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Hot Button: Rivers sinks in Mexico … Grant to name baby … Baseball Hall ballot

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hot Button is a 'round-the-clock feature that covers anything and everything across the scope of sports, albeit with a constant tilt toward what might most interest Pittsburgh sports fans.

All it needs is you. Let's hear from you down in the comments, including your own contributions to this stream. We'll be right there with you.


Monday 11/18: The perpetual debate about whether or not Philip Rivers is a Hall of Famer has taken a detour nowhere near Canton: Is he close to finished? He threw four more picks -- seven in his past two games -- including the crusher at the end in a 24-17 loss to the Chiefs in Mexico City:

But honestly, the only reason I even bring this up is to share this amazing graphic during the ESPN broadcast illustrating how much higher Mexico City's elevation is than Denver's. -- DK


Monday, 11/18: When former Penguins forward Derek Grant scored a hat trick for the Ducks on Saturday in their 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, he earned more than the admiration of his teammates and a casual mention on ESPN — he earned the right to name his friend's baby.

During a round of golf, his friend bet him that if he scored a hat trick before the baby was born, he would get to name the child. It seemed like a pretty safe bet. Entering Saturday's contest, Grant had 16 career goals in seven NHL seasons.

By the way, this is an excellent idea for naming children. Under this system, Wayne Gretzky would have been able to name 50 children of friends and family. Mario Lemieux would have only gotten to name 40, but would take solace in knowing that his 40 would have far superior two-way games. — Bob


Monday, 11/18: Twins prospect Ryan Costello was found dead of natural causes in New Zealand days before the Australian Baseball League opener. Costello, 23, was set to play his first season with the Auckland Tuatara.


Monday, 11/18: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum released the Baseball Writers' Association of America's full Hall of Fame ballot today for candidates eligible for induction in 2020.

Who ya got? — Bob


Sunday, 11/17: There was yet another blatant pass interference Sunday that was not called and was not penalized after a coach's challenge. It occurred in the Ravens/Titans game as Houston's De'Andre Hopkins was clearly interfered with by the Ravens' Marlon Humprey and which was obvious to everyone from TV analysts to even the most casual observer:

This new challenge rule, on a one-year trial, has been a joke all season and this no-call on review brought out opinions from our own Dale Lolley ...

... and Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy, an unabashed critic of this review process:

This happened in a scoreless game and, as Dungy noted, would have given the Texans a first-and goal at the one — that drive ended on a turnover on downs. Baltimore ended up throttling Houston, 41-7.

Hopkins wasn't shy about sharing his feelings, which will probably bring a fine from the league:

Would you like this challenge rule if it was enforced properly, or is the NFL better off just being rid of it? —Bob


Monday, 11/18: If you want to get caught up on yesterday's action, the league has you covered in 60 seconds, including ... ya know ... Flower saves. — Bob


Sunday, 11/17: MLB Network released its top 100 plays of 2019 on Sunday night. If you're a Pirates fan, well... there's always next year. Still, watch the embedded five-minute condensed video to remember and enjoy the best plays from an exciting season. — Bob


Sunday, 11/17: Retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took to Instagram on Sunday to inform followers that he's making a 'big announcement' on Tuesday.

Multiple choice time. Gronk is going to announce that he's:

a) returning to Wrestlemania in 2020

b) accepted an invitation to be on Dancing with the Stars

c) playing Ivan Drago in a "Rocky IV" remake

d) opening a chain of sports bars with Antonio Brown

e) returning to the Patriots for a playoff run

— Bob


Sunday, 11/17: Jeannette native and free-agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has indicated he wants to be a Pittsburgh Steeler — and only a Pittsburgh Steeler — if he returns to the NFL. He posted his desire to play for his hometown team in two Instagram posts:

Pryor last played in 2018, active in eight games combined for the Bills and Jets, totaling 16 receptions for 252 yards (15.75 ypc) and two touchdowns.

The Steelers made roster moves Saturday to shore up their depleted receiving and running back corps by signing WR Deon Cain and RB Kerrith Whyte Jr.

Should the Steelers give the hometown kid a shot? Is Pryor legit in his plea or does he just see an opportunity on a depleted roster? — Bob


Saturday, 11/16: Colin Kaepernick had his workout ... eventually.

During a day in which Kaepernick and his team abandoned the formal workout set up by the NFL because of grievances — primarily over a lack of media presence and process transparency, they claimed — they set up their own showcase at a local Atlanta high school which was live-streamed.

The NFL released a statement regarding the cancellation of the formal tryout:

Reportedly 24 to 26 teams sent representatives to the formal workout, but due to the late change of venue, it is reported only eight teams' representatives made it to the high school. However, media were present. (The eight teams present are now confirmed as KC, Philly, NYJ, Tenn., Buf., Det. Wash., and SF.)

By many accounts, Kaepernick performed well in the drills. Adam Schefter tweeted the assessment of one NFL executive:

He showed of his arm on several deep throws. here's one:

After the workout concluded, Kaepernick made his final case with a short statement to the media:

Now that Kaepernick's had his workout and showed his skill set — and fared quite well by most accounts — do you think an NFL team will take a chance? — Bob


Sunday, 11/17: Saturday Night Live wasted no time making fun of the Myles Garrett/Mason Rudolph incident in the show's cold open. Kenan Thompson is hilarious as Garrett, acting as an aggrieved party in the President Donald Trump impeachment inquiry. Read Dejan Kovacevic's skit recap and watch the video here.


