The thousands of fans in Steeler Nation are most concerned today over the condition of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — seriously injured Monday in a motorcycle accident that the coaching staff and his teammates have feared might possibly happen. Naturally everyone is worried about Big Ben’s health and welfare, but most people also are aware that coach Bill Cowher had lectured him about this dangerous hobby for a pro football quarterback — especially on the dangers of riding without a helmet, which he preferred to do.

Most fans are aware that Big Ben became the youngest quarterback in history to lead his team to a Super Bowl title back in February. Now fans have to hope and pray that Roethlisberger might make a complete recovery and be able to continue to play football again in the future — if not in 2006. Based on the early diagnosis of his injuries, it seems a full recovery might be made. ...

Perhaps there is no reason for us to worry, but we’ve been told that North Marion’s football numbers, as in bodies, will be way, way down this fall. Last year’s Husky varsity numbered in the mid-30s and a number of those players were seniors. ... We’ve even heard that some youngsters, not wishing to play the gridiron sport, have purposely let their grades fall below the eligibility line. Hmmmm. ... Hard-working Husky coach Gerry White produced a state championship team out there just a few years back. ...

East Fairmont graduate David Carpenter is now down in Florida, in extended spring training with the St. Louis Cardinal rookies. He will be playing in another week or so in Williamsport, Pa., in the New York-Penn rookie league. So West Virginia will be looking for another catcher for the 2007 season. Wouldn’t it be great to see Carpenter advance to major league status in a couple of years? They tell me he has quite an arm. ...

Tell me, now. Would you ever have picked Ian Snell from the Pirates’ five starting pitchers to become the team ace? But Snell’s 7-3 record is quite impressive on a ball club 14 games below .500. Zack Duke led the Pirates in victories last year with eight. ...The Pirates are finally playing some good baseball and could pass a team or two if they keep it up. ...

Jeremy Burnitz, who left 11 Pirates base runners stranded while going 0-5 in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Giants, was one of the league’s most feared left-handed batters a few years back. In 1999 he was the National League’s most productive left-handed hitter. Burnitz had 38 home runs and 125 RBIs for the Milwaukee Brewers. He batted .283 that year. ...

Still can’t believe all the perks future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens is receiving from the Houston Astros.

He’s scheduled to make nearly $3.7 million — a month, that is, and not a season. That projects to about $650,000 a start. And he doesn’t travel except on days he is pitching. Of course that’s nothing new. He had that deal last year. Bet his teammates, who are “forced” to travel with the team, love that. ... Clemens will be 44 years old in August. ...

J.R. House, the former Nitro quarterback star and Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand who was a backup quarterback for WVU last fall, is leading the Texas League in batting with a .346 average. He might be up with the Astros before this season is over. ... House caught Clemens in his sparkling performance for Corpus Christi Sunday night in the second of three tune-ups before joining Houston next week. Clemens struck out 11 and allowed only two hits in six innings. Who knows? He may ask the Astros to provide him House as his regular catcher. ...

There was an unusual triple play pulled off by Kansas City in a losing effort against Tampa Bay Sunday. It was scored 8-1-6-5, or from the center fielder to the pitcher, to the shortstop to third base. “I’ve never seen a triple play quite like that,” said K.C. manager Buddy Bell, who has been involved in professional baseball since 1970. ...

Pedro Martinez is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Can you believe his victory Sunday for the Mets over Arizona was his first since April 28. He won five in a row and then went almost six weeks without a victory. His record is 6-2. ...

We know everyone is picking on Shaq for his miserable foul shooting in the NBA finals. But come on now. Don’t you think your grandmother might be lucky enough to hit on better than two of 16, as he has done as Miami has fallen to an 0-2 deficit against the Mavericks. The 300-plus pound Shaquille O’Neal certainly looked out of place sitting on the Miami Heat bench for extended periods of Sunday’s game.

E-mail John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.

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