Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pirats 2, Cubs 0

Brad Lincoln put together his best start of his young major league career and blanked the Cubs through seven innings and GFJ doubled home a run in the eighth inning to give the Pirates the series win over the Cubs. The Pirates now have taken nine games against the Cubs this year and have only lost three times.

It wasn't easy for the Pirates as they once again had a pretty tough time hitting hte ball. Only seven hits and only Andrew McCutchen has more than one hit. The real story of the game was Lincoln. He typcially is a slow starter when he is moved into a new enviorment and usually needs to get comfortable in his new surroundings. That is exactly what happened today. Lincoln looked a lot more comfortable out there on the mound and he did one thing that he really wasn't able to do in his first handful of starts: avoid the big walk.

Lincoln only walked one batter, struck out six and threw 57 of his 93 pitches for strikes lowering his ERA from 6.00 to 4.65. It was reassuring to see him turn it around and hit his spots. His curveball was pretty nasty as it usually is and I feel he is starting to get much more comfortable with his changeup. If he can get three pitching working then we should continue to see that success as he gets more confidence.

What was also impressive about today's Pirates game was Joel Hanrahan. He was just straight filthy today. It took him nine pitches to get through the eighth inning and didn't throw a fastball that was slower than 96. He also busted out an 86 MPH slider and just completely dominated the Cubs. Something tells me that Sean Burnett couldn't really come out and be as shut down as much as Hanrahan as been this year. Love it.

Pedro got another hit today and bumped up his average to .152 even though he struck out two more times. Just what the Pirates feared, situational left handed pitching, got Pedro the second time with two runners in scoring posistion. Like I keep saying, in the very limited at bats he has got does not give you a clear line of what he is going to be like. For all we know he could go off and have six multiple hit games in his next 10 and nobody would say anything. It takes time for hitters, especially for Alvarez given his history, so everyone can laugh now but please don't be stupid and say we should send him down.

It felt pretty good to score some runs after the OTHER team made a crushing error. After Jose Tabata grounded out to the pitcher the Pirates went to work. Andy LaRoche reached after Aramas Ramirez booted a ball and then the floodgates opened. Cutch lined a ball back up the middle and GFJ went shopping at the gap and drove home LaRoche. After an intentional walk to Ryan Doumit to load the bases, Alvarez struck out and Milledged earned a bases loaded walk to push across the insurance run the Pirates needed.

Hanrahan and Dotel shut the door. That's right. The Jolly Roger was raised in Chicago, again.

Wish we could play the Cubs every day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Is the title to this post even a word? Who knows. July 1st is coming. Pretty important day in the NHL world. Even more important, the Pirates won last night. It took 18 road tries but they finally won on the road. Ryan Doumit tried to push the Black and Gold to a loss but scored anyways.

Yes, they finally did it, despite some poor plays [WHYGAVS]

Charlie Morton is going to be Super Two Eligible [BUCCO Fans]

Speaking of hockey, should the B's keep Savard? [From the Point]

Metz is killing it. What do the Penguins need to do physically in the off season? [From the Point]

As you might have heard Willie Colon is gone for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. [OFTOT]

Cotter sums up how it is for the Steelers. I am with you man. [OFTOT]

Tony Horton is all about the Steelers [PSAMP]

Tom Lewand, most noteably known for owning the NFL's Detroit Lions, had a little drinking accident. By accident I mean that he got a DUI. [Detroit 4 Lyfe]

I am sure there is more good stuff out there...Leave it in the comments...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rock Bottom

Just when you think you have seen it all, it gets worse. The Pirates lost today to the Oakland Athletics. It was one of the strangest games that I have ever watched. Chatting with some fellow bloggers during the game it was so up and down. Unreal the way they lost. I would say I am surprised, but to be honest I am not surprised at all.

Lastings Milledge went deep for the first time this year to cut the A's lead to only one, 2-1. Jose Tabata tied the score later that inning when he doubled home a run. The Pirates had put together some offense and were looking pretty good. It would not last a real long time.

Ross Ohlendorf pitched pretty well going six innings and yielding no earned runs. Two runs crossed the plate, but both unearned. Even Meek came in and pitched a perfect seventh and almost a perfect eighth. With two outs Meek got Kurt Suzuki to pop up but Jason Jaramillo dropped the pop up. Before you could blink your eyes Suzuki found the seats after Meek made a mistake. Pirates down one. If you watched the replay of the home run you can see Jaramillo right after Suzuki hit the ball it put both hands on his head and dropped his head before the ball went out. I haven't seen an unearned run on a solo home run in a long time. Jesus.

Jaramillo took it hard and was consoled by Meek in the dugout after the inning. I thought it was great to see Meek go up and tell Jaramillo it was ok. A lot of players now are very into the me-me-me of the game and would just sit by themselves and be pissed that someone else potentially cost them a win. Meek showed that maybe this team is a little closer than what we see and when you have people like that in the locker room it makes me feel a lot better, even through the losing.

The Pirates came up in the top of the ninth and had a chance. Delwyn Young came up and got a pinch hit single to bring up Jaramillo. How great would that have been if he was able to hit a go ahead home run? Yea right. Double play. Pedro came up to hit next and walked. Tabata then came up with two outs and hit a laser that was going through the right side but it hit Pedro as he was running to second.

The game eneded with Pedro getting hit by a batted ball. If that is not rock bottom I don't know what is. How many other ways can you lose? I am far too into the Pirates to be surprised by what happened today. They have lost 18 of their last 20 and are only two games back of Baltimore for the worst record in the league. I don't even know.

To be honest, I have said it a million times, we know what this team was about. We knew they were going to be horrible. Lets not get shocked by all this. Doesn't make losing easier, but it is what it is.

If there is another way to lose a game the Pirates will show it to you in the next two weeks.

Thank God I am not a Cubs or Brewers fan. What a couple of mess teams.

Lets Go Bucs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Thoughts: Sergei Gonchar

Much has been made of the option that is Sergei Gonchar. Sarge has been a Penguin since 2005 and he has had a lot of good years. When he first got here there were some poeple that didn't like him. Some thought he was just a few year stop gap for someone else that was going to step into the mold. Sarge was much more than that as a Penguin, much more than most thought he could be.

Gonchar was the undisputed leader on a power play unit that was anywhere from dismal (oh my God we might never score a power play goal again) to what was an unstopable unit other times. What was the same was Gonchar's cool demenor. He gains the zone better than any power play QB in the league and the way his puck find the back of the net, withouth touching anyone, through 15 players in the slot is nothign short of unreal.

Sarge has been in the NHL since 1994, so lets take a look at those statistics:

Gonchar scored a career-high 67 points in the 2006-07 season with the Penguins, which was the last year he played every single contest. Gonchar followed that with a 65 point performance in the 2007-08 season. Not too shaby if you ask me.

What has been bothersome for Gonchar has been his health. In the past two season Gonchar has only played 87 games. Now, injuries are something that can't be helped, but one can't help but thing that he will be getting healthier as he gets older. It also doesn't help that Gonchar wants a three year contract at the age of 36. It also hurts that Sarge wants the $5 mil/year contract that he had this past season with the Penguins for the terms of those three years.

