Friday, August 31, 2007

Final 53 Man Roster

One man’s take on the final 53-man roster. It’s a little tougher than previous years because of the new coaching regime. Everyone is fair game this time. Comments are included in various spots. Remember, this is what I think will happen, not what I want.

OFFENSE (25):

QB (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Brian St. Pierre

St. Pierre is necessary due to Ben and Batch’s previous injury history. St. Pierre could also be placed on the practice squad, which I wouldn't be opposed to, but I think they'll keep him on the roster.

RB/FB (5): Willie Parker, Najeh Davenport, Gary Russell, Dan Krieder, Carey Davis

Haynes ran hard last night, and I almost contemplated 6 backs on the roster. My feeling is that the Steelers were doing Haynes a favor and trying to showcase him to other teams. Still, I’d love to have him… I’d much rather have him than Carey Davis, who for some reason is getting a lot of love from Steeler fans. I just don’t see much that Davis has to offer this team, but I have a feeling he has this roster made because of his work on special teams.

WR (5): Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Cedrick Wilson, Willie Reid

TE (3): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jerame Tuman

OT (4): Marvel Smith, Willie Colon, Max Starks, Trai Essex

I would much rather keep Capizzi instead of Essex. Essex is trash. But I get the feeling that the coaching staff wants to try and sneak Capizzi onto the practice squad. I hope I’m wrong on Essex, and he doesn’t make the roster.

OG (3): Alan Faneca, Kendall Simmons, Chris Kemoeatu

C (2): Sean Mahan, Chukky Okobi

DEFENSE (25):

DE (5): Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Travis Kirschke, Ryan McBean, Nick Eason

Depth is sorely lacking here. One name to keep an eye on: Kimo Von Oelhoffen. It’s being rumored that he might not make the Jets final roster, and I’d welcome him back with open arms. He’d be a much better rotational player than Eason or McBean.

DT (2): Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke

LB (8): James Harrison, James Farrior, Larry Foote, Clark Haggans, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Arnold Harrison, Clint Kriewaldt

CB (6): Ike Taylor, Deshea Townsend, Bryant McFadden, Ricardo Colclough, William Gay, Chidi Iuwoma

If they do keep 6 CB's, it comes down to Iuwoma vs. Madison. I think Iuwoma gets the edge due to his special teams prowess.

S (4): Troy Polamalu, Anthony Smith, Ryan Clark, Tyrone Carter

SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Jeff Reed, Daniel Sepulveda, Greg Warren

End of Post

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sam's Sleeper: The Raiders


The Doubt About It writers have a long-standing history of gambling/reminding one another of stupid picks from the past/ lousy predictions/'stache-bashing. With such traditions in mind, one of the ways they intend to get ready for the NFL season is to pick a "sleeper" team and be held accountable for them all season. A "sleeper" team is defined as any team that a losing or .500 record last season and the writer feels has a chance to make the playoffs. Feel free throughout the NFL season to remind the DAI writers in the comments section about how awful their pick may have turned out.

When Pat originally came up with this idea, the first team that popped into my head was the Arizona Cardinals. A young and talented offense with an improving defense appeared promising. Yet, I could not bring myself to support Matt Leinart and Ken Whisenhunt. I simply do not like Leinart, his comments after the Rose Bowl about the "better" team not winning still bothers me. And although I like Whisenhunt, I felt like rooting for him to succeed was like rooting against Tomlin.

Also, picking an NFC team was too easy. The conference is so atrocious, any of the NFC teams could catch fire. Way to be ballsy, Wannstache and PiSoNC. Actually, I give the 'Stache credit for claiming the Lions will win the division, that kind of made up for it. Nonetheless, picking a crummy NFC team is about as daring as picking an 8-8 team in the AFC that just missed the playoffs, you know, a team like the Jags.

That's when I decided I wanted to either go down as a legend, or get ridiculed for the entire season. That's why I am picking the Oakland Raiders.

First, this should come as no surprise to anyone. I want everyone to scroll down the page, 7 articles below this one. The article I'm referring to is the one with the pig trying to fly as the picture. In that article I gave the scenario for the Pirates to pull out the division. While the split with the Reds and the Cubs winning the series against the Brewers has weakened the campaign even further, all hope is not lost yet. My penchant for reveling in the underdog role is not the only reason I've picked the Raiders, though.

Taking a look at some stats from last year, I noticed the Raiders gave up 332 points, good for 12th out of the 16 teams in the AFC. They also came in 29th in the league for time of possession, averaging just a bit over 28 minutes a game. 28 minutes is actually rather remarkable, considering they turned the ball over a league high 47 times. In order to make that possible, the defense led the league in take aways with 46. Granted, 4 of those came from a certain injury plagued QB, but to be only -1 in turnover differential after giving up 47 provides a strong case that the defense is playoff caliber.

Now, the offense. They were clicking at a pathetic 10.5 points/game last year. When there is no passing game and 9 guys are in the box, that will happen. But they went out and got the big, strong armed QB they needed in JaMarc....I mean, Daunte Culpepper. He will be better than Andrew Walters, it would be very difficult not to be. Any improvement will open up their running game. I'm sure there was that guy in every fantasy league last year that wasted a high pick on LaMont Jordan, essentially killing their season. This year he is no more than an after thought. But I have a feeling 7-9 TDs is not out of the question.

The schedule is also forgiving, as it should be when you're terrible the year before. They have to play the Broncos and Chargers a combined 4 times. Not good. But in the remaining 12 games they play the Browns, Packers, Lions, Dolphins, Chiefs(twice), Texans and Vikings.

With an easy schedule and an offense that can take the pressure off a potentially superb defense, the Raiders have their eyes set on the playoffs (The previous line sounds like something out of an NFL Films season recap, where the Earl Mann-esq announcer can spin any worthless team into the next Super Bowl contender). Plus, the Raiders play the Lions in week 1, and the thought of agitating Wannstache was just too enticing to wait any longer than I had to.

End of Week

Wannstache's Sleeper: Detroit Lions

I’ll say this right off the bat: this pick could make me look like an idiot. I am putting my faith in a team assembled by Matt Millen and quarterbacked by Jon Kitna. But I’ll go ahead and make this prediction anyways:

The Detroit Lions will win the NFC North division this year

The offense, in my opinion, could be one of the best in the NFL with the arrival of Calvin Johnson. Around draft time, pundits were saying the Lions should avoid taking Johnson because they had drafted Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, and Mike Williams in three of the previous four years. To his credit, though, Millen didn’t listen to such nonsense and pulled the trigger on drafting Johnson. Now, the Lions are capable of fielding a 3 WR set that includes Williams, Johnson, and Mike Furrey, who by the way was 2nd in the NFL last year in receptions, with 98. Shaun McDonald serves as a fully capable #4 guy. I’m sure opposing defenses will have fun with those receivers. Kitna should be much more comfortable this season, his 2nd under Mike Martz’s offense. Martz was able to take unknowns like Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger and mold them into top-notch quarterbacks. I expect him to do the same with Kitna, and while the former Bengals QB has shown a propensity to make some stupid decisions from time to time, I believe he’ll be pretty good in this offense.

At least early on in the season, the bulk of the carries will be given to former Broncos RB Tatum Bell, who was acquired in the Dre Bly deal. Bell is a great fit for this offense, a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield ala Marshall Faulk. Should injured RB Kevin Jones return sometime during the season, it will only help as it will give the Lions two options to pound away at the defense. The offensive line could be an issue, but it was bolstered by the acquisition of George Foster, who also was acquired via the Bly deal. In addition, guard Damien Woody, who struggled last year because of weight problems, has dropped almost 50 pounds, which could help him regain his Pro Bowl form.

Pat talked about the two “measts” in Jacksonville, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. It should be noted that the Lions have a pair of upper echelon defensive tackles as well in Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding. The Lions also snagged DeWayne White away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he should add a nice pass rushing presence to the defense. The two outside linebackers, Ernie Sims and Boss Bailey, are quick and active and fit the cover 2 defense of head coach Rod Marinelli perfectly. Where it could fall apart is the secondary, where the starting cornerbacks (Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson) are weak and the starting free safety (Daniel Bullocks) has just been lost for the season to a torn ACL. But, at least in terms of the cornerbacks, they don’t need to be spectacular in a cover 2 defense. This is why teams like the Indianapolis Colts are able to win a championship with Nick Harper and Jason David starting at cornerback. Furthermore, their division foes aren’t exactly stocked with marquee wide receivers. So the Lions just might be able to get by here.

