Monday, March 29, 2010

Steelers reputation faltering?

Football buffs across the country, not just Pittsburgh, view the Pittsburgh Steelers as a well-run and very ethical franchise. In fact, if you listen to the talking heads of ESPN, CBS, etc. you will hear numerous people say they are the best run organization in sports.

When you see the Cincinnati Bengals getting arrested, Steelers fans say that would never happen with their black and gold. But look at recent history and that theory is full of holes.

James Harrison was charged with simple assault and criminal mischief in 2008 for slapping his girlfriend. Santonio Holmes has had multiple run ins with the law, the most recent coming this week. Holmes allegedly threw a glass into a woman's face, cutting her. Two women have gone to police, claiming they were sexually assaulted by Ben Roethlisberger. And Jeff Reed beat up a towel dispenser and later made threatening gestures to police officers. In Reed's defense, he was defending a teammate who was taking a leak.

Not exactly boy scouts, are they? Sure, the Steelers cut Cedrick Wilson after he was charged for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend, but he was probably going to be cut anyway. He is coaching high school now. As a coordinator, not a head coach. Could be worse, he could be Ryan Leaf.

I'm sorry, I got caught up in the moment. What I was saying is that recently is seems that the idea of the Steelers holding themselves to a higher standard than the rest of the league is in serious question. Now Ben and Santonio have yet to be charged and might have done nothing criminal. But the fact remains they have put themselves in poor situations that make the Steelers looks bad.

All teams have problems like this. It might not be sexual assault. It might be DUI, it might be assault, it might be drugs. While The Steelers and the NFL should not punish these players until they are arrested and indicted, it's hard to say with confidence that the Steelers are on the ethical high ground compared to other teams.

Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Movie reviews

It's been awhile since there were movie reviews on this blog, so here are a few.

Book of Eli: Nothing special. Denzel's performance was decent, Gary Oldman was very good (he should only play bad guys) and Mila Kunis was hot, but provided nothing but eye candy. As for the plot, meh. A lot of walking and the director could have gone with less time looking at wasteland. The twist at the end was surprising, but also thought it was kinda stupid.

Grade: C

Shutter Island: The acting was very good. When did Leo DiCaprio become one of the top actors in the business? If he's in a movie nowadays, chances are it's very good. He and Mark Ruffalo had excellent chemistry, the plot is good and the end is solid. Usually I'm not a big fan of seeing thinking movies in theaters, but the pacing and acting keep your attention for the majority of the film. It won't win any Oscars, but you'll be entertained.

Grade: B+

Legion: The idea behind this movie was so promising, but it just didn't deliver. God turning his back on humanity and sending angels to kill us is original. However, we're never told what's so special about this one woman's baby that makes the child the savior. The mother is a bad person. She got knocked up and smokes while pregnant, and there are no redeeming qualities in her. Also, the action consists of survivors just shooting humans possessed by angels, who happen to be slowly walking toward the diner where the survivors are holed up. If some effort was put in to developing characters and more plot, it would have been cool. Instead it was just a waste of time.

Grade: D

The Road: Like Book of Eli, The Road takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where a man and his son try to get to the coast because their northeast home is too cold. Unlike Book of Eli though, The Road makes you think about what you would do in that situation. How would you deal with not knowing when the next time you will eat? Would you wake up every morning wondering if you should kill yourself and be done with it? The little kid gets annoying at times, but that's usually what happens with child actors.

Grade: B

Brooklyn's Finest: For some reason I didn't think this would be quite as bloody as it was. There is a lot of shooting and a lot of dead people. It follows three cops' unrelated stories and their struggles. The acting was solid (Wesley Snipes is back bitches!) the plots are pretty good, but it relies too much on shoot outs and gore. Also, Richard Gere falls in love with a prostitute... again. And once again, that prostitute is way better looking than a prostitute should be. I feel like it gives people the wrong impression about hookers. Anyway, I enjoyed the movie, but the end was kinda lazy.

Grade: B-

Valentine's Day: Imagine Love Actually. Now imagine if Love Actually sucked and was trust a cheap rip off of a good successful movie that was more focused on Christmas. That's what Valentine's Day was. I laughed a few time, but for the most part it was terrible.

Grade: F

Dropkick Murphys - Never Again

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The ladykillers

Isn't this a cute photo? It really showcases the fatness of Ben's face.