It is no secret that Gonchar wants to stay in Pittsburgh. He has been working with GMRS for a while now and hasn't came out and said he definatly wants to test the market. He has been here for the good times and with a core that the Penguins have he could be playing for a Stanley Cup for the rest of his tenure in the NHL. Who wouldn't want that? The Penguins seem to want Gonchar back as Shero hasn't even talked to and of the Penguins potential free agents to be (sans Matt Cooke) until they figure out what Gonchar is going to do.

With all of that being said here are the pro's and con's (in my opinion) of bringing Sergei Gonchar back to the Penguins.


Gonchar has been an ace with the power play. He has been a calming influence on what could be best described as a Chinese fire drill at points this season. He is a calming influence at the point and never seemed to make the huge mistake that some of the younger point men (and Evegeni Malkin) would make with some regularity. A special guy to have at the point, something the Penguins will need.

When Evgeni Malkin came into the NHL it was Gonchar that made him feel at home. Sarge is a great locker room guy that you can't just replace by signing someone. For gosh sakes his teammates call him Noodles, how can't you love that?

Gonchar is dealing with a young blueline. With Letang and Gogo back there it is still somewhat of a learning experience. Even this year and last year it was a struggle during portions of the season for those two. Gonchar was that calming influence. It is always good to have that calming influence on the blueline, especially when he is as talented as Gonchar is. Letang and Gogo can still learn from that and make them that much better in the seasons to come.

There is no denying that Gonchar has become a fan favorite. You will never hear his name chanted at the Igloo or have people oogle over him like they do the core players, but he is every bit as big of a deal. You know what you are going to get with Gonchar and people respect that. It is what Pittsburgh is all about. Gonchar was here for some tough years and stuck with the team through it and came out the other end a Stanley Cup champion. You have to respect that.


Gonchar is 36 years old. He has played just over 80 games in the last two seasons. When you think about giving him three years at five million per that becomes a big sticking point. The other problem is that the number is against the cap even if he retires. Being over 35 this deal will be a cap hit regardless. Can you take that chance? What if there was a very serious injury that Gonchar couldn't come back from and was forced to retire after this year. Could the Penguins go for two years with that cap hit? I don't know.

At some point you have to let Letang and Gogo develop. Sure Gonchar has been great to have with them but this has got to be their team. They are signed for the long term and they deserve to be the guys also. Having them learn on the power play could eventually turn them into a Gonchar type player on the power play. Is it possible? Sure, but how do you know if you never give them the chance. Have them out there not worrying about getting yanked if they make a mistake and see what can happen.

If you give Gonchar the $5 million he wants then it is really going to hold you back from spending some money. The Penguins needs wingers and defense also. I know people are going to say that they have the kinds in WBS that can come up and fill in some holes, but what if that doesn't work? What if they can't get the job done? If they let Gonchar walk they will have a little over $11 million left to spend this season. A lot can happen with that money, and it might be well spent other places.

Overall Thoughts

Brining back Gonchar has its good and bad points. At this point I think it might be best to let Gonchar test the waters and see what he can get. If it were me I would offer two years at $3.5 million per at most. I know Gonchar wants three/five but there is only so much you can do in the salary cap era.

This is not to say that I don't want Gonchar back with the Penguins. If the Penguins could make it work I wouldn't mind seeing him in the black and gold the rest of his career. I just think that throughout Gonchar's career he has earned the right to get his one more big payday. He deserves that chance to go out and get his. I don't think the Penguins would be wise to resign him at the price he wants, but I know some team will.

Whatever happens with Gonchar I will always be a fan and will always root for him, sans when he plays the Penguins. Things will work out for the best for both the Penguins, and for Gonchar. You know how I know that? Because we have Ray Shero.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Different Ways to Lose: Rangers 6, Pirates 5

The Pirates threw up a four spot in the first inning but couldn’t get the win. They put up 14 hits, not good enough. Steven Jackson was called up today and took the loss. Walks a batter in the ninth and Vlad takes a 1-2 pitch and puts it onto the grass in left field and that was all she wrote. Not too much you can say. It was a pretty good game all around for the Pirates, they just couldn’t get it done. The story of the season for the Pirates. Here are some notes I came up with, for what it’s worth:

- Jeff Karstens has been the ace staff pretty much all year. I don’t know what it is about Karstens, but in every start he gives the Pirates a chance to win. He doesn’t have anything special, doesn’t throw hard, he just throws strikes. That is what it should be about for this staff is throwing strikes. Sure flashy strikeout numbers are nice, but getting outs is what I am worried about and Karstens really gets that. He might only give you five or six innings but they are strong innings and he only gave up three runs in 5.1 innings pitched and I really think that is ok.
- Lastings Milledge is unreal bad in the outfield. If you didn’t watch the game then you missed a fly ball by Josh Hamilton that Milledge didn’t come within 10 feet of catching. No idea what he was doing, but whatever.
- On the terms of terrible, I have no idea why Ryan Church plays. I guess it is understandable that he is in the lineup for interleague play, but put him in right field and let Lastings DH. One step further than that, why the hell is Ryan Church batting fifth? Dude is hitting maybe .170 this year and he is your fifth hitter. Put him eighth. Enough of this.
- GFJ is on fire. He is quickly approaching hitting .300 and has already driven in 46 runs on the season. Very impressive after a mini slump he has to start the season. If he can get rolling this lineup is going to be pretty interesting up top.
- Pedro Alvarez had another hit tonight, in the four run first inning. He took the first pitch he saw and took it the other way down the left field line for a two RBI double. He also came up with a strikeout and a groundout to second. He shows flashes of good at bats but largely he is having some bad swings and also has had a pretty long swing this season. Hopefully he can put a few good at bats together and it will just click. Still really early so there is time.
- Jose Tabata has been looking really good this series. He doesn’t have the hits to show for it but he has been hitting missiles all over the place. What has been bad is that all those line drive hits have been right at players. That is ok. I like what I am seeing from Tabata. He also stole a base and bunted for a base hit tonight. Gotta love that he is using his speed to make things happen.
- Evan Meek gave up a few runs tonight. Raised his ERA over one. Kinda hard to imagine him keeping his ERA under one for an entire year. He doesn’t give up many hits or many runs so I am not really worried about it.

This and That

Well there was a lot going on yeseterday in the sports world. The USA won a thrilling game in extra time, there was a tennis match that was halted after 10 hours due to darkness, the NHL Awards Show was on and the Pirates played, bad. Some quick links.

It might be the Civic Arena again [PG]
- While it was ok to have it named the Mellon Arena, it will always be the Civic Arena in my heart.

Dick LeBeau watches the Golden Girls? [OFTOT]

OFTOT and PSAMP (along with myself) will be at Steelers training camp. There will be after hours festivities for those interested. It is come one, come all [Facebook]

Pirates are bummin after a ton of players are getting hurt, including Tony Sanchez [WHYGAVS]

Hope you didn't buy that Dana Eveland jersey [Raise the Jolly Roger]

In case you missed the NHL Awards Show, the dudes from PH were there! [Puck Huffers]

Penguin Fans Have it good! [Faceoff Factor]

The Pirates lost [Yea]

For those of you who thought Pedro Alvarez was going to come up and save this franchise this year and hit .400 then you are an idiot. [Truth]

Ian is probably goign to beat me [The Steelers n'at]

That is all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Penguins Sign Cooke

Pretty interesting news came out of Pittsburgh today, well for me at least. Matt Cooke signed a three year deal that works out to an average $1.8 million cap hit. This is after we heard that GMRS would not talk to Cooke, Eaton, etc. until Gonchar had been figured out. Has that been figured out? It also was reported a few days ago that the sides were very far apart on their negotiations so it was kind of a surprise (a nice one) when I read the tweets this morning.