Finally, let’s talk about the division. The popular pick is the Bears, but I have these questions: Do you trust Rex Grossman? Can Cedric Benson carry the load all by himself, now that Thomas Jones is gone? Will Lance Briggs unhappiness with his contract affect his play during the season? Can the Bears again count on a bunch of TD’s from Devin Hester, when teams eventually figure out that the best thing to do when punting is just kick it out of bounds? What if Tommie Harris goes down again? Tank Johnson isn’t there anymore, so it’s not like there is tremendous depth at the DT position. The Bears have more questions than people think. And then look at past Super Bowl losers. Save for the Seahawks last season, five of the six previous Super Bowl losers didn’t make the playoffs the following season. There’s something to that. The rest of the division is mediocre. The Packers could surprise, but they don’t have the running game to take the pressure off of Brett Favre, and that means lots and lots of turnovers. The Vikings stink, and in my opinion will be one of the worst teams in the league.

Every year, there is that surprise team that rises up from nowhere and makes the playoffs. Last year, it was the New Orleans Saints. I’m putting my faith in the Lions to win this division. And at the end of the season, either I’ll be badgered mercilessly by my comrades here at Doubt About It if the Lions falter, or they won’t hear the end of it from me should the Lions take the division.

End of Post

Please Come to Pittsburgh So I Can Punch You

Almost everyone reads Bill Simmons, so it really isnt worth linking to this. But let me just say that if Bill Simmons ever came to Pittsburgh with the intention of shitting all over the town and its fans like he does with the Devil Rays, I will be at the game. And I will beat him unmercifully.

Unless he starts showing his leg hair like he does in his photoblog. Then I will run away and cry.
End of Post

PiSoNC's Sleeper: The Falcons


The Doubt About It writers have a long-standing history of gambling/reminding one another of stupid picks from the past/lousy predictions/'stache-bashing. With such traditions in mind, one of the ways they intend to get ready for the NFL season is to pick a "sleeper" team and be held accountable for them all season. A "sleeper" team is defined as any team that a losing or .500 record last season and the writer feels has a chance to make the playoffs. Feel free throughout the NFL season to remind the DAI writers in the comments section about how awful their pick may have turned out.

Pirate in Search of Nutting's Chest's Pick: The Atlanta Falcons

It's not like Michael Vick is Peyton Manning. One year Vick could erupt and lead this team to the playoffs, the next he could bust up a knee, or start adog fighting ring. But...no matter how bad they've lost, Vick has always beenthe face of the Atlanta Falcons, and through time has cast a shadow that hovers over his team like a dark stormcloud.

Vick has always been fun to watch, the highlight reel plays, the "Michael Vick Experience" commercial, just a man out there running around like it's a game of pick-up football. Unfortunately as many of us Steeler fan's know, it's not all about one guy. It is a matter of your whole team.

With the loss of Vick, I choose Atlanta as my 2007 Sleeper team. A team that should be rejuvenated from the loss of great player, and unfortunately a great distraction. The Falcon's defense is above average, built with young athletic freaks like D'Angelo Hall and Jamaal Anderson, but stabilized by veterns like Keith Brookings, Lawyer Milloy, and John Abraham. Abraham who is coming off a season in which he missed 8 games due to injury, will help Anderson make the transition into the NFL. The special teams has always been great, stabilized
by a very underrated Allen Rossum. The offense, well...add in Joey Harrington and you get a guy who might be seeing his last chance as a starting QB. Ex-Steeler Wayne Gandy help protects Harrington's blind-side while newly acquired Joe Horn will do one thing, and one thing only. CATCH THE GOD DAMN FOOTBALL... While Horn isn't anything like he use to be, he'll provide a sure set of hands for a group of receivers that dropped the ball way to much last year.

Following a strong preseason showing against the Bengals on "Monday Night Football", or as some might have thought, "Cops", the Falcons might be brewing a different kind of excitement in Atlanta. Joey Harrington isn't Michael Vick, and that's a good thing. Harrington will help this team win more games in 07'. As the offense expands, the NFL will realize one last time that scrambling QB's can't cut it in the pros.

End of Post

This Shit Needs to Stop

A special late post, because I just came across something so moronic I had to post it.

Earlier this summer, Peter King was widely criticized in the Pittsburgh area for his low ranking of Ben Roethlisberger among the top quarterbacks in the National Football League.

Well, Peter King has done it again.

He has released his top 500 players in the NFL today, and Willie Parker comes in at #173. Even worse, Parker is King's 15th rated RB, according to this list. Ahead of Parker are guys like Maurice Jones-Drew, Marshawn Lynch, Travis Henry and Michael Turner. Yes, the same Michael Turner who doesn't even start. The same Michael Turner who could have been had by any team this year for a 1st round pick. You think some team would have given the Steelers a 1st round pick for Willie Parker? If you say no, then sorry, I can't help you. As for Lynch, he hasn't even played a FUCKING DOWN YET! Jones-Drew and Henry? Is he for real?

Parker is at least a top 10 back in this league, and for Peter King to rate guys like Jones-Drew, Lynch, Henry, and Turner ahead of him leads me to believe King should get his head checked out. End of rant.

End of Post

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pat's Sleeper Pick: The Jags


The Doubt About It writers have a long-standing history of gambling/reminding one another of stupid picks from the past/lousy predictions/'stache-bashing. With such traditions in mind, one of the ways they intend to get ready for the NFL season is to pick a "sleeper" team and be held accountable for them all season. A "sleeper" team is defined as any team that a losing or .500 record last season and the writer feels has a chance to make the playoffs. Feel free throughout the NFL season to remind the DAI writers in the comments section about how awful their pick may have turned out.

Pat's team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Not so long ago, I used to hate the Jacksonville Jaguars. I rejoiced a little more gleefully than normal when Jerome Bettis took a 17 yard shovel pass from Kordell Stewart into the yellow paint to beat the Jags in overtime. I stewed a little more venomously when the Jags beat the Steelers on the infamous Monday Night blocked kick game.

And yet now instead of hated rivals, the Jags look more like...us. That is, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Third in the league is rushing offense last year, fourth in rushing defense, inconsistent quarterback play, a knack for playing down to opponents (see: 2007 Jacksonville v. Houston, 2007 Pittsburgh v. Oakland)...sounds like any Steelers team from the past 15 years.

And most of those Steelers teams have fared quite well, mind you. The Jags had some truly embarassing losses last year, leading them to an 8-8 record. But this is an impressively talented club at many different positions. Many novice fans would say that the tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew serve as the studs of the squad, and they certainly are going to pile up some yards this year. But there is a different tandem that I'm sure Ben Roethlisberger hasn't forgotten about and is perahps more worriesome for other teams: Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. The two tackles are what the 'stache refers to as "measts", short for half man half beast.

Behind those two you have a very underrated group of linebackers. Mike Peterson is one of the best in the league if you watch him, and Daryl Smith and Clint Ingram round out the group to give them some of the best speed at that position in the league. Yes, they are starting some youngins in the secondary in Gerald Sensabaugh and Reggie Nelson (chomp chomp, PisoNC), but they still have Rasean Mathis dumping garbage in Tommy Maddox's front...err...playing world-class corner for them, so I think the secondary should be fine.

The big question mark is obviously about the QB play though. Leftwich is not very good. And he's often hurt. But I am putting stock in him because this is a contract year and like anyone else, the man is going to want to get paid.

Throw a good defense together with a QB in a contract year against this schedule and you have a winning record. Just look at that schedule. Tennessee and Houston twice, Atlanta, KC, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Oakland, Carolina...that is not a daunting schedule by any means. All of this means that I am picking the Jags to go 10-6 and make the playoffs.


End of Post

It's Coming...

DAI writers are a) busy today and b) working on articles about their sleeper teams for the 2007 NFL season. Look for each writer to post an article on his sleeper team in the next few days. And possibly NFL picks. And probably inter-site trash talk. And probably the placement of many bets that will cause the 'stache to shave his stache and sell it to charity once Gus the bookie comes looking for him...
End of Post

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Against the Odds: The Story of the 2007 Pirates



I am an avid reader of Dejan Kovacevik over at the Post-Gazette. Not only does he provide clubhouse insight, but Pat and I honestly believe he is one of if not the best sports writers for the PG. Anyway, during his chat session yesterday he implied the Pirates players are still thinking division title (sixth question from the top). While I would be rather disappointed in the players if they said they weren't still trying, it seems to me they actually believe they have a shot.

Pirate in Search of Nutting's Chest came up to visit this past weekend, and we couldn't help but let our minds drift a little bit into the realm of impossibility. What if we could pull within 5 games of the Cubs by the time the 3 game series at Wrigley started on September 21st? A sweep could put us within 2 with 6 games to play. After coming to the conclusion we were insane, we decided to stop discussing the possibilities until the Pirates moved within 6 games. But I still wanted to know just how improbable it was.

The people who schedule baseball games have one thing in mind at the end of the year: drama. How else can you explain that out of the 10 series that each Central Division team has left, 8 are against divisional opponents? This technically does not give an advantage to any individual team, but keep in mind that to play 8 series against 5 teams, you have to play 2 series each against three of those teams. In regard to those three teams, the Pirates lucked out.

