Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP Tony Curtis

Rest in peace to Tony Curtis, who passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

Many will cite such movies as "Spartacus", "The Defiant Ones", and "The Boston Strangler" when mentioning Curtis' greatest roles, but for my money, Curtis will be best known forever for his role as Joe/Josephine in Hollywood's all-time greatest comedy (according to AFI), Billy Wilder's 1959 classic, "Some Like It Hot."

We can also thank Curtis and the first of six his wives, Janet Leigh, for producing a wonderful daughter, the delightful Jamie Leigh Curtis.

Do they make movie stars like the Bronx's Bernie Schwartz anymore?

Shocking News from Altoona

This past season, the Pirates Double-A affiliate Altoona Curve put up a record of 82-60 and won the Eastern League Championship. Let me repeat that: THE CURVE WON THE EASTERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP.

Today comes news that the Pirates informed Curve manager Matt Wallbeck that his services would no longer be required. The Pirates, in the person of minor league director and Marine Drill Instructor Wanna-be Kyle Stark fired the manager of a team that just won their league's championship.

Also yesterday, the Pirates, led by the dundering John Russell lost their 102nd game of the season.

What can you say about this latest mysterious move by our Beloved Buccos? I mean, Rod Serling in his prime wouldn't have been able to make this stuff up.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sports Talk Radio, Big Poppy, and More Fall TV

Those local readers of The Grandstander have no doubt noted the demise earlier in the week of local ESPN Radio outlet, 1250 AM. The station is still broadcasting all national ESPN radio programming, but all local shows and talent, most notably Stan Savran and Guy Junker, have been given their pink slips, and on January 1, the station will switch to Disney Radio. Good-bye Mike & Mike in the Morning, hello Hannah Montana and Justin Beiber. As Bob Smizik noted the other day, the radio station of Myron Cope is no more.

This now leaves 93.7 The Fan as the major player in sports talk radio in town. Yes, I know that 970 AM does Fox Sports with some local programming, and that Mark Madden spews his vile brand of commentary on some head banger FM station, but let's face it, The Fan is where most of the 1250 listeners will now gravitate. This action has also silenced the best of the sports talk jocks in town, Stan Savran. Of course, while Stan appeals to me, I realize that 59 year old listeners are not among the coveted demographics that radio stations are seeking. Let's hope that Stan finds a home somewhere on the dial, and soon.


Thanks also go out to Loyal Reader - and frequent commenter - Big Poppy for pointing out to me that the actor on the new CBS series, "The Defenders," Jerry O'Connell (who I called a piece of "eye candy for female viewers" a few posts back) was the same actor who, as a young boy appeared in Rob Reiner's excellent movie from 1986, "Stand by Me." Nice to see that the years have been kinder to Mr. O'Connell than they have been to his co-stars. Corey Feldman has been known for cheesy reality TV shows, Howard Stern appearances, drug busts and not much else, and River Phoenix is dead.

That, as they say, is Show Biz.


I finally caught up with the DVR recording of the new ABC series "The Whole Truth" with Maura Tierney and Ron Morrow, and I really liked it. Very good legal drama where it appears that each week Driven Prosecutor Tierney will square off against Hot Shot Defender Morrow in a highly controversial criminal trial. Last week, Tierney won the case, but it would appear that that Morrow will also win his share as the series continues. The key is that the result is not telegraphed to the audience (at least it wasn't last week), and that makes for a compelling story. Oh, and it seems that Tierney's and Morrow's characters share "a past" together that will no doubt lead to some degree of sexual tension, which, if acted upon, will no doubt ruin the series (reference "Moonlighting"/Cybil Shepard/Bruce Willis).

The bad news is that "The Whole Truth" goes head to head with "The Defenders" on Wednesday nights, which is bad news for one of these shows. Until then, fire up the VCR's and DVR's and enjoy both shows.


I enjoyed the opening half of Ken Burns' "The Tenth Inning" on PBS last night. It was difficult to watch the piece that opened the show: Ninth Inning, Game 7, 1992 NLCS. You Pirates fans out there need no further information to know what I am talking about. Facebook Friend Dan Bonk has admitted that he turned off the the show at that point. Too bad, because the show was very good, and I look forward to watching Part II this evening.


Can't believe that I just completed a posting that included the name of Justin Beiber.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall TV Shows

I spoke a week or so ago about the new fall TV shows. We are now into the second week of the season, and here are my thoughts so far:
  • Will definitely give "Hawaii Five-O" another shot tonight. It's a cop show with beautiful scenery, and I hope we don't become too caught up in Steve McGarrett's angst over his murdered father, but you just can't turn away form "Hawaii Five-O." Still, you can't shake the thought: Much like Dan Qualye was no Jack Kennedy, Alex O'Laughlin (whoever he is) is no Jack Lord.
  • Will also DVR the NBC show opposite it, "Chase." I caught the show last week and it has possibilities. Lots of action and very fast moving. However, there was also foreshadowing about the lead character's, Annie Frost, troubled upbringing. Can't we be spared this stuff?
  • Tuesday's "Detroit 1-8-7" with Michael Imperioli is definitely deserving of another viewing. Good cop show.
  • Wednesday's "The Defenders" on CBS with Jim Belushi was also a good show. Liked Belushi's character very much (although he has troubling issues with his ex-wife; what is it with these kinds of issues on TV shows today?). I'm not totally sold on the guy who plays his partner, who is there for some male eye-candy for the lady viewers.
  • I have ceded the TV on Thursdays to Marilyn for Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.
  • I still have a couple of shows on the DVR that I have not had the chance to sample yet.
  • Until the next time, always remember these immortal words: "Book 'em, Danno."
  • Aloha.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday in Review

