Monday, December 03, 2007

Steelers 24 Bungles 10

The face the most overrated player in the NFL is making on the right there pretty much sums up the Bungles past couple years. After the Bungles won the division and had their only winning season in the last 16 (we can't stop here, this is Pirate Country...) in the 05 - 06 season, the Steelers knocked them out in the Wild Card round in Cinnci. Last year, week 17, with nothing to play for sans pride, the Steelers knocked off the Bungles in Pittsburgh when the Bungles could've made the playoffs with a win. Two years ago I said they were a flash in the pan, all the while the media has picked them to either win the division or make the playoffs the past two seasons since. Well I'm here to tell you what the two of you reading this already know, the Bungles fucking blow.
Despite getting off to a slow start as usual on both offense and defense the Steelers righted the ship in the 2nd quarter with 17 points (Ben TD run, Ben to Ward TD catch). The Steelers added a TD in the 3rd, while the Bungles, despite scoring a TD on a long 12 play drive to start the game, only managed 3 more points the rest of the way. This was due to a combination of stout Steelers D, Carson Palmer doing his best statue impression in the pocket, and his overrated WR core probably shooting up in celebration after the first drive (don't pretend like that would actually surprise you).

Does anyone out there actually believe that Carson Palmer is better than Ben at this point? I mean really, what could you possibly say at this point to defend Palmer. "He's a QB that will kill teams with bad pass defenses and poor pass rushers. When he has to face a good team, he normally throws arrant passes and can't move out of the pocket to save his life. He's never shown up for big game in his life to tell you the truth." If someone would like to refute any of those statements be my guest. Under a perfect situation, in a bubble with no pass rush Palmer is probably a better QB. But in all honesty what does that even fucking count for? I could be a major league center fielder if it weren't for the pitcher throwing in the mid-90's and tossing a smorgasbord of breaking and off speed stuff. Ben is the kind of QB that can do most everything and simply takes what the defense gives him. The first TD run for Ben last night is an excellent example. Despite his shaky start throwing the ball last night (high and wobbly leading to his first pick and several incomplete passes) he settled down and began throwing strikes like he is capable of. Carson Palmer was 17/44 (38%) with no TD's or INT's. Ben was 21/32 (66%) with 2 TD's and 2 INT's. Let's face it despite the picks, Ben had a much better game than Palmer hands down.

Now to the big story of the night, our boy Hines Ward passing HOF John Stallworth for 1st all time on the Steelers TD receptions list with 64 TD receptions. A hard nosed football player that catches almost everything thrown to him no matter what part of the field or where the ball is thrown. Hines is more or less the polar opposite of Johnson. A non-flashy possession receiver who blocks hard and normally celebrates his TD's with a smile and maybe giving the ball to a fan (or mocking some loud mouth on the other team). I love the guy, Pittsburgh loves the guy, how could you not love the guy as a football player. Just an all around great player.

How good are the Steelers really though? Well we only have to wait till Sunday to find out...

Up From the 36 Chambers...

Well I suppose I'll give this another shot. I've been working for several months and have time to post now and then I suppose. I don't really know how to get people to read this or anything but it's cool.

