Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Walkout is Smart, But I Have Better Ideas

Saturday, June 30th is a day that could go down in Pirate history with the Stargell's and the Clemente's. A scheduled walk-out following the third inning will mark one of the first true outcries from Pirate faithful who have finally grown tired of the "lets strive for mediocrity", but still come up short, kind of baseball.

Unfortunately I don't believe a walkout will be enough. In the end the Nuttings will still be stuffing their treasure chest with OUR gold coinage. Instead I have come up with a few other ideas that could keep people out of PNC Park. When all is said and done, my goal would be for one baseball game to be played without a single fan in the stands.

So how could we, the fans, accomplish this?

First....we must BLOW UP the Clemente Bridge!!!!

Try raising the Jolly Roger now, bitches.

Many of you may ask, well how would we manage getting an Apache helicopter or the explosives to blow up the Clemente Bridge?

MY plan...just tell George "Bomb em" Bush that there is Al-qaeda hiding in dat der bridge n'at.

Thanks George, you're now only second to George Steinbrenner
in my book.

I feel as though almost one-third of the Pirates fans arrive to PNC park via the Clemente Bridge. Now instead of selling out Bob Walk bobblehead night we are looking at about 24,000 in attendance! We've made more progress in one-day than the Pirates have in 10 years...can you feel the excitement?

Ok with Bombs over Pittsburgh still fresh in our mind, we need to keep up with our tactical attacks on the Nutting's profiting business. Remember George, Robert Nutting is the equivalent to Osama Bin Laden.

Next UP: Sinking The Clipper Fleet...

I still don't understand why people park in Station Square, but for some reason, game after game, I see people flooding off those boats onto the North Shore like its Ellis Island.

Can I remind everyone that watching the Pirates is what I'd like to call: INCARCERATION
If you enjoy taking a boat ride into a prison, go out to San Francisco and see Alcatraz.

Why doesn't the clipper fleet look like this? Black...and gold...

Ok, so we've inflicted enough damage on our own city. It was completely necessary.

Attendance is looking very Marlin-like right now, only a healthy 12,000-14,000 can physically make it to the Pirate games at this point.

And they won the World Series in 1997 and 2003!!!

My last ploy is as genius as it gets. As many of us know, "Baseball is a family game." and "Foul language and abusive behavior will not be tolerated".

I admit, I've been to a few too many Pirate games but my last idea will surely keep any family from ever attending a game at "Beautiful" PNC Park.

Ok... so we deface every statue outside of PNC Park and replace it with a replica of the forever-famous Jeff Reed....

"The Great One" ...Bob Walk would love it, no one would ever go to a Pirate game ever again, and the Nutting's would finally be forced to sell the team.

End of Post

Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to the 'Stache

Did you dance with the 'Stache last night?

A Happy Birthday wish goes out from to Dave Wannstache who celebrated his birthday last night at Margarita Mama's.

A couple interesting notes from the night:

-DJ Goofy White Kid wears a personalized Pirates jersey with "G. WhiteKid" on the back.

Was it really necessary to personalize a Pirates jersey?

Just by wearing that jersey I am assuming the following:
-First and foremost, you're cheap....because we all know that jersey was on sale.

-Second of all...second of all....come on dude....Just get a personalized Steelers jersey, the Pirates?!? Seriously?? You're associating yourself with an organization that hasn't won anything since World War II.

Anyhow...If you enjoy those quotable moments that define a night, you'll love this.

To set up the mood for you, lets just let everyone know that Dave Wannstache was feverishly using his birthday status as his pick-up line with the ladies. Any man would...

Dave Wannstache: "It's my birthday tonight"
Some Girl: "I'm getting married on Saturday"
ME: (Laughing so hard, it hurts)

Dave of course didn't let this put a damper on his evening. He then proceeded to spit up the Three Wise Men shot I bought him, thinking it was another Jack and Coke...SURPRISE!!! Yeah, next time I'll make sure you get the memo because sipping on a Three Wise Men, when you think it's a Jack and Coke, cannot be fun.

Once again,
CHEERS to the 'Stache !!!

End of Post

Ask The GM: Dave Littlefield

Every so often, Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield will answer a question from one lucky Pirates' fan. Here is today's question:

Ben (Uniontown, PA): Has there been any discussion within the organization of releasing Tony Armas? I just feel like he is struggling and the roster spot could be better used.

Littlefield: Ben, the feeling within this organization is that Armas has been exceptional this year. Listen, you seem like a nice guy, but it’s obvious that your baseball knowledge is a little lacking. Tony Armas has an 8.92 ERA. You know what that means? It means he’s allowing one run every 8.92 innings. That’s outstanding! Why would we want to release a guy who pretty much only gives up one run per nine innings? There are only a couple pitchers in this league who I’d rather have than Armas. Like maybe Jeff Weaver. I saw him last week when we played the Mariners, and he was just lights out against us. Everyone seemed surprised. I read all these articles that couldn’t believe he was capable of such things. But I knew better. His ERA coming into that game was 10.97! One run every 10.97 innings! That means we probably weren’t going to score any runs against him, and we didn’t. Man, we could use Jeff Weaver in our rotation. I have the cash to pay Weaver’s salary too since I bypassed on that loser Wieters. I’m gonna call Mariners GM Bill Bavasi and see if I can get rid of that bum Ian Snell and his 2.92 ERA for Weaver. Bavasi is an idiot, so I think he’ll go for it.

