Thursday, July 29, 2010

Steelers Build New Building, sign Adams

Just when everyone starts to doubt the Steelers front office they go out and make two huge moves in two days. Yesterday they signed Kevin Colbert to a five year extention and today they signed Flozell Adams to a two year deal.

Colbert's deal was something everyone knew that would happen, but some people just simply don't have faith in the front office that they really should. Colbert has done an unreal job in the draft and with player management while with the Steelers and is one of the reasons that. Maybe something that overshadows Colbert is knowing when to resign players and when to let them go. Usually when a player is getting a little older, but still producing well Colbert, and the Steelers, will let them walk and they will under perform the next contract they sign. That is when you know you are legit. Great signing.

Today the Steelers signed this man:

(yes that is the ocean, not a tub Adams is standing in)

Oh, wait, that isn't Flozell Adams? Really? This is really him?

Looks like the same guy to me. Whatev.

The Steelers got Flozell Adams signed to a two year deal. If you remember Adams was brought in like a month ago for a workout and was never heard from again. Most people thought he was just a forgotten about possibility to replace Willie Colon. Oh ye of little faith. The Steelers break the news on Thursday of his signing and he will be in camp.

Adams is 6'7 340 pounds. Jesus.

There is some talk around that Max Starks might move back to right tackle, which is what he played for the Steelers in the past, so that Adams can play his natural left tackle spot. Instant upgrade

While Adams didn't have the best year last year and is a little longer in the tooth he is still an upgrade over anyone we have in camp now. Getting him in now will make it a lot better for him to learn everything.

This is very exciting news for a Steelers team that has had bad offensive lines the past few season. I am pretty excited. I will in in Latrobe for training camp next weekend and I will try to get a few pictures of him, but from what I hear it is impossible to get all of Adams in a single picture.

The Steelers are the best when everyone talks about the Bengals and Ravens. I like where this is going for the Steelers. If you are not starting to get excited for this team, then you should.

Pirates Game Day 101 Live Blog - @ Colorado

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pirates Game Day 100 Live Blog - @ Colorado

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Road Win. Wait, What?!?!

You know those once in a lifetime experiences that you experience either in person or live on TV and you say to people the next day at work that you watched that? That is kinda what like tonight was for Pirates fans, only on a much smaller scale. Something that is very hard for the Pirates to do, win road games, is exactly what they did in Denver with a 4-2 win.

Neil Walker led the offensive charge with three hits, including an insurance home run late in the game after having a dreadful last couple of games. Statistics are pointing to Walker having a fall in his batting average in the near future, but for now he is at .310 and looking good at the top of the Pirates lineup. Matt over at PLC gives us a good explaination of Walker's statistics.

Andrew McCutchen was a beast tonight in the field. He was all over the place and made at least three great catches in the field tonight which probably saved the game for the Pirates more than any at bat that any Pirate player had.

Zach Duke pitched very well. He gave up back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, but scattered only three hits through his six innings pitched. He gave the Pirates a chance to win and the offense came through for him. That is all you can ask for is a chance to win and Zach gave the team that chance. Big ups for that.

The Pirates were not particularly good hitting tonight outside of Walker. The Pirates had only eight hits and Walker had three of them. You do the math. The Buccos also managed to strike out eight times. Seven of those times were in like the first five innings. Imagine what Jimenez is going to do to us on Thursday. Damn.

I will take it though, it was the Pirates 12th road win on the season. You take em when you can get em. Whatever.

Big win. I also get to play my favorite song in the Live Blog when the Pirates win.


Pirates Game Day 99 Live Blog - @ Colorado

Monday, July 26, 2010

Things To Watch For: Steelers Training Camp

Well it is secret to nobody that the Steelers open up training camp soon. Some consider that this is the official end of baseball season, but I am not going to go quite that far with it. Sure it brings some more to talk about now that the Pirates are 30 games under, and it sure does start to get you ready for football season.

So for the start of training camp there are a few things that I have been wondering, as I am sure some of you have been, so I figured, hell, lets get this on the block and see what everyone has to say.

Here are a couple of my quick hitters:

1) What are the Steelers going to do on the offensive line?

Going into the off season last year the offensive line was one of the scrutinized in the NFL, and for good reason. There wasn't much of a running game and Ben was running for his life on almost every drop back. Things could have been better this year. Sure they weren't very good, but they were one unit. They go to learn each other and more importantly they drafted Maurkice Pouncey. Although only a rookie he is going to have to come in and contribute right away. Nobody is quite sure where he is going to play, guard or center, but he is going to play baring something really unforeseen.

Willie Colon, arguably the best lineman the Steelers had, is out for the season after a lifting accident which led to him to busting up his Achilles. Colon was defiantly the best run blocker the Steelers had, but wasn't the best pass blocker so I guess you can't say we lost an all-pro player. Well when you think about it we could say that about all our linemen. Damn. Whatev.

Wanna know the good part? The Steelers have won two Supers Bowls in the recent past with average at best lines. Sure, it is going to be tough this way, but hell, what are you going to do? The Steelers go to camp with Pouncey, Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Justin Hartwig, Trai Essex, Jonathan Scott, Tony Hills, Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky, Kraig Urbik, Chris Scott, Dorian Brooks and Kyle Jolly.

Wanna know what is good about this? Competition. Not only is there a spot on the line because of Colon's injury, but also because a lot of these lineman are versatile. That is what Mike Tomlin likes, versatile lineman. It gives him more options in game situations and also might put a little more pressure on the group that is tabbed as the "starters". Nothing makes a player better than adversity and competition and that is what this Steelers line has a lot of.

What is Sean Kugler's role going to be? He is the new offensive line coach for those of you who don't know. Maybe some fresh blood and new philosophies will sharpen some skills.

It will be interesting in camp to see who plays where, and for how many snaps. Will Pouncey play any center? Who is going to play right tackle? Hell, who is going to play left tackle and both guards? I really want to see the battles and the players push each other. It will only make them better. We all know that better is good.