Anyway, the thing I've been focusing my pent up rage on of late is the decline of the NFL's, well I don't know how to put this, sportsmanship. I'm all for normal celebrations and getting physced for a good play, but let's face it this shit is getting fucking ridiculous. To see some 3rd team, special teams scrub make a routine tackle on kickoff or punt coverage and jump around like he just stopped the runner and the 1 foot from scoring the game winning touchdown in XLII is getting absurd. Who is ok'ing this type of behavior out of grown men. ESPN and other media outlets only enable this type of behavior because the more ridiculous the celebration the more times it is played. The NFL has attempted to curb the antics of the big bitch Chad Johnson and team killer TO by not allowing props. Newsflash, you know how much these clowns get paid, why not threaten them with a fine / suspension that will actually hurt them. Not the typical 5 to 10k slap on the wrists. Or even better why not hand out more personal fouls for these spectacles and hurt the team that game, that might encourage Marvin Lewis to take control of his players a bit more. I love how the talking heads dub this as "entertainment" instead of stating how completely unacceptable their celebrations are. What does this tell some little 10 year old, just starting to play football how to act when he get's in the endzone for this first time. Maybe he'll pull out a teddy bear and ride it around the end zone. I'll be honest not only would I not want Chad Johnson on the Steelers because he drops many passes, bitches at his QB, is afraid to go over the middle, and is a fucking pussy, but also because he acts like an idiot. I'd find it embarrassing a player on my team that has 6 TD's total this season goes to the sideline on week one and puts on a NFL HOF jacket. WHO DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS? He's dreaming if he thinks he'll even sniff the HOF. The look on Oucho Fucko's face after it dawned on him he was a good 5 yards short of a 1st down on 4th and long last night was priceless. i also loved that whenever Carson Palmer misses a throw Johnson looks at him like he just killed his snake (he seems like the type with a pet snake...). Yet when Johnson drops passes, which is fairly often especially when he hears foot steps a comin', I don't see the same look on Palmers' face... I also love when Johnson and the Sand Man (Huhmanzada, I don't care to look up how to spell his name I fucking hate the guy, what's up with wearing a terrible towel before the game? Thanks for the money you fucking tool.) double team Palmer on the sidelines practically yelling at the guy. Palmer just has a look on his face to the extent of, "what the hell did I do to deserve this shit?" The inmates truly do run the asylum in Cinnci. Where are the coaches? Put a leash on this guy for christsakes. As the old saying goes, "act like you've been there before." I'll never forget when Anthony Smith made his 1st INT vs the Panthers last year and decided to high step it out of bounce. Dick LeBeau immediately came over and shook the shit out of him. At least someone still fucking get's it. I love Dick LeBeau, why isn't he in the HOF, he's only #8 on the all time INT list... Not to mention he came up with the zone blitz... yeah it's bullshit I know.

This is half the reason I've started to like hockey more than football over the past 2 seasons. In hockey no matter how spectacular the goal, the reaction typically involves one or multiple of the following: Fist pump, stick raise, team huddle celebration, banging on the glass, and/or some form of yelling. These could be more extreme with a game winning goal sure, but they don't touch anything that comes after the typical special teams tackle in the NFL. The best hockey player in the world never puts down opponents or celebrates like a fucking idiot after he bends the space time continuum to score. Not to mention Sidney Crosby has indeed been there many times before and will probably be there more times than anyone else before his career is over.

Is this a comment on the state of each game or rather the type / quality of people playing the sport, I can't really answer that. I couldn't even guess what public sentiment on the subject is either. I know some people do indeed find this shit "entertaining" or else ESPN wouldn't glorify it the way they do. If I had to guess it's probably split somewhere in the middle between both. I just thank God that the Steelers don't have anyone who acts like Ocho Stinko or TO because that is the day I say goodbye to football...

Monday, March 12, 2007


As Cosmo Kramer once said, "Here's to feelin' good all the time." I can't really describe how I'm feeling right now. I'm still in the middle of that test I posted about earlier and I know I'm going to be up all night cause I can't focus whatsoever right now. In case you don't know what I'm talking about KDKA and the PG have both reported a deal is done and will be announced before OUR Pens meet the Sabres tomorrow night at the Igloo. This is more of a relief than anything else. I can't wait to move back to the city from South Carolina in May. I can't wait to start my new job downtown. And most of all I can't wait to get my Pens season tickets next fall and be in the seats for all 41 home games watching every move Sid, Geno, and Jordan make. Along with every breathe taking save the Flower makes in goal. This has been a dark cloud over me all semester up until this point and I'm just so happy this is all over. I'll do a post on the specifics of the deal when they come available, but who cares right now!


