Sports

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On a weekday afternoon in Pittsburgh’s South Hills, a few dozen adults are standing within taped yellow boundaries, sneakers scuffing a gym floor, lobbing what looks like a bright green wiffleball back and forth over a short net with soft, square paddles.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Penguins officials estimate 650,000 people showed up for this year’s Stanley Cup victory parade after captain Sidney Crosby led the team to their second consecutive NHL title. 

Fred Vuich / AP

Last week, Major League Baseball suspended Pirates center fielder Starling Marte for 80 games for using performance enhancing drugs.

That suspension means Marte, who has four more years left on a $31 million contract, won’t be eligible to play in the post-season, even if the Bucs make the playoffs this season because of a rule change agreed upon in the most recent round of collective bargaining.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

The NCAA will host more prestigious college tournaments in the Pittsburgh region over the next four years than any other, Visit Pittsburgh officials announced Wednesday.

The Steel City will welcome 22 events, from Division III men’s and women cross country regionals in 2020 to the 2021 Division I men’s hockey championship, dubbed the Frozen Four.

Gene J. Puskar / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Pirates became one of 12 Major League Baseball teams to install LED sports lighting, just in time for the team's home opener Friday against the Atlanta Braves.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Penn State plans extensive renovations to Beaver Stadium that would reduce its capacity but still keep seating over 100,000.

The university announced Monday those changes include more chairback seating, new concession locations, new restrooms, wider concourses and more premium-seating options.

It's all part of the university's Master Plan, a 20-year project creating new facilities and improving others. Projects include new indoor tennis and swimming facilities, and renovating Jeffrey Field, where the school's men's and women's soccer teams play.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A former West Mifflin Area High School football player who suffered a concussion in 2009 is suing the school district, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Lawyers for Shane Skillpa, 23, said his helmet and the helmet of another student broke during a drill that required the boys to run headlong into each other. The incident occurred during a summer practice between Skillpa's freshman and sophomore years.

Kara Holsopple / 90.5 WESA

Kelley Steadman is on the ice most weekday mornings during the season with the Colonials, the women’s hockey team at Robert Morris University. She’s the team’s director of operations and stands along the side of the rink and gives players direction during drills.

But on the weekends, she’s in the middle of the action as a forward in the National Women’s Hockey League, the NWHL.

Gene Puskar / AP

When the Steelers take on the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field on Sunday, it’ll be a familiar scene.

Sunday will mark just the fourth time the two teams have faced each other in the playoffs – 1972, 1979 and 1984. At each meeting, split 2-1 Miami, the victor went on to play in the Super Bowl.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

Southwestern Pennsylvania's two major ski resorts are making snow and planning to open for the season on Friday.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Resort both plan to open Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and remain open for the weekend.

Seven Springs says on its website that "a blast of cold temperatures allowed our time to aggressively make snow."

The resorts are located several miles apart, both about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is home to many sports firsts: the Pittsburgh Pirates participated in the first Major League World Series, the city was the first to have a retractable dome stadium and the Steelers were the first to win six Super Bowls.

To say the mood at Progressive Field in Cleveland was electric the last two nights is the understatement of the baseball season.

The first two games of the World Series brought sellout crowds, mostly made up of Indians fans, totaling more than 38,000 both nights. Everywhere you turned, there were happy Clevelanders sporting Indians jerseys, jackets, hats and t-shirts.

The Cleveland Indians are hot stuff.

The World Series opens Tuesday night between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs — essentially a matchup of long-suffering vs. longer-suffering.

You can watch coverage of Game 1 in Cleveland starting at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

The Indians last won a World Series in 1948, and the Cubs haven't won since 1908. Fans and sportswriters are positively buzzing with excitement.

AP

The World Series gets underway in Cleveland Tuesday night. Forty-five years ago though, it was Pittsburgh in the Fall Classic. The Pirates were not expected to win that year, until a moment of extreme on-field confusion turned the series in their favor.         

The 1971 World Series, a best of seven game affair, pitted the Pirates against the defending champions, the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore had four pitchers who each won 20 games that year, which was only the second time to happen in Major League baseball.

Harry Cabluck / AP

The University of Pittsburgh's football team is enjoying another winning season so far. The Panthers are third in the last four years. But it wasn’t always this way for Pitt. The program had bottomed out in the early 1970s and the Panthers won just one game and lost 10 in 1972. That was the season before the arrival of legendary coach Johnny Majors who led a dramatic turnaround. By 1976, Pitt went undefeated and won the national championship.

When tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted in March to having taken the heart drug meldonium, the public got a rare glimpse of a common practice that's often called "legal doping."

There's a voracious little bug destroying forests across the eastern U.S. Scientists say emerald ash borers, exotic beetles imported accidentally from Asia, have killed as many as 50 million trees.

They're now threatening groves in New York's Adirondack Mountains that are used to make an iconic kind of baseball bat.

More than 20 athletes who won Olympic medals in Beijing are among 45 athletes from the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games whose anti-doping samples contained banned substances, a reanalysis has found. The International Olympic Committee says the findings nearly double the number of implicated athletes from those games.

That number of has now risen to 98. And while the IOC isn't identifying the 45 athletes or their countries who have what it calls an "Adverse Analytical Finding" at this point, here's what the organization is saying:

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Since 1922, 29 champions of the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. have been from Allegheny County. This year, four mibsters, or marble shooters, from the county will compete in hopes of becoming the next champions.