It was an afternoon well spent in watching the Pirates close out the 2010 home season with a 9-3 victory over the Astros. Figuring prominently in the win were Bucco rookies Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker, and second year man Andrew McCutchen. Those four accounted for eight hits, five runs, and five RBI's among them. Whatever bad things you can say about the Pirates, and God knows we've said them all, they do have four very good young players in these guys, players that you can build a team around. It has been said that the lousy Pirates teams of the early/mid 1950's did have players in place (Groat, Clemente, Maz, Friend) that eventually grew into a championship team. Baseball was a very different game then, and the question is, can the Pirates current front office supplement these four talented young players and turn the team into something that it has not been for 18 seasons? That is the challenge.

Now on to the other hero of the day:

Thanks to that wonderful invention of the 21st century - the DVR - I was able to watch the Steelers thorough mauling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-13, led by a most improbable hero, Charlie Batch. An afterthought throughout the off-season and in training camp, Batch remained with the team only because of Byron Leftwich's injury in the final exhibition game, and got the nod in today's game due to Dennis Dixon's injury last week, and after not starting a game since 2007, he resurrects the Steelers heretofore moribund offense, fires three TD passes, and Rooney U. now sits at 3-0, headed to a home game with the hated Ravens next week, and an assurance of, at worst, a 3-1 record when the keys to the car get turned back to Ben Roethlisberger in three weeks.

When you are aware of the work that Charlie Batch does with at-risk youth in his native Homestead, today's heroics couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Sunday Plans

  • Heading out to PNC Park today to take in the Pirates final home game of the season. It is Fan Appreciation Day, and a cynic would say that the Pirates damn well better appreciate the fact that I have attended 16 games during this god-awful season. However, with a Pirates win today, I will have witnessed the team go 8-8 in games that I have attended.
  • Will set the DVR for the Steelers game, and will watch it later with the finger on the fast forward button. Here's hoping the Steelers defense will force some turnovers and give the offense some short field opportunities to actually score some touchdowns today.
  • While almost no one in the world cares, I am hoping that Jim Furyk will win the Tour Championship today and also secure the FedEx Cup for 2010. After the classy way he handled his DQ from the first event of the PGA Tour's Playoff series, that would be a most deserving reward. And when you think of it, what name on the FedEx Cup would give it a greater cachet, Jim Furyk or Charley Hoffman?
  • Very interesting column by Joe Starkey int he Trib today about the fortunes of Pitt football. How far has Wanny moved the program from the days of the "It's Not My Fault" Walt Harris Era? Check it out:
  • Gene Collier in the PG also has a good column on the same topic:
  • Enjoy the day, Everyone!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Loss Number 100

So, the Astros hand the Pirates Loss #100 last night at PNC Park. No shock as it was apparent since July that this day was inevitable.

Hearty congratulations go out to the smarmy GM who assembled this team and the charismatic manager who has led them through the '10 campaign.

The "good" news is that the squad will not match the 112 losses of the 1952 team. We await to see if they can lose enough remaining games to give JR 300 losses in his three tenure at the helm.

Did you see the interview with JR in the Post-Gazette yesterday? Seems that he hasn't given much thought to NOT coming back as manager in 2011, and that he looks forward to being back next year.

Purely from a business point of view, how can the Pirates possibly bring this fool back as manager next year and hope to generate ANY kind of buzz, much less sell any tickets, for 2011 in the off-season? What message would that send?

Haven't we suffered enough??

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Treasure Uncovered; A Hurricane Over Heinz Field

Exciting news in the New York Times yesterday! Long thought to be lost from history, a complete kinescope copy of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series was discovered recently in a vault in the home of former Pirates minority owner Bing Crosby.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the play-by-play of the game is done by Crosby and Danny Kaye!

Just kidding about that last part. I include that only as an inside joke for certain readers of this blog.

Seriously, the kinescope is said to be in perfect condition and has been viewed by MLB officials, and has been transferred to DVD. The play-by-play is done by Bob Prince and Mel Allen. Watch for this to be shown sometime over the winter on the MLB Network on one of those Bob Costas Specials.

