Take 5: Stakes Races, Shaq and Southgate



Justify ridden by Mike E. Smith won the 143rd Preakness Stakes Saturday, May 19. Despite the muddy and foggy conditions in Baltimore, Justify claimed the second leg of the Triple Crown. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

By The Pitt News Staff

Though Pitt’s campus has mostly emptied out, The Pitt News sports staff is still full of hot takes. They’re back to round up some of the best  — and unexpected  — stories of the week. 

Patience for Pirates Fans

The Pittsburgh Pirates finally got a glimpse of their future when centerfielder Austin Meadows was called up to the majors Friday. Meadows, the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2013, finally got his moment in the big leagues when centerfielder Starling Marte was sent to the disabled list with an oblique strain. The 23-year-old recorded 5 hits in 11 at-bats in three games, one of which marked his first major league home run.

Meadow’s call-up was a moment Pirates’ fans were waiting years for. He is ranked second in the Pirates’ prospects, only behind pitcher Mitch Keller, and is ranked 42nd out of all MLB prospects according to MLB.com.

But it isn’t likely Meadows will stay in the big leagues for long. Marte will return from his injury at the end of the week and Meadows will likely be moved back down to the minor leagues. There isn’t room for him as an everyday player on the roster, and benching him could ruin his swing and hurt him in the long run. It makes sense to send him back down and let him continue to get the extra practice.

But what about the fans? They finally got what they wanted and now it’s being taken away. For at least three games and 11 at-bats, the Pirates had their future front and center, and it didn’t disappoint. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Pirates fans, but they may have to wait a little bit longer to find out.

     — Tessa Sayers, for The Pitt News

Stop Horsin’ Around

Justify — a very good, brown-colored horse — won the Preakness Stakes last weekend, bringing him two-thirds of the way to a Triple-Crown win. All that’s left between him and the title is the Belmont Stakes June 9. Fans braved the stunningly disgusting Baltimore weather, mucking around the infield in rainboots and parkas, a few likely exclaiming, “Hold my mint julep!” as they drunkenly belly flopped onto the ground.

Though it’s impressive that Justify pulled out two wins — especially as a horse that hasn’t been racing all too long — but it doesn’t feel all that sparkly. American Pharoah won the crown only three years ago, but before that it had been 37 years since a horse had claimed the prestigious victory.

So, no offense, Justify, but it’s already been done. We already celebrated this — too soon.

     — Jordan Mondell, Senior Staff Writer

Underdogs Undercompensate

With only one club soccer match remaining in the UEFA Champions League Final, World Cup hype is in full swing. Most of the teams competing in this tournament have announced their 23-man rosters or provisional rosters for this summer’s tournament.

England, a drastic underachiever on the world stage, has announced a highly scrutinized roster leaving off countless veterans and experienced players — a clear sign that manager Gareth Southgate is trying to shed the past failures and usher in a new generation for the Three Lions.

This year, he most notably omitted Jack Wilshere and Joe Hart. Wilshere had a good season with Arsenal, unlike Hart’s abysmal campaign with West Ham — and even though Hart holds 100 Premier League clean sheets, and is a joint record holder for the most Premier League Golden Glove awards, Southgate left him off England’s roster as well. Wilshere is not significantly better than any attacking midfielder in England, so he was left off for younger, more appealing options.

Expectations should be low for England this summer, but this changing of the guard should help it to move forward.

     — Stephen Cuddy, Staff Writer

Rock-a-bye Kobe

America’s favorite bickering analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley got into a heated exchange on “Inside the NBA” earlier this month. What started as a discussion on player-coach relationships turned into a personal debate on each of their careers, with O’Neal hilariously declaring, “Google me, Chuck!”

When discussing the relationship between Raptors coach Dwane Casey and star guard Demar Derozan, Barkley claimed that you must maintain a good relationship with your best player to win. O’Neal declared this untrue, citing his disagreements with former Miami Heat coach Pat Riley.

As Barkley proceeded to point out, O’Neal was not the best player on that championship-winning Heat team. In his 14th NBA season, O’Neal was not the dominant player he once was and the young Dwyane Wade was definitely the team’s best player of the year.

But later in the argument Barkley claimed O’Neal only won his championships because he was carried up and down the court by Wade and Kobe Bryant — which is simply untrue. During the Lakers’ three-peat with Bryant and O’Neal, O’Neal put up some of the most dominant stats in NBA finals history to earn three NBA Finals MVPs. He averaged 38.0, 33.0 and 36.3 points, respectively, in those three finals series.

If anything, O’Neal carried Bryant to those rings.

     — Alex Lehmbeck, Staff Writer

49ers Resist Criticism

The assault case against Reuben Foster is one of the most ridiculous stories in this year’s NFL offseason. The San Francisco 49er linebacker was accused of beating his former girlfriend Elissa Ennis, possessing an assault weapon and forcefully attempting to prevent someone from reporting a crime. The details of Ennis’ assault were quite graphic and disturbing — she described being hit eight to 10 times, getting dragged out of the house and even being spit on.

It was a huge plot twist when Ennis revealed in court last Thursday that she made everything up, claiming she wanted to destroy Foster’s football career and sue him for his money. All the injuries she sustained were also allegedly from another fight that occurred a day before the supposed incident. And this isn’t the first time Ennis has done this — she confessed to lying about domestic assault with another former boyfriend in 2011.

This whole case is just bizarre. On a basic level, Ennis lied to try and bring down Foster — only because he wanted to break up with her. It serves as a lesson to not judge so quickly on cases of assault, and after seeing the results of the case, it’s ultimately a positive that the 49ers didn’t fall pressure to this criticism.

     — Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

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