End of Post

Buy Sam a Drink: Browns vs. Pirates

I might have to start writing these things everyday because the feedback has just been so enormous - picking Kordell Stewart as the winner of anything will garner such reaction, I guess. But anyways, welcome again, Littlefields and Sheros (ladies and gentlemen, get it? Alright, low blow) to the segment that is filling my inbox to the brim: Buy Sam a Drink! Today, in honor of the upcoming “walkout” that is being staged against your 2007 Jolly-Roger-lowering Pittsburgh Pirates, I intend to find out just how much pity Pirates fans deserve, relatively speaking.

With winner’s buying the drinks, it’s time to find out…


Find out where to mail your tears after the jump

When looking over the 2007 Steelers schedule with a friend recently in an attempt to predict the number of Black ‘n Gold victories, we both noted how the Steelers would likely beat the Browns twice. Feeling almost sorry for them, my friend philosophized the following: “You know, I really don’t hate the Browns. I hate the Ravens. I hate the Patriots. I wish ill things upon the Bengals. But I can’t hate the Browns and their fans. I understand them – they are like Pirates fans”.

The comment stung a little until I realized that he was probably right. All inflamed-river jokes aside, Cleveland Browns fans have been ridiculed and let down by their team time and time again. After talking to some Cleveland fans yesterday, it is eerie to hear the similarities between what they say before a season and what Pirates fans say. I know the script all too well: so and so is back, we signed this guy, we might get lucky, but hey, lets face it, it’s the Browns (Pirates). Cautious optimism like this is something that is a staple of any Pirates fans’ preseason ritual.

Furthermore, take this “disputed” quote (read: vandalism by a bitter Browns fan) from the Browns’ Wikipedia page…

"The highlight of the season came from the television side of the season. Bill Belichick was the breakout star of "Browns Insider" which was co-hosted by Jim Mueller. Belichick explained such concepts as "Metcalf up the middle," the brilliance of drafting a fullback with the 11th pick in the draft (the third running back as top pick of the Browns in three of four years) and why the double tightend, one wide-receiver offensive set was unstoppable."

Change some words around to Ronny Florian and untested college pitchers and that sounds like the Pirates.

Though its debatable who deserves more sympathy at the current point in time, the Browns have had a much more difficult past decade, and that is truly saying something given that their competition here is the Pirates. But no matter how many losses the Pirates pile up, they still have been fortunate enough (fortune is a relative term in this article) to stay located in Pittsburgh and not undergo any horrendously complicated reestablishment procedures. The Browns are all too familiar with such hellish trials. Art Modell sucker-punched the fans square in the face and they’ve had little to cheer about since Drew Carey tried to rile them up before their opening night game against the Steelers.

While Pirates fans more or less see the last 15 years as a steady barrage of defeats, the Browns are marked by specific moments of failure. “The Fumble”, “The Drive”, the Steelers playoff comeback in 2002…hell, the Browns Wikipedia page even has a section subtitled “The Bernie Kosar Years” (yikes). Other than the playoff year, the Browns haven’t won more than 7 games since their reintroduction to the league.

The term “playoff year”, however, is one not familiar to any Pirates fan under the age of twenty. I swear this isn’t a shameless self-promotion, but really, look at the Pirates Hall of Shame Ballot. Just look. Read every name. It’s just an atrocity, although it does clarify how such an unfathomable stretch of losing seasons is possible.

But like another McG-suffixed individual, I am not here to talk about the past. Earning pity isn’t all about getting a pat on the back over some game that was lost years ago. Pity is earned when your team has basically abandoned you and there is a decreasingly small slimmer of hope in the future.

For the Browns, as much as Dave Wannstache believes they will still suck, they are making strides. They have drafted well recently and you don’t get the impression that they are pulling in money with one hand and extending a middle finger to the fans with the other. The Pirates? I thought about putting a table up with recent draft picks and their production, but I just don’t want to. Its Friday, I’m in a pretty good mood, and I for one don’t need any stats today to tell me that, because of financial reasons, the Pirates would rather draft a questionable reliever rather than the best player on the board.

For Clemente’s sake, there is a walkout forthcoming! A walkout! As fellow writer Sam opined on another website, what’s next - a sit in at Pirates Fest? Pirates fans are at wit’s end, whereas Cleveland fans, fresh off He Who Is Witnessed taking them on a wild playoff ride, are optimistic and eager to see what there young batch of talent can do this fall. There is no end in sight for Buccos fans, and the only thing worth getting excited about it a fan protest. Raise the Jolly Roger, indeed!

By writing this article, I think I have officially hit rock bottom as a Pirates fan by realizing that we deserve more pity than Browns fans. They have a future, a reasonable looking blueprint…SOMETHING to give them cause for hope.

So hey Pirates fans!


Greg Brown and Bob Walk Support Jeff Reed's Choices

So I've recently decided that the Comedy Central Reports will only run from Monday through Thursday, mostly because I'm lazy but also because it coincides with the Daily Show's weekly schedule. But today I've got something very good for you to make up for it. A friend of Doubt About It has put together a video combining a part of the Pirates' 8-1 victory over Texas from a couple weeks ago with pictures of a certain party loving kicker. I'm told that all audio came from the same game and that about 80% of it was unedited. If you can't stand the original Jeff Reed mirror picture, this may not be for you, although the quality of the video makes it easy to bear. Wait until about 20 seconds in for the hilarity to ensue...

"It's big and thick, that's for sure..."

End of Post

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pirates' Hall of Shame Primary Results- Updated!


