- Funny that the news of the Penguins/Burkle/Lemieux group's bid to buy the Pirates hits the papers during the team's annual FanFest Celebration.
- IF the Penguins' offer was serious, and IF they REALLY want to buy the Pirates, everyone please recall how Mario put the squeeze on the powers that be until the Pens got the new arena they wanted (needed?)
- Please don't take the above as a knock on Mario (which is tantamount to a mortal sin in some quarters). I am merely giving him his due. He may even be a better businessman than he was a hockey player!
- Bob Smizik had a great description of Bob Nutting earlier in the week: He's a man who does not embarrass easily.
- Robert Morris' easy win over St. Francis (NY) last night, combined with Quinnipiac's loss to Mount St. Mary's, puts the Colonials in first place all alone in the Northeast Conference with a 9-1 mark.
- Quinnipiac visits the Sewall Center on February 20. Circle the date and be there!
- I read a total of six books in the month of January. Way ahead of the pace I would have set had I still had that pesky little day job.
- One of those books was "The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the 21st Century" by Post-Gazette columnist Brian O'Neill. Very interesting and thought provoking. Worth a read.
- Three of those six books read were read via the Kindle. I do like the Kindle - it's a convenient and less expensive way to purchase books - but I do still like to hold a book in my hands.
- One of those six books was borrowed from the library, which is way less expensive that any other form of obtaining a book!
- I will admit to a guilty pleasure - I still read and enjoy the comics in the newspaper. If you do as well, then I recommend the following site: www.comicscurmudgeon.com This site will give you several laughs in the course of any given week (even more so than the actual comics), and it will point out to you that true comic gold can be found in the "serious" strips like Rex Morgan, Mark Trail, and Mary Worth.
- Oh, damn! I just realized that by typing this right now, I am missing the Pro Bowl!
- Speaking of football, are you of the opinion, or do you know anyone who is, that the Saints might win next week? I haven't encountered anyone like that as yet.
- One thing you miss not being in an office anymore: You can't get into a Super Bowl Block Pool. Fortunately, I called a former co-worker who put me in for two squares in a Highmark block pool!
- I wonder if Bob Nutting reads the newspapers and the blogs? If he does, how does he feel knowing that he is universally disliked - if not actually hated - by the populace?
- Remember the old story about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hammill having the discussion about the three most evil people in history? The story goes that they came up with Hitler, Stalin, and Walter O'Malley, but couldn't agree on the order in which to rank them. That's where Bob Nutting now seems to be.
- In an effort to provide some balance, Bob Smizik points out that it needs be kept in mind that Bob Nutting has only been in charge for the last three of these seventeen long, long seasons.
- Signing off for January. Thanks for welcoming The Grandstander during its first month of existence!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
The big news, of course, is that the Pirates will be installing a statue of Maz outside of PNC Park this summer, certainly a well deserved honor for #9. The statue will depict Maz rounding the bases after his Game Seven HR in 1960. You all know the pose. Personally, I think a better depiction would have been Maz fielding a grounder or turning a double play, but why quibble? And why stir up the populace by having the statue depict anything BUT that famous home run?
I have begun two volunteer undertakings in this first month of retirement.
The first is with the John Heinz Western Pennsylvania History Museum. Eventually, I will be conducting tours of the Museum for school groups. I think that it will be something fun to do, but all I am doing right now is taking a series of online training modules so I will know of what I speak while conducting such tours for the school age urchins. It will probably me mid-March until I am unleashed on the Heinz Museum patrons.
Marilyn and I are also in the middle of a somewhat intense training program to become volunteers at The Highmark Caring Place. As an employee, I was always aware of the work of The Caring Place, and was quite proud to be associated with a company that offered such a wonderful service to the community, so this was something with which I wanted to become involved. If you are unaware of The Caring Place, it is a facility that offers support to grieving children after they have experienced a loss of a family member. (See www.highmarkcaringplace.com for more information.) It does wonderful things for the kids and families who use it, and I know that it will be very rewarding. However, the training for this has been intense, and emotionally draining. We both hope that we have what it takes to do the work involved, and to have a positive effect on the lives of those who come to The Caring Place.
