Stop trying to trade all of Pittsburgh’s sports stars

Starling Marte. Andrew McCutchen. Phil Kessel. Mark Recchi. Wait…

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins-Championshp Parade
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After a week off for vacation, Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings are back, rested and ready to arbitrarily judge things anew. Let’s get into it.

10. Returning from vacation

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
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The Pirates also are about to return from five days off for the All-Star break and find themselves seven games back of the Brewers in the division at 42-47 and even further out of the wildcard. That’s a lot of hard work to return to after vacation. Depressing. Luckily for the Pirates, they probably have another, longer vacation to look forward to at the start of October.

9. $2.25 billion

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
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According to Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of sports franchises, the Steelers are worth $2.25 billion — an increase of 18 percent over last year. But that valuation only puts the Steelers at No. 28 on the list. Even worse, it puts them one spot behind the Ravens organization, valued $2.3 billion. Sorry, Steelers, but Pittsburgh expects its teams to be No. 1. You are failures.

Oh, wait. I just looked at the full list and the Cowboys, who never win anything that matters, are No. 1 overall. Never mind, Steelers. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing.

8. Trading Phil Kessel

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs
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It’s the middle of the hockey offseason, people are bored and so we are getting very bad — sad! — speculation about the Penguins trading Phil Kessel. Don’t do this, Pittsburgh media. Don’t become Toronto. Do you know what they do in Toronto? They put cheese curds and gravy on fries. That’s ridiculous. Fries belong on sandwiches.

7. Trading Starling Marte

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the middle of another seemingly lost Pirates season, people are bored and so we are getting very bad — sad! — speculation about the Pirates trading Starling Marte. The outfielder and PED aficionado will be eligible to return from suspension July 18. Marte is 28, the Pirates best defensive outfielder, possibly their best hitter and signed to a club-friendly deal through the 2021 season. Here are all the good reasons the Pirates should deal such a player, especially when the trade return would be low on him right after a suspension:


I’ve got a blank space, baby.

6. Austin Meadows

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates
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Yeah, that was a Taylor Swift lyric up there. Deal with it.

Now, speaking of another 20-something who some people think is good: Austin Meadows. He is supposed to be the Pirates No. 1 prospect, but he’s hitting .248 in Triple-A this year and only has four home runs. This is a smidge concerning since he was supposed to be the one guaranteed future star in the system. It’s also another reason trading Marte (or Andrew McCutchen) is a massive risk because there may not be anyone behind them.

The Pirates need to say to Marte and McCutchen: “You belong with me.” Although considering how the front office treated McCutchen in the offseason, he may tell them: “We are never ever ever getting back together.”

(Ed. note: We know what DJ was listening to on the beach last week.)

5. Skating in front of 18,000 people

NHL: Stadium Series-Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
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Want to be a Penguins ice woman/man? The team is having tryouts next month. You can get all the details here. But please know that it is not a full-time job and you must know how to skate to be eligible. Sorry, Tom Sestito.

4. Mark Recchi

NHL: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The former Penguins (and Flyers and Canadiens and Bruins and Hurricanes and Lightning and Thrashers) star has been named Pittsburgh’s new assistant coach to replace Rick Tocchet, who is betting he can turn things around as head coach of the Arizona Coyotes. Recchi is a roundish fellow who once led a Cup-winning Penguins team in scoring in the postseason, so expect some in the media to demand that the team get rid of him.

3. Open windows

Open windows when it’s the middle of summer and 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity: bad.

Open windows when you have the best hockey player in the world in his prime: good.

2. Josh Harrison

MLB: All Star Game-Batting Practice
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Josh Harrison was the Pirates lone All-Star representative and has now made two All-Star teams. That’s pretty impressive for any baseball player, let alone a 5-foot-8 6th-rounder who was a throw-in name in a 2008 deal that sent John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs. Now he just needs to make about 15 more All-Star Games to have an outside shot of becoming Pittsburgh’s most popular sports Harrison.

1. Felipe Rivero

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes getting snubbed from the All-Star team is better than making it. The Pirates closer was somehow left off the team despite putting up an 0.76 ERA so far this season in 44 appearances. But because he was snubbed, he got talked about a lot more than Harrison did by making it. I call it the Shoeless Joe Jackson Principle: By being left out of the Hall of Fame, Jackson is actually far more famous than he would be if he were in Cooperstown. Also, if the Pirates somehow make the World Series this year, I encourage all of their players to throw the Series like Jackson did in 1919 and hit .375.