2) The development of Mike Wallace.

Santonio Holmes is gone and Hines Ward is a year older. The other stay over from last season is then rookie Mike Wallace. Wallace was a beast for the black and gold last season and he is going to need to be big for this offense, even when Ben comes back from his suspension for doing nothing. Wallace caught six touchdown passes last year and over 750 yards.

Wallace is going to have an expanded role in the offence and he has to be ready to take that on and get better from last year. Tone is gone so I am sure there is going to be pressure, couple that with no Big Ben for at least four games and you have some pressure.

The Steelers did try to rectify the situation by bring back Antwaan Randle El and bringing in Arnaz Battle to give the WR corp some depth. I am curious to see how Wallace works and if he is still the guy who is going to be the first guy on the field and the last one out like he was much of last year. Teams are going to key on him more so he has to be sharp. He is no longer the small guy and can hide as the third WR. His development is something to watch.

3) How fast can the defense mesh after being away from each other?

Bryant McFadden, Larry Foote, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith. What do they all have in common? They weren't with the Steelers last year on the field. They are bringing back 36% of their Super Bowl defense that wasn't there in 2009.

It isn't only bringing in player that is going to make this team good. They have to work as one. All of these guys knows what the Steelers defense is, but in the case of McFadden and Foote they haven't been in the Steelers system for a whole season. I am sure it is not going to be hard to grasp the system but it will be important for them to regain that chemistry with their ex teammates.

Last year there were a lot of injuries and a lot of unrest with the defense who blew leads on a few occasions and did not step up to the plate like they have in the pass. Some of those fill in players are going to be pushing for time and roster spots. This could be a scary good defense if they get back to form quickly and it all starts with that ball hawk mentality in training camp.

4) Special teams

The third part of the football game, special teams, often gets overlooked, but it got the Steelers burned on more than one occasion last year. The Steelers went out and picked up aforementioned players in Randel El and Battle as well as drafted some linebackers that will most defiantly play some special teams in order to get that unit strong as it was in their last Super Bowl run.

Special teams is where players can get noticed and where football careers start. It is these kinda things that don't really catch anyone's attention, especially during camp, but one busted coverage on opening day will get people all rilled up.

With El and Battle in here that puts a lot of pressure on Stef Logan to do something to make this team. Logan was a special teams only players last season and with how good El was when he was with the Steelers the writing is on the wall that you either need to put up or shut up.

Watching how the youngsters play on special teams will give you a good glimpse of what they are going to be like as offensive and defensive players. If they can bust down and are able to be coached and do their job then they will probably be that kind of player in other instances. Watching the battles with the returns will also be huge as that will determine a roster spot. Oh training camp special teams.

Now don't get me wrong, these are not the only things to look for, but I just wanted to get my teeth sunk into something. There are many more things to look for in camp, but these are some of the things I want to hear and see about. They are not high profile stuff like Woodley's contract or the QB situation, but in my opinion they are just as important to the Steelers and will affect wins and losses.

What do you think? Am I off base? Leave it in the comments.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pirates Drop Series, Lincoln, Donnelly

The Pirates had a chance to get a win against a first place team. It all started well as Ronny Cedeno smacked a pitch over the left field fence for a 2-0 Pirates lead. Alas it has become sort of a known fact that when the Pirates get a big hit and look to take control of the game the opposing team strikes back and doubles up the Pirates the next half inning, plus one.

That was the case today at PNC Park as the next half inning after the Pirates took a 2-0 lead Brad Lincoln surrendored four runs and the Pirates couldn't bounce back and dropped their fourth straight game.

Lincoln went 6.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on eight hits. Lincoln was particularly bad in the third inning when he gave up five runs. The worst part of the inning was it was started by Padres pitcher Wade LeBlanc. When the pitcher is up you have to get them out. LeBlanc got two hits on the day. Same old story, just a different day for the Pirates.

The Pirates were retired in order the last four innings. Offense got eight hits, but never really put much together. Every time they got a leadoff runner on there was a double play of an infield pop up. Much like the previous three games they just couldn't get it done.

Jose Tabata collected two hits and raised his average to .281 on the season. The more I watch this kid play the more I am starting to believe. Not only is he getting better but it looks like he is learning at the same time. I mean this could be dumb luck that he is getting some hits, but even when he gets out he is hitting the ball hard. It is very good to see from one of the young players. He is also my favorite player so that is even better.

Ronny Cedeno is somone that you really can't figure out. He is so streaky that it makes him hard to rely on, but if he does catch fire he plays very, very well. He had two hits today, the home run and a double. He is pretty steady in the field to boot so its hard not to play him now. If Ronny was a little more consistent then he would be a great fit on this team. The problem is that he is so streaky that you can't really count on him. One night he will get three hits and the next night he will strike out four times.

Cutch was back in the lineup today. Got a hit. Not too much else going on. He will get Monday off, as will the rest of the team, so that will give his shoulder another day to rest. I was really against him playing today because of having tomorrow off, I wanted him to get a little more rest. This is not like the Pirates are fighting for anything so why risk bringing him back. Keep him out a little longer to make sure. It is all good because he didn't reinjure himeself so it is a non issue.

Afrer the game the Pirates made a few interesting moves when they sent down Brad Lincoln and designated Brendan Donnelly for assignment. Interesting moves on both fronts if you ask me. Donnelly has been in the league forever and as Tim points out in his post he has the right to refuse the assignment, which I would have to imagine he is going to do. Best bet is that the Pirates are not going to put him back on the roster so they will either release him or look for a trading partner.

You would think they would actively try to shop him, but who really is going to want him? His numbers are horrid and he has been having a lot of problems just throwing strikes. Not something you want out of a reliever.