Must give some huge props to Damian over at Pens Universe. He broke the story, yes before Rob Rossi, and when a blogger among us does that I think it is a pretty big deal. Although he does real deal stuff and I am just some joke I still take pride in that stuff.

GMRS usually does not go for lenghth on a contract with a player over 30 but that probably helped a lot in the negotiations as well as a NTC (no trade clause), which was included in his new deal.

$1.8 a year is not bad at all. Most were thinking the Penguins would go about $2 mil a year and some even thought Cooke could fetch more in the open market. This is why we have the best GM in the NHL.

Cooke was a key part and scored 15 goals for the Black and Gold last year. He also did the little things, which would have made him a tough player to lose. He is the best agitator in the league and anything that can piss Boston off is ok in my books. Next time Matt Cooke breahes on Savard he will get his 35th concussion and Matt Cooke will pick up a five game suspention. Whatev.

Lets Go Pens

World Cup: Judgment Week

Ian from The Steelers N'at dropping by to update yinz on the current scenarios out there for the final set of games in group play.

For the record I had about zero to do with this post other than being the joke who wrote some previews. Ian did a hell of a job with these. Unreal.

With the conclusion of the Spain-Honduras game this afternoon, each of the 32 teams in the 2010 World Cup have completed two games. There have been some surprises, such as Switzerland beating Spain and New Zealand playing Italy to a draw. There have been some downright terrible calls, including the "no goal" in the US-Slovenia game.

Thus far, only two teams have been outright eliminated: Cameroon and North Korea.

Two squads have qualified for the Elimination Stage, but still have work to do if they want to win their groups outright.

The Netherlands have advanced from Group E

Brazil has advanced from Group G

Here are the scenarios in play over the next four days that will determine who moves on to the Knockout Stage and who goes home in shame.

If two teams have the same amount of points at the end of the group stage, the tiebreakers are as follows:
1. Goal Differential
2. Goals Scored
3. Head-to-Head

Group A

Games Remaining:
Uruguay vs Mexico
South Africa vs France

Tuesday June 22 10:00am

Uruguay and Mexico are obviously in the drivers seats in this group. In order for one of them not to make the next round, they would have to be caught on Goal Differential by the winner of the France-South Africa game. If either game ends in a tie, Mexico and Uruguay advance.

Due to goal differential, Uruguay can win the group with either a win or tie. Mexico needs to beat Uruguay to win the group. France and South Africa both need help. With a -2 and -3 goal differential respectively, the winner of their game will have to make up the goal differential between them and the loser of Uruguay-Mexico (teams with a +3 and +2 GD).

Most likely outcome: Uruguay and Mexico advance

Group B

Games Remaining:
Argentina vs Greece
South Korea vs Nigeria

Tuesday June 22 2:30pm

Interestingly enough, even though Nigeria has yet to win a game in the group, they have one of the simplest roads to advance: beat South Korea and hope Argentina beats Greece. Argentina is almost guaranteed to make the next round and would need a million things to happen for them not to. Diego Maradona's squad will advance with either a win or tie against Greece, or a South Korea loss or tie. The Argentinians can advance even if they lose, as long as BOTH South Korea and Greece don't make up the goal differential of 5 goals.

Greece and South Korea are both in similar scenarios. If both teams tie, South Korea advances. The easiest scenario for South Korea to advance would be to beat Nigeria and hope Greece loses or ties. In order for Greece to advance, they need to beat Argentina by more goals than South Korea wins by or score 2 more goals than the South Koreans.

Most Likely Outcome: Argentina wins the group in a walk. Greece was only able to beat Nigeria because Nigeria was down a man. I still like Nigeria to sneak in here, but South Korea is playing well and in all likelihood will probably advance. It would be great to see at least one African team advance to the Knockout Stage.

Group C

Games Remaining:
USA vs Algeria
England vs Slovenia

Wednesday June 23 10:00am

Everyone and their mother knows the scenario for the USA. Beat Algeria and you're into the next round. The US can also advance with a tie and a tie between England and Slovenia (if England doesn't score 2 more times than the US) or a tie and an England loss. Slovenia's road might be the easiest, but they play the toughest team in the group. A win or tie against England will get Slovenia into the next round.

England has been heavily criticized for their uninspired play this World Cup, but are still only a victory away from advancing to the next round. Algeria needs the most help to advance, needing to beat the US and Slovenia to beat or tie England.

Most Likely Outcome: If the US doesn't concede any early goals to Algeria and can keep their rhythm going they found late against Slovenia, they should be able to make the next round. I don't have much faith in England at this point after their flop against Algeria so I'm going to say that Slovenia gets in with a draw against England.

Group D

Games Remaining:
Ghana vs Germany
Serbia vs Australia
Wednesday June 23 2:30pm

Ghana represents the African continent's best hope for getting a team to the knockout stages. However they might have an even tougher test than Nigeria to get there. They are charged with securing at least a draw against a German team that is surely out for blood after their loss to Serbia. Germany and Serbia can also reach the next round with victories. Serbia still lags behind Germany in the tiebreaker department based on Germany's slaughter of Australia, but can make some of that up against the Socceroos. Australia needs a win and a victory by Ghana to make the next round.

Most Likely Outcome: Ghana seems to be in the best position atop the group, but they face their toughest opponent yet. Their draw against Australia put them in a position where they need to get at least a point out of their game with Germany. Serbia seems to have the best chance of advancing, based on their matchup with Australia. Ghana's squad has a lot of injuries in the midfield, and I just don't think they'll be able to hold on against Germany (though as I said before, I would love to see African teams advance in the tournament).

Group E

Games Remaining:
Netherlands vs Cameroon
Japan vs Denmark
Thursday June 24 2:30pm

This might be the easiest group in the whole tournament to explain the scenario. The Netherlands have already clinched a spot in the next round, and will win the group even if they lose to Cameroon as long as Japan or Denmark do not make up the Goal Differential. The winner of the Japan-Denmark game will reach the next round. If the game ends in a tie, Japan will advance. Cameroon has been eliminated.

Most Likely Outcome: Netherlands and Denmark, even though Japan has the advantage of only needing a draw.

Group F

Games Remaining:
Paraguay vs New Zealand
Italy vs Slovakia
Thursday June 24 10:00am

If Group E was the easiest to figure out, Group F is the hardest. All four teams could still make the next round and any of the four could easily be eliminated. Paraguay has the easiest route, needing a win or tie against New Zealand OR an Italy loss or tie. Italy advances with a win OR a tie and a New Zealand loss. New Zealand can shock the world and advance with a win over Paraguay or a tie and an Italy loss. Slovakia can advance with a win and New Zealand loss OR a win and making up the 4-goal Goal Differential with Paraguay.

If both games end in a draw, Paraguay will advance and whichever team scores more goals between Italy and New Zealand will advance. If both games draw with the same score, a coin flip will determine whether Italy or New Zealand advance.

Most Likely Outcome: Wow, gotta say I would love to see New Zealand be able to advance here, but I honestly don't think it will happen. Italy has whined and cried and dove their way into two draws already, and I see them just squeaking by Slovakia (though a draw is a very real possibility). I don't think New Zealand will be able to hold on to their lucky streak to force a draw against Paraguay but they will still be able to go home with their heads held high for what they achieved in this World Cup.