(Click on Banner to Vote)

First, I want to thank the 710 people who have voted as of 8 AM Thursday. The turnout has been amazing and we really appreciate you taking the time to vote. As commenter dbozek points out, trying to pick only 3 outfielders is like trying to pick between a bag full of puppies and a baby penguin, so I respect and admire those who had the determination to narrow it down. But I digress, we're less than 4 days away from the Pirates' Hall of Shame roster becoming official, but to spur on further voting I'm going to announce the results of the primary elections, even though there really were no official primaries. This way you will know which guys actually have a shot to be enshrined in infamy to help you make the best choices. All numbers are valid from 8 AM Thursday. Here's who is still contending (votes in parentheses):

1B: Kevin Young (204) vs Randall Simon (202)
-The battle between the Splitter and the Sausage Beater is the closest race we have for the Hall of Shame. Each vote will count, so definitely let your voice be heard if you didn't vote for one of these guys in the first place.

2B: Warren Morris (160) vs Bobby Hill (127) vs Jeff Reboulet (100)
-This vote isn't as close, but there is still some doubt about it(reference intended). I have a feeling Bobby is getting little love due to the way he was acquired...which is a good a reason as any.

SS: Pat Meares (362) vs Everyone Else (332)

-Pat Meares is not only absolutely destroying the SS competition, but is leading ALL the players in total votes. I have a feeling the events of June 24th-26th, 1999 probably has an influence on this:

Saturday, June 26th
IN THE NEWS--Shortstop Pat Meares of the Pittsburgh Pirates, on the disabled list recovering from surgery on his left hand, participates in a sausage race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a 10-foot bratwurst, wins the race defeating a giant hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days ago, Meares was caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veteran's Stadium for the first six innings of game.
Reader Gene is stumping for Mike Benjamin, who he says has not received his fair share of the fans' fury: "You would think that a hitter batting near the Mendoza line would want to stay somewhat anonymous, but Benjamin walked around sporting those STUPID sideburns as if he was some hotshot superstar."

Sorry for the poor quality, Mike wasn't very often photographed

I couldn't agree more, Gene.

3B: Joe Randa (195) vs Chris Stynes (169)
-Apparently the 1997 campaign has been overwhelmed by last year's blocking of Freddy, subsequent injury, and horrible season.

C: Benito Santiago (210) vs. Humberto Cota (104)
-Injuries to high priced players has begun to become a trend. Cota can't claim this excuse, he just sucks.

OF: Derek Bell (350), Raul Mondesi (291), Chad Hermansen (180),
Jeromy Burnitz (171), Armando Rios(103), Tike Redman(95)

-The first two are really no surprise, but Chad Hermansen beating Beer-nutz?! Upset of the Century! Thankfully, its still close, so make sure to vote for this one. Also Operation Shutdown is only down 12 down to Pat Meares for the most votes....we may have to have an individual vote just between these two.

Manager: Lloyd McClendon (151) vs Jim Tracy (138)
GM: Cam Bonifay (204) vs Dave Littlefield (182)
Owner: Bob Nutting (217) vs Kevin McClatchy (145) vs Pgh Associates (22)

-As much as we complain about the current GM and Manager, it seems as though we're still happy the other guys aren't around. Tracy still has an excellent shot to catch Lloyd. So all you Lloyd lovers, and I know you're out there, better start voting. As for the owner, this wasn't much of a surprise, especially with McClatchy backing away from the spotlight a bit.

Vote As Many Times As You Want: VOTE!

Click below to see the totals so far...

End of Post

Mocking the Mock Draft: Wimbledon Edition

I am well aware that very few readers in Pittsburgh would even skim through an article about the 2007 NBA Draft. Said readers are even less likely to peruse any prose regarding the in-progress English tradition that tennis fans like myself know as Wimbledon. I desperately want to talk about tonight’s NBA Draft or today’s matches at Wimbledon, but I will yield to the masses and not subject you to such topics…not directly, at least.

To get my fix, however, I have envisioned a Mock Draft of my own. Few Pittsburghers care about the NBA…perhaps even fewer care about Wimbledon…but what if I envisioned a world in which NBA teams picked tennis players to best fit their team’s needs?

Stupid? Genius? Ridiculous? The best way for me to avoid writing an article about the Pirates on a slow summer day? I say all of the above.

Join the insanity and let me get my fuzzy-ball fix after the jump.

Note: Yes, I am using several retired tennis players in this draft. I apologize to tennis fans for doing this, but people know John McEnroe. They do not, unfortunately, know Novak Djokovic. So we’re going with NBA teams picking across tennis eras. This is easily the most ridiculous thing on the web right now, but atleast I can confidently say that I am the only writer alive who can fuse the NBA Draft with Wimbledon in such fashion...

1. Portland Trailblazers Select Jim Courier

The Blazers waste no time in sending a shockwave through the Draft room by going with Courier first over all. No Sampras? Nadal? Federer? But Portland fans inherently understand the pick: ever since Walton left, the city has been desperate for a lovable redheaded figure to serve as the poster child of the city.

2. Seattle Supersonics select John McEnroe

Stunning – the Sonics reach off everyone’s big board too! McEnroe is old! He’s a legend, not a quick-fix for a franchise in danger of moving! The Sonics GM justifies the pick by saying: “Look, we here in Seattle value whining above all else. Did you see Super Bowl XL? Did you see how we were able to turn that into months of unjustified sniveling? McEnroe is our guy – he was born to play in Seattle. He’s the best whiner on the board and he is going to infuse this franchise with a cantankerous attitude that only few men in history can match. If only he had been around to help us complain about that Super Bowl loss…”

3. Atlanta Hawks Select Andy Roddick

The door appeared to be open for the Hawks - the first two picks went with personality compatibility over talent. But the Hawks instead stick with the rankings. With the third pick, they figure they might as well take the third ranked player in the world, A-Rod. He is a perfect fit for the Hawks drafting strategy: pick athletically gifted players in the first round who stand a minimal chance of actually reaching their potential (see: Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, Shelden Williams). A terrible pick to be sure, but Roddick makes perfect sense in the far off corner of the universe occupied by the Atlanta Hawks.