It's amazing how far these two men have fallen in the public's eye in the past couple months. A year ago, Ben was celebrating his second Super Bowl ring and Tiger was preparing to come back from a torn ACL that didn't stop him from winning the US Open. They were the top athletes of their sport. Now, they are both being torn to shreds, and rightfully so, by most media, sports fans and people in general.

On a non-related topic. Holy cow Joe Mauer just got a lot richer. $184 million for a catcher is ballsy. I'm just happy he isn't on the Yankees or Red Sox.

And since I'm talking baseball, I am a little worried about my prediction of the Pirates having a winning season on 2011 and a playoff contender in 2012. The pitching staff scares me and is highlighted by Kevin Hart walking 57 batters in four innings. It's going to be a long season.

Back to the photo at the top. Give me your best caption. Winner gets a coke. I have three somewhat regulars when it comes to comments, so chances are good you'll win.

Traveling Wilburys - The End of the Line

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cooke must channel inner Steve Austin

Tonight is the first time the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins play since Pens' forward Matt Cooke knocked Bruins' Marc Savard out for the season with a check to the head.

Cooke should have been suspended, he wasn't, the Bruins are going to be coming for blood. This desire to hurt Cooke and other members of the Pens has only been fed by Boston media. Several Boston play-by-play guys have come on Pittsburgh radio shows screaming for Cooke's head, to take out Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and trashing the city of Pittsburgh. I won't get too into it because I don't have soundbites for you, but some of these homers were incredibly unprofessional. You can probably listen to them at 93.7 The Fan, just listen to the Seibel and Starkey show.

Anyway, with the fans and media of Boston calling for retribution, it' safe to say that Cooke is going to have to drop the gloves at least once and have eyes in the back of his head. What Cooke needs to do is keep getting up, which will piss off the Bruins and lead to more Pens powerplays.

It reminds me a showing of WWE Raw a few years ago when Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest name in the business. He was the man without any friends, and he knew it. So for one night he would just pop in on random matches or interviews and beat the crap out of people. Eventually a group of other superstars got him, but he left plenty of people in his wake.

That's the attitude Cooke needs tonight. I'm not saying deliver checks to every Bruins' skull. I'm saying he needs to play his usual game. Finish checks, be feisty, trip a guy behind the play; just piss the Bruins off and keep them more focused on getting revenge. The more occupied they are about killing you, the more free Crosby and company will be to light up the lamp for a much needed two points.

Hockey fans and media alike are saying to drop the gloves at the beginning and get it over with, I say to hell with that. Dropping the gloves right away is giving the Bruins what they want. Make them come after you in a more important part of the game. Better yet, Cooke should make sure he gets some good, clean hits in before he grants the Bruins their wish for revenge.

Cooke is an instigator. Sometimes he goes to far, like with the Savard hit, but he can't let that one play effect how he plays tonight or any other game. And I am pretty sure he won't. He needs to pester the Bruins all night long, not just be a target for their them to take their anger out on.

By the way, Boston and all their sports teams are tools.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Won't Back Down

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Tiger conspiracy

Quick note about this post. It's not meant to be taken seriously. It's just an idea that popped in my head on my drive to work. I just want to make it clear that I don't actually believe it.

Unless you live in a hole or don't pay attention to sports (is there a difference?), you know Tiger Woods is going to make his return to golf at the Masters this year. He hasn't played since he got in a car accident and the world learned of his sleeping around.

Something smells fishy.

Perhaps the PGA and Tiger thought with the country still deep in recession, they needed something to guarantee viewers would stay with golf, allowing them to keep big sponsors and big payouts. They were coming off a year where Tiger didn't win a major, and actually blew a lead on Sunday. Maybe they were worried ratings would drop.

Nothing a little controversy can't fix.

It's your classic pro wrestling heel turn. We're talking the biggest heel turn in history, overtaking when Hulk Hogan turned his back on all the Hulkamaniacs of the world by joining the NWO and dropping the leg on Macho Man.

Tiger had gone as far as he could as the good guy. He won the US Open with a torn ACL. There was no outdoing that. So what does he do? He betrays his wife, shames the game of golf and disgusts millions of former fans within a few weeks.

In doing this he sets us up for the Masters, where the media is kept on a short leash and fans that act out just a little bit are thrown out. Not only this, but it's also the most prestigious golf tournament of the year. Ratings will be huge. Those who still support Tiger and just love good golf will watch, and those who always cheered against Tiger will turn out in record numbers.