Our 27+ hours of training will conclude on Monday evening, and new groups of families are scheduled to rotate into The Caring Place beginning next month.
I'll keep you all posted on how things evolve.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
For a better take on this, check out Bob Smizik's blog a www.post-gazette.com
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Also not included was John Russell removing Zach Duke in the ninth inning with two outs and an 11-1 lead in the last home game of the season. Now I'm being cynical.
Anyway, check it out and vote. I selected a game in which I was present - McCutcheon's three HR game against the Nats. It is interesting to hear a "Greg Brown-ism" after one of those dingers: "McCutch is clutch!"
After viewing these highlights, I can say one thing for certain: I can't wait to watch Andrew McCutcheon for an entire season in 2010.
Monday, January 25, 2010
And say whatever you want about Brett Favre, he is one tough SOB. Can't remember a QB taking such a beating in a game as he did last night.
Early line favors the Colts. Can't argue that.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Jets at Colts. Okay, I am no longer selling the Jets short. They certainly stuffed Phillip Rivers and the Chargers in their back pockets last week in a well deserved victory, so it would not shock me to see them win today. However, I am going with the Colts. As one pundit I heard this week said, every game that they have tried to win this season, they won. And they do have that Manning guy at quarterback. Plus, I woke up in the middle of the night last night from a dreamless sleep and the name "Joseph Addai" was flashing through my mind. How's that for a sign? (Does anyone ever call Joseph Addai "Joe"? Just wonderin'.)
So, my call and my hope is for a Colts win today. I don't think I could take Rex Ryan bloviating for the next two weeks.
Vikings at Saints. Now I did not see the Saints dismantling of the Cardinals last week, so I can only go on the highlights from that game. I did see the Vikings thoroughly destroy the Cowboys, and THAT was one impressive win. Brett Favre, for all his will-he-or-won't-he bullshit in recent offseasons, is, one has to admit, a very good QB. And that defense that the Vikings threw against the Cowboys was very, very impressive. Hard to pick against the Vikings....but that's what I'm gonna do. Call it a hunch, call it picking the home team, or call it time for a historically lousy team to finally have its day in the sun, but I'm going with the Saints to win and meet the Colts in Miami in two weeks.
As always, watch but don't bet.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
However, now the anti-Nutting fireworks-and-bobbleheads crowd will clog cyberspace with predictions of Duke's imminent trade to a team willing to pay that kind of salary. Nothing will quell these cries unless the team starts to win and pays to keep these kinds of salaries on the squad. I will say, though, that if come the last week of July, Neal A. Huntington deals Duke to a contending team for a bunch of Single A prospects with great "upside", well, it will be hard not to join the cynics out there, whose numbers are increasing every year.
Speaking for the arbitration process, I wonder if part of the Pirates' argument for a lower salary would have been the fact that Duke was unable to throw any complete games (reference Pirates final home game of '09 and my heated email exchange with Mr. Huntington)? Just wondering.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
- I am about 3/4 of the way through Season One of Mad Men on DVD. Interesting show.
- I still say that "Modern Family" is the best new show on TV in this season. Certainly the funniest.
- Six of the eight NFL playoff games have been duds so far (rooting interests aside). What does this make the odds against two good games this coming Sunday?
- Recent talk of sports movies are prompting me to pull out the Caddyshack DVD. Look for some thoughts in future days.
- Saw the George Clooney movie "Up in the Air" this past weekend. Interesting movie, but not sure it's worth all the buzz. Clooney is great in it.
- Neal A. Huntington seems to be putting a bullpen together in the post-Capps era. Donnelly, Dotel, and Carrasco could certainly be contributors in '10.
- Volunteer training begins for Marilyn and I tonight at The Caring Place.
More to follow.....stay tuned.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
All I can say about my man Rex Ryan is that while he may be an insufferable blowhard, he apparently can "coach 'em up."
I will also say that as I watched the Chargers-Jets today, I found myself wondering how San Diego managed to win 11 games in a row, and I will tell those who rate Philip Rivers on equal footing, or even above, Ben Roethlisberger - what are you seeing that I'm not? Based on today's performance, I'm not impressed.
