Thursday, September 30, 2010

Billie Joe Armstrong is happy

By Mike Roarty

September is over and done with and it went by real quick. O well, I don’t October will be as bad as Caddyshack 2. (I hope.) October is for the big boys and people. It all starts with a bang this week with an absurd slate of games. I pick all the other games here.

For the game of the week we look west to Eugene. The Oregon Ducks will face off against the Stanford Cardinal for the early lead in the Pac 10. While there are other big games this one catches my eye for the simple reason of the two head coaches Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh. (For a more professional write up check out this.) Each has caught my eye, Kelly mainly because he has taken the Rich Rod spread offense into hyper speed. The other is a Michigan graduate who almost beat our beloved Steelers as a pro and has taken his borderline insane personality into the coaching ranks.

On Saturday the two opposite styles will face off. Last year’s 51-42 win by the Cardinal on the farm was exciting as hell and expect more of the same on Saturday night. Stanford was the surprise team of September as they have looked dominant. Their offense is smash mouth and their defense is your typical we will beat you until you hate smiling, dancing and breathing type of defense. This is exactly the type of team Jim Harbaugh wants because he is insane. Did I mention he is insane?

Kelly has made Oregon into a fun team to watch for everyone except for their mascot. His offense runs like clockwork no matter who seems to be running it. In their first Pac 10 game last week however their defense gave up an absurd 597 yards but forced 7 turnovers. To me the turnovers, particularly those by Andrew Luck, will be the key to the game. Last year a young Matt Barkley went into the hostile environment at Eugene and got swallowed whole. If Luck can help Stanford sustain long drives and punch it in when they get the chance then I expect the Cardinal to get it done. Stanford 45-35. Wooooooo

James Taylor- October Road

NFL Week 4 picks

By Jeff

The struggle for a winning record continues as I went 8-8 in Week 3. For the season I am a sad 21-24-3.

Before we get into Week 4, I have to ask, why is it the Washington Redskins suck against the St. Louis Rams? The Rams are 4-31 since 2008. Two of those four wins are against the Redskins. The other two teams to fall to St. Louis in that time frame are the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. A perennial loser, and a perennial underachiever. Not exactly the company the Redskins want.

Anyway, my miss of the Week 3 was picking New England to cover. Apparently, Ryan Fitzpatrick did supply the Buffalo Bills with a spark, the offense did get better and the team wasn't destroyed. Can't really miss more than that.

Now is not the time to live in the past, though! It's time to bunker down and get off the snide! Home teams are in all caps, and as always, please share your own picks in the comments section. Byes start this week, so Dallas, Kansas City, Minnesota and Tampa Bay won't be playing.

Denver (+6.5) over TENNESSEE: Eli Manning and the New York Giants killed themselves with bizarre turnovers last week. Manning was attempting a pass with his left hand in the redzone at one point. Expect Kyle Orton to take better care of the ball and a close game here.

PITTSBURGH (-1) over Baltimore: I'm not picking against the Steelers until a team proves they can put together multiple successful drives against them. Joe Flacco has not been the breakout superstar everyone expected this season, and it won't get any easier on Sunday.


Why were media outlets making a story out of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis texting back and forth? I get that the teams are rivals on the field, but that doesn't mean they have to despise each other off the field. As a sports fan, I'd like them to hate each other. Heck, I want them to throw knives at cardboard cutouts of their opponents during the week. But that's not reality, and it's OK. With free agency, players personally know multiple players on every other team. They work our together in the offseason, have the same agents and attend the same charity events. It's OK if they text each other as long as they put those relationships aside when they play. I'm pretty sure Ray Lewis is still going to play his all-out style come Sunday.

*** RANT OVER ***

Cincinnati (-3) over CLEVELAND: What a terrible game. Two teams no one likes from a state no one likes. Honestly, there are no winners here.

GREEN BAY (-14.5) over Detroit: That's a lot of points to give, but I said that last week with the Detroit-Minnesota matchup and was burned. Matthew Stafford still hasn't thrown a ball, Javid Best is hurting and Calvin Johnson probably thinks he's in hell. Aaron Rodgers is going to have a fun day and there will be many Lambeau Leaps.

Remember when Ryan Grant got hurt and fantasy football people swarmed to pick up Brandon Jackson?  I fell for it. I thought he would be a solid player in the explosive Green Bay offense. Well, Jackson failed to break 30 yards in either of his starts (Against the Bills and Chicago Bears) and he is averaging less than 2.3 yards per carry. It's going to be a long fantasy season.

