Sunday, February 28, 2010
That should finance all Fish Fry expeditions and future 50/50 tickets for the remainder of Lent!!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Just heard word that the Lady Canadian hockey players returned to the ice after the medal ceremony and got a little rowdy in their celebrations. Word is that the IOC Stuffed Shirts are investigating the matter. Huh?!?!?!
Perhaps the team should sent their spokeswoman, pictured at left, to explain the youthful exuberance to the Lords of the Rings.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I was never a big Michael Jackson fan. I acknowledged the talent, but the guy was just too weird to take to. All that said, we rented the "This Is It" DVD last night, and I have to say that watching the guy rehearse for what would have been his big comeback tour last year was amazing. You never would have guessed that the guy you were watching was about to die in a few weeks. Sad to see such a talent wasted by a life of drugs and God knows what else.
On another musical note, and I once again thank my SABR and Facebook friend Dan Bonk for this, check out this YouTube clip of a classic American song, being performed by an artist that might surprise you.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thanks to Patty for passing this on to me.
(You may need to cut-n-paste this link to your browser.)
Friday, February 19, 2010
As we once again the dog-eat-dog world of Olympic Curling, the big news today is that both the USA women's and men's squad notched their first victories of the Games. I was able to watch the final four ends of the men's exciting 4-3 win over France, despite the fact that France controlled the Hammer in the 10th end!!!!
The even bigger news is that USA Curling made the decision to not only relieve John Shuster at the all-important skip position, but they sent him to the bench. He never even made it to the ice!! According to the announcer, the Internet curling message boards are abuzz with the decision, both pro and con. (Must admit that I have not searched out these sites.) You had to feel bad for the guy watching from the bench as the young kid who replaced him came through in the 9th and 10th for the USA. I guess the torch has been passed.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I also heard that John Shuster blew another potential game-winning throw (slide?) for the USA in men's curling today. That's four such "blown saves" in three days. The commentator on CNBC said that Internet postings are comparing him to Bill Buckner and Scott Norwood. No mention of the Ralph Branca reference posted by Yours Truly.
I spent some significant TV time last night watching some of the Winter Olympics, and I must say that it was an entertaining evening. Of course, you must suspend the idea that NBC is looking at this as "sports." This is an entertainment event for NBC; sports is secondary.
The highlight of the night, of course, was watching Lindsey Vonn win the gold medal in the Women's Downhill event. Even knowing the results in advance did not spoil the excitement of the event, especially given the back story of her recent injury. I must also say that it was exciting watching those ladies speeding down that mountain. Not a sport for the faint of heart.
I have included a photo of Ms. Vonn in this post, but more interesting photos of her can be seen at www.si.com in the section highlighting SI's annual excursion into softcore porn, the Swimsuit Issue.
I also caught Sean "The Flying Tomato" White's gold medal performance on the half pipe. I suppose that this is a sport. It is most definitely an athletic skill.
Perhaps most interesting of all was watching a curling match between the USA and Switzerland that aired on CNBC prior to prime time. Now what I know about curling can be fit on the head of a pin, but you can quickly pick up the gist of it, even of some if the basic strategies - "inside curling", if you will - remain elusive. Anyway, the Swiss jumped out to a 4-0 lead, only to see the USA score six straight points. The Swiss, however, tied the match at 6-6 and sent it into extra "ends", and "end" being the equivalent of a baseball inning. The USA had a chance to clinch in regulation but a guy named John Schuster failed to make the necessary throw that would have sealed the deal. In the overtime end, Shuster had the same opportunity to win the match for the USA, only to spit the bit again, and the Swiss won the match. To make matters even worse, it seems that the night before, Shuster did the same thing in the last end of a match with Norway. Looks like John Schuster is rapidly becoming the Ralph Branca of American curling.
