The only true constant in life is change. Situations evolve; the world keeps spinning and progressing every day.
Not to get all Heraclitus on you or anything, but I got to thinking on Wednesday afternoon about some things in the Pittsburgh sports landscape that I’d like to see get changed. You can feel free to add your suggestions, but here are five of mine:
Get Mark Melancon out as closer:
After sustaining that 9-8 loss to the Cubs last night, and with Melancon’s collapse in the last inning, it is time to slide Tony Watson into the role of trying to get the last three outs. This is the second time this season Melancon has yielded three runs in an appearance and his ERA has climbed to 8.53 — not nearly good enough for a back-of-the-bullpen guy. But it isn’t just that. Melancon’s velocity is down more than just a shade and there is also an apt replacement in Watson. These Pirates are good; they can’t waste potential wins. The time is right now to give Watson a shot in the ninth.
Let Jeff Jimerson sing the anthem, the whole anthem and nothing but the anthem, so help me God. Where did this cockamamie and half-baked idea come from, anyway, that a man hired by the Penguins to sing the anthem was only going to sing about half of the song? It has been awhile now that Jimerson has been stopping in the middle of the anthem, forcing the crowd to jump in and croon, before he picks the song back up and finishes the final few stanzas. This is an OK idea — once in awhile. But to do it every night (and I have been told the Penguins ask Jimerson to do it) is nothing but contrived patriotism. If there is a time in which Jimerson is singing and spontaneity — or a special occasion — calls for him to stop and let the crowd take over, so be it. But every single night? That’s a bit much. I want to hear Jimerson sing the thing because he’s good at it and paid to do it, not some plumber from Perryopolis sitting next to me who is half-cranked on Miller Lite.
Put a twinkle in the eye:
PNC Park is just about perfect. I’d say about 99.4 percent of our grand ballpark is fabulous. For me — and I’ve been to most of them — it is the finest place to watch a ballgame in Major League Baseball. One thing could be done to spruce it up just a bit, though. I’d like to see the batter’s eye get jazzed up some. With what? I don’t know. Perhaps cover the thing in ivy. Maybe embed a rotating billboard there that can scroll through things in between innings. People smarter than me who are skilled in such matters can come up with something, but the drab, institutional green paint isn’t doing it for me. Now, I know you can’t put something ultra-flashy there so as to interfere with the attention of the batter, but there are ways it can be livened up to become more appealing.
If you wave, you’re out:
One strike and you are out on this … if you sit in the Lexus Club at PNC Park (don’t stand too close to the screen) you get tossed if you have your cellphone to your ear and wave into the camera. Look, pal, we get it — you are sitting in good seats, are visible on television and are trying to tell someone on the other end of the phone to look at you on television. But, pal, other than that person on the other end of the phone, NO ONE IN THE WORLD CARES. We are just trying to watch a ballgame and don’t need some schlep waving and waving with the phone to their ear in the background. You do it, you should be tossed.
Jim Rutherford out:
The Penguins general manager needs to be one and done, barring this team piecing together an incredibly improbable run the Stanley Cup Finals. Playing with five defensemen at the tail end of the season is unconscionable and put everyone else on the ice in a ridiculous bind. By making the moves he made, Rutherford allowed it to come into play — albeit there was a small chance — that the Penguins could be saddled by the salary cap and eventually have to play a man short. Even as it took pretty much the perfect storm, it still happened. And it happened because of Rutherford. That said, when the season ends, he must go — that is, unless this team makes the Stanley Cup Finals. Rutherford’s inability to understand the salary cap, or his pure arrogance thinking he was going to take a chance and beat the confines of it, won’t get this franchise far in the future. That said, he should be looking for a job elsewhere pretty soon.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.