Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Role Reversal: Pirates 14, Cubs 7

Well if it seems like I haven’t been writing many Pirates post game thoughts that is because I haven’t been writing many, mostly due to the fact that I have been traveling a lot and some because there isn’t too much to say after Pirate games. If you watch the game then you don’t need to relive what you saw, especially last night.

Tonight was actually a whole lot different. The Pirates actually flipped the script and put a pretty good beating on the Cubs at a less than full Wrigley Field. The Pirates jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first four innings scoring 4, 1, 2, 2 and chasing Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster after only three innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits. Not a great start. Pirates rolled to a win, 14-7.

It was nice to finally get a win. They are very few and far between and with the Pirates five games “up” on the O’s before the night started this really wasn’t a huge deal if you are one of those fans who is looking for the Pirates to get the top pick.

Everyone really hit the ball hard last night. GFJ continued to play pretty well as he picked up a slew of RBI’s so hopefully he is starting to snap out of his month long slump. Every starter, sans Karstens, gather a hit so you can’t really complain about that.

Cutch had three hits tonight which I think was really big for him since he has struggled for a good while and his average dropped to around .275. He needed this badly and he really came through and had some really good AB’s.

The real story of the night were the two youngsters (two of the many at least) Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. Both have just been on a tear this season and should be starting to get some noticed for NL ROY consideration. Walker finished up with four hits and Tabata finished with three hits. They combined for six RBI (Walker-4, Tabtata-2) and just did pretty much everything right, on a night where the Pirates did nothing wrong (besides the whole Sean Gallagher fiasco in the bottom of the eighth).

If you are keeping tabs on the top of the lineup the 1-2-3 hitters had 10 of the 15 Pirate hits. Not too bad.

All in all not much more to say. The last thing I will leave with is that I hope all you haters that bashed John Russell last night and placed almost all the blame on him will step up to the plate and give him all the credit for the win tonight. I mean because managers make THAT much of a difference in a baseball game.

If you don’t know how I feel about that then you don’t follow me on twitter, in which case you should do that here and then go to facebook and like my blog here. Do it. You know you want to.

Pirates Game Day 132 Live Blog

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pirates Game Day 131 Live Blog

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Steelers Stumble, Fall to Broncos: Denver 34, Pittsburgh 17

The third preseason game is usually the game where you get to see the starters for the most time and get to see what you have (for the most part). From what I saw it wasn’t the Steelers best performance. The defense took way too many penalties and the offense really didn’t get much going with DD in with the first unit. Now, you can’t take everything from a half of a preseason football game but there defiantly is some improvements that need to be made. Luckily the penalties can be fixed pretty easy, so I am not worried too badly.

This is pretty much how I feel about it.

Before we get started looking at the game I just have to say how glad I am that the AFC plays on CBS and not on Fox. The pregame intro for the game was such a joke it isn’t even funny. For those of you that missed it they cut in with Ben’s apology and then they go to Tim Tebow getting drafted and throw them up side by side. Whoever thought this was a good idea for a lead in really needs to get fired. What a joke. This happened how long ago? Let it go. This is just as bad as Florio throwing up a three line story with Roethlisberger in the headline to get hits. Joke.

Dixon got his chance to play against the first team of the Broncos defense and he did not look good. He forced a pass in the back of the end zone when the Steelers were in the red zone and it was intercepted. He then was driving the team down the field right before the half and threw a pick six. He other passes were not very accurate and he just never really seemed to get into any kind of rhythm. I mean to be honest you kinda knew this was going to happen. First time against first team defense and I didn’t really expect him to light the world on fire, but I think he can still play some for this team in the regular season.

The defense was uncharacteristically hyped up today, and it showed, in a very bad way. Four personal foul penalties in the first half alone. A lot of them were after the whistle mental mistakes. Keenan Lewis was caught for two of the personal foul calls and really didn’t play a good game at all. Granted the first personal foul call was a bit sketchy, but you know how the NFL is when wide receivers get three feet near the sidelines, you aren’t allowed to touch them. This needs to stop. After Lewis’ second penalty Tomlin pulled him and basically horse collared him as he walked by and gave him a lashing on the field. I love Mike Tomlin.

The offensive line wasn’t very good tonight. Flo jumped a few times, Max jumped, Trai wasn’t very good all night. Like I have said before everyone knew offensive line wasn’t going to be great, but we have won with bad o-lines before. It happens. Not that it should happen, but it is not like it should be a shock or such a let down that the o-line is struggling.

Some things are pretty much set in stone; the sun setting rising in the east and setting in the west, the clock hitting 1:00 twice a day and Ben Roethlisberger being real good at football. When he comes back this team could be pretty scary on offense. First play from scrimmage, with the boo birds coming down he throws a strike to Mike Wallace for almost 60 yards like it was nothing. Ben is the thing that makes this offense goes and he is a top five QB in the NFL, without a doubt. Having him back is going to be huge and if the Steelers can get past those first four games with a couple wins then this could be a very dangerous team.

The second unit really wasn’t spectacular or too depressing on either side, so I really don’t have much to say about that. I do think that Emmanuel Sanders has this team made and Antonio Brown might have it made too. Both made a few mistakes tonight, but you can see that the talent is there. Not sure who gets the ax if they are on the team, but if only one of them makes it then that should make the next couple of weeks very, very interesting.

