Friday, April 30, 2010

In Defense of OV

I was looking for a picture of AO staying out on the ice after last night's handshake and saluting the crowd for what was a spectacular season by the Caps. It really was an amazing season from this Capitals team; 54 wins, 121 pts, 318 goals scored. But that's not my point, although I thought it was necessary to point out how good the Caps were this year (quick interesting fact: 3 of the past 5 Presidents Trophy winners have lost in the first round, including the 124 point Red Wings of 05-06).

Back to my main point; I'm not even going to point out the absurdity of Capitals fans being saluted for completely failing to give their team any overwhelming support despite being down most of the game (I've never seen a crowd so dull at times in a game 7 in the SCP). Actually, I am going to point out that terrible crowd last night; it got to the point where they were expecting the team to do something in order to get the crowd back in it, which as I've pointed out before in regards to Igloo crowds, sometimes it has to be the other way around, especially when your team is dominating the entire game. Caps fans (and DC fans in general) are an easy target, so I'm not going to hop on there, but the crowd failed that team last night.

Anyways, finally back to my main point. It was a class act by AO to stay out there despite it being one of the lowest moments in his career. He could have sulked off the ice immediately, hung his head in the locker room, and left without talking to reporters. But the part that interested me most was the lack of support he got from his teammates in this noble showing. The Versus guys pointed out the absence of any other team leaders in saluting the crowd for their season long support. Semin, Green, Backstrom? Nowhere to be found.

And that's the problem with this team. It's not Ovechkin, who despite his name aptly providing the letters for c-h-o-k-e, is really anything but a choke artist. He scored 5 goals with 5 assists in the series and has 40 points (20 G, 20 A) in 28 career playoff games. That's a 1.42 Points/Game average, which is actually better than his career regular season average of 1.34 (although he did bump that up to 1.51 this season). AO is a great player in any game, so let's get over that.

But Semin? Green? Talk about not showing up in the playoffs. I'm not one to go overboard when it comes to playoff performances; it's a small sample size compared to regular season play, and the more playoff games someone plays, the more likely their performance will match their regular season output (Alex Rodriguez anyone?). And I don't think Semin wasn't anywhere to be found in the series (he attempted 44 shots, more than even AO), but he pressed his game, trying to force things, when in the playoffs it's important to play within yourself.

Green was an easy scapegoat because he took the penalty in the offensive zone that led to the Habs' first goal, but his pinch in the third period led to the goal that brought the Caps back into the game with just over 2 minutes left. Even so, the guy has just 4 goals in 28 career playoff games (.14 G/GM ratio) in three seasons from 07-10 (during those seasons, he has 68 regular season goals in 225 games; a .30 G/GM ratio). Again, Green is just 24 years old, he has a ton of playoff hockey left to prove his true talent. But the questions will arise nonetheless.

All right, I'm going on way too long about a team I really distaste. For the record, I think Semin is a punk while Mike Green is one of the worst defenders in the league. But the whole point was that although AO plays every game with the intensity necessary, his teammates don't seem to follow suit. If some of these goats played with the heart that AO shows in every Stanley Cup playoff game, the Caps would never lose; there's too much talent on that roster to lose if they had the heart to match.

I think most of the blame can be laid on those individual players (what the hell happened to Tomas Fleischmann?), but some of it can be laid on their captain, who must lead in all facets, which includes bringing his teammates to the appropriate level that he shows game in, game out. Ovechkin's teammates' disappearing act at the end of the game only proved it further. If the rest of the team really followed AO as their fearless leader, they would have stayed out on that ice until #8 decided it was time to hit the showers. But their actions only proved their lack of respect towards their captain, which is not only the Caps problem, but Alex Ovechkin's as well.

Oh yeah, and if you haven't seen the Caps Eulogy on Puck Daddy (written by the PensBlog), you should probably check it out now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pirates 7 Brewers 3

I did not see that coming. The Pirates finally made it past the fifth inning while keeping the game interesting. But of course they couldn't hold their 2-1 lead, giving up a solo HR in the sixth and eighth innings, which put the Bucs down 3-2 heading into the ninth inning against Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader. But the Pirates crushed Hoffman, who is over the hill at this point in his career.

I'm not all that surprised by the Pirates late-innings theatrics. This team, as terrible as they've been in the past ten days, has shown a propensity for not going down easy (that is, unless it's the third inning and they are already down six runs). That and a combination of luck have led to their stellar record in close games (+/- 3 runs).

I don't want to act too excited, but this was a huge win for the Bucs. It snaps a seven game skid, but more importantly, it snaps a 22-game losing streak at Miller Park in Milwaukee. I still wouldn't say the Pirates broke out by any means (the early season plate patience is still no where to be found), but they've been squaring up the ball a whole lot more of late, which should eventually lead to more runs. Just a few more notes:

Jeff Karstens isn't anything special, but he threw strikes for the most part, and was able to strand runners, which you can either chalk up to making a good pitch when he needed to and also a little bit of luck (which the Pirates have been lacking of late). I wouldn't expect that type of quality start from Jeff every time he takes the mound (especially given the big three numbers; 1 HR, 4 K, 4BB), but with the way the Pirates pitching has been of late, I'll take it.

Andy LaRoche is on an absolute tear right now, but most of it is due to luck. You just simply cannot sustain his LD% (42.4%!), and he's sneaking a lot of ground balls in between fielders. But he's squaring up a ton of balls while avoiding his major vice, pop-ups. He's gotta start hitting for power, but I'll take the base hits for now.

I make no bones on how I've soured on Ryan Doumit, but I would love to be proven wrong and for him to absolutely rip the cover off the ball. As long as he is staying back and driving the ball to the opposite field, I'll always enjoy watching him hit. But when he rolls over the ball continually and grounds out to first/second... nothing gets me as riled up as when Doumit does that.

There's probably more I can say, but I don't wanna pass too much judgment on just one game. Let's just enjoy this one for as long as we can, which is probably only about 12 hours, as the Bucs play a business man's special against the Brewers at 1 pm tomorrow. So if you're unemployed like me, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Anthony Rendon, Here We Come!

Who is Anthony Rendon, you ask. The consensus number one pick for the 2011 MLB Draft. 2011; no, that is not a typo. The Pirates are terrible (and yes, I did watch the game last night and was fed up by the third inning... again), and their run differential of -82 is more than twice that of the second worst Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, just like everything else that's happened to the Buccos since Sid slid, the Pirates have been quite unlucky in that they are just 7-12, while the Orioles are a very lucky 3-16; so the Orioles have a slight 4 game lead on us when it comes to the Rendon sweepstakes (Keith Law has said he would take Rendon over Harper if they were in the same draft; plus Rendon is supposedly not a huge douche).