4. Memphis Grizzlies Select Pete Sampras

I’ll let Mark Cohn explain this one:
Yeah I was walkin’ in Memphis, I was walkin with my feet ten feet off of Beale”.
Pete can walk (jump) ten feet off anything.

5. Boston Celtics Select Michael Chang

This pick is made purely so my friends in Boston will cringe. Here is hoping you all take Yi Jianlin with the 5th pick tonight. Besides, after the Red Sox striking gold with Dice-K, I think it is only fair, karmatically and Orientally speaking, that Yi sinks the Celtics franchise.

6. Milwaukee Bucks Select Roger Federer

Rog, fresh off the plane in Milwaukee

Finally, Fed-X is called up the podium. This is a perfect fit. Roger is quiet, Milwaukee is quiet. Roger is peaceful, Milwaukee is peaceful. Wisconsin is known for cheese, Switzerland is known for cheese. I am not seeing any problems here.

9. Chicago Bulls select Andy Murray

Andy Murray is from the British Isles. Luol Deng is from the British Isles. Sounds good to me.

10. Sacramento Kings select Andre Agassi

Never pass up an oppurtunity for an old-school Agassi picture.

The Bald One comes off the board! The reason? As a Las Vegas native, he will be instrumental in putting fans in the seats for the Las Vegas Kings once they leave Sacramento.

11. Atlanta Hawks Select Marat Safin

Marat after being told he is a Hawk.

Whaddya know, another outrageously talented player who will (and already has) fallen far short of his projected accomplishments. And a big guy to boot, just like all the others! Yes, the Atlanta Hawks certainly deserve commendation for their ability to construct a draft plan and stick to it for several years…without taking into account the dynamic of their team…or any of their needs…or anyone under 6’5’’ in the draft.

12. Philadelphia 76ers select Lleyton Hewitt

Philly fans are notoriously brutal, with controversial figures almost always garnering ridicule in the city of brotherly love. Hewitt is hated by many for his constant Aussie screaming, his nearly ground-thumping fist pump, (known to many in the tennis world as the “lawn mower”), and the almost inexplicable thing he does where he, I dunno, turns his fist into a snake’s head and stares it down (pictured above). Should be a fun marriage between the two.

13. New Orleans Hornets select James Blake

Should have kept the dreads, James.

If I can pick one athlete, all sports included, to go into the city of New Orleans and serve as a beacon of hope for the rebuilding process, it would be James Blake. He overcame scoliosis as a kid, made the pro tour, broke his neck and developed shingles that paralyzed his face, watched his father die from stomach cancer, thought he’d never play again, and now is back in the top ten in the world. The guy is a miracle man.

14. Los Angeles Clippers Select Guillermo Canas

Yes, the injection went fine, thank you!

Canas, who has beaten Federer twice this year, has also been suspended by the ATP for drug use. How long is the drive from L.A. to Tijuana?

Comedy Central Report, 6/27

Borrowing from the media’s name for the National League Central, the Comedy Central Report is a daily feature which recaps all the previous day’s games in which a central team played. Keep track of all six teams vying for the most mediocre division title in baseball.

Sorry for the late post, woke up a bit late today...

Pirates get two in a row fry Fish, 7-5
Recap: Finally the bats come alive, as Xavier Nady hit a homerun early and a homerun late to power the Pirates to an extra inning win. Of course, to get to this point the bullpen had to blow things again. Van Benschoten was removed early, as Tracy believed the 42 balls out of 81 pitches was enough to pull him after the 4th, even though he had given up only 2 runs. I don't know if I like the move, making in-game corrections is a skill that needs to be worked on by all pitchers, but I have a feeling if Van Benchoten was left in there and gave up 4 runs in the 5th, we would be blaming Tracy right now.

All You Need to Know: 2 in a row! On the road! It looks as though the Pirates will take some steam off the proposed walk-out on Saturday. I think the whole thing is silly. I bet the protest actually increases attendance to the game, which will result in giving more money to the ownership that everyone hates. I'm not saying it isn't warranted, and I think we should let our voices be heard, but there are more effective and constructive ways.

Brewers sweep Astros 6-3

Recap: The Astros are not helping us out right now. Damian Miller hit his first homerun of the season, a three-run walk off homer. These are the things that happen when you're winning, I suppose.

All You Need to Know: The Pirates' season, if there really is any season left, rests on the series against the Brewers starting next week.

Cubs win again, beat Rockies 6-4

Recap: Apparently Michael Barrett was the issue, as Carlos Zambrano won his 4th game in 5 tries. With the win, the Cubs are only 1 win away from giving the Central Division 2 teams at or above .500.

All You Need to Know: Mike Fontenot, who is 5'8" but has been on a tear ever since being called up, was complimented by Zambrano after the game: "He hits the ball like a man, I feel happy for him." Zambrano then went on to give him two-black eyes and demand he be traded.

Mets shut out Cards, 2-0
Recap: This one only went 5.5 innings before rain ended the game. The teams combined for only 3 hits, thankfully for the Mets one out of their 2 hits was a 2 run shot.

Cardinals Stat of the Day: With the loss, Anthony Reyes has dropped to 0-10. The record for most consecutive losses is 18 in the NL...I couldn't find the stat for most consecutive losses starting a season, though. If anyone has this information please share.