Jon Dwyers had a pretty productive night. Most of his success came in the fourth quarter but he was a beast. Chuck Batch also made a case (for what? I have no idea) for some more PT with a drive where it was all Jon and Chuck. Dwyer got a carry where he was hit by two Broncos players and drove a pile almost 10 yards before going down. Next play he rips off a 40 yard run. Chuck then eludes some defenders (something that Lefty can’t do) and drops an absolute dime for a first down then tack on a roughing the passer penalty then zinged a pass to Antonio Brown for six. One of the best (if not the best) drives of the night for the black and gold. Whatev. I’ll take it.

Just when Chuck looks ok, he has a miscommunication with Brown (I think) and it goes for a pick six. The Broncos job around a little more and have a big punt return and that was pretty much it. Mud football game for the Steelers.

Overall I really don’t think that the Steelers played a good game, but believe you me if Mike Tomlin has anything to say about it, the Steelers will be ready for week one. The best part about this game was that it doesn’t count for shit. It basically never happened as far as I am concerned. If these things are happening in weeks three and four then I will start to get really worried.

Here We Go.

Steelers Preseason Game Day 3 - @ Denver

Today is the day where we get as close to look at what the real thing is as we are going to get. Everyone knows that the third preseason game is pretty much the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. The Steelers are pretty much going to play their starters for the first half and then I am assuming they are going from there to see what happens. If the starters look good they will yank them, if they look shaky in some spots then they will keep them in for a series or two in the second half.

We will keep with the tradition with going over things you should watch for. Here is what I am looking for:

1) Dennis Dixon playing with the first team. DD is going to get his first chance since last season’s Raven’s road game where the Steelers lost by three. DD has played really well so far in this preseason and has truly earned his chance to play with the first team and a chance to get into the regular season as a QB. Sure, maybe Byron Leftwhich is going to start as the QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers on paper, but if Dennis continues to play well there is a shorter leash for Byron to play at a below average level. Maybe this means that DD will get more of a chance to get on the field, but he has shown enough to Mike Tomlin to get on the field and that makes me feel good, because I trust what HCMT says because he is the man.
2) The Offensive line: This seems like something that goes on every week, but I guess it is something you have to look for. Markice Pouncey has pretty much been anointed the starting center so it should be interesting to see how he plays another game knowing he is going to be the man. The Steelers drafted him as a center so that is where he should play, I know Justin Hartwig isn’t too fond of it, but you know what, put up or shut up. Simple as that. It will also be interesting to see how Flo Adams plays after a few subpar games. I know after the last preseason game he said that things were still coming along (as far as learning right tackle) but they were getting better every game. That is good to hear. Hopefully it comes quicker for the QB’s sake.
3) Secondary: Keenan Lewis has been playing a lot during the preseason and during practice on the first team. Bryant McFadden was brought in to be the start CB opposite of Ike Taylor, but it is starting to look like that Lewis might press for some PT in McFaddens place. Sure Lewis has been on the first team while McFadden was out in practice but he has looked pretty good so far in the preseason and it will be interesting to see how he is going to play. Joe Burnett has also played well so we will see if he can continue that and make the team.
4) Return game: From the last I hear Emmanuel Sanders is going to take kickoffs in the first half and Stef Logan is going to take the kick/punt returning duties in the second half. Personally I think this is the end of the road for Stef Logan. He was great for the Steelers last year, but just keeping him on as a ST player is just wasting a roster spot. Sanders can return kicks and play some pretty decent receiver (from what we have seen so far) so that would make him a better player for that spot due to him being able to actually play a position other than kick returner. If Logan makes some things happen (it has to be big) then he might have a chace, but if not he is almost likely cut. That is how it works.
5) Running backs? Who is going to make the team as the fourth running back? We all know Mendy and MeMo is going to make the team, we are pretty sure that Isaac Redman is going to make the team, but who else is going to push for a spot. There are some players in the game and some things need to shake out, but someone needs to step up. Redman stepped up last year and didn’t make the team, but it made him better and he is back with a vengeance this year and is going to make the team and push for PT every Sunday. If that is what it takes then I am ok with it

Those are just a few things to look for. Should be an interesting game.

Here We Go.

Hit it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pirates Game Day 129 Live Blog

James McDonald Video

Last night I went to Miller Park to watch the Pirates play. I pretty much go to every game when they come to town since I only live about 90 minutes outside of the stadium. Every time the same stuff happens. The Pirates lead for a good portion of the game then the wheels fall off.

Last night I was walking around the place and I definatly wanted to get some video of J Mac. The first four of these are from him in the bullpen. It was tough to get some of the video straight on so I basically focused on just him, and not actually tracking his pitches. I tried to do that at the end but people were sitting in the ideal seats I needed and couldn't get much better from where I was. Anyways here those are:

As I was moving around I got to sit pretty close on teh third base line and I tried to take some video of him pitching during the actually game. This was an at bat against Prince Fielder.

Hope you guys enjoyed this. It isn't the greatest, but it is better than nothing. Enjoy

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pirates Game Day 128 Live Blog

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pirates Book Wrap Up

Well things have been hecktic for me over the past couple of weeks. I have been traveling through the (not) great states of Iowa and Illinois. If you are a huge, and I mean massive, lover of corn then you might want to live there. All you see is corn, then a few cows then more corn. Unreal.

Along the way I have been going over twitter and keeping in touch on a few things here and there and figured I could dump a few links, mostly Pirates related, on you guys in case you have missed something like I would have if I wasn't one of these joke bloggers that cares way too much about their home state sports teams.