Why am I so obsessed with Rendon? Here's a recent snippet from ESPN's draft blog:
We've talked here about how there is a lack of college bats in the 2010 class, so I feel obligated to share the updated season numbers of 2011 top prospect Anthony Rendon, a 3B at Rice. After Friday's games, the sophomore is hitting .378/.542/.733 with 13 home runs and a preposterous 48-15 BB/K ratio in 40 games. He's walked in more than 25 percent of his plate appearances, and he won't turn 20 until June. He's what we in the business like to call -- good.
48-15! No prospect is a sure thing, but I really wouldn't mind the Buccos pulling a Pens '02-'04 type of last place tank in order to stack up on number one picks (all though, many people could argue the Pirates have been pulling that move since '93).

In all seriousness, I want to see the Pirates do well, but with the way they are playing right now, I just don't see that happening anytime soon. But I can guarantee you one thing; I'll still be tuned into the game come 8 o'clock this evening.

If you want some good news regarding the Pirates, the minor league teams are doing well!

Oh, yeah, this is hilarious.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I'm really trying to understand why I watch Pirates games anymore. I went to a bar with my uncle to catch the Pirates game along with the Red Wings/Coyotes game. It was all down hill from there. The Pirates are fucking terrible, I can't stand to watch them... once the games start. Before the game, I'm telling myself, this could be it, they'll turn it around here, Morton can't be this bad, the Bucco bats are this close to breaking out...

They are fucking terrible.

UPDATE: The Pirates are still terrible, but I should probably avoid posting immediately following a game; too much boiling frustration (I wanted to put my head through a wall when Aki Iwamura was doubled off first base on a pop-up in the top of the first inning today; it's the major leagues, who does that?). I think part of it is the terrible play all around. The last six games have all followed the same pattern of pathetic performance right from the get-go; they haven't even had a lead or been close in any of the games. And it's not just one thing; it's everything.

But these are the Pirates; I should expect this, right? Well, no, not really. Usually, in the beginning of the season, the Bucs play well while I really don't care because I know it will taper off as there isn't enough talent to sustain a .500 season. So usually by the time the Pirates are playing terrible baseball (August/September) I know it doesn't matter because it's such an experiment at that point.

The fact that the Pirates are currently playing like they did the past two August/Septembers has been extremely frustrating because I'm just not used to it, but maybe I should give them a break since, for the most part, the Pirates are starting the season as an experiment. There are a ton of question marks on this team all around and for the most part, everyone has bombed or been injured (actually, I can't think of one positive surprise performance so far from the major league level... Garrett Jones is still drawing walks?), which has directly led to this terrible start. It's amazing how terrible everything has gone; it can only get better, right?

And that is my thought process as I sit down every night to watch this team, which is also why I get so distraught when the score is 5-1 by the third inning. So I'll continue to watch, and most likely continue to be posting profanity laced reactions from 10-3 beatings like we took today (the Pirates collected 14 hits today, but only one extra base hit; that is confounding. The Pirates wOBA in the past seven days is a flabbergasting .246). I have little else to do with my life, but please be patient with me while I'm patient with this team.


PS - If you would like to commiserate with other Pirate fans, BucsDugout is the place for you. My favorite line comes from biggyv, "It's sayin something... when the best Pirates-related news of the week is that Chris Jakubauskas didn't die."

Also, this is a nice summary of what Huntington has accomplished since he took over. As I've said before, the plan is right, but what it comes down to is whether the guys making the decisions are game. So far, it looks like not. The guys they are bringing in have talent, but clearly are missing that major league gene in order to carry it over to the show...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

No More Game at Mellon for Me

I am now 0-2 in this years playoffs, which is quite the opposite of where I was last May when I brought the Cup home with me from Detroit. Despite my lackluster record in the past week, I'm pretty sure Thursday was my last game at the Igloo either way. We've had some good times, and what better way to go out than a triple overtime game, which ended up being the second longest game in Igloo history. Although, it would have been nice to get a W. I don't think there is anything more deflating than losing a multiple overtime game at home; it's such a bummer. But we did get our money's worth.

Recap here, here, and here; my own thoughts boil down to one thing, Leclaire stole this one from us. It happens every now and then in the playoffs when a no-name goalie plays the game(s) of their life and stave off elimination ferrabit. Lets hope in this case that it was just one game. Game 6 is tonight at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa (7/FSN). Let's end it tonight and once again avoid seeing a handshake at home for the first time since Marian Hossa was a Pen.

I haven't commented on the Buccos since the Earth Day Massacre. Pat at WHYGAVS kind of sums it up for me; I know that's lazy, but if my comments from the last post (which was written while I was watching that game) can be taken as anything, I really don't want to bring this up again. I had the same reaction for about 24 hours after the game. I was going to the Pens game, so I had something to keep my mind off of it, but everybody going to the game with me, along with a few of my friends who texted me had the same thing to say, "20-0?"

See, most people whp know me, don't know anybody else who follows the Bucs this closely, so I'm sort of the go-to-guy for all things Buccos. I'm not trying to brag about this, if you think about it, it's pretty pathetic. But I'm that guy. So when I was being given the business about this historic loss, I wanted to say all the right things (it's just one game, it's a long season, this is an evaluation year, the Brewers are a really good team, etc...), but all I could do was shake my head and say, "I don't wanna talk about it." Yeah, it was a lame answer, but it was actually how I felt. I just didn't wanna talk about it. Best to give me a few days to think about what this really meant.

I had been wavering back and forth between posting how disappointing these first few weeks have been for the Pirates. It sort of boiled over in that italicized rant during the massacre. The pitching has been terrible, the offense has been just as bad, and fundamentally, they've lost any semblance of concentration (Delwyn Young is an absolute mess over at third base). But as much as I want to abandon ship, the more I thought about it, the less it mattered. It is just one game (or one series, because it was a terrible three games), I'm not expecting great things from this season, and things are bound to turn around. If the Buccos continue at this pace (run differential wise) until game 50, then it's time to hit the panic button. But we're still in April, so relax, and just hope things turn around.

Although last night was a kick in the nuts, as we finally lost a close game mostly due to luck. The Pirates pitched better and hit better, but sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't, which is why one run games even out over the season. Tonight could get worse as Chris Jako goes to the mound to face Wandy Rodriguez, who usually mows down the Bucs.