I thought sending Lincoln down was a little strange. Sure he hasn't been good, but I don't think he has been terrible either. He hasn't even made 10 starts yet and for the most part in his starts it is one bad inning that gets him. Maybe they are some growing pains, but I figured you would keep him in the rotation for a little longer, because lets face it, who are the better options we have for the rotation? I guess it is a little frustrating because he was supposted to be the person who can hit the spots, and with a fastball that only gets around 91 or 92 you need to be able to hit spots. Throwing the ball in the middle of the zone does not constitute control. So far this season Lincoln is a -0.5 WAR and has a WHIP of over 1.5 so there is a lot of room for improvement.

An interesting stat is what hitters are doing against Lincoln as they go through the order. The first time through the order Brad is pretty good, holding hitters to a .242 average, while hitters are teeing off at a rate of .468 the second time through the order. What does this mean? It means that either the batters are learning really fast and watching pitchers or Lincoln is becoming very predictable and teams know that. Not a good stat to have and could explain the trouble he has in the third and fourth innings this year.

I guess you can say this could be a confidence move. A lot of what pitching is focus' on confidence and Lincoln must not have any. He has shown in AAA that he can dominate, he just needs to translate that more into the major leagues. Would I have sent him down? No, probably not. But then again that is why I am a joke blogger and not a MLB GM. There is no doubt he needs to pick it up, but things could always be worse, he could be Matt Morris, or a pitching form of Ryan Church.

Rob Biertempfel says he expects the Pirates to call up Wil Ledezma and Justin Thomas on Tuesday and then send Thomas back down when it comes to Lincolns turn in the rotation and bring up Daniel McCutchen.

I guess we will see what happens. The trade deadline is coming up so lets see what the Pirates do or don't do. What I do know is that whatever the Pirates do is going to be wrong in most people's eyes. Give it a chance. I am willing to.

Pirates Game Day 98 Live Blog - vs. San Diego

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pirates Game Day 97 Live Blog - vs. San Diego

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pirates Game Day 96 Live Blog - vs. San Diego

Nothing Lasts Forever

Well you probably knew that nothing last forever. That is especially the case for Pirates baseball. Even in the worst of times the Pirates will get a win here and there. This also counts for the good times (yes, there are those). After scoring 50 runs in their previous five games the Pirates could chalk up only two against the Brewers on Thursday night and dropped a 3-2 contest. There was a lot going on in this game including Prince Fielder making sure that everyone knew that he was upset, almost crying when both teams got warnings when Jose Tabata was thrown at in the seventh inning.

All wasn't lost last night. The Pirates got down 3-0 after Evan Meek gave up two runs on a Ricki Weeks home run, but the Bucs battled back in the bottom half of the seventh inning when the Brewers started their shenanigans. They felt that it intentional when Ricki Weeks go hit, so much so that Fielder began to openly talk about it in the dugout. Jose Tabata came up to the plate with the Pirates down 3-0 and was at a 3-0 count when he was thrown behind. Awesome. Runner on, two outs, who knows.

Well D. Young comes up, singles. Runners on the corners. Neil Walker comes up and continues to mash with a double to score both Young and Tabata. Way to send a message Milwaukee!

Alas the Pirates couldn't get much done. Ryan Church came up in the nineth and looked at two pitches right now the middle before weakly grounding out to second. Hey, at least he made contact. No idea why he ever plays.

GFJ struggled some last night but still managed two hits. He just hasn't look real comfortable at the plate and hopefully he can bounce out of it when a really good Padres team comes into town for a three game set.

This will be a stern test for the Bucs as San Diego boasts a 3.30 team ERA, second best in the league against a Pirates team that is not real good at hitting. So with that being said the Pirates will probably win a few. You know how this team is. Nothing surprises me with this team anymore. At least we have seen the possibilities with the young core and hopefully they will keep learning.

Everyone should know that this team is going to go with the youngsters, and they are going to have a lot of ups and downs still. They are all rookies. I am just along for the ride.

The Pirates line up against Kevin Correia tonight, who on the surface seems like a guy the Pirates can get the best of. A 5.22 ERA and only 6-6 on the year. Correia is a right handed hurler, but lets righties hit at a .308 clip against him as opposed to a .235 average against lefties. Strange. Whatever. Hopefully the bats can wake up again and get things going.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pirates Game Day 95 Live Blog - vs. Brewers

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Holy Alvarez: Pirates 15, Brewers 3

Well nothing like having another breakout performance against the Brewers to put a lot of Pirate fans in a good mood. Zach Duke had a less than stellar start, but he did something that Brad Lincoln wasn’t able to do last night, hold onto a big lead. This was totally different from last night in that I never really felt that the Brewers had a chance once the Pirates put up a six spot in the fourth inning. Pretty good feeling.

The Pirates strung together 13 runs between the fourth and eighth innings after Brewers starter Randy Wolfe retired nine straight Pirates. That is what good offenses do. A month or so ago the Pirates would have rolled over after Wolfe got on a roll, but the kids are starting to understand this whole hitting thing, including Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez followed up a two home run, five RBI, with another two home run night and three more RBI. Dude is what you call “in the zone”. I think we are just getting the hint of what this kid can do when he starts to get comfortable. Pedro is up to hitting .259 with a .509 slugging percentage. Not too shabby for a kid that people were talking about getting sent back down. Oh how the tides turn. He just makes it look so easy. There hasn’t been someone in the lineup with this kinda power in a long time. Refreshing to see.

Thanks to some good work from Rocco we can see that Pedro is getting it done. In July he is going for a .339/.406/.742 = 1.148 OPS in 16 games and 69 plate appearances.

Speaking of things going good that Neil Walker and Jose Tabata characters can play some ball too. Tabata put together a 2-for-4 night to raise his average to .266 and Walker continued his torrid streak going 2-for-5, while also getting robbed of two other hits to keep his average at a robust .314. Again Rocco puts the numbers together for the “Calvary” (Tabata, Walker, Alvarez) and they have gone 31-for-67 with 9 2B, 4 HR, 5 BB = .463/.500/.776 = 1.276 OPS in the last five games. Nice.

Lastings Milledge continues to rake and Delwyn Young even went 3-fo-4 with five RBI. How good does it feel to watch baseball like this? Very fun to watch and be a part of and hopefully this is just a glimpse into the future of this young core.

