Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday Tom Prince's

Tom Prince was drafted by the Pirates in 1984 and played on some of the last memorable Pirate teams from '87-'93. He got out while the gettin' was good. Prince's career is one of the finest examples of why being a back-up catcher is considered one of the best jobs in sports. Prince played in parts of 17 major league seasons, but never got more than 215 plate appearances in a season and only played in parts of 519 games (that would be an average of 30.5 games per season). Prince made over $3.7 million over those 17 years; talk about bang for your buck, especially for guy with a career .208 AVG.

'Tone looks to be avoiding anything serious since there will be no criminal prosecution, although he did take the chance to make a complete ass of himself on twitter in the past 24 hours. The whole thing looks sketchy, and Goodell has to do something since it seems like NFL players are using a slight loophole to avoid any punishment (I'll pay you if you sue me, just don't press charges). Despite 'Tone believing everything is solved by now, I very much doubt it.

Pooty signed a new deal for 4 years at $3.5 million per. I love this signing, even if it does mean the end of Gonch. Letang will be entering the prime of his career (23-26) and should keep getting better as the contract matures (not always a guarantee: Ryan Whitney). The only issue is the power play, which has and will struggle without Gonchar (who is slowly turning into a one trick pony as he keeps getting older). Someone has to fill Gonch's shoes at the point of the power play, and Letang and Gogo are just not up to the task yet. I'd like to see Leopold get a chance at the point some more, just to see if he could fill that role for the next few seasons (that is, if he's willing to come back to the Pens on something like a two-year contract). All in all though, a very solid signing. Here's the PensBurgh's look; as they look at comparable contracts that have been given throughout the league recently.

Charlie at Bucs Dugout has a bit of a memoriam for Brandon Moss. I think everyone was tired of Moss' struggles, and I've already gone through my thoughts on Moss. But I would like to dispel the notion that this just proves the Bay trade was a complete bust. Moss showing that he can barely stick as a fifth OF certainly doesn't help the evaluation of the trade, but as Charlie noted, Moss wasn't the key to the trade but more of the throw-in lottery ticket; if he would have become Nate McClouth (a guy pegged as a 4th OF but proves to be much more), then it's a great trade, but that he didn't does not prove it to be a terrible trade.

I still expect Andy LaRoche to make the deal about even; having LaRoche for about 5 seasons of average play (or above-average depending on how his bat develops) is very good value for 1.3 seasons of a great season from Jason Bay. And let us not forget the key to the trade, Bryan Morris, who has obviously struggled since coming over, but could still turn into something useful (or as the Pirates hope, special). MLBTR did a good look back earlier this March on the trade from all angles (including Huntington's views).

BUCCO Fans has their weekly look at the Draft Prospect recap. Bryce Harper is still a giant douche, although he's hitting the stuffing out of the ball and has clearly proved himself to be the best player in this upcoming draft. I'm still mighty weary of a college pitcher (and I wouldn't touch Anthony Ranaudo with a ten-foot pole), but there seems to be no one else out there other than Jameson Tailon (who as a high school pitcher, is still quite scary) who threw a no-hitter while striking out 19 of the 21 batters he retired (ridiculous). Still a ways away before any serious conversation must be considered.

WHYGAV has their look at the Pirates season preview, and as usual, it's spot on.

One last note; I got around to watching last week's South Park, you can watch it here. As usual, it's awesome. As an English major, there are obviously some parts I had to disagree with, but most of it is true. Watching South Park is like reading Stuff White People Like; it really shines a light on society's ridiculous flaws. As for the episode, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but there is an obvious target, which I assume would be the novel Push, it's author, and the people infatuated with it. I haven't read the book but my sister has talked about how graphic and disturbing it is. The only book I've read that I would compare has to be American Pyscho. There are parts in that book that made me gag.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Thus begins the final installment of my KSWA series (Part I and II). I've probably beaten this to death, but I have a few more good pics and some information on the next event for all those readers who may now be Jones'n for some KSWA.

The next match was between some guy in a pink shirt and knickers against the most bad-ass dude in the whole event (and VIP member):
This guy (didn't catch his name) had an icy stare that put Brooks Orpik to shame. He was also the only character who actually looked like a wrestler in the sense that he was jacked. He won the match with ease; the more I think about it, the more it seemed like the "bad guys" won the majority of the matches.
I almost forgot about his two-tone pants... impressive. Here's another pic of Frank Durso strutting around the ring in anticipation of his match against the Venetian HOFer from earlier; just remember that odds are this guy is somebody's Grandpa:
The little girl in front was obviously not impressed. I was really hoping Durso would fling his jacket into the crowd, but it never happened. Durso ended up losing his match, which made me sad, but you can't have the Venetian guy lose his match on the night he's inducted in the KSWA Hall of Fame.

Next up was the final match between the Latin Assassin (good) and Dr. Destruction (bad) with the winner crowned champion of The Third Annual Joe Abbey Tournament. I was torn on who to root for; the LA was kind enough to take a picture with me during intermission, but Dr. D was the better character (Sheet Up!) and he hailed from the North Side (the neighborhood in which I was born and raised). It was like if Pitt played CofC; I guess I'd just hope for a good match. Dr. D came out brandishing a wooden bat...
... but despite the fiction rule of thumb (if you show a gun on the first page, it has to be used by the end of the story), the referee took the bat away from him. These kids behind me were not big fans of Dr. D:
That was at about 10:30 at night, twelve Pepsis, and eight bags of sour patch kids; these kids were jacked up. The match was unraveling like any other: close pins, lot of body slamming, dragging out slowly. That was until they rolled off the ring and started using the chairs as weapons. First, Dr. D slammed one on the LA's back as he was trying to get up off the floor:
Then the LA returned the favor just a minute later... twice. This was definitely the best part of all the action, as they did not take it easy on each other; these were real aluminum chairs that people had been sitting on and they used them like sledgehammers. The Latin Assassin then rolled Dr. D up into the ring and pinned him to win the tournament:
There was much rejoicing in the streets.

As with any long post, it starts out with a bang and ends with a whimper. But hopefully I may have whet your appetite for some local fake wrestling. The next event is Mayhem at the Moose, which takes place the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Tickets are $10 for adults, which is twice as much as I paid on Saturday, so you know it's gonna' be twice as good. The main event for Mayhem is going to be an "I Quit" match between The Latin Assassin and The Enforcer (who I think was the huge dude with the two-tone pants). Somebody is going to step out of that ring and never return... I'll see yinz there.

Monday Hayden Penn's

Hayden Penn is your newest Bucco, and with that lip sweater, I couldn't be happier. Facial hair aside, Penn is another flame-out prospect reclamation project who hasn't had a really good season since 2006. It's certainly worth the flier, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with his control issues on the ML roster to start the season, but unfortunately he has no option left, so he must clear waivers if the Pirates try and option him to AAA.

So Penn may not be in a Bucco uniform for long, but for all the Mo Bucco fans out there (myself included), I hope he sticks around. He's got good stuff, but just has control issues (reoccurring theme in Pirate pickups); which is an enticing but dangerous combination. Maybe Joe Kerrigan can work some of his magic...

In other Pirate news, manager John Russel has said he will bat the pitcher eighth, Ronny Cedeno ninth, Aki first, and McCutchen second. This is actually a smart move. The only real problem is not having a second lead-off guy for the nine-spot. Cedeno has the speed, but not the plate discipline for the spot, while Andy LaRoche would provide the OBP, but is too slow to be on the bases in front of Aki or Cutch. So, I guess Cedeno is the only real choice, although Chase D'Arnaud can't get here quick enough.

