Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Fitting Conclusion

Canada 3 - USA 2 in overtime for the Gold Medal. A great game to conclude a great tournament. It was fitting that Canada win this at "home", and how great that the game winner comes from Sydney Crosby.

Great game!

Important Fish Fry Update

Marilyn received a very important phone call this afternoon from the St. Alexis Parish office advising that she was the winner of the 50/50 raffle at this past Friday night's Fish Fry. It was worth a cool $110.

That should finance all Fish Fry expeditions and future 50/50 tickets for the remainder of Lent!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One Last Time - A Curling Commentary

All hail Skip Kevin Martin and the Canadian Men for nailing down the Curling Gold Medal tonight in a 6-3 win over Norway. I started out writing these posts on curling with tongue in cheek, but after these two weeks, and especially watching the two Gold Medal matches, I need to give a Hats Off to the curlers. I actually enjoyed watching these matches. I was disappointed to see the Canadian Women lose last night, and was happy for Kevin Martin and his mates when they won tonight.

One thing that the Olympics can show you is that "sports" is not just baseball, football, and basketball. If you watched the curling match tonight and heard the crowd begin to sing "O, Canada" near the end of the match as it became apparent that the Canadians would win, well, that, to use a cliche, is what sports are all about!

And a shout out also goes out to American Skip John Schuster who was interviewed at halftime of the final match. He laughed about the notoriety that he has received over the last two weeks and said that if that brings attention to curling, then that's fine with him. He said that he loves curling and if this can get others into the sport, then that's a great thing.

I take back all my John Schuster/Ralph Branca analogies.

No doubt this will be my last thoughts on curling until 2014, but when they fire up the torch in Sochi, I will be tuned in to the curling event.

The Obligatory Curling and Fish Fry Entry

I had hoped to post this picture of Canuck Curler Cheryl Bernard to celebrate the Canadian Women's Gold Medal, but, unfortunately, Ms.Bernard - a good lookin' tomato by anyone's standards - coughed it up in the both the 1oth and the extra 11th ends with a John Shuster-like performance in the Skip position. Curling is a major sport in Canada, and I wonder if the Canadian curling fan base is calling for Ms. Bernard's lovely red head on a platter this morning? It is up to the Canadian men to salvage gold and national curling honor this afternoon.

On a more pleasant topic, Mrs. Grandstander and I ventured out in the snow to sample the Friday Fish Fry at St. Alexis in Wexford last night. We give this one a big thumbs up. Well organized and efficient, and the fish sandwich is served on a nice hoagie roll rather than a hamburger bun. No instant bingo tickets were being sold but there was a 50/50 raffle, which we apparently did not win.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Canadian Celebration

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

O, Canada

Just spent time watching a big night for Canada at the Olympics. The big event was, of course, the Canadian Women's 2-0 win over the USA for the hockey Gold Medal. A terrific game, and amazing play between the pipes for the goalkeeper, whose name I will to attempt to spell here. A game effort by the Americans, but they just couldn't get past the hot goalie.

I have to say that I was disappointed by the American team during the medal ceremony. Yes, the disappointment after losing such a tough game is something that I am sure that I will never be able to grasp, but, c'mon, ladies, you were being awarded an Olympic Silver Medal! Did you have to look like you were being lined up to be shot at sunrise? I was happy to see Robert Morris University's Brianne McLauglin smile and wave to the crowd and be happy when she received her medal.

Elsewhere, both the Canadian men's and women's curling teams won their semi-final matches and will throw the rocks for gold medals on Saturday. And after watching the beatdown that the men's hockey team laid on the Ruskies last night, it is looking like the host nation is set up for a sweep in the two national sports north of the border.

One final comment, is there a better play-by-play guy in any sport than Doc Emerick? That guy is really amazing calling a hockey game.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music Thoughts

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

Big Day Today

All RCIA candidates from across the Diocese head to St. Paul's Cathedral at 3:00 this afternoon for the "Rite of Election" before Bishop Zubik. St. John Neumann is sending seven candidates and their sponsors.

It's a Big Day, indeed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The "Miracle" Speech

With the Winter Olympics now taking place, the attached YouTube clip may be particularly entertaining/inspirational for you:

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

Friday Fish Fry and, Yes, Curling

Tonight Marilyn and I began what will be a Lenten long quest: a different Fish Fry every Friday night in Lent. This evening we hit St. Theresa of Avila in Perrysville. We called ahead for take out rather than wait in a Disney-like line to be seated. I gave the fish sammitch an "A." The clam chowder gets a "D." If they had advertised it as potato soup, it would have gotten an "A."