Reds Outslug Phillies, 9-6

Recap: Both Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard hit homeruns, but the Reds prevailed. Howard's homer was his 100th in only 325 games, breaking Pirates' legend Ralph Kiner's record of 385 games.

All You Need to Know: Just an anecdote, but I was at a bar where the Phillies and Bucs were both on TV, sitting next to a friend who roots for the Phillies. There really are few greater joys in life than watching a fan of any of the Philadelphia sports squirm as their team blows another game. Especially when it is to one of the worst teams in the league.

Philadelphia's two greatest sports heroes

Your Comedy Central Standings on June 28th, 2007:

End of Post

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Max Talbot's Offseason Workout Plan

So Max Talbot somehow finagled his way into the World Series of Poker. Karma seems to have played a part, as I don't remember anyone else sacrificing his body quite as much to block shots on the penalty kill. Obviously, I know who Penguins' fans are rooting for, but my dream final match up would go something like this:

It is down to the final two at the 2007 World Series of Poker, with both players vying for the 10 million dollars. Pittsburgh Penguin Maxime Talbot has the higher chip stack, but his opponent, Bill Simmons the Sports Guy, is not far behind…

Bill Simmons: So the last time I was in Vegas with JBug, House and the rest of my boys, we sat down at a blackjack table with this dealer who was literally Mariano Rivera and a 13 out of 10 on the unintentional comedy scale. I split aces and ended up with 17 and 18, which is the poor man’s 19 and 20 and a hobo’s double blackjack. I would talk about more inappropriate things but I can’t fight off the 10,000 volts of electricity running through my body which is an awfully peculiar way of saying I work for a national media conglomerate and don’t have total freedom of speech. But since we’re talking about it, Paula from the Real World has officially lost me and entered the Tyson Zone, Reggie Cleveland All-Stars, and...

Colby Armstrong comes out of nowhere and decks Simmons, knocking him out of the tournament. Colby, who was injured on the hit, then gets pummeled by Sheldon Souray.

Nice hit, Army!

Talbot is then declared the victor and uses the money to help pay for the mega contracts Geno and Staal will be receiving in a couple of years.

To be honest with you, I'm a big fan of Bill's witing and hope he does well, but not as good as Max. We'll be monitoring Talbot's status throughout, hoping that he can bring glory to the French Canadian people.

End of Post

Carson Palmer Should Fire His Agent

I was gonna do another installment of Ask The GM: Dave Littlefield, but that's going to have to wait until later today or tomorrow, because WithLeather has uncovered the above video of Carson Palmer shooting a commercial for John Morrell sausages. You remember the print ad, don't you:

Well now, we can see Palmer's gayness in video form. Is he ready for smoked sausage? No. That guy's smoked sausage has come up small. He needs you to go long. He needs a measurement. And really, you don't need to be an all-pro quarterback to afford smoked sausages that are a full inch longer than the competition. And it's a "love thing". Watch the video and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's almost like Palmer and Brady Quinn have a competition to see who can be gayer. He really needs to fire his agent.

End of Post

Buy Sam a Drink: Kordell vs. Jagr

Hello and welcome back to the third installment of the new Wednesday/Friday feature, “Buy Sam a Drink”. Don’t know the drill yet? Then check out the first and second editions to see what you’ve missed. Today’s match-up features one individual who, during his original emergence onto the Pittsburgh sports scene, wasn’t even old enough to buy Sam a drink, and another athlete who…well…let’s just say he grimaces a little when hearing the terms “beer” and “Pittsburgh sports” juxtaposed with one another.

With winners buying in this cross-sports comparison, its time to decide...


No mullets or sideline tears allowed after the jump.

If you have ever been to a Penguins game when Jaromir Jagr was a visiting player, or if you have even the most rudimentary knowledge of the Steelers, then you have probably booed/hated/witnessed people booing and hating/dumped beer on one of these players. In a discussion of both franchises’ recent history, they are fundamental parts of any conversation and serve as two of the more controversial, hate-inspiring athletes in Pittsburgh history.

We’ll explore why they are so hated in a moment, but first lets remember what these two players had accomplished at one point in time. For Jagr, those accomplishments read like the numbers of a Hall of Famer, and that doesn’t even count his post-Penguins days: five Art Ross Trophies, one MVP, two Lester B Pearson Trophies for MVP as voted by the players, six NHL First Team All-Star Appearances. He even won a gold and bronze medal for his homeland to boot. He had 157 points in 150 playoff games, which isn’t an overwhelming point ratio compared to some all-time greats, but when you consider that Lemieux only ever played in 107 playoff games, it becomes clear that with Jagr on the team the Pens were almost always seriously contending in the playoffs.

Kordell’s rate of success with the team was, obviously, a little more up and down (okay, a lot), but he did do some impressive things. His first full season as a starter he went 11-5 and led four comebacks on the road. He was the team MVP in 2001 and actually is second only to Steve Young in all-time rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. With Kordell though, fans don’t remember the 80-yard touchdown against Carolina or his clutch performance in the ’95 AFC Championship against the Colts. They remember the turnovers in all the other AFC Championship games (as documented here); the crying on the sidelines in Tampa; the beer shower; the rumors about his sexuality.