Not that I'm ready to out and buy curling season tickets, but watching the match was entertaining and certainly compelling viewing.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Now Ron Cook is Ron Cook so we should all know what we're getting with him. Vinny is a newcomer to town, and he appears to have a New York accent, and both of these facts will no doubt cause the provincial Pittsburgh audience to not like him. However, in the 20-30 minutes that I heard while driving this afternoon, I have a good first impression of the guy. He describes himself as a huge baseball fan and can't wait to start going down to PNC Park on a regular basis, and he does not appear to be coming in with an I-hate-the-Nuttings-and-bobbleheads-and-fireworks attitude that the entrenched media (and first caller to the show that I heard) has.
I also caught a bit of the Siebel-and-Starkey afternoon drive time show. John Siebel comes to Pittsburgh from ESPN, so this is a pretty good "get" for KDKA-FM, it would seem. Again, he's gonna have to fight the "he's-not-a-Pittsburgh-guy" bias that many will have for him. As for Joe Starkey, if you read him in the Trib and listened to his Saturday morning talk show that was on 1250, well, I think you gotta like him. This show could be the best of the daytime shows on The Fan.
One bit of info I gleaned from one of these shows today - can't remember which one - is the fact that Fred Shero needs to make a trade for a "Stay-at-Home" defenseman. So there. I think they need to make a trade for a sniper who can put the biscuit in the basket.
All of the callers that I heard were talking about the Penguins. Apparently, the Pens need to shoot the puck more, and Geno Malkin needs to stop taking stupid penalties. That seemed to be the gist of it.
The Ron Cook mid-day show is on as I type this, so I will try to catch a bit of that later today. I wonder if he's brought up Jim Leyland yet?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
- So, what will YOU be doing with no football this weekend? Winter Olympics? NBA All-Star Game? Read a book? Talk to your family?
- Speaking of reading, I am currently reading "The First Fall Classic" by New York sportswriter Mike Vacarro. It is about the 1912 World Series between the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox. According to the author, it was after this "world's series", as it was then known, that the event began to be referred to as the (capitalized) World Series. John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, and Smokey Joe Wood become the main protagonists. What I find to be most interesting is that back in the early days of baseball, the owners were a greedy lot, intent on lining their pockets at all costs, and screwing the players any way that they could. Makes you wonder why it took almost 60 years to pass before a Marvin Miller-like figure to emerge.
- Sure the Red Sox won the Series that year, but James McAleer, owner of the Red Sox, makes Bob Nutting look like an absolute prince.
- Belated Farewell to former Philly Eagle and CBS broadcaster Tom Brookshier, who died two weeks ago. I have little memory of Brookshier as a player, but I do remember him teaming with Pat Summerall on CBS football broadcasts. It seemed like a game never passed where Brookshier didn't at least once refer to the football itself and a "hog bladder."
- So, how tired are you of the snow? Finally got out of the house on Thursday. Not for any other reason than to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!!!
- Did you catch the opening ceremonies in Vancouver last night? Very impressive production, but really long.
- The Coke commercial of the athletes having a snowball fight in the Olympic Village was better than any commercial that Coke did for the Super Bowl. In fact, if that one was on the Super Bowl, it might have been among the Top Five of Super Bowl commercials.
- Watch for a lot of parochial journalism coming out during the Olympics being critical of the winter Olympic sports. Just because a sport isn't practiced to a great extent in the USA doesn't make it any less important in other parts of the world.
- That said, I can't get a lot of enthusiasm going for a sport that is played against a stopwatch. Eight runners going around a track in the Summer games, is a lot more exciting than a guy skiing down a hill against a stopwatch.
- I have the same feelings about sports where judges are involved.
- Does the name Dick Pound mean anything to you? He's the Canadian Olympic official who now heads up the World Anti-Doping Agency, and he is always in the papers criticizing major league baseball for it's poor record in regard to drug testing and all that goes with that. Not that he's wrong on that count, but he needs to read the bible about throwing the first stone. I heard that there were over 30 winter Olympics athletes who were supposed to come to Vancouver, but didn't because, oops, they were juicing.
- What will the over/under be on athletes busted for drugs during the next two weeks in Vancouver.