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

More Olympics

Watched the third period, OT, and shoot out of the Canada-Switzerland hockey game tonight. Now THAT was compelling TV!

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.

Winter Olympics Musings

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 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

"The Fan" - Later in the Day

Caught some of the mid-day show on The Fan. The 10:00 to 2:00 show is called "Vinny and Cook" and features PG columnist Ron Cook and, some guy named Vinny.

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.

"The Fan" Makes Its Debut

Pittsburgh's new sports talk station, The Fan, debuts today (93.7 FM). I caught a little bit of the morning show today with Paul Alexander, Jon Burton, and Jim Colony. Mostly Penguins talk, but I did hear Jon Burton doing a "rant" (which will apparently be a regular feature on this show) where he talked about - you guessed it - how the Steelers need to pick up the running game. I believe that The Grandstander called that one a few weeks back!

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

Old Time Ballplayers v. Modern Day Ballplayers

It is commonly accepted, it seems, that ballplayers today, whatever the sport, are in it solely for the money. Not like in the "good old days" when guys played for the love of the game. Well, maybe things haven't really changed so much.

I mentioned yesterday that I was reading a book called "The First Fall Classic" about the 1912 World Series when the Red Sox defeated the New York Giants of John McGraw in a best of seven Series that actually played out in eight games, due to 1-1 tie in the second game. Anyway, the final game was a masterpiece pitched by the great Christy Mathewson that was won by the Sox, 3-2, in ten innings. It truly was a classic game. I won't detail it here, but you might want to look it up.

Anyway, the author of the book describes the tension of the ball game, and the euphoria experienced in Boston, and the heartbreak experienced in New York after the game was finished. He also described the defeated Giants boarding the train in Boston after the game to head back to New York and immediately falling asleep after it became known that the players' share of the game receipts for the Series had been turned over to the Giants, and knowing that they would be paid their share. He then gives us this quote from Mathewson:

"We are professionals. The name of the game is to get paid, and paid a fair wage. Winning and losing is important. But money feeds our family."

The author then adds the following:

"Maybe the Christian Gentleman (Mathewson) would have fit in during the next century far better than he - or anyone else - could ever have imagined."

Think of that quote the next time some 2010 jock says "I didn't want to leave (insert team name here), but I have to think of my family."

At least Christy never said, "it's not about the money."

The book is "The First Fall Classic" by Mike Vaccaro. Worth reading.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

Some random thoughts on the first non-football weekend since August......

  • 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

Marichal v. Spahn. July 2, 1963

Check out this box score of this classic game between two Hall of Fame pitchers, especially the pitching logs. John Russell would no doubt have yanked both pitchers after the sixth, maybe the seventh, inning.

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

I hope you got the chance to see the Mays interview with Bob Costas on MLB tonight. I really enjoyed it. Told some great stories about his times and his contemporaries. He mentioned that classic game in 1962 or -63 that between the Braves and Giants where Spahn and Marichal each pitched 15 innings of 0-0 ball. The game was won when Mays homered in the 16th to win the game 1-0. You can be sure that there will never be a game like that again.

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.

Blog Recommendation

For good reading, bookmark John Feinstein's always intersting blog -

Willie Mays on MLB Network Tonight

Settle in with the MLB Network tonight at 8:00 (or set your DVR accordingly). Bob Costas will be conducting a two hour interview with Willie Mays on the Studio 42 show this evening.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Olympics Note

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!!

The Super Bowl, PArt II - The Commercials

One of the things that makes the Super Bowl appeal to even non-football fans is the commercials. Everybody offers their opinions. USA Today makes a REALLY big deal over them. I know that I am late to the dance here, almost 24 hours after the game, but here goes.

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
  • 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.

The Super Bowl, Part I - The Game

As readers know, I fully expected a Colts victory, and that is how I was rooting, but it was no fluke that the Saints won that game. And good for New Orleans. They were in 2009 what the Steelers were in 1974 - a historically lousy team that finally got to the Big Game and won it decisively. Congratulations to the Saints.

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

Hail to the Saints

The Grandstander blows another prediction and finishes 5-6 for the NFL post-season.

Congrats to the Saints on a well deserved victory.