NEW ORLEANS (-13.5) over Carolina: Can New Orleans burn me four weeks in a row? Probably, but Jimmy Clausen looked terrible last week. Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams is going to be bringing the heat all day and I don't see Carolina scoring more than 13 points. Drew Brees is also expected to play despite a knee sprain.

ATLANTA (-7) over San Francisco: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is on his 107th offensive coordinator  in five seasons. Frank Gore can only do so much. Did you know Gore was in for all of San Francisco's offensive snaps last week? That is insane in the current age of running back by committee. How much longer can Gore keep it up?

ST. LOUIS (+1) over Seattle: I feel bad for anyone watching this game. Could be worse, though. People could be stuck watching Bengals-Browns.

New York Jets (-5.5) over BUFFALO: The Bills get lucky as it looks as if Darrelle Revis won't be playing in this one. Unfortunately for the Bills, the rest of the Jets defense will be playing. Fitzpatrick will be envying Trent Edwards by the end of this one.

Houston (-3) over OAKLAND: Houston is only giving three points? Arian Foster is going to have a field day with the Raiders run defense. Three points? Really?

SAN DIEGO (-8.5) over Arizona: The Chargers have some bad losses this year, but both were on the road and had terrible weather or fluky plays. I doubt the Cardinals will be able to return to kickoffs for touchdowns like the Seahawks did against the Chargers last week. I also have no faith that Derek Anderson will be able to win a shootout against Phillip "The Brat" Rivers.

PHILADELPHIA (-6) over Washington: Donovan McNabb returns to Philly in this one. He actually thinks he will be cheered, not booed? What is he thinking? Philly fans boo Santa. They throw things at opposing teams' family members. They're not nice people. McNabb will be booed loudly and often.

Chicago (+4) over NEW YORK GIANTS: When veteran teams give up on Tom Coughlin, they turn to suck. That's what's happening in New York right now. Meanwhile, the Bears are 3-0 and have big wins against Dallas and Green Bay. Their winning streak will have to end sometime with that offensive line, but it won't be this week.

MIAMI (+1) over New England: I have no idea which New England team will show up. What I do know is that Brandon Marshall is 6 feet four inches tall, and the Patriots have some tiny cornerbacks. Expect Marshall to go off for one of his 15-reception games and take over.

Blue Swede - Hooked on a Feeling

Remembers when Ray Lewis was accused of killing someone

By Jeff

All Pittsburgh Steelers fans remember back in 2000 when Ray Lewis was arrested with two friends for killing two people. Lewis testified against the other two defendants, pled to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice and paid a $250,000 fine.

Well, there was an amazing Saturday Night Live clip that might not be as remembered. I heard The Fan Morning Show gang talking about it this morning and had to see it again. It's pretty sweet.


Weezer - Walt Disney

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bold predictions for 2010-2011 Penguins

By Jeff

The NHL season kicks off in eight days. Eight days until we have hockey again! All you people with successful, or at least competitive, baseball teams probably don't understand what I'm talking about, but this is a big deal for Pittsburgh sports fans.

Steelers season is great and all, but we only get the Steelers one day a week once the season starts. Hockey season brings two to three Pens games a week. And recently, as many sports fans know, the Pens, like the Steelers, are consistent playoff and championship contenders.  Once again car horns will be blaring in the city, honking at every person they see with a Pens jersey or shirt. To put it very simply, it's an exciting time in the Burgh.
The league better get used
to this picture

The Pens offseason was an exciting one. The team lost Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin, but they picked up Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, Mike Comrie and Aaron Asham to fill the voids. Fans will never have to worry about Ruslan Fedotenko costing the team a game, either. Once again, the Stanley Cup is the goal, and the Pens have to be one of the favorites to achieve

With all the excitement surrounding the team, I can't help but get caught up in. Here are some bold predictions for the Pens season. They could be really wrong when April rolls around. Actually, they could be really wrong come November, but I think they are all possible.
  • Sidney Crosby will win the Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies
  • Evgeni Malkin will return to being a 100-point player
  • Paul Martin will score 10 goals and 50 points this season
  • Max Talbot, Asham and Matt Cooke will be the best third line in hockey
  • Eric Tangradi will score 20 goals
  • The Pens will sweep the season series against the Philadelphia Flyers
  • Marc-Andre Fleury will start the All-Star Game
  • Someone will tackle the dancing "Cotton-Eyed Joe" ginger
  • Mike's siblings will get tickets to games when Mike should have gotten them
  • The Pens will beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in the Conference Finals
  • The Pens will beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals
  • Fleury will win the Conn Smyth to avenge last year's playoffs debacle
Blur - Song 2

Pirates clinch No. 1 pick in 2011

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Pirates may have defeated the St. Louis Cardinals last night, but the Seattle Mariners won as well, handing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft to the Buccos.