Turns out that the Pirates opened up their books and revealed some of the things that they were spending their money on. DK had a nice piece breaking it down and then after that Tim from Pirates Prospects took a look at what it was going to be like for the Pirates to compete with those book findings.

Matt over at PLC did a really nice job on a piece he wrote responding to a post on Mondesi's House. This actually happened before the whole book's came out, and MH basically bashed the Pirates for the low payroll. Here is Matt's response. One of the best articles on the Pirates this season so far. Right on the money.

Tim actually did a nice job of putting together a piece on what it looks like for players through their first six years in the major leagues. He used Jameson Taillon as an example. Good stuff here.

Pat gave us a some good incite from someone who pretty much hated Bob Nutting back in the day to where he is now and how things have changed.

There is a ton more going on with this, if you missed my Twitter rant you can check it out when I went on an eight tweet rampage on Sunday afternoon. I would link it here but I got way too lazy.

Bucs also won two out of three from the Cardinals. Who woulda thought?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pirates Game Day 126 Live Blog

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Aftermath: Steelers 24, Giants 17

Pardon the post game recap taking a while to get on here. After the game I went out to celebrate a little bit and watched the Packers game with the locals. Today is a travel day for me as I go to the great state of Iowa (really it’s not great at all) for some work related stuff, so this might be brief.

Overall you have to be pretty happy with how the Steelers played. The first team defense did pretty well, although they let up a touchdown drive to Rhett Bomar, but all in all I thought the defense was pretty solid. Any time you can get Aaron Smith a sack you are probably in good shape. I mean good lord, Joe Burnett even caught the football last night. Too bad he couldn’t make the catch last year, which might have got us into the playoffs, but I guess it is better late than never.

Lets go over the Steelers game last night and see what happened.

The good:

The QB’s: Ben got his first start and he was pretty good. He avoided some sacks and made some pretty nice throws. It was his first action since last season so you really can’t expect the world out of him, but from what I saw I really liked it. Ben is real good at playing football and that showed last night. Ben was 6/9 for 76 yards and a pick. The pick was meh. A deep ball that he under threw to Mike Wallace. He had him open, it happens. Whatever. Leftwhich was much better last night than he was last week. He threw a bomb to Mike Wallace for a 68 yard touchdown. Not bad. DD had another nice game. Went 7/8 for 82 yards and also ran for 27 more. I know people are moaning for him to start, but he needs some PT against first team guys, which he is probably not going to get. I have a feeling DD is going to get playing time during the first four games so I am not getting all worked up about it.

The run game: The run game was pretty good last night. The Steelers racked up 161 yards on the ground and virtually every running back had a few good runs. The offensive line did a nice job of blocking on the interior and the Steelers took advantage by running Mendenhall and Redman often right up the gut. It was good to see because with Ben out this team is going to have to run more. Very encouraged by that last night.

Rookie WR: Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders both had good nights last night. Although Brown only caught two balls for 12 yards he was very good on special teams returning kicks. Brown is really, really, fast for those of you who haven’t seen and he was hitting the holes with some speed and gained some yards that I didn’t even think he’d be able to. One time I really remember was when three NY Giants were coming down on a punt and Brown ran right through the middle of them so quickly that none of them even touched him. Stef Logan might be off this Steelers roster. Sanders made three catches for 51 yards so it was very productive for him too. These guys can both run and if they continue to make plays they are going to find roster spots.

Isaac Redman: I know we talked about the run game, but Redman is making it very hard to keep him off this team. He was very good last year in the preseason and he is picking off where he left off. Last year he was nicknamed “Redzone” Redman because he could get the tough yards down by the goal line. That is all well and good, but he is showing to be more well rounded this year. He had a 12 yard touchdown run where he was breaking some tackles and making people miss. That was very encouraging to see to know that Redman isn’t just a short yardage guy, but he can get yards in between the 20’s.

Heath Miller: Miller is a beast. He catches the ball, all the time. Not really much more to be said. He is the man.

Backs on Backers: This is a term usually reserved for a training camp drill where the backers will blitz and the back have to pass block and keep the QB untouched. Last night the Steelers backs were very good on blitz pickup and the one that sticks out the most in my mind was Ike Redman picking up a block on the Leftwhich TD pass to Wallace. Redman kinda got pushed back a little but he gave Leftwhich the extra second to get rid of the ball. That TD was just as much on Redman as anyone else.

The Bad

Getting thrown out of the football game: This is to you Ike Taylor. Getting thrown out of a football game isn’t the greatest idea, every. Especially on the first couple plays. You did get the win in the fight, but still stupid. Listen, it is the preseason, not a big deal in my book. This is one of the few times that you get out against an opponent and to play against new faces. In camp you are going against your own offense all the time and it gets old. Nobody knows what happened, but I have a feeling Ike wouldn’t do that against the Bengals or Ravens. I am a big Ike fan and think he should be resigned. I am starting to put together a post about how valuable he is, but this is just another bullet for people to bash Taylor and say he shouldn’t be on the team. Get over it people. He can play. Can’t catch, but he can play.

Danny Sepulveda kicking off: People expected DS to be booming balls through the back of the end zone. Didn’t happen. He did about just as well as Jeff Reed usually does so I can’t say that this is “bad”, but with the expectations some people had of what he could do it could be considered bad from last night. Whatever, not a huge deal in my mind.