Group G

Games Remaining:
Brazil vs Portugal
Ivory Coast vs North Korea
Friday June 24 10:00am

Brazil has already advanced and North Korea has been eliminated. That being said, Brazil-Portugal might be the best match of the first round. Portugal is coming off a 7-goal explosion against North Korea and Brazil is, as always, one of the best in the world. It will be almost impossible for the Ivory Coast to reach the next round after Portugal's hammering of North Korea. The Ivory Coast would need a win over North Korea AND to make up the 9-goal differential with Portugal.

Brazil wins the group outright with a win or tie, and Portugal wins the group with a victory over Brazil.

Most Likely Outcome: Brazil and Portugal. It's going to be one hell of a game. Set your DVRs.

Group H

Games Remaining:
Chile vs Spain
Switzerland vs Honduras
Friday June 24 2:30pm

Despite having more points than 28 of the 32 countries in the World Cup, Chile is still not safe. They play one of the top 3 teams in the world and will also have to hope for Honduras to play Switzerland close so that the Swiss don't catch them on goal differential. Chile advances with a win or tie or a Switzerland loss or tie. If Spain and Switzerland win, Chile will have to rely on goal differential against the Swiss to carry them to the next round. Spain can reach the next round with a win OR a Switzerland tie or loss. Switzerland needs to beat Honduras and for Spain to lose or tie in order to advance. The most likely scenario for advancing is for Spain and Switzerland to win and the Swiss to make up the 2-goal Differential against Chile. If the Swiss tie Honduras, they need Spain to lose in order to advance. Despite sitting at the bottom of the group with two losses, Honduras can still make the next round by beating Switzerland, Spain losing, AND making up the 4-goal Differential between them and the Spanish.

Most Likely Outcome: This might be one of the most messed up groups in the end as 3 teams could very well end up with 6 points at the end of the day. It will likely come down to goal differential and despite Chile sitting on top of the group, I think Spain and Switzerland have the advantage here heading into the final game. I don't think Chile's +2 goal differential margin will hold. All it would take is a 2-goal win by Spain and a Switzerland win to knock Chile out of the tournament.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One More For A Streak: Pirates 5, Indians 3

The Pirates are one game away from a winning streak. Pedro stepped up with a clutch sac fly and the Pirates won a close game for a change, the second time in as many nights. Feel good, feels real good.

Brad Lincoln did just enough to get his first quality start of his major league career going six innings and yielding only three runs. It was a decent start but I didn’t really feel like he was ever much in control. I guess when you give up a yacker in the first inning that really takes any luster your start may or may not have had. Lincoln settled down and gave the Pirates a chance to win today, and really with this team that is all you can ask for.

Watching Lincoln it is becoming frustrating on how hard he makes the game for himself. When he was brought up people raved about his control and that he was a “strike thrower” and didn’t walk to many people. In his short stint so far that has been a huge problem for him. Today on the homer he gave up in the first he walked the previous batter and then hit Shin-Soo Choo who would later score on a double. Two runs that come as a direct result of a free pass given up. That has been what has hindered Lincoln through his first couple of starts. When he starts limiting those free passes he is going to be a lot more productive.

The Pirates weren’t necessarily solid the entire game, but they did what they had to do to make it interesting. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the second the Pirates got the first two men, Jaramillo and Crosby on and then it got interesting. With the pitcher spot due up JR puts Andy LaRoche to pinch hit and then bunts him. I am not sure how great of an idea a pinch hit bunter is as you are burning a batter and he is done for the rest of the game. Not saying Andy LaRoche is a .300 hitter but if you need a pinch hitter in the ninth inning I would much rather see him up there than Ryan Church.

The Pirates got second and third, one out, Tabata bounced back to the pitcher and then Jaramillo scored on a wild pitch. Walker couldn’t get Crosby in, but he, at least they scored right? I will take it. Bad inning, I thought, but they still tied the game up. In a similar situation in the eighth inning the Pirates had runners on first and second with nobody out and they bunted Lastings Milledge. Not really sure why you would do that, being that Milledge is by far the Pirates best hitter with runners in scoring position. He is hitting .400 with RISP. Sure you could hit into a DP but come on. Let the guy that is hot, hit.

If I told you before the game that John Russell would get tossed out of today’s game then you would have probably bet your house he wouldn’t. Well, he did. It was pretty unbelievable that I actually had to watch. There was a ball hit down the line, called fair (which is was, barely) but JR didn’t think so. Freaks out and gets the heave ho. Now it was talked about by a few people on Twitter, and after watching the replay I see what they were saying, but the umpires were actually coming at JR. JR wasn’t trying to instigate anything by walking towards the umpire. They were walking towards him. Not something you ever see from an umpire, and pretty unprofessional. The umpiring behind the plate today was below average at best, and adding onto that really showed me that this guy that was behind the plate wanted everyone to know that he was there.

Because of the fair ball that put runners on second and third with no outs and Brandon Donnelly did his job. Donnelly got three straight outs to preserve the lead. BD hasn’t been that great this year, but he has got the job done recently. He kept the game tied and that is all the Pirates needed.

Pedro Alvarez got the Pirates the go ahead run with a sac fly in the eighth and Bobby Crosby tacked on an insurance run to cap off a 3-for-3 day at the plate. That is another reason why the bunting of Milledge was puzzling. The Indians were able to set up a lefty to face Alvarez. Pedro looked pretty bad on the first two strikes but reliever Jensen Lewis hung a 0-2 breaking ball and Pedro hit a laser to right field for a sacrifice fly and the game winning run. Great to see.

Tabata and Alvarez are still struggling pretty bad, but like I said, you know it was going to happen. Tabata just hasn’t looked comfortable, pounding a lot of balls just straight into the ground. Hopefully the off day will give him some time to clear his head.

It is nice to see what PNC Park could be like. There was over 28,000 people at each of the games this weekend against the Indians and the place was really getting into it at the big parts of the game. When the Pirates start competing, a ticket to PNC Park is going to be fun to have. There are still plenty of struggles, but hopefully they can turn it around.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

FINALLY. Pirates 6, Indians 4

FINALLY! The Pirates break a 12 game losing streak with a great game tonight and a win over the Cleveland Indians. I would say beating Cleveland is something that is unusual for Pittsburgh teams, but then I would be lying. Jeff Karstens had a nice outing and the pen held the fort for the Pirates first time since June 1 against the Cubs.

It was a pretty big day at PNC Park. The 1960 World Series team was honored before the game and let me tell you, it was very, very awesome to watch. They talked about, and acknowledged every player on the team. When they got to Roberto Clemente he got a standing ovation from the capacity crowd and it was very touching. His wife, Vera was standing in her husbands place and she was in tears because of the standing ovation that the Pirates faithful were giving her late husband. 100% deserving of the ovation and it was truly touching to see.

Karstens did his job. He went 5.1 innings and gave up four runs, three on one swing in the sixth inning. It didn’t look good to start as Jeff gave up hits to the first two hitters but then shut the door and only giving up one run when it could have been much worse. The pitch count wasn’t terrible for Karstens, only throwing 68 pitches.