Kris Benson's wife. Wow. 
During the Pirates 18 consecutive seasons, they've had the No. 1 overall pick twice. Both picks resulted in arm surgeries and busts. So don't get too excited yet.

In 1996, the team took Kris Benson. In the Pirates' defense,lots of teams missed in the first round that year. Still, when you have the overall pick fans expect that player to help turn the team around. Instead,Benson was injury plagued and was mediocre at best. For his career, Benson is 70-75 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.393 WHIP. Despite his pitching ineptitude, he did land Anna Benson, so he's not doing too poorly for himself. He's also better than the next guy.

With a new ball park and a promise to bring a winning team to the city, management used the first overall pick in 2002 on Bryan Bullington. Because of multiple major arm surgeries, Bullington didn't make a start for the Pirates until 2007. He lost all three starts that year and didn't play another game with the team. After similar failures in Cleveland and Toronto, Bullington got his first, and only, major league win this season with the Kansas City Royals. Bullington is 1-9 in his career with a 5.62 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

What makes the Bullington fiasco so much worse is all the talent the Pirates passed up that year. Unlike the 1996 draft class, 2002's first round was filled with future all-stars. I get that hindsight is 20/20, but how the heck could the scouting department think Bullington would help the team more than Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and B.J. Upton?

I bet he wishes he was Kris Benson.
Actually, a lot of guys probably do.
But that was then. Cam Bonifay (1996) and Dave Littlefield (2002) were the general managers of those teams. The current regime, although their trades haven't really worked out, has been drafting well. Maybe the team will actually use the No. 1 pick on a No. 1 caliber player. Am I crazy for thinking it's going to happen?

Depending on how his ankle heals up, third baseman Anthony Rendon is the leading candidate to be the first player selected in June. Rendon has torn it up at Rice University the past two seasons. With 26 homers and a .394 average in 2010, he could be a power bat the Pirates need. Right now, Garret Jones is their big bat, and he only has 21 home runs this season. Another positive about Rendon is that he's not a high school project. Unlike 2010 draftees Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, Rendon won't take three to four years to reach the big leagues.

Rendon looks like he's 14.
Another highly touted youngster, Pedro Alvarez, is currently manning the hot corner for the Buccos, but there is already talk that he will have to move to first base because of his defense. Scouts say that Rendon is a very good defender, so it doesn't appear as though drafting him would cause a logjam for the organization.

Alvarez and Rendon project to be big time players with big time pop. A corner infield of that duo could definitely assist the Pirates in ending two decades of misery.

Of course, this is the Pirates we're talking about. Even though their recent drafts have shown they will spend big money to sign legit talent, fans have a hard time forgetting years of being cheapskates. Until the Pirates actually ink Rendon (Assuming he remains the top draft prospect), don't expect fans to be too excited about the No. 1 pick.

Georgia Satellites - Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Big Ben will be starter in Week 6

By Jeff

No one should have to say Ben Roethlisberger will take over the quarterback position for the Pittsburgh Steelers once his suspension ends following the Baltimore game this weekend. Roethlisberger won two Super Bowls and has the franchise record for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season. Yet, many Steelers fans will tell you that Charlie Batch should remain the starter if he leads the team to a win Sunday.

Think they actually like each other?
These people are delusional.

OK, delusional is harsh. Well, harsh if those calling for Roethlisberger to ride the pine are doing so because they are disgusted with what he may have done this offseason. The individuals who think Big Ben should sit because Batch is playing well, they definitely are delusional.

Batch has done well in spot starts, but he's only started five games since 2005. He also won't be facing the likes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers every week. The backup position is his for the rest of the season, he's earned that, and perhaps the role in the 2011 season.

What's even scarier than hearing fans clamor for Batch to remain as starter is that more knowledgeable people are saying it too. Michael Wilbon was saying on "PTI" yesterday that Roethlisberger should "come out of the pen" when his suspension ends. Seriously? This man has been covering sports for decades, and he says something like that on national television. He's entitled to his opinion, but his opinion is silly.

