The title says it all. Batman is obviously a star. But without its sidekick, Robin, Batman wouldn’t be as strong. The same goes for sports and Pittsburgh is pretty well known for having some amazing 1-2 punches on their teams. I’m #BurghProud to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins 82 games a year. I’m #BurghProud to see the Steelers play every Sunday during the fall and winter months. I’m #BurghProud to watch most of the Pirates 162 game grueling schedule. But without the help of Jim Rutherford, Kevin Colbert, and Neal Huntington of their respective teams, we wouldn’t be as excited to watch if we didn’t have at least two league wide superstars on every one of these teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
These two superstars, the one on the left Russian. The guy on the right? Canadian. This only matters when they aren’t teammates and are playing for their respective countries putting everything aside to win something special for Russia or Canada.
Despite the stats showing an inflation in points when one of these guys isn’t in the lineup, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Obviously when Crosby misses time with an injury, Malkin feels he’s got to step up and lead what becomes his team and vice versa. But when the two get the chance to play in the same game, that doesn’t spell too good for the opposing goaltenders, either.
The Penguins have been fortunate to employ these two in the same starting lineup nightly for more than decade now. When the Penguins struggle for a period of time, the blame gets thrown on Crosby and Malkin. When the Penguins are on a winning streak, it’s usually because of Crosby and Malkin.
There isn’t a ton of argument from anyone that Crosby’s achievements will always out shadow Malkin’s. But it doesn’t change the fact that both athletes are absolutely amongst the league’s top ten players.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh Steelers fans are fortunate to turn on their TV sets every Sunday, or the occasional Monday or Thursday, and see the NFL’s best receiver playing with an NFL top three quarterback.
Let’s face it: Antonio Brown is elite and would be an absolute monster for any team, but the quarterback will always make you better. If a wideout doesn’t have a quarterback who can put the ball where only he can go get it, then he can’t shine. Ben Roethlisberger does exactly what Antonio Brown needs him to do.
Aaron Rodgers makes Jordy Nelson a better receiver because he throws the ball to where only he can catch it. Does that mean Nelson is bad? No. It means Nelson’s ability is magnified because of Aaron Rodgers.
It’s just interesting because once Antonio Brown gets the ball, he does things with it that not many other receivers can do. But he gets the ball because of Roethlisberger who has no trouble slinging it into tight spaces because ‘AB’ is an animal.
Don’t take anything away from Brown and don’t give too much credit to Roethlisberger. The whole point of this is to realize that if the Steelers downgraded to JaMarcus Russell and Limas Sweed, things will be a little different.
Pittsburgh Pirates- Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen
Two names synonymous with the Pittsburgh Pirates since their debuts, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.
As Andrew McCutchen trots out to the field and gives his 110% even if he’s in a slump. His buddy Starling Marte has done the same, with just a bit more success.
Marte earned a spot in the all-star game this season after an injury allowed for him to do so. He’s one of the most underrated outfielders in all of baseball. After winning a gold glove in left field last season, runners still continue to try and push their luck and get an extra base. It usually results in a slow trot back to the dugout.
McCutchen hasn’t had as good of a season in 2016, but he is the reason the Pirates are of relevancy after 20+ years of being cellar dwellers and painfully making the wait for Penguins hockey and Steeler football excruciating.
No matter which one is the better ball player, and it seems to change in the fans eyes weekly, the Pirates are lucky to have two guys who can be difference makers in their lineup no matter what day of the week it is.
No team is going to be tremendously good if they only have two elite players. Depth is something every team needs and the Pittsburgh sports teams don’t lack too much of that either.
The Penguins don’t have that problem at all. After acquiring Phil Kessel last offseason, it only added to the list of top notch players behind Crosby and Malkin. Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury are amongst that “top notch” category as well. The Penguins have a bunch of lesser-known depth guys that I won’t mention for the sake of word count, but they just won a Stanley Cup. I don’t think anyone can question what they’ve done with their roster.
The Steelers? They’ve got Le’Veon Bell and Cam Heyward to run the ball and rush the passer, respectively. They’ve got a young, fast linebacker in Ryan Shazier and they are favorites to make a SuperBowl run this coming year. Obviously results are shown on the field, but the team has got high hopes and for good reason.
The Pirates are a team that can be somewhere in the coming years. The main prospect core is beginning to rear its head around McCutchen and Marte. Guys like Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and Josh Bell will be MLB full-timers next season. Adding to a core that includes Gerrit Cole, Francisco Cervelli, and Gregory Polanco as well, the Pirates will soon be primed to make a run at something more than a National League Wild Card spot.
As I mentioned earlier at the top of the article, it makes me #BurghProud to watch these athletes, game in and game out. They will always be blamed heavily during losses and praised mightily when they win. No matter what, respect what our GM’s have done. In some cases, they’ve taken teams from the bare minimum (Penguins and Pirates) and made them teams that are loaded with prospects and highest level ready players. The other (Steelers) have been dominant since the 1960’s and that’s likely not going to change soon. The path’s are different, but the result’s the same. The entertainingly successful teams that you can appreciate if you’re a Steel City resident.