Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Exhibit at the Heinz History Center

Okay, this post is nothing more than a bold and unabashed commercial for one of my volunteer activities, the John Heinz History Center.  A new temporary exhibit will be opening this weekend and will run through Mother's Day.  The exhibit is called  "1968: The Year That Rocked America".  I had a chance to take a preview tour today, and it is a fantastic exhibit, one of the best I've seen since in the three plus years I have been at the History Center.  !968 was the year of my junior and senior years in high school, and so many of the events chronicled in this exhibit are vivid in my mind and important in my own personal history and memories.

Here are just a few of the people and events that are touched upon in this exhibit:

TET...Martin Luther King....Janis Joplin....Laugh-In....Viet Nam....My Lai....Eugene McCarthy.....Robert Kennedy....The White Album....Chicago Democratic Convention.....Richard Nixon....Apollo 8.

Trust me, I'm not even scratching the surface of all that is in this exhibit.

If you were alive in 1968 and can recall these events, you need to see this exhibit, and even if you were not and 1968 seems like ancient history to you, maybe especially if it seems like ancient history to you, you should really make it a point to visit this exhibit.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Big Night for "Argo"

As it did two weeks ago at the Golden Globe Awards, Ben Affleck's "Argo" was the big winner at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night.  At the Globes, "Argo" won best picture and, more significantly, Affleck was chosen Best Director, after his snub by the Motion Picture Academy.  Last night at the SAG awards, "Argo" was awarded the "Best Ensemble Acting" award, the SAG equivalent of Best Picture.

And make no mistake, Affleck was definitely snubbed by the Academy.  Last week I heard an interview with Stephen Hunter, former movie critic for the Washington Post.  His thought was that Affleck is generally perceived as a lightweight "pretty boy" actor by many in the Hollywood community, who decided to try his hand at directing, and, lo and behold, he is very good at it and it seems that this is where his true talent lies.  When it came time to nominate for Best Director, many of those directors who struggled through film schools and working their way up via numerous low level behind-the-camera jobs, obviously decided to take it out on Affleck, who they have decreed has had it too easy in his path to being a premier film director.  Makes sense to me.

What does this portend for the Oscars in a few weeks?  My own hunch is that "Lincoln" will win for Best Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, Supporting Actor, Tommy Lee Jones, and that Steven Spielberg will nail the Best Director prize, but my guess is that the Best Picture award is now a horse race between "Argo" and "Lincoln".  Hey, I loved both movies, but if I had to vote, I would ask myself this question:  which movie am I most likely to watch again and again over the next ten years or so?  If that's the criterion, then I'd have to say "Argo".

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Movie Review: "Hyde Park on Hudson"

We went and saw the movie "Hyde Park on Hudson" this afternoon.  The movie stars Bill Murray - yep, Bill Murray of Saturday Night Live and Caddyshack fame - as President Franklin Roosevelt.  Hard to imagine that the guy who can play Carl Spackler can also play the aristocratic FDR, but Murray pulls it off.  In fact, early on, there had been some buzz that Murray might earn an Oscar nomination for the role, but timing is everything, I suppose.  If you want to garner critical acclaim and awards for playing a former President, don't do it in the same year that Daniel Day-Lewis is playing Abe Lincoln.

The movie is really two stories, FDR's relationship, purportedly an "intimate" one, with a distant cousin, Daisy Suckley (played by Laura Linney) and the visit to America by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the President's Hyde Park, NY estate in 1939 to try to gain American support for England in the war in Europe that was sure to come later that year.

This is the third time in recent years that Queen Elizabeth (the current queen's mother) has been portrayed in movies.  First there was "The Queen", followed by "The King's Speech" and now this one.  Each movie presents a different picture of the woman.  Interesting.

The movie also talks about a time "when we were still allowed to have secrets".  One scene I found to be very striking.  With reporters and news photographers gathered around the President's car, FDR is carried, literally, to his car by an aide, lifted into the back seat of the car, and shifted into place. Only then does a staffer give the okay, and only then do the photographers snap their pictures of the President.

Try imagining a scene like that today.

Anyway, a thumbs up for "Hudson on Hyde Park".

The Great 2013 Hamburger Quest, Part 3 - BZ Bar and Grill

The Quest for the Best Hamburger in Pittsburgh took me to the BZ Bar and Grill on the North Shore yesterday afternoon.  This is the newly opened sports bar across from PNC Park in the space that had been occupied by Firewater's for many years.

Operating on the theory that if can't say something nice about something, don't say anything, this post will be brief.  The interior of the place is rather stark, the service was slow, and the hamburger.... well, if it was a college football team, it would be in the category of "not receiving votes" in the weekly polls.  It has caused me to list a new category in my Burger Rankings that I will be posting after trying the burgers.

To be fair, BZ is new, and it is no doubt unfair to come to a conclusion after only one visit to a brand new place.  That said, nothing about my experience yesterday is making me long for a return trip.

The current rankings:

  1. Tessaro's (Bloomfield)
  2. The Tilted Kilt (North Shore)

  • BZ Bar & Grill (North Shore)

Friday, January 25, 2013

From This Week's Sports Illustrated

The newest Sports Illustrated arrived today (John and Jim Harbaugh on the cover), and so far, it is proving to be an good issue, and I haven't even gotten to the Super Bowl stuff yet.  However, more than any story I've read thus far, I was most struck by the full page ad placed by Budweiser which I have scanned and shown above.  Well done, Budweiser.  And the story on Stan the Man by Richard Hoffer is a good one.

Also, in appreciation for Earl Weaver by Tom Verducci, there were two great quotes.  The first was by umpire Bill Haller who once said of Weaver, "When he dies, his family is going to have to pay for pallbearers."  The other - and I know my SABR and Facebook friend Father John Hissrich will like this one - concerned one of his "born again" outfielders, Pat Kelly.  After striking out with the bases loaded late in a game, Kelly said "Earl, I hope that you will walk with the Lord one day", to which Weaver replied, "Pat, I hope that you will walk with the bases loaded one day."

Chances are neither of those stories are true, but if they aren't, they should be!

Another great line  came in a story about the travails last week of Manti Te'o and the Cheating, Lying, Bullying Bicycle Rider, whose name I'd rather not mention.  Anyway, in describing the Oprah Winfrey interview with the C.L.B.B.R. and the moment when he confessed to all of his cheating, lying, and bullying, author S.L. Price writes "It was a classic TV takedown. Throw in a trail of cigarette smoke, and Edward R. Murrow would have felt right at home."