More on the commercials tomorrow, but here's a one word preview: lackluster!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Prediction

Not a lot of deep insight here:

The Colts to win.

Why? Peyton Manning.

There you have it.

My plan is to do an entry on Monday discussing the Super Bowl commercials, as well as the game itself. Will want your give-and-take on that hot topic.


The Grandstander has declared a "State of Emergency" in Franklin Park today!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Birthday Wishes

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?

The New Radio Station in Town

I guess sports fans here in Pittsburgh are all abuzz with excitement over the debut on February 15 of "The Fan" a new 24-hour sports talk radio station on KDKA-FM (93.7 on the dial). The twist here is that the programming will be all local. No nationally syndicated yakkers talking about the Jim Colin Cowherd....just all Pittsburgh Yinzer sports talk. I can just hear the first call:

"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

Willie Mays Book Due Out This Month

If you are like me, you consider Willie Mays the best ballplayer you have seen in your own lifetime. Thanks to the great clipping service one gets via email as a member of SABR, I learned today that a new book about the Say Hey Kid, "Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend" by James Hirsch is scheduled to be published sometime this month. It is the first serious biography that had the cooperation of Mays himself. Read more about it in the link below.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We finally got around to seeing the James Cameron movie "Avatar" yesterday. I have to admit that seeing this was not a priority because I am not a sci-fi guy; the genre is not my cup of tea. I saw the original "Star Wars" when it came out back in the 70's. I only saw it once, and I have never seen another one. Nor am a Star Trek person. All that said, the word of mouth that Avatar has received, recommendations from friends, and the buzz about the 3D technology used in making the movie, had me intrigued, so off we went to the Robinson Cinemark.

The verdict: We both really liked the movie. The plot is not a new one - bad guys come into alien territory intent on pillaging the native resources and mowing down anyone who stands in their way. You've seen this story in any number of westerns over the years. Marilyn even drew a parallel to "The Lion King." So, if you accept that fact that an alien life form can exist on another planet -Pandora - you can "get" this movie.

And the movie-making technology used here really is amazing. Spend the extra couple of bucks and see it in 3D. It's well worth it.

I suspect that it sweep the Oscars in any number of technical categories. Whether it will win the Best Picture and Best Director Oscar will depend on whether or not Hollywood is willing to acknowledge that a "commercial" success deserves such honors, and whether they think they already did this for James Cameron once ("Titanic"), and they don't want to do it for him again.

One other thing: I'm not sure I've ever seen the "bad guy" in a movie so broadly drawn as the mercenary leader in this flick is. No ambiguity or shades of gray for this dude!

The Day the Music Died

Today, February 3, is the 51st anniversary of the Clear Lake, Iowa plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper. Check out the attached video.

My thanks to Dan Bonk for passing this onto me via Facebook.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Speaking of Movies....

....we are heading out to see "Avatar" this afternoon. Gonna see what all the fuss is about!

"A Hard Days Night"

I spent some time over the weekend watching the Beatles' first movie, "A Hard Days Night."

When it was first conceived that The Beatles do a movie, the idea was, throw something together on the cheap, do a soundtrack album, sell a lot of records, and cash in on these guys quickly before they - as all pop singers eventually do - fizzle out.

The Beatles had other ideas, and they saw to it that Richard Lester direct this movie. They conceived something different, and "A Hard Days Night" became a portrait of what it was like to be The Beatles during the height of Beatlemania. The movie also highlighted some of the natural good humor that each of the four Beatles possessed, and it gave each of the four a "set piece" within the framework of the movie to highlight them individually. It also has been given credit for being the first bit of filmaking that gave the world what we now know as music videos. (When Richard Lester was told many years later that he was the "father of MTV," he demanded a paternity test!)

The movie was also nominated for two academy awards (Music Direction and Original Screenplay), and is now considered by many critics and film scholars as a classic.

It is also just a lot of fun to watch. And listen to the music. Ah, the music. Yes, that is The Beatles that are doing the singing up there on screen. There is a reason that they are still the most popular rock band ever almost 50 years after they came on the popular music scene. That music is still the best!

I will also say that the movie is worthwhile if for no other reason than to watch the last ten minutes, when The Beatles do their television appearance before a live studio audience. Lester really captures the rapture and excitement of those in the audience listening and seeing their idols. If you are old enough to remember the band's first American appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, this segment will bring back all of those memories.

If it's been a long time since you've seen "A Hard Days Night", or if you've never seen it, check it out.