Can’t think of a good reason to reflect on the Steelers’ loss to Baltimore, entirely predictable, their late-season demise, or anyone’s individual season (do you really want me to rant about Juju, James Conner or the lame Duck?) Nor can I think of a good reason to project ahead to the 2020 season – too many unanswerable questions.
So how about a corny Musings? The obligatory New Year’s resolutions column. Here are some thoughts on what Pittsburgh sports teams should do in 2020:
- Them Stillers: The Steelers should resolve to a future without Ben Roethlisberger, regardless of his 2020 playing status. Yes, this may be a forced reality depending on elbows and tendons and such, but the Steelers clearly do not have a replacement, despite the recent vote of confidence for Mason Rudolph, and not much can be accomplished in the NFL without a reasonably good to exceptionally great quarterback. A secondary resolution might be to rebuild an aging and declining offensive line which was, in a word, offensive in 2019.
- The Pens: The Penguins should resolve to much the same thing the Steelers should resolve to: life without superstars. Healthy versions of Malkin and Crosby still get it done as well as almost anyone, but how much time is left, and when will they hit the performance wall? It is hard to imagine a Penguins universe without the two-headed monster, but I don’t get paid to do that, the Pens’ brass does, and they better get skippy because the end of the era gets closer every day. In the meantime, this current iteration of Penguins is very intriguing – especially if Tristan Jarry is the real thing.
- Panthers football: Pitt football should, but won’t, resolve to moving on from Pat Narduzzi. He just cannot recruit the way he needs to recruit to cash the checks his mouth writes. Narduzzi spouts off about winning ACC championships, plural, but recruits teams that would struggle to win any FBS conference, let alone the very mediocre ACC. Not sure a coach out there is capable of pulling Pitt football to a championship level, but I am certain it is not Narduzzi.
- Panthers basketball: Pitt hoops should resolve to accept the growing pains that will probably come with this year’s conference schedule. Jeff Capel may not have Pitt where he wants them, but unlike his football counterpart, Capel has proven he can recruit, and that he can talk realistically about his current roster. The Panthers may be a middling ACC team now, but the arrow is pointed up.
- The Buccos: Why do they come last? Well, isn’t that obvious? The Pirates should resolve to apply for Triple-A status. They are a joke of a Major League franchise. “Give the new guy a chance,” Pirates apologists will say, “He wouldnt’ve come here if Nutting didn’t promise him more money.” I will give Ben Cherrington a chance – I have no choice – and I loved that he immediately moved on from the likes of Elias Diaz, but then hated the Luke Maile signing even though he is an above average defensive catcher. Bob Nutting will not increase the Major League payroll enough to make a real difference, so the Pirates will continue to sink until they hit the lottery again with the next Andrew McCutchen/Neil Walker/Pedro Alvarez run in the draft.
As for yours truly, I resolve to be less harsh, less negative, more optimistic, and more positive in 2020. I resolve to find the silver linings and reject the Dark Side of the Force. I resolve . . . you know what, strike all of that, resolutions are silly.