That's good writing!

I was interested to see how SI would right about the whole Te'o affair and and the Fall From Grace of the C.L.B.B.R., considering how they went all in on Te'o with a cover story in October and how no publication was more in the tank for the Bicycle Rider (was any lapdog ever more loyal to his owner than columnist Rick Reilly was to this guy?) over the years.  To the magazine's credit, Price pulls no punches in describing how the magazine (and every other news outlet) was duped by the Te'o story and the Bicycle Guy. 

Good issue, and now it's on to the Super Bowl Preview stuff.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Succumb to Downton Abbey

So, let me tell you what Marilyn and I have been doing over the last five days.

We spent much of that time - more than is probably good for any human being - sitting in front of the TV plowing through Seasons One and Two of the hoity-toity PBS Masterpiece Theater British soap opera, Downton Abbey.  Today, thanks to the magic of the PBS iPad app and the DVR, we will watch episodes one through three of Season Three and then we will plant ourselves in front of the TV on Sunday night to catch up with the travails of the Grantham family, and their loyal and scheming servants in real time.  No longer will we be the outcasts when discussions of this insanely popular show arise, and make no mistake, such discussions are ALWAYS arising!

It was a conversation with Marilyn's brothers and their wives last week that tipped the scales and made us hit Target and scoop up the Season One DVD set to see just what in the hell everyone was talking about.  It didn't take long to be hooked and finish that set, and then head out to Target to snap up Season Two, which we finished with a five episode marathon last night.  Lest you think we are completely crazy, we did take a break for dinner.

It is a well made, nicely acted, and beautifully photographed show, and it is, as our behaviour described above indicates, very compelling.  I like the fact that much of the action takes place off-camera.  By that I mean, if Character A needs to tell Character B about a development that we, the viewers, have already seen or been made aware of, we, the viewers, are not forced to see the conversation between A and B.  This avoids the usual glacial pace of most soap operas, and makes for a fast paced series.  Hey, they got through the entirety of World War I in just seven episodes!

And I just love Maggie Smith!!!  If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a Dowager Countess.

I now anxiously await each episode of Season III, but I fear that at some point something in me will snap and I will say, "Hey, I'm tired of Lady Mary and her back-and-forth affairs of the heart;  just marry SOMEONE for God's sake, or I'm going to quit watching!"  That jump-the-shark moment hasn't arrived yet, but, as I say, I fear it's approach.

In the meantime, I shall don my boiled collar and white tie and prepare myself for dinner, whilst reading the numerous messages that arrive in the post each day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Games of Sunday

Someone made the comment on Facebook that NFL Conference Championship Sunday is better than Super Bowl Sunday, and it is hard to argue that point.  The games of two days ago are certainly a case in point with two home, higher seeded (one a #1 seed at that) teams losing and NOT SCORING a point in the second half of each game.  Remarkable.

And here's an amazing fact about the upcoming Super Bowl of which you might not be aware.  The opposing coaches are brothers!  Can you believe that?  Two guys born of the same parents, who grew up in the same house, are actually going to be coaching against each other in the Super Bowl.  I can't believe that no one has mentioned that before.

Anyway, some thoughts and comments on the two games on Sunday, many of which I had previously shared on Facebook.....

  • Concerning the results, the Bad News: Two more weeks of Ray Lewis b.s.  The Good News: We won't have to see a thousand or so shots of Bob Kraft in the Owner's Box during the Super Bowl.
  • Before you point it out to me, yes, I know I went 0-for-2 on my predictions for these games.
  • As mentioned in my pre-game comments, the Atlanta coaches certainly did figure out a way to stop Colin Kaepernick from running all over the place on Sunday.  Too bad for them, it turns out that Kaepernick is a pretty good passer, too.
  • I saw Julio Jones did more for the Falcons in three quarters than the Steelers "Young Money" troika of Wallace-Brown-Sanders did all season.   
  • The ease with which Frank Gore could get in the end zone when the 49'ers were inside the ten made me wonder if the SF offensive line is THAT much better than the Steelers line, or were the Steelers running backs that much worse than Gore.
  • While I did believe that New England would beat Baltimore, I did feel that Baltimore had a reasonable chance to win.  That they won with such dominance and comparative ease amazes me.
  • Even though he was on the losing side, Wes Welker is an amazing football player.
  • Did you catch the look of complete disbelief on Tom Brady's face in the fourth quarter, particularly after throwing that interception that sealed the deal for Baltimore?
  • Speaking of Brady, am I the only guy who thought that his foot was aimed just a bit too high on that Baltimore defender when he slid towards the end of the first half?  Ty Cobb would have loved it, but Czar roger should relieve him of some cash, in my opinion.
  • When Matt Ryan threw that incomplete pass on fourth down from the 10 yard line late in the game, how many of you flashed back to Neil O'Donnell against the Chargers in the '94 AFC Championship Game?
  • So, Bill Belichick goes true to form and refuses an interview with CBS after losing the game.  (a) Stay classy, Coach, (b) aren't coaches REQUIRED to do such interviews with the NFL's network partners?, (c) if so, will coach Bill be fined by Czar Roger?, (d) Shannon Sharpe now becomes a folk hero, and (e) to take another point of view, did we really miss anything by NOT hearing from Coach Bill?
  • Contrary to many Pittsburghers, I do not find the Harbaugh Brothers repellent, in fact, I kind of like both of them (even if I don't care for the Ravens), and I think the Brothers Coaching Against Each Other is a pretty cool story, even if it will get beaten to death over the next two weeks.
  • I also know that despite what they may say in public, I am pretty sure that each brother wants to beat the hell out of each other.
  • Speaking of coaches, was it Walt Harris or Dave Wannstedt who thought Joe Flaco wasn't worth playing at Pitt?  Yeah, I know, hindsight is 20/20, but still...
  • As for me, I will be rooting for San Francisco in the Super Bowl for the following reasons.  (1) In like Jim slightly better than John, (2) I don't like the Ravens, (3) the Ray Lewis sycophantry, (4) The Colin Kaepernick Story is a very cool one, and (5) unlike many Steelers fans, I am not threatened by the idea that a 49'er win will tie them with the Steelers with six Super Bowl titles.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Conference Championship Predictions

Despite my horrific 1-3 record last week (which assures that the very best I can do this year is to equal last year's 7-4 record), I'm going to try it again.