I have been pretty impress with Karstens this year as he just knows his role and does his job. Knows he is a back end guy and just needs to throw strikes and get outs, and that is exactly what he does. The only problem with Karstens is that when it goes bad, it goes real bad, fast. The Pirates held a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning but a three run bomb off the foul pole by Russell Branyan pulled the game to only one run. That was it for JR as he ended up using four pitchers in the sixth inning ending with Evan Meek getting Travis Hafner to ground back to himself to leave the bases loaded.

Lastings Milledge knows that he is playing for a spot on this team and you can tell. Milledge was a straight beast tonight, knocking in four runs and coming a home run shy of a cycle. Coming into the game he was third in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position and he continued that tonight. I have no idea why Ryan Church might play over Milledge but it should never happen. Milledge is part of this evaluation year and he needs to be on the field as much as possible.

Talk about being big time, look no further than Andrew McCutchen. He displayed how special of a player he was in the first inning. With two outs, standing on second base he did something that not many players can do. Milledge hit a chopper to shortstop and beat out the throw with a head first slide at first base and McCutchen rounded third and scored, easily, on the play. That is right, McCutchen scored from second base on an infield single. I would be very surprised if anyone else in the major leagues can do that. He has speed like most players only dream of. Doesn’t hurt that he also walked three times and scored three runs. Not too bad no matter where you hit in the order. McCutchen also tripled in the eighth. He went shopping in the right field gap and might have got to third base in about one second. Might be the fastest player in baseball. Freakishly fast.

Pedro also had a very productive day today. He gathered his first major league hit with a ground rule double in his third at bat. Pedro got the standing ovation as soon as he hit second base and showed very little emotion during the whole thing, which shows what kind of player he is, locked in. Hopefully this will settle him down and let him start hitting back up the box like I talked about two nights ago.

All in all the Pirates finally put together a good game. They hit, they fielded, they ran the bases and they pitched effectively. We have seen parts of this going on in the 12 game losing streak, but we never saw any combination of them in the same game. It was very refreshing to see and made me very happy since I called this win about five hours before the game. Love being right.

Friday, June 18, 2010

USA Earns Gutsy Point

What an unbelieveable game. Now I am not much of a soccer fan but the World Cup is what it is about, especially when the USA plays.

The USA played maybe one of the worst first halves in soccer history. They were outplayed and you would have thought it was a contest to see how wide open you can leave Slovenia...unreal.

The US turned it on a little bit near the end of the first half and came dangerously close to evening the score at one, but just couldn't get it going. Then the officiating happened. Off a corner kick the United States Rodney Findley got a piece of the ball and just pushed it wide. The game was stopped and Findley was called for a hand ball resulting in a Yellow Card. Ok, fair enough, hand ball in the box is a card, I get it. The problem is that he came nowhere near touching the ball. It actually hit his head. I know officiating is hard, but good lord, it hit him in the face. To make matters worse it was Findley's second yellow of the Cup so he will sit next game. Awesome.

A few minutes later Slovenia strikes again for another goal, making it 2-0. Now soccer is not like hockey, it is very touch to come back from a two goal deficit in just a half of play. The saying held true though. A two goal lead is the worst to have.

The United States came out of the halftime fired up. Landon Donovan started the part with a goal in the 48th minute and it was a game. Donovan dribbled all the way in to about seven feet from the Slovenian keep, who had the deer in the headlights look, and burried one top shelf to cut the lead in half. This goal by Donovan wasn't nice, it was filthy sick. Once I can get some YouTube coverage and highlights I will post it. What a goal to open the half with.

EDIT Here is a picture thanks to Emmanuel Sanders of our Pittsburgh Steelers. What a picture.

The USA would get a few opportunities here and there and pretty much dominated play for a majority of the second half. The 80 minute mark hit and you kinda got this sinking feeling in your stomach like it was going to be a loss and the USA had no real shot to move on. Then it happened.

Unreal. What a moment. Coming from two goals down to tie it up. There was still time and if you didn't almost have a heart attack with that goal then you have no idea what is going on. You know what is the most awesome part of this goal? The celebration. Could you imagine if the NFL let dogpiles happen after a huge TD? It was aweosme to see.

With the US still pressing they had a free kick with a few minutes left. You just felt that it was the huge chance we needed for the game. Perfect kick and a perfect set up and the ball found the back of the net off the foot of Maurice Adu. Then this:

Few observations:

-I know they call it football, but last time I checked you can't wrap your arms around not one, but two US players.

-Everyone knows there is US bias, obviously

-It's not like they put the ball in the net on that play, oh...

-What on God's green earth is that official looking at? Honestly?

What a terrible call. Cost the United States a goal, and possible win. I am never one to blame officiating because lets be serious, if they play half as good in the first half as they did in the second then it is a moot point, but this was bad.

I am not just talking bad because of the disallowed goal, I am talking ball all game. Terrible.

The US wasn't too happy either.

"I'm a little gutted to be honest," Landon Donovan said. "I don't know how they stole that last goal from us. I'm not sure what the call was. He (the referee) wouldn't tell us what the call was."

"We asked the ref many times what it was or who it was on and he wouldn't or couldn't explain it," Donovan said. "I don't know what to think of the call because I didn't see any foul, just a normal free kick and a goal."

Per FIFA rules referee's don't have to say what the foul was. They just have to blow the whistle and point their hand. If you can find a foul on a US player there in that highlight, put it in the comment section and I will own up and if you are right you can post how much of a joke I am on my own blog. Unreal.

The game ends in a 2-2 draw.

Some are saying this is the best game in US history. Sure they beat Spain in a friendly a while back, but this was a World Cup game. Everyone who is anyone with soccer, from casual to hardcore, watch the World Cup. It is the top of the mountain in terms of soccer. This is coming back from a 2-0 deficit on a worldwide stage. That is what it is all about. The bad officiating is what is going to run the headlines but it shouldn't. This was a great gutsy effort by the Americas to earn the point. Did they deserve the win? Hell yea, but you know what they are still in a place to move on.

I am unbelieveably proud to be an American and I was at work watching the game, with my boss nonetheless, and freaked out when Bradley found the back of the net. What a feeling.

Tie isn't terrible. Time to focus on Algeria.

Here are the game highlights:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

11 and Counting, White Sox 5, Pirates 4

Well there was a lot going on in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Pirates and the same in the top of the ninth, but there was an amazing effort that fell short in the bottom of the inning (eye roll).

The game was the typical of the past 10 before it. The Pirates were spotty on offense and below average at best on defense and for this team that is not going to get it done. The Dorfer pitched an average game, going 6.1 innings and yielding all five runs. The Sox scored an initial three runs over the first three innings and you just kinda had the feeling that the Pirates didn't have a chance.

Through this losing streak they haven't really been good at scoring a lot of runs and when we do we rarely get more than four. So when the Sox got the fifth run tonight it was almost like we should turn off the TV and just watch a movie that is on Lifetime. Ok, maybe not doing that, but you get the idea.

There were actually some highlights to the game tonight. Down 3-0 in the sixth Neil Walker went yatzee for the second time in his short MLB career to cut the lead to 3-1.

The biggest thing you can do the inning after you get a run or cut the lead is give up a run in the very next inning. That is exactly what happened. With Ohlendorf still in the game Juan Pierre tripled to lead off the inning after a bad route my McCutchen which socred a run and then Pierre scored a batter later. That is what kills any momentum that you might have for a game. It also doesn't help that you need to hold teams to only three runs in order to have a chance to win.