- Point is, while the Olympics are catching and punishing these dopers, which is what baseball is now doing, they aren't preventing the athletes from doing it in the first place, are they?
- I hope Luke Ravenstahl had fun at his birthday party in the Laurel Highlands last weekend. Good thing for the Boy Mayor that he's not up for reelection for three more years.
- Old movie update. Watched 1971 Best Picture "The French Connection" on Turner Classic Movies this past week. It holds up pretty well, and the car chase scene in there may be the best one ever in a movie.
- Aside to Brother Bill - I wondered, too, why Willie Mays wore a hat through the Costas interview. Late in the show he mentioned how he had some eye troubles recently (and his one eye was tearing up towards the end), so maybe the cap was to shade his eyes from the TV lights. I don't believe that Mays is of a generation that would wear a hat at an inappropriate time merely as a fashion statement. Just conjecture on my part.
- Watching all of the Canadian athletes and celebrities participating in the Opening Ceremonies last night, I wondered "Where's Mario Lemieux?" I mean, Ann Murray gets to help carry in the Olympic flag, but no Mario Lemieux? Is this a French v. English thing up there in Canada? I can only imagine what Mark Madden would have to say about that.
- Spring Training opens this week. All is right with the world.
- I have sixth pick in the first round of the North Park League draft. I am thinking that a Philadelphia Phillie could be my first choice.
Signing off for now. Enjoy the curling and the half-pipe.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In addition to the two pitchers, five other Hall of Famers played in this game: Mays, McCovey,Cepeda, Aaron, and Matthews. Seven HOF'ers in one game. Remarkable!
Interesting to note that this 16 inning game took 4:10 to play. This is about the average time of a normal Yankees-Red Sox game today, or any game managed by Tony LaRussa.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The only thing approaching being a controversial comment concerned the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1962 Series. With two out and Matty Alou on first, Mays doubled and Alou held up at third. Willie said that he wished that he would have been on first and that Alou go the hit because he, Mays, would have continued on to home and would have taken Elston Howard out and scored the tying run. He said that he felt Alou was afraid to make the last out in the World Series. You all, of course, remember how that Willie McCovey followed Mays and hit a screaming line drive that Bobby Richardson caught to end the game and the Series.
Monday, February 8, 2010
The Vancouver Winter Olympics start this Friday. While you are riveted to the biathlon and ice dancing competitions, give a little love to the USA Women's Ice Hockey team. One of the goalies on this squad will be Brianna McLaughlin, recently the goalie for the women's team at Robert Morris University!!
A Colonials presence at the Olympics! Now, there's something to cheer about!!
I started out taking notes on every commercial (I need a life), but by early in the second half, I came to the conclusion that the commercials were, for the most part, pretty lackluster, so I only started writing down the ones that I liked. So, in no particular order of quality or importance, here are the ones I liked:
- Lebron James, Dwight Howard, and Larry Bird for McDonald's. "Who is that guy?" was a great closing line.
- Betty White and Abe Vigoda for Snickers. Good if only to remember Tessio being taken for a ride for crossing the Corleones.
- Doritos "Keep your hands off my momma" commercial. I can see that becoming the next great catchphrase. The other Doritos ads were lousy.
- The astrophysicists partying with Bud Light. This was the best of the Bud Light ads.
- Jay Leno appearing in the David Letterman commerical.
- "Casual Friday" for careerbuilder.com
- Brett Favre getting the 2010 MVP award and saying that he now might retire. Not even sure who the ad was for, but it was funny.
- Stevie Wonder in a Volkswagon commercial. "How do you do that?"
- The eTrade babies featuring that "milkaholic Lindsey." The other one with the babies on the plane was good, too, but eTrade will never top last year's "Shankipotimus" commercial - a true classic.
- The Emerald Nuts ad with people doing Sea World type tricks for treats
- The Google ad tracing an entire relationship by using Google.
Some other thoughts:
- The Tim Tebow Focus on the Family came and went so fast, you wouldn't even know what it was all about. The group obviously got the bang for its buck in all of the discussion leading up to the commercial rather than in the commercial itself.