The most ground we have to make up is against the Cubs (9 games), the Brewers (7.5), and the Cards (7). Dejan brings up a good point in the chat: "One almost never sees leapfrogs of that magnitude for the simple reason that not every team above yours is going to collapse." This is compounded and partially due to the fact that often times the division leaders could still play 6 or 7 games against one another, which means both can't lose. Thankfully, the top three teams mentioned previously only play each other for one series each. The Pirates, on the other hand, play each of those teams twice.

Let's just assume for a minute that the rest of the division goes 16-17 the rest of the way, a modest assumption considering the quality of the teams. The Pirates would then have to go 25-8. Assuming a bit more, let's say we maximize our wins and losses by winning all 6 series. 3-0 and 2-1 against the Cubs, 3-1 and 2-1 against the Cards, and 2-1 and 2-1 against the Brewers. With a little help from our friends, the Cubs go 12-15 in all the other games, while the Brewers go 12-14 and the Cards 14-14. The Pirates would have to go 8-6 in their remaining games, for a combined record of 22-11. This would leave a 4 team clusterfuck at the top of the division. The tie breaking procedure would be a mini playoff where the teams would pair off, and the winners would advance to play for the division title.

Am I insane? Yes. The best part is that even by the end of the day this whole scenario could be shot with two losses in the double header today combined with a Cubs win, potentially dropping our chances from 1% to .5%. Or it could be all the more likely with the opposite occurring. The important thing to take out of my madness is that if a historic comeback such as this were to take place the Pirates schedule would need to be accommodating, and it is. The hot hitting of late, an improved Matt Morris, and the return to form of Gorzo and Snell don't hurt either. Also to note, a 22-11 record corresponds with a .666 winning percentage. Dave Littlefield has made some atrocious deals in the past, why not make one now with the devil?

End of Post

Guess You Have To Kill Some Dogs to Make Some Noise in this Country...

If you crashed your $350,000 Lamborghini Murcielago on the side of the highway, would you just walk away? Seriously...somebody give this man a DUI, I've never seen something so blatantly obvious. I know hes a millionaire, and probably completely careless, but no one does that...

And how are there no witnesses... we're talking about Chicago here!


Besides, he looks drunk in his NFL photo
End of Post

Monday, August 27, 2007

3rd Preseason Game: Steelers vs. Eagles

- Cut today were the following players: RB Kevan Barlow, WR Eric Fowler, DE Derrick Jones, LS Jared Retkofsky, RB Larry Croom, P Mike Barr, K Connor Hughes, LB Richard Koonce, C Donovan Raiola, and WR Dan Sheldon. Nothing surprising.

- The Barlow cut was long overdue. He never looked comfortable, and his signing from the beginning smelled like a camp tryout--a camp tryout he obviously failed. The RB/FB position could provide the most intrigue on final cut down day. It's gonna come down to Haynes, Russell, Kreider, and Davis. I think one gets cut, and 5 RB/FB are kept. I honestly don't have the slightest clue who it's gonna be. It's that tough to call.

- Why can't we find a competent punt returner. It's been an adventure since Randle El left. I don't think Reid's roster spot is in jeopardy, but I expected more from him in the return game. He's been disappointing, to say the least.

- Timmons saw the field quite a bit yesterday, and was pretty much invisible. It's gonna take some time for him. It's obvious he has great speed for a linebacker, but it's like he doesn't have any pass rush moves. Yesterday, he either tried the wide loop around the tackle (which never works, as we've seen with Joey Porter), or he just ran into the tackle and tried to overpower him. He's a work in progress, obviously.

- What do you want from the right tackle position: better run blocking, or better pass blocking? That's the decision the coaching staff needs to make when deciding between Max Starks or Willie Colon at the RT spot.

- The Steelers actually threw the ball to Parker out of the backfield yesterday, and they actually used the tight end as well. Miller made a nice catch over the middle, and almost scored, but the fact that these two were used in the passing game was encouraging enough. Every offseason we hear about how the runningback and tight end will be used more in the passing game, and it never materializes. Let's hope they actually follow through with it this year.

- The final preseason game is Thursday night. I don't know how soon the Steelers will make their cuts, but I might err on the side of caution and post my final depth chart after the game Thursday night, or Friday morning. Latest Friday afternoon. I'm praying Gary Russell makes this team.

As always, leave your game impressions in the comments

End of Post

Someone Please Put Out The Tiki Torch For Good

This really is a minor gripe, but I do not like Tiki Barber. Not one bit. Yes, the DAI writers have some funny inside jokes about him, but I hate most everything about him. I hate that he essentially quit on his team, I hate that he called out people on his team after already stating that he quit on them...I just don't like him.

And it has always bugged me that Peter King refuses to say anything bad about him. (Quote of the Week VIII). Granted, he doesn't necessarily defend Tiki here, but I think the general consensus upon hearing about these types of feuds is: "oh, Tiki said something about one of his teammates? oh, that's nice. what's for dinner?"

Does anyone care what Tiki has ever said? All he has ever done is complained about his teammates/coaches/lifestyle/sport/everything. And yes, Eli Manning is not exactly Joe Montana when it comes down to leadership. But you know what? The Pittsburgh Steelers had a veteran running back and a rookie quarterback, and I think it is safe to say that the two learned something from one another. Maybe the Giants might not be a yearly quagmire of discontent if Tiki had spent less time daydreaming about the day he could become a weatherman and more time trying to mentor his rookie quarterback.
End of Post

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lets Talk Vick... Lets Talk Bettis

I am never one to stick around for any halftime show, but when you have Keith Olbermann making his return to sports, a Michael Vick dogfighting piece, and Jerome Bettis responding to his controversial book, I parked my ass on the couch.

It also didn't hurt when Al Michaels mentioned that Bettis was trying to cop out of the halftime show with a sore throat. Was that a joke?

When Bettis didn't show up on screen for the shows first segment, I began to second guess our legendary 'Bus'. Was he scared to back up the words in his book?

Luckily Bettis showed up for his segment; featuring a question from Bob Costas, Cris Collingsworth, and a very gray-headed Olbermann.

After watching Bettis face his questions like a man, I couldn't help but feel as though the stories between Vick and Bettis were being inadvertently linked.

Olbermann brought up a very good point when talking about Vick, and that he couldn't 'Pete Rose' his confessions. When it came to addressing the nation, and his many fans, Vick would need to fully admit his guilt.


Now my beef....

Following a very quick commercial break, Costas opened up the questioning of Bettis with "So you lied about when you got injured...explain"

Nice one Costas and thank you NBC... you're own co-worker mans up and talks about his book on live TV in front of his biggest fans, and you're going to talk about him in the same breath as Michael Vick and Pete Rose.

NBC made Bettis look bad on Sunday night. Bettis lied about his injury, and for good reason. Many of us would have done the same. You only hope the NFL sees Bettis's story and thinks about changing the injury specifications under contracts that aren't guaranteed.

Maybe I'm crazy, and maybe I saw it differently than most, but I saw NBC link a very honest Jerome Bettis with a liar in Pete Rose and a chump of a man in Michael Vick.

Oh ya, and Keith...this is NFL Football on NBC, not MSNBC.

End of Post

Friday, August 24, 2007

Return of Buy Sam a Drink: Jerome Bettis vs. Rod Woodson

The Jerome Bettis book scandal has obviously been ruffling some feathers recently. Should we care? Does it matter? Is this bad for his legacy? Will his restraunt suffer?

Personally, I am not partisan either way on the issue. There are a few minor issues, if you haven't noticed, that are making the headlines bleed a little more furiously than a fat guy faking an injury. But the fascination remains because Bettis was the lovable, marshmellowy teddy bear that had a cool nickname, gave us funny soundbites, and, most importantly, gave the city of Pittsburgh THE SAMSH MOUTH FOOTBALL (YEAAARRRGHH!) that it wanted. People loved him early on, but his popularity was at times up and down throughout the new millenium. The whole situation, including body type and production, always makes me think of what will likely happen to David Ortiz in Boston once he wants to cash in/gets old.

Yet even more so than Ortiz, the situation makes me recall the curious relationship with Rod Woodson. Alright, it really isn't that curious. It always seemed venomous because he played for hated rivals, but he is normally quick to support the Steelers in the public forum and on the NFL Network (I know he criticized Arians, but it's his job to do so). Nevertheless, once he left, I remember struggling with the transition from legendary player on my team to older vet on a rival. The restraunt went down hill, he picked up a few more paychecks, grabbed a few more INTs, then was gone. Similarly, it now seems that people are struggling with how to define Bettis as a Steeler legend.

Will Grill 36 falter likethe All-Star Grill? Will Bettis still be loved by the city that saved him from St. Louis? Will he keep making weird decisions that cause people to dislike him? Who knows, but I do know that it is time to decide...

WHO WAS THE BETTER "STEELER": JEROME BETTIS OR ROD WOODSON?