The Steelers did what they always do during the draft, nothing exciting but always solid. Anything I say will just be upchuck from the words they produced over at BTSC. The most important points that I took from this draft which make me happy; special teams was seen as a priority and addressed as so, and the Steelers didn't panic into drafting a ton of secondary players (despite what many Steelers fans have been screaming, the secondary is not as bad as people say, especially with Troy back). I say this a lot when it comes to the Pirates FO, but it makes even more sense for the Steelers; Trust the Process.

One last link; I need to start taking anger management classes so that I may avoid this fate ten years down the road.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When the Steelers Mattered

As I'm watching this terrible, terrible team called the Pirates get blown out at home for the third straight day by my least favorite team the Brewers (I didn't get to watch much of the series sweep of the Reds, but I've watched most of this series and a lot of the West Coast trip in which they looked pretty terrible as well; all I know is that I am slowly losing any optimism I had for this team to win 60 games. You can't continue to win half your games by two runs or less and lose the other half by 5+ runs; it just doesn't work that way in baseball. As much as I've seen, this team is horrendous in all facets. I'm trying to stay optimistic, if you ask anybody who knows me I am the most optimistic Bucco fan out there; but this team hurts to watch. To loosely quote Bull Durham, how this team has won 7 games... It's a miracle), I've realized what little interest I have in the NFL now-a-days.

The realization has been sneaking up on me for quite some time, but it really bubbled over in a conversation I had with a friend earlier today. He brought up the draft, which I thought was this upcoming weekend as it has always been. Little did I know that the draft is now a three day event starting tonight and ending on Saturday. Not only do I think this is a terrible idea because it ruins one of the best loafing/drinking Saturdays of the year (many a beautiful Saturdays I have spent watching Mel Kiper's hair as opposed to enjoying the great outdoors), but what really shocked me was my complete ignorance to this change.

Maybe you've noticed my lack of links or posts regarding the Steelers off-season even though it's been one of the busiest in memory, but it's quite obvious that I just don't care as much anymore. When I left for college in the far away ass-backwards land of South Carolina, I followed the Steelers religiously, much more so than when I was in High School.

I didn't think about it then, but I look back at it now as one of the only means of keeping some sort of continual connection to the city of Pittsburgh. Every Sunday I would don my Steelers jersey and sit in front of a TV at a sports bar for three and a half hours. Ironically, I think part of the enthusiasm came from the Steelers drafting a QB in the first round for the first time since I started supporting them. I got a Ben Roethlisberger jersey for my birthday on 9/7/04; Ben would make his first start just 19 days later. Plus I was in college, and everybody remembers how much free time we had in college; lot's of procrastination to look at every Steelers blog and article on the internet.

But since I've moved back to Pittsburgh, not only have the Steelers played like garbage (my first weekend back was the beginning of the five-game losing streak), but my enthusiasm has waned considerably. I'd like to think the reason isn't due to the Steelers play; after all, I watched the games just as intensely as ever and even spent my own money to attend the Green Bay game. I do have a few theories though.

I think being around people that are Steelers crazy (and no matter what people tell you, the Steelers still run this town no matter how good the Pens are) has turned me off. It's so irrational, fanatical, and non-stop. All people have been able to talk about the past few days is Ben Roethlisberger despite our defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins playing meaningful playoff games in pursuit of their second straight championship.

Maybe this is why I gravitated towards the Pirates while I was growing up. They were such an afterthought, constantly flying under the radar, and the butt of every joke. Maybe it's the natural inclination of a future yuppie white guy; I can only enjoy things that others don't, I just have to be different.

I know it's definitely because of the Tall Guy, who could give a rats ass about the Steelers for the most part. I think part of that has rubbed off on me.

My final theory doesn't make as much sense because I still think that I enjoy watching football, but maybe I don't. I was watching The Colbert Report yesterday and they had on George Will who was promoting the reissuing of his classic baseball book Men at Work, and he brought up an interesting study that concluded that there is only 11 minutes of real action in an NFL football game. Now he was using this fact as a way to say that baseball is more exciting, which is definitely debatable (for my money, hockey and soccer are the best sports to watch on TV or in person), but I think the fact definitely points towards something I've noticed as I got older. NFL games are boring.

Can you justify spending 3-4 hours a Sunday in order to catch 11 minutes of action? I can't. Yet I still watch the Steelers, and I will continue to watch the Steelers (although I am considering using a DVR more often). But I don't think I will ever be as fanatical as I was for the five years I was in Charleston. I do think that's the reason; a sort of absence makes the heart grow fonder type of thing. My friends, who are still pretty Steelers-crazy, all live fairly far away from Pittsburgh. And who knows, maybe when I move away I'll catch the fever again. But as of right now, I could give a shit what happens tonight on the South Side or on ESPN; my attention is right where it should be for all Pittsburgh sports fans... The Igloo.

(Quick update in the Pirates game. When I started this post, the Brewers were up 4-0 in the second inning and are now up 10-0 in the top of the fifth; I've already told my Milwaukee buddy, "You're my Daddy"; Andrew McCutchen, my only really hope for a Pirate superstar, completely failed to do his job with a runner on third and less than two outs by tapping a meatball of a fastball back to the pitcher; Ryan Church looked at a fastball right down the pipe with two strikes and the bases loaded; and Ryan Braun, the biggest doucher in baseball but an incredibly hitter-- he's the Ovechkin to Pirates baseball, stole third while up six runs... what a douche. It's probably best if I just take a deep breath and stop watching this game, but I probably won't.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pens 7 Sens 4

You really don't see these types of playoff games any more. There's too much grabbing and checking, few odd man breaks, and less penalties. But when the floodgates open, it's hard to reign it in.

Recap here, here, and here. It's obvious that Brian Elliot is out of his element, but that doesn't diminish what the Pens did last night. They were all over the offensive end of the ice, generating tons of shots, and taking advantage of the opportunities given them. Sid's a beast and it was nice to see some help come from some of the lesser knowns (I love me some Adams to Talbot). The only really disappointing part of the game was the Pens tendency to take dumb penalties while being up multiple goals. I shouldn't have had to worry once we were up 4-0, but unfortunately, due to some timely goals by the Sens, I had to pay attention for the last thirty minutes.

