Thursday, July 27, 2006

Viva El Reynolds!

Do you hear that sound? That's the pitter-patter of the fat stumps Jason Whitlock uses for fingers typing up some race card about this whole thing. I really really hate Whitlock, but anyway not the point of this post.

I really liked Harold Reynolds and I mean a lot. He and Peter Gammons were the only reason I watched Baseball Tonight.He was always very well spoken, brought up good points, and rarely said stupid things. The only knock I ever had with him was that he was a bit too player friendly, but he was once a player himself so I can see where he is coming from.

Apparently Harold got fired for an "inapproriate hug". There have been many reports that this was on a laundry list of sexual harassment incidents involving him however. I seriously doubt they fired Reynolds for a hug, but let Michael Irving back in the building after a week after they found a crack pipe in his car.

Well I for one hope Reynolds goes to FOX and lands in the booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, because quite frankly those two need a bit of sanity in their respective commentary.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recchi is Back?

I'm not real sure how I feel about this one. There have been many a report about how Recchi and Crosby butted heads last year for me to give the stamp of approval. Plus this feels like a typical Rats signing to me. If you are going to have a youth movement, have a youth movement. Don't bring in guys who were playing hockey when the best player on the team was still kicking in his mothers womb.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Holy God...

Ummm... This made me laugh out loud for a good 2 minutes at work. This is also why, at this point in my life, kids scare the fucking bejesus out of me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Art of the Knuckleball

Sometimes I think back in my life to experiences I've had with baseball, memories I've made associated with the game. I like to run through in my head different events in the game that could be perceived as earmarks in my life as well. A few events that I can remember meaning something to me were the 1994 All-Star Game and unveiling of the Clemente statue at Three Rivers, the home run race in the summer of 1998, the Pirates winning 3 division titles from '90-'92. One event though can sum up my love of the game: Tim Wakefield's debut in 1992. I was only 8 years old but I remember my dad telling me about him and how he threw a knuckleball. I didn't know what it was at the time, but it sounded cool as hell. Tim Wakefield went 8-1 that year, and only gave up 3 home runs with a 2.15 ERA. The fantasy and mysticism of the knuckleball was born in my head. Years later I met Charlie Hough, who taught me to throw a knuckleball when he was the pitching coach for the NY Mets in 2001. He will go down in history as one of the greatest knuckleballers of all time.

My favorite knuckleballer of all time is Hoyt Wilhelm, perhaps the most famous. Rob Neyer's top ten knuckleballers of all time:

10. Eddie Cicotte
9. Joe Niekro
8. Tim Wakefield
7. Dutch Leonard
6. Tom Candiotti
5. Charlie Hough
4. Eddie Rommel
3. Wilbur Wood
2. PhilNiekro
1. Hoyt Wilhelm

The knuckleball may be the hardest pitch to throw, but if you can throw one consistently you can pitch at the major league level. I picked up the knuckleball about 6 years ago, and I have been working on perfecting it since with little success. I can throw it but never consistently with enough movement for it to be effective.

The knuckleball was learned by Jim Bouton, the former hard throwing Yankee, to save his career in the late years with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, which is detailed in his book Ball Four.

I love the knuickleball and it is a shame it is so hard to throw because I would love to see at least 4 or 5 knuckleballers in the big leagues today.

Check out this website if you are interested in the knuckleball and love it as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Comeback Kids

Today the Pirates won a game. Their 4th in the last 6 games. The Pirates at home this season are 24-26. That is the best record they have had at home since PNC Park opened up. However we have only won 10 games on the road this season. What is the deal? Why can't we win on the road? My theory is that the players are too busy getting fucked up at night since they are traveling and then show up to the park unready. I don't know how much credence this has, but honestly we have the worst road record in baseball. If we can win 4 out of the next 6 games we play on the road, I will be ecstatic. I just hope we win more than 15 games on the road this year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A New Hope?

