Thursday, December 27, 2012

National sports media in love with Arians

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Steelers choked in a big way this season, the first under offensive Todd Haley.

When listening to ESPN radio, hearing national media personalities talk and reading stories from national sites, it's interesting to see that one of the main things they do is blame Haley for the failures of the Steelers offense.

At the same time, they are praising Bruce Arians, who is working some magic in Indianapolis this year.

It's interesting to hear them say that the team was better off with Arians than Haley. Arians was no offensive genius here. He was good, but not great. At the same time, he was unjustly vilified by fans in Pittsburgh as the problem with the offense. The truth is that the systems implemented by these two men are and were not the problem. The team itself has been the problem.

In his last season with the , Arians' offense scored 20.3 points per game. In Haley's first, with mostly identical talent, the team has averaged 20.8 with a game to go.

While Arians liked to throw downfield more, Haley likes shorter and quicker routes to try and keep Ben Roethlisberger from getting hit too much. Both strategies had their ups and downs. Ben was sacked more than anybody in years with Arians and got hurt a few times. Ben was getting sacked less with Haley and was having an MVP-caliber season at one point, but still got hurt.

There isn't a big difference in production and it's unfair to claim that firing Arians and hiring Haley were mistakes. Haley deserves at least another season before anyone makes that judgment.

Haley had some poor game plans, but he still had the team's offense in position to win eight of the team's nine losses. The offense came up short in all of those with bad sacks, interceptions and poor play. That's not Haley's fault. At some point, professional athletes have to do their jobs.

On the other side of the state, you have Sal Paolantonio telling Philadelphia Eagles fans that Arians would be the perfect fit for the Eagles' head coaching job once Andy Reid is fired at the end of this year.

This is comical to me because Arians is a pass-happy coach and Eagles fans and local media are constantly bitching about Reid's pass-happy ways. So how does he fit as the head coach over here? Arians was fired from Pittsburgh for not running enough.

Arians is doing great things in Indianapolis. But that is a unique situation. That team has been brought together by their coach, Chuck Pagano, having cancer. The team is rallying around the "Chuck Strong" mantra they have developed and having an unlikely run to the playoffs. They also have the most highly touted rookie quarterback since Peyton Manning. Arians would have Nick Foles in Philly.

To me, the Arians love, Haley bashing and Andy Reid love (I didn't dive into this, but the national media claims the Eagles will be sorry they ran him out of town. They don't understand the man has lost this team and needs to move on.) are examples of the national media speaking out of their butts.

They don't follow these teams as closely as the fans who live in these markets do. They see a few games a year and just make statements without diving in to deep to the stats or the film. I don't want to take away from the great things Arians is doing in Indy, but he would not have put the Steelers or the Eagles in the playoffs this year.

Steelers caved under pressure this year

By Jeff

The 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers season may go down as the most frustrating season I've experienced. More frustrating than their 8-8 stinker (2006) after winning the Super Bowl.

This team had the talent to be a championship-caliber team. The defense, while not boasting the standout individual performances of past teams, was very good. They had their let down games against Oakland and San Diego, but they came to play more often than not.

The failures of this season came down to the offense, and it starts with the quarterback. While Ben Roethlisberger had one of his best statistical seasons overall, he came up short in big moments. This is a complete reversal of the the Roethlisberger Steelers fans have witnessed since 2004. As fans, we always expect Ben to pull out a victory if he has the ball late in the 4th quarter. This year he failed more often than not.
  • He took terrible sacks latre in the Dallas game when the team could should have put the game away
  • He threw the interception in overtime in the same game that led to the loss
  • He didn't show up until halfway through the third quarter against a terrible San Diego team AT HOME!
  • He threw an interception returned for a touchdown against Cincinnati
  • He threw another interception with less than 2 minutes in the same game that cost the team the playoffs
Of course, Ben wasn't helped much by his teammates. Emmanuel Sanders had some terrible drops and fumbles, Antonio Brown fumbled a punt return that led to a Dallas touchdown and Mike Wallace seemed disinterested in most of the games I saw.

Let's stay on Wallace for a second. Here is a guy that held out of training camp because he wanted more than his $2.7 million tender. Not just more money, he wanted Larry Fitzgerald money (8-year, $120M). Well, Wallace won't be seeing that kind of money after he failed to break 1,000 yards this season and had a case of the dropsies.

Wallace even went so far as to say he was dropping passes because he wasn't getting enough balls thrown his way, which led to a lack of focus.

First, if you are a NFL wide receiver making millions of dollars, playing for a new contract and fighting for a playoff spot, isn't that enough to make you focus? If not, then why do you think you deserve a $120 million deal?

Second, Wallace had 119 targets, which led the Steelers. He converted those targets into 64 catches. A stud receiver with a QB like Roethlisberger should do better.

Third, Wallace didn't appear to care this year. He made poor plays, ran wrong routes and didn't fight for contested balls. He just seemed to be going through the motions and blaming others for his poor play.

That leads to another problem with the 2012 team. There were too many instances of the team complaining about stuff to the media. Roethlisberger was questioning the play calling, Wallace his targets and the running backs about their carries. Rashard Mendenhall didn't show up to a game because he was demoted. These childish actions are not what Steelers fans have come to expect from their team, and we certainly don't like it.

Look back at the season and you will find two games where the opposing offense didn't score a touchdown, and the Steelers still lost (At Baltimore and vs. Cincinnati). On top of that, you will find another game (At Cleveland) where the defense only gave up touchdowns after the offense turned it over deep in their own territory.

Those are three games an NFL team has to win, and the Steelers lost all three because their offense was terrible.

Some of the blame falls on coaches as well. Byron Leftwich is not a viable backup. He gets injured every time he steps onto the field. Seriously. Go look it up over the past several years. If he gets in a game, whether it's preseason or not regular, he gets hurt. The organization needs to find a reliable backup who will not break when touched.

You also can't help but question the coaching staff when you hear the players complaining about play calling or their roles to the media. That is something that belongs in the locker room. These are the Steelers we're talking about, not the New York Jets.

There are no legitimate excuses for why the Steelers are not in the playoffs this year. They had the talent and just didn't live up to it. As a fan, who with hockey probably being canceled this year has nothing to look forward to until March, this month was a very sad month.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA cares about gun industry profits, not safety

By Jeff

Anyone catch the NRA press conference today?

It was disturbing to me as I caught a taping online. A week after one of the worst school shootings in our nation's history, the head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Wayne LaPierre, said we shouldn't be talking about limiting access to guns. He says we need to have armed guards in every school.

And then he had the nerve to say that calling for stricter gun control laws was politicizing the Newtown strategy. So wanting to protect children and the public from semi-automatic assualt rifles with high capacity magazines (More than 10 bullets) is politicizing, but calling to arm more people is not?

The man even said that assault rifles are not really a problem, and many are not military weapons. Nope, guns are not the problem. The problems, according to LaPierre, is that we have violent video games and movies.

While I agree that video games and movies have more violence than is necessary, this is just a smoke screen to try and shift the blame from guns that serve no purpose in a civilian's hands other than mass murder.

Japan is the video game capital of the world. They have all the same shooter games the United States has. They have "God of War", "Resident Evil", "Mortal Kombat" and all the gruesome games that rely on extreme violence for popularity. Japan had 11 gun-related homicides in 2008 compared to the our country's 12,000+.

But Japan has serious gun control laws that make owning, let alone carrying them, illegal. Even the guns your allowed to own in Japan are very hard to get permits for.

So here is a culture with very violent video games and media, yet they have practically no gun related homicides. It is in direct contradiction with LaPierre's statements that more guns would make us safer and it's the violent media that makes people want to shoot others.

I also have read and heard several pro-gun individuals cite that the 1994 assault weapons ban didn't work. While it's true that the study concluded that it could not say that the ban resulted in viewer gun related incidents, there are specific parts of the study of the University of Pennsylvania study that they conveniently leave out.

What pro-gun advocates fail to mention is that the study says the ban was in place long enough to draw full conclusions. It also found that while the number of gun assaults were not drastically changed, the results of the gun assaults were. The study says in the conclusion section that attacks with assault weapons and high capacity magazines resulted in more shots fired, more injuries and greater severity of the injuries.

The major problems with the past assault rifles ban was that it had more than 600 exemptions, manufacturers could alter assault rifles to become legal while still incredibly deadly and it couldn't do anything about the millions of guns and high capacity magazines already on the streets of the US.

You can read the full study here:

It's time to get serious about making our country safer from guns. Australia got fed up with guns after a 1996 mass killing. As a result, the pro-George Bush prime minister of Australia, John Howard, banned assault weapons and shotguns, and created a buy back program to get previously purchased guns off the street. Accoroding to this study, gun homicides fell by 59 percent and gun suicides fell by 65 percent after the law was introduced. They still have violent video games and movies in Australia, so I'm pretty sure that's a poor argument.

I'm not saying we need to eliminate the Second Amendment. I respect hunters and that for some it is a way of life. There are very responsible gun owners out there who are not hurting society. But assault rifles don't serve a purpose when hunting.

The Second Amendment is outdated and vague. It was drafted before the 19th century, before our ancestors could fathom assault rifles. It was drafted before there were police departments, phones to call the police, the majority of the population was rural, there were no cars to get to a crime scene quickly, and there were serious threats of England waging war or Native Americans attacking.

Times have changed, and we need to realize that assault weapons should not be protected under the Second Amendment.

If President Obama and our lawmakers are serious about keeping this country safe from guns, they are going to have to man-up and take on the NRA. It won't be an easy battle. Many pro-gun people will be upset. But some battles are worth the fight, and this is one of them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How does Petrino find work?