For more details on this, check out the link below:


On a less pleasant note, did you check out that clinker of a Pitt football game on ESPN last night? Wow, what more can you say than that the Panthers really stunk up the joint last night? As the game unfolded, I was wondering if Pitt would actually play an entire game without making a first down. For a season that had such high hopes, how do you explain this? Are there just not enough good players? Is it the coaching? Much is made about how Coach Wanny's "pro style" game is unsuited to the college game. I'll let smarter football people that me sort that one out, but Miami did somehow render Pitt's All-America wide out candidate Jon Baldwin invisible last night. And do you get as tired as I do of Pitt running plays that pick up 4 yards on third and six? But, hey, kudos to Miami. They looked like the Jimmy Johnson-era 'Canes without the camouflage.

All that is left now for Pitt is the chance to win the Big East and get one of those big money BCS Bowl bids. Of course, the way this college football season is shaping up, "Big East Champion" may not have quite the cachet one hoped it would at the outset.

This raises an interesting question that I heard on The Fan yesterday: Given all that has happened with college athletic conferences in recent months, will Big East Football even exist five years from now?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Evening

Had an enjoyable day golfing with Jim Dinnin at Meadowink today. Let me rephrase that: had an enjoyable day with Jim Dinnin at Meadowink today. The golfing was not so enjoyable.

It is getting to the time of year when you start to think about putting the clubs away for the winter, but no way am I ending the season on the round that I played today. Ugh!

Awaiting the Pitt-Miami kickoff in about 5 minutes. Will be pulling for the Panthers, but I fear the Hurricanes. Will this be the signature win for Wanny?

Prediction: Miami to win. Hope I'm wrong.

Go Pitt!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pirates 5 - Cardinals 2

I was in attendance last night to watch the Pirates beat the Cardinals, 5-2, despite Tony LaRussa's innumerable double switches. Highlight of the night was watching Andrew McCutchen rounding the bases to score from first base on Jose Tabata's triple. Watching him run is one of the most exciting things you will see at a ball game.

With that win, the Pirates record in games that I have attended has risen to 7-8. We are going to Sunday's home finale with a chance to secure a .500 record!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Town"

We just got back from an afternoon showing of the new Ben Affleck movie, "The Town." WOW, what a movie!

Affleck plays a guy who makes his living robbing banks and armored cars in Charlestown, Mass. During the heist that opens the movie, they take a bank manager, played by Rebecca Hall, hostage and then release her, only to learn later that she lives in The Town (that's Charlestown). In tracking her down to see what she knows and what she might have told the cops, Affleck, of course, falls for her. He tries to break away from his life of crime, but can he? That's part of the movie, but the bigger part is the three set pieces of the movie, three separate capers pulled off by Ben and his gang.

The action is unbelievable. An amazing car chase through Charlestown, and another caper filmed at Fenway Park.

For fans of "Mad Men," Jon Hamm as the FBI agent proves that he is more than slick 1960's ad man Don Draper. He's very good in it, and so is Ben Affleck, who seems to take a beating from critics as an actor. Affleck also directed the movie, and when you couple this one with "Gone Baby Gone" of a few years back, well, you need to know that you should go see anything that is directed by Ben Affleck.

Go see this one. Four stars from The Grandstander - and Mrs. Grandstander as well! - for "The Town."

Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Hawaii Five-0

For fans of the Jack Lord original, and dare I say, iconinc "Hawaii Five-0," the 2010 version will take some getting used to, but one thing remains constant between the two series:
Steve McGarrett is on Badass Dude!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Steelers 19 - Titans 11

Some thoughts and comments following the Steelers win in Nashville this afternoon.
  • After the defense forced 7 turnovers, it was astounding to think that the Titans had the opportunity to tie the game at the end.
  • The defense sure came up big today, didn't they? I figured that Chris Johnson would have his typical huge game today and that this would be a loss of Rooney U. They completely contained Johnson (and thanks to that Titan lineman who committed the holding penalty on what would have been Johnson's 80 yard TD run). If they can play like that all year, you have to think that the Steelers will win a lot of games.
  • To the people who have carped since the end of last season that the Steelers need to run he ball careful what you wish for. But for Rashard Mendenhall's 50 yard TD scamper in OT last week, the offense has not yet produced a sustained drive that has led to a touchdown. Credit today's poor rushing performance, of course, must also go to the the Titans' defense. As the saying goes, the other guys get paid, too.
  • I also know that Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch aren't Ben Roethlisberger, but can't they at least attempt to throw some passes down field? I know that there had to have been some such passes attempted today, but it's hard to remember them.
  • It was conventional wisdom to hope that the team would be at .500 by the time Roethlisberger came back. Well, they have clinched that. How about hoping for 3-1 now?
  • The Steelers, by the way, now sit alone in first place in the AFC North.
  • Hey, how about seeing the Steelers SCORING a TD on a kickoff return? We got so used to seeing those go the other way last year!
  • A salute must also go out to Troy Polamalu for his play today. The INT in the end zone prevented a Tennessee touchdown, and that play where he timed his leap over the line to tackle Kerry Collins was positively spectacular!
  • Interesting column this morning by Ron Cook in the PG, wherein he speculates that much of Terry Bradshaw's anti-Roethlisberger venom in recent weeks can be traced to jealousy. There is a lot to be outraged about with Roethlisberger, but I felt all along that Bradshaw's reaction seemed a bit over the top. Check out Cook's column if you missed it.
  • Couple of more good commercials today: the Bud Light Playbook spots, and the BlackBerry spot featuring the music of Buddy Holly.
  • After seeing at the Tennessee Titans cheerleaders during the game today the thought occurred to me: When is some pandering NFL team going to just trot out these babes in nothing but g-strings and pasties? That is about the only frontier left.
  • Tampa Bay next week. I'm thinking 3-0.
  • Did you all like my old school reference to the Steelers as "Rooney U." earlier in this post. Nothing like using a Jack Sell reference to spice up a post!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Night at the Movies: "The Sting"

We spent Saturday evening watching the Best Picture of the Year for 1973, "The Sting."

