Take 5 | The Oakland A’s need to relocate, Celtics will win NBA Championship

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s edition of the Take 5, The Pitt News Sports Desk takes a look at college football recruiting in Pennsylvania, the NBA Playoffs and more.

Pennsylvania football recruiting is changing // Kyle Saxon, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi posted a recruiting video to his Twitter page on Monday –– updated to include Pitt’s 2021 ACC Championship. Just hours later, he secured a verbal commitment from the top defensive lineman in Pennsylvania –– four-star prospect Jahsear Whittington.

While the Panthers have consistently developed elite college and NFL talent, they have always been second in local recruiting to their neighbors just a couple of hours to the east –– Penn State. Western Pennsylvania is home to some of the greatest football players of all time, many of whom have attended Pitt. But more recently, the Nittany Lions have tapped into the WPIAL recruiting pipeline more successfully than the Panthers.

Now is the time for Narduzzi to flip that script.

While the brand of Penn State football will never fade, Pitt is poised to seriously contend for another ACC championship in 2022. Winning consecutive conference championships would make a resounding statement to local recruits –– not only does Pitt provide an opportunity to be a hometown hero and play in the NFL, but it also provides a chance to contend for conference and national championships.

Make no mistake –– Narduzzi has recruited extremely effectively in his tenure at Pitt. But continuing to build a winning culture and identity is beginning to take the program to even greater heights on the recruiting trail.

The Oakland Athletics need to relocate to Las Vegas // Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

The Oakland A’s played in front of a record-breaking crowd on Tuesday night — but this wasn’t a record that the A’s wanted to break. Only 3,748 fans made their way into the Oakland Coliseum, setting the record for the lowest attendance at the venue since 1980.

Meanwhile, the A’s minor league affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators, consistently plays in front of sell-out crowds. The team averaged 9,299 fans per game in 2019, which is about 5,500 more fans than what the A’s mustered on Tuesday. The Raiders, who once played in Oakland, also prospered in their new desert home, averaging 94.1% filled stadium in 2021.

It is clear that Oakland is becoming inhospitable for pro sports. The once-mighty Oakland Coliseum now ranks as one of the worst venues in baseball. The A’s continue to push for a new stadium in Oakland, but no real progress has been made on the project. While the A’s suffer in a city on the decline, the Las Vegas sports team prospers. The only logical choice for the A’s is to follow in the Raiders’ footsteps and make the move to Nevada.

Celtics will raise their 18th championship banner in 2022 // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

It may be time for the Celtics to raise their 18th championship banner in TD Garden Arena. The Boston Celtics are currently up two games to none in their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. At this rate, the Celtics will be NBA champions in June.

The Celtics have seemed to successfully defend one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history in Kevin Durant. Durant shot just 31.7% from the field in the first two playoff games versus Boston, way down from his 51.8 marks in the regular season.

With the injuries to Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton being sidelined with injuries, the defending conference champions look less likely to return to the finals. This opens the door for the red-hot Celtics.

It’s still early, but if the Celtics can get out of round one swiftly, they could be on their way to yet another NBA championship.

CC Sabathia was the best trade deadline acquisition in MLB history // Richie Smiechowski, Senior Staff Writer

Midway through the 2008 MLB season, the Cleveland Indians traded their ace starting pitcher CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for three prospects and a player to be named later.

For a half-season in Milwaukee, Sabathia went on the most dominant streak by a starting pitcher in MLB history. He single-handedly carried the Brewers to the playoffs in the second half of the season, beating out the New York Mets by just one game for the lone NL wild-card spot.

In 17 starts with Milwaukee, Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 130.2 innings. Most impressively, he tallied a 4.9 WAR and threw seven complete games — three of which came in successive starts.

Fittingly, Sabathia pitched the postseason clincher for the Brewers, starting on just three days’ rest against the Cubs — a win would give them at least a share of the NL wild card. Sure enough, Sabathia was nearly flawless, throwing his final complete game of the year in a 3-1 victory against their division rival.

There may be more dominant seasons or stretches of form than Sabathia’s campaign with the Brewers — but no trade deadline acquisition has ever changed the course of a team’s season quite like Sabathia’s in 2008.

The Nets aren’t all that // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

It feels like this entire NBA Season has been a waiting game for the Brooklyn Nets — waiting for guard Kyrie Irving to come back after New York City wouldn’t allow him to play due to his vaccination status, and now waiting for them to kick it into gear after his return.

Maybe they just aren’t that good.

People have placed expectations on the Nets due to their star power with Irving along with the generational forward Kevin Durant — and rightly so. That expectation comes with the territory of being a superteam.

But at the end of the day, the better team almost always wins in the NBA, and that’s the reality of the situation when it comes to their series with the Boston Celtics. The Nets have been thoroughly outplayed through two games, and there’s no indication that this theme will change as the series flips to Brooklyn.

It’s easy to blame head coach Steve Nash and say that he is the reason for the underperformance, given the team’s overflow of talent. But there’s only so much that a coach can do when he has to shuffle around the lineups on a nightly basis due to the Irving situation and guard Ben Simmons, who just can’t seem to find his way back onto the floor.

It just isn’t working for the Nets.