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Pirates are winners and Steelers are pulling players off the scrap heap

One day after the Pittsburgh Pirates continued a once seemingly impossible journey by advancing to the NLDS, the Steelers made a baffling trade by acquiring veteran (and perhaps soon to be released) left tackle Levi Brown from Arizona. Welcome to Bizarro World Pittsburgh sports.


It's a good thing I have logged many years as a long-suffering Pirates fan AND a confident, entitled Steelers fan, because when things in the universe appear to be out of whack, it's nice to have some experience to lean on.

Tuesday night, the Pirates added another awesome chapter to a once improbable story by defeating Cincinnati in the National Wild Card game before over 40,000 crazy and intimidating (just ask Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto) Buccos fans at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

For me, as a fan, it was a dreadful few days as I awaited the "win or go home" playoff game because the thought of the season coming to a sudden end after such a long and memorable summer was a little tough to process. Fortunately for Yours truly, I've been a Steelers fan since the very early 80s, so I have experience with these things since the local football team has given me dozens of such contests to prepare for over the past few decades--including many home games in front of thousands of raucous and intimidating Terrible Towel waving supporters.

It's been two days since the awesome victory, and it's still a surreal feeling to know that the local baseball team is one step closer to playing for a title.

What may be even more surreal, though, is the state of Pittsburgh's football team, more specifically the acquisition of veteran tackle Levi Brown from the Cardinals on Wednesday in exchange for a conditional late round draft pick.

What makes it surreal isn't so much that the Steelers (0-4 for the first time since 1968) traded for a player like Brown, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, it's that the Cardinals were apparently close to releasing him, anyway, so what sort of upgrade is it? Sure, Mike Adams, the second year man who was pegged to be the left tackle of the future when Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round of the 2012 draft, has been nothing but a human revolving door through four weeks of the 2013 season, but according to Cardinals fans, Brown was that same kind of door "or gate" in Arizona.

Kind of reminds me of the pre-contending Pirates, who didn't seem to have a direction and were always looking to find "projects" off the junk pile. Former first round picks and players who were once the darlings of their teams farm systems would be acquired by the Pirates with the hopes that whatever skills they were once projected to have could be fleshed-out and developed in the struggling organization's minor league system. However, with very few exceptions, those projects never panned out.

Sure Brown obviously has the pedigree to perhaps have his skills refined by the coaching staff, but one could say the same thing about Felix Jones--another scrap heap acquisition the Steelers made in training camp--and it doesn't look like that's about to happen.

Are the Steelers planning on making Brown the starter? Probably, but according to reports, like Adams, he's an adequate run blocker but struggles with pass protection--seems like a lateral move made out of desperation.

Am I piling on the Steelers a bit, with this piece? Probably, but that's what happens when a last place, winless team with financial problems goes in a direction that doesn't seem to make much sense.

Again, I have a lot of experience with that as a Pirates fan.

I also have a lot of experience twirling my Terrible Towel during Steelers playoff games, and that experience should come in handy when I'm waving my Jolly Roger this weekend as I watch the local baseball team play in the NLDS.

What a topsy turvy year this has been in the Pittsburgh sports world.

What's next? Cocky Pirates fans? A Steelers fireworks night, accompanied by a Train concert?

Welcome to economic (or what in football is known as salary cap) hell, Steelers fans.

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