Pass blocking: While I thought the run blocking was good, the pass blocking was bad. Ben had to move around a lot and the QB’s were getting hit a lot last night. There were very few times where the QB’s had a nice pocket to throw with. Flo Adams was particularly bad last night and was often chasing pass rushers around all game. Hopefully this improves.

Well there were a few things I took from the game last night. There was probably more I wanted to talk about, but I felt those were most important. It is still the preseason for me too.

Pirates Game Day 124 Live Blog

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pirates Game Day 123 Live Blog

Steelers Preseason Game Day 2 - @ NY Giants

Yes, in fact it is still the preseason, and it is still only week two of four in the fake season. Some of you got the feel of it a week ago but things are going to start to rev it up a little bit, at least as much as a rev up you can get in the preseason. Everyone knows that the second and third preseason games are most of what you are going to see in the regular season. The second preseason game gets the starters a good bit of playing time, maybe over a quarter or so, and the third preseason game the starters go for about an entire half before none of them play in the fourth preseason game. Tonight should be fun. It is Steelers football so it is automatically awesome.

I could get into a big preview for the game and talk about things to look for, but to be honest they are pretty much the same things that I went over before the first preseason game. It is not like it has been six weeks since a game, it has been exactly a week, so not much changes.

Markice Pounucey will be fun to watch tonight. After last week a lot has been made that he should be starting in place of Justin Hartwig. That seems like a lot to say after just a few weeks of camp and one preseason game, but from what everyone is saying is that Pouncey is the real deal. His fellow lineman are kind of split with Max Starks pretty much telling everyone to take a chill pill because it is only one preseason game and others saying that he made every call the right way from the center position. He will mix in with Hartwig tonight so it should be fun to way. Pouncey is going to start one way or another, in my opinion, it is just a matter of where.

Big Ben is going to be in the game tonight, although from what I have read it is uncertain how many snaps he is going to get. It is going to be nice to see Ben in the game and back with his teammates. I am sure he is not going to get the best reception, but when did he ever on the road? Ben has looked good in camp and by all accounts has come back in great shape so it will be good to see #7 on the field again.

One final thought is going to be on the special teams battle that is going on for kick returns. Stef Logan will not return kicks tonight or next week, so in my opinion his days are numbered as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has already been well documented that Logan makes this team as a kick and punt return specialist only. If Logan is not going to get any returns in weeks two or three then how can he expect to make this team? Antonio Brown will get the duties tonight against the Giants. Brown is real fast. Here is a clip that Cotter over at OFTOT had up the other day but it seems to fit here.

See :40 seconds in (kick return) and 1:01 in (punt return)...

Should be awesome. Here We Go.

Hit it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

18. Mets 7, Pirates 2

Well for the past two or three months you knew it wasn't going to be a winning season for the Pirates, but tonight at the Park we call PNC it was made certain that the Pirates will NOT finish over the .500 mark for the 18th straight season. Like I said, not surprising, not something that should be Earth shattering.

This might be a story on SportsCenter, might make news in other places, but it is a moot point in my mind. People are going to talk smack and endless sports show are going to poke fun and mock the team, management, fans and city. You know what? I don't care. The team is moving in the right direction and we finally have management that gets "it".

The team is in the right direction, but if you expected this team to get close to .500 when the Calvary showed up on the scene a while ago then something is wrong with you. This is a bad team. They will be bad next year, but not as bad. This is a progression. Turning around a program doesn't happen overnight, especially not how bad the Pirates system was three or so years ago.

Tonight's game was pretty frustrating as the Mets scored three runs in the first inning. They had five hits, one of them was actually legitimate. For real. Karstens has been pretty stable on the bump this year, but tonight it was a lot of bad luck. Three bleeders and a ground ball that got through. Nothing you can do about that, just a microcosm of what Pirates baseball has been like this season.

Some will bitch and moan about JR not hitting for Sean Gallagher in the fourth inning, but I have no problem with letting him it. To recap for those who missed, there were two outs, runners on second and third with the Pirates down 7-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning. JR let Gallagher hit for himself and needless to say nothing came of it.

Listen, he is your long guy. He has been pitching pretty decent as of late and its the fourth inning. No need to burn a bench guy and your long guy. You burn a bench guy there then you are burning one every time a pitcher comes to hit, at least two more times after that. Plus you have five more innings to score five runs if your pitching holds. Lets not get it twisted, this pen is not very good and they eat a lot of innings. Gallagher has been pitching well and nobody else has so suck it up in the fourth and let you bats try to come through.

The Pirates have been pretty good at getting guys on early in the inning and getting nothing from it. Getting two runners on with no outs and getting nobody in is not going to win you games, but alas, that is Pirates baseball. You deal with it and just hope it is going to change.

Sure this marks the 18th straight year, but I can see some light. There is genuine hope (in my opinion) that the Pirates will get this turned around, but you are still going to have to suffer. I think of this year as "rock bottom". From rock bottom there is only one place to go, up. Lets hope we start going up.

Pirates Game Day 122 Live Blog

The More You Know: Pittsburgh Steelers: Renegade

This will be the first installment of “The more you know: Pittsburgh Steelers”. This will be an as needed series set to teach you about the greatest football franchise in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers. As most people know I am kinda a big Steelers fan. I feel it is my obligation to teach you about the team so you can bleed black and gold like I do. Yinz are gonna know it all by the time I am done with you.