On the subject of my predictions, at least I got the Robert Morris win over Monmouth right. The Colonials now are in a three-way tie for first place, at 5-1, in the Northeast Conference. Brother Jim might want to check them out next Saturday night when RMU travels to Monmouth.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Cardinals at Saints. After NO's 13-0 start, and the Cardinals explosion against Green Bay last week, this has all the earmarks of being the most entertaining game of the weekend. Every logical indicator tells you to pick New Orleans here - home team, Drew Brees - but I can't get that 0-3 finish to the season out of my mind. The Cardinals failure to play anything resembling championship defense last week also makes the Saints a logical pick, but I can't get that 0-3 finish to the season out of my mind. This is a pure hunch, but I'm gonna go with the Cardinals to last at least one more week in the Playoffs.
Ravens at Colts. Like many people, I didn't like the fact that the Colts turned the last two games of the season into exhibition games. History has shown that this philosophy has hurt Indy (see Steelers over Colts, Jan, 2006), and it is the one thing that prevents this from being an easy pick. Also, that Ravens defense is looking good. However, the QB match-up of an injured (?) Joe Flacco vs. Peyton Manning swings this pick. Colts to advance to the AFC Championship.
Cowboys at Vikings. I believe that the Brett Favre Fairly Tale comes to an end this weekend. I thought the Cowboys looked very strong against Philly last week, and I think that the momentum continues this Sunday. Most of the ESPN Talking Heads are going with the Vikings, so this is the game I am least sure of in my selections. I'm not happy about another week of Jerry Jones in the spotlight, but call it for the Cowboys in a close one.
Jets at Chargers. Easiest call of the week. Chargers over the Jets. Philip Rivers becomes the last in the Manning - Roethlisberger - Rivers Draft Class to make a post-season name for himself. How will Rex The Blowhard Ryan spin this one in the post-game press conference. How will the NYC Tabs put it in Monday morning's headlines? Should be fun to check that out.
Bonus Basketball Pick:
Monmouth Hawks at Robert Morris Colonials. I have no idea what kind of squad the Hawks bring with them from West Branch, NJ, but I'm going with the home team Colonials lead by guard Karon Abraham and shot-blocking forward Rob Robinson.
Friday, January 15, 2010
(Aside to Bill Montrose (and others): this is the kind of book that would not lend itself to a Kindle. It is a big book, lots of pictures; it is the kind of book that you can just pick up and open to any spot and read and enjoy.)
The authors rate the "100 greatest sports films of all time." By nature, their list is very subjective, and subject to argument and disagreement, which is what makes it such a fun book.
They include a lot of interesting sidebar articles like "Worst Sports Sequels and Remakes" (Caddyshack II, The Longest Yard, and several of the Rocky sequels); "Actors as Athletes" (Good - Kevin Costner, Burt Reynolds. Bad - Tony Perkins, William Bendix); "Athletes Who Could Act" (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Woody Strode); "Athletes Who Could Not Act" (Dennis Rodman, Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson). Lots of good stuff like this.
You probably want to know what rates with the authors. Herewith, their Top Ten:
3. Raging Bull
4. The Natural
5. Bull Durham
6. Slap Shot
7. The Longest Yard (1974 version)
8. The Hustler
10. North Dallas Forty
Myself, I might put Hoosiers ahead of Rocky, but I can't argue the case against Rocky as #1 too strongly. I would put Bull Durham, Field of Dreams (#11), Pride of the Yankees (#13), and Eight Men Out (#41) ahead of The Natural in terms of baseball movies only. I'm delighted to see Caddyshack in the Top Ten. I am also prompted to rent Slap Shot, and North Dallas Forty, which I have never seen, to see if they deserve their ranking.
Concerning Pride of the Yankees, it's old, it's black & white, and the producers made the movie emphasizing the love story rather than the baseball story, but if you can watch that without a tear in the eye or a lump in the throat, I'm not sure I want to know you.
Do you agree with the authors? Do you agree with The Grandstander? Whether you do or you don't, that's what makes this such a fun topic and fun book. I expect that their will be several comments on this topic.