Also, Charlie at BucsDugout took a flame thrower to Bob Smizik's assertion that John Russel and Neal Huntington should be fired if the team under-performs this year. I actually understand where Smizik's coming from a bit; lame-duck managers and general managers are rare and usually point to a parting of ways, but this only proves that the two need to be extended, not that they should be judged solely by the record in the past two years. Just for fun, Vlad has a nice list of Smizik wonders in the comments section of the post; highly entertaining.

Rob Neyer has his say on the Pirates recent moves as well. I think Neyer is being a little aggressive in saying the Bucs have traded good players; I would say everyone but Bay was an average talent on an expiring talent, and unfortunately, you just don't get much talent back for those types of players. Actually, McClouth is good, but McCutchen is better and I think Morton will be more valuable in the long haul. See, that's why it's so important to go with quantity over quality when trading mediocre talent; odds are you're gonna get someone back who is comparable or better.

Only I can get through four Pirates links before getting to the biggest headline of the day in Steelers Country. I like Deadspin's post title the best. As with most Steelers non-football news, it's best to follow it over at Mondesi's House. I don't have much to say about this, except that it sounds really sketchy.

I'm not overly worried about next season, this is the NFL; when the regular season starts, anything can happen. I think the Steelers will be quite good next year with the depth they've added and more importantly a healthy Troy Polamalu. But the biggest question surrounding the Steelers will be the Steelers Way; whether it's a myth or reality, people believed in it and now it is in serious doubt. It starts with the leadership, which includes guys like Deshea, Farrior, and Hines (actually, I think the defense has leadership, but the offense is a mess because no one likes Ben accept Willie Colon). But Tomlin and Rooney are also to blame, and they'll be the ones who have to make the tough decision of where to draw the line.

Speaking of classy organizations, the Pens won a thriller yesterday at the Igloo. Recap here, here, and here. Great game entertainment wise, frustrating game Pens fan wise. But two points are two points and with the Devils getting shut out by the Flyers (thank you, Philly?), the Pens are in first place of the Atlantic (although the Devils have a game in hand). It'll be a fairly slow week for the Pens with Tampa on Wednesday and Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. The Pens should win both games, but at this time of year, that don't mean shit.

If you didn't see KSWA Part I and II, you better catch up before tomorrow's final installment.


If you missed KSWA Part I, go check it out or else you won't really understand any of this.
That's a picture of Dr. Destruction stomping on Kris Kash (who was wearing some ridiculous looking Gothic/Cargo/High-Water/Capri pants). Notice Dr. D wearing the VIP tee-shirt; I wasn't able to find one for sale, but if anybody is wondering what to get me for half-Christmas... This is the back:
Live The Legend, tactfully decorated with a beer mug and the silhouette of a stripper working the pole. All in the name of family entertainment. I believe Dr. D is bowing to those kids in the front row who were probably booing him. Sheet Up! The next match was between some guy who was showing not an inch of skin, but was supposed to have some sort of Asian shtick going on (my guess; some Italian guy form Morningside). The highlight were his jorts, which caused many of the Hipsters behind us to chant, "Kick him in the JNCO's."
His opponent: The King.
This guy was awesome; nobody liked him, he was the champion of something (see: belt), and was serenaded with chants of "Burger King!" as he lapped it up. But the best was his introduction from the announcer, "He looks down on all of Millvale from his Castle in the hills." I shit you not. Think about that statement for a second. I don't mean to be a Pittsburgh elitist, but if he were looking down upon Millvale (which in itself is a classically named Pittsburgh borough), you'd probably be somewhere in Shaler. Pretty sure there aren't any castles in Shaler. You would think they would really go all out and pick a more appropriate class divided upper/lower area (Fox Chapel/Blawnox, Sewickley Heights/Ambridge), but to no surprise, this statement drew a veracious round of boos from the crowd; definitely a few Millvale residents in attendance who don't take kindly to being looked down upon. The King definitely won this match, as I have a picture of him walking off with his belt still raised high:
After this match was the second leg of the tournament, whose winner would move on to face Dr. D in the final. It was between probably the most disturbing character in the entire event, "He's not crazy; he's Justin Sane," quite the play on words. Justin Sane wore a woman's dress with some sort of Hannibal Lecter-like mask and he was balding terribly:
Yes, that is Justin Sane exchanging pleasantries with the kids surrounding the ring (despite his costume, Justin was a real sweet-heart). In the background, you can see the PA in the ring. He was really into his job, which as a former public announcer myself, I can respect. But he looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman dressed in his Dad's clothes. Other than that, hell of a job by him. Justin Sane faced off against the Latin Assassin who's beside me in the title picture of Part I, but just for good measure, here's an action shot:
The LA was a big boy, had some nice tattoos, hailed from the Bronx, and came out to some catchy reggaeton. He was also a clear crowd favorite. He beat Justin Sane in fairly boring match. Following the match they had a minor intermission, after which they had a ceremony in which they inducted two new members into the KSWA Hall-of-Fame. It was a stirring moment:
I don't remember this guy's name, but it was really Italian (he was born in Venice). The best part about it was how he accepted the award... in uniform. Of course this was due to him taking on Frank Durso later in the evening, which we will get to in Part III tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


So, I've been meaning to do a post on how lucky I've been as a Pittsburgh sports fan in the past 18 months. I got to watch the Super Bowl in Pittsburgh with friends and family; I went to the Packers/Steelers game this past December (one of the best Steelers games I've ever been to), I went to games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (best sporting experience ever), I went to the Pitt/Cinci game at Heinz (the best football game I've ever been to), and I watched Andrew McCutchen blossom right before my eyes (well, it was on TV in South Carolina) when he hit a walk-off Home Run against the Phillies last fall. I think there's been more, but really, I've been blessed.

And though I wouldn't put my evening last night up against any of those events, it was pretty awesome anyway.

I heard about the Keystone State Wrestling Association through one of my Sister's friends. Last night's event was the Joe Abby Memorial Tournament and like all other KSWA events, was held at the Lawrenceville Moose Lodge on 51st street right off of Butler.

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. My initial thought was it would be a bunch of amateurs running a really poor man's WWE event, which it was... and so much more. When we walked in (I went with my buddy Cam), they were having a moment of silence in honer of Joe Abby, and the place was packed. While I thought it would be a mixture of hipsters and dudes, there was also a large proponent of Yinzer families. It was some of Pittsburgh's finest; I would put it up against the Rivers Casino in terms of people watching.

The setting was exactly what one would expect a local moose lodge to look like, as if it were tailor made for BINGO and PTA meetings. The ring was right in the middle of the room with about two rows of chairs on all four sides and there was a bar in the back ($2 Iron City/Yeungling bottles were quite the price performers); I'm not going to mention the bathrooms but there was a red tarp set up in the corner where the wrestlers would emerge from (accompanied with intro music).
There were KSWA logos everywhere (you can see them in the background), which is the lettering on top of the state of Pennsylvania with barb wire wrapped around it all; quite classy. The first match wasn't even memorable, with some guy in green pants and face-paint squaring off against some other guy in a (real) wrestling onesie. The actual entertainment was not all that great (it's fake wrestling by amateurs), but the crowd was electric with all sorts of kids jacked up on sweets and soda pop screaming at the designated bad guy in each match.