Roethlisberger has proved year after year that he is an elite quarterback in the league. You don't bench an elite quarterback because the backup is doing a commendable job. Especially when that elite quarterback is making $100 million. Fortunately, the Steelers organization is much smarter than their fans and Wilbon. Roethlisberger will start in Week 6 and for the rest of the season if he's healthy.

Kingston Trio - Charlie on the MTA

More things I was wrong about

By Jeff

About a year ago I apologized for some of the predictions I made that looked like they were going the other way. Well, in hindsight, some of my predictions were spot on. Like Jay Cutler sucking his first year in Chicago and the New York Giants not making the playoffs. But there were plenty of things I was wrong about.

Well, I haven't called myself out in a while, hence this post.

This first apology goes to the Montreal Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak. Not only did I post an entry here that the Pens would solve him and beat the Habs in five, I called 93.7 the Fan the week of Game 1 and told Seibel and Starkey the Pens would light Halak up. Game 1 had me looking smart. The rest of the series had me looking foolish

In a more recent entry I told Steelers fans that Dennis Dixon, not Charlie Batch, was the best option for the Steelers in the first four games of the season. Well, Dixon played a game and a half with zero touchdowns, while Batch played a game and a half and has three touchdowns. Dixon's competition was tougher, but I'm still sorry for doubting Batch. He's 4-1 when starting for the Steelers. I should have known better.

I'm also sorry to Pirates fans. I understand the Pirates suck, I really don't think they're good. There are instances when I see signs of promise, though. One of those instances was when I said it was a good time to be a Pirates fan. At the time, the Buccos were playing good baseball. They then proceeded to lose 15 of their next 20 and went 8-21 in August.

Then there was the time I claimed "Predators" was the greatest movie of all time. I'm actually sticking to that one.

Then there are my weekly picks. They are more misses than hits. If you are a gambler, and you follow my advice, you need to stop gambling. Right now.

I also broke a huge rule in blogging. Well, maybe. I'm not sure if there are actual rules. It could be one of those unwritten rules we keep hearing about in baseball this year. Anyway, I started a weekly fantasy football post last year that lasted maybe a week. If you say you're going to do something, you friggin' do it. Readers are probably happy I stopped, though. If you've seen my results the past two years in fantasy sports, you'd see I'm losing my touch.

I'm sure there were more examples of me making asinine statements in this space over the past year, but my lunch break is over. Please feel free to find my mess ups and point them out.

Peter Gabriel - Biko

Monday, September 27, 2010

AL Cy Young...A .500 pitcher?

By Mike Z.

I'm back! Well, kind of. I have some time, so I figured I'd give you a bunch more numbers than you probably don't care to look at. The AL Cy Young debate gets me pretty fired up because I feel there's a clear cut winner, so I'm going to give this my best shot. I'll try to keep it short so you don't get lost in the numbers (plus it took a while to find all the numbers I wanted to use). I used both and Here's a blind comparison of two pitchers:

33 229.3 3.26 1.21 189 7.42 3.82 4.6
33 241.6 2.31 1.06 227 8.45 3.26 6.1

Now, which pitcher is 20-7, and which is 12-12?

The first line is for CC Sabathia, who has a 20-7 record, and really is having a fantastic season. These numbers are almost right in line with how he pitched last season too. Season after season, he's been a workhorse and earned his record.

However, how can you say he's had a better season than Felix Hernandez, who's ERA is almost a full run below CC's. Here are Felix's overall stats in relation to the rest of the AL:
Strikeouts-2nd (Jered Weaver 1st with 229)
WHIP-2nd (Cliff Lee 1st at 1.03)
xFIP-3rd (Francisco Liriano 1st at 3.08)
WAR - 3rd (Francisco Liriano 1st at 6.6)

Not only is Hernandez pitching phenomenally, he's dominating the entire league as well. It's not easy to get any wins with the Mariners' offense backing you up. The fewest number of runs scored since the DH was added in 1970 was by Oakland in 1978 with 532. Seattle is on pace for 521. In his 12 losses, Seattle has scored a TOTAL of 14 runs. He has the lowest run support in the AL at 3.09. In his 33 starts this year, he's received 1 run or less of support in 10 of them.

Keep in mind that Hernandez's ERA was 0.2 higher last year, his WHIP was 0.08 higher, and had 10 less strikeouts in 2009. His record last year, when his numbers were "worse" than this year? 19-5

I'm not taking anything away from CC, because he's definitely deserving to be in the top 2-3 in voting. What frustrates/worries me still is that all the old-time writers who get to vote on this may still be too stubbornly fixed on win-loss record to ever consider voting for him. That would really be a shame, because he is as deserving as almost anybody who has won in the past.