Could the PGA ask for more? Could Tiger? He is going to be the center of attention of the sports world for four days. If he is in contention come Sunday, we're looking at ratings that could shatter golf records.

Golf may have sacrificed a few months and a little bit of it's integrity, but in the end this Tiger controversy will bring more ratings, more sponsors and more money.

What a diabolical, yet brilliant, plan.

Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike

Monday, March 15, 2010

Big Ben makes another bad call

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened up their voluntary conditioning program today in Pittsburgh. Can you guess one player who didn't show up?

Ben Roethlisberger, accused of sexual assault more than a week ago, is not attending the workouts, and that's a mistake. I won't pretend to know all that goes on during offseason conditioning, maybe it's stupid, but Roethlisberger should be there.

For the second time in less than a year, the $102 million quarterback has embarrassed the team. Players who should be focusing on getting ready for the season are going to be asked countless questions, not on how they are preparing for this season, but about what they know of the Ben's legal issues. Those players will say they support Ben, they trust their quarterback to be innocent and that it's not a distraction, but that's a load of crap.

Football players and other professional athletes have huge egos, for the most part. These egos are not bad things. They are a big contributor to these athletes' success. When media and fans begin asking said players all about someone else though, that's when problems can arise. While they might say all the right things to the press, I think they are very annoyed that they aren't getting the attention they think they deserve.

That's why Ben should have come to workouts and apologized to the team. He needs to show up and face these questions, rather than having his teammates try and answer for him. Ben won't be able to say anything informative or new, but at least he will be the one taking the brunt of the media while his teammates can focus on other things.

He doesn't need to do any drills or actually work out. Heck, he can sit and watch movies for all I care. But he should be there.

By the way, Alexander Ovechkin is a bitch.

Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yigo the snow dog

Who would have thought a dog that had been raised in an environment where the temperature never dropped below 70 would love snow so much?

This winter was one of the harshest winters in Pittsburgh history, with more than 40 inches of snow falling in February alone. Yet instead of being confused and scared, Yigo loved the snow. He'd dig in it, romp in it and just plop down in it as if it were no big deal.

Maybe it was a welcome relief for a long-haired dog. Rather than being hot all day every day, he got to cool down in the snow and then come inside when he got chilly. He probably also enjoyed the cushion when Sydney bowled him over, which happened at least once a day.

Now that the snow is gone, I'm curious to see if Yigo will act differently, as if he misses the snow. He'll probably forget about it the moment he sees a squirrel and chases after the little critter. I'm just hoping he doesn't start licking the ground thinking it's snow.

Rise Against - Savior

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ugly weekend for Pittsburgh sports

In some regards, this weekend was very good for Pittsburgh sports teams. The Penguins won two games and are now atop the Atlantic Division, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament to the surprise of just about everyone in the country, and the Pittsburgh Pirates season hasn't started yet, so they haven't lost any real games yet.

However, with the latest allegation against Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and Penguins' Matt Cooke nearly decapitating Boston Bruins' stud player Marc Savard, it's hard to focus on the positives from above.

For the second time in the past year, Big Ben has a woman accusing him of sexual harassment. There is not a lot of information regarding this latest episode, but whether Ben did it or not, he should know better. Stay away from college bars after midnight.

Look at Pacman Jones, Darrent Williams and Plaxico Burress to name a few. All of them had different problems that all stemmed from putting themselves in bad situation. Jones made it rain at a strip club and caused all kinds of trouble, Williams got into an altercation that led to him being killed later in the night and Burress shot himself and got put in jail for it. All of these problems could have been avoided if these men avoided the late night scene.

I'm not saying Ben can't go out. He is entitled to have himself a good time. But do you need to do it at that time of night and in that place? Being a star athlete comes with responsibility. You're not just an every day person. When you go out, people notice. You need to hold yourself to a higher standard and realize there are situations that you need to avoid.

Authorities have not charged Roethlisberger, and they may not come at all. This may all be an attempt by a young woman to get a payday or her 30 seconds of fame. But then again, she could have a case and Ben has embarrassed himself, his teammates and the whole Steelers organization.

Now for Cooke. He needs to be suspended for at least five games. Looking at the replays, I don't think he was trying to hit Savard in the head, but that doesn't mean it wasn't reckless. He wasn't really looking at wear he was clipping Savard, he just went through him while looking where the puck went.