Quick Update

Quick arena news update for anyone living under a rock since last Thursday.... Things went well, about as well as things could've gone with out announcement saying, "The deal is done." A joint statement was issued saying that significant progress was made and they would meet again this Wednesday. I heard that they wanted to meet sooner but some schedules wouldn't allow it. The Lemieux group was also suppose to meet with AEG over the weekend who runs the Sprint Center in KC and that didn't happen. AEG was supposedly "upset" over the progress made on Thursday (fucking blood suckers). Honestly what city builds an arena then tries to steal other cities teams, it's beyond me. I can't wait till KC either gets an expansion team so they suck and no one will go or they get the Preds from Nashville and people will stop going once this odd sport on ice loses its novelty.

Hopefully, this will all be over Wednesday. It better be over by my spring break or I just won't be able to enjoy myself on the cruise I'm going on. Anyway I have a delightful strategic management test to work on. I'll update after the meeting on Wednesday where hopefully we'll all have some good news. I could use some.

PS -- Thanks to Joey Porter's Pit Bulls for the link to my barely sensible rambling from last Thursday.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bradenton Report

"The biggest mistake any team can make is to base decisions on what they see in spring training."

"The most meaningless month of the year in baseball is March."

These quotes sum up what can be learned from watching some spring training games. I couldn't agree more, however I just returned from Bradenton and thought I'd write up a report on the boys of summer.

My main focus during the trip was to check out McCutcheon and some of the young pitchers. I attended three Pirates games and went to Pirate City to watch some workouts every morning.

Sunday I arrived at Pirate City and viewed McCutcheon taking batting practice on one of the fields while the Pirates played a B game against the Reds. The team had McCutcheon in a hitting group that included Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Ronny Paulino. I view this as the team trying to get McCutcheon as much experience with the big guys as possible. So he sees the example that Bay and Wilson and Sanchez can provide as to what it takes to succeed in the major league. He sprayed balls acorss the field displaying his ability to go with a pitch or drive one depending on the situation. In the games McCutcheon looked fairly comfortable at the plate, displaying his good eye and speed in the field as he stole a few bases. He does not seem to be ready for the big leagues yet, but he is only 20 and one more season in the minor leagues can't hurt.

I watched Sean Burnett throw a bullpen session at Pirate City and then was brought into the game to pitch. I was standing behind some scouts with radar guns and Burnett rarely topped 88-89 on his fastball, but was solid with his changeup, which registered at 79-80. Burnett also looked shakey in the game, but got out of his inning with minimal damage. I don't think Burnett will be up with the team this year unless he can prove that he can stay consistent in spotting his fastball and proves he won't be flustered on the mound. I think he still has work to do until he breaks spring with the team.Yoslan Herrera also pitched for the Pirates in one game, and I was very excited to watch him throw. It is obvious that he hasn't pitched in a while, as his delivery was inconsistent, his delivery point kept changing, and he bounced a few pitches in front of the mound. I definitely think Herrera can help the Pirates in the future, but he definitely needs some time in the minors to become more consistent with his velocity and his control. His breaking pitch looked nasty and got a couple people to swing right through it. It was good to see what he has to offer and I hope we see him towards the end of this season or at the begining of the 2008 season.

LaRoche didn't show me much, but like I said earlier, it's only March. Duke and Snell both looked solid in the starts they made, with Snell striking out 7 in three innings, and Duke pitching a perfect 2 innings before giving up a few runs in Toronto. His fastball was popping the mitt, and was getting people on his curveball they he did in 2005. I look for Duke to have a rebound year and post 12-15 wins, 7-9 losses, with an ERA in the low 4's. I think his main focus should be getting out of the first inning this year without giving up runs. If Duke can do this he has a shot to be the leading pitcher on this team.

A scary event occured when Sanchez was rolled into by Rod Barajas of the Phillies. We heard he tore his ACL, but later was corrected to be a sprained knee. This raised the question as to whether or not Sanchez's legs could withstand playing second base. A top Pirates official was sitting next to me and seemed visibly angry that Sanchez was playing second due to the nature of the position and the possiblity of injury. However, today the Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates will not use Sanchez's injury to sway their decision of who our starting infield will be.