Well in an odd turn of events today one of the bidders, the Canadian group that had actually made the largest bid at around a reported 175 million, has pulled out because the NHL is said to be now telling bidders that any move out of town will be blocked. I have to say I'm shocked Gary Bettman, one time villain because of the lock-out is sticking his neck out there for Pens fans. We are a historic franchise with a great fan base however, I don't see why an owner would want to move the Pens. Attendance was great from what I gather (the several games I went to when I was home were packed). If the Pens are here when I graduate next spring, I plan on buying season tickets to the next season. Hockey is the best sport to watch in person, hands down. Football is betting on TV because of the instant replays, how big stadiums are, and also the view point in which you view the games (granted I would rather be in Heinz Field, nothing matches the atmosphere of going to a game, but I hope you are understanding where I'm coming from).

Another writer on the blog says he'd rather have the Rats be good and the Pens leave, than for the Pens to stay and the Rats still be shitty. I told him to go fuck himself. The teams the Pens has arguably the brightest future in the NHL and I want to be on the ground floor of that. That way when I have 2 tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals in a couple years, I can laugh in everyone's face, and hold the 2nd ticket ransom to the highest bidder (money or services).

Anyway Steelers go camping in 10 days and of course today is the release of NCAA 07 which will curtail my going out till Friday night.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Guess Who's Back?

That's right Big Ben was at the ESPYs last night (for some reason I can't put up pictures right now but here is a linkto his grill) looking just as goofy as ever. So that's good news, the interview they played was to be expected comments. Personally if he rides with a helemt I don't really care, it's his life not mine (just my Fall season over the next 10 + seasons ride on his sholders, no biggie...). Anyway it's the end of the world as we know it with Israel and Lebanon duking it out, hopefully that won't boil over into anything bigger.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Your With Me, ESPN

It being a slow sports day and all I thought I'd take the time to go off on none other than the Worldwide Leader itself, ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. I didn't know it either, that's what Wikipedia is for).

First, does anyone like Chris Berman? Anyone? If you answered yes I want you to, take the mouse in your hand, put it in the upper right hand corner on the big x, and click it (never come back either). What does this guy, ESPN's highest paid anchor btw, really do? I'll tell you exactly what he does, he shows up at the HR Derby (back, back, back, we fucking get it), announces the picks before the commissioner can make it to the podium at the NFL draft (and turns down kids for autographs), makes up stupid nicknames, occasionally rears his ugly head on Sports Center, ruins NFL Countdown / Primetime on Sundays and on top of all that, uses awful pick up lines. If those aren't crimes against humanity I want to know where we are currently drawing the line... This guy and Kenny Mayne should be strapped into a rocket and shot into the Sun... Get out of our lives. The thought of this guy wondering around Pittsburgh, going up to ladies and saying, "Your with me, leather," makes my skin crawl. Berman is that friend that keeps on hanging around even though no one likes him and gets made fun of all the time. He brings nothing to the table, ruins the mood of the group and creeps people out (aka a night killer). Berman and Mayne should be put on Outside the Lines Nightly so I never have to hear anymore of their mind numbing banter (could you imagine that show? It would be something they would've shown to Alex in A Clockwork Orange).

Second, what's with all the puff pieces on Sports Center over the past 6 months? It's getting border line ridiculous how often they are airing pieces (especially this week with the special "My Wish" segments, nauseating theme song included *barf*) that make me want to put a 12-gauge against the side of my head. When I'm going to bed / waking up in the morning I don't want to hear about a girl with cancer and a weird haircut going to a Mariners game / some little boy meeting Jeff Gordon (who the hell wants to meet Jeff Gordon anyway?), it's just depressing. Don't get me wrong, It's great what they do for these kids and it's ok to run these every once in a while (maybe), but I'm really sick of the constant barrage they are laying on us, the hardcore sports fan. I want to meet an ESPN executive sometime, follow him into the bathroom with a group of cronies, knock him to the ground and say, "Hi, you're going to call off your "My Wish" segments on Sports Center. You're going to publicly state that there are going to be no more puff pieces on Sports Center. Or... These guys are going to take your balls, and send one to the New York Times, one to the LA Times press release staff. Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We watch your shows, we buy your products. We guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us," well maybe not that whole "guard you while you sleep" part (that was adapted from the fight club bathroom scene, just so you people don't go and call the authorities on me). Do the people who are heading up this operation actually think we care about hearing these things? I don't come into their bedrooms at 7 am talking about all the shitty things that are happening in my life.