I don't know if there have been more shots to the head this season than most, but it's certainly getting more attention than in previous seasons. Either way, the NHL needs to make a firm rule that they follow with every one of these hits. Regardless if there was malicious intent or not, there needs to a minimum suspension to prevent these actions. How many players, elite or goon, need to be carried off on stretchers before this happens.

By the way, I would have had an Oscars blog if I cared about the Oscars. Seriously, how many award shows do these actors need?

Third Eye Blind - Can You Take Me

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I can't stand Facebook invites

Why the heck are people sending me Facebook invites to events there is no way I'm going to? Seriously, I haven't been a student in college since December 2007, stop sending me invites to the Weekend comic at the college bar.

This is irresponsible Facebook spamming. If you're going to send out these mass invites, take the time to look over the friends you are sending it to and don't send it to people in Pittsburgh if they event is in North Carolina. It's not that I don't want to support some of these charitable events. They sound lovely and like good causes, there is just no way I can make it.

I know I can't be alone in getting multiple e-mails every week regarding similar events. Hell, there is probably a Facebook Group about the issue. Hell, there are probably multiple groups of this kind. Of course, I'll never know that because I try to avoid groups. They are just plain stupid.

Maybe my issue is with Facebook as a whole. For years I have been saying I would get rid of it, but it's part of my job now.

Messed up, right?

The Pittsburgh Penguins theme song

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are soccer goalies lazy people?

For some reason or another, soccer goalies are crazy bunch. They are not asked to make 20 to 40 saves a game like hockey goalies. Heck, 10 shot on goal is a high number at the elite levels. With this in mind, why is it these goalies go absolutely nuts when they have to make a save?

I'm not talking about being pumped up for making a great stop, though. I'm talking about when they get dribblers right at them and they immediately start screaming at their teammates.

It's one thing if it was only every now and again, but it's not. I'd also give goalies a free pass if the opposing team has no right getting the shot off. But with some guys (talking to you, Tim Howard of Team USA) it seems like every friggin' shot that gets by the defense and to the keeper is cause for an uproar.

This leads to the question in the title of this post. Are goalies lazy athletes? That's like a surgeon getting pissed off every time he needs to go to the ER and save a life. It's your job, and you're paid well for it, what's the big deal about actually having to perform?

I have multiple problems with these actions from goalies. First, players should not constantly be calling out their teammates in the public eye. Not just calling them out, but flipping out on them so much that in the HD era viewers can see every drop of saliva flying from the goalies' mouths. Second, it appears to be a cry for attention, even though a great save gets a player 10 times the amount of attention yelling at teammates and appearing angry does. Third, it's just immature.

But maybe goalies aren't lazy. There are other explanations for their outbursts. They could hate their jobs and wish they were strikers. They could be taunting the opposing team for bringing weak sauce.

I don't believe any of those for a second, but thought it fair to bring them up.

Prince - Let's Go Crazy

Monday, March 1, 2010

Crosby 2, Ovechkin 0

Throughout the course of the past five NHL seasons, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have raised their rivalry to one of the best feuds in sports.

Objective analysts (if there are such things) and fans are constantly debating who the better player is. And while Ovechkin won the Rookie of the Year over Crosby and has two MVP trophies to Crosby's one, I'm pretty sure Crosby has had the better career to this point. Sunday just confirmed it.

Ovechkin's awards are all individual accomplishments that are nice, but in the end mean nothing. Crosby has a Stanley Cup and now a Gold Medal. What does Ovechkin have that can begin to compare? He's a great player, there is no disputing that, but put his successes next to Crosby's and it's not close. Wait, I'm sorry. A bronze medal is pretty sweet.

Crosby also played a huge role in both of those wins. Crosby scored the most goals in last year's playoffs and then scored the winning goal in overtime to secure the gold for the Canadians. It's not as if Sid was along for the ride. Neither victory happens without him.

Of course, this rivalry could get a lot closer this summer the way the Capitals are playing, but I'm sticking to my guns in saying their goaltending won't hold up when it counts.

Capital fans, the stubborn fools they are, will no doubt blame the defense, the rest of the Russian squad, Evgeni Malkin, the country of Canada, curling, officiating, global warming and just about everything else you can think of for Ovechkin not getting a gold or a Stanley Cup for that matter. But the man isn't a leader. He can take over a game, but can he rally a team around him and will them to win a championship the way Crosby has already done multiple times? It's yet to be seen.

The Clash - Tommy Gun