The best part of the night for the Bucs was definatly the bottom of the eighth inning. After a Bobby Crosby strikeout (shocking I know) Andy LaRoche hit for DJ Carrasco and doubled to deep centerfield (about time). That is when it got good. Tabata walked, Walker singled and McCutchen smoked a ball through the right side to set up shop. Garrett Jones came up and if you didn't feel him putting one in the river then you didn't even know what was going on. As soon as the ball came off his bat you thought it was gone, problem is, it wasn't. Sac fly that got the tying run to third base with two outs and Pedro up.

This was the perfect spot for Pedro to get his first hit, but he stuck out. I kinda got the feeling he was swining for the river as he took some hacks. Believe me if he touched one of those balls it was going. I guess I would like to see him try and get the ball up the middle. The home runs will definatly come with him but I think it was Huntington who said that when Pedro works on hitting that ball back up the box he can really zone in and everything falls into place. It is still really early for him in the majors so I know he wanted to make the splash hit (pun intended). He will learn. I am not worried.

It was really nice to see the top of the lineup get it rolling in a big situation. The 1-5 hitters got the job done in the eighth when they needed the runs. Pedro will get there. The ninth inning was a train wreck. I think I was a better option off the bench than Ryan Church. The pitch he struck out on was terrible, at best.

Sure it was the 11th loss in a row but I am a little less concered with W/L and more concerned with development of the core group. So far I like what I see. Tabata almost had a bunt single in the first (if he pushes it a little more its a hit) and he has been learning in the outfield. Walker was slumping but still gets a homerun and Pedro is taking some good swings and being pacient, it just hasn't clicked yet.

A lot of season left to go.

Lets Go Bucs

Should the Pirates Extend Huntington?

Today it was rumored that Neil Huntington was going to be extended by the Pirates. Rocco had a post about what Neil said about the rumblings and then gave some of his thoughts. I agree with RD 100%.

Why would the Pirates do this you ask? Why with their 18th straight losing season looming? Why with a 23-42 record so far this year? The answer is simple. Consistency. With the Pirates going through the rebuilding process it would be a major step back to bring in a new general manager with possible new philosophies. What if the new GM comes in and doesn't like Tabata or Walker. You don't want to take steps back.

I am also willing to let Huntington's plan play out. He has had some pretty productive draft and have opened up the pocket books to try and pay for some players that were thought to not be interested in play in major league baseball and going to college when they have major upside.

Huntington was bashed for taking Tony Sanchez in the 2009 draft, but that turned out to be a pretty good pick, plus they were able to sign those over slot pitchers that others teams didn't pick in earlier rounds becuase of college commitments. That is working smart. Just throwing money around to appease the fans is not how I want management to run and drafts like that are a huge step in the right direction. It is sometimes better to work smart than hard.

The kids are starting to filter in for his plan and this draft class that just happened a few weeks ago is probably going to be make or break. If they can sign Taillon and Allie they might be set up pretty nice if those kids can progress through the system. Under Huntington's tenure they have also invested mucho dinero into the facilities in the Dominican Republic to try and foster some better players out of Latin America. Before Huntington was here that was a big criticism of management and Huntington had a hand into making that happen.

I know it has been 17 years (and counting) with an under .500 record but under this management for the first time there is some hope. There is a buzz about Tabata and Alvarez, something this team never had. That is progress and over the next year plus we are going to see what some of these picks and players are made of. Until then keeping it consistent is good and letting the plan follow through is important. To me at least.

I hope he gets picked up. He deserves a chance. Like I have said numerious times would you be ok with getting a new job and having everyone hate you on the first day because the last guy in your spot was very lazy and was a dick?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So it Continues: White Sox 7, Pirates 2

Not even the emergence of Pedro Alvarez could keep the Pirates from continuing their losing streak, which has now reached double-digits. I would say that this was a frustrating night, but as a Pirates fan I am pretty sure we have all seen this about 30 times already this year. Unless the staff can hold the opponent to three or less we have a tough time winning a game.

Hard to really say about Alvarez's game. I thought offensively he did a pretty nice job. He was 0-2 with a walk, but his plate presents was pretty good. His first two at bats were nice where he worked Danks to a full count both times, striking out in his first at bat and walking in his second. In his third at bat he got a pretty good piece of a Danks pitch and ripped it to left field, but Juan Pierre was there to make the catch. I think that was pretty good for a first night, get your feet wet and move on from there.

Defensively it was a little bit of everything from Pedro. Early he made the turn and was the lead off part of a 5-4-3 double play and then a few innings later he couldn't get his glove on a ball down the line. Now the ball down the line was not an easy play, and likely Andy LaRoche would not have made it either so it was really a moot point.

A little over 15k to come and see Pedro. I thought there would be a little bit more people from that but I guess there was more of a walk up than a normal Wednesday night game. So I guess more than 28 people walked up to buy tickets. Whatever. Pedro got a standing O when he went to the plate, which was nice. Before the game he seemed truly blessed to be up here. Gotta love it.

To say the Pirates defense was bad tonight would be giving them a lot of credit. They were booting balls like it was the new hot fad going on in the streets. Ryan Doumit continues to struggle trying to throw base runners out. In the ninth inning he tried to throw out Pierre and he short hoped Walker in which time Walker tried to block it like a catcher but the ball hit off his knee and went into right field letting a run from third score. The play before Walker couldn't get Pierre out on a slow roller to second. To top off the circus which was known as the Pirates defense in the same ninth inning Pierre steals third, Alvarez just misses a finally good throw by Doumit and then Bobby Crosby tries to throw out Pierre at home and over throws it letting Alex Rios go to second as he was walked on the pitch. All told it was six errors for the Pirates tonight. All six were after the seventh inning. Horrid and embarrassing.

Zach Duke wasn't very steller tonight either. He pitched three good innings then just imploded in the fourth, giving up three runs on a bunch of hits. I don't even know what to say.

Jose Tabata got his first hit, a home run in tonight's game. It was a laser. No doubter. That might have been the lone highlight tonight.

Ah, I am way too tired to even get into this. I would say I am frustrated with this performance tonight, but it is way past that point in these kinda games. It is a long season. There will be more losses like this, just gonna have to deal with them.


More on Alvarez

Well unless you live under a rock you likely heard that Pedro Alvarez will be making his much anticipated big league debut tonight against the Chicago White Sox. Most people wanted to see Pedro three weeks ago, but IMHO that was a little premature, but now seems like the right time (but who really knows the right time) and the city will be abuzz with expectations and excitement.

One thing is true for the Pirates tonight regardless of results: The future is now. The big three (Alvarez, Tabata, Lincoln) are on the roster and are joined by Neil Walker. This is what management, and fans alike, have been talking about for a long time. It starts now, and it should be a fun right.

Lets not get anything twisted here, it is not going to be all rosy for the Pirates. Alverez is going to struggle. Those of you out there that think that he is going to hit 30 home runs the rest of the season are just out of your mind. He has shown through the minor leagues that he struggles as he gets acclimated. This year he was not very good at AAA hitting around .250 for a while before he started to hit his stride. He is going to have good streaks, and he is going to have bad streaks, you just need to realize that.