The second match was much more entertaining as it was a tag-team match, with four guys on each side.
The bald guy with the mustache was the manager of the bad guys in this match, which included the guy in the hat and white tie, and the guy standing below them, who was quite scary not just due to his Gothic face-paint, but the fake blood that engulfed his mouth. But this guy was my favorite on this team:
A lot of these guys were fat, but it worked for them since they were so large; this guy on the other hand was just fat and out of shape. He looked like a child molester, although he did have a sweet cutoff tee shirt with a burning motorcycle on it (plus those camo cargo pants were a nice addition).
The good guys consisted of some guy named Cuervo, a dude with a Blagojevichesque haircut, a large Irishman with an ethnically decorated onesie, and the only black guy in the event (who for some reason, took the brunt of the beating for his team). I forget who won this match (generally, the good guys would win, but occasionally the bad guys won), but it was chalk full of your typical fake wrestling mumbo jumbo; distracting the ref, illegally double/triple teaming against a guy while the ref is not looking, body slams, really bad fake punching, and of course rolling off of the ring and fighting on the floor. The next match was the first in the elimination tournament, and it was between Dr. Devastation and Kris Kash (who weighed 150 lbs.). Here is a picture of Dr. Devastation :
Who "hails from the North Side of Pittsburgh." Obviously, he was my favorite. He was also the reigning champ as you can see. He had on a pair of pants that looked like they were made out of garbage bags, which caused the fans to chant "garbage pants" at him. He had the best shtick; he would snarl at little kids who heckled him and just sneer "Shut Up!" But he would say it in this tone that made him sound like a child, and it also had a tinge of Yinzer in it which made it come out like "Sheet Up!" He was awesome. Dr. Devastation was accompanied by a fellow member of the VIPs (the group that all the bad guys belonged to) who was acting as his manager, Frank Durso:
This guy was probably even better than Dr. D. He must have been 70 years old and him in black Lycra underwear was not a sight for the feint of heart. His signature move was to lick his pinky finger and then wet his eyebrow. Classic.

I'll have Part II up tomorrow.

(Title picture is of me and the Latin Assassin, who will be featured in Part II)

Weekend Roundup

I know I've been making a ton of excuses about not posting as much as usual, but they are legitimate; I've been helping the Tall Guy rent a property and sell some of the vehicles in The Fleet (as the Tall Guy would say, "I got more cars, than Carter has pills.").

But for the most part, I'm done with all that, so I should be posting more often, at least until I leave the country in May (the future of GNJB is still a bit of a question mark). Anyway, there's been some good stuff that happened in the past few days.

The Pens lost a thriller to the Caps on Wednesday night; recap here, here, and here. As it is with most games a few days old, I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said; but why in the world is Billy G. on the shootout list? This is a guy who had to grow a mustache earlier in the season because he lost the team shootout competition. And also, why attempt a poke check on Alexander Semin? The guy has the quickest hands in the league, you are not gonna' be able to poke the puck off his stick. I trust the Flower in most of his decisions, but that one made no sense. By the way, Semin is still a giant turkey; I think I hate him more than AO, he's got zero class (example: his cross check to the back of Sid's head in the Olympics). And also, he's a huge pussy.

And just as everybody was morning the loss, the Pens went out and put a spanking on the Flyers in a dominating 4-1 win yesterday afternoon; recap here, here, and here. The Flyers just aren't the same team; they vanished after their second goal was (rightly) disallowed.

The Pens play Luca Caputi and the Leafs today at 5 (FSN). Let's see them keep up the good work. Also, if you didn't see Geno's speech at the Dapper Dan awards, it's a classic. No matter how frustrating Geno can appear on the ice, as a person, he is the T's.

I could go out and find some garbage about Ben, but I really am past the point of caring. Go over to Mondesi's House if you want to follow that story.

The Pirates have been really disappointing this Spring, but I don't really care. The games don't count until April 6th (I'll be going to the game, with a camera, so expect an action packed Opening Day post here at GNJB).

In the meantime, Charlie at Bucs Dugout has a good post on Daniel McCutchen and what to expect from him this season. I have to say that Jeff Supan would be a nice comparison, and I'd be happy if that's what he becomes. The only time I've seen McCutchen pitch this spring, his change up was really impressive, so hopefully that's something he can carry over to the regular season.

Pat at WHYGAVS has a nice look at what he believes will be the opening day roster, I don't have any issues with this group of guys, although Ronny Cedeno has been really unimpressive this Spring. I'm staying positive when it comes to Jeff Clement, just remember that he will improve with more reps (I think his approach and power will make his bat play at first base). I'm as clueless as anybody when it comes to the Raynor/Moss debate; I just have that feeling that the Pirates are going to lose Moss to someone (because he won't pass through waivers if we option him to AAA) and he'll break out eventually, but never become more than an average/fourth OF (1-2 WAR player), which is valuable but definitely replaceable (Pat has a good look at this question here).

Tim at BUCCO Fans has a good look at Pirate City and some of the lesser known minor leaguers. This is the place to go to follow the Pirate affiliates when the season starts, and Tim is already doing his due diligence when it comes to the draft.

The PG has a neat article on Delwyn Young, who is tearing the cover off the ball this Spring. As I said, Spring Training means nothing, but any positives we can take away are always nice. If Young can play a reasonable 2nd/3rd base, then he can become a valuable utility guy, but probably nothing more; but he seems to have a knack for pinch hitting (even if you don't think that's an actual skill). Either way, his presence on the roster will make those match ups against the Brewers all the more interesting.

One last baseball note; I love the Mauer signing by the Twins, but let us remember that if you leave a guy behind the plate long enough, it takes it's toll (Jason Kendall). Actually, Kendall compares well to Mauer through their age-26 seasons, although Kendall had a thumb injury at age 27 that sapped all of his power for the rest of his career. But aside from what the Twins should do with Mauer (more days off in the DH spot), the signing proves that if the Pirates can consistently compete in a good ball park despite their market size, they can make a move like this. I've said consistently that Andrew McCutchen could be that guy, but we still have a ways to go before that might be necessary.

Now I'm being recalled by the Tall Guy to first run to Costco, and then build a fire. I might have a few more links later, but more importantly, I'll have a post on my first KSWA event last night (with pictures); you're not gonna want to miss that one.


Everton were only able to get a 0-0 draw away at Wolves yesterday, even though they dominated the run of play. It's definitely a frustrating draw, but a point's a point; although the Toffees will look at this as losing two points more than gaining one. EFC need to start taking all three points from most matches if they want to make it to Europe.

The MLS kicked off their season earlier this week, but most teams played their first game this weekend. I'm not a die-hard when it comes to MLS, but if it's on TV, I'll watch it. It's better than people give it credit for, and if there's a young US player on the field (which there usually is), all the better. Pittsburgh will probably never get a team, but Columbus would be the closest team while Philadelphia got a team this year. Usually I would never be able to pull for a team from Philly, but I may have to make an exception when it comes to soccer. I really don't want to root for a team from Ohio, but I can stomach Columbus more than I can for Cincinnati or Cleveland. When I got into soccer a few years back, I followed FC Dallas because they had Kenny Cooper and a bunch of young US players, but now Cooper has moved on and those US guys haven't really panned out. Most likely I won't pick a team and will just follow along leisurely.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness of the West

So, you know how I had said it feels like I've read a ton of books recently, but had in fact only read one... Well, that was because Blood Meridian made it feel like I was reading a ton of books. That's not to say it was a chore, far from it; it's just that there is not a single word that is wasted by the author Cormac McCarthy.

It's a work that resembles a Greek epic, not only in the story (main character "the kid" joins a group of Indian hunters who travel through Mexico ravaging anything in their way; which is a very short shrifted description) but also in the writing (as I said before, not a word is wasted; there's very little dialogue, tons of setting description, and long flowing sentences packed with archaic metaphors).

The novel also has a historical background, as the group "the kid" joins is based on the Glanton Gang, and Samuel Chamberlain's historical account of his time with the gang- My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue.

I didn't even realize that it was based on actual events until I finished the book, but either way, once you read the book you'll understand how disturbing that fact is. There are so many random acts of violence and they sneak up on the reader because the text lacks any sensation (there are zero quotations, and you won't find an exclamation point anywhere).

All in all, an outstanding piece of literature that I would recommend to anyone including fatalists and realists; because the book can be read either way.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Huge Game

The Pens need to start building some steam before the playoffs, because right now, it looks like they're coasting. Tonight would be a great place to start. The game is on the NHL Network for anybody not in the area, but otherwise you should be at a bar watching this game... even if you're not a hockey fan.