Thirty-seven years later, this movie not only holds up, it is a fresh and as entertaining as anything that could have been made this year.

They don't make 'em like Paul Newman anymore!

Very entertaining and enjoyable.

A tour with a Different Perspective

I did a tour this morning at the Heinz History Center for a class reunion - West View High School, Class of 1955. When you are used to giving tours to the middle school set, it is interesting to give a tour to a group of older adults, people who experienced much of what they were seeing on display. When we got to that part of the HHC that dealt with the development of the Salk polio vaccine at Pitt, I asked THEM to talk to ME about that period. It was amazing the stories I heard. Almost everyone of them knew someone who had polio as they were growing up.

It was a good tour!

Friday, September 17, 2010

50 Games Under

It has been awhile, eight days, since I have weighed in on the misfortunes of the Pirates - what more can you say, after all - but after last night's game and some comments in this morning's Post-Gazette, well, here we go.

In case you missed it, the Bucs lost to the Mets last night, 6-2. This was their fourth loss in a row, dropped their road record to an unbelievable 15-59 on the season (to add some perspective to that record, the Phillies have won 17 times on the road since August 1!), and have now reached the milestone number of 50, count 'em, 50 games under .500 on the season. They are now 48-98, and have established themselves as the worst Pirates team in 58 years. In his blog this morning, Bob Smizik recalled the 1985 team which he covered as a beat reporter and lost 104 games: "They stunk, but they could play rings around this bunch."

However, in the sidebar stories of the game, we learn the following:
  • GM Neal reports that it is going to be difficult in evaluating the Pirates coaches, whose contracts are about to expire, after the season. Hmmm, doesn't seem like it should be all that difficult to me.
  • The GM made no mention of evaluating John Russell.
  • Speaking of JR, he announced that Zach Duke (for whom a case could be made that he is the worst starting pitcher in MLB this season) will be taking his regular turn in the rotation on Sunday. Duke, it seems, has looked good in his side sessions since getting rocked by the Mets on Tuesday. He is looking "more Zach-ish" according to the Skipper. Makes you fell a lot better, doesn't it?
  • Reliever D.J. Carrasco, in town with the D'Backs for the first time since his trade from the Pirates reports that the Pirates players "don't take it seriously enough that they're losing all the time." That's not a good thing.

Sixteen games remain. The Pirates need to go a mere 3-13 to avoid the 112 losses of the 1952 Pirates. They can do that, can't they?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hawaii Five-0

Will the new "Hawaii Five-0" ever be able to top this? Talk about big shoes to fill!

New Fall TV Shows

After perusing the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide (the only time of the year that I buy TVG, btw, as this magazine has devolved into just another supermarket gossip rag, in my opinion), I have earmarked the following shows to watch and see if they are worth watching on a continuing basis.
  • "Hawaii Five -0." How can devoted fans of the 1970's iconic show NOT give this one a look-see? On the other hand, how can some hunk of beefcake named Alex O'Loughlin ever hope to fill the shoes of the great Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett? Although a chick named Grace Park (not the professional golfer) playing "Kona" sure beats the hell out of the wooden Zulu, who played "Kono" on the original series. Can't wait for the new McGarrett to bark out "What have you got for me, Che?" and of course the immortal line, "Book 'em, Danno."
  • "Raising Hope." This is a white trash sitcom on Fox that stars, among others, 84 year old Cloris Leachman. This could be a very funny show, but it could just as easily be one that I will never watch again after the first viewing. The potential for both extremes is there.
  • "Detroit 1-8-7." A gritty cop show starring The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli ("Christopher Moltisanti"). Gotta try it for no other reason than that.
  • "The Defenders." Jim Belushi as a sleazy Vegas lawyer. Again, this could be a one-and-done situation, but I have to give it a try.
  • "The Whole Truth." A Prosecution vs. Defense legal show. I like Maura Tierney, so it's worth a shot.
  • "Law & Order: Los Angeles." Same show, different city. Can it be as good a show without Sam Watterson? On the other hand, L&O was never quite the same after Jerry Orbach died.
  • "Body of Proof." Dana Delaney as a crime solving medical examiner. Again, the potential is there for a good show.

There are others that I think I might try - Undercovers, Running Wilde, and Nikita - but if I don't get to them, no big deal. I also think I'll pass on NBC's highly promoted The Event. Looks like one of those shows that continue from week to week, and who wants to make that sort of commitment?

