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June 10, 2014

Greg Huston: Pens’ GM embarrassment, LeBron’s cramps and Pirates questions

NEW CASTLE — The embarrassment that was the month-long handling of the Penguins’ general manager search finally ended last week with the hiring of former Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford.

Rutherford, in his first act as GM, mercifully fired coach Dan Bylsma, something that should have been done a month ago by the Penguins’ top brass. Rutherford will be fine as GM and I believe he’ll hire a coach that will bring discipline and heart, two things that were sorely missing over the past few years, back to the Penguins.

However, it shouldn’t have been this hard to find a new GM, shouldn’t have been this hard to part ways with Bylsma and it never should have come to this situation in the first place if the necessary changes were made after last season’s epic collapse to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Penguins have been masters of public relations over the past few years, handing out free tickets to fans, holding cost-friendly college student promotions and generally providing an environment that all fans have found to be above board. So it kind of makes you wonder what the heck has been going on over the past month.

•As I write this, the Heat and Spurs are knotted up at one game apiece in the NBA Finals when LeBron James summoned the strength to score 35 points, after his leg cramps episode in Game 1, to beat the Spurs 98-96 in Game 2.

If you read this blog, you know my feelings on LeBron, but the cramping thing was ridiculous.

First, I don’t doubt that he was cramping and that his pain was genuine, but it was just a little hard to watch a grown man be carried to the bench for cramps. Even the benchwarmer teammates who helped gently place him on the chair kind of looked at each other funny after it happened.

It seems kind of strange that a multi-million dollar operation like the Miami Heat cannot keep their super-duper star hydrated enough to play in the admittedly overheated AT&T Center in San Antonio. Even high school football teams administer IV fluids to dehydrated players at halftime of their games, and most of those programs can barely afford the helmets on the players’ heads.

Just add the “Cramps Game” to the long list of weird LeBron moments that seems to never stop growing.

•I don’t know why, but this upcoming Steeler season just seems to have a strange glow of optimism. When it comes to the Steelers, I’m always a glass half-full kind of fan. But even still, there seems to be an extra little hop in the step of everyone at the OTA workouts over the past few weeks.

Sure, I'm basing this entirely on stories in the Pittsburgh papers and yes, the secondary might be suspect and the wide receivers unproven, but for whatever the reason — we’ll call it intuition — you can count me as a believer of where this team is headed.

•On top of the tirelessly mentioned problems of starting pitching and the lack of Gregory Polanco with the big club, the Pirates have what I call a “momentum problem.” Every time it looks like they have somewhat righted the ship and have gotten themselves back into contention, at least in the Wild Card standings, they follow it up with a sub-standard performance or effort.

 For example, after shellacking the Brewers on Friday night, and finally solving nemesis Kyle Lohse in the process, the Buccos followed it up with two stinkers on Saturday and Sunday, losing both along with the series and the momentum gained against the division leading Brewers.

Couple that with the loss of Gerritt Cole to the disabled list for the next few weeks, and what you have is one maddeningly frustrating baseball club. 

(Questions, comments or ideas? Email Greg at hustongregor@hotmail.com)

 

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