First Call: Strange Stanley Cup odds; Seth Meyers talks Pirates |
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Tim Benz

Friday’s “First Call” features NBC’s Seth Meyers talking Pirates. Emmanuel Sanders actually saying something nice about Antonio Brown. And inconsistent odds for the Penguins and other NHL teams winning the 2020 Stanley Cup.

Sliding scale

The Penguins are usually one of the top offseason favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

That’s not quite so much the case heading into next season.

Released Thursday, has 18-1 odds on the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup. Ten teams have a better chance, according to their oddsmakers.

The favorites are the Tampa Bay Lightning at 8-1. The longest odds are against the Senators at 100-1.

Interestingly, the teams that swept Tampa and Pittsburgh this year in the first round of the playoffs — the Blue Jackets and Islanders — are way back at 28-1.

What did they have to do to narrow those chances? Complete their sweeps in three games or something?

The Pirates and Seth Meyers

I’ll be ringing in the weekend tonight at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead. NBC Late Night host Seth Meyers is performing there.

His father’s side of the family is from East Liberty. And as TribLIVE’s Paul Guggenheimer chronicled, Meyers is a big Steelers fan and is a frequent attendee at Heinz Field.

On the baseball side, Meyers’ New England roots drew him more to the Red Sox growing up. But the comedian still has a soft spot for the Pirates.

“We went to a Pirates game a few years ago,” Meyers said. “I brought my parents when it looked like they were going to have a winning season for the first time. So, I have stayed very engaged with the Pirates ever since that return to respectability.”

Let’s hope they find that respectability again. Soon.

Meyers also had some good things to say about departing Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass.

“It’s weird the sense of closeness you have with baseball announcers, more than any other sport,” Meyers continued. “Not only because of the time you spend listening but amount of dead time you spend listening to them. It’s not like they are just describing the game constantly.”

On Monday, I’ll let you know if Meyers drops in a line about wearing too much jewelry on stage on Blass’ behalf.

Now say something nice!

Former Steelers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown have a history of tossing verbal barbs at one another.

Maybe Sanders is trying to turn over a new leaf.

The Broncos receiver had this to say on 104.3 The Fan in Denver about his ex-teammate.

No word yet whether A.B. has returned the kind words out in Oakland.

One thing to point out, though. People keep saying how hard of a worker Antonio Brown is. It’s often presented as if it’s some sort of defense of his character.

Has Brown’s work ethic ever been in question? I’ve never felt that way. He’s universally regarded as a Grade-A workaholic.

He’s also a Grade-A jerk. The two have nothing to do with each other. And the issues should no longer be conflated in that manner.

Who figures this out?

The Titans have announced that they will be retiring jersey Nos. 9 and 27.

Late quarterback Steve McNair wore No. 9. Running back legend Eddie George wore No. 27.

Check out this statistical pearl.

I don’t know who was tasked to research this, but God bless their little hearts.

Rumor has it the Steelers are really close to retiring those same uniform numbers on behalf of Daniel Sepulveda and Johnathan Dwyer.

I’ll try to confirm and get back to you next week.

Other side of the street

This year, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how some former Pirates are busting out with great seasons.

Charlie Morton is 8-0 in Tampa. Gerrit Cole is leading the Major Leagues in strikeouts for the Astros. Austin Meadows is near the top of the American League in many offensive categories for the Rays. And Tyler Glasnow was fantastic in Tampa this year, too, before he got hurt.

The same praise can’t be given to two other ex-Pirates, who squared off Thursday in Chicago. The White Sox’s Ivan Nova pitched against the Yankees. New York countered with J.A. Happ.

Nova came in 3-5 with a 6.28 ERA. Happ started the night 6-3, but his ERA was 4.48, with 16 home runs allowed. That was fifth-most in the American League.

As for the match up Thursday, Nova gave up four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Happ kept the Sox in the yard and shut them out for four innings. Then he got popped for four earned runs in the fifth. Neither pitcher factored in the decision, and the White Sox won 5-4.

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