I suspect that I will be offering some opinions on these shows as they unfold. If you are interested in my thoughts on them, then....Be here. Aloha!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Night Football

Division rival Ravens vs. the Rex Ryans. Is it possible to root for both teams to lose?

11th Annual Sproule Invitational Golf Outing - Part II

Anyone interested in seeing the official write-up and scoring summary of this past Saturday's SIGO can email me at, and I will send you a copy.

Steelers 15 - Falcons 9

Thoughts and comments from The Grandstand on the Steelers opening day victory....
  • After paying little or no attention to the Steelers throughout their exhibition schedule, I found myself anxiously awaiting and looking forward to watching a game that actually meant something.
  • The Steelers defense certainly looked the part of a championship team yesterday, but I worry about them holding up over sixteen games. It seems that there are a lot of guys on the far side of 30 on that side of the ball.
  • On the other hand, youngsters Ziggy Hood and Lawrence Timmons seemed to this untrained eye to have had nice games yesterday.
  • It would also be nice to see Steelers defensive backs other than Troy Polamalu actually make an interception. William Gay did a great imitation of Ike Taylor when he dropped one right in his mitts yesterday.
  • No complaints here about Dennis Dixon. You didn't really expect him to be Ben Roethlisberger - or even Tommy Maddox - out there, did you?
  • And speaking of Dixon, I hereby propose that the cliche about a young, untested QB being asked to manage the game be permanently abolished. I think Jim Mora Jr. used it about a half dozen times BEFORE the kickoff yesterday.
  • Well, Ron Cook did say that the Steelers had no chance of winning unless Rashard Mendenhall had a big day.
  • Saw an old friend this morning and when he asked me how I was, I pulled out the old chestnut, "I'm like Jeff Reed. I can't kick." I think I first heard that one when Gene Mingo kicked for the Steelers. Totally unfair to hit Reed with that line, but I couldn't resist.
  • Had the Steelers ended up losing in OT, we'd have been pretty down on Reed for missing that 30-something yarder at the end of regulation, but in retrospect, aren't you glad he did? Ending a game on a 50 yard TD run from scrimmage was a lot more exciting.
  • The old Sage of Saline Street, Frank Sproule, always said that nothing was more exciting in football than a long run from scrimmage. I'm sure he was smiling down as he watched that one yesterday.
  • I continue to be amazed, year after year, at just how good a football player Hines Ward is. Thirteenth year in the league, 34 years old, and he just seems to get better every year. Best Steelers receiver ever, and, yes, I did see Lynn Swann and John Stallworth play.
  • Coach Mike seems to be taking some heat for his decision to go for a 55 yard FG before halftime. You can check out Bob Smizik's blog at today for a full defense of Tomlin on that call, but I have to give you this classic quote from Smizik's blog post on the subject:
  • "Many football fans are not happy unless they can show themselves that they’re smarter than the coaches. An extreme few, who have a grossly overinflated opinion of themselves, go so far as to dictate lessons to the poor, stupid coaches via the Internet."
  • I spared myself the pain of listening to a single play of the Steelers radio play-by-play guys yesterday. After listening the Bill Hilgrove on the Pitt game the day before, I reminded myself of the old Beano Cook line: "haven't (we) suffered enough?"
  • On a Steelers related matter, allow me to share a birthday story with you. On Saturday evening, which happened to also be my "Jack Ham Birthday", we head over to St. John Neumann for Mass and see that a fundraiser raffle is being held (surprise!) that featured five Steelers related items as prizes. I buy my three-tickets-for-$5 and put one ticket in the bag for two Steelers-Browns tickets, and two in the bag for a handsome woolen Steelers jacket. Yesterday afternoon, at just about kickoff time, the phone rings to tell me that I had indeed WON the jacket. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, indeed!!!! It's a beauty, and you will all no doubt be envious of me when you see me sporting this jacket when the weather turns cool.
  • As Gene Collier said this morning, at least the Steelers won't be 0-4 when Roethlisberger returns from NFL Elba.
  • Finally, I saw some Super Bowl caliber commercials during the game telecast yesterday. The two bears who decided to got to McDonald's for dinner, the FedEx delivery guy who used pneumonics to remember people's names, and, finally, a new ETrade baby commercial!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A 9/11 Column from Jim Dodson....

After a week wherein the news cycle was dominated by a small time Florida preacher spewing hatred in the name of Christianity, columnist Jim Dodson of the Southern Pines (NC) Pilot hits the nail on the head with this column. It is fairly lengthy, but worth reading. Dodson says it all a lot better than I can.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

11th Annual Sproule Invitational Golf Outing

The 11th Annual SIGO (Sproule Invitational Golf Outing) was held today at Saxon Golf Course. The weather was cool and brisk, but, unlike past years, NO RAIN!!

I do a detailed write up each year on the course of events at the SIGO, and this year will be no exception, so I will not go into great detail here. (I will post a link to the document when it is completed, if anyone is so inclined to read it.) Suffice to say, Jim Moellenbrock took the Low Gross title with an 82, his third overall SIGO championship. In the Low Net contest, I am gratified to announce that a third generation participant, 15 year old Pat Sproule took the trophy home his year with a Net score of 67.

