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An Exciting Time of Year

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* Following the conclusion of the Final Four in early April, there's a few weeks lull in the sports world with little going on. The NFL Draft is still 3+ weeks away - not too long, but the topic's been discussed by that time for months, and the last home stretch can be painfully slow.

Now, the light's at the end of the tunnel. I'll briefly mention that BehindtheSteelCurtain will be migrating to our new platform next Wednesday. More on this later, or Monday at the latest. One final week of discussion, ideas, and prognostications from us, then by the following Monday, we'll have welcomed 6 new Steelers to the family. And we'll be able to do so on our new and improved platform. Good stuff.

Major League Baseball is in full swing now as well. There's probably both hardcore fans and extreme loathers of the game among us. That's fine, but it's still enjoyable to attend a game with a friend, significant other, or your kids. The Pirates are on the road this weekend, but retrun home to beautiful PNC Park on Monday for series against the Marlins and Phillies next week. That series with the Phillies should be an entertaining one, and there are tickets available for as low as $15 for next weekend's tilt against the red-hot Phils or anytime this season. I'm a Reds fan myself, but I grew up watching the Pirates with my brother, who's favorite player was Bonds, so I have a small place in my heart for them. Plus, PNC really is sweet.

* While we're on the subject of Pittsburgh teams, how about them Penguins? (Did you know SBN had hockey blogs?) Like baseball, I'm sure there's mixed levels of support for hockey. But, one thing all sports fans should do is watch at least one or two playoff hockey games a year. I'm not a big enough fan to know the local broadcasters around the league, but I love hearing Gary Thorne's calls, especially in overtime. Very dramatic stuff and it's easy to realize how incredible those athletes are, flying up and down the ice on freaking skates at 200-250 pounds.

The Penguins just routed the Ottawa Senators, sweeping them and advancing to the conference semifinals. The franchise looked like it was about to implode a few years ago, but enter Sydney Crosby and a revamped roster and all of a sudden, the Penguins are in legitamate Stanley Cup contention. Lesson? Don't doubt Mario Lemieux. Maybe his back, but not his hockey acumen.

* Then of course there's the NBA playoffs. I have a hunch that there's not too many of you who dig the League, but I enjoy it, especially this year. My father played basketball in college and played pickup games as a grad student at Duke with Chuck Daly, Rick Barry, Tony Barone and other NBA greats, so I had no choice but to grow up watching hoops with him. I'm sure you're aware of how stacked the Western Conference is, and heard plenty of hype from ESPN about how incredible each and every round is going to be. This time, it's probably not going to be all hype. Spurs-Suns 1st round? Chris Paul's chance to establish himself as the best all-around PG in the game since Isiah? LeBron's chance to accelerate his meteoric ascendency into the pantheon of legends? And will Kobe lead the Lakers back to the title without Shaq, helping Phil Jackson inch closer to Red Auerbach's championship record? I'm too busy to catch much of it as it unfolds, and that's probably going to be a shame, because the NBA is back in a big way and these playoffs should be the culmination of its rebirth.

* We poured over the schedule earlier in the week. Now it's time to pick the game you want Steelers tickets to. I guess now is the time I must admit I have yet to attend a Steelers game. I've been to several NFL games, but unfortunately, no Steelers' contests. That's mostly a product of geographic circumstance, but it's also unacceptable that I haven't found a way to make it happen, even if it meant traveling to a road game somewhere other than Pittsburgh. I've got my eye on tickets for Week 17 vs. the Cleveland Browns, or in early November against the Colts. At worst, I'll find a way to parlay a trip to Philly where I went to college into a Steelers game at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles. There's actually a few season tickets packages still available at Heinz Field, and for those of you who may have some disposable income this year, this would be the year to do it. With all those incredible home matchups this year, indivdual tickets will probably be tough to scalp or procure for a reasonable price the closer it gets to the game date.