As people who know me have realized I think that Styx's best song, by far, is known as Renegade. Working in college athletics I get to go to a lot of games and sometimes, if the teams are lucky enough, I get to choose the music during the game. Now as you might know the Steelers save Renegade for the biggest times in the game, because that is when the Steelers, and the fans for that matter, need a little kick in the ass for a big defensive series. That being said I used to try and play Renegade at big parts of the games (which was harder for some teams because that could have literally been before the game even started instead of a possible turning point, but I digress) to get the team pumped up. You guys probably want to know why that would be a great song to play. Why it is a great song to play is because of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If you don't believe me you can check out this link that will clearly show you that it is a Pittsburgh Steelers song:

If you don't believe that link you can check out this YouTube for proof:

The real story stems from a 2002 playoff game against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers were down 24-7 in the second half. It wasn't looking good. Then it happened. Renegade was blasted on the PA system with visuals of the defense before it goes onto the field. A legend is born. The Steelers win the playoff game, and a tradition is born.

Pittsburgh Channel 4 news did a story on it here. Here are some of the things that they said if you are too lazy to read the article.

If you have ever been to Heinz Field for a Steelers game, you have experienced it.

The first time, you might not have realized why everyone leaps up, and roars and looks toward the JumboTron when you hear a lone voice cut the silence of a TV timeout.

Truth. First time you have no idea what it coming. If you are a vet. of Steeler games when the screen goes black you know what is coming.

The ritual belongs to the defense and begins, with linebacker LaMarr Woodley accompanied by the opening lines of the song.

"You look up at the JumboTron and watch?" Wiggin asked Woodley.

"Every home game, I turn around and watch," Woodley said, admitting that he knows "not one word" of the song. "Oh, momma, I'm in...' that's all I know."

Perfect explaination of it here, a video of it from the 2009 AFC Championship game.

Nine out of 10 times last year, the defense kept the opposing team from scoring, forced them to punt, or had a turnover after the song was played.

Nine out of ten times? You have got to be kidding me. That is what happens when renegade comes on. When it comes up the offense has a better chance of just punting than trying to move the ball on this defense.

Even more proof? Watch this from the 2009 season when the Steelers played the Cowboys:

To recap the video for those of you that don't know, the Steelers were tied with the Cowboys after getting beat the entire game, late in the fourth quarter. They call a timeout, the game goes to commercial. Renegade is played, Deshea Townsend pick six. Game over. Renegade.

Renegade is a part of Pittsburgh. It is the unofficial anthem of the defense and the team.

The more you know...

...and if you don't know, now ya know.

Here We Go.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pirates Game Day 121 Live Blog

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pirates Game Day 120 Live Blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to Reality. Marlins 6, Pirates 0

It was back to the way things were on Tuesday night as the Pirates were striking out a lot on not getting the clutch hits they needed it and they get blanked by Florida.

It was a huge day yesterday, some say a franchise changing day, but I think people translated that into the Pirates being better this year. That isn't how it works. Not by a long shot.

The Pirates struck out 11 times, and shockingly none by Pedro Alvarez, who had two hits. Frustrating at bats where it took sometimes less than 30 seconds for hitter to get punched out via the K.

In the sixth inning the Pirates had a chance and loaded the bases with two outs but Neil Walker struck out on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt and there in lie the Pittsburgh Pirates in a nut shell.

Ryan Doumit does not need to play any more baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010. He struck out three times, which is bad in itself, but his defensive play in any position he plays is just embarassing. With two outs in the fifth inning there is a soft liner hit to right field. Doumit lets the ball drop, literally three feet in front of him while he is standing still. He might have moved a foot after the ball was hit. Anyone in right field can make that play. What happens after Doumit's blunder? A few more hits and more runs scored after that. Sucking is one thing, but just mailing it in and not giving an effort is a big problem for me. Don't worry though, his three strikeouts made up for it.

There was nothing else. Rocco informs us that Pedro is now the team leader in OPS. Awesome. Gonna be a long year (as if it wasn't already).

Lets hope for better tomorrow.

Pirates Game Day 119 Live Blog

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bucs Win, Sign Taillon, Allie.

Today was easily the best day of the 2010 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Was it because they took a game from the Florida Marlins in front of 13,000+ at PNC Park? No, not really, but it didn't hurt. The real talk of the town was before the game. All was calm and quiet as people were getting ready to watch the game. Then it happened. My gawd, is that Huntington's music.

Neil basically went all Stone Cold Steve Austin on the MLB draft board and started it off right by signing Stetson Allie for what was learned to be about $2.25 million. In case you forgot, Allie was ranked #8 OVERALL in the 2010 draft. Sure the Pirates went over slot, but he was a second rouund guy with first round stuff. Dude touches 101 on the gun. Give me a break. What a player. Here is some vid of him:

Well the Pirates are on the field and the Calvary did what they do and come up with a win over the Marlins. GFJ busted out and had three RBI, Alvarez had three RBI to go along with two hits and Cutch went deep. You know who else looks real good? James McDonald. We got McDonald for Dotel. McDonald strikes out about a guy and inning and has pitched three really good games for the Pirates and Dotel blew a save tonight.

Towards the end of the game things got more interesting. With Smizik in the middle of the ring droning around about how the Pirates don't want to spend the money he is interrupted.

Jameson Taillon, bitch. Stunner.

Taillon is very, very polished for a high school pitcher. They signed him for around $5 or $5.5 million. He was talking of maybe going for $7 million.

Here is some video on Taillon:

This is the best day for the Pirates of the 2010 year. This is possibly a franchise changing day for the Pirates. If the Pirates can sign Heredia from the Mexican league then the Pirates win everything. Heredia is 16 and he is 6'4 220 pounds and can get into the low 90's with three pitches. Are you frickin kidding me? At 16?

