Best (and Worst) of Pittsburgh
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Best Pittsburgh Sports Talker: Joe Starkey of ESPN 1250's Saturday-morning show features coherent, relevant sports talk; humor that doesn't insult your intelligence, and substantive interviews with people who actually have something to say and are worth listening to. That's not the usual local formula for sports talk radio, which tends more toward bluster and foolishness. Starkey's is the softer, saner voice on your radio dial. Call it sports talk that isn't a waste of time. Who knew? - B.M.
Best Image Reversal: Santonio Holmes getting busted for possession of three marijuana-filled cigars - a.k.a. blunts - outside Mellon Arena in the middle of pro-football season isn't usually the way Steelers players endear themselves to the masses. Even when it turned out that the police only stopped the Steelers wide receiver because his car resembled one they were looking for that was involved in a major drug deal and even when it was revealed that Holmes cooperated with police, he still wasn't out of the woods with fans. But then in Super Bowl XLIII, he made nine catches for 131 yards, including four on the final drive that he ended with a spectacular toe-tapping catch in the end zone to win the game. In June, police dismissed the charges against him, something Steelers fans had done four months earlier. - B.M.
Best Unusual Sporting Event: Forget the glamour of low-slung Indy cars or NASCAR racers swathed in sponsorships. For aficionados of real high-speed action, there's only one true mow-tor sport: Lawnmower racing. At Shadetree Center, five miles east of Butler off Route 422 in Butler County, riding mower racers come together on a variety of weekends to test their skills on the dirt oval. Believe it or not, lawnmower racing has its own national organization, the USLMRA (U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association) and televised national competitions. For more information, visit shadetreecenter.com or the forums at heymow.com and search for "shadetree." - J.W.
Best Pittsburgh Athlete With Real Pittsburgh Roots: Yeah, we're the City of Champions, all right, only isn't it funny that most of those champions aren't really tied to the city except by a paycheck? That's the nature of professional sports, of course, which is why it's nice that every once in a while, the city produces a true local champion. So it was this past winter when DeJuan Blair - from Schenley High School and the Hill District - became a dominant force in college basketball and led Pitt to a 31-5 season and a trip to the Elite Eight. After two seasons, it was inevitable that he'd head on to the National Basketball Association, which means he won't be representing a Pittsburgh team ever again. But, wherever he goes, we know he'll add a unique Pittsburgh flavor. - Bill Modoono
Best Place to Relive the Glory Days: Pittsburgh's been accused of living too much in the past, and I suppose we're guilty as charged - with one notable exception. When it comes to sports, there's no time like the present in Pittsburgh. Just ask Cleveland. Still, if you'd like to remember back to the days when Pirates played in Oakland and Steelers fans enlisted in Franco's Italian Army, the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at Heinz History Center is your place. Want to see quick video synopses of the Steelers' first five Super Bowl victories with all the boring parts left out? Catch a glimpse of Mario Lemieux when he was young? It's all here. Just wander through. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/454-6000, heinzhistorycenter.org. - B.M.
Readers Poll: Sports
Best Local Athlete: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins penguins.nhl.com
Best Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers steelers.com
Best Coach: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers steelers.com
Best Sporting Goods: Dick's Sporting Goods dickssportinggoods.com
Best Stadium: PNC Park 115 Federal St., North Shore 412/321-2827; tickets: 800/289-2827, pittsburghpirates.mlb.com
Best Play of the Year: Santonio Holmes' Super Bowl touchdown catch. steelers.com
Readers Poll: News Media
Best News Team: Sally Wiggin and Mike Clark WTAE-TV
Best Local Writer: Gene Collier Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Best Morning Drive Team: "WDVE Morning Show" with Jim Krenn and Randy Baumann 102.5 WDVE-FM
Worst Sports "Oops!": Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates' signing two contestants from an Indian reality show to minor-league contracts will turn out to be a brilliant idea. Maybe it's just the kind of outside-the-box thinking the Buccos need to demonstrate in order to be competitive again. Maybe. Until then, however, it just seems like a dumb, desperate idea, which feels dumber and more desperate because it was made by the Pirates. Here's hoping they get the last laugh. Here's thinking they won't. - B.M.
Worst Traffic Light: The Pittsburgh version of "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" might be "(I Downright Hate) Route 28." Nowhere is that traffic torture-fest more irritating than at the traffic light near St. Nicholas Church. Why? We asked Jim Lokay, KDKA-TV's morning traffic and transportation reporter. "What makes it the worst? Well, it's in the middle of a major highway, for one," Lokay says. But there's hope, according to Lokay, who says there are plans to get rid of the light in the next couple of years. Imagine the honks of joy. Jim Lokay is seen weekdays 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. on KDKA-TV, and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on the CW Television Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @jimlokay. - J.W.
Worst Local Highway to Rubberneck On: Any of them! Aren't our parkways and tunnels enough to deal with? Are fender-benders and disabled cars really that mesmerizing? You know who you are. We see you in front of us, looking right, looking ahead, looking right, looking ahead, your bright-red brake lights taunting us. We'd like to invent ShoulderLane TV just for you so you could get your fix of side-of-the-road kicks. We have places to go, people. Put your blinders on and move it. - J.W.
Worst Time to Forget Your Towel: New Year's Day morning. Well, that is, if you're a member of the Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club and you've decided to join the faithful for a relaxing dip in the well-chilled Mon. The 2009 event featured hundreds of brave souls who jumped into 38-degree water and re-emerged (most of them very quickly) into 18-degree air. This is no time to ask if you can borrow a towel. donnan.com/Pittsburgh-PolarBears.htm. - J.W.
Readers Poll: Worst Of
Worst Publicity Stunt: When Luke Ravenstahl temporarily changed his last name to "Steelerstahl" when the Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens.
Worst Intersection: Routes 51 and 88 in the South Hills.
Worst Sports News: Bill Cowher rooting against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Worst Decision Made by a Politician: Luke Ravenstahl's garbage can campaign.
Worst Eyesore: Route 51.
Worst Loss to the Local Dining Scene: Richard Chen in EastSide District, East Liberty.