By Jeff

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino "is slime".

There is no better or simple way to put it. The man makes promises and breaks them to players, athletic directors, his family and just about everyone else.

Yet he continues to be hired. And not just hired, he is making big bucks at Western Kentucky ($850,000/year). That's almost $1 million a year for a man who quit on a college football team; quit on a pro football and didn't even have the heart to speak to his players (left notes in their lockers like a middle school break-up); and most recently hired an unqualified woman for a position at Arkansas, had an affair with said woman, got into a motorcycle crash with said woman, and lied to the athletic director about said motorcycle crash.

The Western Kentucky press release brings up how great Petrino is at "developing student athletes. Yes, he has been a successful coach on the field. Off the field is another story. The Razorbacks were near the bottom of the SEC for graduation rates every season Petrino was there (55 percent, 53 percent, 52 percent, 52 percent). So maybe Western Kentucky should just say he is great at developing athletes, and would receive a failing grade for the student part.

This move just shows how college athletics have too much influence within universities. Imagine if a professor applied for a job at a college and the administration knew he had lied to his past employer, had an affair with a previous coworker, and quit in the middle of his obligation for two other previous jobs. Oh, and only a little over half of those taking his classes graduate. I've never hired a professor, but I imagine all those red flags would lead to a big rejection.

I guess that analogy is a little off because Western Kentucky saught Petrino out. That's right, they went out and said this is the guy we need for our school. This lying, quitting, cheating man is the one we want to be a mentor to our student athletes.

Of course, that statement isn't true. The school clearly did not care about their student athletes. They cared about the school's reputation and winning football games. Integrity and responsibility to graduating players be damned!

At least this move is pretty much guaranteed to bite Western Kentucky in the ass. If Petrino succeeds, there is no way he is still there in two years. A big-name school with little intregrity will come courting him with more money, which the sleazeball will take in a heartbeat. The other outcome is Petrino and Western Kentucky football will fail, and in that case, both the athletic department and Petrino will lose.

Alice Cooper - School's Out

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Hobbit' exceeds expectations

By Jeff

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jouney" is a fantastic movie.

Like any book made into a movie, die-hard J.R.R. Tolkien fans will point out every minor change Jackson and the writers made for the big screen version. But as a pretty big Tolkien nerd myself, I found the movie to live up to and beyond expectations.

Just to give you a little background into my Tolkien nerdiness, I have been a fan of the man's work since I was about 4. My first introduction to Middle Earth was through my dad, when he taped the Rankin/Boss produced TV movie version for my brother and I. From there, I saw the Rankin/Boss "Return of the King" movie, read "The Hobbit", "Lord of the Rings" and "Simarillion", and seen Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films.

So I am going on over 20 years of fandom and feel I know the world of Middle Earth pretty well. But my knowledge is limited. I can't name the 13 dwarves of "The Hobbit" or the Valar by heart. I can't recite the house of Feanor without the help of a family tree. So I'm sure there are those fans out there who don't think I'm qualified to discuss Tolkien's works and adaptations. Fortunately, they don't read this blog and I don't care what they think or say!

For those who don't know "The Hobbit" is the story before the events that take place in "Lord of the Rings". It is where we are introduced to Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman, Gollum and the Ring of Power. The book was originally released as a children's book, so it's content is much lighter than "Lord of the Rings".

OK, enough with the disclaimers and intro. Review time!

The story follows the hobbit (a peaceful, lazy little person with hairy feet), Bilbo Baggins, as he ventures with a band of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, trying to regain their homeland from the dragon Smaug. Gandalf the wizard also helps with the journey. Thorin is the heir to the kingdom Smaug took for his personal lair.

Jackson does a great job of mixing story telling with action. It's not a dumb action/fantasy movie that leaves you wondering what the hell everything was all about. We get good exposition setting up the story and the action scenes are well spaced out so audiences will have trouble getting bored.   In the book, the first couple chapters are pretty tough to get through. Tolkien loved detail, so we spent a whole chapter learning which cakes which dwarves liked. It served nothing to further the story and Jackson was able to make this scene enjoyable.   We also get a few songs that reminded me of the old cartoon and that were missing in the LOTR trilogy. If you haven't seen the cartoon movie, you might think these are silly, but I loved it for nostalia.

Of the Tolkien works that Jackson has brought to life in film, it is with "The Hobbit" where he remains the most true to the book. Of course there are plenty of scenes that slightly or greatly differ from the book, but I found them to be refreshing and clever ways to incorporate other characters from Tolkien's mind.

The greatest example of this is the main antagonist of the movie, an albino orc named Azog. Azog never appeared in the novel, but was mentioned in the appendices found in "The Return of the King". He was an orc leader in Moria who killed Thorin's grandfather. The murder caused what was known as the War of the Dwarves and Orcs that lasted for years and ended when the dwarves killed Azog and forced the orcs to retreat into Moria.  

In the film, Azog is hunting down Thorin and his band because in Jackson's version, Thorin chopped off Azog's hand at the final battle of the Dwarf/Orc war and that crazy orc has held a grudge ever since.   I see reviews that don't like this "exaggerated blood fued", but I think it enhances the film. We get a cool battle scene between the dwarves and orcs, as well as giving a sense of urgency to the dwarves quest.  

Bilbo, played well by Martin Freeman, is almost an afterthought for quite some time. The dwarves, especially Thorin, dismiss his company and he doesn't do too much after joining the quest. He is more like comic relief than the focus of the story.  

That all changes when he meets Gollum in the goblin cave. Here we see the perfect combination of acting and technology come together. Andy Serkis again plays the computer generated Gollum. But with the updated motion capture technology, we see ever wrinkle Serkis', and therefore, Gollum's face makes. The whole scene is just incredible and intense, but sprinkled with humor. Freeman shows that he was the perfect choice for the role and the scene as a whole is the film's finest moment.  

And that is why I appreciate the work Jackson did so much. This moment is the moment that sets the LOTR trilogy in motion. Without it, there is no Fellowship of the Ring, there is no quest into Mordor and perhaps Sauron has more time to build up his armies, thinking the Ring is still lost. This had to be done right or else I think the movie would have been a disappointment. That's not to say the rest of the movie wasn't good, it just tells you the magnitude of this event is in the history of Middle Earth.  

While I was originally skeptical of Jackson making "The Hobbit" into three movies (originally it was just going to be two), the pacing of this first film was near perfect. It didn't feel rushed at any point and there were only a few scenes that felt a little drawn out.

 The drawbacks of the film starts with some of the characters, especially the majority of the dwarves. There are just too many. Viewers are not introduced to each one, just Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili and Thorin. Then you kind of have to guess who is who from the dialogue. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not. Just having Gandalf recite their names will not help casual viewers. And with 13 dwarves, clearly you're not going to get much character development with all of them. Even Tolkien didn't give us too much about them.  

While the addition of Azog is effective, there is a scene involving rock giants that Jackson took liberties with that didn't serve much of a purpose. It just seemed like an excuse to either include them in the movie because he thought they'd look cool (they didn't) or he wanted another action sequence.  

There is also the rather slow start to the film. It is more for the fans of the first trilogy. We get to see Frodo and old Bilbo, with old Bilbo narrating the introduction. It would have been better to just start with a young Bilbo meeting Gandalf.  

A lot has been made about the 48 frames-per-second filming of "The Hobbit". I think it looked great and didn't take long to adjust to the crazy clear picture. I could see others not liking it, but to me it was just like seeing HD for the first time. It looked unnaturally clear at first, then it just became the norm.  

Go see "The Hobbit". It was awesome.  

Frodo of the Nine Fingers  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Celebrating 4 years with Yigo

By Jeff

On this day 4 years ago, I brought home the dog that became the mascot of this blog.

That's right, Yigo and I have now been together for 4 years. Where the hell does the time go? It feels like just yesterday I was spending a Friday night pulling what felt like dozens of ticks off the coolest and most gentle dog I've ever met. Jeff and Yigo 24, ticks 0. Suck on that, Guamanian ticks.

Since that night, we've pretty much been inseparable. On Guam, he went on hikes, to the beach and even into work with me on some occasions.

There is not enough space here to tell all the fun stories he's given me in the 4 years. In those 4 years, Yigo has made quite impression on just about everyone he's met. From friends, family, groomers and strangers, everyone loves the little guy.

And what's not to love? He will cuddle with anyone after 5 minutes with them, he hardly barks and he has the definition of the sad puppy dog face. Seriously, could you say no to this face?

It will be hard to outdo the past 4 years, but now that Yigo has a crazy sister in Lucy (Seriously, she is crazy!), chances are good the next 4 years are going to be a blast. Or Lucy will eat me out of house and home and Yigo will be traumatized by having a 50-pound ball of furry energy trying to play with him 24/7. Either way, it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Batch inspires us all

By Jeff

Here is a great read from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Dejan Kovacevic regarding Charlie Batch.

As football fans, we tend to exaggerate the importance of football. We talk about the toughnes of players who fight through injuries. We treat them as heroes when they win games they are expected to lose. Just look at my recent post showering Batch with praise for his ability to overcome a bad outing and national criticism for his recent play.

The truth is, win or lose Sunday, Batch would would be holding his head high and should. He has overcome so much and helped and helped so many throughout his life. The success of his charitable works has been assisted by his success as a professional athlete, but I bet he still would have made his community better even without his football career. That's just the type of person he is.

Monday, December 3, 2012

NBA owes Spurs $250,000

By Jeff

It's very rare that I care about anything happening in the NBA, but David Stern fining the San Antonio Spurs because they benched their star players before a game against the Miami Heat is a joke.