Sunday, 11/17: USA Baseball lost to Mexico, 3-2, in 10 innings in the final of the Premier 12 tournament in Tokyo on Sunday, missing an opportunity to qualify for Tokyo's  2020 Summer Olympic Games in July. Mexico earned an automatic bid.

The U.S. team got a strong start from Cody Ponce, the AAA-Indianapolis starter the Pirates acquired in the Jordan Lyles trade with the Brewers last July. The 6'6", 25-year-old right-hander pitched five shutout innings against Mexico in the final, giving up three hits and striking out six while walking one.

The U.S. can still qualify for the Olympics, but that tournament is in March, and it's unknown how willing major league teams will be to allow their minor-leaguers to participate in the qualifier during Spring Training.

It would be pretty unfortunate if the U.S. fails to qualify in its national pastime. — Bob


Saturday, 11/16: Andrew McCutchen, all-star human, began Cutch Charity Week on Saturday with a community initiative called "Project Pittsburgh."

McCutchen and community volunteers will support different needs each day, including working with local teens on job preparation, serving meals, visiting sick children, and making home repairs.

Project Pittsburgh runs through next Saturday, Nov. 23. To learn more about the charity and the week's events, visit the Cutch Charity Week website.


Saturday, 11/16: It wasn't a beautiful win, but it was a win nonetheless as Penn State took down Indiana, 34-27, at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Sean Clifford paced the Nittany Lions as he accounted for 234 total yards and three touchdowns. Meadville's Journey Brown rushed for 100 yards and a score for a Penn State team that will head to Columbus for a critical showdown against Ohio State next Saturday. — Jarrod


Saturday, 11/15: Alabama quarterback and Heisman contender Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field and taken to an area hospital for tests on what is reported to be a right hip injury. Tagovailoa was injured with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter, falling awkwardly as he was rolling to his left when he was tackled by two Mississippi State defenders. The Crimson Tide, ranked fifth in the nation, were leading the Bulldogs, 35-7, at the time, and that would end up winning 38-7.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said there would be no further updates until testing is completed.

Tagovailoa was replaced by sophomore Mac Jones. — Bob

Update: The Associated Press is reporting that Tagovailoa is out for the remainder of the year with a hip injury. — Bob


Friday, 11/15: It took 45 years for Bill Russell to finally accept his ring from the Basketball Hall of Fame, but he did so. And the amazing story of how and why he waited so long -- he felt he was undeserving of being the first African-American inducted -- involves Duquesne legend Chuck Cooper, for whom the Dukes' under-construction arena is being named. A must-read for all Duquesne people like me. -- DK


Friday, 11/15: The Duquesne men's basketball team improved to 3-0 with a 58-36 drubbing of the Lipscomb Bisons (1-3) Friday night at La Roche University in McCandless, Pa.

The Dukes had relied heavily on backcourt scoring from Sincere Carry and Maceo Austin in their first two victories, but the front court was instrumental in this one. Forward Marcus Weathers (13 points, 12 rebounds) and center Michael Hughes (10 pts., 10 reb.) each had double-doubles and center Baylee Steele added 13 points and 5 boards off the bench to lead the Dukes past their Atlantic Sun Conference opponent.

Duquesne's defense was equally strong, holding the Bisons to 14 of 48 shooting — including 0 for 18 on threes — and forcing 23 turnovers, while out-rebounding the Bisons 42-33.

The 36 points allowed is the lowest total for a Dukes opponent since March 1980, a 34-33 NIT loss to Saint Peters.

Duquesne now travels to Bimini, The Bahamas for three games in the Junkanoo Jam tournament. Their first contest is Thursday against Indiana State, followed by games Friday against Air Force and Sunday versus Loyola Marymount. All games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Eastern time tip-offs. — Bob


Friday, 11/15: It must have been opposite night Thursday at Heinz Field, as the Pitt Panthers' offense was better than their defense, and they beat ACC Coastal nemesis North Carolina for the first time since joining the conference in 2012, 34-27, in overtime.

It wasn't pretty, as the Panthers (7-3, 4-2) seemed to be running away from the Tar Heels (4-6, 3-4) until their usually stout defense yielded 17 fourth-quarter points to UNC, led by their freshman-phenom quarterback Sam Howell, to force overtime.

Pitt got the ball first in OT and quarterback Kenny Pickett, who had arguably his best game of the season, took command on first-and-goal from the 3:

Howell moved the Tar Heels to the Pitt 11 on their overtime possession, but defensive tackle Jalen Twyman came up with a huge sack on third down to force a fourth-and-16 from the 17-yard-line. Howell's next pass to the end zone was disrupted by Pitt defensive end Deslin Alexandre and fell incomplete short of the goal line, and Pitt escaped with the victory.

Pickett finished 25 of 41 for 359 yards passing with a touchdown, and he ran 12 times for 53 yards and two scores. Sophomore receiver Shockey Jacques-Louis had a breakout performance with four catches for 104 yards, including a 74-yard TD reception.

Pitt's defense gave up 458 total yards, but they still had five sacks, led by Twyman's 2.5 , and lead the FBS with 45. They also totaled 11 tackles for a loss and one interception.

Pitt remains in second place in the ACC Coastal behind Virginia, which holds the tiebreaker due to their 30-14 victory over the Panthers in the first game of the season. To win the division, Pitt will have to win their last two games and hope that Virginia Tech can upset the Cavaliers on Friday, November 29.

Pitt returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 23, on the road against Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2). — Bob

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