PensBlog preview.

Follow the game on the Empty Netters Blog.

If you're not excited for this game, get the fuck out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday Terry Ruskowskis

Teryy "Rosco" Ruskowski played for the Penguins as his career was winding down, but did wear the "C" while with the 'Guins. As a player, he was known for his leadership (he captained four different teams; still a North American record), but as a person, he's better known for that kick ass mustache he rocked in the '80s.

Rosco ended up scoring 426 points and racking up 1354 penalty minutes in over 630 NHL games. Here's a great interview with Rosco in early 1987, discussing missing Mario to an injury. There's also some really sweet fights that involve Ruskowski on YouTube, which include some match ups against some of the legends (McSorley, Howatt, Greschner, Tocchet). Rosco has been spending most of this decade as the head coach of the Laredo Bucks in the Central Hockey League.

I got one piece of Bucco news to talk about, and then we are going to get to some long overdue soccer news.

The Pirates did exactly what they should have done and sent Kevin Hart to the minors and officially announced Daniel McCutchen as their fifth starter. I've been saying this all spring, but if Hart can't show the ability to throw strikes (he has not), then there is no reason for him to be starting in the majors; send him to the minors to work on his command. McCutchen can throw strikes and has pitched well this spring. WHYGAVS has a good look at the battle before it was decided. If the Pirates really think Hart can become something special, then I'd rather him iron out the issues in the minors, and if he can prove that he's taken that step, then the fifth rotation spot is really not a concern. I'm kind of excited to see McCutchen pitch, if he can keep the ball in the ballpark (big if), he can be a very serviceable pitcher.

Pat also has a thorough look at Ross Ohlendorf and a neat look at Pirate City from his trip to Spring Training.

Everton won this past weekend against Bolton 2-0. Here are the extended highlights. The Toffees are still 6 points out of a Europa spot, but could make a move tomorrow when they face Manchester City (who are in fifth place); match preview here. It's gonna be tough, but one has to hope. I'm pretty sure it's not on TV since it's actually a make up fixture.

The US roster for the World Cup is slowly coming together. This is a cool piece on Jose F. Torres and the decision he had to make between representing the US or Mexico as a dual national. And here is another look at some of the MLS guys who could be putting on the US unis this June. Speaking of those unis, I'm with that guy; they were so close to getting it right, but missed yet again... but that's not to say I'm not gonna splurge on one a month from now.

In other positive US Soccer news, Charlie Davies is actually running again with his club team Sochaux. Amazing.

And here is Yanks-Abroad's latest look at who they think deserve the 23 plane tickets to South Africa. I have no real problems with this list, except I don't think there's any doubt Chuck D makes it back in time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday Al Smiths

So, I know Al Smith has nothing to do with Mondays, but I heard about him today during Mark Madden's interview with Penguins' VP of Communications Tom McMillan and I just couldn't resist going into further detail about Al "The Bear" Smith.

The initial topic was about the Penguins first rivalry, which was with the St. Louis Blues, and Madden had a distinct memory of a bench clearing brawl between the two teams during the '70-'71 season; specifically remembering goalie Al Smith taking off of his jersey and shoulder pads just so he could punch more freely. That is awesome. There's some even better info in this article, including John Garrett recalling his match up against Smith in a WHA game:
He was nuts. We had this brawl in the WHA and of course, you grab the other goalie. Well he didn’t want any part of me, I was a wimpy little guy. He’s trying to tear me away and I’m hanging on for dear life. He’s dragging me all over the ice and he’s saying, "I don’t want you, I want one of the Carlsons." So they finally break up the fight and I have to go off the ice and puke because I’m so tired just from being dragged around the ice.
There's also this little gem from the New England Whalers '74-'75 Yearbook:
Al Smith is many things to many people. To fans, he is the faceless security guard, patrolling that critical hockey area known as the net. To teammates, his jack-in-the-box sense of humor helps keep the club loose during the long hockey winter. For you just never know when the ebullient Smitty will spring a hilarious line or a well-timed practical joke on fellow Whalers. But to the total Whaler community, Al Smith is a brilliant goaltender. A third team WHA All-Star for two consecutive years, many astute hockey men felt Al was robbed when snubbed by Team Canada. He's that good.
There's also some pretty good stuff about his post-playing career from his Wikipedia page (fellow former cab driver). Smith played two seasons for the Pens ('69-'71), during which he participated in 92 games, but managed to win just 24 games. But really, who cares? Look at that goalie mask!

Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and BucsDugout both have good looks at how Zach Duke may be effected by the downgrade in the Bucs' infield defense this year. This is kind of why I wouldn't have been all that surprised to see Duke traded this off-season, and depending on how well the Pirates play early, he could be shipped off in June.

Fan Graphs has the Bucs ranked #25th in their annual preseason organizational rankings, which isn't great, but it could be worse. They also have a few posts about their current and future talent.

The PBC Blog has a look at Danny Moskos and where he might be in his career path. I hope he can turn himself into a decent reliever, but given his K and BB rates, it's looking more and more likely that he'll be a bust. People will always bring up Matt Wieters as the guy the Bucs missed out on, but now that Jason Heyward is the top prospect in baseball, it could just as easily be his name that haunts Pirates fans for years; supposedly, Scouting Director at the time Ed Creech preferred Heyward, but was overruled by Littlefield, ugh... let's change the subject.

Pens play the Red Wings in Detroit tonight. Malkin is gonna' be out for the game (much to Trevor's delight... there I gave you a shout-out, now shut the fuck up), and though the Wings may miss the playoffs this year because "they old", it's still a huge game, should be electric at the Joe, that is if anybody shows up. Quick note; if you ever go to an event at the Joe, make sure you take a catheter with you because it is pointless going to the bathroom, there's like 7 urinals in the entire building. Place is a dump, but so is Mellon... so whatever.

In NASN (Non-Assault Steelers News), Behind the Steel Curtain has another good roundup of what the mock drafts have us doing in April. And in ASN, apparently Ben has some people concerned.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Before I Go...

Two links...

Clint Dempsey is back, and doing ridiculous things.

All you bitches, buy this shirt.

Is This Even News?

You know, because news has to fit into the category of something new? Another overachieving Pitt basketball team claws their way through the regular season (including some impressive wins over Big East powers) only to get dumped within the first three round. Yep, it happens all the time.

Last year's team was supposed to be the one who really changed the tune, but they managed to lose despite having the most talent for a Pitt B-ball team in the Howland/Dixon era. And now Pitt again loses to a team they should have beat in the first weekend of the Tourney (ahem, Bradley).

I'm sure there will be plenty of talk about how Pitt teams can only go so far without impact talent (fairly accurate) and also the limitations of the program that Ben Howland echoed right after he left (Pitt will never jump into the upper echelon of programs). But really, I don't need to reiterate all that garbage.

Yeah, it's a bummer, but considering Pitt gets pretty much everyone back from this year's team (Jermaine Dixon, I love your toughness/defense/rebounding, but you had clearly hit a wall in your shooting skills; unfortunately, just another ugly final performance from a senior), it's not the apocalypse. This season was most definitely a success; I really shouldn't have to go into why this is so.

But I'm just as excited for next year's team because of: a solid recruiting class, Tre Woodall becoming much wiser, Dante Taylor spending the entire summer watching tapes of this year and realizing he needs to get stronger and much much tougher... and then hopefully doing something about it, Gil Brown getting stronger which will make him even more dangerous going to the hoop, Ash Gibbs shaking off a tough second half of the season (and being in crazy shape for next season), and Wanny legitimately putting up a 16/7/6 average next season (I'm not kidding, he's been so much better than I could have ever imagined). Oh yeah, and Gary McGhee getting even scarier (if that's possible).