A very expensive joke. The fine was $250,000.

Just to put that in perspective, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rando threw a punch and tackled Brooklyn Nets Kris Humphries into the stands and only received a two-game suspension. The suspension without pay is the equivalent of a $243,000 fine.

So while one player embarrassed the league and endangered some of its fans, he wasn't monetarily punished as harshly as a team trying to keep their team healthy. A team that was playing it's fourth road game in a five-day span, claiming the Spurs were acting "contrary to the best interests of the NBA."

But what about the best interests of the Spurs?

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker are all 30 or older. I don't know why Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent Gerald Green home, but I don't care either. A coach does what he thinks is in the best interest of his team. If that is benching his players to give them some rest early in the season, that is his decision. He wanted his stars fresh for an upcoming game against first-place Memphis Grizzlies.

They sacrificed a practically meaningless Eastern Conference game to be better prepared for an important division game. It makes sense to me.

One of the first things Stern said to justify the fine was this was the Spurs only trip to Miami and they didn't give enough notice to the Heat. Give me a break. The Heat have LeBron James. They don't need help selling tickets. There will be plenty of great basketball for Heat fans to attend. I don't feel bad for anyone going to that game and being disappointed that they didn't see Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Green.

There is also the fact that the Spurs almost won the game! The Heat needed a last-minute 3-pointer to seal the game. Fans got their money's worth.

Let's also not forget that just last season the NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said it was OK that the Spurs were resting players.

This is a story of David Stern flexing his muscle. He doesn't really care about the fans, but he wants them to think he does. He is showing the Spurs and the rest of the league that he can pretty much do whatever he pleases at the moment.

Van Halen - 1984

Batch silences critics

By Jeff

There is no denying that Charlie Batch had a bad Week 12. Three interceptions (at least one was not his fault) and a loss to a bad Cleveland Browns team reminded me of the 2002 game where the Steelers gave up 70 total yards, yet lost 24-6 because of three turnovers returned for touchdowns.

The saddest part was it looked as if it could have been Batch's last start, maybe even playing time in the NFL.

Fortunately, Batch found redemption this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. He outplayed self-proclaimed "elite" quarterback Joe Flacco and led the Steelers to a very important win. If or when the Steelers make the postseason, people will look back and say this is the game that made it possible. A loss yesterday, and the Steelers would have had a tough road to the playoffs.

What made yesterday's victory even better for Steelers fans was how emotional Batch was after the game. He was locked in a massive embrace with Ben Roethlisberger and crying onto Big Ben's shoulder/chest.

Moments like that are why we love sports. With Roethlisberger likely to return next week, Batch thought this was his last game. He went out with his career's best win. I'd cry too!

Batch has always been a good teammate. When the team was grooming Byron Leftwich to start in place of a suspended Ben and Dennis Dixon to back up Leftwich, it was assumed Batch was to be released. Batch never cried to the media or sulked. He went about his business and made sure he was ready.

Well, Leftwich got hurt in the preseason, which he has done in two of the past three postseasons. Then Dixon got hurt and Batch was the only one left. He helped the team win two of three games when the team was supposed to start 1-3.

Batch has been great for the Pittsburgh community and will always be beloved in Pittsburgh. It was great to see him have that moment in the sun. Not many athletes, in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, deserved it more.

Saves the Day - Jukebox Breakdown

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcome back, Plax

By Jeff

There is a whole heck of a lot going on right now. Especially since I go AWOL every month. So let's try and catch up!

  • Plaxico Burress is coming home! The big wide receiver signed with the Steelers this week because Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery are hurt. It's a good signing as long as we keep our expectations in check. Burress is 35 and isn't a deep threat anymore. But it is nice to have another red zone option other than Health Miller.

  • The NHL is still stupid.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Frauds trade went through. The commissioner had no right to block the trade, so I'm glad he didn't. But the Frauds deserve to be ripped by fans, media and everyone on the planet. They promised a committment to winning and broke that promise in less than a year.

  • Phil Jackson is a better coach than Mike D'Antoni, but he has quit twice before on the Lakers. There is nothing wrong with the Lakers moving in a different direction. They could have handled the situation better, but can you blame them for not bringing Jackson back when everybody knows it could be just a one-year thing?

  • Philadelphia Eagles fans really hate Andy Reid. Philadelphia media is also going crazy. You should hear them talk about how they should find a new coach. Sal Paolantonio says they need to move Andy out, hire a consulting group that includes ex players and really show fans they are determined to bring legitimacy back to the Eagles. This is a little over a year after they made a huge splash in free agency and people were picking them as Super Bowl contenders. One mediocre year and one bad year do not warrant the panic that has set in over here. Just hire a new coach. Done.

  • Just saw "Silver Linings Playbook" last night. I usually HATE BRadley Cooper, but he was great and stole just about every scene he was in. That is saying a lot considering he shared many scenes with Robert De Niro. The dialogue was the best I've heard since "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". Not sure it should be getting the Oscar buzz it is as a whole, but Cooper's name should be tossed around. 

  • I've been playing a lot of "LA Noire" for the PS3. It's a very cool and unique game, as it lets you play detective by searching for clues and trying to figure out if people are lying or not with some groundbreaking gaming technology. It gets a little redundant, but that's how all Rock Star games are.
  • I get that Mike Golic played football and doesn't like that the game is focusing more on safety. I do. But it still bothers me that every time there is a hit to the head and a fine, he complains. We get it, Golic, you were a very tough man when you played. That doesn't mean that hits to the head have a place in the NFL with all this new research showing how dangerous headshots are. Maybe he should have manned-up and healed naturally instead of using steroids. Zing!

  • I hate to say it, but Notre Dame deserves their ranking. They played a tough schedule, and despite some close games, they are the only undefeated team that matters (Ohio State hasn't lost, but they are on probation).
Big Country - The Promised Land

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give me back my hockey!

By Jeff

Yes, I'm channeling my inner Mel Gibson. No, not the anti-Semitic, anti-women drunk. I'm talking about the one in "Ransom" who wants his son back and kicks some ass to do it.

What the hell is wrong with the NHL? I would give the definition of insanity, but we've all heard the saying. But truly, the NHL is insane. They are pushing their fans to the brink.

We want hockey. We want to pay to go to games and we want to watch throughout the week. But it seems the NHL doesn't give a damn about those that make their business possible.

We've lost one season to CBA negotiations, and now three others have been shortened because owners and players can't agree.

There is not another major league in the country that has lost a season to labor disputes, yet the NHL may lose two in less than 10 years. That's embarrassing. It's a $3 billion business, and they can't find common ground?

One of the big sticking points right now is the contract rights. The league wants to limit the number of years a deal can have, as well as delaying free agency by a year.

I understand the idea behind limiting deals to 5 years, especially when you see they 10-year, mega-deals that circumvent the cap. Of course, the league could have hindered this by actually having a spine and rejecting all the deals like this, not just the Ilya Kovalchuk contract. At the same time, it was the OWNERS who gave these contracts in the first place!

As for delaying free agency until the 8th year of NHL service instead of 7, that's just stupid. If you have a player in your organization for 7 years and don't know if he is right for your team or ready for the NHL, then you need to fire your scouts/development team because they are failing.

Now, we don't officially know what's being said in these negotiations. But to me it seems like the players are being asked to give up more than the owners, again. You can only push a person so far until they can't take being pushed around anymore. That's where the players seem to be now.

If I lose the NHL this season, I will place all the blame on the owners. And I don't think I'm wrong.

David Essex - Rock On

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marlins are jokes

By Jeff

How are the Miami Marlins still a professional franchise?

For the third time in my lifetime, they have sent their best players packing to say boatloads of money. Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio are all headed to Toronto for Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis and three of the Blue Jays' top prospects.

Baseball should be furious. Other teams should be furious. Marlins fans should be furious. The three Marlins players left should be furious.

In the words of Donald Trump, we need a revolution! (Seriously, what a joke the Donald is. What's scary is some people think he makes good points.)

Marlins ownership lied to the public. In order to get more than $300 million of public money for their new stadium, they said they would field a competitive team. They tried for one year. Yes, they started with a bad year, but that's not reason to blow it up. The team had boatloads of talent. Maybe it just needed to gel. Maybe it just needed a manager who cared more about managing and less about attention.

Sad to say it, but the Pirates are in a similar boat. They received hundreds of millions of public dollars to fund PNC Park and promised a winning team. They haven't had one and have consistently made questionable baseball decisions.

This is a problem for baseball and fans in these cities. With no salary floor and revenue sharing, teams like the Marlins can make a lot of money while putting terrible teams on the field. It doesn't matter that people don't show up for games, because teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will fund the poor teams.

What a joke.

Now, as a Blue Jays fan, I am excited for Toronto. If Johnson and Reyes stay healthy, they could actually compete for the AL East for the first time in a long time.

As a fan of baseball, the deal angers me and just shows how silly this league can be. Teams that are not committed to winning should not be rewarded. If you don't have a payroll of X amount, then you should not be eligible for revenue sharing.

David Bowie - Heroes

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Don't blame the refs

By Jeff

Before a co-ed IM soccer game in college, a student referee completely changed the way I view refs in sports.

Prior to the game starting, the official was going through his pregame spiel (wear shin guards, no slide tackling, etc.) and he finished with a simple request. Don't yell at him if he makes a mistake. Well, what ref wouldn't say that? It was what he said after that has resonated with me since.

"If you guys make a stupid play or kick the ball over the net, I'm not going to tell you how much you suck," he said. "So give me a break if I miss something. I'm trying my best."

