Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fred McAfee's

This shot kind of sums up Fred McAfee's career with the Steelers. While with our beloved team from '94-'98, McAfee was strictly a special teams guy who occasionally stood in as a third down RB (and even rarer as a kick returner). McAfee ended up making the Pro Bowl with the Saints in 2002 (for his ST play), and actually hung around the league for parts of 16 seasons. He played 194 career games, accumulating 1273 yards on 304 carries, which adds up to a respectable 4.2 yards per carry but an even more impressive 6.6 yards per game.

Other interesting facts about McAfee, he was born and raised in Philadelphia, Mississippi (hopefully it's not as destitute as Pennsylvania's), and attended Mississippi College, which is the oldest university in Mississippi and the second-oldest Baptist affiliated university in the world. Other notable alums of MC include WWE wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr. and former NFL player Major Everett (I have no idea who this guy is, but I just wanted to point out a cool thing about the South; whether you're black or white, your legal name could be Major).

Another interesting note I came upon while searching for McAfee, during Bill Cowher's 15 years as HC of the Steelers, he had only three seasons in which his team finished with a negative point differential (one of those being the '99 season when the 'Lers finished at -3). I actually did a little math and over Cowher's 15 years, his teams posted a total point differential of +886 (+59.07 per year, which comes out to an average Expected Win-Loss record of 9.7-6.3). No matter what you think about Cowher, that is impressive. Anyway, his worst season was -40 in 1998. Check out that year, pretty interesting stuff, especially because we lost to the Bengals twice... who ended up finishing 3-13!! Wow. How do I not remember that?

I have no real links just yet, hopefully more to come tomorrow morning/afternoon.

The Pens lost to the Sens last night at the Igloo 4-1. Recap here, here and here. I'm starting to have less and less confidence in the Penguins ability to come back from a multi-goal deficit. To be honest, I didn't catch the first period on TV, but I listened to it on the radio and I think the old-29er summed it up best after the second goal, "That one was on the Flower." After I saw the replay, I don't think there was any doubt. The Pens just couldn't get one past Sens' goalie Brian Elliot. And then when the Pens gave up that goal to Jason Spezza (who was flying last night), I kind of lost hope. Though the Senators may be playing the best hockey out of anyone out there right now, it's still a disappointing loss considering the Pens should have been rested and were coming off two solid wins against division rivals. Let's hope the Pens can hop back on the horse for this Sunday's rematch of the Cup Finals when they host the Red Wings (I'll have a longer post on the match-up sometime this weekend).

Pitt beat St. John's at the Pete last night 63-53. Let's get past the ugly shooting display by both teams, the horrible idea that is an ESPNU broadcast, and the fact that the game was closer than the final score. It's a Big East win, 'nuff said. Pitt took care of the ball (only 9 TO), hit their free throws at a very un-Pitt like clip (21-24, 87.5%), and played solid defense throughout (holding St. John's to a 32.8% FG percentage). I could go into how Pitt was out-rebounded by ten, including a 17 to 5 margin in the offensive board department, but I think a lot of those rebounds were because of the bricks that the Johnnies were tossing up. And I could give Ashton Gibbs the business for his continued shooting funk (5-13, 0-4 from 3), but my friend Drew pointed out to me how tired Gibbs must be considering he has not played less than 35 minutes in a game since Christmas. So I'll lay off Gibbs a bit (and if you watch the games, it's not like his shots are way off, half of his misses are in-and-out), and hope that Travon Woodall can cover some minutes for him (actually, it looks like he may have to cover Dixon's minutes, as he left the game late with an injury, update later). And no, Woodall didn't light the world on fire last night, but he managed a steal without turning the ball over, while also sinking his FT. Next up, Pitt plays USF on Sunday at 1 p.m.

CofC has dropped right back into the middle of the SoCon race by losing two straight to Western Carolina and Davidson. They're still at the top of the standings being the only team with just two losses, but they need to get Jeremy Simmons back quick, as he's their only solid inside presence. Without him, the Cougars are too dependent on their perimeter play, including their outside shooting.

Everton travel to Wigan tomorrow, and the game is showing on Fox Soccer Channel on delay at 7 p.m. This is a game they should win, especially if the Toffees are serious about finishing in the top six of the table by the season's end.

Lastly, I'd like to address some of the rankings of the Pirates minor league system that I have been linking to recently. Charlie over at BD has some good words to say about this, but I think the key is that Huntington has only had two drafts, and almost all of his draftees were in A ball or lower the past two seasons. This year should be a make or break year for most of these guys (the jump from A to AA is usually what separates the prospects from the filler), and if they do succeed and the Buccos have another good draft, it should boost them into top ten.

Another thing I'd like to comment on was ESPN's Keith Law and his sobering ranking of Pedro Alvarez from his top 100 prospects (insider only). Law, who I respect and love to read, ranked Pedro 35th, while most other rankings have him in the top ten. Law lays it out why he does this, Pedro can't hit lefties, has K issues, was helped by an abnormally high BABIP (batting average of balls in play) while in AA, and doesn't have the defensive skills to stay at 3rd base. They are all legitimate questions to have, and in fairness, Law has had the same reservations about PA since the draft in '08.

This should temper our expectations for Alvarez somewhat, although for me, his initial play as a professional tempered my expectations last April. I still think PA can be a star, but more in the Ryan Howard mold than a Miguel Cabrera one. The key is to whether he can stay at third, because if he can play average defense, his bat will be much more valuable over there. Which is why the news that Alvarez has taken this off-season seriously and lost weight to add quickness is very good news for all Pirate fans. I still think that McCutchen is more important to the future as he will be the more valuable player (all-around) and we have a better chance of retaining him into his free agent years (I think Alvarez, like all other Scott Boras clients, will test FA after his initial six-year run with the Bucs... but that's way down the road). On a more positive note, ESPN does justice to the Pirates that so many other national news outlets have not, predicting that they are on their way up and out (insider only, sorry).

And finally, there is the unveiling of the new Maz statue. Pretty cool stuff, although it would be even cooler if it was this shot that includes my Uncle Sam's long lost twin following him from behind...

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