Steelers And Penguins Done: Surviving the Dog Days of Pittsburgh Sports

Todd FlemingAnalyst IJuly 8, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Wide receiver Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

What an incredible rush of a six months it has been for Pittsburgh fans. 

First, we watched the Steelers win the greatest Super Bowl in the history of the game, which was followed up by the ultimate encore: watching Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the gang survive one of the best Stanley Cup runs in history to hoist their first Cup!

And then it all came to an end quicker than we could say, "Wow, another great catch on Sportscenter. Yippee."

This article is meant to help the faithful but now utterly bored Pittsburgh sports fans who need to somehow make it through a couple more month until the start of football season.

Here is a list of suggested activities to get you through those final couple months.

10.  Try and figure out which local Pennsylvania beer is really the best.  Is it Iron City or Yuengling or (insert locally microbrewed beer of choice)?  Of course, you would need to drink quite a few bottles, or cans, to figure this out.  I'd recommend starting with Iron City and alternating back and forth with Yuengling. 

After about ten of each, you should have your answer.  But, just to be sure, you might want to repeat it a few time to make sure the results are sound, and not just an anomaly.  That would be keeping with the scientific method.

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And, chances are that by the time you are finished, you won't really be thinking much about all those Steelers and Penguins games you aren't seeing.

And if your significant other questions the wisdom of this activity, tell them that this isn't about getting drunk for no reason.  This is about finding the answer to one of life's more perplexing questions.

9.  Try and figure out who will be playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow.  When I lived in Colorado, we used to have a saying.  It was, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it will change."

That pretty much applies to the Pirates.  If you don't like the current Pirates, don't sweat it.  It isn't a problem.  Just watch for a few days and you'll see an entirely new team. 

One of the all-time greatest sports movies is "Major League" where a bunch of no-name Cleveland Indians win the pennant.  

But, even in that movie, the scrub team at least stays constant.  A modern version of the movie featuring the Pirates would need more actors than currently work in California to account for the constant roster turnover.   

If you want to know who is most likely to not be a Pirate within a week, just pay attention to who is playing the best.  Then put your money on the fact that he will be wearing a different jersey in record time. 

8.  Make a dartboard of all your most hated players in sports.  For me, this isn't terribly hard since most of those players play for the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Lewis makes for a great bullseye.  You have the added bonus that he is a rather large guy, making it easier to score bullseyes. 

I think I can also find a spot for Ocho Whatever, LenDale White, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Alex Ovechkin, and Kris Draper. 

I would not recommend combining this activity with the "which is the best beer" test, especially if others are in the same room.

7.  You can do daily google searches on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins with the hopes of finding any little scrap of news.  And then jump for joy when you've seen they've resigned some special teams guy you've never really heard about.  

Come on, we all do it.  I've been known to turn to my wife with a triumphant look on my face and proudly proclaim, "Great news.  The Steelers just signed their seventh round pick.  We are set!" 

Or, "The Penguins just signed some prospect from some country I never heard of to add to their AHL team.  Now we have some real depth for next season!" 

She typically responds, "That's great, dear."  

Nothing like taking the wind right out of the sails.

6.  Play the license plate game against your friends, but with jerseys.  You know the license plate game that all parents with young kids play to keep them occupied on long trips, where you tell them to see how many different state license plates they can spy.

But, instead of looking for license plates, you look for different player jerseys.  Give yourself bonus points for players no longer with the team. 

Give yourself an even bigger bonus point for players no longer with the team that really stunk.  So, popular jerseys, like Ben Roethlisberger or Sidney Crosby, are only worth a couple points.  But, less popular players, like Mitch Berger or Hal Gill, net you a real windfall.

I was at Kennywood amusement park the other day and saw somebody wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers' Kordell Stewart jersey.  That was 100 points right there! 

At first, I thought he was wearing Santonio Holmes, which would have only netted about ten points.  But, nope.  The name "Stewart" was sewn proudly across the top of the back of the jersey.  Jackpot! 

I also saw a Zarley Zalapski Penguins' jersey recently.  That's also got to be good for at least fifty points.

Can anyone top those?

5.  Watch the highlight videos of the teams' championship runs.  The Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII video was good. 

After all, it was the best Super Bowl ever, far better than last year's installment of the greatest Super Bowl ever when that team never to be mentioned, sort of like the evil Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter fame, was unceremoniously beaten by the Giants.

But, it can't top the XL video.  Why?  Because the XL video was narrated by Magnum PI (aka Tom Selleck).  And nobody in the history of television was cooler than Magnum.

4.  Download the first two seasons of the television show "Chuck" off iTunes and watch them straight through.

Besides being one of the best television shows of all time, one of the episodes features a prominent guest appearance by none other than Jerome Bettis, playing a street smart con-man of a salesman at the local Buy Mart.

And, if you are also a Giants' fan, if such a thing is possible while being a Steelers fan (I think not, but, then again, they did beat that team never to be mentioned by name), Michael Strahan also makes a great cameo appearance.

3.  Did you know Pittsburgh has a women's football team?  And a really good one at that.  They beat the Connecticut Crushers this year 76-0.  Now that is what I call dominating the opposition. 

They followed that up by beating the Philadelphia Firebirds 53-0.  Now any team that batters a Philadelphia squad is alright in my book. 

They won the championship in 2007.  The did just lose in the playoffs this year to the D.C. Divas on June 27.  But, that's OK.  Chances are, you didn't even know this team existed.  

So, you have plenty of times before the Steelers' season starts to read all about them.  You can even become a groupie or a "special fan," also known as a stalker, if you really want. 

But, in looking at pictures of some of the linemen, becoming a "special fan" is probably not a great, or safe, idea.

2.  Follow the rising boxing career of Pittsburgh junior welterweight boxer Paul Spadofora.  He just knocked out Argentine boxer Ivan Bustos on June 24 as he seeks to return to the top of his division .

Spadofora has posted a 42-0-1 record...so this guy is nobody's punching bag.

Spadafora's nickname is "The Pittsburgh Kid" and he is a former IBF world lightweight champion.

In reading his troubled history, this guy is not going to win any Mr. Congeniality awards any time soon.  But, he obviously knows how to turn it on in the ring.

You can also search for secret meanings in the numerous cryptic tattoos that cover his body. 

1.  Read every NFL power rankings posted on Bleacher Report and various other sites between now and the start of next season. 

They'll all say essentially the same things which can be boiled down to, "The Steelers and that team that shall not be mentioned rock and boy will the Browns and Lions really stink." 

Or something like that.  Of course, the power rankings written by Eagles' fans will have the Eagles at the top.  And the power rankings written by the Ravens' fans will have the Ravens at the top.  And the power rankings written by Lion's fans will have the Lions in the 28th spot, four above the bottom.  Team inflation can only go so far. 

And power rankings written by the Browns' fans will have the Browns....hmmm... Wait...I'm not sure there are any Browns' fans left to write power rankings after last season.

Other than that, they'll all say essentially the same thing.

Bonus:  You can start getting protest signs ready for the upcoming G-20 conference in Pittsburgh.  If you think the G-20 is the latest Honda sports car, then stop reading here.  You are smarter for not knowing.

So, what should you protest?  How about demeaning the City of Champions with such an inconsequential event.  That's as good of a start as anything.

So, there you have it.  Here are 11 things you can do to get through these dog days of summer, also known as the dark ages, when the Steelers and the Penguins are doing a whole lot of nothing. 

And who knows?  Maybe the Pirates will get hot and bring a third championship to Pittsburgh.  Stranger things have happened.  Okay, maybe not.


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