Having never been a ref, I never looked at it from that perspective. And it's a brilliant point. I've never experienced a ref ripping me for all the poor plays I've made throughout my life. I've never seen a ref tearing into anybody for their poor play, so why are we so quick to not only tear them new ones, but blame them for our losses?

This memory has been on my mind recently with the replacement officials in the NFL and the recent controversial call in the NL Wild Card game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The former was really highlighted at the end of the Week 3 Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle won on a last-second hail mary where the Seattle receiver should have been flagged for pass interference and most observers will tell you that Seahawks' Golden Tate did not have duel possession as the refs ruled.

The replacement officials messed up on the final play of a game, which is pretty rare. Usually people screw up, but teams have time to overcome it. This was different, but it still didn't cost the Packers the game. The Packers offensive line gave up eight sacks and their high-octane offense didn't do squat. Their defense let the Seahawks get to the 30-yard line and have a shot at the endzone.

The refs screwed up at a vital part of the game, but the Packers had 59 minutes to make that last drive irrelevant.

As for the umpires in last night's Wild Card game, it is a lot easier to defend. Now I don't know how a fly ball to the middle of left field could be an infield fly rule, but that is what the umps decided. I don't care what Joe Torre says, it looked wrong to me.

But once again, the umps didn't decide that game.

The fact the Braves couldn't get timely hitting when they had runners in scoring position is a reason they lost. Three errors certainly didn't help the Braves either. The umps made a bad call, they didn't cause the Braves to lose.

That how it is with pretty much all blown calls. Like the Packers games, the call may be the last play of the game and cause a win or loss. But these games are four quarters, nine innings, three periods, whatever. There is plenty of time for teams or players to win or lose the games. They have vastly more control from the refs, and those who blame the refs need to look at themselves or their team more closely.

Weezer - Teenage Victory Song

Saturday, September 8, 2012

When did journalism and fact checking separate?

By Jeff

Anyone else notice a strange happening going on in the media? No, not that thing where networks like Fox News and MSNBC are the most popular cable news networks because they promote partisan hackery. That is old news.

The strange happening I am talking about is the rise of the all powerful fact checkers. We have,, The Fact Checker for the Washington Post and countless others. These Web sites and individuals look at what is being said in the political world and determine if these statements are true or not.

While I like that these resources exist, it's strange that they have to. From my understanding of journalism, it is the responsibility of the reporters and editors of the news media to check facts and hold people accountable when they lie to the media and the American people. But at some point, journalists seemed to have stopped doing this. They let political candidates and their supporters spout lies. They don't point out in their stories that these statements are actually false. They just get their quote and go on their way.

Look back at the Republican National Convention for a perfect example. Vice president candidate Paul Ryan told some lies in his speech. Some of the news organizations covering the event (I'm looking right at you, Wolf) knew that he was lying. They mentioned on the air that some of the things Ryan said sounded false. But instead of them informing the viewers about the truth, they said they would leave it to the fact checkers.

Are you friggin' kidding me! You're supposedly journalists! It's you're job to report the facts. If a man, especially a vice presidential candidate, is lying, you call him out and educate the audience to the truth.

To be fair, there are plenty of real journalists out there who understand their responsibility and do great work. Unfortunately, these folks aren't as popular or big personalities.

Sure, the Internet had a lot to do with the decline of traditional media, but maybe these editors, publishers and producers need to look in the mirror and realize that they have become part of the problem too. Our watch dogs have turned from dobermans to greyhounds. You see, greyhounds are known as the 30-mile-per-hour couch potatoes. If there is a furry creature a greyhound will sprint after it without thinking twice. But when they are not racing after rabbits, they are sitting around doing nothing.

Kind of like many of the popular media today. When they have a juicy story, they chase it and report on it with all kinds of enthusiasm, even when said story is a silly as that Chick-Fil-A garbage. And they do it until the story is utterly exhausted. But then they are crazy lazy when it comes to other stories. They don't ask tough questions out of fear as being labeled bias, unless it's Fox News, then they embrace the fact they are bias (Well, or they are just lazy and don't care. It's hard to tell.). They sit back and let other people (fact checkers) do their jobs.

Fortunately, much of what our elected officials do and say are public record. We as good citizens don't have to rely on journalists or fact checkers to see if we're being lied to. We just need to have open minds and get off our asses. Whether we are liberal or conservative, but we need to recognize that not everything our side says is true.

Weezer - Tragic Girl

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some love for some Buccos

By Jeff

If you told me before the MLB season that Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen would be the favorite for the NL MVP in August, I would have said it's a possibility, but probably too soon.

Now, if you told me that newly aquired starter A.J. Burnett would be in the Cy Young race, I would have laughed at you. Maybe slapped you if you were smaller and/or slower than me.

But here we are in August, and McCutchen and Burnett are having tremendous seasons. McCutchen is the NL MVP right now and if the season finished today, Burnett would have to be in the top five for the Cy Young.

It's amazing to follow these guys right now.

Ever since Pittsburgh fans saw McCutchen speed out of the box on the way to his first triple in 1999, we all knew he could be great. Finally, Dave Littlefield got one right! In a little less than four seasons, McCutchen has career numbers of 74 home runs, 582 hits, .295 average, 332 runs, 268 RBIs (Yeah, I put the "s" in. Deal with it.) and .377 OBP. This year, he's already matched last year' shome run total (23) and is batting more than 100 points better (.370 compared to .259).

What is even more impressive about McCutchen's season is for the first two months of the season, he had almost no help in the lineup. In April and May, the Pirates had a almost historically bad offense. It was like the team was running out McCutchen and eight minor leaguers every game. Yet McCutchen kept lighting up opposing pitching and somehow led the Pirates to a .500 record after the first two months of the season.

Now that the rest of the team has started hitting (They had the most runs in the league in June.), the Pirates are sitting at 16 games above .500 on August 9. Hard to believe, right?

Of course, the pitching has also been a major factor. While James McDonald started hot, it's Burnett who has been the most reliable. When the team was facing a sweep by the Reds last weekend, it was Burnett who came in and picthed 8+ innings to stop the slide. After a bad loss to the Cubs, Burnett stepped to the rubber and nearly pitched a no-hitter.

For the season Burnett has an ERA of 3.19, WHIP of aorund 1.15, 14 wins and 109 strikeouts. Other than wins, he's outside the top 10 in the major categories, but I'm not sure there is a single guy in the NL who has been more important to his team than Burnett.

When was the last time the Pirates had a starter who actually made you feel confident that a win was coming? Honestly, I can't remember one. Maybe the year Oliver Perez had people making comparisons to Randy Johnson (Yes, people were actually doing that because Perez's slider was nasty and his K/9 was greater than 11.) had fans thinking that, but I don't recall.

When Burnett takes the mound, fans and the team alike know there is a better chance of a win. That can do a whole lot in terms of motivating everyone to step up their games, because they don't want to be the ones to let the team down.

While McCutchen will probably be the unanimous MVP choice if he keeps up his pace, Burnett would probably have to be even better than he has been to win the Cy Young. I'm not sure that's possible, but in this season of improbabilities, I'm not betting against it.

Cookie Monster - Share it Maybe

Monday, July 23, 2012

Civilians should not be allowed assault rifles

By Jeff

Even before the tragedy in Aurora Colorado early Friday morning, where a nut job killed 12 people and wounded over 50 at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" I thought our nation needed to wake up and not allow the sale of assault rifles to civilians.

Assault rifles have nothing to do with defending your family. These weapons can fire hundreds of rounds in a minute. There are only two reasons a person not currently in combat for the military would need these weapons. The first is to kill a lot of people. The second is a zombie apocalypse. Oh, and the second one is a fictional scenario.

The NRA and the political leaders that they pay a whole lot of money to make sure gun control laws in this country are a joke will tell you that the tragedies in Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson and Columbine would have occurred with or without guns because the murderers in these events were psychopaths who would have found a way to kill people.

Well, let's think about that for a moment. If James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, could have planted a bomb in the theater that killed everyone in the theater, why didn't he? Probably because him carrying in explosives would have been a bit obvious. Whereas he could legally purchase and carry around the guns he used to kill 12 people.

Guns, especially assault rifles and extended magazines, are easy for killers to access in this country.

Sure, there would still be tragedies with guns in this country, even with bans on assault rifles, but they will happen less often and casualties will be reduced.

Cries of the Second Amendment will rain down from the NRA and Republicans, but think about it. When the Second Amendment (The right to bear arms) was drafted, the country so different. First, we were under the threat of England coming to take back their colonies. Second, there were Native Americans that were thought to be a threat, especially with families living miles away from their neighbors. Third, there were no telephones. If you were being robbed or threatened, there was no real way to get help quickly. There were also no cars, so law enforcement had no way to quickly get to victims' homes. Fourth, look at the weaponry from the 18th century. There were rifles that fired one shot in a minute. Pistols had to be cocked for every shot. Today we have rifles that fire a hundred shots in a minute without the need to reload.

The Founding Fathers had no idea how advanced humans would become at killing one another. I doubt they could even fathom a weapon like an AK-47 or an M-16.

The country needs to learn from these tragedies. We need better gun laws, and while this post is not about mental health, the citizens need easier access to mental health.

Big Country - Peace in our Time

The Dark Knight Rises, but doesn't soar as expected

By Jeff

WARNING! This post is going to contain a whole hell of a lot of spoilers for the recently released "The Dark Knight Rises". If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading right now!

"The Dark Knight Rises" may have been the most anticipated movie of my lifetime. Well, maybe the newer Star Wars Trilogy and "Alien Vs. Predator", had more buzz around them, but it's pretty close.