In his brief stint in the Pirates farm system he has amassed 707 at bats and hit .284. Alvarez also hit 40 home runs and drove in 148 runs over that span. Pretty impressive in a little over a seasons worth of at bats. What is bothersome is his high strikeout rate, about 24% of his plate appearances. He is going to strike out, people are going to have to deal with that. I think everyone knows that so it shouldn't be too much of a shock. Still Alvarez can hit, with power, as evidence by his home run count and his 47 doubles in that span. To put that in perspective Robinson Cano had 48 doubles last year in just over 640 at bats. Not too bad for Pedro, although it was just in the minors.

Pedro's shortcomings at third base have been detailed. Detailed as much as saying that he will probably get moved to first base in the future, but not right now. In his minor league career he has made 36 errors for a .926 fielding percentage, which would rank him dead last of any third baseman that had qualifying statistics last season in the majors. Whatever, this team needs the bat and with the short right field wall at PNC it will help a lot, like the strikeouts, errors will happen. Hopefully he can grow into the position, but only time will tell.

Pedro will be in the lineup tonight and hit in the six hole. Not bad when you can have someone of that talent level hitting sixth. The line up is looking better, but a lot of work needs done. You need to start somewhere though.

Interesting that the Pirates brought up Pedro to hit against a lefty tonight. You would think they would want him to hit against a righty since that was one of the huge reasons he needed to stay down in Indy (to hit more against lefties), but he has been hitting the south paws really well so we will see what they have.

It will be exciting. Buckle up.

Lets Go Bucs

All In: Pirates Call Up Alvarez

Almost right as the last out was made in the Pirates 6-4 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night the Pirates announced that they will call up Pedro Alvarez to the major league lineup. As I type this into the post I am getting chills up and down my body. Alvarez is the best prospect to roll through the Pirates organization since Bonds. This is huge. The future starts now.

Alvarez has been tearing it up down in down in Indianapolis recently and most thought it was only days before he came up. As I was watching the game tonight it was reported that Alvarez was not going to be brought up Saturday at the earliest. Then the news broke that Alverez was going to be with the team tomorrow and all hell broke lose on the internet. Unreal. This is what real Pirates fans have been waiting for. Most of the real fans knew that he shouldn't be brought up just to be brought up to appease the fans and the management stuck to not doing that. He did what he had to do and he is here.

Here is some audio from Colin Dunlap talking to Alverez about being called up.

You wanna know how bad ass dude is? Check out this video in case you didn't see the post I had up on it before.


Here is what we have: Alvarez, Tabata, McCutchen, Jones, Doumit, Walker...not too bad offensively on paper. Sure it is only six hitters but look at what they had at the beginning of the season. They doubled the hitters you could letgitimatly put on paper as being above average. It is a very exciting time. Soak it all in because it is going to be crazy nuts at PNC Park tomorrow. The stands will be filled without a doubt and he will most likely get a standing ovation when his name is announced. Gotta love it.

Someone will have to go down, that will be a game time decision, but that is an afterthought. The city will be buzzing and it is going to be a thing of beauty to watch the rest of the season. This is where we start to see what we have for the future and right now I feel pretty damn good.

So with that I just want to say welcome to Pittsburgh Pedro, we are damn glad to have you man.

Lets Go Bucs

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pirates Continue to Struggle. White Sox 6, Pirates 2

Another frustrating day for the Pirates as they dropped their ninth straight game to the Chicago White Sox 6-4. It was kind of a sloppy game with some seeing eye singles finding their way through for the Sox and some costly walks leads to a not so impressive start for Brad Lincoln.

I know I have not been doing much Pirates coverage, but I just got MLB Extra Innings so I will be able to watch most, if not all, the games so there will be more post game thoughts when it permits. Onto the game...

Mike Tomlin and his kid were at the game.

All business

Some quick notes on the game:

Lincoln’s results were a direst result of him putting people on base. In the first and third innings Lincoln retired the first two batters and proceeded to hit Alex Rios in the first inning and Paul Konerko in the third inning. That might see sort of insignificant but keeping the pitch count low is important in major league baseball these days. If he only throws ten extra pitches that is 20 extra pitches, probably an extra inning or more.

Lincoln actually started out looking alright, his curveball was just filthy and things looked pretty good. That was until he started walking a few more people. In the second and fourth innings Lincoln walked the leadoff hitter and the result in those innings were two runs in each inning, which included a squeeze play in the fourth inning. Not just any squeeze play, squeezing two pitches in a row. Unreal how this can happen, but it did. It’s the Pirates.

Neil Walker continues to play good baseball, whether you expect it or not. What I have been more impressed with Walker is his ability to control the bat. This is the second game that Walker has been able to lay down a perfect push bunt in order to reach base in the first inning of a game. It is very impressive that Walker is able to handle the bat the way he does and that is so important for where he hits in the order. Being able to handle the bat and pick his spots makes him ideal. When Tabata gets on he can move him over or go the other way or put down a push or drag bunt to get on so it is going to give the defense a lot to worry about.

GFJ has been playing some good baseball lately. In his last 15 games he has an over 1.000 OPS in his last 15 games and continued to rake with a two RBI double in the first inning off the right field wall. I thought it was out, but it was just short, as it hit the top of the wall, but it got the job done. GFJ also did a nice job of hitting later in the game when he wasn’t swinging. Cutch reached first base and swiped second and third base in two straight pitches, both of which Jones just let go. Now, to be fair, both were balls but close enough to swing. GFJ saw that Cutch got a great jump, knew he had the bag stolen and let him have it. That was with one out, what did Jones do? Pop out to the shortstop. Great.

Cutch, like I said before, swiped a few bags. Three in total, his second three stolen base game. He also came up lame after a ninth inning single. I am not going to lie I almost shit a brick. Luckily it was confirmed after the game that Cutch just had a cramp in his calf. Big relief.

Today was a big reason why left field can be so hard to play at PNC Park. Jose Tabata had a tough time playing it and misread a ground ball into the corner pretty badly. There is going to be a learning curve there, you just have to understand this and live with it for a little while. What I liked most is that as soon as Tabata went to the dugout Lastings Milledge was there to talk to him about it. Say what you want about Milledge but you got to love to see that. Milledge has played it all year and although he is a bad defensive outfielder he learned some ways to play it, being able to pass off that information to a kid who is taking his spot is good.

Andy LaRoche had a miserable game and was replaced at third base at the end of the game by Delwyn Young (actually Walker who moved to third and Young who played third base) but this spelled the end for Andy. Pedro was called up after the game. It is time. The future is here. The rest of Pedro will be in a separate post.

Lets Go Bucs.

Bettis Talks Ben, Training Camp Schedule

Most of you know how I feel about the Ben Roethlisberger situation and that I am sick and tired of hearing it and/or talking about it. I don't really mind touching on it here and there but the media has made a pretty big deal about the whole thing, and that much is expected with how big of a star Ben is now with two Super Bowl rings.

What really interests me with Ben is when people close to him talk, such as Jerome Bettis did on First Take. Jerome was very tight with Ben when he was in Pittsburgh so he has some very close first hand knowledge with Ben and he was sort of a mentor to Ben when he was here. This is what he had to say:

Now Jerome got into talking about how he knew Ben as the real Ben Roethlisberger, which to me is good news. This kind of contributes to the story that Ben just got caught up in all the limelight and lost in who he was. This also gives me hope that he realized that (finally) and he is trying to get back to who he truely is. Maybe I am just really optimistic about this but I think he can get it together since that is who he really is. Recognition is the first step.