Pirates Game Day 94 Live Blog - vs. Brewers

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Any Win is a Good Win: Pirats 11, Brewers 9

The Pirates started the game off alright by most people’s standards. All they did was collect seven hits and score nine runs with the help of three Brewer errors. Not thing really went wrong for the Pirates in the top of the first. The highlight was easily Pedro Alvarez’s first career grand slam. As I talked about last night Pedro has been watching a lot of pitches and laying off the garbage, which was going to make him a better hitter. What happened? Dave Bush went to a 2-2 count with the bases loaded and had to get a pitch over the plate because Pedro hasn’t been chasing. He hangs a pitch and Pedro made him pay. This was the first time since June 8, 1989 that the Pirates have scored nine runs in the first inning.

Pedro came up in the second inning and mashed another ball over the right field fence for his second HR of the night. It is pretty safe to say that he is adjusting very well after a slow start. I’ll take it.

Brad Lincoln wasn’t very good tonight. After you get nine runs in the first inning you pretty much figure you can cruise through six, maybe seven innings pretty easy. Pfff, easy, who does that? Lincoln gives up three in the second and four more in the third and actually gets yanked before his mound counterpart Dave Bush did. The worst part of the entire game was when Matt Lecroy legged out an infield single because Lincoln didn’t hustle over to cover first base. Unacceptable. You would think that PFP (pitchers fielding practice) is something that he does every day but yet when in a game he treats it like a chore to go over and get an out at first base. Embarassing.

Luckily, DJ Carrasco could come in and give the Pirates a few scoreless innings to stop the bleeding for a little bit so everyone could catch their breath. Carrasco came in for 2.2 innings and struck out five Brewers with some filthy stuff tonight.

It wasn’t for long as Bandon Donnelly comes into the game and walks the leadoff hitter in the sixth, gets an out then gives up a two run bomb to Ryan Braun. Great pitching. Besides Carrasco, Meek, Hanrahan, Dotel there really isn’t too much going on pitching wise for the Pirates. Do I realize that there are no starting pitchers that I just listed? Yes, yes I do realize that. It is sad.

Thankfully Lopez got a few outs and then it was back to the usual in Meek, Hanrahan and Dotel. The backbone of the late innings. Meek got the job done and Hanrahan painted the corner with 98 MPH cheese and got Braun looking to end the top of the eighth inning. There is nobody in MLB I hate more than Ryan Braun so that was especially good.

Dotel came in and earned his 20th save of the season by getting three strikeouts with a Jim Edmonds double sprinkled in there. Whatever.

Neil Walker also had a pretty nice night for the Black and Gold. He had five hits and pushed his average up to .311. I mean that is pretty ridiculous game in itself. Couple that with the Pirates scoring nine runs in the first, almost blowing that nine run lead, having Brad Lincoln pitch less innings than Dave Bush (who gave up all nine runs in the first), John Russell getting tossed and horrid umpiring lead to a game where anything could happen and you wouldn’t be surprised.

No win is a bad win for the Pirates.

Pirates Game Day 93 Live Blog - vs. Brewers

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brewers 3, Pirates 1

Just one game after the Pirates blasted out 21 runs on 36 hits they managed to get one run on six hits against the Brewers on a water soaked PNC Park.

Before we get into anything about the actual game itself I just have to get this out there one more time. I have no idea why Ryan Church is on this team or is even in the lineup. With his sorry performance in the ninth inning today I officially have no faith in him getting another hit for the rest of the year. Tonight, with runners on first and second and one out, down by two, Church took a strike that was marginally outside. He then proceeded to take two pitches right down the middle, the latter he argued with the umpire about. Have some balls and take a swing. That is unacceptable if you are hitting .300 let alone with you are hitting .180 like Church is.

Ok, now that we got past that we can get onto the game. If I told you goign in that the Brewers would only get three hits you would probably figure the Pirates would win this game by multiple runs. Boy, would you have been wrong. Those three hits produced three runs and that was all she wrote.

The pitching was good, for the most part. Jeff Karstens was perfect through four innings but gave up a leadoff home run to Prince Fielder to start the fifth inning then gave up an infield single and a moon shot to Rick Weeks in the sixth inning. Yes, I just went over all the Brewers hits in two sentences, and the Pirates lost. Ugh.

Pedro Alvarez had a pretty nice night tonight. He walked three times and really showed some nice disipline. The more he watches those pitches he chased earlier in the year the better he is going to be. I was forced to watch the FSN Wisconsin broadcast and they actually threw up a nice stat. This season when Pedro hits ahead in the count he is hitting a staggering .463 while only hitting .130 when he is behind in the count. If he can work counts more he is going to see a lot better pitches to hit and his average and home run numbers are going to go way up.

Not a whole lot more to talk about. Tough loss. Get em tomorrow.

Pirates Game Day 92 Live Blog - vs. Brewers

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pirates Snap Streak

Well, my shoddy internet went out last night and is still not up despite being told someone would "probably be out" this afternoon. Joke.

Since I am doing this on my mobile phone this will be very brief, but I wanted to talk about the Pirates game tonight.

A good win, although the Dorfer only went 1.1 and they staff as a whole gave up 6 runs.

A lot of good things though as Eric Kratz got his first hit in his first ML start. Awesome to watch how excited his dad was in the stands. Really cool moment.

Well the offense pulled through, but the player of the game in my opinions is Lastings Milledge. What a hell of a game he had. Got a few hits and make what could be called a game saving catch as he tracked down a Mike Bourn ball and made a leaping catch against the wall for the third out. He has been playing so well and its good to see he's getting everyday time. Milledge is hitting almost .400 with RISP and he continued that tonight. He has been on fire and with his average hovering around .280 he has been a great addition to this team.

All in all a great way to end a seven game skid.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pirates Game Day 89 Live Blog - vs. Astros

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quality Links

I haven't been around too much in the past couple of days due to the all-star break and my travels that kept me pretty much away from a computer from last Thursday until about Wednesday morning. Here are some unreal links:

Big ups to Ian from The Steelers N'at for getting married this past weekend.