In the NFC game, earlier in the week when I was asked who I thought would play int he Super Bowl, I quickly said "49'ers and Patriots."  I figured that the performance of Colin Kaepernick, which was historic, would continue and would carry the Niners to New Orleans.  Upon further review, though, I am switching and calling for a Falcons win today.  True, you can say that the Falcons blew their 20 point lead to over Seattle last week, and were lucky to pull that one out when time was expiring, but the fact is, they DID make that comeback with that terrific Matt  Ryan led drive at the end of the game.  Plus, I am sure that the Atlanta coaches have been pretty much concentrating on how to not let Kaepernick duplicate what he did to Green Bay last week.  So, the FALCONS to win in the NFC. 

In the AFC, I no longer doubt the talents of Joe Flaco.  What he has done in these playoffs (not to mention a 3-1 record against the Steelers in the last two seasons), especially in undressing Denver last week, tells me that he is the real deal.  An elite quarterback?  Maybe not, but a very good one to be sure.  However, today he goes against a truly elite QB and a team that, as I said last week, is ruthlessly efficient.  The PATRIOTS over the Ravens today for the second year in a row in the AFC Championship game.

There you have more Ray Lewis after today, and no All-Harbaugh Super Bowl.

As always, watch, but don't bet.

The Great 2013 Hamburger Quest, Part 2 - The Tilted Kilt

My Quest to find the Best Hamburger in Pittsburgh continued yesterday when, upon the recommendation of Fred Shugars (The Official Actuary of The Grandstander), we visited The Tilted Kilt on the North Shore.  Now, I now that the cynics among you are thinking, "yeah, sure, he was going there for the burgers".....

.....but I can assure you that the visit was really all about the burgers.  Hey, my wife was with me!!

As for the burger, it wasn't bad.  It was big - a 10 ounce patty.  I got the "classic cheeseburger" while Marilyn got one called the "French Dip Burger" that came with a cup of au jus  for dipping.  I never saw this offered with a hamburger, and I have to tell you, it was very tasty.  

Still, I think that chain restaurants, which by necessity are slaves to uniformity and mass production, are at a disadvantage to local, independent establishments.  So, after two visits in this Quest, the rankings are as follows:

  1. Tessaro's (Bloomfield)
  2. The Tilted Kilt
As for the the restaurant itself, this was my first visit to The Tilted Kilt.  Like many of those restaurants between the ball parks on the North Shore, it's huge, and caters to the sports crowd with about a thousand flat screen TV's throughout.  (We watched the first half of the Pitt-UConn game while dining.)  At lunch time on a Saturday with no ball game at PNC or Heinz, it was fairly empty, maybe a dozen or so patrons, with Marilyn being the only woman there.  The waitstaff were attired as pictured above, although not with quite the pulchritude as seen in the publicity photos.  Lots of tattoos, though.  I think that many of those young ladies are going to have a lot of regrets when they hit age 40 or so. 

The Quest continues and will be documented here.  Next in sight: Wingharts in Market Square and the Murray Avenue Grill in Squirrel Hill.

To Absent Friends: Stan "The Man" Musial

The news came last night about the death of Hall of Famer Stan Musial at the age of 92.  When I arrived home after attending a basketball game last night, my Facebook feed was filled with posts from people expressing their sorrow upon his passing, and the sheer wonderment of the ballplayer that he was.  Simply put, Musial was one of the greatest ballplayers EVER.  Rather than restate everything, let me copy some comments I made on this blog on February 22, 2011:

Last week President Obama awarded the nation's highest civilian award to 15 Americans, including two athletes, Bill Russell and Stan Musial. Hard to dispute either award, and I will focus only on Musial today.

Go to a baseball encyclopedia of any online baseball reference and look at the lifetime stats for Stan Musial. When great players of his era are mentioned, the names of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio are always brought up, but rarely do you hear Stan the Man's name in the same conversations. Why is that?

Over the course of a career that lasted 22 seasons, Musial put together 475 HR, 1,951 RBI, and a .331 lifetime BA, 3,630 hits, and seven NL batting titles. Six times he recorded an OPS in excess of 1.000, and seven other times an OPS of .900 or more. Over those 22 seasons, he averaged 86 walks a year and only 37 strike outs. In fact, in only three seasons did he strike out over 40 times, and two of those seasons were his final ones, 1962 and 1963, when he was 41 and 42 years old. And to add some perspective, in that '61 season, at age 41, Stan hit .330 with 19 HR and 82 RBI.

Of course, Stan never had a "signature event" like Williams .406 average or DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak, so perhaps that is why he gets lost in history, but what a shame that is.

How can you not say that Musial is not one of the top ten players of all time?

Not much more to add is there?  Except to highly recommend that you read George Vecsey's 2011 biography, "Stan Musial: An American Life", which I wrote about in October 2011:

I would also recommend the obituary written by Gene Collier that appears in today's Post-Gazette:

As Bob Smizik put it on his blog last night, Musial was "A hero for the ages. We'll not soon see his like again."

RIP Stan Musial, "Baseball's perfect warrior; baseball's perfect knight."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

To Absent Friends: Earl Weaver

Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver died yesterday at the age of 82.  If you read the obits, you will see words like "feisty" and "fiery" used to describe Weaver.  Not to speak ill of the dead, and I know this depends on what team you are rooting for, those words can be taken as euphemisms for, to be kind, "obnoxious", among other less flattering terms.

A few years back, I read a book called "Bottom of the 33rd."  Great book about a minor league baseball game in 1981 that went 33 innings.   

( )

A portion of that book talks about a young infielder who got his call to the Majors with the Orioles, made an error in his first game, and was then positively crushed by Weaver afterwards.  Not a pretty story, and I am guessing that that story will not be among all the warm and fuzzy tributes that will be written in the days ahead, and I am also betting that there are no doubt scores of players who could tell the same story about Weaver as that young short stop from Rochester.

Anyway, Weaver was a very good manager, and no doubt deserves his Hall of Fame status, but like any manager would have been, he was a better manager when he had guys like Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Jim Palmer playing for him than when he didn't.  And I will personally have great memories of seeing Weaver sitting in the LOSING dugout during the 1971 and 1979 World Series.