But what people tend to forget is that for brief periods of time, Kordell Stewart was the epitome of cool in Pittsburgh. Random anecdote, but in gym class back then we had dots laid out in a 5 dot by 5 dot grid, with each student standing on their own dot to do “warm-ups” (I know this sounds like something out of the Wonder Years, but bear with me). Anyways, on a Friday before a huge playoff game one year, we were doing our insanely idiotic warm-up stretches when our teacher pointed out that three entire lines worth of dots had Kordell Stewart jerseys on. In fact, I am willing to bet that there are perhaps more old Kordell Stewart jerseys (albeit collecting dust in closets and attics) in Pittsburgh than any other jersey except maybe Crosby or Ben. The guy was just unfathomably cool back then.

But you know the rest of the story: Championship game struggles, more INTs, a rarely discussed loss of speed that hurt him more than anything perhaps, the Tommy Maddox miracle and ultimate debacle (speaking of being treated unfairly, did we REALLY expect an insurance salesman to lead us to the Super Bowl?). Kordell fell off the pedestal, and Kordell fell hard.

Jagr, on the other hand, left town of his own accord – demand, even. As far as murky circumstances go, the Jagr trade ranks right up at the top. There were questions about his relationship with Hlinka, his relationship with Mario, and his gambling problem, a habit that Sports Illustrated said was costing Jaromir half a million dollars. Whatever the reason for leaving, he cashed in at Washington for 7 years, 77 million and has been hearing boos in Pittsburgh ever since.

But who was treated more unfairly? These two players were icons – icons – in Pittsburgh for much of the ‘90s, and as it always seems to go with ex-Pittsburgh players, they are now roundly despised. Certainly Kordell caused Pittsburghers much more anguish than Jagr, and it was Jagr who scored a handful of the biggest goals in Penguins history. The relationship with Jaromir was certainly a much easier one while he was in Pittsburgh.

But consider the timeline of the Kordell era: universally beloved from ‘95-97, unequivocally hated from ‘98-99, gained back credibility in ’00-’01, and then became cemented as a failed Pittsburgh sports athlete thereafter. Sure his level of play varied greatly, but so did his offensive coordinator and even the position he was playing. One never heard Kordell complain as Tommy Maddox pulled the wool over our eyes, and he graciously returned to his Slash role when Kent Graham assumed the starting job.

Despite all this, I still had lingering hatred towards Kordell up until this past spring. When Bill Cowher retired, (did you hear?) I was watching ESPN. After hearing some reaction from the NFL Live studio, who did they bring on to discuss the announcement? Kordell Stewart. He was gracious, cited his up and down times in Pittsburgh, and ultimately said that the experience made him a better person and that he liked playing for Cowher. Aside from being absolutely shocked to see Kordell talking about the Steelers, my initial reaction was regret. This man was the coolest guy in town for a few years and now here he was, seemingly haunted by the word “Pittsburgh” and, through only the greatest politeness, speaking kindly about it.

Jagr was probably involved in 10 of my top 50 moments as a sports fan (sorry for the Bill Simmons impersonation there), but he left on a whim – maybe because of gambling, maybe because of Hlinka. Jagr comes back now hearing boos, and while I don’t boo him, it s hard not to feel as if he cashed in while cashing out Penguins fans. Meanwhile, Kordell switched positions, kept his head up, took the most intense abuse I hope to ever see from Pittsburgh sports fans, and still all these years later showed up on TV to discuss the Steelers.

I really feel as if both these guys were treated unfairly in many regards given how much they were once loved, but is Jagr going on TV to talk about anything Penguins related? No. Jagr was one of the best athletes I have ever watched, and Kordell is one of the most frustrating. But in this comparison, performance plays second fiddle to the manner in which the player left town. Jagr left a legacy behind for money; Kordell fought to recapture a type of cult-hero status that only few can achieve in Pittsburgh, and even fewer can live up to.

So hey Kordell!


Comedy Central Report - 6/28

Borrowing from the media’s name for the National League Central, the Comedy Central Report is a daily feature which recaps all the previous day’s games in which a central team played. Keep track of all six teams vying for the most mediocre division title in baseball.

Pirates stop skid and fry Fish, 3-2
Recap: Paul Maholm, who shares a birthday with Pat, pitched a great 7 2/3 it innings, at one point retiring 15 batters in a row. Jim Tracy made a smart move by taking him out at the first sign of trouble, replacing him with the reliable Shawn Chacon who finished the 8th. Matt Capps ended with a 1-2-3 ninth. Jack Wilson hit the winning homerun in the 4th in a game that lasted only 2 hours and 15 minutes.

All You Need to Know: Counting last night, Malholm has put up a respectable 3.72 ERA over his last 7 games. Considering the league average is 4.24, Maholm has shown that he belongs in the rotation. You're next Duke.

Brewers put up 9 in one inning, beat Astros 11-5
Recap: Tony Graffanino hit a 2 run shot and Johnny Estrada smacked a grand slam in the same inning in what ended up being a 9 run 6th.

All You Need to Know: I was desperately looking for the standings of the sausage race, but could not find anything. If anyone knows where they keep the results, please let me know.

Cubs roll past Colorado, 8-5
Recap: The Cubs won their 5th straight game, moving to within 2 games of .500. Cliff Floyd hit a two-run homer and Alfonso Soriano continued his strong play with a 2 for 5 night.

All You Need to Know: Actually it's nothing you need to know, but now that it seems like the Cubs could make this a race, who would you rather have win this division, the Cubs or the Brewers? I find reasons to dislike both options, but I find myself rooting for the Cubs only so we can watch another self-destruction in the playoffs.

Cardinals defeat Mets in 11, 5-3
Recap: The Cards pull a reversal from last night, with Brenden Ryan hitting a game winning 2-run homerun in the top of the 11th inning. Oliver Perez (6.1 IP,5 H, 2 ER) pitched decently, which is the first time in his career he found a happy medium between lights out and horrible.