Some pictures of the post round festivities are included with this post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Cool Photo Op

This picture was taken this morning during my volunteer stint at the Heinz History Center. The trophies will be on display through next Tuesday, so you, too can have a similar picture taken.
You meet interesting people in this gig at the HHC.
I asked the first couple in line today if they were from out of town. Yes, they said, they were from Boise, Idaho. I didn't expect that answer! They traveled to Washington DC for the Boise State - Virginia Tech game and then stopped in Pittsburgh to see some family that the wife had living in the area. It was their first visit to the HHC.
When was the last time YOU visited the Heinz History Center?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nice Statue, Ugly Game

We went to the Pirates game last night, and it was fairly typical of what we have seen of late when we have attended: Bucs fall behind 3-0 in the first, starter doesn't get out of the second inning, bullpen non-entities (Pirates used 8 pitchers in all last night) get pounded, and Bucs lose, 9-3.

What was of note last night was the mood of the crowd. Like the Pirates play last night, the crowd was ugly and bordering on mean-spirited. It is almost like they have reached the Howard Beal stage: mad as hell, and not going to take it any more. Seriously, this team is going to have major problems trying to sell themselves this off season, particularly if no changes in management take place. Speaking for myself, I purchased two seats for a ten game plan in 2010. I am of no mind to make a similar financial commitment for 2011 unless the Pirates make some kind of commitment to ME (well, not me, personally, but you know what I mean). And if that "commitment" includes John Russell's lackluster leadership, Neal Huntington's usual line of b.s. that, for example, makes Charlie Morton to be a front line pitcher, and additions to the team of the Iwamura, Church, and Crosby ilk, then I will just hold on to my money and buy my tickets on a game-by-game basis when I feel like going to a game. Something tells me that I won't have trouble getting tickets when I want them.

Here's another thought. The Pirates have not raised ticket prices since 2002. From a pure business standpoint, they HAVE to raise their prices this year. I understand that, but can you imagine how that news is going to greeted when it is announced?

As for the Maz statue, we walked by to see it prior to the game. It is a nice statue, and a deserving tribute to a great Pirate and the city's most famous sports moment, but did you notice that there is a mistake in the plaque that accompanies the statue? It states that Maz hit an 0-1 pitch for the famous home run. We all know, of course, that it was a 1-0 pitch. I also don't think that the statue got Maz's face right. However, I am amazed that the entire 14 foot statue stands on only on foot. How did they do that?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Few More Thoughts Left Over From This Morning

More items from the Mental In-Basket....
  • Have you caught the Comcast Xfinity commercial with Tom Brady? What's with the hair?
  • If you have read and are a fan of Carl Hiaasen, check out his newest novel, "Star Island." Another fun and breezy read with a lot of laughs mixed in among the social commentary about life in Florida.

I meant to include these items in this morning's posting, but, well, you can't remember everything.

Thoughts at Summer's End

With the unofficial ending of summer on Labor Day Weekend, it's time to clean out the Mental In-Box.

  • Nice to see that "Mr. Positive" Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette has decided that the Steelers have "no chance" of winning their season opener this Sunday with Dennis Dixon starting at QB. Thanks, Ron. That will save me the time and trouble of having to actually, you know, watch the game.

  • How nice was it to have some cooler temperatures this past weekend? We'll all be complaining about cold weather soon enough, but after all of the 90+ temp days we have had this summer, it was nice to wear long pants for a change.

  • I see that Bristol Palin will be a contestant on Dancing With the Stars this Fall. Not sure what the reaction has been amongst the Tea Party Crowd to this news, but I wonder what Rush, Glenn, and Bill O. would have said had, say, Chelsea Clinton elected this particular career path.

  • Nostalgia ran rampant among Pirates fans this weekend with the dedication of the Bill Mazeroski statue at PNC Park on Sunday. I plan to get my first close look at this when I attend the game on Wednesday night.

  • Speaking of Maz, I worked the event on Monday at the Heinz History Center when a new exhibit, "Beat 'em Bucs: The Story of the 1960 Pirates" opened. Maz and his lovely wife, Milene, were there to unveil a life figure of himself (see above) and to sign copies of a new children's book, "Maz, You're Up" written by his daughter-in-law, Kelly. It's a great exhibit, and a cute book. Stop by at the Heinz History Center to check it out.

  • The Heinz Center will also be exhibiting all six Steelers Lombardi Trophies from Wednesday of this week through Tuesday of next week. This would be a good photo op for you. I will be working there this Friday morning from 9:30 to 1:30. Among my responsibilities will be "line control." Word is that Sheriff Andy will let me take my bullet out of my shirt pocket to enforce such control. Stop on down.

  • It took them awhile to get around to it, but it's nice to see that the Pirates are wearing a patch commemorating the late Joe L. Brown on their uniforms.

  • It seems that Neil Walker is getting some attention around baseball and is a candidate for Rookie-of-the-Year. Not bad for a guy projected to be a utility guy in Spring Training.