Tim gives us a great look at the top 30 prospects in the Pirates system as of right now. [Bucco Fans]

Pat just runs down the pitchers in the system. [WHYGAVS]

Mike Florio gets a special message from tecmo. Hey Mike, how about doing some homework before you start talking. [PSAMP]

Some great day one and two coverage from the Pens rookie camp go over to Pens Universe. Or I could just link it, right? [Pens Universe]

The Penguins are getting some ice girls, I mean ice crew, and the ladies over at Puck Huffers give your their opinion on the matter. [Puck Huffers]

You said you wanted a training camp preview of the Steelers offensive line? You got it. [Steelers Depot]

Bing took home an ESPY [The Pitt Stop]

The Pirates signed their third round pick, Mel Rojas Jr. [Pirates Site]

I am tired. If I find the others I wanted to put on here (but totally forgot) I will add them later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The MLB All-Star Game and Why it Is Bad

The Major League Baseball All-Star game might be one of the worst run and messed up all-star games in any of the major sports. If you can’t tell already I am not a huge fan of the MLB’s version of the summer classic. It is poorly put together and really just can’t figure out if it wants to be an exhibition of the games best players at the half way point or if they want it to mean something. I have a lot of thoughts and lucky for you all I will be sharing some of those fine points with you here in this post. Enjoy.

1) MLB needs to scrap the idea of making this for home field advantage
This might be one of the worst things about the all-star game. The winner of an exhibition game is going to get home field advantage in the World Series. So, to put this in some simpler terms it means that the biggest games of the year will be decided largely by players that will come nowhere near of even sniffing the playoffs. That makes perfect sense to me. If I were the Cardinals I would want to have the Nationals and Pirates playing for their home field advantage in an exhibition game. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays could win the AL with 110 wins but have to play on the road in the World Series to a 84-78 St. Louis Cardinals team that wins the NL because the American League won the all-star game. Does that sound like it’s right? I don’t.

2) The fan voting needs to go.
I know this is a big part of the all-star game to get the fans into it, but it turns into a huge cluster mess that usually puts players on the field, in starting rolls, that don’t deserve to be on the team. Take Ken Griffey Jr. One of the best to play the game, but he had no business being in the running to start an all-star game this year. Basically it is all up to a fan vote for who gets in. Fans will take 100 ballots and put Griffey’s name on it just to get him to the game even know he isn’t even playing this year. Yea, that seems like what the all-star game is about. Popularity. Good. That sounds like a great way to showcase the best talent during the first half of the year. God forbid you were playing third base in the American League and had better numbers than A-Rod. You know what you chances of starting in an all-star game is? Zero. Unless you are a Sox’s or Yankee’s player in the AL you basically have to hit .400 or blast 50 home runs in the first half of a season to even sniff a starting spot on that American League all-star roster. Is that what an all-star game is all about? Popularity?

3) Having one player from each team is a bad idea
The reason that a player from each team is on the all-star game is from a TV standpoint. MLB wants to have the most market share as possible for their games, and the all-star game is no different. They want to reach the most households and therefore make the most money for their company. This is a major decision to make the rule that every team must have a rep in the game. If there isn’t a KC Royals player or a Pittsburgh Pirate then the networks in those cities would not tune into the game. So put a Pirate and Royal in the game and BAM those audiences are watching the game. I don’t buy it. Casual fans tune in to watch the home run derby and the celebrity softball game, not the baseball game. That will not change. People that like to watch baseball will tune in to watch no matter who is in the game or if they have a player on their favorite team. As I talked about before is it fair that a Royals representative is up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Rays or Angels home field advantage is riding on it. I am pretty sure it is not sweet. This every team BS needs to go. The all-star game is an exhibition of the best players in the game so that is who should be in the all-star game. If a team doesn’t have a player that is worthy of being on the team then why should be in the game? Are we in little league again? Do we need to have make every GM feel good about themselves because they have an all-star player? In my opinion it diminishes what it means to be an all-star. As a player if you get picked to be an all-star you are said to be the best of the best in the game. When you start to bring people in to the game that doesn’t deserve to be there then it does not make it as noteworthy. Maybe it is just a me thing but when I watch an “all-star game” I want to see the best players at that time in the game.

4) Managers picking the fill in’s
This is kind of low on my list, but is also a problem with the all-star game. It has been openly talked about this year that Charlie Manuel was picking players to fill out the roster. He picked Ryan Howard to the all-star team rather than putting a more deserving player in Joey Votto in the game. Votto is top five in every triple crown category but is not found on the all-star roster because good ole Chuck wants his own player on the game. Some “all-star” game. There is also the issue of those managers being able to make informed decisions on who should be in the game. With all that goes into the game today, such as playing every day, how is a manager supposed to pick a team when he only might play them three times? Hence why Omar Infante might be in the game. Charlie Manuel saw him play a few times, he had a couple good games and what the hell, he’s in. Does it matter that Infante doesn’t have enough at bats to qualify any of his statistics? I guess it doesn’t matter.

What would a better solution to this problem be? Make it a broader selection process. Let the players AND managers select and if you so choose let a few media members get in there. Not all of them, just a random sampling. Make it so that the managers and players can’t vote for their own players so you have a better outlook for the team. I think this is a lot better than just letting one person pick the reserves for the all-star team. Don’t you think? If you are going to let the fans decide the starters then make a better process for picking the reserves. This would give a better chance of getting the right players in the game. Sure there are going to be snubs still, there always will be, but there is a better chance of that smoothing out with this plan, I think.

I could go on with this for a long time. These are the main points that I don't like and would like to see changed in the all-star game. What do you think? Agree, disagree? Leave it in the comments.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Frustrating Weekend...Pirates Swept

I finally got back from Milwaukee for the weekend and after going to all three Pirate/Brewer games I can only come up with one word to describe it: frustrating. After today's game I just looked at my friend and Corey Hart's ball went over the left field fense and we just both said "You have to be kidding me"

So is the life of a Pirates fan.