Cardinals Stat of the Day: While the Pirates have drawn the third lowest walk total in baseball at 215, the Cardinals are even worse at 209. In an act of goodwill, the Pirates have sent them Jeff Manto to help them iomprove plate patience. Below is a student in the hitting school of Jeff Manto, which has produced back-to-back-to-back A.A.U. cellar dwellers.

Phillies take any self-respect Reds have left, 11-4

Recap: Basically, the Phillies got lots of hits, and the Reds didn't. I am going to leave this here for all Reds games until they win.

All You Need to Know: The Reds do have some interesting trade bait going into July with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn both reportedly available. On top of this, Griffey apparently wants to go back to Seattle.

Your Comedy Central Standings on June 27th, 2007:

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Holy Grail of Questions is Finally Asked

Bucco Blog has uncovered a gem of an audio clip from the "Dave Littlefield Radio Show", which I guess airs on the Pirates Radio Network.

A caller asks the question we've all been waiting to hear: "When are you going to resign, Dave?"

Littlefield's response? Well, let's just say he doesn't really confront the question head-on. The clip contains another question that Littlefield deftly sidesteps, along with a comment from a caller who essentially tells Dave he has his support (Littlefield supporters actually exist?)

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Believin' In The Buccos

Due to my blatent pessimism regarding the Pirates, I’m going to switch gears and defy the recent swell of Pirates’ loathing from the fans and do my best to write an article about why the Bucs still have a shot to win the division, or at least make it back to .500. It was difficult, let me tell you, but I think there are at least a few decent reasons why we can still have hope until Latrobe. So first watch Bluto's speech that they show at PNC Park to rally a comeback, and then read on after the jump...

Why the Pirates Still Have a Chance to Win the Division (or to atleast make .500).

5. We Still Play Milwaukee 10 times

We have a total of 87 games left to play. 10 of those are against the team that we’re trying to catch. Milwaukee defeated the Astros 6-1 last night so we’re 12.5 games back. Let’s say we win 8 out of 10, that leaves us only 6.5 back. Think that sounds preposterous? If you look at the Brewers’ startering rotation it may look that way. With Chris Capuano on the DL, all starting pitchers are righties, which doesn’t bode well for the Pirates, who have a team batting average of .250 vs righthanded pitchers and a .274 average vs. lefthanders. But that is only if you look at the surface. A closer inspection of the Brewers’ pitchers show that they have two righthanders, Ben Sheets and Dave Bush, who throw like lefties in respect to oppenent batting averages. Sheets’ average against righthanded batters is .285, almost 40 points higher than his overall average of .246, while righthanded batters are hitting .320 against Bush, almost 30 points higher than his season average of .292. Moreover, Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux has told the media they plan on sending young, promising righty Yovani Gallardo to the ‘pen once lefthander Chris Capuano comes back, which should be just in time for the Bucs’ 4 game home series against the Brewers. We won’t get to face Sheets in this series, which can be argued as a plus anyway, but don’t assume that the Brewers are such a mismatch after all.

4. The Pirates play in the NL Central

I realize that the Brewers are playing well, and they be may difficult to beat, but the rest of the NL central should provide ample fodder for any surge that we can muster. We still have 33 games against other Central opponents, and while the Brewers have just as many if not more, I’d rather take a weak division where there is the chance of some type of movement in the standings over a division of strong teams where they regularly beat up on each other.

3. There’s no way everyone will have subpar years

McKechnie Field is filled with new hope that never pans out

Remember during spring training where you convince yourself that if everyone just hits like they did when they had their career year, we have a real shot at this thing? For Jack Wilson, that was 2004, when he hit .308 with 201 hits. For Freddy and Paulino, it was last year. For Chris Duffy, it was the second half of 2005. Then you slowly realize, you’re asking for everyone to have career years, and the chance of that happening is slim. But what are the odds of everyone having seasons under their career averages? Seems about the same odds to me, especially considering the age group of this team would point to improvement over deterioration. But here are the 9 regular position players, with their season average first, followed by their career averages:

Only 3 out of the 9 players are batting higher than their career averages, and two of them (Doumit and Bautista) really had nowhere to go but up. Why is this a good thing? Because there is no way this trend can continue. Not every player is going to turn their season around, but the odds of everyone maintaining their atrocious batting is rather low as well. The season is long, things usually even out. Which leads me to my next point…

2. We’ve hit rock bottom

This is it. The Pirates are 12.5 games back and are currently on a five game skid. Some may argue we could lose 8 more in a row, as we did last year, but I don’t see it happening with this team. I’ll get to that with my number 1 reason in a minute. I think we’ve hit rock bottom, maybe because Dontrelle Willis is 2-3 against us in his career and had 2 not-great outing against us in his last 2 tries. But mostly, I think we’ve hit rock bottom because the we’re due for just a little bit of luck. After seeing the Golden State Warriors run off ten wins to finish their season and make the NBA playoffs, I feel like the Pirates’ fanbase is owed one of those. A nice little run that gives us hope is something that we’ve earned in the karma department. It’s not like we have the most-promising hockey team in the league, and arguably drafted 2 out of the 3 best players to ever lace up the skates. And we’re not fans of a 5-time Superbowl winning team, cheering on one of the most storied franchises in the nations’ favorite sport. Oh, right…

1. We’re finally pissed

"I [expletive] hate this. And you can put that in the paper. I [expletive] hate losing. I hate when the team doesn't bring out its full potential. And if they fine me, fine me. I don't care. Because this is getting stupid. We're better than what we're showing." -Ian Snell