RIP Earl Weaver.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On Manti Te'o

(NOTE:  As I allude to in this post below, facts continue to come out.  Shortly after I completed the post below, I read the story of the Tuiaososopo kid in California now admitting to perpetuating the Girlfriend Hoax on Manti Te'o.)

So, I suppose that it is obligatory that I weigh in on the whole Manti Te'o Affair.  Actually, stuff keeps coming out on this at such a rapid pace, that I am already way behind the curve, and God only knows what else will surface by the time I finish typing this.

My initial thought on this was that at best, Te'o was unbelievably naive, foolish, and, perhaps, downright stupid to fall for what probably started as a practical joke, and a rather distatseful one at that, that just grew like Topsy until it spun completely out of control.  That's AT BEST.  At worst, he is a scheming, manipulative liar who perpetuated a falsehood to enhance his own legend by creating a persona for himself that puts the "Win One for the Gipper" legend to shame.

Let's say we give him the complete benefit of the doubt and assume the former.  Yeah, he may be a big football star on the largest stage of his sport, but he's STILL a 21 year old kid, and do you really know what YOU would have done when YOU were 21 years old and a beautiful young girl and the possibility of sex was staring you in the face?  Even then, one fact troubled me, and that was Te'o's claim, supported by his father, that he and the young lady "met" in Palo Alto after a Notre Dame - Stanford game a few years ago.

Notre Dame, in the person of AD Jack Swarbrick came out in full support of Te'o, saying that he was 100% the victim of a cruel hoax.  I agree with The Fan's Ron Cook when he stated on the air yesterday that while it is good that the school gives its full support to its student, Te'o, they may be sorry that they didn't leave themselves some "wiggle room" in the event that details come out as the story develops that maybe, perhaps, Te'o wasn't a 100% victim here.  Such a concern may be prophetic in light of facts today stating how Te'o continued to perpetuate the story on at least two occasions after the hoax was revealed to him on December 6.  That doesn't make the kid look good.

In the meantime, I would recommend a couple of columns by writers far more talented than I.  One from the Post-Gazette's Tony Norman:

And two from Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde:

In the meantime, the jokes that this story has given birth to on the Internet, especially Facebook, have come in great volume and unbelievable rapidity.  It has gotten to the point that you can already start to look upon it as piling on and almost cruel, if you want to give Te'o the full benefit of the doubt.  Still, a lot of this stuff is funny.

Will be interesting to see what all of this is going to cost Te'o once the NFL Draft rolls around.

Monday, January 14, 2013

That Was The (Football) Weekend That Was

I am pretty sure that you are expecting my ruminations on the football weekend that just was, and that is just what you are going to get, but why, you are no doubt asking, am I leading with the picture above, albeit one of the more famous photos in American political history?

For you youngsters out there, this was taken on election night in 1948 when just about everyone thought New York Governor Tom Dewey (aka, The Man on Top of the Wedding Cake)  would defeat President Harry Truman and become the nation's 34th President.  As you can see, the Chicago Tribune even issued their early edition on election night proclaiming Dewey's victory.  Again for you youngsters, in 1948 there were no computers, exit polls, or Nate Silver.  As even the most history challenged among us surely know, Harry Truman won the election.

All of this is a lead in to summarizing the results of the predictions I made on Friday for the four NFL playoff games of the weekend.  I will save you the trouble of going and looking it up, but I went 1-3 on the weekend, and in my finest "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment, I made the following authoritative statement:

 Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49'ers

Aaron Rodgers vs. Colin Kapernick.  Need I say more?  Should be another easy win for the PACKERS.


I even misspelled Colin Kaepernick's name, a mistake that I will surely never make again.

Some quickie comments on the games themselves.....
  • While I was rooting for Seattle against Falcons, I was delighted to see Pete Carroll get bitten on the ass when he called that time out to ice the Falcon kicker at the end of the game, only to see the kicker miss the field goal, which would have won the game for Seattle.  Given a second chance, the kicker made it, Falcons win, Seahawks lose, Pete Carroll looks like an first class dunce.  Maybe this will stop these "brilliant" coaches from  employing this insipid bit of strategy.
  • Next time all you Steelers fans want to run Ben out of town for those inopportune interceptions in the Cowboys and Bengals games this season, think about that one Peyton Manning threw in OT in Denver on Saturday.
  • Maybe it's time we stop ridiculing Joe Flaco's abilities as an NFL QB.  He really undressed Denver in the waning moments of regulation.
  • Same for Matt Ryan in Atlanta.
  • OK, that Denver game.  Tied with 31 seconds and two times out in your pocket, and Peyton Manning at quarterback, and John Fox chooses to nave Manning take a knee and go to OT.  Are you kidding me?  Don't you take at least one shot down field to try to get into FG position?
  • (Did you notice that I said "times out" in the above bullet?  That, friends, is the correct plural of the term "time out" - you can look it up - but I don't think that there is a single sportscaster in America who doesn't mistakenly say "time outs".  The last guy I heard say "times out" was Ray Scott, and he stopped doing network broadcasts in the late 1970's and has been dead since 1998.)
  • Getting back to Colin Kaepernick,   He was easily the most outstanding player of the weekend.  Wish he wouldn't strike that pose when he scores a touchdown, but he's just a kid, after all, and I'm a grumpy old man.  In any event, I can't wait to see him play again next Sunday.
  • Only words I can use to describe the New England Patriots:  ruthlessly efficient.
  • Of the eight teams playing this weekend, only the Houston Texans looked like they didn't deserve to be this far along in the Playoffs.
  • I know that I am in a distinct minority here, but I don't mind the Harbaugh brothers. They are obviously good coaches, and I like it that they are emotional on the sidelines (as opposed to robots like Bill Bellichick and Nick Saben), and while I am not a fan of the Baltimore Ravens, I think it would be a cool story line to have brothers opposing each other as Head Coaches in the Super Bowl, although it would be a story that would be totally and completely beaten to death in the run up to the game.
In closing, let me weigh in on the controversy surrounding Brent Musberger's observations about Alabama QB A. J. McCarron's girlfriend.  Yeah, maybe it was creepy, and yes, he definitely went on too long with it, but he was broadcasting a game that had ceased to be a competitive contest, and he had to talk about something, right?  He got going and he just couldn't stop.  It happens, and who knows what YOU would do in front of a live microphone in such a situation.  The suits at ESPN who are reprimanding Musberger and apologizing for what he said, maybe ought to reconsider all the cleavage-and-cameltoe shots they give us of cheerleaders, especially the pole dancers who "cheerlead" for NFL teams, on the sidelines before they get too sanctimonious over Brent Musberger.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Oscar Nominations....and Snubs

The Oscar nominations announced yesterday are more notable for who was NOT nominated than who was.