If you are a Pirates fan then you should be downright gitty about what happened today. Tuning into Rocco on Extra Innings after the game and you could hear the excitement in his voice. This is a really big deal for the Pirates and a huge vote of confidence to those people who don't think Neil Hunnington knows what he is doing.

The Pirates never spent money in the draft, never made good trades and never earned any resepct from the fans. The front office now is spending that money. They will most likely spend the most money in the ML draft for the third straight year (Depending on what Harper gets from the Nats). They built the complex in the Dominican and now they are front runners for some of the top talent there. They are moving in the right direction. They are doing what the small market clubs need to do, spend money in the draft, get into the international scene and make good trades.

The Pirates are spending the money in the draft. We will see if they are going to in the international market with Heredia, but from all indications they are being big players. They haven't got hosed in a trade. Neil has done a nice job. I mean just look at this trade deadline. We got James McDonald for Dotel, I talked about that before. We got Chris Snider, a very good defensive catcher and average offensive catcher for Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church, win for the Pirtes. Lambdo came in that deal with McDonald and go check the minor leage stats, he is killing it. John Bowker, who the Pirates got from the Gians is hitting over .400 since being with the Pirates in AAA Indy. How about Jose Tabata? He was ok to get right? How about last year's draft when they got all those over slot pitchers who are tearing it up? I could go on, but you see where I am going. This management gets it. Littlefield didn't get it, Bonifey didn't get it, Huntington gets it. They are doing it right. It is a good feeling.

Sure things can happen, high school pitchers are hit or miss, but at least there is some hope. Better to get these highly talented players and actually sign them to see what happens. You have a better chance of success if you sign them then if you don't. REAL Pirate fans have some punches to throw back to the haters. What are they going to say now?

Great night to be a Pirates fan. Soak this up. We deserve it.

Draft Day Live Blog (WIth Pirates Game Day 118 Live Blog)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Much has been made of the Pirates continued slide during the 2010 season. One thing is for sure, this team seems incapible of putting together a complete game. When they score 10 runs the pitching doesn't shut it down, when you get a good pitching performance you can't get a few runs on the board. When you are ok in hitting and pitching your defense just mails it in. This is what Pirates baseball has been about in the recent past. Very frustrating.

Today was more of the same as it seems if the Pirates can't win any time of game anymore. They lost their seventh game in a row and their 14th loss in the last 17 games.

You know how bad this was? After the Astros took the lead, 3-2 in the sixth inning, I started writing this post. I finished it after the Astros scored four in that sixth inning. You just know how it was going to go.

Jeff Karstens has been pretty good this year, especially thohugh five innings. Tim brought us this tweet, which pretty much makes you want to throw up and when people ask about the frustration you can just show them this.

Actually right when the sixth inning started this is what I tweeted. Yea, I called it, but if you didn't see this coming then you haven't watched the Pirates this season.

Brian also had this to say to pretty much sum it all up nice and tight. Tim also chipped in this dandy, which I agree whole heartidly with.

How did this turn into me just linking tweets? No idea. What else can we talk about? Karsten's struggling in the 6th inning of the game? You would think when the sixth inning comes around and you have Jeff Karstens on the mound, with the lead, it would kind of be like a little kid that burns his hand on a hot stove. You know what that kid does the next time? He doesn't touch the god damned stove.

Frustration is setting in. Jamison Taillon and Stetson Allie better sign (which I believe both will) to make this a little better.

This game was just bad. From players not covering second base, to not being able to get Hunter Pence out, to striking out almost once an inning over the last few games you have see rock bottom. If this isn't rock bottom then I honestly don't want to see it.

I guess things could be worse, but hard to imagine.

Pirates Game Day 117 Live Blog

Preseason Post Game: Steelers 23, Lions 7

Let me preface this by saying that the preseason doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Sure it is nice to see some guys who are fighting for spots, but unless teams start making the playoffs due to the preseason then I am not real worried about it. Looking at some people last night you would have thought the Steelers weren’t going to make the playoffs based on the first quarter of the first preseason game. Like this was the playoffs and we can’t play bad in that first quarter.

Being the preseason I didn’t really get into the game like I would for the first game of the season. Therefore it will be a little shorter on the recap. I will take a look at the good and the bad of last night’s 23-7 win over the Detroit Lions

The Good

1) Dennis Dixon
DD played some good football last night. He threw for 128 yards and ran for 31 more yards on six scampers. He only missed one throw and hooked up with rookie receiver Anthony Brown for a 68 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game away. I think it is going to be hard for Dixon to find first team snaps because at some point you are going to have to let Ben play some football so where do you sneak Dixon in? Granted, Dixon played really well last night, but it was against second and third team Detroit Lions players. I am sure things would have been a little different against the starters, but you never know. I mean I would love for DD to make this interesting, but we will see has time goes on.

2) Isaac Redman
You want a more impressive player than Dixon last night? Isaac Redman. He was very good last night and is making his bid to stick on this roster as the third running back. Last season Redman was on the practice squad after a productive preseason and a lot of people were actually shocked he didn’t make the team. This season Redman has already started from where he left off last season. Redman ripped off a 31 yard run early in the second quarter and did something that Steelers backs failed to do last season, which is scored on a goal to go play. It is only one preseason game, but Redman looked good and it seems as if he has the inside track on the roster spot.