There's much to celebrate, let's not let this most recent loss tarnish an enormously successful season for Jamie Dixon's team.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Finally Woke Up

I really wasn't all that into March Madness this year. I filled out a bracket but only for shits and gigs (it's been busted for quite sometime, now). I just wasn't all that excited like I have been in previous years. Maybe it's the fact that there were very few dominant teams and notable players this year. Maybe I felt like after Pitt won those three huge away games early in the season, that was the highlight of the season, and nothing could top it.

But I finally got a chance to just vedge out today, do nothing, and watch some basketball. Two teams have me completely enthralled. St. Mary's (made up of a few Aussies and an Irish-Egyptian dominating big guy) and Northern Iowa (they run their offense to perfection, have a 7-foot white-guy who only shoots fade-away jumpers, some dude with muttonchops named O'Rear, and a sharpshooter named Ali Farokhmanesh... who is also white). It was fun seeing St. Mary's send 'Nova home (two days in the making because BoMo got the shaft), and it looks like Kansas might come back (with a little help from the refs) against NIU, but the point is simple; I will never doubt March Madness again. There's too much character to be ignored.

Plus, Bill Raftery is the T's.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

So that was pretty easy...

Who would have thought the Pirates would have handled the Red Sox so easily?

But seriously, great performance by the Panthers in their win over Oakland today. It was really the best way for the game to unravel; close game in the first ten minutes but mostly because of tough defense and bad offense, which will lead to Pitt wearing the opponent down and dominating the rest of the game.

There was this guy next to me and my sister at the bar who was losing it in the first ten minutes, complaining about how he, "can't watch Pitt, they're so terrible on offense." And every time Pitt wouldn't score on a possession, he would lose his shit and draw attention to himself; almost like he was taking pleasure in seeing Pitt not score. Thank God he didn't stick around to see that Pitt scored almost 90 points, because I was close to pulling a Jeff Tabaka on the dude.

Either way, I could barely watch the second half it was so boring, and instead had my eyes on SoCon champs Wofford while they blew a game they should have won against Wisconsin. No biggie, Pitt moves on, so all is well.

By the way, how good does Death at a Funeral look? That's a rhetorical question.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fred Haney's

Fred Haney was the Bucco's manager for three of those terrible 1950s teams. From 1953-1955, he led the Pirates to 104, 101, 94 loss seasons (improvement), before he was let go. In the next three seasons Haney would manage the Milwaukee Braves to two pennants and a World Series Championship in 1957. Haney ended up as the first general manager of the expansion L.A. Angels and was also a broadcaster before he became a manager.

You may be wondering why I am focusing on these terrible Pirate teams from the 1950's and most of it comes from the fact that the two cornerstones of the franchise in the '60s (Dick Groat and Roberto Clemente) were born from that era. Baseball in the '50s was vastly different from the way the game is thought about today, but my biggest point is, sometimes you have to get worse before you can get better.

Pens won last night against the Bruins in what was supposed to be a death match, but ended up a dominating performance from the Guins that produced a fairly boring game. Recap here & here. My own two cents; it was good to see Matt Cooke stand up and face the music he knew was coming; although it would have been better to see him take his helmet off (since he wears a shield, that is the custom) but I don't blame him since Thornton looked like a coon with rabies. Also, it only took 3/4 of the season, but it's nice to see the Pens finally record a shutout; the Flower is never going to be a the type of goalie to rack up a lot of SO since he's not the most fundamentally sound 'tender around and the Pens don't play a style that befits low-scoring affairs, but the Flower always makes the big saves at the big times, and that's all I can ask for right now.

The Buccos sent Pedro to the minors. If anybody is going to try to chalk this up to Pirate cheapness, they're way off. Pedro has a lot to work on before he is ready to be the Pirates everyday third baseman. He needs to cut down on his K%, get a whole let better at hitting lefties, and continue to work on his fielding at the hot corner (especially his range). I'll be paying close attention to the big fella, and will surely have more words on him as the season plugs along.

If you've ever wondered what Spring Training in Bradenton is like, Pat at WHYGAVS is there and has all the info you ever need. Matt B. from Pittsburgh Lumber Co. has a good look at last year's defense versus this year's projected defense. The only huge drop off will be at SS, whether it will be Ronny Cedeno or Bobby Crosby, neither can replace the glove of Jack Wilson.

I hope you watched South Park on Wednesday, as our favorite QB was featured. It was a good episode (not great, as it got a little out of hand at times) and pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to celebrities and infidelity. They're only sorry when they get caught. On a related note, don't know if you saw the texts that Tiger was sending porn star Joslyn James, but I have one nagging question; would Tiger really have stage fright during a golden shower? Dude can sink a putt in font of thousands of people to win a major tourney but can't drain the main vain on a woman with no one watching? That doesn't add up. Also, Tiger is pretty gross.

That's all for today, as I think I just crossed a line with those last few words. WVU is representing the Big East well right now by dominating Morgan State, so hopefully yesterday was just one of those days and Pitt will beat down on Oakland in just about an hour. Hail to Pitt!

One more note: Check out Common Wealth Press, a really cool company that operates out of a shop on Carson St. in the South Side. They do custom work but also have some pretty good designs of their own, especially this little beauty:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday Tony Bartirome's

If you didn't read Joe Posnanski's post about the Rule 5 draft that I linked to a few weeks back, here's the link again; it's quite interesting and has some correlation to the Buccos because much of the post is centered around Branch Rickey using the Pirates 25-man roster in the 1950s essentially for tryouts. The most interesting part of the post is about the former "Bonus Baby Clause":
In 1947, I think, the Rule 5 took on a whole new meaning because of something that was somewhat unrelated. That was the year that baseball instituted the Bonus Baby Clause. The rule stated that any amateur player who got a bonus more than a certain amount ($4,000 at first) had to be kept on the big league roster for the whole season (and, for a time, two whole seasons). The idea, at least on the surface, was to prevent the richest teams from buying up all the best amateur players. Some thought that the real idea was to discourage teams from giving big bonuses.
So I looked at the 1952 season (which just so happened to be Dick Groat's first year as a Pirate), and saw that some guy named Tony Bartirome was given 386 plate appearances to put up a .538 OPS as a first baseman; that's an OPS+ of 48, which is unbelievably bad. It was Tony's first year and he was just 20 years-old, so one would think he fell under the baby bonus rule, but in fact he had played for the Hutchinson Elks of the Western Association in 1951 (though it was before the time of farm systems, Hutchinson was a Pittsburgh affiliate). So why did Tony get so many at bats at such a young age only to show that he was neither ready nor able to handle major league pitching? Surely they could find someone better to play first while letting the young Bartirome get more time in the minors.

Unfortunately these questions are left unanswered. As for Bartirome, the Pittsburgh native was drafted into the Army following the '52 season and only returned to baseball before the '55 season. He never would put up an OPS above .723 in the nine minor league seasons he played until he retired in 1963. Apparently, he makes his home in Bradenton, FL, so if you're down there trying to catch a few Bucco spring training games, keep an eye out for old Tony Bartirome.

As for links. Nothing is better than having an old cranky sports journalist start a blog, say something that make's the reader think the guy hasn't had their meds for the day, and then try to act like it never happened. That's exactly what happened to John Steigerwald (I'll let the Pensblog do the work for me). I can't stand this Steigy, he's been around way too long and his writing shows it. As for Ben taking drugs... um, I'm gonna stay away from that one.

In Pirate news, this is a pretty cool article about D.J. Carrasco, who will most likely end up as our long-man in the bullpen. And then Pittsburgh Lumber Co. has a nice post on the point of all of Huntington's trades (most important point, game changing talent rarely comes in trades). Pat from WHYGAVS is down in Bradenton catching a few games, follow him at his award winning site. FanGraphs takes a look at Kevin Hart; the title of the post says it all, but with the way McCutchen is pitching this spring, I would much rather see Hart work on his control at Indy to start the season with McCutchen actually throwing strikes for the big club, although there is no denying that Hart has better stuff than McCutchen.