Three games, three losses, two walk-off losses. To a bad team. The Brewers are not good. We are just worse.

The bad part was that two of the losses were blown saves by the pen. Hanrahan, Meek and Dotel who are normally money in those situtations really had a hard time pitching well. I guess you can't expect them to convert every single opportunity. This was tough.

I guess the best part of all of this is that Baltimore took all four games from Texas, which means that the Pirates are one game back from Baltimore for the worst record in the league and the number one overall pick in next year's draft. Hey, you gotta work for something right?

Anyways here are some of the pictures I took from the game. They are all from my camera phone so they might not be great, but still some good ones.

Tickets for Sunday's game were right down the third base line.

On Sunday Neil and GFJ talk about hitting, or something.

On Saturday I sat in right field. It was sweet there was like 20 Pirate fans out there. Good shit.

Karstens warming up on Saturday night. First two batters were money, after that, not so much

These are cheerleaders that Milwaukee has. It is embarassing. They are not even good.

Friday night I sat in club level. Good seats.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Frustrating Night...Brewers 5, Pirates 4

Here is just a few thoughts I have from the game last night, one which I was present at. Since the hotel I am staying at does not give you free internet I have to make this short and sweet. What hotel doesn't give you internet anymore? I blame Ryan Braun.

There was no way that Paul Maholm deserved that last night. Outside of the first two hitters he produced a real gem and put togeteher one of his best starts of the year. He hit a few batters, but outside of that he had his way with the Brewers. He went seven strong innings and when our starters can go seven innings it should be a win for the Pirtes. Great job by Paul.

With that being said, the pen isn't going to be able to convert every single opportunity. In a perfect world that would be the case, but as Pirate fans we should know that the world isn't going to be perfect. The pen has been so good for so long that this should have been something that we saw coming, but when it happens against the Brewers, in this fashion, it makes it so hard to take. It feels like you walked in on your girlfriend cheating on you with that guy that you hate.

Something needs done with Ryan Doumit. Sure, the dude can hit a little bit every know and then but he is such a liability in the field it is not even funny anymore. Up until now I haven't really said much, but when a guy gets on base late in the game and you are up one it is almost like you give up a double, becuase there is no chance of keeping that guy off second base. Just frustrating.

There were some good things. Cutch played a nice game, hopefully getting out of the slump he is in and Lastings Milledge went deep for the second time this season so it was nice to see. I went into the park right when it opened and watched BP and if the Pirates could hit half as well in BP in the game then we would be good. I mean you talk about hitting bombs, Garret Jones and Cutch put on a clinic on how to hit, some balls I would venture to say going 500 feet. It was really fun to watch. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe then need to try to hit line drives in BP rather than make it a home run derby. I have no idea.

All-in-all the fans weren't too bad at Miller Park. Granted I got the luxery of sitting in club seats last night, but as soon as we got there a few people came up to us and asked us (my friend and I) if we came from Pittsburgh and if we enjoyed it and told us to have a good time. After the game a few fans asked if we were staying the weekend and told us to have a good time and that they were glad we were in town. Maybe they were glad we were in town because the Pirates were playing the Brewers and they could get some wins, but who knows.

The last thing I will say is that I was actually embarassed by one of the things the Brewers did. They actually had cheerleaders on the field for pregame intros and during the seventh inning stretch. I actually have a picture of it, but this hotel computer will not let me download them, so I will post it later. But come on, this is not the XFL, we don't need cheerleaders on the field for baseball. The cheerleaders weren't even good. I mean none of them were in sync and it just looked like they learned the routine about 15 minutes before the game. Maybe I am too much of an old fashion guy when it comes to baseball but that has no place for me in the game.

Also there were some kids who made sure to get on me as I walked out the park becaue I was from the other team. Good, they should, I mean even though the Brewers aren't much better than we are if someone came to PNC Park I would give them a little grief, but not too much. Again this isn't like we are the Steelers or Penguins. These kids though, took it over the top. They start actually talking smack on the Steeelrs. Dude, when was the last time the Packers won anything? They treated it like the Brewers were a few games behind the NL Central leader and not that they were one of the worst teams in the NL Central with an $81 million payroll. Get some perspective.

I will be at the game again today, sitting in left field. Follow me on twitter if you want some picture and live game updates and make sure to join in on the Live Blog over at Raise the Jolly Roger for some Pirates talk.

Let Go Bucs

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Weekend In Milwaukee

Living next to Milwaukee gives me little benefits. I am not a Badgers fan and I certainly do not like the Brewers. Some of you might have heard, but I have a strong disdain for Ryan Braun. The only fun I get to have is when the Pirates come to town and I get to go see them at Miller Park.

Tonight starts that voyage for me. I will be in the seats, in various spots, for all three games of the series. I will be doing the best I can to update the blog with pictures and descriptions of what is going on in Milwaukee. You can also follow me on twitter [here] to see all of it as the action goes on.

For the record the last time I was in Milwaukee the Pirates broke open and gave Hoffman the blown save and won it on the Ryan Doumit slam. Hopefully I can bring some of the same luck.

Lets go get it.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pirates Game Day 85 Live Blog - @ Houston

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Astros 6, Pirates 3

The Pirates had a chance to gain some ground and get closer to moving out of the bottom of the NL Central as they faced off against the Houston Astros for a three game set. If the first two games are any indication of what the third game of this series is going to be like then it is going to be a tough third game to watch.

The Bucs really didn’t look good in either of the contests and tonight was pretty much the same thing as yesterday. Cheap home runs, bad pitching and not getting the timely hits.

Daniel McCutchen took to the mound tonight and just wasn’t very effective. He gave up two home runs which jumps his total to 11 home runs given up in only 28.1 innings pitched. Terrible. It doesn’t help that one of the home runs (Berkman) was a high fly ball that went 316 feet for a home run. Just a sickening home run. The Pirates staff gave up four total long balls tonight and that isn’t going to win you many games.