"You can't get down, we've got to keep fighting." – Tom Gorzelanny

The mouth-breather never surrenders

Say what you want about this years' version of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but we finally have a few guys who take losing on a personal level. Most of this can be attributed all the players having a stake in the organization, as they’ll be here after this year. No more Burnitzes and Randas, who are only in a Pirates' uniform to show the rest of the league they can still play. The ones that I believe still need to work a bit on their attitude are the ones who should be leading the team in the first place, people like Jack Wilson and Jason Bay. Yes, Wilson and Bay say all the right things, but their intentions always seem weak. Take these quotations from both of them:

"We do need to show up a little more, in all aspects." – Jason Bay
“A lot of times, when you're in a rut like this, everybody tries to do maybe more than they should." – Jack Wilson

Notice the words ‘little’ and ‘maybe’. Try and contain your anger, gentlemen. Adam LaRoche may be a bust this year, but you can tell this losing is bothering him enough that I’m sure he’s taking it home with him to some degree. This is not just a job to him, winning and playing baseball is what drives him. And duck hunting too.

This attitude will hopefully stop this losing streak right now. And maybe with a little bit of luck, the Pirates can still turn this thing around. As Snell said, the Pirates are better than this. They need to start fresh, start acting like this is only 1993, forget about their past failures and start believing that they should win and when they fail make sure they redeem themselves the next day. As I asked you before, remember all the good feelings about this club in the spring? Well, they are not that good, but are they this bad? I doubt it. Is going 13 games above .500 the rest of the way going to be tough? Yes, but stranger things have happened.

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Maybe Littlefield Will Sign Him

Ron Cook has an article in the Post-Gazette today concerning the significance underscoring the Recchi and Roberts signings. His opening lines take aim at the Pirates, insinuating that the Penguins, unlike the town's baseball team, know which veterans are affordable and help perpetuate a certain attitude in the locker room from year to year: mainly, an attitude that focuses on a commitment to winning. Roberts and Recchi provide this; Burnitz, et al, do not.

Our site has already made it pretty clear that we love Roberts and think Shero is the man with the golden touch right now. Yet while re-signing Roberts and Recchi does signal a commitment towards establishing a winning attitude, as Cook suggests, Shero's decision to not make a qualifying offer to Michel Ouellet perhaps says just as much. Yes, the Pens could still re-sign him, and no, Ouellet is not a maddening "project with potential" that eats up a roster spot without contributing anything at all (see: roughly 75% of the Pirates Hall of Shame Ballot).

But Ouellet certainly hasn't been overly impressive. Talbot has earned a reputation as a penalty killer, faceoff man, and forechecker. Colby Armstrong became a head-hunting antagonist when the team needed one in the playoffs. Ruutu played with the type of reckless abandon that made Phil Bourque mention him constantly in post-game recaps. Ouellet? For a while he seemed to have a knack for sitting on the left post and poking pucks in, but last season he was streaky at best.

Shero has seem to made this much clear: you fill a role or we'll fill your roster spot. Ouellet has only played two seasons in the NHL and is 25, but one gets the impression that this team is not interested in waiting around for players to fill their potential. Therrien has always been quick to defend Ouellet, and it will be interesting to see if the Pens re-sign him or not.

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Raul is Smiling Somewhere

We'd be remiss here at Doubt About It if we didn't congratulate Mondesi's House on its one year anniversay today. We've learned pretty quickly that it takes a lot of time and creativity to make one of these things successful, and the fact that Mondesi (or Don...or Raul...I never quite know what to call him) has been doing it so well for a year is most definitely praiseworthy. The site has been remarkably kind to us thus far and is responsible for a large portion of our hits to this point. It's funny that he has a picture of a cake up on his homepage, because Sam just suggested a few days ago that we ought to send him one for being so kind in linking to us (process pending...).

So congrats to Mondesi's House, and too bad for all of you putting money down on me not being able to post before 10am after my birthday.

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Comedy Central Report, 6/26

Borrowing from the media’s name for the National League Central, the Comedy Central Report is a daily feature which recaps all the previous day’s games in which a central team played. Keep track of all six teams vying for the most mediocre division title in baseball.

Pirates DNP
Recap: I feel as though in the short existence of Doubt About It I have been rather pessimistic about the Pirates. This afternoon, though, expect a pro Pirates article. Yes, that's right, I will defend this sorry excuse for a team. Until then, enjoy this screencap from a previous Pirates' game.

Brewers dominate Astros 6-1
Recap: Ben Sheets pitched a solid game and Prince Fielder hit another homerun. The guy is absolutely ridiculous.

All You Need to Know: Just to remind you, back in 2002 the Pirates drafted Bryan Bullington with the first overall pick. B.J. Upton went next and Prince Fielder went 7th.

Cubs lose lead then come back, win 10-9
Recap: Alfonso Soriano plays the hero again, hitting a two run single in the bottom of the 9th to win the game.

All You Need to Know: Patrick Kane, the #1 draft pick in this year's NHL draft, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He looks like a 14 year-old boyscout. To serve as a comparison:

Patrick Kane: 5'10'', 162 lbs
Sidney Crosby: 5'11' 200 lbs

Mets walk-off on Cardinals, 2-1
Recap: Shawn Green hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 11th to win it for the Mets. Mike Maroth, who the Cardinals recently acquired from the Tigers, pitched 7.1 innings allowing only 2 hits and 1 ER.

Cardinals Stat of the Day: No stat today, just a picture of the always likable Tony La Russa.

Reds DNP

Your Comedy Central Standings on June 26th, 2007:

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