BUCCOFans has it's weekly roundup of possible draft prospects. The more I hear about Bryce Harper, the more I hate him. I don't care if he is 17, he is a grade-A doucher. I don't want to root against a 17-year old kid, but he's making it awfully tough not to. We're still months from the draft, and although Drew Pomeranz and Deck McGuire are putting up some PlayStation type numbers, do keep two things in mind: they are probably facing some inferior talent as we've yet to reach conference play and college pitchers do not have a great success rate in the draft.

The Steelers have spent a whole lot of money this off-season; and though I'm not a big fan of the strategy, I don't have a Super Bowl ring while Kevin Colbert has a few. On a related note, I will be playing against a few of the guys tomorrow night, as the Steelers basketball team will be facing off against Shady Side Academy's finest, and by finest, I mean a group of dudes completely unfit for such things; they were supposed to play the varsity basketball team, but the basketball team is still in the state playoffs and will face off against North Catholic tomorrow evening. So that leaves an assistant baseball coach and a few other shmohawks out there to be dunked on by Ryan Mundy and Ike Taylor. I'll have an update tomorrow, including who was a real dick, and how many times the name Ben Roethlisberger was brought up,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Books and Whatnot

Before I call it quits on a fairly long day, and in between the Pens winning a close game with the Bolts (a lot of Pittsburgh fans in the Bay area right now, probably just to see the Buccos and maybe catch a 'Guins game; also, I really dig the banner right now over at PensBlog), the Pirates destroying the Yankees on FSN during what appeared to be a WQED telethon asking for donations towards the Pirates season ticket plans (I don't want to put too much stock in spring training stats and performance, but Bobby Crosby looks damn good and Delwyn Young's bat seems a whole lot quicker this year), and then the Roethlisberger/Arnie Palmer stories coming out of the woodwork (me thinks we'll be seeing more and more people dragging BB's name through the mud); I haven't been all that busy.

But I've been meaning to do a roundup of some quick thoughts on what felt like many, but is in fact only one book I've read recently; and then some TV I might suggest towards a few of my faithful readers (all three of you).

I finished Portnoy's Complaint about a week ago, and to be quite honest, I was a little disappointed. I mean, I enjoyed reading it and found it funny as hell, but I wasn't expecting the main focal point to be about sexual frustration; unfortunately, the final two-thirds are filled with the ramblings of a sexual deviant. Even so, that part of the book was well done (if not a little overwhelming). But I enjoyed the first third much more, as it focused on his family (including his father who can't pass a decent bowel movement to save his life, and his mother who I'm pretty sure I've met before) and his upbringing in Newark, NJ.

Needless to say, this book is a great gift for any young man's Bar Mitzvah. But if I were suggesting a solid read regarding Jewish consciousness (including the whole guilt part), I would pick Stern, which is less known but just as funny and a little easier to swallow.

Just a head's up, the best comedy cartoon ever (yeah, you heard me Family Guy and The Simpsons) will be back this Wednesday at 10:30 on Comedy Central, and their first topic for the new season: Tiger Woods. It's gonna be awesome.

Also starting up again is Breaking Bad, which will be at 9 pm this Sunday on AMC. I'm catching up on the second season On Demand and suggest you do as well, and if you haven't seen the first season, it will take you one night to finish (there were only seven episodes). It's like Weeds, but with more invested, not as light-hearted, and better.

The Pacific began last night, and all though it didn't really pull us out of our seats the way that the trailers were able to, it was awesome (Band of Brothers took a few episodes to really get going as well). Finally I have something to look forward to on Sunday nights. Quick side note; how sweet does Al Pacino as Dr. Kevorkian look in You Don't Know Jack (could possibly be his best role since... um... Scent of a Woman? He's done some terrible movies in the past 15 years), and if you're not excited for Boardwalk Empire, I really don't want to be friends with you.

In other "HBO Knows it's Shit" news, How to Make It in America is a nice little entertaining show, it won't knock your socks off, but it's sure as hell better than Entourage. It will also make you want to immediately travel to NYC and hang out with your friends who are most likely having a better time than you around much better looking people. Also, Luis Guzman is the tits.

Finally, I've been meaning to give this show some good words in this space for quite sometime, but Parks and Recreation is the funniest sitcom on television right now (partially because It's Always Sunny is on hiatus). I've been trying to put my finger on it for sometime, and I realized that it's not just the writing and great comic actors that pack the show (including South Carolina's native son, Aziz Ansari), but it's the timing.

Apparently, the first season of P&C was not well received and flat-out awful depending on who you read or talk to, but now it is in it's second season and really hitting stride. The show is a lot like The Office, back when it was actually funny. See, The Office was really funny for about two or three seasons, but then the characters got stale (which is also why the introduction of Ed Helms's character Andy Bernard was so important; now probably the best character on the show) and the story lines got old (it's an office, and you can only promote or make someone fall in love so many times).

I'll still watch The Office, but I rarely laugh out loud like I do to Parks and Recreation. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant were right on the money with this one, a good sitcom's life range is about two seasons (see: the original Office, and Extras), which is why we should enjoy P&C while we can, because sooner or later, NBC is going to push and push until there's little left to laugh about.

One last link; how can I mention Parks and Recreation without linking to Ben Schwartz, who plays Jean-Ralphio on the show; one of the funniest characters I have ever seen on TV (there are links to his scenes on Ben's website).

Alas, alas... I will get off my white person's soap box and go to sleep. If there's one thing white people love to do, it's to ram their interests and opinions down other people's throats (especially when it involves literature or TV).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More NHL Hit Controversy to Come

This just happened. I can't wait to hear what people have to say about this one. The hit has no real correlation to the Matt Cooke hit from last week, but people are going to bring it up nonetheless. I didn't think it was all that bad of a hit by AO, I just think the guy doesn't know how strong he really is; but even then, he still has to be aware of it.

Here's some good Sunday reading on Hockey Goons.

News Roundup

So I was a little quiet over the past few days. Condolences. But it's amazing how little time you have to sit down at a computer and pour your thoughts out to the five readers you have, when you actually have other things to accomplish.

The Pens have hit a minor snag since reeling off four straight wins following the Olympics, as they lost in overtime to the Hurricanes on Thursday despite dominating the game for the most part, and then they lost to the Devils on Friday with Marty stonewalling the 'Guins once again this season (I still can't believe the refs didn't catch the blatant interference on the Devils third goal). It was a disheartening two days, and while the Devils continue to dominate us in the regular season, we'll see what happens in May.

Pens take on the Lightning at 5 pm today (FSN), and I'm excited to watch Steve Stamkos play; dude's been killing it for the last two months. But more importantly, let's see the 'Guins get back on the horse.

I didn't really get to watch most of the Pens/Canes game on Thursday because I was watching the Pitt/Notre Dame Big East Tourney match up. Needless to say, it was a disappointment. But if they're gonna have a bad game, I'd rather it come in this tournament than the one coming up. I really don't think Pitt deserves a three seed (I don't think they are one of the 12 best teams in the country), but apparently, Joe Lunardi does. And his word is, to quote Keith Cushman, "as solid as oak."

Everton have been a little up and down of late. They got bounced from the Europa League by Porto after pretty much getting dominated for 90 minutes (this seems to be a theme for Everton in away European matches). And then they lost a fairly pivotal match against Spurs, but then the Tofees trounced Jozy Altidore and Hull, a game that included an absolute beauty of a goal from LD. But then, despite being up two goals early, Everton were only able to draw with Birmingham on Saturday 2-2. So where does that leave Everton for the rest of the season? They sit ninth in the table with 42 points (6 points back from a Europa spot, 10 points back from a Champions League spot). But the rest of the season looks fairly easy, with nine games left (4 home/5 away), only Man City away on March 24th and at Aston Villa in April look like tough matches. There is still much to be played for.