Brandon Flowers - Crossfire

...and to keep you entertained from now until my next post

1250 ESPN cans all local talent

By Jeff

Starting today, 1250 ESPN Radio Pittsburgh will have no local shows. All of the local talent has been let go, allowing Colin Cowherd to make his return to Pittsburgh radio. It's a sad day for the city.

The story was first reported by Bob Smizik Friday and then confirmed today. You can read it here.

Personally, I rarely listened to ESPN once 93.7 The Fan hit the airwaves. It's not that the Fan is much better than ESPN, it's just I can't stand the talents on the ESPN shows when I'm in the car. I've made it clear in this space my hatred for"Mike and Mike in the Morning." The duo has never asked a hard question on their show since it began. Everything about the show bothers me.

In the afternoon, "The Drive" was an OK show. Scott Paulsen is a great radio talent. Sports is not really his strength, but he was still entertaining and did a solid job running the show. The problem with "The Drive" was Mike Logan is terrible. He struggles with speaking, and that turns out to be pretty important in the radio world.

The saddest part of this transition is Stan Savran and Guy Junker are two of the best voices in Pittsburgh sports. I rarely got to listen to them, but was entertained when I caught bits of their show. They didn't even get to say goodbye to their listeners or thank them over the air for their support.

The Fan is the big winner here. With a big competitor out of the picture, they should see a ratings boost, despite the station's programming is getting stale. Other than the post-Steelers game show with Gregg Giannotti and Colin Dunlap, the hosts on the Fan rarely interact with the callers. They take plenty of calls, but their interaction is usually limited to "Thanks for your call," or "We appreciate the call," and then they hang up on the caller and rip them.

The Fan's talent also seems to have thin skin. Any time an athlete puts the media in a negative light, hosts on the Fan immediately go into attack mode. They also don't like callers questioning them. I've heard Paul Alexander and John Burton say countless times "Thanks for telling me how do my job." I understand they get bombarded with plenty of idiots and it's annoying, but they are on the air telling professional athletes and coaches what they should do in the next game, or how they should have handled a situation. Who are they to bitch about callers telling them they are doing a poor job?

I'm curious to see how the Fan reacts to having less competition. Will they get lazy, or will they make more bold steps (They are the official station for Pitt sports) to increase their exposure in the market?

Sam Cooke - Chain Gang

Pirates not terrible at PNC Park

By Jeff

Finding a reason to be hopeful for the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates season is tough. Right now, they're 55-100, a solid pitching staff is years away and no hitter on the team will hit 30 homers this year. Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista actually has more home runs than the Pirates top three boppers combined. We still have six games left in the season, but it's been over since May.

But if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that as much as we make fun of the Pirates, we also tend to be more optimistic than most fans and media. We know they suck, but we see specks of hope. And we hang onto these specks like Bruce Campbell's possessed girlfriend's head holds onto his hand in "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn." Our constant disappointment probably hurts more, though.

So how am I finding hope in the Pirates' 18th consecutive losing season? Well, by taking two of three games from the Houston Astros this weekend at PNC Park, the Pirates finished the season 40-41 at home. That's one game away from having a winning record at PNC Park. That's something this team should be able to build on.

If only we saw this on the
road more often this season.
Before you tell me, I know that the 40-41 home record comes with an embarrassing 15-59 away record. And yes, I know that is really hard to do. But doesn't the home record show that they are at least capable of winning more games than they lose? Let me cling to that!

At least the home record can maybe silence some of the organization's critics who don't stop with attacking team, but take out their anger on fans who still enjoy going to games. These individuals tell fans who go to the game that they are a part of the problem. Apparently we are to blame because we still support the team and put money in ownership's pocket, while the team continues to flounder and payroll stays low.

These critics need to shut up. We are fortunate to have professional baseball in Pittsburgh. The team has sucked for 18 years, but don't you think hundreds of other cities around the country would love to have a  terrible team in town, as opposed to nothing?

We're spoiled by the constant success of the Steelers, the revitalized Penguins and the Pirates former greatness. Recent Pirates ownership has been a big problem with the current slump, but boycotting could leave the city without a baseball team. And calling out fans who still enjoy watching baseball for $9 a ticket at a beautiful park isn't the right way to go about making changes.

Billy Joel - I Go To Extremes

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris

By Jeff

It's Friday and I'm lazy. So please enjoy this classic fight scene between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris from the movie "Way of the Dragon."