TDKR was a good movie. I enjoyed it and did not regret the $8.50 (matinee!) I spent for my ticket. Director Christopher Nolan does a very good job in creating the world of Gotham again. The shots were great and all the action sequences were entertaining.

Christian Bale was his usual self. I've always thought Bale was a good Batman, just not great, like many others say. The Batman voice just really bothers me by how over the top it is. Some will argue it makes sense, and I get that, I just don't like it. Leave me be.

Tom Hardy was good as the villain known as Bane. The voice he used was creepy, which I think was the point. I just have no idea what country he was supposed to be from. He was in some Middle Eastern or Indian prison for a long time, but his accent is more German. He reminds me a German mad scientist.

Those are really the only actors worth mentioning for their performance. Gary Oldman was pretty good as Commissioner Jim Gordon, but he wasn't as present as in previous Batman movies.

The story was all right. Batman was in retirement due to taking the fall for Harvey Dent's killing spree in "The Dark Knight". It's been 8 years and Gotham cops have pretty much cleaned up the city without Batman.

Of course, this peace is destroyed when Bane and his mercenaries show up. They arrive around the same time Selina Kyle (never referred to as Catwoman in the movie) robs Bruce Wayne of a pearl necklace. But that was not her purpose. She wanted Bruce's fingerprints that she gave to Bane's men so the villain could somehow use the fingerprints to make investments in Wayne's name and bankrupt him.

I saw the movie. I paid close attention to it. I have no idea how this worked, but that's OK.

Needless to say, Batman comes out of retirement to get to the bottom of this and stop Bane, who was billed as someone who could match Batman physically and mentally, like his character did in the comics.

Long story short, Bane breaks Batman's back, drops Batman off in the prison he grew up in, and then takes over the city with the threat of a nuclear bomb.

Batman makes a miraculous recovery and saves the day.

And here is the problem with TDKR. The story was lacking. In "The Dark Knight" there was character development. We learned about Harvey Dent and how he was incorruptible. We learned that the Joker was bat-shit insane, but had a method to his madness. He wanted to show that all humans were corruptible, which he proved by corrupting Dent.

TDKR didn't really develop anyone. To explain things, Nolan had all the characters explain through dialogue what they were thinking. What happened to show don't tell?

The biggest issue I had with the movie was the character Bane. We were led to believe Nolan was going to provide a match for Batman. An evil genius that outfight and out think Batman. Well, it turns out Bane was just Talia Al'Ghul's henchman. He was no evil genius. He was following orders by another character that wasn't developed at all. Her character sucked and served no purpose other than to provide a cheap twist near the end. Even the most diehard Nolan fans have to admit it.

Now I'm all for suspending belief for movies, especially comic book movies, but Nolan's Batman trilogy has been praised for its realism. This was not a realistic movie. Bruce Wayne has no money and no one knows where he is when Bane drops him in a prison. Yet he makes it back to Gotham, which has been locked down, with no problem.

The whole relationship with Kyle's character is forced and there is no way Wayne would end up with her in Italy when all is said and done.

Somehow Kyle can drive the Batpod with amazing skill despite never driving it before.

These are just a few things that just come off as silly. Like I said, I enjoyed the movie, but it is not the greatest comic book movie ever made and it's not the best movie of this year. It was not the best movie in the trilogy.

Batman theme song

Friday, July 13, 2012

Still giddy about Pens

By Jeff

OK, so a few weeks ago I shared my excitement with the idea that the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to maybe sign Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter. Well, you have probably heard by now that Parise and Suter decided to take their talents to the Minnesota Wild.

I'm not upset, and Pens fans shouldn't be either. The team has the two best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, James Neal is realizing his potential and Kris Letang is really good when he's not losing his mind and hurting his team (See Game 3 in the Flyers series for an example of this). This is still a championship caliber team if the defense and Marc-Andrew Fleury can right the ship. And there is no reason to think they can't. Fluery sucked in 2009-2010 playoffs, and then he and the defense carried the team in 2010-2011 when Crosby and Malkin went down.

Enough about the crying about a stud winger for Crosby. Before the concussion, he had Pascual Dupuis and Chris Kunitz on the line and was still running away with the scoring title and MVP trophy. That't not a knock on Kunitz or Dupuis. That just shows you how good Crosby is when healthy.

The defense does need a boost, and Suter would have been a hell of boost! Will the young guys step in or will the team swing a trade? Neither is certain but it will be hard to be worse than the defensive unit was in the playoffs.

Paul Martin was the whipping boy last season. Everyone seems to hate him something fierce right now. The guy has a history of being a solid defenseman, though. He was great his first year in Pittsburgh. I think he rounds back into form after an offseason of working his ass off in order to silence critics even attack him in baseball columns (I'm talking to you, Dejan).

While I was really pumped for Parise and/or Suter to be wearing flightless birds on their chests, this is still a team to be crazy excited about. After a disappointing playoffs and missing over a year, can you imagine how crazy Crosby has probably been with his offseason training? The man is going to come out and set the league on fire. He is going to score goals by the bunches, and when he does, he's going to pump that fist and shout "Fuck yeah!" To which we will all be screaming in unison with him.

The team doesn't need Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or Alexander Semin. The Pens just need to play like they are capable of, and Dan Bylsma needs to get better at adjusting strategies during the game. Those two things happen, this is a Stanley Cup favorite.

Europe - Final Countdown

Penn State must prioritize

By Jeff

Note: I did not attend Penn State University. I am not a fan of their football team, nor do I hate it or the university. I have not read the full Freeh report, but have gone through about 100 pages and seen many statements/findings pulled from it.

Forget about the Joe Paterno statue. Forget about the upcoming football season. Forget about the fucking ice cream flavor.

In the wake of the Freeh report that came out yesterday, which found that former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, president Graham Spanier, atheltic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz "failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade," (referring to Jerry Sandusky raping boys, sometimes on campus) Penn State University must take steps toward redemption.

The first thing that should be done is a clean sweep. The Freeh investigation was just the beginning. The board of trustees need to go through that athletic department, find anyone who knew about this and didn't speak up, and give them pink slips.

That includes Mike McQueary. He may have gone to Paterno and kind of, maybe told him that he saw something strange going on in the shower between Sandusky and a boy, but he never went to the police. He thought a boy may have been being raped by a grown man, and all he did was slam his locker loudly. Nice job, Mike. Granted, that is a situation none of us ever want to be in, but I'd like to think that myself and just about every one of my friends would do more. I can say with all confidence in the world that Swan, any of my past blog contributors and any friend I know well would jump in there and make sure whatever was going on stopped. They'd also go to the police, not just the football coach.

So McQueary is out and so is anybody else might have seen what Sandusky was doing and didn't speak up. I'm looking at the former coaches and players who were defense witnesses in the Sandusky case, who saw Sandusky bring boys to the showers and didn't think anything of it.

Next, admitting their failure is a good step but now they have to go above and beyond to help victims of child, or any, sexual abuse. They can never make it right in regards to this situation. Their institution was used as a playground for a child molester/rapist. Those victims in the courtroom last month, and who knows if there are more and how many there are who did not testify, will never forget what happened to them at the hands of Sandusky. All while Penn State leaders closed their eyes and hoped it would go away.

What they can do is go to great lengths to ensure this never happens on their campus again. They can create programs to help victims of sexual abuse, harassment and rape. They can become a leader in raising awareness for the fact that most of these crimes go unreported and share resources with victims so they can find help.

Whether there is a football season this year, or whether Paterno's statue is torn down or not should be the farthest things from Penn State's mind right now. The fact that ESPN and others are asking those questions, rather than "What is Penn State doing to help others who have been abused?" is absurd.

I'm not going to give an opinion on any of that crap. I don't care if PSU plays football this year. I don't care if there is a statue of Paterno or he has his ice cream flavor. What I want to know is what is Penn State doing to hold everyone involved accountable to the fullest extent of the law and the institution's power. I want to know what programs and policies are they putting in place to make sure kids brought on campus are safe.

These are the questions the media, Penn State alumni and students should be asking. Football should be the least of anyone's concern right now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Check out HBO's "The Newsroom"

By Jeff

At what point did people start thinking idealism and educating were bad things? I ask this question because there a lot of negative reviews for HBO's new series "The Newsroom".

The main reason many of these critics are panning the show is because they think it's "preachy", "idealistic" and "doesn't accurately portray a real-life newsroom".

All of these statements are true. Granted, my experience in a newsroom is limited, and I'm not sure many would consider the Pacific Daily News on Guam a real-life newsroom (I do). But putting that aside, the show is preachy, idealistic and some of the situations going on in the newsroom are not realistic.

While writers for the New York Times, Post-Gazette and Los Angeles Times think these three things are reasons to criticize the show, I'm drawn to these.

The show's premise is that news anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) has long been a popular media personality because he covers all the silly stories that drive ratings. They don't go into specifics, but I imagine the writers had any kind of celebrity gossip, any coverage of Sarah Palin, etc., as the kinds of topics McAvoy would cover.

Well, one day, McAvoy loses it at a college speaking event when asked "Why America is the Greatest Country in the World?" You've probably seen the clips as McAvoy goes off explaining how we're not the best in anything, liberals are losers and conservatives give moronic answers that don't make sense, but will make overly patriotic people nod their heads and think "Damn straight".

This leads to McAvoy's show, "News Night", changing. Instead of delivering fake news to bring in viewers, the show will live up to it's responsibility of trying to create an informed electorate. McAvoy gives an on-air apology for his past of dumbing down the news and vows that he will be different from now on, and will not hide his opinions.