3) Maurkice Pouncey
The rookie played a lot of center last night, and he looked pretty good doing it. Overall the offensive line did not do a great job (which will be highlighted later) but Pouncey showed that he is probably going to be able to come in and play right away for this team. On Redman’s one yard touchdown run Pouncey did a really nice job getting across the face of the defensive lineman and getting him out of the way, leaving a lot of room for Redman to run. He held his own and it will be interesting to see if he plays some center or if he is going to start out at guard the rest of the preseason.

4) The Defense
Not trying to get too far into this, the defense had some big take aways that led to Steelers points. Ryan Clark picked a pass and later in the game the defense forced a fumble when the Lions were in the red zone. This is very good for the defense because they didn't create a lot of turnovers last year so it was nice to see.

The Bad

1) Hold on to the damned football
Is it just me or does it seem like there is a competition to see how can put the ball on the ground the most? Last night the Steelers running backs put the ball on the turf three times, although none were lost. As much fun as running for a 10 yard gain then losing eight of those yards because you put the football on the ground is, you might want to cut that shit out Rashard. Although you might get hit in the backfield on a running play, fumbling the football ten yards down the field is a you problem. Get it fixed. Unless you liked toting the football around all the time at practice, which I am sure you don’t.

2) Offensive line
The offensive line was not that good last night. You got to realized that Byron Leftwhich is kind of like Chris Pronger when it comes to movement. They are basically a road cone. They are not going to move too much and Lefty isn’t going to be in a hurry to get out of the pocket in order to elude pass rushers. Flo didn’t play that great of a game, but he is getting used to that right side tackle spot, and the rest of the line really couldn’t do much. It is going to be big for the Steelers to run the football and protect the pocket, and it has to get much better than last night.

There was a lot more going on, but like I said it is the preseason.

Here We Go.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Steelers Preseason Game Day 1 - vs. Detroit Lions

Pirates Game Day 116 Live Blog

Steelers Preseason Game Day 1 - vs. Detroit Lions

January 3, 2010 4:13 PM EST. That is the date and time of the final Steelers football that any of us can remember. There were no playoffs in the 2009 season, which is pretty rare for a Steelers team, but we have waited way too long. As I have chronicled before on this blog I went to training camp, but that did no justice to what I need. You can feel the itch in the air in Pittsburgh about this season. Everyone talking about the Bengals and TO, everyone talking about the Ravens and whoever the hell they have, the only talking people do about the Steelers is that Ben changed his hometown in the media guide. What a joke. That is ok though, leave it that way. That is the way I want it.

Waking up today you knew this was a start of a new year. Some players are gone, some new ones came in and we welcomed back some old faces that wished they had never left. It will be an interesting season, there is no doubt about that, but I have high hopes for this team.

So what should you expect from the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions? Really? You shouldn't expect a whole lot from the starters, and you shouldn't. The first team offensive and defensive teams are going to play between 8-12 snaps each, according to Mike Tomlin, so if you blink your eyes you might miss the first teams playing.

There isn't much to see from those units, the defense is pretty in tact, and the guys that came back that will be in those positions don't need much work. They know what they are doing. The offense might need some more work since there will be a new QB for the first four games and a new lineman and a few new receivers, but there are three other preseason games for stuff like that. Get them a few reps and let them shower.

Not sure what you should be looking for? Well lucky for you I have an idea of what you should be looking for, both in first team reps and to a larger extent the second and third teams. So here is a short rundown of what we are looking at:

1) Who is gonig to play QB to start the game? Should be start and get a series before Lefty gets into the game? To be honest I am torn either way on this. Ben is the starter, no doubt, but the first four games he is not going to be on the field. Should Byron get all (most) of the snaps with the first team tonight? Probably in my opinion, but I wouldn't mind seeing Ben come out and sling a few balls with the first team. He is a top 5, maybe top 3 QB in the league, you gotta love to watch him play football. On a deeper extent how much PT is Dennis Dixon going to get? From all accounts he hasn't done much in camp so this is his first real big chance to make a push to play in the regular season. If if Byron is goin to start the season Dennis has to be ready to step in in case of injury.

2) The secondary - This was a soft spot last year and it got exposed badly. The Steelers brough back Bryant McFadden and Troy comes back to solidify the defensive backfield, but will they be able to mesh right back in? Troy will, but McFadden has been gone with another team. I personally think that brining McFadden back was the best offseason move the Steelers made and feel that he can really make this team that much better. I want to see how much he remembers of DL's system. Also remember that BMac is an excellent tackler which is going to be huge. Watching the second team guys will be more importatnt than BMac and Troy though. Can Will Gay step up and be a serviceable DB for the Steelers? Keenan Lewis has been getting high praise but can he make the step in the second year? I would like to see something. Some development out of the young DB's could make this defense even more dangerous than you think.

3) Running back - Sure we know that Rashard Mendenhall is going to be the starters. Sure we know Mewelde Moore (MeMo) is going to be a reliable back, but who the hell else is going to give these guys a rest? Jon Dwyer is the sexy pick here, but what has he done so far to impress? In my short time in training camp last week I was really high on Dwyer after seeing him in person, but I haven't heard such good things about him recently. Isaac "redzone" Redmon wasn't on the team last year but is back for a second try. Sure he did great in last years camp, but couldn't really cut it. Is another year's experience going to help this kid? What about Frank Summers? The Steelers have been working with him in sort of a hybrid fullback/short yardage back, but is that going to justify him making this team and being able to make an impact in the regular season? Justin Vincent is also in camp, but do you really want him as your third RB? With the starters only getting 8-12 reps there is gonig to be a lot of playing time for these guys. Tonight will give us a nice showcase of what they have and might be these guys best chances to make this team and make a push to get some PT on a regular basis.

