Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: June 9, 2021 (Pt. 2)

KDKA's Bob Pompeani and 93.7 The Fan's Andrew Fillipponi discuss the sports topics of the day.

Video Transcript

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: So, you know, I think this is another situation where, you know, the Pirates' situational baseball did a very poor job. You know, I think Ke'Bryan Hayes is gonna go on to have a great career. I don't think this is an indictment on him as a player.

BOB POMPEANI: No, not at all.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: But I think it's another symbol for the Pirates of kind of ineptitude, you know, in that the only times they really get mentioned on a broader level outside of Pittsburgh is when something embarrassing happens to them-- Will Craig, they get beat by the Braves, 20 to 1, a few weeks ago-- those are the times the Pirates enter the national consciousness. And that's sad.

And there's no incentive. There's no-- Major League Baseball doesn't look at the Pirates as a franchise that they need to have relevant. They're not the Cubs. They're not the Cardinals. They're not the Yankees. They're not the Red Sox. They're not the Dodgers. So if the Pirates stink, but the team is in a beautiful ballpark and it makes money, that's probably all they care about, Bob.

BOB POMPEANI: Well, they should.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: It's pathetic.

BOB POMPEANI: That's wrong for the league.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: Well, I know. It's pathetic. But that's--

BOB POMPEANI: The league should have one common goal, and it should be to make sure everyone has a legitimate chance. And the way you do that is by changing the economic system, which is not going to happen, so.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: But the owners-- the owners of the small market teams that want change are the ones that think that they're in bad financial situations, like the A's and Rays. They're in horrible stadiums, bad deals, they can't turn a profit. The ones that are making money in small markets--

BOB POMPEANI: Don't do anything but take the money.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: --like the Pirates, they don't do what-- exactly.

BOB POMPEANI: They want the money.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: And so-- right. And I don't see that changing anytime soon.

BOB POMPEANI: No.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: Because they think it's best for baseball if those big-market teams produce big ratings. You know, the networks pay Major League Baseball. It gets split among the teams-- the national money, the MLB big media money. And so everyone, at the end of the day, you know, benefits off of that. If it's the Pirates and, let's say, Kansas City in the World Series, they probably look at that as a bad thing for baseball, which is a shame.

BOB POMPEANI: It is.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: It really is.

BOB POMPEANI: All right, let's go to the lines.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: It's not like football where people watch the Super Bowl regardless of who's in it, Bob, unfortunately.

BOB POMPEANI: No, I agree. [? Bert ?] in [INAUDIBLE], first up tonight. Hey, Bert, how are you doing?

- OK, guys, thanks. Yeah, I have a NBA comment, and then I'd like to hear what you guys think about it.

BOB POMPEANI: Sure.

- Luka Doncic from the Mavs-- I put him in a rare category of pure shooter who can also be a great scorer, a guy like Jerry West, George Gervin, Larry Bird, and [? now ?] Curry from Golden State. But the only thing is the other night in game 6 when he had a chance to be clutch, it wasn't there--

BOB POMPEANI: Right.

- --and then--

BOB POMPEANI: He deferred too much. I thought-- he was driving, and instead of going to the hole, which he does well, he was looking for outside shooting help and he got none of it because none of those guys made shots.

He is a generational talent. He's a guy who's gonna get a supermax contract. He's worth all of that. But Dallas needs more than just him, Andrew. But he's a wonderful player to watch.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: Yeah, he is. He honestly, in my opinion right now, I put him in a very-- I'd put him in a club with maybe four or five other guys-- Jokic in Denver; Damian Lillard in Portland; Steph Curry, who Bert mentioned; LeBron, even though he's 36 years old and has fallen off a little bit.

BOB POMPEANI: You didn't mention Donovan Mitchell. Come on, man. Donovan Mitchell, when he's playing his game, Utah is gonna not be an easy out for anyone.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: Well, no doubt. I picked Utah to win the entire thing.

BOB POMPEANI: Oh.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: They were the best team--

BOB POMPEANI: Good for you.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: --during the regular season. They do-- well, that's because if they were in a bigger market, everybody would love them. They also don't have a face of the franchise player. Mitchell's a closer. He's a scorer. But he's not a Dame Lillard or Steph Curry or a Luka Doncic.