But 7-4... I'll take it. The Pens have a good chance to take a handshake at home on Thursday, something they haven't done since 2008. I'll be there, so hopefully I can turn around my own playoff record for this post-season.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quick Notes

Most of the people that pay attention to this blog, I was with this weekend; they were able to get the GNJB podcast in person. But I do have a few things to say that were either left out of the podcast, or for the two other people that read this site.

GNJB - It's absolutely absurd that Andy Sutton is still playing in these playoffs. He didn't leave his feet and he didn't have his elbow extended (which I don't think should matter at all, an elbow is an elbow); but immediately following the Matt Cooke hit, the NHL changed the rules mid-season to make sure that there is some sort of punishment for hits to the head. What the 'F was that that happened to Jordan Leopold? He should be banned for at least two games. And I don't even have to mention his douchiness to Ray Fittipaldo regarding a fairly simple question... Talk about not following the player conduct rules.

GNJB - I don't know why everybody is making this big deal about the Bronx cheer the Flower got following his first save in game two (which followed him giving up a soft goal on the first shot of the game). Bronx cheers are for the most part, fairly harmless; and a professional athlete should not care or get raddled following receiving one. But at the same time, since the Pens went to the Cup Finals a few years back, Pens fans (especially at the games) have come to feel like they are owed something. If we let up a goal, or are not dominating a game, our crowd seems to sit back on their seats and expect the Pens to do something in order to get them in the game. That's not how it works; it's gotta be a two-way street, sometimes the team needs to energize the crowd, but most of the time, it has to be the other way around. And it's only going to get worse when they move into that fancy new place across the street (a lot more clients, a lot less fans).

GNJB - Ben's penalty comes down on Wednesday. OFTOT has a good look at the issue here. My thoughts; he's completely innocent of any crime, and therefore really doesn't deserve any punishment per how the NFL traditionally works... But he is definitely a huge scumbag, so I can't really defend him. Two games would work for me; and it's not like we're forfeiting two games, we'll still have a team out there, with a competent QB whether that be Dennis Dixon or Chas Batch.

GNJB - WHYGAVS sums it up best; I don't know what to think about this Pirate team. Due to their run differential, you have to say they are very lucky to be 7-5, and a lot of the question marks are still question marks. But I don't want to come down too hard on this team this early. I'll let everybody enjoy it for now, but this upcoming series between the Bucs and Brewers is going to be huge.

I'll have more later, probably following the games. Got stuff to do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pirates 6 Giants 5

Before I get into any of the positives on the Pirates end, I want to address a huge blunder by Bruce Bochy and the Giants.

Your best relief pitcher is usually your closer because he pitches in the most important spots during the ball game, but that doesn't mean your closer can only come in during a game that is tied or in which your team is leading.

The Giants made a huge mistake by not bringing in Brian Wilson to pitch the top of the ninth down by one. Instead, they let some guy named Medders allow an extra two runs (could have been more) that basically lost the game. If the Giants had brought in Wilson to face the bottom third of our lineup, the Giants win this one on Valez's HR. It's that simple and for some reason, managers who are paid to be the ones making the most important decisions during a ball game just don't get this. I would be livid if I was a Giants fan.

On a somewhat related note, nothing proves the save stat to be totally irrelevant than Dotel in the bottom of the ninth. He didn't have his best stuff, and the Giants got lucky on that first hit (pop-up double down the line) but Dotel struck no one out, gave up a HR and two runs, and still got a save, which is a statistic that earns people money (see: Capps, Matt). What was more impressive to me was Evan Meek's two innings of work, and Branden Donnelly's one inning of work with a one-run lead.

All right, enough of my negativity. Despite the Pirates bats completely falling asleep in the middle of the game (they were put down in order for 14 straight hitters, spanning 4 innings in which they saw just 36 pitches; it was pathetic), the started well and finished well, which was enough for 6 runs which should usually win you a game. Paul Maholm wasn't good either (exactly when the Bucs needed seven innings from their starter, Maholm gave them five), he was all over the zone and couldn't get in a ground-ball groove, although he did get some key Ks and outs at important moments. As I said, the bullpen was what won the Bucs the game.

Lastly, what a bomb from Andy LaRoche. I'm a big fan of Andy's (he's got a solid approach at the plate and plays an above average third base) and I want to see him succeed (will make the Bay trade easier to swallow), but I've always said he seemed like the perfect guy for PEDs. Most of the balls he drives (especially to center) never reach the warning track and end up as hard outs; if he could just put an extra thirty feet into those hits...

But that home run he hit tonight was an absolute bomb, and surprisingly, it wasn't a great pitch to drive. Yes, it was a slider over the heart of the plate, but those are the type of pitches you pull over the third baseman's head for a double, not the type you send 420 feet to CF. I was pleasantly surprised and doubly impressed. Let's see if he can add to that as the season progresses.

Too tired to add anything else, but let's enjoy our return to .500 baseball for the next few hours before we may dip back into the abyss.


Before I say anything I have to ask just one question: Why oh why, did Ben not get his haircut just two days earlier?

I had to send this along. It's a story from Channel 11 regarding the demise of Big Ben Jerky and the relief of a police dog Ben helped pay for.

The most disturbing part is towards the end:
The dog's handler will be given the option of buying him for $1 and keeping him as a pet. If the officer passes, others will get a chance to buy the dog for $1. Township officials say the dog will not be destroyed.
I think the word the author was looking for was "euthanized" or even "put to sleep." Destroyed?

The PensBlog has their playoff preview up, check it out.

I really liked how Tangradi handled himself in the season finale. Here's the recap of that game from PensBurgh.

The Bucco's were forced into starting Brain Burres last night, and so I didn't really even need to watch the game, you just knew they were gonna lose. And they did. Tonight should be better with Paul Maholm on the mound, although the Bucs lineup is going against a pretty good pitcher in Matt Cain (10/FSN).

WHYGAVS has a look back on the first week. The only thing I can definitely agree with is that this is not a 110-loss team... so, deal with that.

BuccoFans has a recap of how the draft prospects did this past week. I got to watch a little bit of Drew Pomeranz's start against Georgia on Friday night (Update: I have no life). He looked really good against some pretty solid competition, my only concern would be his fastball; it doesn't have great velocity (sits in the low-90s and peaks at about 93) and it doesn't generate ground balls. But he's got a smooth delivery, he's a big boy (6'5), and he's got a nice change up and breaking pitch to accommodate his fastball. I tried to think of a good comparison, and the best I could do is Ted Lilly, as he throws across his body a little bit, lands on a stiff front leg, and has a pretty fluid motion.