Lastly, why does the NBA, David Stern, and ESPN feel the need to continue the WNBA assault on this nation. Newsflash: no one wants to watch women's sports, especially when the majority of those women are sweaty, disgusting looking and most likely gay, not that there's anything wrong with that (Sure Bird and a select other are hot and heterosexual). If I want to watch your "fundamental" (aka bad) basketball I'll watch college hoops. They actually had the WNBA skills competition on SC this morning, which consisted of not only doing chest passes through a hoop but also bounces passes, oooooo. I mean the NBA has been running life support, with Stern and ESPN tag teaming mouth to mouth for 10 years now. Give it up and stop making us suffer (and now God will saddle me with a baby girl as my first child).

Only 5 days till NCAA 07 (aka Madden 07 appetizer) for 360. If anyone cares to challenge me online give me your email address and I'll send you my XBOX live name.

I would've said something about Steven A. Smith as well, but well that would be too easy (In my best Steven A. Smith yelling / trying to make a point at the end of a sentence voice).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Questions of the Day...

Will Big Ben be sporting an MF Doom style mask when he shows up for this celeb golf outing later this week? (For those of you who don't know Doom, you should even if you like rap a little. Check out DangerDoom - the Mouse and the Mask where he works with Danger Mouse, pure gold). I kind of hope so. My buddy Kevin and I have been discussing since the accident how cool it would be to have the figure-head of the Steelers to be a 6'4", 240 lbs freak. I mean that would definitely add a whole new level of intimidation to see some sort of Quasimodo looking mother fucker under center. Not that I'm really hoping for him to be disfigured or anything, just thinking out loud...

Another thing, does anyone know if Zidane got the nick name "Zizzou" before or after the movie? This guy is my favorite soccer player hands down by the way. You rarely ever see him take a dive, he normally battles through contact unlike the rest of the bushes in the WC. Not only that but the way he lunched his head into the chest of Materazzi, was probably the most shocking, inexplicable, stupid thing I've seen in a sporting event in a while (in apparently the most important game in the world). Apparently Materazzi called is mother a terrorist whore according to the Brits lip-readers... What a way to end a career, as a human missile that nearly caves someone's chest in...

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Only Place DL Deserves to be...

In a cage with all the homeless they rounded up to keep away from the all-star game over the next couple of days. Will baseball's economic system finally be called out for the bullshit that it is with the all-star game in the city that is home to the worst team in baseball? I was listening to Mike and Mike this morning on the drive in and they both pointed to the successes that have happened in Oakland, Minnesota, and Florida (the 2nd time) to say how baseballs system isn't that broken (althought only one of those teams actaully won the WS or did anything in the payoffs really). I'm pretty sure the system is broken when some teams have payrolls hovering around 200 million and the Rats are spending around 46 million. I don't understand how this can be looked at as being "fair". I mean every other major sport has what we like to call a "salary cap" at this point for the obvious reason of keeping the playing field level and there won't be absurd bidding wars for players services.

Why is baseball so ass backward to not realize that they are alienating, I'd say 60 % of their cities by allowing this to happen. How are the Rats suppose to compete in this climate when other teams can simply out bid us for all of our players? I have no clue personally. I'm not trying to say its not DL's fault for us not being decent, but even if you squeezed every penny bone dry you aren't going to get enough juice to get Pittsburgh a pennate. I mean get real, look at the payrolls, and tell me why you think the AL is much better than the NL...