Overall I had a great time in sunny Florida, and hope to return next year. The Buccos still have lots of work to do and there still some spots open for players to make the team. Michael Ryan and Don Kelly were a big surprise as both started and got at least 2-3 at bats in all the games I went to. If the team is taking an extended look at them it will be a surprise, as Eldred and others are vying for a final roster spot. Until next time!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is This It?

Are these the only penguins we are going to be seeing in Pittsburgh from now on? At the fucking zoo? Granted they are pretty damn cute, but I'll take Sid and the kids any day. OK, I'll admit it, I'm kind of worried. When the Pens said they'd come to an impasse in the negotiations on Monday, I was pretty fucking shocked. In fact I was so shocked I spit coffee all over my keyboard, mouse and screen. But really do I think the Pens are leaving, no (although I haven't been able to sleep at all since I heard the news and have been popping Ambien like M & M's).

The NHL, a niche league, which I'm relatively sure everyone can agree on (when hockey has a lower rating than womens softball I would call it a niche sport). A league on the second year after a debilitating lockout. How could they allow this to go this far? Pittsburgh is the US city with the 2nd biggest hockey fan base (next to Buffalo according to recent TV ratings). How could this league allow our team, which is supported to the tune of 96% attendance, leave for a place like KC when hockey is already struggling in other such nontraditional hockey markets (Nashville and Florida).

Having it be OUR TEAM is the biggest deal to me. This group of players is destined to win Stanley's Cup in the very short future. Our team has possibly the greatest player in the sport's (or any other sport for that matter) history playing for it as we speak. And don't think the NHL can weasel it's way back in a couple year from now with some shitty expansion team. Thanks, but no fucking thanks. That would be like someone coming into your home ripping the xbox360 from the TV and coming back in two year with a Nintendo. Not fucking cool. I won't go to a game the NHL and the "new" Penguins can go straight to Hell.

It seems the sides negotiating this fiasco have let their egos get the best of them. This deal just needs to get done. I'm sick of thinking about this. I'm sorry, I was going to outline the entire situation and bitch and give my opinion, but I'm really at my wits end here. It makes me feel ill thinking about our Pens leaving the city I love so much. I can't study, I can't focus on anything else right now. I'm pretty sure they won't leave, but I'm worrying myself sick none the less.

Thursday all parties plus Gary Betman the NHL Commissioner are meeting in Philly (ironic) to decide our team's fate. D-Day so to speak. I haven't prayed in a long time but it might be around that time. If you have time please call these number to give local poloticos and the NHL a view of what this feels like and what the fans are going through. PLEASE BE POLITE. Blowing up on someone's secretary will get you no where. The NHL office is especially nice. Threaten the politicians with your votes and support.

Dan Onorato - 412 350 6500
Ed Rendell - 717-787-2500
Ravenstahl - 412 255 2626

IF IN THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH PLEASE CALL THE MAYORS HOTLINE: 311 -- this is only for people in the city.

NHL Offices: (212) 789-2000


Friday, February 23, 2007

Cuban Linx

Today I'd like to take a more in-depth look at the two Cuban pitchers signed by the Pirates in the offseason, Yoslan Herrera, 26, and Serguey Linares, 23.

Littlefield and his crew decided to get involved in the international players market. The signing of Yoslan Herrera, Serguey Linares, and Masumi Kuwata(Japan), shows that the Pirates are willing to get into the foreign market, even if this is merely for show. I am hopeful that the signings of these two Cubans is a herald of good news for fans. The Pirates seriously lag behind other teams in scouting in Latin America and other parts of the world. If they are finally going to commit to signing some young Latinos, the Pirates will be able to replensish a depleted minor league system.

Lets look at Yoslan Herrera. Despite having not pitched for almost three years, Herrera is a very intriguing pitcher. He played in the 2004 Olympics and won a Gold Medal with the Cuban team. He is 6 foot 2, 200 pounds and throws a fastball(88-92), a plus split-finger, a changeup, a curveball, and a slider. Scouts say his velocity could jump to 90-94 once he gets into a consistent training and throwing program. Here are some quotes about Herrera.

"Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as Linares, but seemed to handle himself just fine in the tryout. His fastball was sitting between 90 and 92, and the DSL Devil Rays, who served as the whipping boys for this exhibition, were helpless against his breaking ball" - jhelfgott

"He throws strikes. That's the big thing. He has a lot of good pitches, but he knows how to locate them." Rene Gayo, scout who signed Herrera

Yoslan Herrera has the talent to play at the pro level, and will start the season, most likely, in AAA Indianapolis. He could be called up, however, if any starter or reliver goes down with an injury in the first part of the season. I expect him to be making an impact around August.

Next we will look at Serguey Linares. Linares, also a Cuban, is 23 and has been reported to throw his fastball from 97-98 miles per hour. He is six-foot-three 225 pounds, and also has sat out for sometime, a year, without pitching competitively. He will probably start the season at AA Altoona. Linares' numbers, 7-10 5.59 ERA in 37 games, with an 86/111 BB/K ratio in 162 2/3 innings. Not much else is know about this guy other than that he throws the ball very hard and very aggressively, and was the best and most highly touted Cuban pitcher at a workout in the Dominican Republic for Cuban defectors, also attended by Yoslan Herrera. Despite throwing bullets, he has little control of his pitches, unlike Herrera. However with a regular throwing schedule and Major League caliber coaches, he may be able to learn to harness his power and throw strikes.

To sum it all up, these two pitchers are low-risk, high-reward type players, and it is good to see the Pirates finally deposting money somewhere other than Nuttings bank account. I look forward to seeing how these guys progress, and I'm hopeful, to see them pitch in Pittsburgh sometime in the next few years. Linares is looked at with more reward since he is 3 years younger than Herrera, so look for him to break into the Majors in either 2008 or 2009. I would guess that Yoslan Herrera will start in AAA and could be up as soon as this season if he is successful and one of our starters goes down. But he will probably make his debut in either September, as a call-up, or in April of 2008.

3 Reasons to be Optimistic

I thought since we've had 14 years of negativity I would post my 3 reasons why we can be optimistic about this season. I will let you post the reasons to be pessimistic in the comments section.

1. The Pirates were over .500 in the second half of last season winning 35 games and losing 33. If they continue over from the end of last year, we should believe that they can play competitive baseball. The Pirates were also over .500 for the first time in the history of PNC Park. I don't mean to sound like .500 is the goal, however playing around .500 is good enough to fight to get into the playoffs as we've seen in the past few seasons. Making the playoffs is the goal, not playing .500.
2. The Pirates pitchers have progressed and Maholm, Duke, and Snell have all had a full season in the majors and learned what they need to do to be successful at the top level. Gorzelanny got some starts as well, and is a lock for a position in the rotation. If these pitchers all pitch the way we know they are capable of pitching, they could help lead the Pirates to a winning season.
3. The addition of Adam LaRoche to the lineup should provide some much needed pop to a flat offense. The Pirates were last in the league in runs scored per game last season and to be successful they must improve their offense. The addition of LaRoche, the continued development of our young players, and consistency from Bay and Sanchez should provide a boost to the offense.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can we Win in These (or Anything for That Matter)?

I haven't wrote anything on the Rats since Bob and I have started this thing back up because I'm both obsessed with the Pens and Bob does quite a bit of writing on the Rats. Anyway I thought I should give my two cents on the state of the Pirates (and holy God look at those alternate jerseys I mean who could've possibly have come up with these. They are just as bad if not worse than the Braves alternates), now unquestionably the worst pro sports team in town!

Alright now let's get something straight right off the bat here, I by no means hate the Pirates. I call them the Rats, make fun of them constantly, and have little to no confidence in the team, but I still love them. I guess they are kind of like a girl that you really want to break up with but you just can't pull that trigger. I'm just fed up with the losing as everyone else is I'm sure, they are still however my favorite baseball team.