Eli Murphy, 13, resides in Squirrel Hill but practices at St. Michael’s Street on the South Side Slopes with South Side resident Lauren Shuty, 12. Shuty is the Allegheny County Champion.

Allegheny County Champion Bobby Narr, 13, and Madison Johnson, 12, practice together in Lawrenceville.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Penguins turned around a once-disappointing season and fired a coach before winning a fourth Stanley Cup, adversity that seemed to make Wednesday's city-wide celebration that much sweeter.

Peter Rieke / flickr

If you’re a big league baseball fan, you have surely heard of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but what about the Chicago pirates or the Pittsburgh Burgers or the Cleveland Infants? They were members of the Players National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, popularly known as the Players League. The League emerged in 1890 from the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players and while it lasted only one season, it made a significant impact on the game. We’ll hear from associate professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University Robert Ross, who’s written about the event in his book, “The Great Baseball Revolt: The Rise and Fall of the 1890 Players League.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It’s not just Friday, it’s Steelers Friday.

The Courthouse Courtyard was a sea of black and gold Friday as enthusiastic Steelers fan gathered for a playoff rally. The team will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a last-chance wild card bid at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he sensed the energy all over town.

“It’s not exactly Steeler weather, but tomorrow it’s going to be, when we come back with a victory,” he said. 

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

The newly-dubbed UPMC Rooney Sports Complex will house the Pittsburgh Steelers practice facility for 15 more years as it undergoes an additional $10 million expansion this summer, UPMC and Steelers officials announced Tuesday.

“And of course the major piece of the puzzle will be the expansion of the training facility on the first floor, which will include an expanded weight room and conditioning room,” said current franchise President Art Rooney II.

Flickr user Jordon Cooper

Conventional wisdom has prescribed prolonged rest for concussions and traumatic brain injuries, but researchers now say such an approach might do more harm than good.

More than three dozen clinicians from multiple disciplines met in Pittsburgh last week to develop best practices and protocols for concussion treatment.

Paddy McCann / Flickr

Rugby is an intense sport in which players team up to tackle a ball-carrier. It is similar to football, except play is constantly ongoing and players wear very little padding.

Like football, rugby necessitates doctors to be on hand during matches in case of injury, according to Sam Akhavan, who will be traveling to England next month for the Rugby World Cup as a team physician for the U.S. National Rugby Team.

Brad / flickr

An Instagram post by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has rekindled a national discussion on whether we’re making our kids 'too soft'. The issue he addresses is the awarding of participation trophies to kids sports. Has this practice gone too far? We’ll discuss the issue with Aimee Kimball, Mental Training Specialist for KPEX Consulting and Ashley Merryman, author of the New York Times essay Losing is Good for You and the book Top Dog: the Science of Winning and Losing.

Note: There were inappropriate comments from a caller in today's live show that have been edited out from our website, podcasts and 8pm rebroadcast tonight. We apologize for the on-air error.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum in Pittsburgh will be the first host of a traveling exhibit created to showcase the history of the flying disc. The exhibit coincides with the PDGA Professional World Disc Championships, which take place in Pittsburgh this August, according to The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA).

Chuck Cooper’s Legacy for African-Americans in Basketball

Feb 17, 2015
Bagumba / Wikipedia

Chuck Cooper was a Duquesne University basketball star who became the first African-American drafted by an NBA team when he was selected in the second round by the Boston Celtics on April 29, 1950. In 2011, the Chuck Cooper Foundation was established in tribute to his legacy.

The foundation presents its annual Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award this week. Joining us to discuss the legacy of Chuck Cooper is his son Chuck Cooper III.

Cooper explains that, like many other young men who played basketball in Pittsburgh, his father developed his skills as an adolescent at Mellon Park in Point Breeze.

Once in college, he says, the elder Cooper had a great amount of respect for Duquesne University, in part because of an incident involving the University of Tennessee’s basketball team in the late 1940s. The Tennessee team traveled to Pittsburgh but refused to play the Dukes if Cooper would be included on the court. In the face of this prejudice, Duquesne didn’t back down, and the Dukes management sent the Tennessee team back home without a game. This gesture of respect and solidarity meant a lot to Cooper, his son explains.

Is This Year's Super Bowl Worth Watching Just for the Ads?

Jan 30, 2015
ThisIsNotApril / Flickr

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars.

With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting?

We discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.

Throughout the segment, Professor Gilbert provides insight on the goals of branding and the tactics used in Super Bowl advertising.

“What we are trying to do is find the right combination of generating awareness and attention, but also generating comprehension… that’s hard to do at the same time. I think Super Bowl advertisers have therefore aired on the side of attention. If you look at a lot of Super Bowl events you’ll find that there’s not as much information about the brand as much as it is a statement about the character about the brand .”

Also be sure to listen out for Gilbert's opinion of the latest controversial commercial from the internet domain registrar company, GoDaddy.com. The ad was originally intended for this year's Super Bowl, but pulled in response to the social media backlash.

Deflate-Gate: A Footall Who Done It

Jan 30, 2015
Keith Allison / Flickr

Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game?

Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

Dvorchak offers light-hearted commentary about all of the media attention for the deflate-gate scandal.

"When the national discussion for the last two weeks is the air pressure inside a football, I think we’ve turned the corner as far as our priorities of a nation go.” 

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