On the Donovan side of Everton, it's quite the chess match with LD asking the Galaxy to extend the loan. With the MLS lockout at a bit of a stalemate, I could see this happening, but don't expect there to be any major moves as it looks like the Galaxy are really set on keeping Donovan for the near future. I'll have more updates as the story develops. But in the meantime, this is a great piece from Ives Garcelep on LD's stay in Liverpool. Actually, scratch all that; LD's heading back state side, he deserves a little time off.

On the US side, here's a link to links. I haven't been able to catch any of their games recently, which is a bit of a shame on both sides; I haven't been paying close enough attention, and also with just three months to go before the World Cup, there's clearly not enough media attention being paid to these run up matches. Sometime this weekend, I'll do a more thorough look at the US squad and how it's shaping up. (I just realized that I can watch a replay of the Dutch match on ESPN360, so maybe if I have the time this week, I'll have writeup on how we looked).

One quick note, despite all the apparent good news on the injury front from Dempsey to Onyewu, it's a real shame that Stu Holden (one of my personal favorites on the US radar) fractured his fibula during the Dutch game. He was apparently just hitting stride with his new club Bolton, so I hope this injury doesn't set him back too far on both the club and country fronts.

The PG had a nice prospect fluff piece in today's Sunday paper on Dominican outfielder Starling Marte. Definitely a guy to keep your eye on. But right now I'm watching the Buccos take on the defending world champs and Aki Iwamura just took CC Sabathia deep (oppo!). Charlie Morton has looked especially impressive: working the strike zone, racking up a few K's, and keeping the ball on the ground. I'll have more to say on this later, but I'm a bit disgusted that the Pirates have teamed up with FSN to use this broadcast as one giant sales pitch for season tickets. I understand they need to get the word out and sell some tickets, and a spring training game is a good chance to do so (when fans are still optimistic), but it's just so cheesy the way they're going about the thing.

And finally, God knows we have our own QB issues in Pittsburgh. But, Cleveland, just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself! Having lived in the Carolina's, I understand the angst that Jake Delhomme caused Panthers' fans for the past half decade. Never has a QB parlayed one half of a good season into so much pathetic play. Add in the $7 million price tag in '10, Jebus... Even Browns fans don't deserve this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If the rest of March can somewhat resemble how beautiful today was, the heavy winter was well worth it. It was 67 degrees and sunny, just a gorgeous day. But more importantly, as I was riding my bike through the strip district, I caught a big whiff of a certain smell that I couldn't quite put my finger on, and then it came to me; it smelled like Kennywood. It's getting closer, Pittsburgh.

On a more depressing note, don't go near the rivers this weekend as we're supposed to get massive flooding. I blame Ravenstahl. And God.

A quick note on two previous statements. Apparently, Marc Savard isn't going to be okay as I had previously said, but nonetheless, 'F him. Also, I am flabbergasted that Matt Cooke got nothing. Well maybe not that surprised since it's the NHL, but I'm with everybody else on this, when they let Mike Richards get away with his hit on Booth earlier this season, they really let the cat out of the bag.

And finally, we have an answer to why Ben has a house on a lake in Bumblefuck, Goergia... There's great golf there! What a turd. Just what our injury-prone, somewhat heavy quarterback needs in the off-season; golf.

Pirates Orioles: Live Blog

6:30 - And here we are...

Nothing's better than a little Wednesday evening spring training baseball... actually, I could name a whole lot of things that are better, but this kind of hits the spot right now. You know what's awesome, Rob King and the Pirates pregame. Rob's got really nice hair, almost as nice as Ryan Doumit's facial hair.

Things that excite me from the pregame lineups; Bobby Crosby at SS, Pedro!, Steve Pearce at first, B. Moss and his awesome Affliction shirt, and Daniel McCutchen throwing a few innings. Things I'm not all that excited about; Ramon Vasquez at second base, Vinnie Chulk (awesome name though), and watching Matt Wieters play in an Orioles jersey. I was kind of hoping Lastings Thrilledge would be starting, but there will be plenty of time for the big guy to get his swings in before April 5th.

Bob Walk apparently choked on a hot dog before he came on screen. Someone is going to get screamed at Ron Burgandy style ("Audry! This is bush!"). Actually, I've heard Walkie was a really nice guy, although former play-by-play legend Lanny Frattare was known to put his stoggie out on an intern's cornea if they didn't have his coffee and whiskey mixed just right.

6:42 - Neal Huntington looks exactly like the kid everybody beat up in grade school, no other way to put it. It doesn't help that he looks like he's wearing his Dad's golf shirt. But I love the guy; Dave Littlefield has nice hair, Huntington has a brain... to each their own. I also can't really tell if Huntington is blond, or if he's a day walking ginger...

6:50 - So, little known fact about Charlie Morton; he's got an acoustic album Storm Inside. My favorite track is "I Just Want To Be The One." Maybe one day I'll channel my inner Pat Bateman and write a whole post on his album. This feature on Charlie is a little bit too dramatic, "like dropping a toaster in a bath tub," nice. Rhetorical question: how many cliches can Rob King utilize in one feature? On a baseball note, I've already picked Morton as the sleeper of the staff, and think he'll be just as valuable as Duke or Maholm. He's entering his age 25 season and should be getting better.

6:56 - Octavio Dotel has that Latin American knack of looking oddly pear-shaped but still throwing hard into his 30s, like Pedro Martinez. Some Buccos fan was really bored so he came up with this beaut.

7:00 - 2010 Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball, expect a dogfight. I like it. Quick question, do you think Zach Duke knows we can see his scalp when he does interviews sans cap? I mean, it's a little thin up there buddy. On another note, I would love for Greg Brown to be my nightly news guy; he is so optimistic it almost hurts. Most people can't stand him, but I love Greg Brown, he's such a classic cheese ball.

7:05 - You known what would be an entertaining cage match? Ryan Doumit vs. Ty Wigginton; they both have fantastic goatees.

7:06 - First pitch is a strike. Duke looks good with a cap on, much better. Thing to watch, Duke inducing ground balls and controlling his curve ball (if he even throws it that much). K's Felix Pie on a nice inside fastball.

7:08 - Duke seems to be sweating like it's a mid-July day game and he's in the middle of the seventh. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm just sayin'. K's one of the Izturis brothers on a nice inside fastball that cut in on the hands of the righty.

7:11 - Adam Jones crushes one, although that's kind of one that I hope McCutchen gets eventually. That's one of those kind of balls (line drive, right over his head) that the really good center fielders get. And while I was saying that, Duke walks 54-year old Miguel Tejada on four pitches.

7:13 - Matt Wieters is up and Greg Brown decides to turn the knife into our backs just a few more degrees. Walk on five pitches.

7:16 - Bob Walk is harping on control yet doesn't realize that the first two batters were not that good. Luke Scott then rips a ball to right, which Ryan Church juggles a bit and allows two guys to score and Wieters to go to third, which wouldn't usually matter, but then Wigginton hits a ball to the hole between short and third which Crosby should have got, and Wieters scores. Then another line shot to right that was hit so hard that the runner had to hold (not a good throw from Church there). Then a chopper to mercifully end this inning to third which Pedro handles easily.

7:20 - And just like that, the Bucs are down 3-0. Talk about two out lightning. If McCutchen makes that play on Jones' liner, the O's score none (not that he should have, it was smoked), the importance of one out. Whatev, it's spring training, but I will constantly expect the spectacular from Cutch.

