Q: Hey, Dejan. Hope your weather is better than the cold in Torino. Do you like the Pirates' chances in the traditional opener against Manatee Community College, including the ping bats?
Doc Emrick of St. Clair, Mich.
KOVACEVIC: There will be no ping today, my friend. Only the pure stuff from trees. Alas, the hated Manatees are forced to compete with wood, as if they were not already at a great enough disadvantage.
For the record, I am boldly forecasting a Pittsburgh victory here, and I will make Wilbur proud by citing statistics to back my contention:
The Pirates have won seven consecutive meetings against the Manatees.
Those once-again overmatched Manatees were crushed, 12-0, last year and failed to muster so much as a basehit until out in the sixth.
Nate McLouth, who went 3 for 3 in the previous clash, is back for the favorites. Meanwhile, many Manatees no doubt have fled through graduation.
By the way, for those who do not know, Mike "Doc" Emrick is the esteemed hockey play-by-play man for NBC during the Olympics, for OLN on nationally televised NHL games and for the New Jersey Devils in his day job. He also happens to be a long-time and frighteningly knowledgeable Pirates fan dating to childhood. Next time you see him at the Arena, give him a tip of the cap.