As you're watching the video, ask yourselves these questions.

  • Is it me, or does Lee take an unrealistic amount of time to unbutton his shirt?
  • Did Norris create his epic beard by clipping his chest hair and glueing it to his face?
  • If so, do you think he included any hair from the back of his neck?
  • Is there any point in time you think Norris will complete his transformation into a werewolf?
  • How much knuckle and muscle cracking is needed before a fight?
  • Why is Lee just standing still while Norris pummels his face at one point? At least make some effort to block or dodge!
  • *** SPOILER ***Has your view of Norris changed now that you've seen him defeated?

Our Lady Peace - Clumsy

Is Ichiro the greatest hitter in MLB history?

By Greg

Single season hits record? Check. Record for consecutive 200-hit seasons? Check. Most hits in MLB history? Well, that one might even be unattainable for Ichiro.

Ichiro currently has 2,230 career hits in his Major League Baseball career. However, in the Japanese League he had 1,278 hits. Now let’s be serious here. The Japanese League (NBP) is roughly the equivalent to AAA baseball in America. They stress fundamentals and sound fielding, but they lack power arms and bats. Nevertheless, this still shows the immense talent that Ichiro displayed in another league from the ages of 20 to 26. Here are Ichiro’s batting averages during this time: .385, .342, .356, .345, .358, .343, .387. Talk about absolutely annihilating pitchers. I don’t care what league you’re in. If your lowest average in a seven year period is .342, you are a special hitter.

The current all time hit leader, Pete Rose, started his MLB career at the age of 22. If Ichiro started his career in America at this age I think he would be sitting at approximately 3,200 hits, putting him in a legitimate position to break the record of 4,256 hits.

Hits through 1578 games:
Ichiro Suzuki.....2,230 (36 years old)
Ty Cobb............2,176 (30 years old)
Pete Rose.........1,974 (32 years old)

Ichiro acknowledges the crowd at the Rogers Centre in Toronto after collecting his 200th hit of the season.

Most 200-hit seasons in MLB history:
Ichiro Suzuki.......10
Pete Rose...........10
Ty Cobb...............9
Lou Gehrig...........8
Willie Keeler........8
Paul Waner..........8

Ichiro actually broke the record for most consecutive 200-hit seasons last year (Wee Willie Keeler had eight straight from 1894-1901). I hope that gives some perspective on this achievement since the first ever World Series took place two years after Keeler retired. Meanwhile, Rose’s and Cobb’s career each lasted 24 seasons. Why isn't Tim Kurkjian breaking the sound barrier with his obnoxious voice over this accomplishment?!?!

Ichiro is a perfect 10 for 10 and it’s probably the most impressive feat in MLB this century! Furthermore, I have confidence that he’ll hit another 200 next year and maybe even the year after that. Possibly even more impressive is the fact that the Mariners are challenging the Pittsburgh Pirates for the number one selection in the 2011 MLB entry draft and Ichiro just keeps hitting like he’s in a pennant race.

When people look back on the decade of 2000-2009, I think they will separate four hitters from the rest of the pack. These are the first ballot Hall of Famers* that really differentiated themselves from the rest of MLB hitters. In my opinion Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez* and Derek Jeter are in a class of their own.

I don’t think this is anything new to baseball fans, but I’d like to see Ichiro get a little more attention for a major accomplishment than the fourth biggest headline on ESPN’s homepage.

Incubus – Turning Japanese

Thursday, September 23, 2010

HBO to feature Pens/Caps for '24/7' series

By Jeff
Yeah, like this would ever happen again.

The Post-Gazette broke the news earlier today that The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will be featured in an HBO reality series leading up the Winter Classic game on New Year's Day.

The show will be under the "24/7" banner HBO previously used for boxing and NASCAR events. Players will be mic'd up on and off the ice, making for some fun television.

I'm torn about this news. On one hand, it's great exposure for the NHL. Millions of people watch HBO and the "24/7" series has been very successful. By showcasing two of the league's premier teams with the two most recognizable players, the league has a great opportunity to attract more fans to the sport. Even RJ will have to admit NHl commissioner Gary Bettman made a good move here.

Hockey fans are also winners, especially in Pittsburgh. We were trapped with the Pirates all summer. Hockey was sorely missed and having more of it to watch this season will be great. Especially when you get Max Talbot on the mic. That's the same Max Talbot who publicly called Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin a douche. Will we get similar gems during the show? Doubtful, but we can dream.