Before I bore you with more synopsis, McAvoy takes on the Tea Party (the show was set in 2010) because they took over his (Republican) party.

McAvoy's apology and his staff's dedication to delivering real news are what critics of "The Newsroom" point to as an example of preaching and idealism. Sure, they have some lame lines, like when McAvoy ends his rant with "We'll be right back with the news," But the whole point of calling out the news media today for sucking is great!

We need to be preached to about this because people need to know how many of our news organizations are failing in informing us. In the past week alone CNN and Foxnews erroneously reported that the Affordable Care Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, when in actuality it was upheld. How did this mistake happen? Was information leaked too soon and incorrectly? No! The friggin' reporters just didn't read the whole document! They read one part and wanted to have the scoop, so they ended up reporting the wrong outcome.

Now look at these two same sites the past two days. For the majority of the morning Wednesday, CNN's top story was Tom Crusie and Katie Holmes getting divorced! Right now on Fox News, they are leading with President Obama using the presidential seal at speaking events, while the Penn State findings sit a few stories below.

When you look at how far news organizations have tanked to appease their readers, I'd say we need more preaching and idealism. When I was a journalism student, I wanted to make a difference. I pictured myself covering stories like the Jerry Sandusky case, or something worthy of attention that people needed to know about. But you look today, and there is so much crap out there.

That's why I love how "the Newsroom" is showing us how the news should be done. There are so many stories today where the journalists let their interviewees off the hook with crappy answers. "The Newsroom" shows McAvoy holding feet to the fire when his guests try to lie to him and his viewers, and I really wish today's journalists would do that more often. Today, people like Sarah Palin are seen as "analysts", but they spout off lies and misinformation left and right because they want to make their parties happy get attention. And journalists do nothing.

This is a completely harmless example, but remember a few seasons ago when everyone was making a big deal of the Steelers playing the Atlanta Falcons because Hines Ward had never beaten his hometown team? Ward kept telling people how nice it would be to finally win one against them, and the media ran with it. No one took the 10 second to check and see that in 1999 Ward and the Steelers beat the Falcons and Ward had three catches in the game.

Like I said, this is a harmless story, but it shows how the news media has began this trend of taking a sources word as truth and not doing the necessary legwork.

In "The Newsroom" McAvoy and his staff of idealistic young journalists take those extra steps to hold people accountable. Maybe the real news media doesn't like it because the show is right.

My idealism took a huge hit when I worked at the PDN. There were two specific stories that made me question why we were doing our jobs. First, there was a car review for Nissan, and the headline read "Nissan leaves us wanting more". Well, Nissan was an advertiser in the newspaper and got incredible upset with the headline. The editor responsible for said headline got chewed out and another review with a new headline was written.

The other was surrounded by the use of the word "god damnit". The attorney general of Guam used the phrase during a school inspection and the reporter ran with it. Well, Guam is a very Catholic island and the AG got pissed that he profanity made it into the paper. A correction had to be run and the decision makers chewed out the reporter and explained how the paper can't have indecent language like that. Yet the powers that be had no problem running advertisements for strip clubs in the paper. I'm pretty sure those establishments are more offensive and indecent than the term "god damnit".

These were just two examples of hypocrisy and advertising driving content, which is not the way it should be!

As for the critique of the unrealistic atmosphere in the news room all I have to say is NO SHIT. It's a tv show. Find me a show that perfectly portrays an industry. You can't. The show has to be unrealistic to be more appealing to people. If it was exactly like real life, people would be bored and tune off. They get plenty of real life in their real lives. They watch tv to get away from it.

All in all, the show is really good. Granted, I'm a liberal and it's been mostly tea party bashing so far, so I might be biased. But at it's heart, "The Newsroom" is commendable. I wish we were all a little more idealistic and preachy if that meant striving to be the best and not settling for what's trendy or popular.

The Beatles - Get Back

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pirates are awesome

By Jeff

Happy 4th of July! The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place!

Prior to the start of this Major League Baseball season, I was one of those Pirates fans that just didn't see this team doing anything. I liked the signings of A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard, but I didn't expect the pitching to be as good as they have been.

I predicted another terrible season with less than 70 wins. I was really, really wrong.

This team has been so exciting to watch. Even in April and May, when offense was atrocious, and Bob Smizik never let us forget it.

Then the team went off in June. Did you know the Pirates led the NL in home runs and runs in June? Let me repeat that. THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES LED THE LEAGUE IN HOME RUNS AND RUNS IN JUNE. If you predicted that after the terrible April and May, please send me an e-mail about where Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will sign in the next few days. 

Unlike the offense, the pitching has been great all year. James McDonald looks like a serious Cy Young candidate. That is not an exaggeration. The man has been the ace this team has been lacking since Doug Drabek.

The most telling statistic may be the +16 run differential. When the Pirates were at the top of the NL Central in 2011, you had a feeling the collapse was coming as their run differential was far into the minus range. They were living on the edge and eventually got pushed off. Just imagine the scene in "300" when the Spartans start forcing all the bad guys off the cliff. Now imagine the bad guys in Pirates uniforms and that was what happened last year.

It won't happen this year. The team looks to be for real. The whole rotation is doing well, and even when they don't like in last night's game, the lineup is starting to come to the rescue.

Jump on the bandwagon, this team is going to be in contention come September.

Fun - Call Me, Maybe

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Giddy about Pens offseason

By Jeff

The Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans will miss Jordan Staal. He helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup in 2009 and was one of the few offensive bright spots in the disappointing playoffs loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this year.

Zbynek Michalek was fun while he lasted. Kind of. In 2010-2011, he and Paul Martin were very good. When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were knocked out, they stepped up and help the Pens become one of the top defensive teams in the league. A lot of hate has been spewed at Michalek, and more so Martin, for their regression in 2011-2012, especially the playoffs. They did play poorly in the playoffs, but to blame them for the team's problems this postseason is unfair.

That being said, moving him and freeing up cap space is fine by me. The team has a lot of depth on the defense. Michalek was expendable.

While I liked both of these former Penguins, the recent trades made by general manager Ray Shero has me all kinds of pumped for the 2012-2013 season. Hell, they have me pumped for July 1, 2012. The team has almost $15 million in cap space and there are two big names on the free agent market. You may have heard this already, but the Pens are aiming at signing forward Zach Parise and/or defenseman Ryan Suter.

Holy cow!

Let's start with Zach Parise. He's a stud winger. Let's looks at his goal totals for his past five healthy seasons (he was limited to just 13 games in 2010-2011): 31, 32, 45, 38 and 31. And that was playing with the likes of Travis Zajac as his center. With the Penguins he would have Crosby, who made Matt Cooke look like a nightly scoring threat for about 10 games last season.

With Parise playing with Crosby and James Neal playing with Malkin, the Pens would have two wingers with the potential to score 40 goals. You'd have to go back about a decade to Alexei Kovalev and Jaromir Jagr for the last time the Pens had that kind of scoring power on the wings.get

Oh, and other than 2010-2011, Parise hasn't failed to play in at least 80 games per season.

Then there is Ryan Suter. He is like a combination of Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar. Seriously. He is a shut-down defenseman who delivers big hits and blocks a lot of shots. He kills penalties and contributes points on the powerplay. He has registered more than 30 assists the past four seasons and is coming a off a career high 46 points.

He would be an immediate upgrade to pretty much every defenseman on the team, at least the games when Kris Letang is mentally unstable (See Game 3 of the playoffs this year).

It's not realistic the Pens with get both players. $15 million is a lot of cap space, but these guys are going to be looking for $6-7 million/year contracts. There is word Parise might take a bit of a discount to play with his buddy Crosby, but Pittsburgh fans should be wary of stories like that. Remember when Jagr told the world he would play for the league minimum to play for Mario again? How did that work out for the team?

Then there are the Detroit Red Wings. They have $20 million in cap space and they REALLY want Suter to replace Nicklas Lidstrom (Lidstrom couldn't have waited one friggin' year!?).

The Minnesota Wild are said to want Parise, but I'm not too worried about that. I mean is an extra $1-2 million really worth it if your centers are Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak when you could be playing with either Crosby or Malkin? I don't even know who Kyle Brodziak is. Parise probably doesn't either.

July 1 is going to be a great or a not as great day for Pens fans. I say not as great, because even without Parise or Suter joining the ranks, this is still a championship caliber team.

I'm giddy.

Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lucy: Houdini reincarnated

By Jeff

My long-haired Guamanian jungle shepherd, Yigo, spoiled me. He was used to be a loner, so he never really got separation anxiety. At least he never showed it by breaking out of his crate or chewing on household items.

Ever since I adopted him, I haven't had any problem leaving him alone in the house to roam. I could surround him with any kind of valuables and wouldn't have to worry about a scratch on any of them. He's much more interested in licking himself, sleeping, looking out the window and sleeping.

Lucy is the polar opposite.

She gets crazy separation anxiety. She gets very antsy when Julianna and I leave as if she thinks we are never coming back.

At first, she was fine in her crate. We'd come home and she'd be laying in the crate and get incredibly excited whenever she saw us. But one day we came home and we were greeted by two dogs at the door despite locking Lucy in her crate when we left.


She then proceeded to chew the shit out of numerous items in the house. somehow she got on my dresser to my Kindle Fire. It still works, there is just a crack in the top left corner. I know you were concerned.

In an attempt to thwart Lucy's escapes, we bungee corded the crate.

It worked for a day.

We came home on the second day of the bungee experiment and she had chewed through it and escaped again.