I would love for some position player to make a move in the next two months and establish themselves as a solid option at #2, but until that happens, we'll have to settle for a much more risky pitcher, and right now for me it would be between Pomeranz and HS RHP Jameson Tailon. Pomeranz doesn't have ace stuff, while Tailon does but is a much riskier pick. Here's a good recap of the Georgia/Miss game from Andy Seiler, who runs a pretty solid draft blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Cost of Class

A lot of people were questioning the Steelers in the past few months because of Ben's assault case and all of Santonio's issues. The Steelers were better than that; they had too much class. Had the "Steelers way" really fallen to the wayside that quickly? A lot of people point back to the James Harrison situation; when the Steelers made a lame excuse as to why they didn't draw the same hard line with Harrison as they had with others. Some other people, including me, questioned the legitimacy of the notion at all; Steelers Way: myth or reality?

Well, now at least we know there's still some sense of dignity left in the Steelers organization. The 'Lers sent Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth round pick.

My initial thought was, "What the F?" A fifth round pick is all we can get for a former number 1 who is also a Super Bowl MVP? But the more I thought about, the more it made sense. Holmes will be gone after this season, he's already going to be suspended for four games this upcoming season, and the guy is a pretty big question mark (he's a very talented wide receiver, but he's obviously not that smart, and has yet to really put it together). Maybe I'm just trying to talk myself into the move, but it's not like the offense is going to go straight down the tube without Tone. They signed Randle-El who is a capable 3rd WR and they have Mike Wallace who seems more than capable to step into the same role that Holmes played.

I don't know, I probably need more time to think about this move, and it will help when I hear what other people (whose opinions I value) have to say. But the only logical reason for this type of move has to be for the face of the franchise, because it definitely needed a little rhytidectomy.


As I said earlier, the Tall Guy and I made the 80 mile trip up to Altoona to watch Stephen Strasburg make his professional debut against our Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates AA affiliate).

I forgot my camera, so all the pictures I took were on my phone, and they didn't come out all that well. This is probably the best one I got of Strasburg from our seats (the Tall Guy really delivered, we were second row behind the plate).

Something little people know about the Altoona Curve; they retired Adam Hyzdu's number:
I'll have to do a feature on Hyzdu later this week, because if you don't know who he is, you probably should. We did get there about a half-hour early, but the traffic was a mess (a few people said it was worse than when the AA All-Star game was at Blair County Ballpark) and the scene was a zoo. But what a great place to watch a ball game. If you've never been there, I'd suggest you take a quick trip up on a lazy Thursday summer night; tickets are cheap, the game is usually good, and beer is cheap (and they have a good selection as well).

I was going to try and figure my way into the pack that surrounded Strasburg's bullpen session before the game, but instead I went over and checked out Altoona's starting pitcher Rudy Owens:
There was just one other guy over there with a Pirates tee-shirt on, and after I took this snap shot, I turned to him and said, "I think you and I are the only idiots watching this guy throw." I was actually excited to see Owens throw; he's a fairly under the radar prospect that you can read about here. He doesn't have great stuff, but he's left-handed, has good movement on a 89-90 mph fastball, and a tight curve ball. His change up has the workings of a good third pitch, but still needs some work. He did well against a fairly mediocre Harrisburg lineup, and I can only remember one ball struck really hard, everything else was either a flair that dropped in, a misplayed fly ball, or a ground ball with eyes.

Strasburg was very impressive, lighting up the radar gun and consistently hitting 96-98 mph. His control was iffy, but his curve ball was just as impressive, sitting in the mid-80s and getting as high as 90. I wasn't blown away (as I said, his control wasn't all there), but you can see why people get so excited. He needs to work on his change up as well, but with his fast/curve combination, he could get major league hitters out right now. I already have him on my fantasy team, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye on him in the next two months, because I think there's little doubt he'll be in DC by June/July.

Other notes: I was a little bummed that the Curve used their "C Lineup" with non-prospects like Shelby Ford (who looked terrible in both the field and at the plate), Jim Negrych, and Miles Durham. The only guys in the starting lineup who I was somewhat excited to see were Gorkys Hernandez (not impressed; he's supposed to be a stud in CF but didn't show me anything that would warrant that type of reputation and he hits like Ronny Cedeno, little bit of pop but way too many swings and misses) and Josh Harrison, who we got in the Gorzo/Grabow trade with the Cubs (has a weird looking body--short with a majority of the weight on the bottom half--and didn't do much else to warrant any distinction).

I did get to see Chase D'Arnaud later in the game, when he pinch-hit and stayed in the game at SS. He didn't do much at the plate (flew out on a first pitch, and then had a nice at bat but K'd to end the game against Drew Storen, who looked really good) and had a few nice plays in the field (caught a line-drive and then doubled a guy off, and also picked a low cut-off throw nicely), but what impressed me most was his look.

A lot of the Altoona guys just look weird because they're wearing jerseys that aren't fitted to their body's (like the MLB jerseys are) and they're also forced to wear their pants high with high socks per the Pirates minor league dress code. But D'Arnaud was the only guy who looked like he belonged (which I'm not sure if that says something good about him, or bad about the rest of the Curve roster), and it didn't just have to do with the uniform, it was how he carried himself. I'm not gonna say the guy is going to be a stud just based on a few innings of pretty much nothing, but I've watched a lot of baseball in my life, including a lot of amateur and minor league ball, and you can always tell who looks like they belong in the first few moments of seeing them. Chase D'Arnaud looks like he belongs.

One last note on Pirates prospects: there were a lot of positive performances this week (Quinton Miller pitched well today and was supposedly hitting the mid-90s with his fastball, and of course Pedro's 3 HR in the first four games) and there were some negative aspects as well (Indianapolis' pitching, specifically Brad Lincoln, and Tim Alderson still only throwing in the mid-80s). I'll have some links up later with much better analysis, but I did want to mention Neil Walker's opening weekend.

Walker actually got Saturday night off, but in the three games he has played, he was 5/12 with a double, but more importantly he has 3 BB and 3 Ks. I know it's just three games (small sample size!), but this is a good sign. Walker has the power and the athleticism to be a solid major league player, but he needs to improve his plate discipline while controlling the strike zone, so if he can keep it up, I'd be very happy. As a former WPIAL baseball player, I'm always pulling for fellow alumni, especially those who play for the Bucs.

