J. Daniel Rollins
1) How does the loss of A.J. Burnett impact the chances of the Pirates returning to the playoffs?
A.J. Burnett is a 37-year old pitcher with a career .527 winning percentage. In 2013 — the Buccos’ first playoff appearance since Boyz II Men and Kriss Kross were tearing up the music charts — he went 10-11. But what Burnett did was eat up innings, throwing 202 and 191 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. His likely replacement, Edinson Volquez, threw just 170 innings in each of his last two seasons.
If the Pirates miss the playoffs this season, it won’t be because of the failure to sign Burnett, but the failure to not make any real splash during the offseason. Along with Burnett, the Buccos lost outfielders Marlon Byrd and Garrett Jones and first baseman Justin Morneau. The only real addition was Volquez, who split last season between San Diego and Los Angeles.
If the Pittsburgh faithful hope to make it a three-team race for the NL Central championship with St. Louis and Cincinnati this season, they better hope there’s still some magic left over from 2013.
2) What's the most enjoyable Winter Olympics sport to watch?
This year’s winter games have had many enjoyable moments: From the botched Olympic rings display during the Opening Ceremony to watching Bob Costas slowly transform into Emperor Palpatine in front of our very eyes, there is one sport that always stands out to me when the Winter Olympics roll around — curling.
I really don’t know what it is about curling that gets my attention the way it does, but it’s pure drama. I’m not sure of all the rules, the terms or even the equipment used, but it seems like a game that anyone would be able to learn and enjoy.
I’ve also heard stories of curling clubs around the world where at the end of the match, the winning team always buys the losing team a post-match beer. What’s not to love about that?