First Call: A safety for the Steelers?, Torts’ Tumble, a humiliating first pitch | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: A safety for the Steelers?, Torts’ Tumble, a humiliating first pitch

Tim Benz
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Steelers tight end Jesse James gets tackled by the Raiders’ Karl Joseph (left) and Tahir Whitehead of the Oakland Raiders during the first half Dec. 9, 2018 in Oakland, Calif.

In Friday’s “First Call,” we consider a familiar name as a fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Plus, the “Torts Tumble,” a humiliating first pitch, and people are already turning on Jameson Taillon.


A safety for the Steelers?

Keep this name in mind for free agency next season, Steelers fans.

It’s Oakland Raiders’ safety Karl Joseph. Oakland appears ready to decline their fifth-year option on him.

The Steelers are already thin at safety. And if they don’t re-sign Sean Davis after the end of this season, they’ll be even thinner.

The West Virginia product has been linked to the Steelers in the past via trade rumors, and even back to the draft of 2016.

In 2018, Joseph posted 48 tackles, two sacks, and one interception.

He could be the kind of free agent the Steelers sign — such as Mark Barron or Donte Moncrief — to hold a spot until a high-round draft choice takes over mid-season.

Or maybe the Steelers talk trade with their frequent partners in Oakland this year. Perhaps?


Torts pulls a Fleury

Remember when Marc-Andre Fleury took this infamous spill stepping on the ice before Game 1 against Detroit in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals?

Well at least he had an excuse. What was your excuse, John Tortorella?

It shall forever be known as the “Torts Tumble.”

That fall was a bad omen for Tortorella’s Blue Jackets. They lost 4-1 to the Bruins last night. Their series is now knotted up at 2-2.

Fleury and the Pens lost that game 4-0 and dropped that series to the Red Wings in six games.

But the next year, well, Fleury did anything but stumble.


Beat who you can beat

The Pittsburgh Pirates come into their weekend home series against Oakland at .500 after one month.

The Bucs finished April at 14-14.

If you had told me that Starling Marte, Chris Archer, Erik Gonzales, and Corey Dickerson would miss as much time as they have — along with the previously injured Gregory Polanco — I would’ve expected worse results.

Part of the reason the Pirates are hanging around .500 is that they are at least able to beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

Clint Hurdle’s club is 13-3 against teams below .500. They are 1-11 against teams over .500.

Don’t laugh. The Steelers missed the playoffs because they lost to — or tied — non-playoff teams such as the Broncos, Raiders, and Browns. The Penguins were dreadful against last place teams to start the year.

At least give the Pirates credit for taking care of business when they can.

So how are the A’s doing?

Glad you asked. They are dead last in the American League West with a 14-19 record, having lost six in a row. Plus, Oakland has just four road wins so far this year. Only Kansas City and Miami (three apiece) have fewer.

Is calling for a sweep too much to ask?


Turning on Taillon

Last year, Jameson Taillon led the Pirates with 14 wins, a 3.20 ERA, 191 innings pitched, and 179 strikeouts.

He is generally regarded as one of the most genuinely nice guys in baseball. And he has embraced the role of ambassador for the franchise and that of a spokesperson when it comes to encouraging those battling testicular cancer.

Eh, what have you done for me lately, J-Mo??!!

Well, his ERA is up to 4.10 this year. So, that was totally warranted, right?

Jeez! Imagine what that guy would’ve said if he had bumped into — I don’t know — Derek Bell?!


Guess he made the right move

Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton got to throw out the first pitch at a Brewers game Wednesday.

It didn’t go well.

That was bad. But I know, you’ve probably seen worse.

Keep in mind though, Connaughton was drafted by the Orioles back in 2014. In fact, Baltimore still holds his rights and will until 2020.

Maybe they’ll reconsider. Here is Connaughton’s excu … uh … explanation for the bad pitch.

Connaughton and the Bucks play Game 3 of their playoff series against the Boston Celtics at 8 p.m. Friday. The series is tied at a game apiece.

The Bucks better hope Connaughton’s shooting is more on target.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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