First Call: Barry Bonds celebrated, Pirates as spoilers, new 30-for-30s look good |
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Tim Benz picked Barry Bonds' 1992 September performance as the team's best of all time.

In “First Call” Friday, the Pirates look to have an impact. The new 30-for-30 documentaries should be interesting. And the Thursday night tension created by Steve Smith and Michael Irvin is delicious.

It’s Bonds for sure

Over at, they posted the best September performances in the history of each team. For my money, they got it right when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates nomination. They picked Barry Bonds en route to the 1992 division crown.

As the site wrote, Bonds “capped his 1992 NL MVP campaign with an absurdly productive final month. Bonds slashed .392/.537/.833 with 11 homers, 27 RBIs, nine steals and more than twice as many walks (33) as strikeouts (15) as the Pirates went 22-10 after Sept. 1 to win the NL East.”

Other performances the authors mentioned — all of which were spot on — included J.A. Happ in 2015, Gerrit Cole in 2013, and Ralph Kiner in 1949.

I also would’ve added Zane Smith in 1990. He had three complete games and two shutouts. That’s the year he was traded to Pittsburgh and he helped push the Pirates past the Mets for the division crown in the NL East. It was the organization’s first championship of any sort since 1979.

The lefty had an ERA of .059, a batting average-against of .186 and an OBP-against of .210.

Playing their part

While the Pirates may not be in the mix for a playoff spot, they sure are impacting the race.

Having just finished a three-game series against the Cardinals, the Bucs are now opening a weekend set in Milwaukee. The Brewers are also at PNC Park from Sept. 21-23.

So that’s nine total games out of 12 against the two teams currently in Wild Card position for the National League. As of now, the Brewers hold a three-game edge on the Cardinals for home-field advantage in the game.

Also, St. Louis is just a game in front of the Dodgers for the second spot. The Pirates pitch Chris Archer, Ivan Nova, and Trevor Williams in Milwaukee tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.

They might fight

What happens when you put two wide receivers on the set together, and you mix in an unfortunate omission?


That’s Michael Irvin and Steve Smith on Thursday Night Football. Apparently, Irvin forgot about Smith’s time in Baltimore while analyzing the history of Joe Flacco’s wide receivers, and Smith took that personally.

As he does everything else.

The potential for a brawl on live TV exists between these two, and I will cherish the moment.

30 for 30 is back

It looks like there will be some interesting topics on the table in the new ESPN “30 for 30” releases .

On Sept. 20, an episode titled “Seau” is hitting the air. That’s about the life of former linebacker Junior Seau. I’m guessing it’s three hours long, so they can squeeze in all 17 of the tackles he made against the Steelers in the 1994 AFC Championship game while playing with a pinched nerve in his neck.

The “Last Days Knight,” surrounding the fall of Bobby Knight as basketball coach at Indiana is set to be released, too. Hopefully, that is in 3D so you can really feel as if Knight is coming through the screen to personally choke you instead of Neil Reed.

Then there is a yet-to-be titled documentary about Deion Sanders. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be completely classy and understated.

Football slate

A lot of the local college football action is going on at the same time Saturday. And it’s all happening early.

Both Penn State and Duquesne are home at noon. The Nittany Lions host Kent State on FS1. The Dukes tangle with Dayton on AT&T SportsNet, as well as NEC Front Row.

The Pitt game starts at 12:30 p.m. on the ACC Network; Georgia Tech is in town.

West Virginia’s game got postponed because hurricane weather expected to hit the Carolinas. The Mountaineers were supposed to play North Carolina State.


Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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