  • On a purely personal note, I very much enjoyed a reunion of sorts this past weekend with an old friend who is also a very Loyal Reader of The Grandstander. Seldom have I enjoyed an Eat 'n Park breakfast more!

  • The 11th Annual Sproule Invitational Golf Outing (SIGO) tees it up this Saturday. Looks like a line-up of 15 golfers covering three generations will be on hand. The weather forecast is a good one, but keep your fingers crossed that this be the case.

  • Marilyn and I took a walk around the Stonebrook grounds this morning and actually saw a few leaves starting to turn colors. Fall is here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Movie Saturday

One of the things that suffered when we committed to our move this summer was out attendance at movies. So, yesterday we saddled up and headed to the beautiful Robinson Cinemark and finally got around to seeing "Toy Story 3."

Now if you had seen and enjoyed the first two movies in this series, or even if you have not, this is a movie you really, really ought to see. In this one, Andy, the kid who owned and played with Woody, Buzz, and the other toys, has grown up and about to leave for college. His mother needs him to clean out his room and earmark things that need to either be taken with him to college, donated to charity, or just thrown in the trash. Among these items are his beloved toys. What happens to them is what makes up the plot of this absolutely wonderful movie. If you can see this movie and NOT shed a tear or two or even flat out bawl, then I would suggest that you are missing something in your soul.

This a terrific movie!

Then, on Saturday night, I noted that Turner Classic Movies was showing Mike Nichols' 1967 classic, and one of my personal all-time favorites, "The Graduate" on its Essentials series. I tuned in to see the opening comments about the movie from the hosts, Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin, but once the movie began with Benjamin Braddock's descent into Los Angeles, I was hooked and watched the entire thing.

If you don't know the story, rent and watch the movie. If you do know it, but haven't seen it in a long time, it's worth watching again. It was very much a movie of its time with it's theme of youth-alienation-in-the-1960's. Lots of movies with that theme were made during that period and are dated when you watch them now, but "The Graduate" holds up very well 43 years (43 years!!!!) after it was made.

In watching last night, I was particularly impressed with Anne Bancroft's performance. I have always maintained that the best actors can say volumes without opening their mouths, but through their facial expressions and their eyes (no one does this better than Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, by the way), and Bancroft's eyes and her predatory facial expressions were fantastic throughout the movie. A tremendous performance.

This, of course, was the movie that introduced to the general public and made a star of Dustin Hoffman. He is now pretty much confined to character roles, but he has had a career that has more than fulfilled the promise first seen in "The Graduate."

Some Graduate trivia:

  • While Mrs. Robinson was twice the age of Benjamin Braddock in the movie, Anne Bancroft was only seven years older than Dustin Hoffman.

  • Before Bancroft got the part, one of the actresses in serious consideration to play Mrs. Robinson was Doris Day. Can you imagine that? It would have been a different movie, I think, if that had happened.

  • If you look fast, there are bit parts by two future stars: Mike Farrell (B.J. from M*A*S*H) as a hotel bellhop, and Richard Dreyfuss as rooming house resident.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another Way to View/Comment on "The Grandstander"

From time to time I have received complaints about the difficulty in posting a comment on this blog. I would like to point out to those of you who feel that way that I often will put some of my Grandstander posts on my Facebook page, and I often receive comments via Facebook. It is easier to post a comment on Facebook, I grant you that.

So, you can find my page at . Join Facebook, "friend" me (I never turn down a friend request), and see those Grandstander columns that I post out there, and comment that way.

C'mon, People, the more interaction, the more fun this can be!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

200 Posts - Believe It or Not, I Was Wrong Sometimes!

I just noted that The Grandstander has made his 200th Post since the inception of this blog. the record will show that the historic 200th post was devoted to football coaching gaffes, and the Steelers quarterback situation. How appropriate.

Let me celebrate the milestone post by talking about some of the things that I have gotten wrong over the last few months.
  • Throughout May and June I called for the Pirates to bring up pitcher Brad Lincoln, figuring that he was ready to be a mainstay of the pitching staff. After going 1-4, 6.57, Lincoln was sent back to Triple-A and awaits, hopes, for a September call-up. Let's hope that this was a case of Lincoln not being ready yet, and that he will come around in 2011.
  • On July 5, with all the Pirates prime prospects on the big team, I postulated that we judge this "new" Pirates team on the 84 game "season" that began on July 1. Maybe that team would begin to turn things around, I said. So far, that team is 17-38 (.309), considerably worse than the pre-July 1 team (27-51, .346).
  • On August 8, I recounted the Pirates comeback win over the Rockies the night before that featured Pedro Alavarez' three-run walk-off 10th inning home run. Maybe that will be the springboard for this team, I said. See prior bullett point to see how well that thought turned out.
  • On August 9, I suggested that Alvarez would finish with more HR's than Atlanta rookie Jason Heyward. I even offered to bet anyone a dinner at McDonald's that it would happen. On that date, Alvarez had 10 HR's and Heyward had 12. Today, Pedro is stuck on 10 and Heyward has 16. It should be noted that (a) no one took me up on that bet, and (b) that offer is no longer on the table.
  • Oh, I also had the Colts winning the Super Bowl.