7:23 - I'm racking up a lot of words so far and there is no way I can keep this up (just like any other live blog; starts with a bang, ends with a whimper.) But so far, the Pirates are showing some good patience and got a few good pitches to hit, but have just missed them (including G. Jones double). Bergeson has some good movement on his pitches so far. And then Ryan Doumit does what Ryan Doumit does, rolls over an outside pitch and dribbles one to the right side. John Russel should make him do ten push-ups every time he does that just like they do with Willie Mays Hayes in Major League.

7:29 - I don't know what to think about the one Pirates commercial that just shows them in the weight room; what are we in, an 80's movie? Why do we need a work-out montage to get excited about Bucco baseball? That was also a rhetorical question.

7:32 - And then Duke goes out and has his self a 7-pitch inning by showing better control and a good first pitch curve ball to Adam Jones. 7 pitches, 3 ground balls, textbook.

7:35 - Squared hits and walks, all you can ask for. And now we have us some Pedro, our Lord and Savior. It is pretty clear that Pedro has lost some weight, gone is that nasty double chin. Thank God FSN keeps showing the coaches while we're missing Pedro's at bat.

7:38 - Pedro works the count and smokes one over Jones' head in center field. I just got a semi-chubby. And then Steve Pearce smokes one to the left side of the field (Pedro froze as he should have, and could not score). First and third, one out. Bill Virdon and Kent Tekulve are apparently going steady; they will be making out during the pitching change.

7:40 - Out goes Bergeson (not very impressed with him) and in comes some guy with the last name Lebron (insert pun here).

7:43 - Ramon Vasquez, how could I doubt you? RV goes with the pitch and pokes it over the third baseman's head. Unfortunately Steve Pearce gets thrown out trying to get to third (can't really blame him for trying; baseball wisdom says you can make the second out at third... which is idiotic, you shouldn't be making outs anywhere). Cutch gets a flat fastball right down the pipe knee high and misses it by hitting it a mile high. 3-2 O's.

7:45 - I really like Ryan Doumit's "Foul Tip" commercial, although it would be nice if they were a little more intimidating; like if he said, "Watch Pirate baseball on FSN, or else... I will eat your first born son." Yeah, much better.

7:49 - Most of the balls Pedro has fielded have been easy choppers that he hasn't even needed to bend down to get, but he has shown off the cannon of an arm he has (accurate as well). Everything Pedro does I will scrutinize veraciously, because I have nothing else to do. Duke walks Luke Scott and is then pulled from the game. Except for about six batters in the first inning, not a bad start from Duke.

7:55 - Steven Jackson is in the game, who I don't really care for. He's supposed to be a ground ball pitcher, but he doesn't really fit that profile. He's more like just a replacement level pitcher. And then he makes me look like an ass by striking out Ty Wigginton (prize jewel of Littlefield's Kris Benson trade, only after he turned down Ryan Howard first) on a nice splitter.

8:03 - Not a bad bottom of the fourth, a couple fly balls that were just missed and a missile line drive from Doumit. I'd love to see Doumit getting back to driving the ball back up the middle, when he's doing that you know he's really swinging well.

8:08 - Dan McCutchen is in to pitch. He's a fly-ball pitcher (almost never a good thing), but if he keeps the ball low, he usually doesn't let up too many home runs, which is when a fly-ball pitcher really gets in trouble. But the key right now is for McCutchen to throw strikes, since that's something that his opponent for the fifth spot in the rotation (Kevin Hart) seems unable to do so far this spring. McCutchen K's Pie on three really nice change ups (and I mean really nice).

8:13 - Pedro: part two. And for some reason, FSN is not giving us the good view and instead showing us the birds-eye view which is total shit. FSN is the worst. Pedro shows his power by drving an inside pitch to the opposite field. It was an out, but it was a somewhat impressive out. And then Steve Pearce did a Steve Pearce by striking out on three breaking balls.

8:18 - McCutchen K's the first batter with another fantastic change up. And then Adam Jones does something he should never do again, try and bunt for a base hit (maybe he was bored). McCutchen retires the side by jamming Miguel Tejada on a nice inside pitch. The other Cutch is looking pretty good right now.

8:24 - RV scoots one through the right side no thanks to Luke Scott and his range at first. Apparently Vasquez looks to be running much better says Bob Walk, hmm... he went from slowest to slower. Vasquez is my whipping boy this spring.

8:27 - There's not something you see everyday, Andrew McCutchen swinging through an 87 MPH fastball to strikeout. Bobby Crosby has a little Gabe Kapler/Brian Giles to his look; does he have a single hair on his body? That was definitely a rhetorical question.

8:30 - And a 6-4-3 double play on a chopper to short... on a hit-and-run. Pretty sure Ramon Vasquez is still slow.

8:34 - Brendan Donnelly is in to pitch; he's the oldest man on the team and also a scab. He looks good so far with a violent throwing motion that I would not teach any young man to imitate. Argenis Diaz is also in at short and is supposed to be a pretty slick fielder although he can barely hit the ball out of the infield. Donnelly K's Wigginton with what looks like a splitter to end the inning. Impressive performance from Old Man River.

8:42 - Garrett Jones continues to look capable against lefty pitching by just missing an inside fastball and hitting it to the warning track. Doumit swings at a terrible 2-0 pitch and pops out to Grammy winning alt-country/rock singer-songwriter Ryan Adams (yeah, I went there). Ryan Church gets frozen on a fairly mediocre curve ball from Hendrickson. Bing, Bang, Boom.

8:52 - We finally get our first tough play for Pedro at third, a fairly slow roller down the line. He did well to get there and though his throw was a bit low, it should have been picked by Pearce over at first. Pedro then makes amends by smoothly fielding a solidly hit grounder to third and starting a 5-4-3 double play.

9:04 - And that is why we must somewhat temper our enthusiasm; Pedro just can't hit lefties. It's something he definitely needs to work on as he flailed at three straight breaking balls. Until Pedro shows that he can at least look competent against lefty pitching, there's really no reason to rush him to the big leagues.

9:09 - Jose Tabata sighting! He is looking much slimmer and apparently he is wearing his hat crooked now. Somewhere Pokey Reese is smiling. Side note; I will not be spelling Chris Jakubauskas' name fully and will instead be calling him Jako.

9:15 - Usually this is where most people would be nodding off, but for me, it's somewhat exciting. This is the first (and likely only) time this year I will be able to watch some of these guys like Brian Friday (looks like a bat boy), Gorkys Hernandez (crack-head skinny), and Argenis Diaz (has decent bat speed for a guy who apparently can't hit).

9:23 - As the tall guy points out, Bill Mazeroski has that look on his face like he can't wait to get to the bar stool and start having people buy him drinks. The nose says it all; too much booze and too much sun.

9:25 - Vinnie Chulk is in and is now the Tall Guy's favorite Pirate just because of his name. But he does himself well and K's a few guys in between almost letting Josh Bell (who looks like a beast) take him deep.

9:28 - Last ups! And JVE (Jon Van Every) does exactly what you shouldn't do in the ninth, swing at the first pitch. Next up, Kratzy, who played his college ball for the Royals of Eastern Mennonite University, pops out to right. And then Jose "Where's my baby?" Tabata rolls one past the pitcher and beats the throw to first. That's a line drive in the box score; another reason why box scores suck. Tabata steals the base despite a crappy jump, which puts the tying run in scoring position (another fairly useless term) for Brandon Jones.

9:34 - But Jones rolls over an outside pitch and grounds out to second. Game over. 3-2 O's. No coverage of the post game Pirates show on FSN as the Tall Guy wants to watch the L'Ville/Cinci game on ESPN.

I am too tired to come up with some good final thoughts, those will come tomorrow (maybe). But for now; Dan McCutchen looked damn good showing off a really impressive change up, and just to be sure, that game upped my temperature from about 101.3 to 102.5. The Bucco Fever is taking over!