The system is so fucked that it really makes me want to just stop paying attention to a game that has a 5 team race every year. It's ridiculous. It's pretty much the equivalent of taking the 5 highest paid payers on the Steelers, putting them on a NY team, replace our holes with rookies / scrubs, then try to maintain our dominance... It would just never happen, that's why this spring I was on the edge of my seat when the NFL and their players union were hammering out a new CBA. If the NFL didn't have a cap, the 'Lers would be fucked. But I digress, I don't think this is going to change anytime soon so... Wait... Wait a second... That's another 5 years of losing baseball on the horizon! whoo hooo!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Well, I really hate to do this

I hate all this pre-season football talk when camp doesn't open till the 28th of this month (yes improbably more excited than you), but I can't believe the amount of shit talking other teams are doing on our World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. All I hear from Bungles fans is that they would've won that game if Carson doesn't get hurt... then how did we beat three better teams in the following weeks. All I hear from Pats fans is that it was an off year for them... what has changed signifigantly for them since last year, one rookie RB. All I hear from Dirty Birds fans is that how Steve McNair is going to lead them to a division title... isn't this the same guy we destroyed last year in week one? All I hear from Browns fans... well who cares, they'll always suck (look at the bums they over paid for in FA).

Have the Steelers really changed at all? They lost Antwaan who had a total of 558 yards with 1 TD last year, frankly I'm not missing that. I am willing to bet that Holmes will have more TD's this year than Antwaan had last year. We lost Bettis, who meant more in the locker room than on the feild last year, which any fan of the team knows(368 yards, 9 TD's). We lost Kimo, who would've been benched this year for Brett Keisel anyway. I am so sick of ESPN analysis that keep saying that despite the loss of these players our team is any worse off. In 2 of these cases this could be addition by subtraction. I mean think about it, this is like taking the Roto Wheel, the Exterminator and the Pittsburgh Plunge out of Kennywood, no one is really going to miss them (cept maybe the Plunge). The most signifigant player we lost (which no one is talking about) is Chris Hope. Granted he had some tackling problems (despite being 3rd in total tackles) but he's the only person I even worry a little bit about losing.

Not to mention as ESPN's John Cayton points out in an insider article I can't link you to,

"Ben Roethlisberger, 24, will mature into a Pro Bowl-caliber passer this season, and he can partly thank his recent motorcycle accident for assisting in the process. The motorcycle accident was a wake-up call for him. Roethlisberger is a good kid. His stubbornness in riding a motorcycle without a helmet and buying faster, more dangerous bikes represents his flirtation with the wild side. Those days are gone. He will come out of this accident more focused and much more humble. Before the accident, Roethlisberger spent the offseason working on plays to make the offense more open to passing. He's lifting weights and trying to get his body ready for the first practice at the Steelers' training camp in Latrobe, Pa. Though his face is puffy with bruises from the accident, he could have a full training camp. "

So Ben will be back on time with a new dedication for his job... I'd be afraid if I were the rest of the league.

This last paragraph is especially for all you Bungle fans that think they own the division after one season over .500 since '91. I use to not mind Bungle fans you knew your place in the division, but you guys have gotten real loud real quick. It's partly because you have so many loud mouth, dumb-asses on your team that you just take after them (i.e. CJ). We still own you. Quit bitching about the "cheap hit", your shitty defense didn't do anything to stop us after the 1st quarter in the playoff game. By the way Sam Adams is a washed up old, fat man (if you think he'll help your run D check out how well the Bills did, or didn't do in that department last hear). As for Dexter Jackson and Madu Williams they just aren't that good... So fuck you Bungles, Fuck you Cinnci, you'll be back in your place after this year (oh BTW the Reds will fall on their collective faces down the stretch). Can't wait till week three.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The First Hammerin' Hank

There aren't many Jewish baseball players these days. Brad Ausmus has Jewish parents, I think his grandfather is a Rabbi. Kevin Youkilis, Gabe Kapler, John Grabow, Shawn Green, Mike Lieberthal, Jason Marquis, Scott Schoeneweis, that about sums it up for current players. But in a time when Jews across the Atlantic Ocean were being rounded up and senselessly slaughtered, and anti-Semitism at home was prevalent, there was one man who made his mark as a great Jewish baseball player. Before Sandy Koufax there was Hammerin' Hank Greenberg. I didn't really look up to great Jewish athletes growing up, but it was nice to know there were some. My grandfather, however, was in his teens and twenties when Hank Greenberg was playing for the Detroit Tigers.

Years later my grandfather's stories, along with my father's would inform me of one of the greatest power hitters, as well as one of the greatest Americans of all time.