We escalated the battle to padlocking the crate. It worked perfectly... for a week.

I came home Tuesday and she had somehow worked her way out. She had cracked the plastic bottom of the crate, wedged her nose under the bottom bar, pulled up and managed to squeeze through despite her size.

How the hell do I combat that? Well, I got another crate, the other had a slight crack that she then made worse, so a new crate should do the trick, I thought. And on the way home from Petco I stopped at the grocery and grabbed another padlock.

Well, I came home last night and Lucy was at the door waiting for me again!

She had knocked the crate on it's side and squeezed out the bottom again (now the front).

Well, I'm not about to let a dog keep outsmarting me. I surrounded her crate with other objects to prevent it from being knocked over again. There was no way she was tipping that baby again.

Well I came home tonight and there Lucy was at my door with a giant smile on her face!

I am throwing in the towel. There is no stopping this escape artist. She has defeated me. I am going to get a thick chain, but somehow she'll get out.

I personally blame Yigo for most of this. He's here all day. He could put a stop to these escapes, but I think he just sits and watches. Or runs upstairs and hides when he hears loud noises.

The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Incredible moments in video games

By Jeff

I was inspired by a blog post on the Post-Gazette's Web site I saw a few days ago. I'm also a huge sucker for lists and videos games.

So here are the greatest moments I've witnessed in video games over the years. There is no order, as all these moments are friggin' sweet! Oh, and there are some spoilers. But let's be honest, if you haven't played these games you're not that into video games.

  • Resident Evil: Dogs coming through the windows - This was the first, and really the only, terrifying moment I've experienced in video games. In the original Resident Evil, you are walking through a seemingly harmless hallway, when an evil zombie dog jumps through the window and starts chasing you! Holy Shit! You have a gun, but you're still in shock so you just run like hell. But then you turn a corner and another dog jumps through the window in front of you. AHHHH! Obviously, I didn't survive that first encounter. To this day I just bolt through the hallway and don't fight the dogs out of respect.
  • Mega Man X: Level changes - There are countless amazing things Capcom did when Mega Man made the jump from NES to SNES with Mega Man X. But what really stands out is how some boss levels change if you defeat a specific boss. If you conquer Storm Eagle (Hint: use Sting Chameleon!), then Spark Mandrills stage has the remnants of the sky fortress that you took down on Storm Eagle's stage. It changes the lighting of the stage and one of the mini bosses is significantly easier. I didn't even know something like that was possible back then!
  • Super Mario Bros. 3: Whistles - I was about five when I first played this game. I wasn't very good at it. I could handle the first two worlds, but the third one (Water World) killed me. I couldn't even get to the little Koopa ship. But then I learned that there are two whistles to be had in World One, which let me warp over Water World! It was amazing! I could kind of cheat without technically cheating with Game Genie!
  • Mega Man 3: Sliding - Mega Man and Mega Man 2 were great games. They were simple. Run, shoot and jump. Then Mega Man 3 came along. Not only did you have a sidekick robodog (Rush), you could slide under things! It was so simple, but became such an effective maneuver when fighting jumpy bosses. It also inspired the dash in Mega Man  X, which was equally awesome.

  • Twisted Metal 2: Blowing up Eiffel Tower - Twisted Metal 2, like the games above, is one of the greatest of all time. And a big reason is all the destruction you could cause. The ultimate destruction was setting off a remote bomb in the Eiffel Tower and watching the fireworks as it crumbled. To top it off, you could then use the fallen towers to get to the rooftops of Paris. Even if you like the French, you had to love this!

  • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth - There were a few specific moments, like the burning of Nibelheim and the assassination of Aeris(th), that I could have placed here. But let's be honest, Sephiroth is the best villain a game has ever seen. He killed anything and didn't care. He thought he was a God. He messed with Cloud's head constantly. He was just pure evil and he stole every scene he was in.  

  • Final Fantasy X: Auron "Choose!" - Holy shit this moment gave me goosebumps. Auron, one of the video game world's biggest bad asses, was fairly silent for most of Final Fantasy X. When he spoke it was with calm, emotionless demeanor. He shared his vital knowledge, kicked ass and was just awesome. But his shining moment was when you meet Lady Yunalesca. This crazy bitch was supposed to be the savior, but she was evil and wanted to sacrifice the summoner and one of her guardians. That's when Auron breaks out of his shell and says "Now! This is it! Now is the time to choose! Die and be free of pain, or live and fight your sorrow! Now is the time to shape your stories! Your fate is in your hands!" It was like the Braveheart speech of video games and really made you want to rip that bitch up!

  • Warcraft II: Dragons - The read the manual, you knew you could get dragons during the Orc campaign. But level after level you were not able to build the needed dragon roost. Then, that last level your narrator declares that the Horde will support you with the strongest weapons at their disposal: Dragons! Woooooo! Look out human scum, I'm gonna burn your asses! I probably took about 8 hours to beat that last level. Because I wanted a fleet of roughly 30 dragons. I needed about five...

  • Uncharted 2: Train sequence - Best sequence I've experienced in gaming. It was like Indiana Jones meets A-Team meets crazy jumping guy from "Casino Royale". AKA: the perfect storm.

  • God of War: First Minotaur/Medusa Kill - God of War set a new standard for games. That standard was gore. You shove the blade of chaos down the throat of a minotaur or twist the head off a medusa and are showered with blood. It's brutal and amazing at the same time. And later, in God of War 3, Kratos would actually be covered in the blood of his enemies for a few seconds after kill. I know I sound sick, but it was awesome.
 Weezer - Starlight

Bob Smizik thinks Pirates offense stinks

By Jeff

There is no denying that the Pittsburgh Pirates have a historically bad offense. Andrew McCutchen is the only one who is consistently producing.

This is such an obvious fact. No one could try to say differently, and from what I read in blogs and Pittsburgh media, no one does try to defend this terrible offense.

Yet Post-Gazette blogger Bob Smizik feels compelled to have at least one blog post a day pointing out that the team can't hit. I think my inconsistent posting the past 5 months or so show that I understand how hard it is to keep a daily blog. It's not that I don't want to write, but I don't want to really half-ass posts.

Smizik doesn't seem to have that approach. Granted, he probably needs to write X amount of posts per week. But come on! regurgitating the same damn post every day comes off as lazy. It's like he is giving us daily updates on how terrible Casey McGehee, Clint Barmes and Pedro Alvarez are doing.

We all get it! One look at the box score can tell you that these players are practically automatic outs. Yet we get posts (I refuse to link to them.) about how the Pirates were stupid to trade Drew Sutton to the Tampa Bay Rays because he had two RBIs in his first game.

Seriously? I mean, he is probably better than Nate McLouth, but I think it's a little early to say that the Pirates were mistaken in dealing an unimpressive minor league player.

There is so much going on in the sports world, do we need a daily post telling us how terrible the Pirates offense is? But then again, I am wasting time talking about Smizik's post... again! Damnit!

Fun - Some Nights

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Meet Lucy

By Jeff

Julianna and I have been talking about getting Yigo, A.K.A. the greatest dog in the world, a playmate for the past few months.

The idea is that Yigo lived with his sister at the animal shelter on Guam, and then lived with my parents' dog for about two years. So we figured he was getting lonely when we went off to work.

We visited several meet and greets at various pet stores in the Philadelphia area, and saw a whole lot of awesome dogs including cute huskies, giant alaskan malamutes and cuddling greyhounds.

There were several dogs we met or saw online that we want to bring home, but they were going quick. Fortunately, we found one and acted before anyone else.

Her name is Lucy. She is the most gentle dog I've ever met since, well, Yigo! She literally gives hugs, where she will jump into your arms and bury her head in your chest.

At first, Yigo was not a big fan. He got very defensive of the dining room, where his food sits. He didn't like her trying to get up on "his" couch or close to any toys (some of which were bought for Lucy). But in less than a week, Yugo has warmed up to Lucy. As long as she stays away from his food, they get along wonderfully.

Now, we weren't too excited when Lucy left the biggest puddle of pee we've ever seen in our bedroom, or dropped a steamer right after she came in. And we were terrified she was going to explode when she refused to relieve herself outdoors for almost two days. But these problems have been fixed now that Lucy is comfortable in our home.

She's awesome and we're very excited to have her as a member of our family. And Yigo is too. He just won't admit it yet!

Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stupid people are all over the place!

By Jeff

Over the past few months I've noticed a lot of stupid people. Many of them have made me want to write a post, but then I got lazy and came up with a bunch of poor excuses to not post anything. So below is a list of people, inside and outside of the sports world who have done or said some really stupid things that have really annoying me.

Raffi Torres: This guy is a complete joke. He plays a very dangerous game of hockey and doesn't care who he hurts along the way. He was recently suspended 25 games for hitting Marian Hossa in the head. Not only did he hit Hossa in the head, he left his feet to do so and the puck wasn't close to the play. And he doesn't think he did anything wrong. He thinks he was "finishing my check". Bullshit. This excuse is so tired in the NHL. If you have time to stop and not wreck somebody who doesn't have the puck but you go ahead and hit him, you're not finishing your check. You're going out of your way to hit somebody. Torres is a tool that doesn't belong in the NHL.

Flyers fans: All I've heard today is how unfair it is Claude Giroux was suspended for the hit below.

How can you possibly argue this hit does not warrant a suspension? Giroux went out of his way to hit Zubrus in the head. And don't give me that crap about "finishing a check". Look at the play. Zubrus dumped the puck before he got to the blue line, Giroux didn't hit him until they got to the "A" in Advil. I had several coworkers crying about what a bad call it was. And then one went as far to say that Brendan Shanahan suspended Giroux because Shanahan played for the Devils. That would make sense if it wasn't an idiotic statement, especially considering Shanahan played for the Detroit Red Wings for a long time and DIDN'T suspend Shea Weber for bashing Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass.