- The Troy Polamalu "Punxy Troy" ad was creepy.
- The guy in the casket for Doritos was really bad
- The return of the Griswolds was disappointing, but at least we got to see the metallic pea Family Truckster once again
Finally, the halftime show. I love Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and the Rolling Stones (to name a few recent acts). I was never a fan of The Who, but I recognize their place in rock-n-roll history, but I think the NFL needs to step away from what has been called Geezer Rock for the half-time show. As the Jeff Goldblum character said in "The Big Chill", how about something from this century? Or, maybe next year they should try and get Tony Bennett.
Agree? Disagree? Thoughts and comments welcome.
As for the game, you have no doubt already read and heard from commentators more knowledgeable than me, but here are a few of my thoughts from the game.
- I thought the Saints going for it at 4th and goal late in the first half was a bad move. Get the sure 3 points, I thought, and when Indy stopped them, I thought that spelled bad things for the Saints. Who would have thought that the Colts would have given the Saints a do-over by playing conservatively, go three-and-out, give NO the ball back and allowing them to get the three points they "lost" a few minutes earlier?
- The other "big play" being cited today was Pierre Garcon dropping a third down pass in the second quarter, thus forcing Indy to punt. I must confess that that play didn't even register with me at the time. Shows how astute I am, or maybe I just got used to watching Limas Sweed over the past two years.
- The onside kick to start the second half. Obviously a key play in the momentum of the game, and Sean Payton is being hailed a genius for making the call. What would we be saying about him if the Colts recovered that kick, drove a short field and gone up 17-6? But they didn't, so coach Payton is the hero. It did take some cujones to call that play, though.
- The interception for the NO touchdown that sealed the deal. Wonder what Neil O'Donnell thought if he was watching? On PTI today, Tony Kornheiser compared Manning leaving the field after that play to Ralph Branca walking of the mound at the Polo Grounds in 1951.
I can't take credit for this comparison, but another I heard today offered this proposition: are the Indy Colts to the NFL of the '00s what the Atlanta Braves were to MLB in the '90s? And does this make Peyton Manning Greg Maddux? It's an interesting hypothesis.
Now that the NFL season is over, look forward to lots of off-season reading about the soon to expire Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players. Won't that be fun to read about? What revenues does the NFL produce in a year? About $6 billion? Hard to imagine that owners and players wouldn't be able to figure out a way to divvy up that pie. Having said that, though, of the four major sports, I would guess that the NFL players have the lousiest deal with the owners, especially, given the risk to which they are exposed in the course of performing their occupation. So, good luck to them, but I'm still not sure I want to read about it.
And on the subject of NFL labor relations, I'll close with a great line from the PG's Gene Collier from last week: Will NFL players be able to wear baseball caps on the sidelines if 2010 is an uncapped year?
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
A Happy Milestone Birthday goes out to former co-worker, long-time friend, and Grandstander reader Roger Hansen today. Mazel tov!
Roger shares his birthdate with former Bucco third sacker and Fightin' ex-Marine from Roulette, PA, Don Hoak. The Tiger was The Grandstander's first "favorite player" as a youngster. Hoak would have been 82 years old today were he still with us. How do I remember such useless information? Well, isn't that what being a sports fan is all about?
"Hey, I think the Stillers should get ridda Bruce Arians and run the ball more n'at. Whadda yinz think?"
The other good news is that the mid-day, 10:00 to 2:00 host will be the Post-Gazette's Ron Cook. Now instead of reading Cook's joyful prose two or three days a week, we can now LISTEN to him on the radio every day. How great is that going to be???? I put the over/under on four shows until we hear how stupid the Pirates were for putting Saint Jim Leyland in the position where he had no choice but to take his Marlboros and run out on his contractual obligations and leave Pittsburgh.
I also predict that before the first week on the air is over, there will be at least two hours of time devoted to who the Steelers should draft three months from now.
Man, I can't wait!!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
My thanks to Dan Bonk for passing this onto me via Facebook.