Greenberg was a fresh faced rookie at the age of 22 in Detroit in 1933. He played in a game when he was 19 in 1930, but didn't make it back to the majors for another 2 seasons. During his shortened career, Greenberg hit 339 home runs, most over a period of 6 seasons. Greenberg also missed 4 of his prime years to fight in Europe during World War II. Bill James ranks him as the 8th greatest firstbasemen of all time. A career .313 hitter, he walloped an alarming 58 home runs in 1938. Many people speculate that pitchers didn't pitch to him for the last week of the season because they didn't want a Jew to break the Babe's record of 60 in a season. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but this was pre Jackie Robinson small minded baseball, and people in America in 1938 were not really fond of Jews. I do know this, if Hank Greenberg played today he would crush baseballs out of some of the tiny parks that have been built in the recent past.

Greenberg played one season in Pittsburgh after a long career in Detroit. His final season in the big leagues at the age of 36 Greenberg smacked 25 dingers in 125 games. A five time All-Star and two time AL MVP, Greenberg was one of the greatest power hitters of his generation, if not the greatest. If he had not missed so much time for the war and injuries, he may have hit close to 700 home runs, and could have possibly broken the Babe's all-time record.

If anyone out there is interested there is a great documentary out about Hank Greenberg called, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. I suggest renting it, or buying it, as it is a highly intelligent, well made movie.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

When the All-Star Game Meant Something

What happened? Manny Ramirez is planning on skipping the All-Star game. Frankly I don't blame the guy, it is a long season and those three days off mean a lot to the players. Conversely, the All-Star game is an honor to be a part of. It used to be a battle of players who never got to face each other except in the post-season. Now the winner of the game decides home field advantage in the World Series. To me this is utter crap. 95% of the players in the All-Star game won't be in the World Series, so that little carrot on a stick doesn't drive them.

The root of the problem lies in interleague play, something else I find stupid. The World Series is about two teams, the best in each league fighting it out to find out which team is better. Now there is a possibility of those two teams facing off in the regular season, something which I think is trash. Also for teams like the Pirates, Royals, lower tier competition, we just get screwed and it adds to our even more pathetic record.

I wish players longed to play in the All-Star game, I wish they couldn't wait to face off against that opposing pitcher who has a nasty ERA along with a nasty slider they've never seen. The love of the game and the league is dying thanks to Bud Selig, Donald Fehr, and the owners.

I watched the Bucs get beaten again today. The bullpen has been fantastic lately. If only our starters could give up less runs...

Until next time, I look forward to watching Gorzelanny tomorrow. PEACE.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ralph Kiner

Happy 4th of July. Today I was forced to watch the Pirates on MLBtv since it was not on television for some reason. During the middle innings Ralph Kiner came into the booth to do a little broadcasting. I believe he works for their broadcasting team and has been with the Mets since 1962 and has won three Emmy awards for broadcasting. During his ten year career, which was spent mostly with the Pirates, Kiner hit 369 home runs, drove in 1015 runs, and lead the league in home runs 7 straight seasons. He was also a career .280 hitter.

I remember when I was about 8 or 9 my father and I were at a Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium. The game was out of hand for the Pirates as they were playing the Mets and we left early, only to find Ralph Kiner outside the stadium walking around the front offices. My dad told me who he was and I ran over with a pen and my ticket and got his autograph.

Kiner sounded drunk in the booth today. I don't know if it is because he is old, or what, but he sounded like he had drank a fifth of Jack in 80 degree weather. Ralph Kiner is old. He's 84. He told a story about Honus Wagner never paying for a drink in Pittsburgh when he was a coach for the Pirates, and Kiner was a player. He debuted in 1946 at the age of 23 and only played 10 seasons due to a chronic sciatica problem which caused his retirement after the 1955 season which he spent with the Indians.