You know what else isn’t going to win you many games? Stranding a leadoff double. Now, from what I can see people do not like the bunting aspect of the game. Ronny Cedeno doubled to lead off and Daniel McCutchen was up. I am in favor of getting the runner over and having that runner at third with one out and the top of your lineup coming to bat. What happens? Daniel McCutched watches a first pitch fast ball right down the middle, then reaches for an outside pitch and puts it foul then swings at a pitch 16 feet out of the zone. What happens next? Cutch hits a deep fly ball that would have scored Cedeno from third, but alas no runs were scored.

Down 3-0 the Pirates actually made a run at it in the fourth inning. They collected six hits and scored three runs capped by a two run double from Ryan Church with nobody out. Yet again the Pirates were unable to drive home another runner home from second base with no outs. Most of that was due to Mike Bourne who absolutely robbed Ronny Cedeno in the right centerfield gap. Dude is real fast.

Ryan Doumit is still terrible at catching and sure Ryan Church had a big double, but he is terrible also and Lastings Milledge should be in the game.

Sort of a negative spin on the game tonight but it was just that kinda night for the Pirates and for most of us that still watch them. It is going to be a tough year and these games are going to come more often that not so it is just about thinking towards the future and what the kids have been able to do thus far.

There is a lot more to talk about but I think that is enough for tonight. Try to get this one tomorrow before going to Milwaukee where I will be in person for all three games.

Pirates Game Day 84 Live Blog - @ Houston Astros

What if Your Day Was Like the World Cup

Steve, aka @stevebraband , has a new video on ESPN, have you seen it yet? He does some great work for them getting interview and such but this might have been one of his best efforts yet. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pirates Game Day 83 Live Blog: Pirates at Astros

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pirates Take Series From Phillies

The Pirates did something that makes me happy no matter what Pittsburgh team does it. They beat a team from Philadelphia. They did it in somewhat thrilling fashion today scoring six runs in the seventh inning, started by a Pedro Alvarez home run. It was pretty special to watch and this time Alvarez went to the right centerfield gap for this one.

Jeff Karstens had a pretty decent start, going 6+ innings, although he did yield five runs, all earned, in 86 pitches. Karstens gave up three runs in the third inning. All in all I will take the start, Karstens has been the steadiest of all of our starters.

It is the holidays so I am going to keep this short and sweet, but as good as winning three out of four from the Phillies is, would be the way that they won the game. The youngsters were right in the middle of the offensive explosion. Tabata and Alvarez both had two hits each and Neil Walker chipped in another as they also combined to score five runs and knock in three.

I think we are finally starting to see a little into the future with this group. Those guys are really gelling and they are coming through in big times. The past few opportunities they had, they have come through, with all the young guys right in the middle of it.

You want to know what else was awesome? The Pirates Parrot. You know what he is awesome? This:

If you are unfamiliar as to why this is funny then you need to read [this].

Nothing like mocking Philadelphia.

A lot more can be said, but the Pirates are winners of five of their last seven. I like that.

Everyone have a happy and safe fourth.

Pirates Game Day 82 Live Blog - Phillies at Pirates

Happy 4th of July

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July. If you only do one thing today make sure you take some time to thank our soldiers (past and present) who have fought for our freedoms. They are the real hero's and put their life on the line every single day. I am sure you have known someone that has been overseas or currently is overseas. They deserve all teh respect in the world. They put their lives on hold so that we can set off fireworks and watch terrible movies on thsi day and drink beer. Just make sure you take a moment today to thank them. I know I will be.

Be safe today everyone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Pirates Signs of the End of the World.

A few things happened tonight at PNC Park to make you think the world might come to an end.

Here is a short rundown of what happened to lead to the end of the world.

- There was over 20,000 in the stands at PNC Park

- Ross Ohlendorf grabbed a win for the first time since last season

- The Pirates have a winning streak

- A Pirates starting pitcher went longer than six innings

- Pedro Alvarez swang early in the count and pulled a ball off a lefty in the firt inning for a base hit

- Lastings Milledge mad an amazing defensive play that saved the game

- The Phillies scored zero runs

- The Pirates had a sweet give away

- The Pirate Parrot wore dreads tonight (which was awesome)

I am sure I could do some kinda write up but I am kinda lazy. Milledge made a huge play. The Pirates scored two runs off a swinging bunt that the Phillies threw away. Whaev, it's a win. We are awesome. Philadelphia is second rate. Suck it.


Zbynek Michalek Interview

Thanks to Czech translator Tomas Jandik for translating [this] interview into English about new Penguin Zbynek Michalek and what he thinks about being a Pittsburgh Penguin. Enjoy.

Did you say yes to Pittsburgh boss right away?

I had my agent on the other line, and my wife was on Skype. All of us were talking about that; I have to consider my family – after all, we will be moving. I took some time to think about it. But it did not take long. {smiles}

What’s in your head right now?

I am full of joy. I am very delighted that Pittsburgh cared about me this much. To play for a team that sits on the top of the standings. Such chances don’t come very often. I gladly took advantage of it, I am very excited. Even though on the other hand I am sorry to leave Phoenix, where they gave me the chance to play in the NHL and to mature as far as hockey goes. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of hockey.

Did they try to come to an agreement with you prior to July 1?

We were negotiating hard during the last several days; they wanted to sign me. I wanted the same, but it did not work out at the end. I preferred security, and at the end the money was not that big of an issue. The Phoenix offer was good as well, but I was discouraged by the uncertainties regarding the team ownership; nobody knows what will happen. So I went for something more stable.

You had to be pleased by the fact that the new employer called just a minute after the battle for the new players started.

Definitely. Especially now that the competition is so high.

What do you think about the contract conditions Pittsburgh offered? Five years for $20 mil, that’s a nice prize.