Bucco Weekend Recap

So last night I was all ready to scribble up a quick post on how important that 6-3 win was; with Zach Duke's great start, squaring up a ton of Dan Haren pitches, and solid defense... But that joy can only last a few hours, as the Buccos shit the bed today, losing 6-15, including a history-making 4th inning in which they allowed 13 runs.

I went to the Altoona/Harrisburg game today to see the Curve take on pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, so I didn't get to catch the game, and in fact, I haven't even seen the highlights (hopefully, it will stay that way). So I don't want to criticize too much with out any solid first-hand evidence, but I do have a few thoughts from the past few days.

I don't know if Garrett Jones even squared up a couple balls today, but he saw 9 pitches in 5 plate appearances; that's awful. I know it's only one game, but that's unacceptable in any situation.

Daniel McCutchen was not good by any stretch of the imagination; his one strength never showed up (he walked three in 3.1 IP and only threw a little over half his pitches for strikes) and his one weakness reared it's head (he let up 3 HR and his GB/FB was 2/6). He was terrible, I'm not questioning that, but I am starting to second guess letting McCutchen start this particular game. Why let the staff's worst fly ball pitcher go in a ballpark that balls jet out of to a team full of fly-ball hitters? That doesn't excuse McCutchen's performance, but the more I thought about it, the less sense that made. I would have had McCutchen pitch that Thursday day game against the Dodgers and then sent him down.

Jack Taschner showed me nothing last night to believe he can be counted on at all, and letting up a home run to Edwin Jackson (a guy who has pitched strictly in the AL before this year, and therefore only had 33 career plate appearances before today) did nothing to change that opinion.

Hayden Penn does not belong on a Major League roster right now; he threw 19 pitches (4 for strikes), got one out, allowed a hit, walked 3, and got charged for 4 runs. Think about this for a second; since Penn only threw 4 strikes, but two of them were put in play, he got only two called strikes in 19 pitches. That's ridiculous. I don't have a problem with the move of picking him up and giving him a chance, but he didn't take advantage of it, so now it's time to designate him for assignment (to AAA), hope he clears waivers, and try someone else as the long reliever. There's still a lot to like about Penn (good stuff, pedigree, and still somewhat young), but he doesn't belong in the Majors right now.

Okay, that's enough of my negativity. A few things I liked; a little more power (Aki, Cutch, B. Crosby, and Jeff Clement), Lastings Milledge in the 3-spot (he's been spraying line drives, which is more suitable for the 3 than the 5), Zach Duke turning in the first really good start from a Pirate this season (ground-ball machine, if he strikes out a few more guys I would elevate it to a great start), Octavio Dotel throwing a stress-free ninth inning (I hope the Nationals have been enjoying Matt Capps' iffy closings), and Ryan Doumit going 0-4 with 4 Ks on Saturday (Oh, wait...).

But all is not lost, the Bucs are still 3-3 and head to San Fransisco to take on a team that is over-achieving in the early going (and the Pirates dodge a bullet by not having to face Lincecum). The series starts with Ohlie taking on Barry Zito tomorrow night at 10 pm (FSN).

I'll have a post with a recap from my trip to Altoona (along with a few pics) and a few words on the first week of Pirate minor league ball.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pirates 1 Diamondbacks 9

Jeebus, was that a terrible game with such a promising start.

The Pirates again got guys on early, but couldn't come up with the big hit (Jeff Clement scorched a ball to the opposite field with the bases loaded, but right at the fielder). Charlie Morton was cruising through the D'Back's lineup the first time around by mostly throwing four-seam fastballs and a sharp breaking ball. But despite what Bob Walk may drool about, you cannot get by with throwing four-seam fastballs, especially against a line up this good (there's a lot of talent in AZ's lineup, mixed in with some guys who could breakout or bounce back; Stephen Drew, Conner Jackson, and Kelly Johnson). It really started with hanging a breaking ball to the opposing pitcher who lofted a lazy single down the line, and then after that, it was scorcher after scorcher that didn't somewhat end until Chris Young blasted a grand slam.

Charlie Morton has exceptional stuff, but when he's not getting ground balls (or even a few foul balls with a downward trajectory), he's not gonna be able to simply strike everyone out. I thought Morton threw a two-seem and a four-seem fastball, but everything tonight looked like a four-seem (which has decent horizontal break, but not enough vertical break to get ground balls). I guess it's just something to keep in mind when watching Morton; no matter how many K's he accumulates in the first few innings, if he's not getting ground balls, it could get ugly quick.

The rest of the game sucked; although I do have a few thoughts.

It was nice to see Hayden Penn get back out there after his terrible outing yesterday. He threw strikes and got a couple ground-balls while breaking a bat. He did get away with a fastball on the inner-half of the plate that Justin Upton skied to second base; I wouldn't try that again against a guy like Upton.

I know it's only been a few appearances, but Evan Meek has been fairly unimpressive; his fastball has lacked the high velocity expected (he's at 90-92 instead of the 94-96 I was expecting), and he falls behind hitters consistently. He hasn't been terrible, just that I expected a lot from him this season and from the early returns, it looks like he may be taking a step back... but it's early.

I'm tired of watching Ryan Doumit hit. I remember when he first came up and the ball just flew off his bat, mostly to the opposite field which made it all the more impressive. Now it's the same thing over and over again; he's either going to roll over a pitch to the same side of the infield, pop up, or hit a line-drive to the same side. He has completely lost the ability to stay back and drive the ball to the opposite field, which is what made him such a special hitter in the first place. I tend to do this with a lot of the Pirate hitters who have been around awhile (even Brian Giles frustrated me towards the end), but it seems like such a shame that Doumit has turned into a one-dimensional hitter. And don't even get me started on his receiving; unbelievably lazy attempts at blocking balls in the dirt.

I absolutely loved Lastings Milledge's attitude towards the end of the game; stole a base despite being down by 6+ runs and scored on the ensuing single (usually a move I would hate, but considering everyone else was sleep walking through the rest of the game, it was nice to see someone with a little energy) and then had a fantastic at bat in the eighth inning in which he worked the count to full, just missed a pitch by popping it a mile high, and then sprinted full-tilt around the bases despite knowing the ball would be caught. I know I may be reaching for positives, but it was nice to see someone look like the gave a damn past the third inning.

If Andy LaRoche looks at another low borderline two-strike pitch, I'm gonna scream (and yes, Pedro did hit another two home runs tonight).

The offense wasn't as putrid as it seems either; they squared a lot of balls up that ended up right at people, but they failed to hit a HR again and have not hit one since the first inning of the second game (26+ innings). That has to change, but from where and by who I don't know.