4) Special Teams - More specifically Stef Logan. Does he deserve a roster spot just to be a return specialist? I don't know. In my opinion he is going to have to do a lot more than he did last year to make this team, especially with the experience that the free agents brought in with returning kicks. The Steelers drafted a lot of linebackers in the draft. Sure they are going to be fighting for a backup spot but they were brought here to hopefully help coverage units that were god awful last season. Watch for this.

Other thigns to watch for - How the new WR (Randle El, Battle) get used to getting balls from Ben and Byron (and Dixon) and how they run routes. How the back up linebackers play. Dan Sepulveda kicking off.

It is almost that time, you know what that means..

Hit it

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pirates Game Day 115 Live Blog

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pirates Game Day 114 Live Blog

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pirates Game Day 113 Live Blog

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pirates Game Day 112 Live Blog

Monday, August 9, 2010

2010 Steelers Training Camp Video's

It was a great trip back to Pittsburgh this past weekend. Part of the trip was 100% devoted to watching the Pittsburgh Steelers take their annual pilgramage to Latrobe and take part in a night practice. This is a big time event in the Latrobe area and it brought over 12,000 people out, including your truely, to watch them do their thing. Luckily at work (the real job I have) got a new camera and needed someone to try it out. I took that opportunity to take some video's of the practice. They are nothing special, but I tried to get parts of passing drills and some of the 7-on-7 the Steelers did. Enjoy everyone!

Here we have some passing drills with Byron Leftwhich. That was @usbzoso yelling that he loved Brett Favre. Go figure.

Here is a look at the QB's throwing some fade patterns.

Here is a vid of some actual scrimmage work, the first play Mendenhall busted a big one

Ben being awesome

Ben again

Well there is what I have. Not the greatest, but still better than nothing.

Here We Go.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pirates Game Day 110 Live Blog

Steelers Training Camp

It was kind of embarassing when I told some of my counterparts as we walked in to watch Steelers training camp that I had never been. I have lived in Greensburg for over six years and I just never made it out to camp.

I made my pilgrimage to Pittsburgh after a few long days, but it was worth it. Sitting in the stands with my fellow Steelers fans just felt right. It is the way it should be. One side note about the whole experience was the feeling you get by actually being in Pennsylvania. Traveling though the boring states like Indiana and Ohio you really get an appreciation for Pennsylvania and how awesome it is. When you hit the state line you just feel different. You are automatically in the best shape of your life. No lie.

Well one of the real reasons for this is to tell you a little about camp. They said there was 12,000 in Latrobe for the annual night practice, and they got to see some pretty sweet stuff if you were actually watching the football and not just yelling Troy's name to get an autograph or trying to listen to the average at very best band before hand.

A few news and notes I took in from practice:

Jonathan Dwyer was very impressive in my eyes. He hasn't been practicing much with a hamstring problem but he was hitting holes and giving a burst through the line on a few runs plays. This also makes me feel good about the line since Mendenhall was also getting some holes. Both Dwyer and Mendenhall looked very good and especially good with their burst of speed once they hit the hole.

Dan Sepulveda spend the second half of the camp session kicking off. This is really the first I heard/saw him actually take extensive time kicking off, but I am not going to lie I was really impressed. Sepulveda was regularly getting the ball into the end zone, which as we know was a problem for the Steelers for the past couple of years. Jeff Reed is a good kicker (and hitter of paper towel dispensers) but he just can't get it to the end zone for even a few touchbacks. There is nothing bigger than after scoring a big touchdown kicking the ball out of the back of the end zone and making the other team go 80 yards. Hopefully Sepulveda can do that for us.

Sticking with the special teams flow, I thought Stef Logan did a very nice job returning kicks. Now, I am not a huge believer that Logan is going to make the team this year, and in order to he will have to do a lot more than last year. All that being said I thought he was dynamic at practice and was hitting the holes without hesitation. Part of this might be due to a new special teams coach and philosophy, but in order to make this team Logan is going to have to do a lot. If he does what he did at the session I was at, he will be more than ok.

Ben Roethlisberger was his normal self. He was throwing some great balls and really looked like he was in tune with his receivers. The one receiver that Ben working with the best last night was Arnez Battle. One would think that Mike Wallace would be that "comfort" guy, but Ben was going to Battle a lot. Pretty interesting, but it was Battle that was the "go to guy". I am ok with that. Wallace will be keyed on more this year and the more comfortable that Ben can get with Battle and El the better.

Dennis Dixon did not look good. He was badly underthrowing receivers, missing reads, and threw a few picks. Now, the picks were not all his fault but he did not look like a guy that was ready to step in and be a starting QB. Leftwhich looked pretty good and when compared to Dixon he like miles ahead. Sure it is only one day, but he is going to have to show a lot.

I have a good bit of pictures and a lot of video that I will throw up here in the next few days so make sure you look for that. It is a great day to be a Steelers fan, and from what I saw this team is going to turn a lot of heads after not being talked about at all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hines Ward Interview

Nice video of Hines with ESPN as they are going to every training camp. Hope yinz enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pirates Game Day 106 Live Blog

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pirates Game Day 105 Live Blog