....is delighted to see that followers are posting comments.
....is happy to be "kicked around" again.
....loves Dave's picture (and knows that Marilyn will love it too!)
....wishes Bill Montrose would be able to post via Google (but I will respond to his email as well).
....agrees with Bill M that the iPod is a great invention, but has not used it to download audio books; The Grandstander does, however, download the podcast of the Tony Kornheiser radio show.
....is excited about Robert Morris' 4-1 start in the Northeast Conference. Freshman Karon Abraham will be an NEC Player of the Year before his four seasons are over.
....often refers to Karon Abraham as "Karon Butler." He's good, but, trust me, he's no Karon Butler!
....encourages all of you to spread the word of this blog to friends and family. The link is www.grandstander.blogspot.com
....will be posting more later today.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Yes, I'm back. To those of you curious as to where I was, well, Marilyn and I took a one night getaway to The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio. It is kind of spooky to drive through a summer resort town in the middle of January. Everything, and I mean everything, is shut down. The Lodge, however, remains open year round and is a very nice place. We were able to swim in their indoor pool house while looking out at the snowy grounds and a frozen Lake Erie. You could also hear the the ice cracking and shifting if you stood outside. Very cool!
Changing subjects, allow me to pose this questions? Is there anyone, as a group, with less integrity that college football and basketball coaches (and the Universities that hire them)? Pete Carroll leaves USC one step ahead of the NCAA posse, and USC then hires Lane Kiffen away from Tennesse after Kiffen spends ONE YEAR at Tennessee. Kiffen also, allegedly, contacts the kids he recruited for Tennessee and tries to get them to switch to USC. And, of course, any kid who is now at USC or at Tennesse, because the committed to a COACH, can't leave and go elsewhere unless they sit out for a year. What a sewer!
We, of course, have seen this in Pittsburgh, going back to the 1970's when Johnny Majors left Pitt for Tennessee, and Jackie Sherrill left for Texas A&M. More recently, Ben Howland, sowed up his deal with UCLA, all the while swearing his allegiance to Pitt. Fortunately, Pitt hoops has become a program that is a destination, not a stepping stone, so I'm guessing, hoping, that Jamie Dixon will stay for awhile. However, I foresee my own alma mater, Robert Morris, losing Mike Rice if he puts another 20+ win season on the books.
I can't wait for the day when some University President stands up to a coach and says, "No, we are holding you to the contract that you signed." I'm also waiting for that shiny new Lexus to show up in my driveway some day.
Why do Universities allow this to happen? I know, I know - it's all about the money. The Integrity Genie got out of the bottle a long time ago, and he ain't coming back.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A hearty welcome to The Grandstand to new follower Jim Sproule!!
Let the record show that I do like Harold Reynolds.
Will be back in a day or two when the topic will be Sports Movies. Think about that topic for the next couple of days.
Monday, January 11, 2010
That aside, I was struck by McGwire's thought that the steroids only was to recover from injury and that they were not performance enhancing. I can't buy that argument. The talking heads on MLB also jumped all over that one. Putting that aside, my thought is what the hell, unless McGwire is an Oscar-worthy actor, he is certainly contrite, he has certainly anguished over this, so what's the point in continued persecution? That doesn't mean "put him in the Hall of Fame." And, please, do not compare this to Pete Rose. Not the same crime at all.
Plus, "The Media" has given passes to the contritious Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, and Alex Rodriguez (who all played in New York, coincidentally), so doesn't Mark McGwire deserve the same brand of forgiveness?
By the way, how about MLB's Ken Rosenthal? Talk about a hanging judge! I think he'd only have been happy if McGwire would have agreed to being crucified at home plate on Opening Day. I think Harold Reynolds was the most practical of the MLB commentators. Then again, Harold has had his own issues regarding the need for forgiveness.
Some have written saying that they are having trouble posting comments on this here Blog. I think that you need to set up your own Google Account to do so. Beneath the box where you type your comments, there is a a line that says "Comment As" followed by a dropdown box. You want to comment as "Google Account" and you will be prompted how to set up the account. At that point, you have to sign in going forward whenever you want to comment.