The Pirates will not win tomorrow night either as Dan McCutchen is facing Dan Haren, but if you're interested, the game will be on at 8 p.m. on the MLB Network in Pittsburgh.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fajardos

Hector Fajardo only pitched two games for your Pittsburgh Pirates in 1991, and then was added in the trade that brought Steve Beuchele back to the Bucs. Fajardo had his contract purchased by the Pirates from the Mexico City Red Devils in 1989, and had off-season surgery to remove bone chips from his arm before the '91 season, which drastically improved his fastball velocity.

Fajardo never lived up to his potential after his trade to the Rangers in '91, battling injuries throughout his short-lived career, only to end up retiring after the '94 season. Although his nickname was "Senor Lluvia" or "Rain Man" because of the amount of his expected starts that ended up being rained out. And, as you can see, he got to share a baseball card with the only one-armed man to throw a no-hitter; Jim Abbott.

The Pens got the led out last night, beating up the Isles to the tune of 7-3. I woke up this morning only to find out that the official scorer took Sid's second goal away from him and gave it to Billy G. and thus put Sid right back at 49 goals for the season. I'm sure Steigy nearly passed out when he heard that; I love Bibsy and Steigy, but the latter's obsession with the Kid has gone to a whole other level this season.

It wasn't the cleanest of games; the Pens continued their propensity of giving up a quick goal immediately following a goal scored, and Matt Moulson continues to haunt our dreams of a quality winger let go. But all in all, a pretty solid performance against a team that's been playing quite well of late. Although despite the Isles strong play of late, I couldn't help thinking that the schedule maker giving us the league's worst team (by last years standings) for the last game of the Igloo was similar to how Shady Side would always play Springdale on Boys Basketball Senior Night. JS.

Recaps here, here, and here. I'm gonna try and put a post up about my own Igloo memories, but figured I can't force it, so in due time.

The Pirates lost yesterday in not so good fashion. Although EHL caught this little beauty from the Pirates website, talk about optimism. I already talked about this game, but on a brighter side, the Pirates minor league affiliates began play last night. You can follow these through the PBC blog at the PPG (which you will have to pay for soon) or you can follow it at BUCCO Fans (who does a thorough job and focuses on prospects and the draft better than any other Pirate fan site).

A few things I was excited to see from last night's minor leaguers; Robbie Grossman hitting a HR and not striking out, Pedro's HR, Bryan Morris' solid start, Jordy Mercer and Chase D'Arnuad collecting a few hits and walks, and Starling Marte and Tony Sanchez continuing their solid play at high-A ball.

Jeremy Farrell's two home run, seven RBI performance was impressive, but he's really a non-prospect at this point; he's in high-A ball and will be playing his age-23 season, unless he continues to mash the ball, which would be completely unexpected given his low power numbers as a professional so far (6 HR in 541 PA), then it's best not to get too excited about him.

I'll have more to say as the season progresses, but the one thing about being a Pirate fan is the chance to pay just as much attention to the minors as to the majors; because usually the big club just ain't that much fun to follow.

WHYGAVS has a good roundup of the reaction to the Pirates batting the pitcher eighth. Think outside the box people. The FSN guys had Huntington on during the game yesterday and this topic came up, and obviously, Bob Walk couldn't wrap his mind around it, but it was funny nonetheless hearing NH try and explain it to him like he was a kindergartner.

Pittsburgh Lumber Co. has their official final win projection; right where I'm thinking; 74-78.

The day of reckoning for Big Ben and the Steelers is on Monday. Wake me up when this nightmare is over.

It's a few days old, but if you didn't see Arjen Robben's wonder goal against Man U, Jebus. Though I'm not a big Bayern fan, I'll probably pull for them the rest of the way.

Also, I will be attending the Altoona Curve game on Sunday with the tall guy just to get a glimpse of Stephen Strasburg. I'll also be paying close attention to a few of the Bucco prospects, but really, it's all about Stras. I'll try to take some good pictures.

Oh, yeah. About that Tiger/Nike commercial. At first I had that "what type of drugs do you have to be on to get this?" reaction; even as an English major that should love this type of bizarre combination, I still didn't get it. But the more I think about it, the more I love it as an advertisement; it gets people talking about both Tiger and Nike, which is what it comes down to. But it also adds a compelling Earl narrative that brings Tiger Incorporated back to the basics of what Nike sold in the first place: a unique American story. It's brilliant.

And just like that...

We're knocked off our cloud. Not a good game at all by the Pirates. Thank God it only took place in front of the less than 10k people who were able to make it to the game. I still don't get why the Pirates try and have so many early day games whilst the demand for tickets is so low.

I don't have much to say about this one, except a few reactions to a lot of people jumping off bridges especially when it comes to a few different guys.

Bobby Crosby is not as bad a fielder as people are painting him based on this one game. His first throwing error was Paul Maholm's fault as he was late getting to first on a 3-6-1 double play; the throw was low, but if Maholm breaks to first as the ball is hit (as he is supposed to do), then he'd be able to make the catch and probably get the two outs. The second play was a tough ball to get to in the first place and while the throw was low, it was on-line; Garrett Jones (who looked completely lost at first today, probably because he got no time there in spring training due to the Jeff Clement experiment) took his stride off the bag before he knew where the ball was going and in doing so, was handcuffed awkwardly. I'm not advocating Bobby Crosby for a Gold Glove, but to just look at a box score, see Crosby with two throwing errors, and immediately call him an abomination in the field is pretty short-sighted and unfair to Crosby.

Relax with the "Andy LaRoche is garbage and I can't wait for Pedro" talk. I was just as frustrated as anyone when he looked at strike three for the second time (this time with the bases loaded and the pitcher up next), especially after he missed on tattooing the 2-1 pitch right before (a complete mistake by the pitcher that should have been sent a long way by LaRoche). But it's the third game of the season, and LaRoche has already shown how valuable he is with the glove and his eye (his throwing error last night was pretty bad, and he did go down looking twice this afternoon... but other than that...). It certainly doesn't help the debate since Pedro homered in the AAA opener tonight (nice line by Vinnie Chulk as well), but until Pedro lowers his K rate (he did strike out once tonight as well, although it was in five plate appearances which at 20% would make me quite satisfied) and improves his line against lefties, there is no reason to even talk about him forcing Andy LaRoche out of the lineup. Patience people.

Hayden Penn was terrible and must improve if he wants to stick around, but it was definitely worth giving him a shot today.

