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First Call: Cameron Hayward’s Practical Look at Acrisure Stadium’s Name Change; Pirates are heading to Colorado

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On Friday’s First Call, Steelers captain Cameron Hayward spoke about Heinz Field’s new name. The former Penn State star has little time to escape the franchise label. The Pirates will miss a meeting with a former teammate at Course Field.

And Jaromir Jagr wants NHL teams to know he still has a game.


Hayward on Heinz

Former offensive captain Ben Roethlisberger posted an emotional reaction after the Steelers sold the naming rights to Heinz Field to Acrisure this week.

On his new ESPN podcast, “Not Just Football,” defensive captain Cameron Hayward took the news more pragmatically.

“I don’t really attach much importance to it,” Hayward said. “Because as much as I like to call it ‘Heinz Field’, Heinz Field was not created by a name. It was done because of the memories. This was done because you had to watch Ben (Roethlisberger) and AB (Antonio Brown). Perfect extension. It was done by watching such great plays. … Memories and plays – that’s what created Heinz Field. Not the real Heinz Field.

Hayward said that in time fans would not care about the name on the outside of the stadium.

“I’m sure there will be some nickname they give to Acrisure Stadium, like ‘Sure Stadium’ or something like that. Or there will be some catchy way to say it,” Hayward continued. “It’s not like we’re playing somewhere else. This is where you guys always go to watch the game. We will still thump. You will still hear “Renegade”. You will still get up from your seats and worry in December, in January. These things don’t change. That’s the name guys.

Hayward held it incumbent on fans not to give up just because they don’t like corporate sponsorship.

“I get, ‘Oh, it would be great to (still) call this place Heinz Field and we’ll miss the big ketchup bottles that drop on landing.’ But Acrisure better go with that fire because we’re going to make sure we’re also doing our job,” Hayward said.

I can’t help but agree, Cam. The Steelers’ first regular season test at the Sure takes place on September 18 against the New England Patriots.


Un-Kul

As of now, the Pirates have no plans to face former teammate Chad Kool during an upcoming three-game trip to Denver.

The Colorado right-hander of the Rockies pitched in the fifth inning during Wednesday’s 10-6 victory over the San Diego Padres. He allowed seven hits, three earned runs and four walks, dropping just two batters.

Kuhl’s ERA went up to 4.11. In early May, it was at 1.86. Even at the beginning of June it was only 3.17. But Kuhl has only hit the sixth inning twice in his last eight starts.

Instead, the Rockies will start the series by passing German Marquez (5-6, 5.66 ERA) on Friday. José Urena (0:1, 2.66) gets called up on Saturday. The Pirates will play against Jose Quintana (2-4, 3.59) and Mitch Keller (3-6, 4.88), respectively.

Neither team has a starting lineup for Sunday’s game, according to MLB.com.


Ready to rock

The grid for the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday night in Los Angeles has been determined. New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso (23 home runs) is second on the list for a third straight crown. The Derby champion faces back-to-back seed Ronald Acuna Jr. (eight home runs). This will be a rematch in the second round of the 2019 Home Run Derby. Alonso beat Homer by eliminating Acuna en route to his first Derby win.

National League home run leader Kyle Schwarber (28 homers) takes first place in the tournament and will take on future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. He is the No. 8 seed. Pujols has only six home runs this season. But this is likely his last year in MLB, and it feels more like career recognition than anything else for the longtime St. Louis Cardinals star.

Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seeger (21 homers) and Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez (15 homers) will go head-to-head in a 3-6 matchup. The 4-5 bout is between Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto (19 homers) and Cleveland Guardians all-star Jose Ramirez (17 homers).


Label! You are

The deadline for players with NFL franchise tags to sign long-term contracts with their current teams is July 15. It doesn’t look like a deal between the Dolphins and tight end Mike Gesicki is going to happen.

Under the terms of the contract, former Pennsylvania State player Nittany Lion will earn $10.9 million. Last season, he set records for receptions (73) and yards (780).

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the redesigned extension doesn’t look good.

The same fate awaits Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, who is also set to play on the franchise’s tag. Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku signed a four-year, $56.75 million contract in May to stay off the tag.


Jagr has jokes!

Earlier this week, I saw this tweet from former penguin Jaromir Jagr and thought it was a good way to end our last “First Call” before a long vacation.

It looks like the 50-year-old goalscorer is dreaming of making a name for himself in the NHL free-agent ring.

Jagr still plays for HC Kladno. It is a Czech Extraliga franchise that he also owns. And if he’s looking for a quarterback, the Penguins currently have nine players. Maybe he and Ron Hextall can agree.

Tim Benz is a staff columnist for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise noted.


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