No like for Ike.

Written by Dan Gigler on .

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Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar today sharply criticized the Steelers decisions regarding cornerback Ike Taylor -- not that they didn't cut his salary enough, but that they kept him at all

" ... the decision to hold fast with cornerback Ike Taylor defies all available logic ... the question isn’t what Taylor’s worth — the question here is why he’s on Pittsburgh’s roster at all.

In 2013, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics, Taylor was the worst cornerback in the NFL — he allowed 71 receptions on 113 targets for a league-high 1,043 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks threw for a 110.6 passer rating against him, and his most recent season was no fluke — in 2012, he allowed 30 catches on 68 targets for 445 yards, five touchdowns and one pick.

Taylor has a close relationship with team president Dan Rooney, and from all accounts, he’s a great guy — smart, funny and a team leader. That said, a team known for its defense doesn’t hold on to such liabilities when they’re this obvious, and the tape matches the numbers." 

What do you think? Does Ike have anything left in the tank or should the Steelers have simply cut him?

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About the Capitals - 03-11-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Capitals.

When and where: 7:30 p.m. EDT. Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), NBC Sports (rest of the United States), TSN2.

Record: 30-26-10, 70 points. The Capitals are in fifth place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Alex Ovechkin, 67 points (44 goals, 23 assists).

Last Game: 3-2 home loss to the Penguins, last night. Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves for the Capitals.

Last Game against the Penguins: Ditto.

Capitals Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Nicklas Backstrom (right). He has 26 points in 24 career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Capitals: None.

Ex-Capitals on the Penguins: Tomas Vokoun, G.

Useless Capitals Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is the third player to wear No. 92 for the Captals. The others are former Penguins right winger Rick Tocchet and center Michal Nylander.

Best Capitals Video We Could Find: Capitals right winger Peter Bondra scoring a goal against the Penguins in Game 1 of a 1996 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (33-14-3, 2.31 GAA, .916 SV%) for the Penguins. Jaroslav Halak (25-10-4, 2.24 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Capitals.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo ("upper body") and center Brian Gibbons ("lower body") are questionable. Right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand and foot), Pascal Dupuis (knee), defensemen Kris Letang (stroke), Paul Martin (hand) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Capitals, center Mikhail Grabovski (left ankle) is out. Center Brooks Laich (undisclosed) did not travel to Pittsburgh. Left winger Aaron Volpatti ("upper body") is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' did not hold a morning skate. These were their primary lines and defensive pairings last night:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 22 Lee Stempniak
17 Taylor Pyatt - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
36 Jussi Jokinen - 16 Brandon Sutter - 46 Joe Vitale
15 Tanner Glass - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

4 Rob Scuderi - 2 Matt Niskanen
44 Brooks Orpik - 3 Olli Maatta
47 Simon Despres - 5 Deryk Engelland

-The Capitals held an optional skate. Consider this a guess based on t heir primary lines and defensive pairings from last night's game:

92 Evgeny Kuznetsov - 19 Nicklas Backstrom - 8 Alex Ovechkin
17 Dustin Penner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 20 Troy Brouwer
25 Jason Chimera - 16 Eric Fehr - 42 Joel Ward
48 Casey Wellman - 83 Jay Beagle - 43 Tom Wilson

27 Karl Alzner - 74 John Carlson
81 Dmitry Orlov - 52 Mike Green
38 Jack Hillen - 56 Patrick Wey


-The last time the Penguins played the Capitals, this happened:

-The Penguins have a seven-game winning streak against the Capitals.

-The Penguins have 99 regular season wins all-time against the Capitals.

-The Capitals recalled forward Casey Wellman and defenseman Patrick Wey, a native of Mt. Lebanon, from Hershey of the AHL.

-Our live blog will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

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No surprise here: Bad driving blamed in turnpike pileup

Written by Jon Schmitz on .



The pileup of dozens of cars and trucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Philadelphia on Feb. 14 was caused by weird weather and bad driving, state police have concluded.

“I believe human error played a large factor in this,” said Lt. Col. George Bivens, deputy commissioner of operations, at a hearing today. Weather conditions were changing at the time of the pileup but “we had a number of drivers who did not compensate for those changing conditions,” he told the state Senate Transportation Committee.

There were 41 separate crashes on a stretch of the turnpike west of Philadelphia. The first involved 15 vehicles including four tractor-trailers; the others came as people approaching the crash scene hit their brakes. Police cited 52 drivers, mostly for going too fast for conditions.

“We’re our own worst enemy,” said Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport.

“A lot of this is human error … People are crazy,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown.

Two hours before the crash, the Pennsylvania Turnpike had lifted a 45 mph speed limit imposed during a snowstorm. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said in spite of that, the average speed of traffic around the time of the pileup was 45 mph.

Road crews were on the job and the turnpike had been heavily salted after 4 to 5 inches of snow fell between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. The skies had cleared and drivers were dealing with sun glare when all hell broke loose. It took hours to clear the wreckage and reopen the turnpike but no one was killed.


With Congress terrified to raise gasoline taxes or come up with some other source of badly needed transportation funding, some advocates are pushing for an end to restrictions on tolling existing interstate highways.

The federal gasoline tax, a flat 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn't been raised since 1993. It doesn’t grow with inflation, so its value has fallen by 40 percent since then, according to a computation by The New York Times. If you’ve enjoyed your effective 40 percent gasoline tax reduction, you also might be noticing the decay of the nation’s highways and bridges. The federal Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (aka the toll road industry), meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, assembled transportation officials and leaders from across the country to urge Congress to let states solve their own funding problems with tolls.

