He’s only been in Pittsburgh for a short time, but Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round draft pick Ryan Shazier is already bleeding black and gold.
Some say he’s already a “yinzer” while others just see it as “Burgh Pride.” Whether it’s pride or a total yinzer move , Shazier sent out a tweet predicting the future of the three main sports teams in Pittsburgh.
This is a pretty bold prediction, young Shazier. A prediction that has a back-to-back 8-8 Steelers team, a management-less Penguins team and a playoff hungover Pirates team, all winning their major championships within five years.
Pittsburgh sports (aside from the Pirates), in recent years, have been dominant. In 2008 the Steelers and Penguins each claimed their championships and the “City of Champions” was truly on top. Ever since then, however, the teams haven’t been up to par.
Let’s take this team by team.
It’s been five seasons since the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup and since then they’ve regularly made early exits from the playoffs. The Penguins have arguably the two best players in the NHL in Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but even though the team has appeared to stacked on paper, they simply couldn’t make the necessary playoff runs.
This season the Penguins allowed the New York Rangers to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to send the Penguins packing. They failed to close out the series on their own ice and the series loss cost General Manager Ray Shero his job.
Right now, Shero’s the only man out but all signs point to head coach Dan Bylsma being on thin ice as well. Until a new GM is hired, Bylma’s fate remains to be seen.
Despite the management debacles, the Penguins do have a chance to win Lord Stanley within the five years as Shazier predicted. They have the talent to win and the problems lie in the coaching and ownership.
If the Penguins can figure that out this offseason, and keep 87 and 71 on their roster, they can be legitimate contenders to win the cup every year. In five years the Penguins have the best shot at being the first of the three Pittsburgh team’s to win a championship.
For two consecutive seasons, the Steelers have displayed 8-8 records and missed the postseason. It’s been a long time since this has occurred and everyone from the team and Steeler Nation is anxious to see what this crucial 2014-2015 season brings.
Even though the team finished 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs, they still managed to overcome an 0-4 start and nearly made the playoffs thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs’ backups (maybe the backup kicker should have played too). Down the stretch the Steelers got their act together; if not for the rough start this team probably sneaks into the playoffs as a wildcard.
The end of last season gave us a glimmer of hope for this season to come. There’s still a lot of questions surrounding this team but the Steelers always compete even when they aren’t dominant. They’ve won a Super Bowl as a wildcard before and being the best of the best isn’t required to make a run at the Lombardi.
The Steelers are the second team of the three to claim a championship. Within five years, I believe Shazier’s prediction is plausible. With Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, this team is always a contender and this organization doesn’t settle for anything less than Super Bowl rings.
After ending a long, 21 year drought of not making the postseason, the Pirates found themselves in last year’s playoffs. After taking care of business in the wildcard round against the Cincinnati Reds they went on to lose to the St. Louis Cardnials. Would the team have rather won? Obviously. But this postseason run was something special. It was special not only to the franchise but to the city of Pittsburgh as well.
This season, however, the Pirates are back to normal. Chasing a .500 record, it looks like the Bucs are hungover after their playoff appearance last season.
Losing a leader in A.J. Burnett and stars of last season not living up to their potential has the Pirates struggling to compete. It’s only the end of May but you can already sense that the Pirates aren’t going to go anywhere.
Grooming prospects in the minors is an area the team is quite good at. With players like Gregory Polanco in the wakes, this team will eventually get better. The Pirates are easily the least likely to claim a championship out of the three major sports teams in the Burgh. Five years is too short of a time frame for all the right pieces to come together for this ballclub.
Shazier’s prediction might hold true for the Penguins and Steelers but the Pirates is a stretch. Will Pittsburgh boast the name “City of Champions” by 2019? Let the countdown begin.