Kudos to Delwyn Young for shutting me up about his terrible at bat yesterday. He had two doubles and two walks in four plate appearances, which is really impressive considering his good games last year were more of the three singles in five at bats kind (which isn't terrible, but I'll take the slugging and on-base over average any day).

Other than the Belliard HR, there weren't too many balls that were scorched off of Maholm, with a couple of nicely placed fly balls dropping in here and there (the Furcal double down the line was the one that immediately popped into my head). But that's why it's so important for Maholm to keep the ball on the ground; the more fly balls, the more likely you are to let up extra base hits, including HRs. Maholm also managed to walk a lead-off hitter on four pitches and also issue the pitcher a free pass with two outs; both are inexcusable. And I'm not even going to get into the Dodgers' backup lineup he faced... Let's just wipe this one away, shall we?

The Bucs head out to the West Coast to play the Diamonbacks starting tomorrow night (9:50 FSN). Charlie Morton makes the start, so I'll definitely be watching this one.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I should probably be posting a lot more as this really is the only time for me to wave my Bucco Fan flag with pride, but between work, SSA baseball, and going to the first two games of the season, I haven't really had a whole lot of time to reflect on the blog. But here are a few of my thoughts from the Buccos' first couple games:

If the Buccos are going to do these Buck Nights, they're gonna have to do a whole lot better job at providing enough personell to take care of the crowd. What a mess it was last night; the line at the ticket window was ridiculous and then when we got in, the concourse was packed with people which made it a pain to get to our seats. I'm usually singing the praises of PNC Park and their staff (I used to work there), but they were wholly unprepared for last night. It was a complete cluster.

Don't be fooled by Ross Ohlendorf's start, it wasn't good. He fell behind in the count, got bailed out by the infield, didn't have a good GB/FB ratio, gave up a HR to Russ Martin (a guy who lost all his power last year), and only got one SO against 3 BB. Just not a good start at all, although few balls were really scorched and he did have some good velocity early on (consistently hitting 93), but he needs to improve.

There were a lot of things that were impressive about GFJ's HR yesterday, but the thing that stood out was it being against a left-handed pitcher. I've bitched and moaned about a lack of a quality right-handed 1B/RF because of Jones issues against lefties, but he hit a bomb off of CC in the spring that was pretty impressive and now this; if he can improve his patience against lefties, he'll be more of an all-around hitter and one of the more dangerous RF in the NL.

Lastings has been the most impressive player throughout the first two games in a Pirate uniform. He's all over the place, making things happen right and left, and really scorching the ball (he's only got two hits 9 AB, but he's squared up a few more than that). To be honest, I was a little frustrated to see him out of the lineup for today's day game with Delwyn Young taking his place in the lineup; especially after Young's first pitch pop-up with the bases loaded last night (terrible AB).

The bullpen has been able to put up some zeros for the most part, and DJ Carrasco looked a whole lot better last night, but they're not going to be able to keep it up if they keep walking guys at this rate. I'm not going to bring up the stats, but they're not throwing enough strikes. Although I love everything about Octavio Dotel.

That was a hell of an at bat from Ronny Cedeno to end the game last night. I'm not the biggest Cedeno guy (he's got zero plate discipline), but he worked his was back into the count by spoiling a few good pitches and then really stung that single over the SS's head.

Aki Iwamura does not have a hit yet, but who cares? The guy is setting the tone at the top by taking pitches, working the count, and getting on base. He saw 33 pitches in 5 plate appearances last night; that's over 6 pitches per PA, which basically means he took every count to full. I know that doesn't impress a lot of people, but as a guy who preaches patience like none other (and has had to watch some pretty brutal Bucco teams in terms of patience), it's music to my ears.

Today's game is supposed to start soon (12:35, FSN), but there's also rain in the forecast, so we'll see. Maholm will do what he does, but it will be interesting to see how these guys hit against Chad Billingsly, who has outstanding stuff, fell off a cliff in the second half of last year, but has apparently turned it around this spring.

Recap for last night's game here, here and here. One last note to all people attending Pirate games; if the game is good (tied late in the game) please do not start the wave. It's bush. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pretty Good Start

I think when a couple got engaged at the tailgate next to us before yesterday's home opener, we all knew we were in for something special. I'm not making that up either; as we were flipping some hot Italian sausages on the mini-Weber, we heard a bit of a commotion at the tailgate next to us (which really put us to shame, they had enough food to feed a small Filipino village). I have somewhat of a sixth sense for proposals at Pittsburgh sporting events, so I was all over it and was able to snag a few pictures. Oh, yeah, and she said yes.

But what a game. Recap here, here, and here. I'm with everyone else, it's just one game, it was against Vincente Padilla (which, according to ESPN insider wasn't such a bad idea against the Bucs; we now beg to differ), and there were definitely some concerns (seeing eye-singles against Duke because of the lack of infield range, D.J. Carrasco's lackluster control, and Andy LaRoche's day in general), but that would be nitpicking. I'm just going to try and enjoy this while it lasts, which would be until the next game (Wednesday at 7:05).

After the game, the Tall Guy asked me what I took away from the game; my final verdict. It was nice to see the Pirates show some patience at the plate (I really like how ESPN's box score now have the total number of pitches faced) and some power, but in particular; Lastings driving the ball to the opposite field with force... twice, and Cutch putting a dent in the center-field wall in his last at bat.

I'm looking forward to Wednesday's game, especially to see how guys like Clement and Jones do against a pretty good lefty in Clayton Kershaw.

But more than anything, what an amazing atmosphere for the home opener. It certainly helped that it was a gorgeous day, but the place was packed and people were into it. It just goes to show how starved the people of Pittsburgh are for meaningful games past May 1st. And it's also why I support the current management, because if they stay the course, I think they can make it happen, which will be the best thing that could possibly happen to the city of Pittsburgh.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


While I'm watching the Pens waste a five-minute power play (pathetic display; I think they had two, maybe three good chances in five minutes), I'll brandish you all with a little Bucco's optimism.

First is WHYGAVS second part of their season preview with the focus being on Andrew McCutchen. I was pretty firm on Cutch turning himself into a better outfielder (he put up a -0.7 UZR last season, but I could see him as a legit +5/7 consistently) but not being able to sustain the power surge he showed last year. Pat's post gives me hope that Cutch might prove me wrong in the power department. Let's hope that's true.

And then there is this post from TMI at ESPN (insider only, sorry) that predicts the Pirates winning the division... three times out of a hundred. I like those odds.