Cole Hamels: Let's keep this Philly thing going! So he hits rookie Bryce Harper. Then admits he did it on purpose after the game because he thinks it was "old school" to do so. Harper did nothing in the game or in the series to be thrown at. He didn't showboat after any home runs, show up a pitcher, or anything. He got hit because he is a rookie who has a reputation for being immature. Did I mention he is 19. I don't know what's dumber, Hamels throwing at him and admitting it, or the fact that if he didn't say anything, he wouldn't have been suspended for throwing at a guy. It's kinda weird that honesty is punished.

Chevy Chase: The co-star of "Community" is upset that some of his jokes are being cut on the editing floor. This has led to him leaving angry voicemails on show creator Dan Harmon's cell phone bitching about it. Chase was a big name a long time ago. Until "Community" came along, I can't tell you the last thing he was featured in. And then there are the stories about what a tool his has been throughout his career. Just shut up and realize you're a part of the best show on television, Chevy. And it's not the best show on TV because of you. It's the best show on TV because of the writing.

Rush Limbaugh: OK, I'm late to the party, but it was disgusting hearing him call a Georgetown student a slut because she wants birth control covered. At some point, personal attacks on private people like this need to be punished. I don't understand why that young women doesn't go after Rush for defamation or slander. She is a private citizen. Just because she testified to Congress does not mean make her a public figure open to personal attacks such as this.

But Rush is a very public person, so I am free to say he is an obese moron that gets off on attacking people and creating a divide among American citizens. He fans the flames of fears against healthcare, gays and countless others. So going back to the slut thing, maybe Rush knows more than we do. I mean have you seen the guy? The only way he probably gets any is if he pays for it. I mean, I'm pretty sure that if you can't see your junk, you have to pay someone to find it.

Metta World Peace: Ridiculous name aside, he tries to claim that he didn't mean to elbow James Harden in the head and that Harden is a flopper who puts himself in position to be elbowed on opponents' dunks. Are you kidding me? Peace, or is it World Peace? When do the last name begin? Anyway, Peace wound up the elbow and definitely meant to crush Harden. I can't believe some people like Mike Greenberg were saying they legitimately believed him when he said that it was not intentional.

Skip Bayless: Honestly, I haven't watched him since the whole Jalen Rose thing, but he is still on television so I can guarantee he is saying stupid things for attention.

Willie Nelson - Just Breathe

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Greatest YouTube video ever

By Jeff

I'm a big video game nerd. It's not a secret.

One of the greatest game franchises ever is Mega Man. It started on NES as a side scroller and evolved into a side scroller on SNES, Playstation and Playstation 2. Yeah, they were all awesome.

Anyway, what was so great about these games is there were no tutorials or silly pop-ups telling you what to do when you're stuck, or to trigger an action sequence. You learned quickly by just playing, and the action didn't slow down.

Now, I still enjoy some of these "tell me how to do everything games", like God of War. They can be fun. They just are not very challenging. Mega Man, and other old school games, were difficult though. Just look at Mega Man 9 and 10 for PS3 and X-Box 360. Newer gamers found these 8-bit throw backs as very difficult. It wasn't just a point and shoot and go where the map tells you, or wait until a prompt pops up on the screen.

I've felt this way for a long time, but never knew there was an incredible video that explains exactly how I feel about Mega Man and earlier video games compared to today's games.

It's awesome and I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pens Review Part 2: The Good

By Jeff

Yesterday I shared how the Pittsburgh Penguins season ended in disappointment and why. It wasn't fun to do, as pointing out how your favorite team didn't live up to expectations never is fun.

Well, today we're looking at reasons to have hope for the 2012-2013 season, because there are a lot of positives to takes away from this season.

  1. Malkin is back to kicking ass: Evgeni Malkin not only won the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the league, but he's going to win the Hart Trophy for league MVP. He scored 50 goals and 109 points. Last offseason he dedicated himself to getting in better shape and getting better at faceoffs, and it showed during the season. If he carries that work ethic over, next year will be a lot of fun.
  2. Crosby is healthy: Sidney Crosby scored 37 points in 22 games this season. He's sickly good at hockey. You know this playoff loss is going to piss him off. He's going to put in work this summer and come out in October ready to set the league on fire, like he was doing before the concussion that sidelined him for over a year. It's scary thinking about how good this team can be with a motivated Malkin and healthy Crosby. And it won't be like the playoffs this year. Crosby is going to be in shape and won't be disappearing in the third period
  3. The defense is that bad: Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek are good players. Simon Despres and Brian Strait will be a year older. Like Malkin after last season, I see this group as going into the offseason with something to prove. If they have any pride in their jobs and living up to the big contracts they signed two summers ago, they're going to work their asses off this summer and be the strength they were in 2010-2011.
  4. Fleury can be great: Last season, this season and the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals have shown us Marc-Andre Fleury can be a great goalie. I'm terrified he is going to take a few months to overcome his terrible playoff performance, but you don't win 40+ games in a season if you're as bad a goaltender as Fleury appeared to be the last two weeks.
  5. The powerplay: Remember how bad that thing was this time last year? What was it, 1-for-38? It, like the rest of the team, came up short against the Flyers, but now they will have a complete offseason with James Neal, Malkin, Crosby, Kris Letang and another person to work out the man-advantage. If that kind of talent does not result in a top 5 powerplay, something is seriously wrong.
I know another early playoff exit has fans worked up. I know it has them questioning if this team is missing something and needs major change. But we need to remember this was a 100+ point team this season, and that was without the greatest player in the world for 60 games. They have championship talent, they just need to step up when they need to.

As sad and upset we all are about the early loss, we also have to remember that this team brought us a lot of joy from October through March. Sure, there were down times, but for the most part, it was a great ride and helped me get through living in friggin Philadelphia.

I can't wait until next year.

The Clash - Lost in the Supermarket

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pens Review Part I: The Bad

By Jeff

This is tough for me. My usual ritual when the Pittsburgh Penguins make an early postseason exit is to shut down for the next day. I avoid all sports media mentioning the Pens and hockey, so ESPN is safe. I try to avoid any conversations about the loss. I just ask for a day to digest.

Well, that was impossible this year, as I live in Philly and people in my office took turns stopping by my cube to talk about the loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Even people that don't know shit about sports or even watch hockey except for Sunday's 5-1 Flyers win.

So here I am with the first part of my review. Because I'm still bitter, this will be focusing on all the things that didn't work, mostly in the postseason.

  1. Marc-Andre Fleury: This pains me. Fleury helped the team win a cup and was the main reason this team didn't fall apart last season when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down. He was the team MVP last season and was great for the majority of this season. 

    Unfortunately that greatness didn't carry over to the postseason.  He was got flustered early and often against a very good Flyers offense. Granted his defense didn't help, but there were plenty of goals that were all Fleury. I immediately think back to three of the four goals in Game 6, and Talbot's shorthanded goal in Game 3.

    I've always been a big supporter of Fleury and will continue to be, but I can't defend this most recent postseason performance. It was weak, and I'm terrified it might carry over into the season just like it did after he had a poor series against the Montreal Canadiens two years ago.
  2. The defense: What the hell happened? Like Fleury, this group came together and played amazing last season. They were one of the best units at even strength and shorthanded a year ago. The last month of this season they started sucking and they never stopped. You shouldn't lose games where you score four, four and five goals.

    And it was the whole defense, not just Paul Martin! Martin had a poor year and did not live up to his $5 million/year salary. In Games 1 through 3, he had his good moments and his really bad ones. But so did every defenseman on the team. Kris Letang handed the Flyers their OT goal in Game 1 and Ben Lovejoy made one of the worst passes I've seen that led to goal in Game 2 just to name a few.

    The penalty kill also got embarrassed. How does the No. 3 penalty kill unit in the league turn into crap in the playoffs. The Flyers' powerplay was good, but operating at 60 percent says a lot more about the deficiencies of the Pens.
  3. Two-head monster: Malkin and Crosby were outplayed by Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. Diving Danny Briere, damnit! Crosby started great scoring the opening goals in Games 1 and 2. But then he faded as the series went on. Malkin never got it going aside from Game 5. These are the two greatest players in the world, yet they have struggled the past two playoff series they played in.

    In the case of Crosby, I don't think he was physically ready for playoff hockey. He started the series and games strong, but didn't do anything in the third periods. That's when stars are supposed to step up, not disappear. Crosby will be better next postseason.

    Malkin was awesome this season and looked like the Malkin of the 09' playoffs and not the Malkin we saw the past two seasons. But in the playoffs we saw that immature Malkin who takes stupid penalties and gets flustered.
  4. Coaching: I said in previous posts that I think Dan Bylsma got out-coached by Lavy. Disco Dan didn't do a very good job of making in-game adjustments. When his team started losing control, he let it ride. When Lavy's Flyers were getting outworked and outplayed, the man called them together and lit a fire under their asses.

    Now I'm not the type of person that blames coaching and reffing for losses. That being said, Bylsma should have been better, like the rest of the team. He shouldn't be fired, but he is in trouble if the team starts slow next year. I mean, Scotty Bowman was fired by the Pens. Everyone is fair game when it comes to coaching in the NHL.
Tomorrow will be Part 2, which will focus on how while this season ended in disappointment, the team did some great things and we as fans should still be thankful for their effort through 82 games.

The Get Up Kids - Close to Me