Now, the word "Steeler" is in quotes because it is, obviously, hard to compare a DB and an RB. I am trying to look at which guy did more for the team and was a guy you simply wanted on your squad.

Statistically, Bettis is solid. Not phenomenal, but solid. Three time Steelers MVP, six Pro Bowls, and the 5th all time leading rusher. One of his most impressive stats is perhaps that he is 4th all-time in rushing attempts - for the way he ran, that is almost unimaginable. Though given his number of rushes and his vocation for short-yardage situations, it is a little surprising that he is only tied for 10th on the touchdown list for RBs.

From '93-'00, his stats are praiseworthy nearly every year ('95 was a down year). After that, the carries went down, the goaline garbage stats up, and his reputation wavered slightly. Though some of it likely came of his Bettis' own actions, Mark Madden surely caused a great deal of the anti-Jerome backlash that sought to deconstruct the big (supposedly) lovable running back. Madden, like him or not, has an unbelievably large following. He also has a pretention for hating athletes that will not go on his show. Bettis is exhibit A for this argument. Madden hates Bettis, and this whole book thing is right in his wheelhouse. Madden has always pointed out that Bettis had little to no impact on the Steelers winning Super Bowl XL and that his leadership on the team was vastly overrated. Some would cite the 2006 season as evidence that his leadership qualities were sorely missed, but Cowher mailing it in and The Adventures of Big Ben without question had more to do with the failure.

The Leadership of Bettis debate is one that is virtually impossible to reach a conclusion on. Ron Cook, in trying to figure out who is the best Steelers running back of all-time, once claimed that "It goes to Bettis because he's the greatest team leader I've ever seen". Ron Cook must not get out much. I've seen plenty leaders better than Bettis, but that point remains that some people still feel as if Bettis brought some very important intangibles to the table.

Woodson brought intangibles too - if intangibles mean making the Pro Bowl as a cornerback, safety, and punt returner.
If Bettis' stats are solid, Woodson's are exquisite. An NFL record 1483 interception return yards. An NFL record 12 INT return TDs. 32 fumble recoveries. 2362 punt return yards. 11 Pro Bowls. Yeah, guys like Deion invented the "lock down corner" position, but Rod Woodson played all aspects of the position and even the game at the highest level.

The knock on Woodson's rep as a Steeler is obviously that he left to play for the Ravens and Raiders. He was always a bit of a yapper and naturally when he did this ona different team Steelers fans soured on him.

But that same type of confidence/arrogance produced some great moments. One of the only good memories I have from Super Bowl XXX is "The Rod Woodson Play". After breaking up a pass to Michael Irvin on the left sideline, Woodson popped up, bounced around and started pointing at his reconstructed knee. No one at that point had ever come back in the same season from reconstructive knee surgery, and Woodson made sure to let the Cowboys know that even if they were on their way to a third Super Bowl, Rod Woodson was still going to claim this one small victory over them.

So who was the better Steeler? Statistically, it was clearly Woodson, but Bettis won a Super Bowl while Woodson left town on relatively bad terms. Woodson still speaks fondly of the Steelers and Bettis, I believe, wore black and gold on his NBC show numerous times this past year. Both players helped defined the team - Woodson with his tough, anti-Deion, versatile play and Bettis with his embodiment of smash mouth football.

Bettis is going to be remember more fondly by history. Hell, this blog was almost called "Jerome is From Detroit" to commemorate the media blitz that surrounded the storybook finale to his career. Woodson will likely be more prominent in NFL history, ranking higher as an all-time DB than Bettis would against stiff historical running back competition.

For me, it comes down to versatility. Who can do more for my football team. Both have had people question their attitude and/or team commitment. But Rod Woodson, regardless of his departure to the Ravens, could do more as a defensive player than just about anyone in NFL history. The Bus had a nice long career has a running back, but running backs come rather easily nowadays. Plus, Rod Woodson always showed up to ccamp in shape.
So, with winner's buying....

HEY ROD WOODSON!!

BUY SAM A DRINK AND GET JEROME ONE TOO! (make sure it is a light beer - he's been packing them on).

Where Did Your Steelers Spend Their Offseason: Part II

In a previous post, fellow writer Pirate in Search of Nutting's Chest made an astute comparison in the likenesses of Steelers offensive guard Kendall Simmons and rapper Rick Ross. Little did we know that there was another hip-hop connection on the Steelers roster:


James Farrior


Irv Gotti

It's Steelers linebacker James Farrior and the head of Murder Inc., Irv Gotti, who has produced tracks for Ja Rule and DMX, among others.

I think Farrior and Simmons need to get together and put out a rap album. It's the obvious next step.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fantasy Football 07-08' I'm One of the Baddest Mutha Fuckas of All-Time

If there was an All-Pro fantasy football team, I’d be on it. Following last night’s fantasy football draft, however, they would elect me into the Hall of Fame. Today I bring you the top five reasons why my fantasy football team is better than yours.

5) My team is named “Vick’s Jail Dogs”, in honor of my fantasy QB from last season, Michael Vick. What could be better? Well…If I drafted him for one. I’d be the 0.0001% to own Michael Vick in all fantasy leagues. Instead I took Tarvaris Jackson....balllin!!!!! My fantasy book actually said he was the closest clone of Michael Vick, but then again my fantasy book opens its description of Michael Vick’s with….. “The ‘Ron Mexico’ herpes case.”

If I had it to do over, taking Vick would have been worth the laughs. He could of been my team's mascot........hmmm ......a herpes-infected dog-fighting ex-NFL QB, or Steely McBeam? I know who I would choose.



4) I also unveiled jerseys for my new team, “Vick’s Jail Dogs”. Drawn on the back was a large, bloody number seven. On the front, a bunch of bloody dogs including one dog awaiting his death via hanging. (All pictures were drawn by hand, no actual photographs)

3) I drafted Randy Moss. Moss ranks second to Rick James as one of the badest mutha fucka’s of all time. I mean the man once ran over a cop with his car.

2) I made it rain with last year’s Superbowl winnings….......ok so I didn’t win the Superbowl, but when I do I will make it rain!

1) I drafted Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr, and Anthony Gonzalez to round out my WR’s. After each Ohio State selection I proceeded to stand up and say “High fives all around!!……I select (Players name)”. By the time I drafted my third Buckeye, I received no high fives and people started to look at me like I was drunk. My lesson for all...you might as well have fun with life….

Go Buckeyes...!!



Here is my entire team for everyone’s viewing pleasure.


QB
Phillip Rivers
Tarvaris Jackson
RB
Willis McGahee
Cedric Benson
Jamal Lewis
WR
Randy Moss
The Starting WR’s for your 2005 Ohio State Buckeyes
TE
Dallas Clark
Greg Olsen
K
Stephen Gostowski
Josh Scobee
Defense
Chicago Bears
Buffalo Bills


p.s. Don't try to draft your school's alumni if you went to one of the following schools:

  1. Carnegie Mellon
  2. Clown College
End of Post

You Gotta Love Lee Corso



Yeah, I got nothing. You know what that means. It's random Youtube video time.

Watch and enjoy Lee Corso dropping the F-bomb.

End of Post

US Open Links Because I Can (UPDATED)

Being a tennis enthusiast, I couldn't let another day go by without mentioning the fact that the US Open is nearing. I have been to a long list of major sporting events, and the US Open continually proves to be one of the most entertaining and exciting to attend. So here are a few tennis links to get you stamped (that is a cross between stoked and amped...learn it, use it, spread it)...

- Novak Djokovic is a young Serb that is taking the tennis world by storm. Additionally, Novak Djokovic is kinda becoming a YouTube phenomenon.

- See? He really does like to sing.

- And imitate other players.

- Great peice by Greg Garber on the grueling career of Michael Russell. I strung rackets once for him at a tournament in Pittsburgh - very cool guy and just an absolute bulldog on the court. The best line in the article comes from his dad, and it basically sums up being a journeyman on the ATP tour: "Most dream to win...he dreams to compete".

- The Open is coming. Wertheim is ready as always.

- UPDATED: I was just sent another Novak Djokovic clip. I know, you all think I am crazy. You've never heard of him and think I am trying to make up this whole phenomenon. But when strange Serbian commercials are involved, the phenomenon is self-created.
End of Post

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pirates on Yahoo...again

First, I want to apologize for the technical issues we've been having this morning. No idea what's going on, but all 1 gazillion blogs on blogger were affected in some way. Hopefully the problems are over.

Anyway, a reader was on Yahoo the other day and checked out the top searches again. Take a look at #3.

This is not nearly as freaky as seeing Tom Gorzelanny at #6, but still unsettling. I've been running theories through my head (yes, this is the type of important things bloggers theorize about), and could only figure it had to do with geographic location. I checked out the Yahoo help page and there were actually a bunch of message board posts about random Top 10s. No one had a legit answer. If we have a reader from a few states away from PA, does this show up in your top searches too?