"Lincoln" led the way with 12 nominations.  No surprise there.  I'm going to go way out on a limb right now and call a win for Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor.  You don't need to be Nate Silver to call that one.

Next with 11 nominations was "Life of Pi." I have seen the previews to this one several times.  It appears to be about a kid stranded on the ocean in a small rowboat with a wild tiger on board.  Sure, that kind of thing happens all the time.  Kind of like that movie a few years ago where James Franco cut off his own arm.  Nothing in that preview makes me want to see this movie.  Nothing.

The biggest story, as I mention in the title was who did not get nominated.  Big name directors with Best Picture nominated movies did not get a Best Director nomination - Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) , Katheryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Quenton Tarentino (Django Unchained), and, most regrettably, in my opinion, Ben Affleck (Argo).  I don't get the snub of Affleck.  Seems to me that much of the Hollywood establishment holds it against Affleck that he is popular, once dated Jennifer Lopez and, thus, was a paparazzi target for many years, and he made some poor choices in acting roles (notably, "Gigli") early on in his career.  All I know is that in the past couple of years, he has directed three movies - "Gone, Baby, Gone", "The Town", and "Argo" -  that are among the best movies that I have seen in that time period.

Instead, some guy named Michael Haneke gets nominated as Best Director for a movie named "Amour".  This is a French language movie about an aging couple nearing the end of their lives.  Sounds fun, huh? It doesn't open in Pittsburgh until sometime next month.  I guess that when all is said and done that maybe seven or eight hundred people will actually go and see this movie across the USA.  This is the kind of movie that the Academy showers with nominations every year to prove that it, the Motion Picture Academy, is all about art, and not necessarily about what people actually like to see, and  Ben Affleck misses out on a nomination that he surely deserves.

Lots more on the subject of the Oscars in the weeks to come.

NFL Playoff Predictions - Part II

Before getting to my playoff predictions for the NFL Divisional Round games this weekend, let me recommend an article from this weeks Sports Illustrated (Alabama football on the cover).  It is the feature article at the end of the magazine call "Hello, My Name is Thomas, and I'm a Falcons Addict" by Thomas Lake.  In the article, author Lake recounts his lifetime, going back to 1991, of experiences as an Atlanta Falcons fan.  Even if you could not care less about the Falcons, this is a good read because, as Lake begins the article, he "could just as easily be writing about your favorite team.  You are loyal and unwavering.  Your team is your birthright, your fate, and you would never jump on anyone else's bandwagon.....Imagine our story, then, as a stand-in for yours - as an ode to a lifetime of hope and disappointment.  There is nothing more human than falling short."  Hey, us Pirates fans, we can relate!

I would also recommend Steve Rushin's "Point After" column on the last page.  Good stuff.

So, on to the predictions, short and sweet, after a solid 3-1 effort last weekend.  As I did last week, predictions will be largely based on the teams' quarterbacking strengths.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos

The Ravens win last week over the Colts was my only miss, but that ends in Denver on Saturday.  Andrew Luck could not take advantage of what has not been a great Ravens defense this season.  Peyton Manning will not have such poor luck tomorrow.   The BRONCOS to win fairly easily.  The big question:  Will Roger Goodell be on hand to give Ray Lewis a good-bye hug?

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49'ers

Aaron Rodgers vs. Colin Kapernick.  Need I say more?  Should be another easy win for the PACKERS.

All in all, a bad day for the Harbaugh Family.  A discount double-check, if you will.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have to be the most underestimated, disrespected 13 win, Number One seeded team in recent NFL history, and I'm going to add to it.  Russell Wilson and the Seahawks just seem to be on a roll, so I'm calling for the SEAHAWKS  to keep it going and head to the NFC Championship game next week.  Although, I will say this, if I'm going to be wrong on any of my picks for the weekend, as I no doubt will be, perhaps this will be that game.

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

I am guessing that the Patriots will not undress Houston as badly as they did last month on Monday Night Football, but, really, does anyone think the Patriots will lose this one?  Maybe Tom Brady gets hurt in the first quarter, or maybe Gillette Stadium blows up like Heinz Field did in the Batman movie.  That's the only way the PATRIOTS lose this one.

As always, watch, but don't bet.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sanctimonious Sportswriters

Is there a more self-important and sanctimonious bunch than sportswriters who vote on membership in various Halls of Fame?  In recent weeks the Buster Olneys and Jayson Starks of the world have been pontificating on how that would be casting their Hall of Fame ballots, and I can only imagine the follow-up pieces that will be forthcoming in light of the results of this year's balloting.  No one rides a higher horse than does Peter King when he talks about voting for the Football Hall of Fame.  In his blog this morning, Dejan Kovacevic was in high dudgeon when he stated that sportswriters who cover athletes should not be put in the position of casting votes for MVP, Cy Young, and Hall of Fame membership while at the same time saying he will continue to cast his votes for such awards and will do so when he gets his 10 years in with the BBWA and can then vote on the HOF. Huh, DK?

Members of the College of Cardinals who elect the Pope don't take themselves as seriously as these guys.

The only people who may be even MORE sanctimonious are the current members of the HOF who today are quoted about how glad they are that Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and their ilk have been turned away in the balloting.  The story I read today quoted Al Kaline, Rich Gossage, and Dennis Eckersley to the effect that "we don't need theses guys in our club."  I wonder if these guys would ever swear that they never, ever took an amphetamine during their playing days?

At least Gaylord Perry had the good taste not to be issuing such a judgement.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The BBWA Throws a Shutout

The big baseball news today, of course, is that the Baseball Writers of America elected no one into Baseball's Hall of Fame for this 2013 class.  This is the first time that this has happened since 1996, and it is most noteworthy today because this is the first year of HOF eligibility for noted PED users Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa.  These men, who have racked up some mind-boggling statistics in their careers finished with, respectively 206 (36.2%), 214 (37.6%), and 71 (12.5%) of the votes.  As you no doubt know, 75% of the vote is needed to gain induction.