Now, the other hand. Reality shows like this usually try and makes athletes look like idiots. Most athletes don't have to try very hard to look bad (See Antonio Cromartie's attempt to recall the names of his children on "Hard Knocks), but it seems like these shows try to put them in the position to do so. I'm worried the show will try portray athletes inaccurately.

Fans of the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and all the Canada teams will also be annoying during this time. They hate how much attention Sidney Crosby gets. They will claim it's more proof that Bettman favors the Pens and sets up the league so Crosby and the team will do well. These people are wrong and conspiracy theorists, but what can you do? Despite Crosby always saying the right thing to the media, I am sure producers will try and catch him saying something negative about an opposing player, his own teammates or the refs. Especially the refs. Crosby has a reputation for being a baby, so they will want to catch him in the act.


I understand some of the hate. If my team were talented and it seemed like they were ignored because of all the press Crosby and the Pens get, I would be bitter. But they take it too far. They say he's overrated, he's not one of the top 10 players in the league and other ridiculous things. The man is 23 and getting better every season because he works his ass off all year. While he dives occasionaly, not nearly as much as haters claim, he plays the game the right way. You won't hear Crosby mouthing off to the media about the opponent or crying about how crappy his wingers are playing. He deserves the "C" as much as any other captain in the league.

*** RANT OVER ***

Crosby won't be the only target, though. Ovechkin is going to draw the hatred of many viewers as well. Ovechkin is the opposite of Crosby off the ice. The Russian frequents night clubs and has a great time, which is fine. If he wants to party like a rock star, he should. He's got the talent to back it up. I could see the show trying to catch him wasted one night or hung over the next day at practice, though. Or even make it seem like he is trashed, when he's not.

People need to realize that reality shows aren't really reality. Producers choose what to show you and what to omit. If they want to create a villain, they can do it. The show is great for the NHL, but the players really need to be on their guard with the cameras always lurking. Expect Talbot and Ovechkin to be the stars.

Warren Zevon - Hit Somebody

NFL Week 3 picks

By Jeff

Remember that time I said I would do better in Week 2 than I did in Week 1? It didn't happen. I stunk up the joint in Week 2 with a 6-9-1 record. I'm 13-16-3 on the year and already feeling like the Dallas Cowboys. The talent is there, but the production is seriously lacking.

What's even more frustrating is that my girlfriend's mom is crushing me in the family pick'em league. In the first two weeks, she is 23-9 compared to my 18-14. We only do four picks against the spread in that league, but it's still destroying my pride. She crushed me last year too.

It was very hard to pick my miss of the week from Sunday's game. After some inner debate, I chose my Arizona (+6.5) over Atlanta. I wrote "The Falcons will win this game, but it's going to be close. Derek Anderson is a joke, but so is the Falcons' secondary. Larry Fitzgerald is going to put the Cardinals on his shoulders and make a game of this one." The Falcons won 41-7. I'd definitely like a mulligan on this one.

With all that being said, Week 2 is behind us and it's time for Week 3. I can't do much worse. As always, feel free to share your own picks in the comments section.

At the request of Mike, home teams will be in all caps.

Tennessee (+3) over NEW YORK GIANTS: While I am not a big fan of Chris Johnson right now, as you can tell from this recent post, I'm not impressed with the Giants this season. Their win against Carolina in Week 1 was closer than the score showed. Matt Moore threw two picks in the endzone that mediocre quarterbacks would have turned into touchdowns. The New York offensive line is terrible and the Titans defensive line will wreck havoc on Eli Manning.

NEW ENGLAND (-14) over Buffalo: The Patriots offense sputtered in the second half last week against a Revis-less New York Jets team. That won't happen this week. Buffalo is going to struggle to win two games this season. The offense is atrocious and will not get any better with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking snaps.

BALTIMORE (-10.5) over Cleveland: What happened to Joe Flacco making the jump to elite quaterback this year with all of his new toys? Granted, he's faced some tough defenses, but elite quarterbacks overcome these challenges. Fortunately for the Ravens, The Browns suck. Ray Lewis and company will be hounding Seneca Wallace all day.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) over TAMPA BAY: Josh Freeman might want to sit this one out after seeing what the Steelers did to Vince Young last week. The Steelers offense won't be torching anyone until Ben Roethlisberger comes back, but they don't need to with that defense. Expect them to cause at least three more turnovers.

Cincinnati (-3) over CAROLINA: The Bengals held the almighty Flacco to zero touchdowns in Week 2. That does not bode well for rookie Jimmy Clausen.