Utah's best player, actually, is Gobert because in today's NBA, you have fewer and fewer guys-- like the enforcer in hockey-- you have fewer and fewer Tom Wilson types. You have fewer and fewer guys that protect the rim. And he's excellent at that.

That's such an advantage in what is more and more becoming an offensive sport when you have guys that change shots, that's why I would pick Utah to beat the Nets because I don't think that Harden and Irving would get easy baskets at the rim with him, Bob. I think he just won Defensive Player of the Year--

BOB POMPEANI: Yes, he did.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: --tonight, as a matter of fact. So--

BOB POMPEANI: Yeah, they got a team--

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: They're a great all-around team.

BOB POMPEANI: --that can hit you in 3 points all over the place. They play good defense. They're a very unselfish team, and they're a good-- and I expect them to beat the Clippers. I also expect the Phoenix Suns to go and win it all. That's my pick to win it all.

Anyway, let's go back to the lines. We've got Tony in the Hill District. Tony, how are you?

- Hi, Bob. Hi, Poni. Hey, Bob, me, you, and everybody else was sitting here saying last year that the Pirates need to spend more money to get good players so we can get ourselves to at least playoffs or at least a championship. Now, if they're not gonna spend their money to get good people so we can get there, why is this organization wasting their time with this team? Because remember, in the '90s, they was talking about selling the Pirates and putting them in another city, but they didn't. This team hasn't won a championship since the '70s. Do you think they're wasting their time with this team?

BOB POMPEANI: I mean, they're making money. And if you're Bob Nutting and the people who own the team, his family, they're making money. So again, without a system in place that forces you to spend money, you could do whatever you choose. And so that's fine with them.

Listen, they got to develop players. They got to draft players. That's how this new regime is gonna be defined.

I look at the Dodgers here, Andrew, and I see a team that does it all. They draft. They bring in guys-- Max Muncy was a guy brought in. He wasn't looked at as somebody who was gonna be a regular player-- Justin Turner, same thing. Look at their shortstop, Chris Taylor. These are all guys they found and developed.

And then they also bring in guys, develop them in their system-- you know, Cody Bellinger, for example, and others-- and then they have the money on top of that to do whatever they want. They checkmark all the boxes, which is why they won the division eight years in a row.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: Yeah, and that's why the notion that they've just won-- or bought a World Series last year is wrong, in my opinion, because they found players on the scrap heap. They drafted and developed guys. You know, they're, to me, right now, probably the gold standard in Major League Baseball where they're either in the World Series or knocking on the door every year.

As a fan, you know, you love that because they're not just taking in profits. They're not like the Cubs who, you know, complained that they didn't make any money last year. And look, they're in first place right now in a very weak division. The NL Central does not have a great team, you know. But they really made no effort to make their team better this offseason.

The Dodgers brought in Trevor Bauer. I applaud that. You know, part of me says it stinks that we're in a small market. But the other side of me wants to see those teams that try to win get rewarded, you know what I mean?

BOB POMPEANI: Sure-- San Diego.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: I don't want to see Tampa Bay-- yeah, I don't want to see Tampa Bay spend $50 million and win a World Series. You know why? Because then the other teams that are cheap say--

BOB POMPEANI: Yeah.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: --well, if they can do it, we can do it.

BOB POMPEANI: Sure.

ANDREW FILLIPPONI: And it creates the false impression or the false hope that those kind of things happen all the time.

BOB POMPEANI: Kansas City did it, and then they tore it down. That's what normally happens when you do it when you're a small market. All right, anyway, we got our Tri-State Office Furniture tweet of the day. It's coming at you right now from Rob Rossi of "The Athletic," who does a great job covering the Penguins with Josh Yohe.

He says this. Penguins have not asked Evgeni Malkin to waive his no-trade clause. Malkin is not interested in waiving it. There isn't one team or a secret list regarding Malkin and that clause. His focus is on getting healthy, winning another championship with the Penguins. Nothing has changed, which makes it sound like you won't see many changes on this roster moving forward.

We'll take a break and take more of your calls when we come back, 412-575-2600 right here, Pittsburgh [INAUDIBLE].

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