(As an aside, I will once again quote my friend Fred Shugars who today postulated that many of these same BBWA members who have shunned Barry Bonds today, no doubt took part in voting him seven MVP Awards over the course of his career, and in many of those MVP seasons, the whispers of Bonds possible PED use were well known.  I would like to hear some of those writers explain those MVP votes of several years back today.)

I am not sure where I stand on this issue.  Part of me says, Yeah, no way that these cheaters should ever go into the Hall of Fame.  Another part of me buys the argument that says, Hey, we'll never really know who was dirty and who wasn't in the PED era, so let's forget the pretense and vote these guys in if we think that they are worthy.   Even the Hall of Fame itself seems to be unsure how to go, as this picture of some label copy that I took on my last visit to Cooperstown in 2011 attests:

Keep in mind that the institution in Cooperstown is called the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Personally, I am glad that the Museum part of the institution (as opposed to the Hall of Fame where the plaques are displayed) recognizes all historic and noteworthy players.  Thus, when you visit there  you will see that Pete Rose is the all-time leader in hits, and that Joe Jackson has the third highest batting average of all-time, just as you will see that Barry Bonds has the most career home runs.  I am glad that no asterisks are attached, and that no attempt has been made to vacate these records.  As the sign above says, only the perspective of time - and that may be 50 years from now - will enable us to really see the big picture of this era.

I also know from having visited Cooperstown five times that the Hall of Fame is the economic engine that drives this charming little village, and no weekend is as important to the Village of Cooperstown than Induction Weekend.  This year there will only be three inductees voted in by the Veteran's Committee (or whatever they are calling that committee these days): Umpire Hank O'Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, and 19th century player Deacon White, all of whom are dead.  I can't imagine that the Hall of Fame as a business enterprise can be happy about the fact that only three dead guys are going to be honored at their big party this summer, and that guys who do get elected in the future will only be guys who may get in there by default only because somebody has to go in there.  That can't be good for business.

And in a side comment, many of us Pirates fans have to be disappointed that in his first year of eligibility, Jose Mesa received not a single vote and will now forever be removed from the ballot.  Those of us who recall the glory days of 2004-05 (aka, Years 12 and 13 of the Losing Streak) and those 70 saves that Jose racked up for the Bucs have to be bitterly disappointed.  Cleveland Indians fans, no doubt will have a different perspective on Mesa's shunning by the BBWA.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First Book of the Year: "Ike's Bluff"

My first book of 2013 is in the, er, books.  It is the one you see here, "Ike's Bluff" by Evan Thomas.  

The book focuses on the eight years of the Eisenhower Presidency, and if you are a fan of our 34th President, as Thomas obviously is, you're going to love it.  Ike is painted in glowing terms by Thomas as being kind, sage, cagey, almost a saint when compared with all the President's men (to coin a phrase) that surrounded him, not to mention those who were opposed to him (Jack Kennedy was "callow", Lyndon Johnson was a showboating grandstander {not that there's anything wrong with being a Grandstander}, and there are other numerous examples throughout).   Curiously, Thomas glosses over what many consider two of Ike's failings:  his foot-dragging on Civil Rights, and his failure to stand up and confront Joe McCarthy.

The main thrust of the book is that while all those around him were very casual with the idea of using nuclear weapons to solve the problems that confronted the world from 1953-60, and I will say that this notion is a truly frightening part of this book, Ike kept a cool head and never allowed any situation to escalate to such a level.  His greatest legacy was the wars that were never fought.  No small thing.

The other frightening thing about this book was the state of Ike's health.  A heart attack, serious gastric surgery, and a stroke right in the middle of the administration.  I wish my Dad was still around so I could ask him about how this was reported in 1950's news media.  I cannot imagine a 21st century President having the same such health issues and being either (a) reelected, as Ike was, or (b) being allowed to continue in office given the news coverage, and the political pressures, that would be brought to bear upon such a situation.

When reading in this book the name John Foster Dulles, Ike's Secretary of state for all you youngsters out there, a quote from a college teacher of mine kept coming to mind.  It was back in 1972, and the course was in US government, and the teacher was retired military guy who insisted on being addressed as "Colonel".  At some point during the course, the name of John Foster Dulles came up and the Colonel described him as "a man to whom many of the world's current problems can be directly traced."  I always loved that quote.

A good book for history buffs, and I certainly learned a lot by reading it,  but be aware it may not be the most objective book you'll read on the subject.

A Football Overdose - Most of It Not Very Good

In the 72 hour period that ended shortly before midnight last night, I watched six football games.  I wish that I could say it was all great football, but alas, when the Cincinnati Bengals, Tino Sunseri, and an over-matched opponent in a Showcase Game are involved, you are going to get your share of clinkers.  

Taking them in order.....