To that end, some comments on recent comments:
To sister, Susan - I used the library today!
To brother Bill - Amen on your Joe Thiesman comment!!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I end up going 2-2 in my Wild Card predictions, and will wait until later in the week to predict the next round of games. In the meantime, some quick thoughts and observations:
For those Steelers fans who think that it would be no big deal to have Jeff Reed walk after next year, did you see what that Cincy Bungles kicker - I forget his name - did yesterday?
As Tony Soprano once said to Bobby Bacala, Andy Reid needs to start eating more salads.
Glad to see that the Jets won, but I'll be happy when Blowhard Rex Ryan gets sent home for the winter, which could be next week.
One bad thing about falling asleep during the Ravens game was missing Bill Belichek walking off the field after the game.
Shouldn't the Cardinals better play SOME defense if they hope to continue after next weekend?
That's it for now. I've got a trip to the doc's tomorrow for my post surgical follow-up. Gotta find out when I can resume some long-toss and batting practice.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Feel free to comment on my entry into the brave new world of digital reading.
Last night I finished reading the novel "U is for Undertow" by Sue Grafton. This was the latest, #20, in Grafton's series featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. So, what's the big deal, you may ask, about reading just another detective yarn? The big deal is that this is the first book that I read in an electronic, digital version.
As background, a few months back my good buddy Judy Jones bought herself a Kindle, the "electronic book" developed and sold by Amazon. I thought it was pretty cool, ans iPod for books, as it were, and as time went on I decided to take the money I received in my final Highmark expense check and bought a retirement gift to myself, a Kindle. One trip to Meadville / Franklin and one trip to Butler and back will pretty much cover the cost of a Kindle for you.
The device certainly makes it easy to purchase books, and when your finished reading it you don't have to find a place on your shelves to put it, so that's pretty cool. I must confess that I did miss the tactile experience of actually holding an actual book in your hands. I think I can get used to it thought.
Speaking of books, I know that there are some books that would not lend themselves to a digital version, and that leads me to a book that I received for Christmas. I will write more on that book, and the debates that it might spark, in an upcoming Grandstander entry.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Jets at Bengals. Personally, I am sorry that these two teams are playing each other, because that means that both of them won't be eliminated in the first round. Let's face it, wouldn't you just love to see Blowhard Rex Ryan get booted out in Week 1? And how do you figure the Bengals? Was that a Zero posted for Carson Palmer last week in passing yards against the Jets? I'll go with the Jets in this one due to a strong defense and running game. I also figure that the Bengals will be, well, the Bengals.
Eagles at Cowboys. When I've seen the Eagles this season, I wasn't awe struck. The Cowboys seem to be on a roll, so I will pick them to win their first playoff game since the win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.
Packers at Cardinals. I'm putting faith in Aaron Rodgers. Packers win in the desert (albeit under a dome).
Ravens at Patriots. Wes Welker's absence could prevent a deep run in the playoffs for the Pats, but not this week. They beat the Ravens and advance.
There you go - Jets, Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots. Watch - but don't bet!
In point of fact, as I prepared for retirement, I did think about doing a blog, but thought it to be kind of egotisitcal, but as I say, the public has demanded that I give it a try.
I will pretty much use this blog to post my own thoughts and opinions on just about anything - sports, movies, books, TV, things I find online, things I'm experiencing as I get used to not going to work everyday. I think that I will generally avoid politics, if only to avoid rancor within my own family. It seems that my family has evolved like a good pitching staff should: an even mix of lefties and righties. So let's just all agree to respect the each other's various points of view, and make this a fun thing in which to participate.
I struggled over what to name this blog. I settled on "The Grandstander" since it is somewhat sports related, it is where I sit at PNC Park, and it suggests someone who offers opinions (i.e., a "grandstand manager") whether or not those opinions are wanted or needed.
So, feel free to join in and respond. I think that you will have to register with Google, but that only takes a few minutes. This will only be of value if womeoine reads it, and I won't know if anyone is reading, unless you post responses.
Let's see what happens!