Okay, I have admitted to where I got it wrong, and I am sure that there are many other examples. However, I will continue to stand by other things I got right:

  • That curling was an enjoyable event to watch in the Olympics.
  • That The Godfather movies are GREAT.
  • That current day baseball players are slobs due to how they wear their uniforms.
  • That Rex Ryan is and continues to be an enormous blowhard.
  • That while Joe West may be a total jagoff, he was not wrong when he talked about the pace of play in MLB games.
  • That Friday Fish Fries in Lent are fun.
  • That the Augusta National/Masters logo is cool.
  • That every generation should be exposed to the Marx Brothers.
  • That while Charlie Morton has been lousy this season, the Pirates contributed to his downfall by continuing to run him our every fifth game for the first 2 and 1/2 months of the season.
  • That John Russell has to go.
  • That Neal Huntington is arrogant.
  • That "Sex and the City 2" was a LOUSY movie.

Hope you have enjoyed the last 200 posts and will continue to enjoy all the ones in the future. I also wish that more of you would share your comments on the blog. Interaction makes it more fun.

The Knives Are Out

With the conclusion of the NFL exhibition season and the opening of the college football season, the knives came out this morning and are carving up the two Head Coaches here in town.

First Mike Tomlin. The injury to Byron Leftwich in the final game is apparently the Coach's fault. Not sure how Tomlin could have prevented it, but I guess that is another question. Now the Steelers are faced with choosing between Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. More to the point, Coach Mike is being faulted for how he apportioned the "reps" among his four QB's during training camp. ("Reps" now being the most overused term in sports these days.) He gave Ben too many reps; he didn't give Batch any reps at all; he didn't get it right in allotting reps between Leftwich and Dixon. Any way you look at it, Tomlin totally mucked up the whole deal and he probably should be fired because of it. OK, that's an extreme position, but I guarantee that someone will call a talk show today and make that suggestion. As for me, I tend to think that Mike Tomlin knows more about these things than any of the people who pontificate on such things, so I will trust that he makes the right choice. Does this mean that he will? Of course not. It may well be that he mishandled the whole QB deal, but I suggest that we see how it plays out.

Having said that, I will offer my two cents worth on the topic. If you think you have a team that can make a run at the playoffs and a Super Bowl, then you need to go with your best option of treading water until Roethlisberger gets back, and that option would be the experienced option, which is Charlie Batch, and hope you can go 3-1 0r 2-2 during Ben's absence.

By the way, if you really want to lay blame on this whole situation, you might want to start with Roethlisberger. His choices, decisions, and actions last spring in Georgia is what brought about this whole deal.

Also, the Steelers will apparently need a third warm body to play QB in practices now that the team is, apparently, down to two QB's for at least the first four weeks. I would suggest that calls go out to the following guys to report to the South Side for candidates for this important position:
Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox, Terry Hanratty, Terry Bradshaw, Kent Nix, Jim Miller, Bob Leahy, Bobby Layne, and Ed Brown, even though the last two guys are dead.

Now, the Pitt loss to Utah. The Dave Wannstadt haters will be out in force today. Now, while I am a football fan, I am not a football coach, and I would no idea how to be one, BUT I will ask a question: When it became apparent that Utah was, if not stopping, but at least containing, Dion Lewis, why did it take until the fourth quarter to start opening up the passing game? For three quarters, I was wondering why was Tino Sunseri playing QB if the coaches obviously didn't want him to throw the football, even with one of the best wide receivers in the nation lining up for you? As the fourth quarter showed, Sunseri can throw so it looks like he will be okay in there.

For all of that, Pitt did stage a nice comeback, and forced a ranked team into OT on the road. I don't think that a 24-21 loss to Utah in the first game of the season spell disaster for the Panthers. The prize for them will be winning the Big East.

Finally, some rule should be put in place to prevent coaches from calling times out just as ball is about to be snapped for a field goal attempt. Why don't we all just concede that football coaches are the smartest people on earth so that they no longer need to do such aggravating things to demonstrate it to us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Month

We turn the page on the calendar today with a look at - what else? - the awful state of the Pirates.

They now sit at 44-88 (.333), far and away the worst record in baseball. They are five games "ahead" of the Orioles for the #1 draft choice next June, and despite scoring 14 runs in a win last night, they are terrible, awful, and unwatchable (and I still have tickets for three more games this season!!).

Here is what needs to be done over the last 30 games to make this a truly historic season:

If they go 6-24, they will lose 112 games, matching the low water mark of the 1952 Pirates.

If they go 5-25, they will lose 113 games, matching the franchise low water mark of the 1890 Pittsburg Alleghenies.

For a team that has put up records of 6-20, 8-17, and 8-20 over the last three months, do you doubt that they are capable of such an atrocity?

For the second day in a row, I refer you to Bob Smizik's blog today that asks what the lowest of low points have been in this historically terrible season: