This was going to be a Pirates-free post today, but I have to comment on the trade Neal Huntington made last night to bring Derrek Lee to the Pirates. First, I will concede that Lee, like many Pirates acquisitions in the past 18 years, is a once very good, if not great, player who is now deep into the back nine of his career. The fact that his numbers in 2011 have been "trending up" (as you have no doubt heard/read already today) bodes well for the Bucs. Also, in giving up a Class A prospect who might - might - be in Pittsburgh in 2014, the team hasn't sacrificed much. And after watching Lyle Overbay this past week, and especially that pathetic pinch hitting effort last night, well, I am ready to throw a parade to welcome Derrek Lee to town.
This deal may or may not work out for the Pirates, but I give GM Neal credit for making it.
Now, if he can only find an outfielder by 4:00 PM today. How much more of Mike Diaz and Garrett Jones can we take?
OK, now we'll get to the Mental In-Box....
- Watched the 1964 movie "Seven Days in May" this weekend. This is a political thriller about an attempted military coup to take over the US government, and it starred Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Frederic March. This is a very good movie. Lancaster, as always, was great in the role of the megalomaniac general who wants to overthrow the President. Douglas is his aide who tips the President to the plot and saves the day, and March is the President who faces down plotters. Also, neat performances by character actors Edmond O'Brien and Martin Balsam. The script, incidentally, was written by Rod Serling of "Twilight Zone" fame.
- Lots of talk this week about the wooing of Plaxico Burress by the Steelers (which now appear to be moot, since it now appears that Plax will be teaming up with Santonio Holmes in RexRyanland). Were you surprised by this development? I didn't think the Steelers were interested in players with that kind of a background. Not the "Steelers Way."
- Speaking of the Steelers, what do these guys have in common: Bret Keisel, Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, James Farrier, James Harrison, Aaron Smith, Larry Foote, and Ryan Clark?
- Answer: They are all key members of the Steelers defense who are being relied upon to get the Steelers back to the Super Bowl this year, AND they are all over 30 years old, some of them well over 30. I hope I'm wrong, but that seems to me to be an ominous red flag waiving over Heinz Field.
- In case you missed it, there has been news on the Pitt Football Broadcast Team front of late. A few weeks ago, it was announced that Bill "Mr. Monotone" Fralic was leaving the booth after many years. No loss there except for those who used his commentary as a cure for insomnia. He will be replaced by Pat Bostic, who I believe still may have eligibility as a player left. Also, Pitt and 93.7 The Fan announced that Jon Burton will replace John Siebel as the sideline reporter. Pitt, is was said, was very unhappy with what they deemed to be Siebel's too critical comments about the Pitt football program on his daily talk show. That shouldn't be a problem with Burton, who should be the cheerleader that Pitt wants on their broadcasts.
- There was no mention of why a sideline reporter is needed on a radio broadcast in the first place.
- And speaking of cheerleaders, Billy Hilgrove will return as play-by-play man for the 100th year in a row. This will make bartenders in all Big East cities happy.
- Getting back to movies, I picked up an interesting DVD set at Target the other day. It was packaged as a 20th Century Fox "Studio Classics" set, and included four "noir classics." Two of the movies are "Black Widow" and "Dangerous Crossing" which I have never heard of. One was "Laura" which I have heard of and is a very good movie, and the other is "Call Northside 777" which stars James Stewart and Richard Conte and was considered a true classic in the Sproule household at Saline Street. The whole set cost $9.99. A steal!
Allow me to close on a somber note, please. This past Wednesday evening, one of my former co-workers and good friends at Highmark, Alvin Rue, passed away after a battle with illness. I met Alvin on my very first day of work at Blue Cross in 1988, and he remained a good friend, and a regular lunch partner, throughout my entire time there. He was a truly good and decent man, and he will be missed . He is, indeed, an Absent Friend.