Ok let's check out the lineup Bob brought up a couple weeks back:

His Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Sanchez 2B
3.(R) Bay LF
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Nady RF
6.(R) Paulino C
7.(R) Bautista 3B
8.(R) Wilson SS

Tracy's Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Wilson SS
3.(R) Sanchez 3B
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Bay LF
6.(R) Nady RF
7.(R) Paulino C
8.(R) Castillo 2B

I'll be honest with you, I'm ready to hire Bob as the next Pirates skipper. I can't really understand Tracy's line-up. Jack Wilson just isn't a #2 hitter, Freddy Sanchez is. I have no clue why you wouldn't have our best hitter (Bay) in the 3 spot protected by our new power hitter (LaRoche) making teams afraid to walk Bay. Instead you have Nady behind him and frankly he's nothing an opposing manager is going to be afraid of. Overall the line-up does look better (despite the fucked order), although I think it really hinges on several things.

(1) Duffy has to be consistent and get his speed on the base paths. He is probably one of the faster major leaguers I've ever seen and that includes Jose Reyes.

(2) Jack Wilson has to find a happy medium between last years shit numbers and his all-star numbers from '05.

(3) Bay has to be protected and has to hit in the 3 or 4. To have the teams best hitter hitting in the 5 spot makes absolutely no sense (but let's face it Tracy is pretty goddamn good at making moves that make little sense).

(4) Castillo has to take a couple steps in the right direction. It looked like he was sleep walking through most of last year. I've heard the Manny Ramirez comparisons as far as personality goes with Jose and let's face it, he's no Man Ram so he sure as fuck doesn't get to act like the first Dominican space cadet . I'd pull the plug on him real early, if not in spring training if he doesn't
get off to a decent start. I have no problem seeing Bautista at 3B and Sanchez at 2B if Slow Poke Rodriguez can't cut it.

On to the rotation, where 4 out of the 5 spots are all but written in stone. Snell, Duke, Gorzelanny, and Maholm are our one through four starters. Frankly this is the only part of the team I'm Penguins level excited about. Seeing this staff mature and get better will be exciting to watch over the next several years (assuming they all stay...). Snell is looking the most promising in my opinion, towards the end of last season he seemed to have stuff no one could hit at times (I'm thinking of a game against the Mets but can't remember much else). As Bob commented a couple weeks ago Gorzelanny could mature into our ace this season, but I'm sticking with Snell (assuming he matures a bit more). Of course, we have to pray for rain on the fifth day with Armas bringing up the rear of the rotation.

The bullpen, despite the loss of our marquee closer Gonzo, is still in pretty good shape. Apparently the only thing the front office is really any good at is building a decent bullpen. Torres should be solid in the closer role (provided his arm doesn't fall off with all the innings he's been seeing the past couple seasons). Capps should be able to come in and be effective if Torres fails. We also signed notable head case Danny Kolb, who was lights out with the Brew Crew two years ago, but was about as good as the bird shit on my car last year with the Braves, so who knows about that guy.

And now to my favorite part of the team to rip on and the most frustrating by far. If you need any of my opinions on Jim "Dick" Tracy or
Littlefuck please check my posts from last summer. I hate both these guys. Bob and I could do a better job running the Pirates and the sick part is that I'm 100 % serial (you need to watch more South Park if you don't get the reference). They are both completely inept (save the Gonzo - LaRoche trade). Just compare the line-up Dick put out with the one that Bob and I both came up with immediately after the LaRoche trade without conferring with one another what so ever.

Anyway, my prediction for the upcoming year is 80 wins. Maybe we will get a winner next year?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Neil Walker moves to third base

Dave Littlefield announced yesterday that top Pirates prospect Neil Walker will be playing third base exclusively in the upcoming season. There has been much talk of this move the past few seasons, and it seems many people were waiting for it. The move, apparently, is because Paulino is seen as the catcher of the future, and the belief is that by moving him to third, his bat will get to Pittsburgh sooner.

This move says a lot to Pirates fans. First, Ronny Paulino is seen by management as the long-term catcher. Secondly, it seems management believes that Walker can possibly make his debut in September of this season. Many have been waiting for this move for a couple seasons, and it comes as no surprise, as the Pirates are in desperate need of added offense. I am hopeful Walker can get on track and progress a bit faster than he has been.