Anyway, the Pirates lost another 1 run game, 7-6. They were ahead late and Roberto Hernandez gave up a couple hits after Torres came out after two walks and only 1 out. ANother near win, another 1 run loss. I don't buy into Tracy's claims that were are getting better because look how close we are in games. If we were good or even better we would be winning those games, not losing them. I truly believe we are getting better and we need to let our young players develop but stop playing Burnitz and Randa. We need to get a look and give our young guys a chance.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Greatest Game Ever Played

As I sit here on this fine Pittsburgh evening watching the Pirates I am reminded of why I love baseball. No matter how poorly a team plays, no matter how bad a team is, any team can win any game. The Buccos are leading the New York Mets 10-1 in the top of the eigth following back to back home runs by Ronny Paulino and Nate McLouth.

I can barely remember the Pirates of 1992. Jeff King was my favorite player as a child, I think mainly because in my childish mind he was my prototype of a ballplayer: big hunk of chew, interesting facial hair, he just looked like he should play baseball. That was 14 years ago. 14 seasons of losing baseball, but I am an addict. Like a junkie looking for the next fix. I find myself stopping at little league parks to watch a group of 12 year olds play a sloppy version of America's favorite pastime.

I long for the days of ball I never knew. I dream of spending time in the corn with the colorful characters the game has produced, the heroes, the goats, the bad guys, the good guys, the stories. Old Hoss Radbourn, Napolean Lajoie, Jimmie Foxx, Teddy Ballgame, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Eddie Ciccotte Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant, Reggie Jackson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Hank Aaron, the Say Hey Kid, Pete Rose. All the joy, the shame, the glory, the success, the pain, the moustaches, the history of the game is our history. America is baseball. It is a game of leisure, with stretchs, stolen bags, moonshots, cans of corn, frozen ropes, heaters and yackers, worm burners, sacrifices, walk-offs, and no matter what happens there is always a winner and a loser.

Until next game.

I am Bob Dobalina

My name is Bob Dobalina, Craig asked me to start posting on here and ranting and raving, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I don't really think there is anything that can be said about baseball that hasn't been said in the past 150 years so I doubt anything I will say is that original or important, it is just nice to know that someone out there, maybe, cares just about as much as I do about the Pirates and our country's greatest game.

Smurfs Invade World Cup!

If you're like me, or Papa Smurf, you've been thoroughly enjoying the World Cup games that are on as soon as I get up on the weekends. Frankly I find this whole "soccer" thing pretty sweet when played at its highest level. Of course, many of my friends often state that there is just not enough scoring in the game for them and I obviously cannot argue that beef considering it seems like half the games I've seen only have a goal or maybe none scored in a hour and 15 minutes. I enjoy the individual battles, and seeing these pussies act like they just got shot after touching (or sometimes nearly touching) a player from the opposite team. That's pretty much the only beef I have with the sport, the floppers. I think it was the Argentina goalie that had to be taken off in a stretcher, I mean come on man, walk yourself off like a fucking man.

At least its been diverting my attention away from our awful Rats... I went to the game on Saturday with my friend Ed, my rents and my cousins from Detroit. Needless to say my cousin's husband was not too happy he witnessed a game in which the Rats didn't lose by 1 run, since that's what he came all that way to see. (Congrads to JBay and especially Freddy Sanchez for making the all-star team. I don't really give a fuck about all-star games so I'm not going to write anything more on the subject.)

Funny side note, my cousins husband and I got pretty hammered watching the Italy - Ukraine game on Friday afternoon, which led me saying "the Ukraine is weak" about 50 times (ala Kramer is Seinfeld). Anyway later that night I was kicking his ass around the ice in NHL 2K6 for 360 and talking shit about it which led to this exchange.

Me: Looks like Sidney just got himself a hat trick in 2 periods.

Him: Looks like someone is banging your cousin tonight.

Me: (shocked silence) Dude, that's too much.

Him: You started it.

If you think things escalated a bit quickly there, I'm with you. I was drunk enough that I did a kind of double take, these are the moments when I wish my life was taped 24/7.

But I digress, everyone have a good 4th, I know I'm starting mine off in the most Anti-American way possible, getting drunk and watching the Germans beat the shit out of those greasy Italians at 3 pm... Hopefully no one will attempt to blow my head off with a roman candle this year, but I guess we'll find out in 24 hours or so.