-In other news, Bettis has released his autobiography "The Bus. My Life in and Out of a Helmet". I recommend you read the Post-Gazette's article detailing some of the more controversial aspects of the book. A lot of things bugged me about this, but the one that stuck out for me was his complaint against Steeler fans for booing him when he scored a TD after replacing Duce Staley at the goal line during a game in 2004. I was not there and could not remember the instance, but I bet I know why there were boos. Jerome scored 13 TDs in '04. Staley scored 1, even though he usually had over 20 carries a game. He was routinely taken out for Bettis at the goal line. If I had to wager, I would bet the boos were more directed at Cowher for not giving Staley a chance to get some much deserved glory. Bettis has always wanted post-football attention, but this book is really the first time he's appeared whiny and, in my mind, truly sold out.

End of Post

Monday, August 20, 2007

Counting Down the Best Lines in "One from the Heart" (with help from ThePensBlog)


The response to my piece on "Against the Odds" was rather overwhelming. Then again, it is pretty much impossible to see the movie and NOT become a cult-follower of it. Because of the enormous feedback, it seemed compulsory to do a countdown list for "One from the Heart".

Why didn't I do "One from the Heart" initially, you ask? After all, it would make sense to start with the first cup movie and then do the second. Well, I have always enjoyed "Against the Odds" much more, and I never really thought about why that was. Until now.

I think I have four major reasons why "Against the Odds" is a more enjoyable film that "One from the Heart". As well as a few brief observations. And then, of course, I have the top 15 lines from the film. Oh, and ThePensBlog stopped by to help collaborate on the piece - their comments are scattered throughout the article.

Warm up your vocal chords, Mr. Mann, cause this crazy party is about get to started.


Four main reasons keep me coming back to "Against the Odds" more frequently than "One from the Heart".

- The footage of Bob Johnson in OftH creeps me out just a little bit. In AtO, Badger Bob dies and the whole movie is underscored by the theme of a team playing for their fallen coach. This theme works marvelously. In OftH, we know Bob Johnson doesn't have much time left, yet there he is coaching and chatting up players. It has just always freaked me out a little bit.

-There are not as many spectacular goals in OftH. Yeah, Mario scores one of the best ever Against the North Stars in Game 2, but the first Stanley Cup run wasn't punctuated by the sick goals were the hallmarks of the second Cup run. Mario schooling Beaupre on an in-out-in move, Jagr's game winners, 66 going through Raymond's legs, Francis devastating the Rangers, the last three goals of Game 1 against the Blackhawks...the second Cup run was just stocked with unreal goals.

- The lack of glorification for Mario Lemieux in OftH. So many times in OftH, Earl Mann refers to how "Recchi, Stevens, and Lemieux all stepped up", or how "Stevens and Lemieux were red hot". And that is all well and good. But a little too often it seems like he is putting Lemieux on the same level as guys like Recchi and Coffey and the rest. In fact, towards the end of the movie, they have a montage about Lemieux in the same way they have one about Larry Murphy in AtO, as if to say "shit, this guy is one of the best players of all time and we really havent focused on him enough". Maybe its just me, but I dont feel like OftH goes as over-the-top as it should for Lemieux. Which brings me to my final point...
The writers were still getting warmed up in OftH. Being the first movie, everyone involved was likely eager to create a very classy piece that did justice to a great season. They did that. And, although this is an inference, I'm sure it sold like crazy. Well when the Pens won again, I am thinking that someone started thinking along these lines...You know, this tape is going to sell no matter what. Let's just go for broke here. Let's write the most ridiculous, sensationalized, hyperbolic script that mankind has ever laid eyes one. If you don't agree with me, consider this (spoiler for top lines list): in OftH, a great Craig Patrick trade is preceded by the statement "Craig patrick showed the hockey world who he was". Absurd? Yeah, a little bit. But when THE EXACT SAME SCENE occurs in AtO, what is the set up line? "With the brass of a riverboat gambler". I mean, come on. The writers were just going all out by the second film. They made their traditional championship DVD. It was now time to flex their muscles, which is how you get lines like "war horse with hands of silk".

So yeah, it's hard to say that OftH is a better film that AtO. b agrees, saying "We've got to be honest here. One From The Heart has nowhere near the great lines that Against The Odds has". Even though I dont think the lines are as great in OftH, there are still some great ones, and some great scenes. A few quick observations...

- Mark Recchi driving in his car is just hilarious for some reason. I love how he goes and gets his mail. I can just imagine the director talking to Recchi: "ok mark, you are just an average guy. you get your mail just like everyone else. you drive around just like everyone else. show me normalcy mark. show me normal". This is also a personal favorite because the scene is shot near the old neighborhood of Pirate in Search of Nuttings Chest.

- I love when the Pens score against the Bruins and Ulf goes right up to Andy Moog to celebrate in his face. Moog then slaps him with his glove. Amazing.

- Bob Erey absolutely cruuuuuuuuuuuushes Ray Bourque in the Bruins series. My lord. It is just a devastating hit.

The guys at ThePensBlog, who took much more thorough notes than I did, jotted down some other great lines I didn't include: Bob Johnson in the locker room after the Cup-clincher saying "we're proud of everyone goddamnit!", Michael Keaton saying " this is the greatest", some business guy telling us how he's "been offered a helluva lotta money for these tickets, but I aint given them up, cause it MEANS THAT MUCH TO ME", "After successful back surgery, Lemieux contracted a rare bone infection that would sideline him for the next four months. The expected collapse of the Pens...never happened", and numerous others. If you aren't reading ThePensBlog, you should.

Without further ado, the top 15 lines from "One from the Heart". Once again, order really isn't that important. Especially with the top 5. It gets pretty damn hard to pick.

15. "Late in the second period, Mario Lemieux brought a sold out Civic Arena to its feet with perhaps the most spectacular goal of the playoffs". This gets the nod ONLY because it was a sick goal. Perhaps the most spectactular goal of the playoffs? PERHAPS, Earl? Come on! If this was Against the Odds, it would have been "the goal that brought glory and freedom to a world in such desparate need of a hero". Or something like that. This line will always anger me. "Perhaps" my ass.

14. "Number 9 was a standout two way player who played both ends of the ice like each shift was his last". I mean, what more do you want from a hockey player? Isn't this everything you could want from a guy? Just a great description of a great player. God bless Ronnie Francis. (Francis was number 9 that season, if your memory doesnt go back that far).

13. "Kevin Stevens stuck his broken nose in the crease and found a way past goaltender Casey". The crease is an area of chaos. Broken noses are painful. Thus, Kevin Stevens is a man among boys.

12. "Once known as the Big bad Bruins, the Boston Garden symboically sat in a bad part of town. But the Penguins grew up in a tough neighborhood too: the Patrick Division." Divisions as neighborhoods. Thank you, Earl. Thank you.

11. "Players held the precious chalice aloft, childhood dreams fulfilled". Just a great line that accurately depicts the amazing scene of Pens smiling and raising the Cup.

10. "That championship smile was back in Pittsburgh". I just love this line for some reason - if you're team has won a championship recently, then you know what I am talking about.

9. "When a healthy Mario returned in Game 4, it was a surly Pens team that rattled the posts behind Casey". My favorite part about the delivery of this line? Earl Mann sounds surly too. He takes on the attitude of the team - it's hilarious and awesome at the same time.

8. ..."They were raised to glory by a young French-Canadian simply known as Le Magnifique". Earl delivers this line as if he is French. Is he? No, he is just a Renassiance Man. But seriously, this line gives me chills.

Comment from ThePensBlog: You don't really catch this quote in the film because Lemieux's unreal mullet in the shot encompasses all your senses.

7. "Defenseman Ulf Samuellson was a Swedish linebacker". What. A. Line. A Swedish linebacker. You wont hear a better description of Ulf. Just...wow. Phenomenal.

Comment from ThePensBlog: Ulf then starts hitting dudes while we get fed the sweetest sound effects ever created.

6. "(Mike Lange): Go for it Mario, go for it...(Steigi): hold it high buddy". This is one of the more touching points in the film, I think. Mario is carrying around the Cup for the first time, and you realize when you hear Lange and Steigi speak, that he is carrying the Cup around for them too. They put so much time and energy into the franchise that it must have been one of the most rewarding experiences in their careers. There is without question a sentimental tone in each of their voices.

Ok, the top 5 gets hard...

5. "Craig Patrick showed the hockey world WHO...HE...WAS". The emphasis on "who he was" cant be put into print. It is just hilarious.

Comment from ThePensBlog: Unreal.

4. "Then, one of the most dramatic moments of the playoffs unfolded. Pieterangelo faced the Devils Peter Stastny right on his doorstep...(F.P. makes the most amazing save of my lifetime)...the stop was so OUT-rageous, that it became simply known as...THE...SAVE." This was right in Mann's wheelhouse. The...SAVE. An amazing play. An amazing call.

