and football. In that order. Usually. The movie, from the 1940s, is based on a …

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The Greatest Sport?

As far as I’m concerned, the summer of 2013 was a bust. It was supposed to be the summer of the 17-year cicada, humming with a biblical infestation of the things. But there wasn’t so much as a chirp or whirr, and not one gawking husk on a fence post. And I waited 17 years …

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Opening Day, Minus One

Dunbar creek runs into the Youghiogheny River just north of South Connellsville in Fayette County. Vestiges of the interurban streetcar lines are all over. A massive stone arch that was once part of a bridge crossing the Dunbar Creek valley stands like an ancient Roman aqueduct by the coke oven complex near Wheeler. I grew …

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Bring on March Madness

The swell thing about working nights for an “ayem” (morning paper) is you can be having your first coffee and catch the early games, still in your jammies. And with that, you’re on your way to the greatest show on Earth: Opening Day of a three-week national fixation:  the Big Dance; March Madness; the NCAA …

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Lay your money down

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never really caught on to the gambling culture of pro football. Not that I’m totally clueless. I understand the over-under and a pick not covering. But when it comes to teasers, props and such, they might as well be speaking calculus. This is not the case in Britain, …

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Louis vs. Lewis

Joe Louis was the man. Everyone in the country knew his name. He was heavyweight champion of the world when the title was the most prized crown in all of sports and carried more prestige than the biggest Hollywood star. The light-heavyweight championship, on the other hand, had all of the stature of the winner …

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Remember the Tartans

They ruined a perfectly good trophy case. It used to sit there, self-consciously, in Carnegie Mellon University’s Skibo Gymnasium. The items in that case were pretty much the only tangible stuff that remained of the glory days of football, back when the school was Carnegie Tech. The main trophies were some old footballs from the …

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The Steeler Way

Over the summer, news reports across the country have focused on the dramatic increase in NFL player arrests since the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. As of early July, the off-season arrest rate has increased 75 percent over last year, according to one labor economist. And of the 31 arrests since the Super Bowl, the murder …

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