  • Pitt gets thumped by Old Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Pitt was never in this one, and Tino Sunseri played to form.  Again, I feel bad for the kid, he was a serviceable QB in his years at Pitt, but he was never great, and he never seemed to improve.  It is a damning indictment on the Pitt coaching staffs (note the plural noun here), particularly on Dave Wannstedt, that they were unable to recruit someone, anyone, who could mount a challenge to Sunseri in the past three seasons.  Perhaps the best thing that can be said about this season is that the same coaching staff will be returning in 2013.  Continuity has not been Pitt's strong point in recent years as you know.  In retrospect, the results of the Compass Bowl proved to be grim foreshadowing of what was to come two nights later in the BCS title game.
  • The Houston Texans defeat the Cincy Bengals.  Andy Dalton struggled, the Bengals failed to score an offensive touchdown, and the Texans just did scrape by with a win.  The epitome of the ineffectiveness of the Bengals came at the end of the game, with their season on the line and facing a fourth and eleven situation, Andy Dalton completed a six yard pass (this after badly overthrowing a wide open receiver on third down for what would have been the game winning touchdown).  Best line about his one came form Tony Kornheiser on PTI when he said that this game looked like it belonged on a cable access TV station.
  • Packers defeat Vikings.  As soon as it was announced that Christian Ponder was inactive and that Joe Webb, who had taken all of three snaps for the Vikes all season would be playing, well, I'd have probably been best served by watching a DVD of an old movie instead.  Aaron Rodgers was dominant, and Webb answered the question on the minds of Steelers fans everywhere:  Yes, it is possible to have a backup QB play and look worse than Byron Leftwich.
  • Ravens over Colts.  This one was dominated by CBS's constant pandering to Ray Lewis after 17 seasons and one beaten homicide rap.  The sight of Roger Goodell giving Lewis a big Man Hug before the game was particularly unsettling.  If I'm James Harrison or Ben Roethlisbergher, I am on the phone demanding the same sort of Commissioner Absolution and hugs from Roger before the home opener next season.  Andrew Luck runs out of rookie mojo and fails to lead Indy to a touchdown, a storybook season for the Colts ends, and football fans across America are condemned to at least one more week of Ray Lewis sycophantry.
  • Seahawks over Redskins.  The best game of the NFL weekend, as the Seahawks dominate and Russell Wilson wins the Rookie QB Sweepstakes, although you might want to put an asterisk next to Robert Griffin III's name here.  Griffin was obviously an impaired player as he took the field, and that no doubt affected his performance.  Lots of questions being asked in Washington and elsewhere as to whether or not RG III should have been allowed to take the field in this one.  Football fans can only hope that Griffin will be healthy and ready to go at the start of next season.
  • (An aside on Russell Wilson.  How do you feel if you are a Cleveland Browns fan?  At the draft in April, the Browns selected 28 year old Brandon Wheedon over Russell Wilson.  Wheedon showed some promise as he led the Browns to a 5-11 season.  Wilson is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and his Seahawks are still playing football.  Wonder what they're saying on the talk shows in Cleveland.)
  • Alabama thrashes Notre Dame, 42-14, and it wasn't as close as the score indicates.  Brent Musberger, when he wasn't making creepy, leering comments about A.J. McCarron's girlfriend, had the best line right before halftime when he said "if this was a fight, the referee would stop it."   Yeah, that's a hoary old cliche, but right on the money.  The Crimson Tide was certainly awesome last night.  I can't believe that Notre Dame is as bad a team as Alabama made them look last night, but you have to believe that if they played 10 times, 'Bama would win probably eight or nine times.  They are that good.
  • All that said about Alabama, why does Nick Saben always look like he's in the middle of prepping for a colonoscopy?   Does the guy ever smile about anything?  I was fully expecting his post game interview to include him talking about where his team let down and on what they'll need to work on after he reviews the game tape.  College  football coaches are hard people to like.
  • And speaking of college football coaches, Bill O'Brien, after a brief flirtation with the NFL, and a reported $1.3 million dollar raise, courtesy of a well heeled booster, will remain at Penn State in 2013.  His comments about being "committed to Penn State and his players" and that he's not a "one and done guy" would have sounded a lot more meaningful had they come BEFORE the NFL dalliance and the million dollar raise.  Also, note that O'Brien never said anything about beyond 2013, so expect this same dance to occur next year about this time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


With the Holiday Season behind us, we ventured out to Bloomfield yesterday to have lunch at Tessaro's, a terrific and cozy little neighborhood bar/bistro.  The inspiration for this visit was Tessaro's, and specifically the hamburgers at Tessaro's, being featured on Rick Sebak's latest WQED Pittsburgh special, "25 Things I Like About Pittsburgh."  After seeing the show last month, I casually mentioned on Facebook my desire to try one of these terrific burgers, and the comment box following my post exploded.  "Greatest burger you'll ever eat" said some.  "No it isn't," said others, "you should try _____ if you want a REALLY good burger."  Sebak himself made a comment when he said that it was not his intention to designate "The Best Burger in Piittsburgh."  He was merely listing 25 things that he, personally likes, and Tessaro's was one of them.

Anyway, we tried the burger at Tessaro's and found it perfectly delicious and satisfying.  Doesn't it look good?

Is it the "best burger" ever?  Not sure I'd go that far, but I would go back to Tessaro's again, and isn't that a good enough testimonial?  It has also inspired me to spend 2013 on a hunt for the best burgers in the Pittsburgh area. Suggestions from anyone as to their choice of where to get the Best Burger in Town are welcome, and I shall post them here on The Grandstander.

Too bad that Dave's Lunch is no longer in business.

It was interesting when I asked our waitress if the mention on Sebak's show was a boost for business.  It was indeed, she said, as they were packed at lunch hours, way beyond normal, for at least two weeks following the airing.  She also told us that two other businesses featured on the show, the Seltzer Company and the lady who researches the history of your house and property, received so many phone calls and inquiries that they practically had to shut off their phones.

Rick Sebak is a powerful man, indeed!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

"The Dark Knight Rises"

I finally got around to seeing the latest Batman movie, the partially filmed in Pittsburgh "The Dark Knight Rises".  I have to be honest, I didn't like it.  For one thing, I couldn't understand a word Christian Bale said.   Was he supposed to talk in an intelligible whisper, or does he actually talk that way?

Anyway, rather than go on about it, I thought I would turn the review over to another prominent Pittsburgher, whose views on the movie pretty much dovetail with mine.

Happy Birthday, Chuck Noll!

Happy birthday  to Coach Chuck Noll, the true architect of the Steelers Dynasty of the 1970's.  He turns 81 today, and is said to be in poor health.  Hope it is a great day today for him.

turns out that January 5 is the birth date for lots interesting, if disparate, folks.  One of Noll's coaching rivals, Sam Wyche, 68, former Vice President Walter Mondale is 85, and actors Robert Duvall, 82, Diane Keaton, 67, and January "Mrs, Don Draper" Jones, 35, all get to blow out the candles today.  It is also the the birth date of Sam Phillips (1923-2003), the owner of Memphis record label Sun Records, and the guy pretty much credited with unleashing Elvis Presley upon an unsuspecting world.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pirates To Change Logo in 2014

I discovered yesterday that the Pirates are planning on changing their logo for the 2014 season (apparently, you need that much lead time with MLB to make such a change).  One blogger who goes by the name of "Kipper" is applauding this as he calls the current one, seen above as the 1997-2011 logo, the "McClatchy Logo" and feels that if they get rid of it, it will end the 20-going-on-21 year losing streak.  I didn't realize it was the logo's fault, and like a "Nutting Logo" is going to change the fortunes of the team.  Really?