Wow, now it gets really tough. I mean, geez, these are all amazingly well-written lines...

3. "This impossible season came to Saturday, May 25th in Bloomingdale, Minnesota...it was the Pittsburgh Penguins appointment...with destiny." Chillllllllllls. I know it might seem like I ripped on OftH earlier, but one thing that this movie did infinitely better than AtO is set up the Cup-clinching game. They NAILED this scene. Great music. Great lines. Just a great freaking set up.

2. The intro to the movie is just phenomenal. Otherwordly. Here are bits and pieces of it..."(talking about Lemieux)...was now a man who suddenly found himself surrounded by those foolish enough to believe in the same dream. Against all odds, they fought together, won together, and evntually, rejoiced together. It was a team with enough fate to think they could win the Stanley Cup, enough talent to keep believing, and enough heart to convince every team in their way...It was a Cinderella story that even Disney would have thought too improbable to tell." Read that again. Do it. Cherish it. That is what you want in a team, ladies and gentleman.

Comment from ThePensBlog: What an opener for this video.

1. Both DoubtAboutIt and ThePensBlog know what has to be number 1. Troy Loney is in the box for high-sticking. The Pens are holding onto a slim lead. It's the Stanley cup playoffs. Take me to a higher place, Earl..."It was here, amongst 16,000 Met Center Fanatics that the Pittsburgh Penguins discovered WHO. THEY. WERE...(footage of the penalty kill)...it was a BEAUTIFUL collective harmony of movement...it was the dance...of champions." The dance of champions. The dance of freaking champions. In referring to a penalty kill. Earl, go grab yourself a beer and take the day off.

I just reread the last three, and they all look pretty good, so I am going to throw in a bonus line and make it the best line of the movie by default...

It comes from Phil Bourque, at the point, while holding the cup in the air in front of thousands of Pittsburghers...

"Whaddya say we take this out on the river and PARTY ALL SUMMER?!?!?!?!"


God I love it. Let me know your favorites. I know I missed a lot and I purposefully didnt include a few. Also, my VHS tape is in very, VERY poor condition and some lines are hard to hear, so I might have a few wrong. Comment away.

End of Post

3rd Preseason Game: Steelers vs. Redskins

Another ugly game. It's preseason though, so don't panic yet. Here are some random thoughts:

- It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a player. I really think Santonio Holmes is going to be a hell of a player for a real long time. The highlight of this game was the second catch he made on a hot route slant pass that he hauled in, then stopped on a dime and cut in the other direction to get an extra 20 or so yards after the catch. When he dropped all the way to us in the 2006 draft, I was surprised as hell. Thank God he did, cause he’s going to be a playmaker.

- Trai Essex got the start at left tackle, and anyone who watched the game knows he stunk up the joint. I think he’s in real danger of being cut. The Max Starks experiment at left tackle didn’t work out either, which means if Marvel Smith goes down there’s pretty much no one on the Steelers roster who could man the LT spot. Undrafted free agent Jason Capizzi, formerly of Pitt and IUP, has impressed and could make it to the 53 man roster, but he’s still too raw to give him the responsibility of protecting Ben’s blind side. If Marvel Smith goes down, this team is fucked. You could make the argument that after Ben and Parker, Marvel is the next guy this team could ill afford to lose.

- At the beginning of camp, if you had told me that Dan Kreider could be on the roster bubble, I would have told you that you were crazy. Now? Not so much. It’s a much more real possibility, what with the emergence of Carey Davis and less emphasis on the fullback position in the new offense. Still, as of now I think Dan makes the team. Just don’t be too surprised if you see his name on the official cut down list a couple weeks from now.

- Lawrence Timmons saw his first game action. I saw mixed results. On one hand, the first few plays he was in he looked lost and needed assistance from his teammates to get lined up correctly. On the other hand, go back and watch the last play of the game. Timmons lines up opposite a WR and stays stride for stride with him, and then makes a nice hit on the WR at the end of the play. Impressive speed. I think Timmons may have been drafted more for his coverage abilities than his pass rushing skills.

- With Anthony Smith out due to an abdominal injury, Ryan Clark got the start and played well again. This may very well be Tomlin’s toughest call in training camp: who to start at free safety. Clark gives you dependability and consistency, while Smith gives you a little more aggressiveness and playmaking skills. I have a slight bias towards Smith, but if Clark gets the call I won't be too upset.

- Verron Haynes (aka “Vernon Haynes”, “Vernon Hayes”, or “Verron Hayes”. Why is it so hard for announcers to get his name right?) got a lot of playing time Saturday night. He played like the Verron I’ve come to know and love, getting the tough yards and just making plays that win football games. It’s clear though that he was a bit hesitant and lacked the explosiveness we’ve seen in the past. This is probably a byproduct of not fully trusting his knee yet. I don’t know, it might come down to either Haynes or Davis for the final RB spot. Both can play special teams and both can play fullback, if needed.

As always, your comments are encouraged.

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:

Steve (Davidsville, PA): There were reports that you could have unloaded Jack Wilson on the Tigers for two of their top 6 prospects, but the sticking point was your demand for Craig Monroe as well. Monroe was just sent down to the minors. Do you regret not taking the deal without Monroe?

Littlefield: Of course not, Steve. What the fans need to realize is that everything you hear in the media is not the whole truth. What was not mentioned was that the Tigers were ready to assume the entirety of Wilson's contract. This was unacceptable. If anything, I like to view myself as a progressive GM. I try to listen to the fan base and take into account what they want. For instance, when we passed on Mark Wieters because of our depth at catcher with Ronny Paulino, Neil Walker, and J.R. House, I was surprised to see people complaining about the choice. Apparently, this Wieters kid would have demanded a lot of money and people assumed we didn't want to pay it. That couldn't be farther from the truth. So when it came to the trade deadline the next move was obvious: add payroll to appease the fans.

So we went out and acquired a pitcher in Matt Morris who would immediately contribute to our payroll. When the Tigers offered that outrageous deal for Wilson, I did the math in my head and realized that if we traded the $15 million that Jack was owed for the end of this year and the next two years after assuming the $14 million of Morris' contract, we would still be saving $2 million dollars! That's why I asked for Monroe and his $4.775 million dollar contract. Unable to pry him away, I did what anyone would have done and did not pull the trigger. Shrewdness is a quality any respectable GM needs to have.

End of Post

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stop What You are Doing and READ THIS POST

ThePensBlog has done it. They have it. They linked to it. They spliced it up into watchable segments. This is bigger than the Rosetta Stone or landing on the moon.

They have found "Against the Odds" on youtube.

I'm..........speechless.

End of Post

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Very Worthy Scoop Jackson Read

One thing I do as a reader (a reader, not a blogger) is that if I disagree with someone or think their stuff is garbage, I always continue to keep reading them. Maybe it was just a tense issue, maybe it was a quick deadline...whatever the case, I always try to keep reading and discover why I don't like them or why I had such an adverse reaction to them.

If you recall, I was pretty harsh towards Scoop Jackson recently. Very harsh. But sticking to my theory, I kept reading. And I am glad I did.

This might be the best piece I have read concerning the "what has happened to sports" debate that has been raging all summer. SI has featured two crappy columns just summarizing all the horrible events. Bill Simmons basically said "this is almost as bad as the summer when baseball went on strike and video games hadnt been created yet!". Granted, I dont read everything, but I read alot, and I havent seen too many poignant, creatve takes on the "Sour Summer in Sports".

Scoop's piece is a fresh of breath air, and I mean that. Everyone is so busy saying "oh woe is me, look at all these horrible things! look at these athletes! look at these leagues!" that they are missing the point. Scoop, in my estimation, is saying this: "look, sports involve politics and politics are ugly. athletes will always be athletes and it will often get ugly. but get up off your damn ass and DO something". So many times I have seen Sports Center or a newspaper column feature a story dealing with "The Sports World Turned on Its Head" or some other hyperbole. "The Sports World", as Scoop so sufficiently reminds us, does not simply encompass home run kings, NBA officials, and Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks. Widen the scope and you'll see that 'The Sports World" seems so saturated with evil because the media wants it that way.

Remember taking the SAT? You always want to be skeptical of the answers that say words like "always, never, all, every, none". You know, the extremes. A major thanks to Scoop for helping us find a better answer.

End of Post

Vomit Inducing

Rajai Davis was the number 2 play on Sports Center's Top 10 today. He pulled back a home run ball. Sick catch. Video when I can find it...

If you actually want to watch it...
End of Post

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The NFL Stealing Candy From a Baby

(I did not see the Empty-Netters blog entry about this. I apologize to Seth for not checking to see if he had written anything about it. I saw the commercial about a week ago and wanted to post something about it, but the youtube video was not online yet. So credit goes to Empty-Netters for picking up on this, although in all honesty I did not see the post until this morning.)