Also today the Steelers released their training camp schedule. Per the PG:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have annouced today that the team will report to training camp at Saint Vincent College, in Latrobe, on July 30.

All afternoon practices will begin at 2:55 p.m. and are open to the public, beginning July 31. The lone night practice will be held on August 6 at 7 p.m. at Latrobe High School. The last public day of open practice is Wednesday, August 18.

They will host their first pre-season game against the Detroit Lions on August 14.

Here We Go

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pacman + VY = BFF

I wasn't going to touch on this with what has happened in Steelers country this summer, but then I realized I didn't give a shit. I can do what I want.

Turns out that Pacman isn't the only NFL player that likes to frequent the strip club ridiculously late and make a fuss.

Vince Young was given an assault citation after punching some dude in the face at 3 AM on Sunday.

Now if you are like me you probably thinking that Vince was with his boys just having some fun. Nothing wrong with the strip club is there? It's not illegal. You probably thought they were having a good time and someone took a swing at one of VY's boys and he tried to defend himself or his friend. You (and I) would have been so wrong.

All it took to provoke Mr. Young was a dude giving him the "hook 'em horns" sign (from Texas) upside down. That is right, upside down. The nerve.

You have got to be shitting me. That is what he got so worked up about. No wonder you are a joke on the field.

Here is the video of Vince in action:

That is the best thing he's done with his right arm in a long time.

Well VY and Pacman now have an anthem it was announced the day after the Young encounter. Guess what it is.

Oh yea. Get some.

Now you would probably think that Vince would probably talk to Roger Goodell to want to talk to VY and probably give him a punishment. Doubtful. I mean it's not like he was issued a citation, oh, he was, or that he phyically hit someone, oh, he did, but I mean he isn't a superstar so he doesn't need suspended. I guess it is better to suspend a recognizable guy who didn't get charged with anything. I guess this coupled with the non issue that Mr. Goodell has with Eric Foster sexually assaulting a woman or with Green Bay Packers corner Brandon Underwood being accused of the same thing.

Goodell opened up the box when he suspended Ben when he wasn't charged and if he doesn't even talk to these players then there is something wrong. Before everyone gets their panties all in a bunch I am NOT saying what Ben did was right but you want to talk about double-standard it is looking you right in the face.

Make it rain Vince, make it rain.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Preview Central

The World Cup is upon us. I know it might not have the same feel as the Winter Olympics, but across the world it has that feeling for most. Luckily for you myself and Ian from The Steelers N'at has done all the legwork and put all the previews you need together to get through the long weekend. We have saved you the trouble from scouring the Internet for previews on all the countries in the Cup.

Here is a composite post for all the previews. Enjoy people.

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F

Group G

Group H

Knockout Predictions

Well there it is. Sit back and enjoy the World Cup then you can tell me how good I am at picking soccer.


2010 World Cup Preview: Knockout Stage Predictions

The World Cup starts today. If you're not bouncing out of your chair with excitement, well, you're like most Americans.

But here's the deal. Saturday afternoon we have a chance to get retribution on the British for BP.

Go America.

Obviously, American soccer fans are going to be interested in what their national team is doing. However, here are some other matches you're definitely going to want to set the DVR for.

Top Five Opening Round Matches
(in chronological order)

Argentina - Nigeria
June 12 10am EST

This promises to be a fast-paced, wide-open game. Though a rarity in soccer, this one could end up 5-4. Both teams are talented on the offensive end and weak on defense. That could mean a lot of goals as neither plays a particularly defensive-minded game.

England - USA
June 12 2:30pm EST

Read some Thomas Paine. Get angry about the Gulf oil spill. Think about how much you hate Mr. Collins. Don't know who Mr. Collins is and why you should hate him? Put down Twilight and read some real literature.

Netherlands - Denmark
June 14 7:30am EST

Two talented teams that have their eyes on deep runs in the tournament. Denmark isn't really on anyone's radar after struggling against tough teams in qualifying. The Netherlands is the best team never to have won the World Cup.

Brazil - Cote d'Ivoire
June 20 2:30pm EST

The #1 team in the world against the best team in Africa. On African soil. One of the best strikers in the world (Ivory Coast's Drogba) will be playing with a broken arm. Ivory Coast may not win this game, but it's a big chance for African soccer to prove they belong on the big stage with the big boys.

Brazil - Portugal
June 25 10am EST

Any time two of the top 3 teams in the FIFA world rankings go at it, it's a big deal. The final day of group play, these two teams may be battling for a spot in the elimination round if Ivory Coast happens to upset one of them earlier in the tournament.

In the second round of the tournament, teams who finished 2nd in their group face teams that finished first. Here is a look at how the World Cup bracket will go down:

Based on our predictions for the Opening Round of the tournament, here are how our brackets would look:

Ian's Bracket
Uruguay - Nigeria
USA - Ghana
Netherlands - Paraguay
Brazil - Chile

South Africa - Argentina
England - Germany
Denmark - Italy
Portugal - Spain

Cory's Bracket
France - Greece
USA - Serbia
Netherlands - Paraguay
Brazil - Chile

Mexico - Argentina
England - Germany
Cameroon - Italy
Portugal - Spain

But what fun are the predictions if they just stop there? We obviously know everything there is to know about international soccer, as you could gather from our erudite previews. Therefore, we figure we might as well go ahead and tell you where you should put your money before the tournament even starts.

Ian's Final Eight

Cory's Final Eight

Now that we skimmed off the fluff, we're left with the creme de la creme. My high school English teacher called his AP kids that. One of the cool aspects of the World Cup is that there is a consolation game for 3rd place. While this may not really matter because there's no bronze medal, it means that getting into the final four guarantees you two more games. Here are our predictions for how the stones will fall after the final games are played.

Fourth Place

Ian's Prediction:
Italy disposes of Spain in the quarterfinals but their age finally catches up with them and they get beat by Argentina in the semi-finals. I predict they lose the 3rd place game in a shootout.

Cory's Prediction:

Italy is pretty good. They will choke. Bank it.

Third Place

Ian's Prediction:
An amazing run for the American team. If they can get by England on emotion the opening weekend of the tournament, they'll be in perfect shape for a deep run. If it goes down as I predict, they'll be able to avoid facing a Top 15 team in the world between England and the Semi-Finals, where they will be promptly stomped on by Brazil. The Americans bounce back and beat the Italians on penalty kicks for the 3rd place prize, the best finish ever in the nation's history.

Cory's Prediction:

Brazil is real good. Not this year.

Second Place

Ian's Prediction:
The current #1 team in the world will face a ton of pressure coming in to the title match. Will they be able to live up to the hype? France has proven to be their Achilles Heel before, an a team that plays a possession-focused game could be their downfall. In the end, they have too much firepower for most teams to deal with. Chances are the championship game goes to penalty kicks again.

Cory's Prediction:

Argentina ain't too bad. They will get it done and finish in second place to...

World Cup Champion

Ian's Prediction:
No European team has ever won the World Cup outside of European soil and that trend continues here. Argentina might not be the most complete team in the tournament, but they have the goal scorers to carry them on a deep run. If they do bring the trophy home, coach Maradona will be able to run over as many reporters as he wants with his car and no one will care.

Cory's Prediction:

If you didn't think I am going to pick the United States then you must be high. I thought Ian might pick the United States too but then I realized he is a traitor and doesn't love America at all. He might as well move to Philadelphia. America shocks the world.