NEW ORLEANS (-3.5) over Atlanta: The Saints have burned me two weeks in a row, but that offense is just too good to go against at home.

KANSAS CITY (+3) over San Francisco: Last time the 49ers played in a hostile environment, they were terrible. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play, even if the home team isn't very good. I'm probably overthinking this one. Crap.

Detroit (+11) over MINNESOTA: The Vikings offense has done very little to prove they are worthy to be double-digit favorites. The Lions might be 0-2, but they have only lost by a combined eight points. Expect another tough loss for them this week.

HOUSTON (-3) over Dallas: Is anyone else loving how the Cowboys have opened the season? John Clayton and many other NFL analysts couldn't stop gushing about how good the team was going to be this season. Instead they are 0-2 and look lost, while the Texans are looking like a playoffs team. It's only been two weeks, but you can't deny that these teams are trending in different directions. Goodbye Wade Phillips!

Washington (-3.5) over ST. LOUIS: After blowing a 17-point, fourth quarter lead last week, the Redskins are going to crush the Rams. I feel bad for Sam Bradford.

Philadelphia (-3.5) over JACKSONVILLE: That Eagles defense is looking vulnerable right now. They gave up 32 points to the Shaun Hill led Lions last week. But the offense seems to click with Michael Vick back there. While I am not ready to say he is better now than he was in Atlanta, he certainly looks like he can beat the Jaguars.

Indianapolis (-5.5) over DENVER: David Garrard threw for three touchdowns against the Broncos in Week 1. What do you think Peyton Manning is going to do to them? This line will probably move if Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey can't play.

San Diego (-5.5) at SEATTLE: It's just hard to pick Seattle. They stink. The 49ers should really be embarrassed.

Oakland (+4.5) over ARIZONA: I trust Bruce Gradkowski more than I trust Derek Anderson. Unless we're trusting them to throw the ball to the other team. Then Anderson is my boy.

New York Jets (+2) over MIAMI: This could be one of those really boring games where neither team scores a touchdown.

Green Bay (-3) over CHICAGO: Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has six sacks already this season. The Chicago offensive line is bad. Jay Cutler is going to get the crap kicked out of him. Then he will make that pouty face that makes you want to punch him repeatedly. Unfortuantely, you can't. Life isn't fair.

Stiff Little Fingers - Fly the Flag

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Its All About the Stache

By Mike R.

Howdy fellow yinzers. It is good to now be a part of Jeffrey Rickel’s blog. I have enjoyed all of your work and Jeff has asked me to bring my brain and all of its college football knowledge to this blog.

Today I thought I would lead off with a program that is near and dear to our hearts; the Pitt Panthers. They take on the U tomorrow evening at Heinz Field. For Pitt it will be another chance to showcase their program on the national stage. For me it will be a joy to sit back and watch the majesty that is Dave Wannstedt coach a football team. Everytime I see him on the sidelines I smile. He is like John L Smith but with a mustache.

The funny thing about it is all offseason it is like I forgot he was their coach and as I kept looking over Pitt’s roster I kept thinking to myself this could be a really good football team. And then they went to Utah and brought me back to reality.

Back when I was still living in Pittsburgh I had a certain disdain for the Pitt football program. I can’t really put my finger on why (mainly dealt with the fans that kept jumping back and forth between Pitt and Penn St.) but as I have moved away I no longer harbor such feelings. I root for them causally when they are on but I think it is more out of pity than anything else. Recruiting has not been the problem. There is talent but if there ever was a time to take the weak Big East by the throat it is clearly now. Petrino, Rich Rod and now Kelly are gone. Come on Pitt, do it. (I picked WVU btw to win the Big East and with Geno Smith playing the way he is I feel more comfortable about that pick.)

I really have no idea what all of what I just said has to do with tomorrow’s game but I have to get a sense that people that actual Pitt fans have to feel that frustration. Tomorrow will be another chance for Pitt to gain some street cred against a team that will be trying to establish themselves as well. These teams are very similar in that they have talent but I have no idea if they can put it all together.

As for the actual game, expect Jacory Harris to bounce back and put up some solid numbers tomorrow evening. I know Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin will try their hardest but I expect the U to pull this one out. Sorry Pitt. The U 28-17.

Regardless of what happens just know this, Colelli and I will be at the Hidden Shamrock here in Chi Town. Which is a Miami bar randomly but if it was a Michigan/Steelers bar I guess I would probably never leave. This will obviously end in me punching Colelli in the face which is a way more sure fire bet than picking Miami.

Hall and Oates- Rich Girl