There is no debate that the NFL is America's premier sport. The only league with its own TV network, football is a cash cow that has allowed the likes of Antwan Randle El to bank $27 million for running backwards on punt returns and for throwing the best pass in the Super Bowl two years ago. Forbes magazine does a yearly review of NFL finances, valuing each team and the numbers are simply astronomical. The Steelers last year ranked 18th in total value at $880 million. There are five teams worth over $1 billion dollars. Needless to say, the NFL is dominating the sports landscape.

So then why is the NFL stealing commercial ideas from the NHL, the redheaded step-child of the big 4 sports?

I've seen this a couple times and was waiting for it to pop up on youtube. It is the NFL's new commercial featuring Reggie Bush and Peyton Manning staying in the same hotel and pranking each other by ordering outrageous room service requests to each others' rooms.


Look familiar? It reminded me immediately of that NHL commercial in which the Staal brothers are pillow fighting while Ovechkin orders a ton of food to be delivered to Sid's room. Here's the clip:


I'm not a fan of the latter commercial, simply because that may be the worst Sid has ever looked on TV. The acting is atrocious and he looks more constipated than JoePa in the middle of the Ohio State game. I suppose that just because you're the savior of a team and an entire national sport does not mean you're talented at everything.


But I digress, the NFL clearly ripped off the NHL. It's a silly little commercial, but the NFL is one of the most uptight leagues when it comes to their product and intellectual property. I would not be surprised, if the roles were reversed, that the NFL would ask for the NHL to stop running the ad. On the bright side, anything the NFL does that mimics the NHL in anyway has to be a good sign for the NHL, right? Before you know it Goodell is going to suggest going to 8 on 8 for overtime.

End of Post

Link/Items That For Some Reason the 'Stache Finds His Way Into

- Ken Wisenhunt was on PTI today. He was very gracious when speaking about the Steelers. Kornheiser asked "Don't you feel a little hurt that they didn't hire you?" and Wiz responded with something like "They have hired two coaches in god knows how many years, they know what they are doing". He also said something to the effect of being happy just to get one win this year. It was a joke. I guess. Thank goodness we hired Tomlin.

- I am a frequent defender of SI. But Frank DeFord might be losing it. What a strange column.

- We have been known to do a few of these things.

- DoubtAboutIt had a team viewing of the infamous movie, Against the Odds. The Stache has suggested that a few more lines be added to the list I made, most notably: "But late in the first period, Phil Borque had seen enough". The line is in reference to Belfour stoning the Pens until Phil Borque scored. For whatever reason, The Stache fell in love with this line immediately.

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- Ron Cook says Santonio should start. Clearly the 'stache has followers.

- Since I am onto this random trend of mentioning the 'Stache, it should be noted that he loves Joe Namath. Well, mostly just when Joe Namath gets drunk and does stupid things. Via TheBigLead, it looks like the apple doesnt fall too far from the tree.

- Courtesy of ThePensBlog, I give you John Fedko...doing John Fedko things...while dealing with prank calls...about Gary Roberts.


Sick.
End of Post

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Leroux's Links

Doubt About It's random and never scheduled link dump, in honor of Francois Leroux, the greatest fighter and worst skater in Penguins' history. The links may not be that graceful, but they pack a punch.

Slow day in Pittsburgh sports related news. Kuwata was finally cut by the Pirates while Doumit was placed on the DL. Other than that not much going on, so it seems appropriate to do the blogger equivalent of Paulino-esq effort: a link dump.

-My favorite NFL weekly column has returned. Tuesday Morning Quarterback by Gregg Easterbrook. He can delve too far away from actual football occassionally, but the piece is so long that it is easy to skip parts and still find a few gems. This week he broke down the AFC team by team.

-Jim Wexell of the Herald-Standard makes his case for Gary Russell making the team. The need for a short-yardage back is fairly obvious, but I don't mind Carey Davis either.


-Older news, but the Browns decided to determine their starting QB for their first preseason game with a coin toss. It was beween Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson. The best result for Browns fans would have it land on its side. [I Wish I Was a Rooney]

-I tend to agree with the PG's Empty Netters: of all the great Pizza places in Pittsburgh, why would the Penguins choose Pizza Hut to be served in the caves of the Civic Arena? Credit to the Sidney Crosby Show for breaking the story.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tom Gorzelanny is Suddenly Popular

Sometimes, you see something so weird that you do a double take. That's what happened to me today when I logged on to Yahoo.com. This is what I saw in the lower right hand corner of the page:



This is a direct screen capture as of 3:15 PM EST today. Look at #6. Tom Gorzelanny is the 6th most popular search on Yahoo today? More searched than Tiger Woods? Why is there a Pittsburgh Pirate in Yahoo's top searches of today?

I had my suspicions, so I did my own Tom Gorzelanny search, thinking that some kind of breaking news had occured. Yet:

- Did Tom Gorzelanny die? Thankfully, No.

- Did Tom Gorzelanny get arrested for being involved in an underground dog fighting ring? Again, no.

- Maybe he got caught for soliciting a prostitute. That's big news, right? Nope, nothing to that either.

Alas, there is absolutely no earth shattering breaking news about one of our favorite Pirates. So why the hell is he among today's most popular searches at Yahoo.com. I have no idea why this is so fascinating to me.

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No Love For Paul

Why couldn't we give the same reaction to Maholm? (Photo: Matt Freed, PG)

Remember that embarrassing Pirates-Yankees series from June? I was "lucky" enough to attend the game in which Roger Clemens made his season debut, and regardless of the circumstances, I was very impressed with the fans. To give you an idea why, they were on their feet every inning after two outs and two strikes. They gave a standing ovation to Clemens even though he pitched a rather mediocre 6 innings giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks.

Flash forward to yesterday, as I was lucky enough to attend the Pirates playing against another steroid legend, possibly for the last time, when the Giants came to town for a doubleheader. The crowd was sparse at the beginning for the 5:05 start, but slowly and surely people began to file in after getting off work and provided a respectable turnout, in terms of Pirate games anyway.

Barry remarkably decided to make the trip and was starting in the first game. In his first at-bat there was a distinct advantage of cheers over the boos, an advantage that subsided as the crowd increased throughout the game. However, every one of his at-bats featured at least 50% of the crowd honoring him with a standing O. In between games the Barry montage was shown, essentially a 1 minute long clip showing his first home run in Atlanta, a few more highlights of him as a Pirate, and home run 756. Immediately after the video, a standing ovation was given again, and Barry emerged from the dugout to thank the crowd. The love fest was finally over.

There was also a baseball game going on concurrently with the kowtowing to Bonds. Not a lot of people at the game seemed to notice this though. It was the top of the ninth, and Paul Maholm had thus far allowed 3 hits, 1 run, and had thrown 80 pitches through 8 innings. 80 pitches! That's usually Zach Duke's first 2 innings. He ended up throwing 11 more in the 9th, completing arguably the best pitched game by a Pirate this year.

During the final at-bat we stood up and cheered. It seemed appropriate, considering how well Maholm pitched. Apparently, the rest of the crowd didn't think so. Maybe they didn't notice what was going on, maybe they couldn't see past Barry's large head, but as Maholm stared down his final batter enroute to one of the only few bright spots this season, just about 15% of those in attendance were standing up cheering. Of course after he induced a ground ball, like he had done all night, the rest of the crowd gave a rather uninspired cheer, but it was too late.

I respect the fact the Maholm is no Bonds. The home run king was here and, even though I don't feel the same way, I understand the arguments for honoring him. It was as if the fans wanted to prove that they know and respect baseball. By the end of the first game, though, it was evident that most were clueless.

I'm not expecting Pirates fans to be as intense as Yankees fans. The quality of the team and sheer number of people provided by the city of New York allow for a great atmosphere and a lot of very passionate fans. I just never realized the gap was this large. How can you blame the fans though? When the focus of the PR and marketing departments is always on promotions and pierogi races, when the team is so bad most fans stay at home, who would expect the team or fans to recognize Maholm's superb game?

I don't mean to bitch out everyone who went to this game. Obviously, if you shelled out money to see this team after all the losing you deserve some credit. There just are not that many positive things that happen during the depression that is the Pirates' season. When it does happen, we need to recognize it.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

2nd Preseason Game: Steelers vs. Packers


As you might have read, a good time was had by all Saturday night. There was a game, too, by the way, and thanks to an extra ticket from Pat I was able to join him and see it live and in person. I would have made this post yesterday, but Pat and myself left the game near the end of the 3rd quarter and I wanted to get the chance to see what I missed in the 4th quarter before I commented. It wasn’t the most exciting game, and not much happened, so I’m just going to give a few brief thoughts:

- Gary Russell looked good again. I don’t know if we can keep both Russell and Carey Davis on the roster, but if I had to choose one I’d choose Russell.