Among those in the chorus was former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who said:

“With transportation funding shortfalls at all levels of government, and traditional sources of funding no longer keeping pace with growing needs, it is important that Congress no longer tie the hands of governors as they seek to meet their transportation challenges. It is time for Congress to finally lift all federal restrictions on tolling existing interstates.”


menatworkThe Pennsylvania Turnpike is scheduled to be closed to traffic in both directions between Allegheny Valley and Butler Valley from 11:59 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday, a closure that was called off last weekend because of the weather. It will allow removal of beams from a Route 910 bridge that crosses the pike.

Also in the wee hours of Sunday, the entrance and exit ramps at Beaver Valley (Exit 13) will be closed, along with part of Route 18. Traffic will be redirected to Exit 10 at New Castle from 11:59 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday. The closure will allow crews to set the bridge that carries the interchange ramps over Route 18, part of the future Beaver River Bridge replacement project.

Inspection of overhead signs will cause a lane closure on the outbound Liberty Bridge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, and on the inbound Birmingham Bridge from noon to 3 p.m.

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FAQs: Hays Bald Eagles and mysteries of the eagle cam

Written by Mila Sanina on .

Rise up this mornin', 
Smile with the risin' sun, 
Three little eggs... 
Inside the Hays nest... 
There are not yet tweeting or singing sweet songs (or making eagle calls like these), but they've become sort of a local sensation.
The Eagle cam, courtesy of PixController, has been one of the most popular features on this year. Actually, in the past three weeks, it has been in top 10 most visited pages on our website. 
The newsroom has decided people just love watching the eagles, especially if it's a live video feed. They cheer on the birds scaring off the raccoon, defending the nest against the hawks and laying the eggs.
Eagle fans have been tweeting (on Twitter, not trying to imitate the birds), about the Hays bald eagles and asking questions about the eggs, the nest and the eagle cam. Wildlife professionals from Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania were generous in providing answers to some frequently asked questions.
How big is a Bald Eagle? 
Adult-sized eagles, depending on sex and age, will have a wingspan of six to seven feet. Females have larger wingspans than males and weigh approximately 20 percent more. First year birds have larger wingspans than older birds of the same sex because of their longer, “practice” feathers, which make learning to fly easier. Eagles weigh between 8-12 lbs. with a body length of about 32 inches.
Why do the mom and dad Bald Eagles keep turning the eggs? 
We're getting closer to the expected hatch date, and mom and dad are still turning the eggs--research has shown that eggs are kept at a mean temperature of 101 degrees. Turning the eggs helps to keep the eggs at the same even temperature. Another thing that happens during incubation--to the parents--both birds develop brood patches (a bare part of the chest which makes contact with the eggs), but the female typically has a more extensive brood patch. Interestingly, some eagles do not develop a brood patch at all.
What is the role of "dad" eagles in the nest?
The Bald Eagles' roles at the nest are somewhat interchangeable. Papa eagles take turns incubating eggs just like mamas. But because she often spends more time incubating, he will patrol their territory, watching for intruders, and will catch/gather food for both of them. (Hays eagle watchers have seen papa bring a fish to the nest occasionally). But, not to worry, because his busy time is coming! Typically, the male takes a larger role in collecting food for babies, especially for a two week period after the eggs hatch. The female spends more time protecting the babies during the first two weeks, when they are confined to the nest (called the nestling period). Therefore, he brings the lion's share of the food. During this period, mama will tear the food and will feed the babies. Again, typically, at the third and fourth week of the nestling period, things equal out. The female spends a bit more time away from the nest and also brings her share of food to the babies. 
Do the Eagles have a great sense of hearing that goes along with their eyesight? With all the noise of Route 837, two railroads, metal, concrete and asphalt recycling yards, how is it that their heads turn when a stick is snapped nearby, or another bird is sing in the area?
Just like people, the Bald Eagles get used to their environment and likely ignore what they hear all the time as background noise. When they hear something out of the ordinary, they do respond. The Hays Bald Eagles have nested near the railroad for two years now, and they are very used to the sounds in the area, so there's no need for concern that the usual sounds around them are bothersome to the eagles.
What kind of tree is it in? 
Until the leaves are out in a few months, we don't know for certain what type of tree the Hays Bald Eagles have chosen to build their nest in, since the nest is new this year. The Harmar Bald Eagles' nest, located on a hillside above Route 28, right across from the Hulton Bridge, is in a sycamore tree.
Can the camera zoom out? 
The camera can pan, tilt, and zoom. It's operated by PixController and the operators there control what the camera is doing. Sometimes when you watch the feed, you can see that the camera operators are changing the pan or tilt of the camera



Watch the live cam

(Courtesy of PixController)
This webcam, courtesy of PixController, is a pilot project with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The camera will be streaming 24/7 as long as temperatures don't approach 0°F. The new player should work on PCs using Chrome and Firefox browsers, and on Apple iOS. If the new player is not working try the old player here:

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WVU and Alabama to receive $3.2 million payout for 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game [full contract details]

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

The Post-Gazette obtained both the West Virginia and Alabama contracts for the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome in Atlanta via Freedom of Information Act requests. The details, simplified, were used in concert with an interview with West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck for Tuesday's story on the rising trend of neutral-site openers — a good way to schedule a top-tier opponent quickly and make a pretty penny doing so.

Here are some of the more interesting notes from the contracts:

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