I am very satisfied. Especially considering what I had to go through… I did not get drafted, everything in my career was the results of hard work and battles; I wandered through the minors, people were questioning me why I do these things, telling me that it’s not worth it. So this is a giant personal satisfaction for me; and I am glad for all the people that were with me the whole time.

The Penguins got rid of Sergei Gonchar, the elite offensive D-man. The overseas media write that you come as his replacement – but you are a completely different type [of a player], aren’t you?

According to what the GM said, they want to particularly improve the defensive play of the team, so they strictly hired me as a defensive D-man. It’s true that I am a different type [from Gonchar], so I won’t play the way he does. I would not be able to. I will have different, defense-related role, which is what I like and what I am used to.

In the NHL, you have been considered among the best defensive D-men; you excelled in those “unnoticeable” categories such as blocked shots… Do you see this as reward of activities like that?

Yes. I have never been in the spotlight, pretty much nobody knows about Phoenix. Luckily the other teams have scouts in the whole league who are knowledgeable, and so I got noticed. {smiles}. They rewarded my game. I know I am no superstar; I will never excel because of some stunning technique or skating. I play my game, with my heart, always full-force, and I play for the team. I am glad that somebody rewarded it. I will try to continue showing the same effort.

Your last Phoenix contract was for $1.5 mil, now it will be $4 mil per year. What a change, right?

I take it as appreciation of my work. Of course, it is also important that I can take care of my family for pretty much the rest of my life, if I don’t throw away money excessively. It is indeed a large sum of money especially realizing where I was 10 years ago, where I grew up with my family… So to have that money? It is something unreal, if somebody told me that those 10 years ago, I’d consider him a fool. It is a huge reward, I almost can’t believe it. I was in the seventh heaven; I did not believe somebody would offer me money like that. It feels like a dream.

A new chapter of your career awaits you. Do you agree?

You could say that, yes. Once again I will experience something different; I will be under a stronger pressure. But I am not afraid of that. I know that I will have to fight through it all by myself; the contract alone does not mean anything. There were a lot of people with good contracts who crashed. I know that I will have to continue performing on the level that is expected from me. Otherwise it would be a short process; there is such competition in the NHL that there would be 5-6 other players waiting for my roster spot. So I have to earn it thanks to my good performance. Nothing else will help me. I know that I am starting from the beginning; I will have to persuade everybody again.

Great interview. Welcome Zbynek.

Pirates Game Day 80 Live Blog - Pirates vs. Phillies

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pirates Game Day 79 Live Blog

Ray Shero Owns Your Life

If Ray Shero came over to my apartment and told me what cereal I should eat then I would immediately go to the store and buy 15 boxes of that kind of cereal. Dude is just that good. Free agency started early today and it started off with a bang. I was a pretty big believer that tomorrow was going to be a much more intense day than today, boy was I dead wrong. Names were being signed, rumors were made and lives changed.

The first deal of the day came at 12:14 when Sergei Gonchar signed with the Ottawa Senators for three years with a yearly earning of $5.5 million. Pretty interesting on a lot of fronts. It was very interesting because it only took Ottawa 14 minutes to get ahold of Gonchar's agent and bang out a contract. Hum, seems to me that doesn't seem right. Whatever. Gonchar got the extra year that he wants and I hope he retires after two years so I can laugh at Ottawa.

Ray Shero wasted no time and signed two top-notch defensive players in the next couple of hours. The Penguins signed TSN's number five ranked defenseman in ex-Phoenix Coyote Zbynek Michalek. Michalek is relatively unknown, mostly becuase he is playing in Phoenix, but is great at what he does. Last season he tallied three goals and 14 assists while playing in 72 games. He has 115 career points in 415 games, but eats up a ton of minutes. He led the Coyotes in ice time per game last season at 22:38 and in short-handed ice time per game at 3:16. He also played close to a minute and a half per game on the power play, but he will never be confused with Sergei Gonchar.

Michalek is said to have been the Penguins response to losing Rob Scuderi last off season. I like what I see with Michalek, he made pennies to what he will make with the Penguins. Shero nabbed him for five years at four million a year. Michalek is only 27 years old so he is definatly going to be entering his prime.

A little while later Shero made another splash, again on defense. TSN's topped ranked UFA defenseman, Paul Martin. Martin was not retained by the New Jersey Devils so that makes it even better. You know what else is awesome? The Penguins will have Martin under control for five years (at five million per) and he is only 29 years old. Also prime hockey playing form.

Listening to NJ Devil people they are very sad to see Martin leave, and Penguins fans, at least the ones I saw, are extatic to have him in the fold. A very good day.

Martin played six seasons in New Jersey, picking up 163 points and a plus-55 rating in 400 games. He can play on the power play and is also pretty good play positional defense. That is exactly what the Penguins needed. Two guys that can play positional defense and can move the puck. Both can skate and both have a good first pass, which has been a little problem for the Penguins last year.

Thank God we won't be seeing this any more:

Shero saw what was going wrong with this team last year and fixed it. The defense was a little soft and he went out and got two of the big name defensive free agents on the market. In his presser Shero said that Michalek was his first call. Pretty decent first call. Shero knows what he is doing. Hell, we could have the nut bags that run the Rangers or Flyers. Thank God.

The Penguins now have Martin, Michalek, LeTang, GoGo, Orpik and Lovejoy. Man that is a pretty nasty group of defenders.

For those of you who are bitching about losing Hamhuis and the third round pick we traded for his rights, get real. Talking to Hamhuis before the deadline gave Shero a good look at what he was getting into and didn't have to do all that dance today at noon. Hamhuis knew what he had here in Pittsburgh and because of that he could get on the horn early with Michalek and get something done. Who knows if Michalek is there if we didn't trade for Hamhuis' rights and talked to him first. That is why Ray Shero is a big deal.

You know why else we know Ray Shero is the truth? Because he didn't spending $3 million a year on Colby Armstrong. What a joke.

Would it be nice to have some wings? Sure. Would I rather have a strong defense at this point? Yes. Colby Armstrong was the fifth best UFA forward according to TSN. How deep is the pool if that is the case.