- Hopefully, Chris Hoke’s injury isn’t serious. He’s pretty much the only depth behind Casey Hampton.

- I’m still a little pissed over Santonio Holmes not starting. He needs to get some work with Ben, and right now the majority of his work is coming with St. Pierre. He wasn’t even cracking the 3 WR sets with the first team. To me, this is inexcusable.

- The defensive backs were playing much more press coverage. In previous years it seemed like they would always line up 5-10 yards off the receiver.

- The offensive line is still sorting itself out. Starks again looked bad at left tackle. I thought Colon looked good. Mahan vs. Okobi seems like a wash. As of now, my preference for the O-Line, left to right, would be: Smith, Faneca, Mahan, Simmons, Colon

- There is very little depth at defensive end. Other than Kirschke, who’s decent, the cupboard is bare. McBean and Eason have been invisible these first two games.

- I really like the safeties on this team. Troy, Smith, Clark, and Carter can all ball. Clark was particularly impressive on Saturday night.

Again, your comments about the game are encouraged.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Make it a Double, Jeff

Reed, Kusnerik, and Kemoeatu

Saturday night was supposed to be just another night of Steelers pre-season football. And in many ways it was. There was a Doubt About It tailgate, followed by some of us going to the game and some of us going to a nearby bar. There was low quality NFL football, an abundance of the visiting teams fans, and lots of men who brought their wives to the game in an effort to appease them for the ensuing disappearing act they would be putting on every Sunday until February.

Oh, and there was Jeff Reed playing bartender for his teammates, Trenni Kusnerik, Jeff's mother, and a few fortunate patrons (us, among others). Intrigued? Thought so.

At a certain local watering hole after the game, things were hopping. Being a Saturday night, fans were more focused on partying than the football. However, we didnt expect the same to be true for the players.

Before I delve into this, let us just say this: these guys were awesome. You couldn't ask to be around a cooler group of guys that enjoyed being with each other and with their fans. Nothing was inappropriate (girls were throwing themselves at Reed, so it wasnt his fault), the players treated the fans well, and the fans treated the players well. Just a great night to be hanging out.

Things started off with Hines Ward arriving soon after the game. I would love to tell many Hines Ward related stories from the night (good lord I would love to, you have no idea) but I will respect his privacy. Every girl we talked to that was in his VIP section told us that he was incredibly nice. Deshea made an appearance, Kiesel was there we think, as were many others. Even Mike Logan was there (huh?). But there are two men we would like to focus on.

Chris Kemoeatu is just awesome, folks. He playfully danced with Jeff Reed's mom most of the night (we'll get to that in a moment) and even got some DAI writers free shots of Patron. Well actually, he got us two shots of Patron, lost track of where we were, shrugged his shoulders, and drained them. Never the less, he is a large, large man and very fun to hang out with.

Then there is Mr. Reed, a man who's exploits have been documented by virtually every blog in existence. I dont really know how to put it, but Jeff Reed is a man you need to experience in person. For a rather short, stalky, barely-over-a-mil-a-year-earning kicker, the dude carries himself like he is larger than life. And after seeing him in person, he is. His family was there we believe, or atleast his mom from what we could hear him say. This did not deter him from 1) bartending 2) "embracing" almost every girl in the bar 3) pounding the rock with us mutliple times 4) agreeing with us that he could kick 50 FGs this year if he wanted to.

Oh, and he was wearing a cut off T-shirt, shorts, a hat, and cross trainers. And he was having the best time there by far. What a baller.

It should also be noted that Trenni Kusnerik from FSN Pittsburgh was there. She was very nice to us, and certainly seemed to be good friends with Jeff Reed. With everyone, actually. This is a girl that has been out with the Steelers before.

The whole scene was quite surreal: Kemoeatu dancing around, Jeff Reed tossing around beers, Deshea walking around to greet people, Hines Ward lounging around with some friends...we could have stayed forever. Trust us when we tell you that if you are rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you are rooting for a great group of guys.



We don't bring digital cameras when we head out, so thanks to the person who sent these in.

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Unreal

Tonight is the type of night that Pittsburgh sports bloggers dream about. It is too late to get a properly done post up for the night, but let's just say we had a few run-ins with some Steelers tonight. Several Steelers. And some Pittsburgh sports personalities. If you know what we are talking about and were there, then send along pictures. If you have no idea what I am talking about, then check back soon to see what you missed out on tonight in Pittsburgh.

Note from Sam: In one of the biggest mistakes of my life, I left a bit too early to see everything unfold. However, I was there when there was one Steeler at the bar so I can see how this escalated. If you notice as well Pat made the post around 3:00 AM, so I'd give him a little bit of time here before he actually wakes up. I can say, though, that even if 50 % of what Pat says happened actually happened, it will be one very fine post indeed.

End of Post

Friday, August 10, 2007

Najeh Davenport, Meet LaMarr Woodley



Do you remember reading a couple of weeks ago about how LaMarr Woodley absolutely flattened Najeh Davenport in a training camp drill?

Well, here it is in video form.

Whoever it was in that video that said "Oh lawd... oh sheeeit!!!", my sentiments exactly.

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Cheating is so NOW

If you have been even relatively aware of what has been going on in the sports world this summer, then you know that things arent exactly peachy. Like dominoes, seemingly each sport has fallen under fire for some type of grievance (you know them all, so I wont list them).

But is an entire page really necessary?

I'm not up in arms over this or anything, but it seems weird that ESPN has an entire page devoted to cheating in sports. I know, I know...piling on ESPN is so NOW. But really, is this an instance of ESPN covering the news or making the news? Obviously there are newsworthy stories on the page, but to lump them all together and then to start speculating on other sports seems a little over the top to me.

Couple that sentiment with the Ombudsman's column this week: ESPN, and specifically Sports Center, should be a news show. This Ombudsman has really done some great work - I would highly recommend checking out her archive. My complaints about the over the top cheating coverage seem to fit in to her plan regarding the complaints concerning Who's Now: tell me the news and let me read between the lines for myself.

If you think about it like other news stations, then ESPN operates in a uniquely one-party world. WIth the nightly news, there are obviously liberal stations, moderate stations, and conservative stations. With ESPN, there is only one show in town, which is probably why we get garbage like Who's Now. End of Post

This is where you put the words that will appear after the jump.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Quit Your Day Job, Stick To Cooking

If you enjoy disagreeing with various sports writers, now is your chance.

And for those of you out there that enjoy disagreeing with women, now is the most legit chance you'll ever get.

Recently posted on PittsburghPirates.com was an article (the worst article I've ever read) by Jenifer Langosch

(this girl)

"Hello, I know more about Pirates baseball than you do!"

WARNING: IF you suffer from heart problems, please don't read this article.

"Manto working magic on Bucs"
Yes ...this is the same Manto that serves as your Pittsburgh Pirate's hitting coach.

-The same Manto that coaches Jason Bay, Ronny Paulino, and Chris Duffy on hitting.

-The same retard who can't even coach a single player over the .300 mark this season (not including Josh Phelps and his 25 ABs).

-The same shithead that has taught Pirate hitters the meaning of "digression".

What makes the article even worse is that it includes "Ronny Paulino" alongside "magic" and "Jeff Manto". Forget the fact that Ronny Paulino has hit 3 HRs since the start of this month...Paulino still couldn't hit a beachball if it were thrown on on the outer half of the plate.

This quote in particular, regarding Paulino's swing, had me jumping off the wall.


"We* told him, 'Go back to covering middle-in,'" Manto said. "If they throw it away, they throw it away. You can't cover it all. The great hitters have learned to cover all three, and Ronny's learning to be a great hitter. The outside of the plate is a work in progress."

Way to sure up his weakness dipshit. A question for dumb and dumber...

Did you ever consider working on your weaknesses?

Manto must be fucking blind. If he thinks covering middle-in is going to help Paulino then he needs to go coach some Frontier League team. Any regular viewer of the Pittsburgh Pirates would realize that Ronny Paulino couldn't hit low and away to save his life. This is the MAJOR LEAGUES! The pitchers in this league can work the outside part of the plate all god damn day.

Once again the best part...and I'll block it off one more time for all the Manto's out there...

"If they throw it away, they throw it away. You can't cover it all. The great hitters have learned to cover all three, and Ronny's learning to be a great hitter."
You have got to be kidding me...

Oh yeah...and for that female sports writer. Let it be known, she's not a statistician.

"After a miserable stretch in July, the offense's overall numbers have been better lately: a .329 average to start off this month, a .378 average over the past five games with runners in scoring position and 13 home runs in the past eight games. Evidently, something's clicking."

Let's try to use a sample larger than 5 and 8 when referring to a 162-game season (Article written on on August 8th, which includes 5 games in August) ...........

...And unless you're talking about Harry Potter, coaching our Pittsburgh Pirates, lets just not talk about 'magic'...Its just not there.

* Jim Tracy included

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