But the best place to get your intake of salt and vinegar remains the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings.
10. Steelers secondary
As Steelers training camp in Latrobe opens today, the biggest issue remains the team’s secondary. (Honorable mention to Le’Veon Bell’s contract status and why the team has 75 receivers.) The unit that got torched by a lacrosse player in the AFC title game will need to make a significant improvement this season for the Steelers to have a legitimate shot at a seventh Lombardi. They’ll have to do it with mostly the same personnel as last year, too. Free agent acquisition Coty Sensabaugh is a depth guy at cornerback and 3rd-round pick Cameron Sutton will likely need at least a year to become a legitimate contender to start. Adding the city’s best defensive player isn’t an option either:
Burnt by a 43 year-old receiver who hasn’t played in six years? Pittsburgh is doomed.
The Pirates are really waiting to the last minute before the trade deadline to figure out if they should be buyers or sellers. After winning 12 of 14 to climb a game above .500 and just two games out of first, they’ve subsequently dropped four of five — including two in a row to the exceedingly-horrid-at-baseball San Francisco Giants — to fall two games under .500 and four back of the Cubs. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they somewhere in the middle but the division can still be had? Only three more games before the deadline for us to find out. How exciting and/or excruciating!
8. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s culinary guide
Steelers rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has embraced the City of Pittsburgh since arriving via the draft in April. But someone help the guy get to the right place for the right things. Pittsburgh — noted foodie town! — has a few better dining options than Kennywood.
7. Oakland Raiders
The young and improving Oakland? Los Angeles? Las Vegas? Raiders (of Anaheim?) are supposed to be one of the Steelers’ and Patriots’ biggest threats in the AFC this year. But do not fear. They want Pittsburgh to win.
6. Olden times
Check out this video of L.C. Greenwood and the Steelers lifting weights at the 1980 training camp:
And now here is one of the latest James Harrison workout videos:
Who wants to have the discussion about whether athletes of old could beat today’s players?
5. James Conner
After being No. 2 in NFL jersey sales a week ago, the Steelers rookie is now No. 1.
The only reason this hasn’t been placed higher on the Power Rankings is because noted sociopath Tom Brady (just my opinion!) will probably use it as motivation to beat the Steelers by 100 points in the AFC title game. Sad/deflated face emoji.
4. 2016 trade deadline
Felipe RiveroPatrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2017 MLB trade deadline almost here, it’s time to remember that none of us know anything. Last year the Pirates acquired Ivan Nova for two low-level minor leaguers and plucked Felipe Rivero from the Nationals for Mark Melancon, who is in the midst of an awful season for the Giants. Both of those trades are clear wins, but are they able to balance out the terrible-on-its-face deal of Francisco Liriano and Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez to the Blue Jays for Drew Hutchison? Well, it turns out that trade somehow isn’t as bad as it looked. Liriano has a 5.99 ERA in Toronto while getting paid $13.6 million, and McGuire and Ramirez both have sub-Tebow batting averages in the minors. Meanwhile, Hutchison has solid numbers at Triple-A. There is zero chance Pirates GM Neil Huntington knew it would all pan out like this, yet it’s also true that none of us really know anything.
Now, do read on for more of my knowledgeable insights!
3. Good dogs
(Full disclosure: This dog is a Rays fan. It was this or a mangey Brewers dog.)Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
One acquisition the Pirates will make at the deadline is a lot of puppers. The team’s next Pup Night is this Tuesday against the Reds. But before you bring your dog to the game, you have to sign a release and waiver. This is the first item in the document:
“1. I understand that participation in the Event may result in personal injuries, including illness or death, or property damages, both foreseeable and unforeseeable, to Me or any Minor Child or Dog accompanying Me, and I assume any and all risk for such personal injuries, including illness or death, or property damages sustained by Me or any Minor Child or Dog accompanying Me.”
Either way, sounds like it will be a night of memories.
2. Free stuff
The likelihood of anyone reading this column having never visited Steelers training camp is even less likely than the chance that anyone reading this column is not currently wearing a James Conner jersey. But if you are a Steelers fan and have never visited camp, take the trip out to Latrobe. It is somehow free — even parking — and you can watch practices, see players up close as they hike down from the Saint Vincent campus to the field and let your kids do all kinds of footbally things in the Steelers Experience area. Or, if you don’t have kids, you can TOTALLY IRONICALLY BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T ENJOY HAVING FUN AS AN ADULT do them yourself. For free.
Pittsburgh is good at a lot of stuff. Amazing food at amusement parks, for one, apparently. But the region produces sports legends pretty well, too. The Steelers announced this week that they will wear a uniform patch all season in honor of Dan Rooney. And if you take the trip out to Latrobe, you can check out some of Arnold Palmer’s history, too. With training camp temperatures expected to get into the mid-80s next week, there’s no better time for some iced tea and lemonade.