By the way, I don't know why the image above features A.J. Burnett with an eye patch as the 2012 logo.  I think you are all astute enough to know that that is NOT an official logo.  Wish I could eliminate it, but this image is a good one in that it features all of the officially recognized logos in Pirates history, dating back to 1936.  Anyway, while I personally like the current Crossed Bats and Jolly Roger logo, I would hope that the team does not decide to resurrect a previous logo.  I'm all for something fresh and new, so I look forward to whatever is revealed for 2014, and I am starting to save my money for all of the new gear that I will have to buy as well.  

I also thought it might be fun to see how you rank the logos of the past.  My own top Three would be (1) the 1960-67 logo, (2) the current 1997-2013 logo, and (3) the 1946-59 logo.  My least favorite one, despite knowing the Bucs won two World Series under this logo, would be the Smiling Pirate of 1968-86.  I mean, really, who wants a smiling, happy-faced Pirate?

What do you all think?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The NFL Playoffs Begin

The NFL Playoffs begin on Saturday with the Wild Card Round, and there are some interesting match-ups on tap.  The Grandstander looks ahead and makes some predictions, a much looked forward to annual tradition.  I am trying something different this year and am going to base my predictions largely on the quality of the quarterbacks in each game.  As always, watch, but don't bet.

Cincinnati Bengals vs.  Houston Texans

For the first three quarters of the season, the Texans were cruising along with an 11-1 record and a seeming lock for a first round bye, if not the #1 seed in the AFC.  Then, they turned into the Pittsburgh Pirates and lost three of their last four games, so welcome to the opening round, Texans.  The Bengals are in, and in fact clinched their berth in game 15 with a win over the Steelers, a game in which QB Andy Dalton was far from impressive, their offense didn't score a touchdown, and which featured some curious coaching decisions by Marvin Lewis (which were nullified by some equally curious decisions by Mike Tomlin, but I digress).  Matt Schaub would appear to be the superior QB in this match-up, and the Texans defense has been among the League's best through the season, so I will call for a TEXANS  win in this one.  

As a side note, the closest thing that I have to an "NFL Insider" tells me that Houston Coach Gary Kubiak is pretty much one of the biggest jagoffs  among all NFL coaches, so there is a reason to root for the Bengals, if you are looking for one.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers

Based on the QB's, Christian Ponder and Aaron Rogers, this appears to be an easy call for the Packers, except for the fact that Adrian Peterson has shredded the Packers for over 400 rushing yards in the teams' two games this season, including the final game last week, so that makes this one a bit tougher to forecast.  Still, I am going with Rogers and the home field advantage at the Frozen Tundra, and calling for a PACKERS victory.  But they better try to do a better job on Peterson than their previous efforts.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens

Has there been a better story in the NFL this season than the rise of the Indy Colts?  The 2-14 record last year, the glamour rookie QB Andrew Luck, the cancer stricken head coach, Chuck Pagano, the performance of the team under interim head coach Bruce Ariens (fired by Art Rooney II last season, need I remind you), to Pagano's return to the sidelines in the final week of an 11-5, wild card season?   At the beginning of the season, I picked the Ravens to meet the Packers in the Super Bowl, but now I'm not so sure about the Ravens.  The home field advantage for Baltimore could be big, especially against the Colts, the team Bob Irsay spirited away from Baltimore in the middle of the night all those years ago.  However, Baltimore did lose at home a few weeks back to a team led by Charlie Batch, for God's sake, and in an Andrew Luck/Joe Flaco match-up, I'm going to give the advantage to Luck, and call for a COLTS victory.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins

From a quarterback perspective, this may well be the most interesting game of the weekend. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.  Certainly, at least in the eastern part of the country, all the Rookie QB Buzz has surrounded Luck and RG III, and they have certainly been deserving of it, but isolated up in the Pacific Northwest, Russell Wilson has put together a season every bit as good as Luck's and RG III's.  A Facebook friend of mine has been hyping Wilson and the Seahawks all season, and two Sunday nights ago, I made it a point to watch their game against the 49'ers, a game that Wilson and the Seahawks thoroughly dominated.  The Redskins, a really lousy team in 2011, certainly had a great season this year, largely due to Griffin's performance at QB, so this one could well be the best game of the weekend.  I am going with the road team in this one and calling it for the SEAHAWKS.

Oh, if you are looking for some historical perspective, NFL PLayoffs Predictions-wise, The Grandstander went 7-4 in 2012 and 6-5 in 2011.  In both seasons, I called the Super Bowl winner incorrectly.  

As I said at the beginning, watch, but don't bet.

A Little Known Fact About "Trouble With the Curve"

WARNING: Post contains a possible spoiler.

I got around to watching one of my Christmas gifts last night - the DVD of the Clint Eastwood baseball movie, "Trouble With the Curve."  Despite the fact that you could see the ending to this one coming like a Kevin Correia hanging curve ball, this was a pretty good movie, one that certainly deserves being a part of your baseball movie library, if you have one.  Eastwood was Eastwood, which is always pretty good, unless he's talking to an empty chair, and there were good performances from the charming Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake (who, by the way, has proven himself to be more than just some cute kid from a Boy Band).

Anyway, Pirates fans should be interested to know this little know fact about the movie that was somehow left on the cutting room floor when the final editing of the film was done.  Had Timberlake convinced the Red Sox to make Bo Gentry their number one pick, then the next name on the Braves list, a kid who was highly coveted by the team's stats obsessed, computer geek scout, the one who wanted John Goodman's job, was none other than Stetson Allie.  Loved his 100 MPH fastball and his "upside."  

True story.

And I would have loved to have seen Clint Eastwood's reaction to THAT choice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Post of the Year - A DVR Alert!!

First Grandstander post of 2013.  What shall I talk about?  I'll bet you thought it would be something about the Pirates!  Maybe tomorrow, but first, a DVR Alert.

In perusing the Turner Classic Movie program guide for January, the pickings are slim, but here's a couple for the coming Friday, January 4:

1:45 PM (Eastern) - "Night and Day" (1946)  This biopic of songwriter Cole Porter is not all that true to life (no mention of the fact that Porter was gay; a taboo topic in 1946), but you do get to watch Cary Grant, and you do get to hear some of those great Porter songs.  They're the top!

11:00 PM - "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) I am not a sci-fi guy, but this movie is the pick of the month of TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, and no less than Stephen Spielberg himself calls this "one of the best science fiction movies ever made."  Hey, that's good enough for me to set the DVR.