Sunday, April 21, 2013

Selected Short Subjects

Lots of odds and ends to deal with this Sunday morning, but before getting to the fun-and-games that are the usual topics here, I must comment on the events that took place in Boston this past week.  Like most of you, we were spellbound while watching the horrific events unfold.  Salutes all around to the people of Greater Boston, all of the first responders, and for all of the law enforcement agencies who tracked down the perpetrators so quickly.   Against that background, I hope that certain members of the United States Senate are able to sleep well this week in the knowledge that the Tsarneav brothers were apparently able to obtain such massive amounts of weaponry without having to undergo those pesky background checks that they, the Senators, and their benefactors, the NRA, so adamantly oppose in their defense of the Second Amendment.

Okay, no one comes to The Grandstander for political commentary, so back to the usual topics.....

We attended the Montour High School production of "Legally Blonde, the Musical" this past Friday evening.   We attended with our friends, Dan and Susan Bonk, whose daughter, Emily, had a role in the show.
This was the third high school musical that we have attended this spring, and, as with the others, we come away in awe of the talent and energy of the kids who perform and work in the crew of these productions.  I've said it before and will say it again, there are few things in life that make you feel better than attending a high school musical.


 I finally got around to reading the book "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn this week.  As this book has appeared on the fiction best seller list for well over a year, I figure that there is a good chance that you have already read it yourself.

(No spoilers will follow.)

In the book, Amy, the beautiful and semi-wealthy wife of Nick, has disappeared, and it looks like foul play was involved.   Nick becomes a suspect, a media circus ensues, but did Nick do it?  Where exactly IS Amy, and why can't authorities find either her or her body?

As thrillers go, this is a pretty good book, a real page-turner (has anyone ever used that phrase in describing a book before?), and I would recommend that you read it, but I will say this, the two main characters of the novel, in my opinion, are two of the most unlikable people I have ever come across in fiction.  If you've read this one, do you agree with me?

In the sports world this week, Duquesne had a double dose of bad news, and, really, is there any other kind at The Bluff?

First off, women's basketball coach Susan McConnell-Serio left Duquesne, where she had been very, very successful, to take the same position at Pitt.  Pitt will be playing in the much higher level Atlantic Coast conference, and her salary reportedly doubled to about a half-million dollars a year, so how can you blame her?  Duquesne AD Greg Ammodio said all the right things about the fact that Susie elevated the Lady Dukes' program to a degree that this becomes an attractive position to another talented young coach to come in and pick up where McConnell-Serio left off.  We'll see.

Then came the news that five players from the men's team are leaving, four seeking to transfer, and one moving over to play on the Dukes' soccer team.  At first blush, this was seen as yet another disaster for the basketball program.  On further thought, when you realize that the Dukes won exactly one (1) conference game this past year, it's not exactly the UCLA Bruins of Lew Alcindor that are being broken up here.  Also, later in the week, Coach Jim Ferry announced his recruiting class for next year, so maybe it will all turn out for the best.

Still, one gets the impression that the Administration at Duquesne is not fully committed to do what it takes to play and compete on the highest levels of college basketball, even in the city of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris has clearly moved ahead of them in the local college hoops pecking order.  Some have suggested that perhaps Duquesne should de-emphasize to the point of perhaps leaving the Atlantic10 and moving to join Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference. 

An interesting thought.

The National Hockey League hit pay dirt a few years back when they came up with the Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game, played in an enormous football or baseball stadium, and nationally televised on New Year's Day.  Played when it's only televised competition were a bunch of now mostly irrelevant college football bowl games.  The Winter Classic pretty much had the national TV stage to itself, and the game has been a ratings bonanza.  

So, if one outdoor hockey game is terrific, the NHL punjabs said to themselves, wouldn't six of them a season be six times better?  Disregarding the fable of the goose and the golden eggs, that is what the NHL is proposing to do.  So what was once unique and wonderful, will now be just another gimmick, and that New Year's Day "special" game, will be special no more.  It will go the way of dunk contests, home run derbies, and college football bowl games.

I had told myself that I was not going to get into any serious analysis of the Pirates season until they had played about 25 or 30 games, or about fifteen to twenty percent of the season, and I am going to pretty much stick to that.  However, when it began, much was made of the ten game home stand against the Reds, Cardinals, and Braves that started on April 12.  Be honest with me now, when that home stand began, if someone had set the over/under on Pirates wins at 5 and 1/2, how many of you would have voted the "Over"?  I sure wouldn't have, but the Bucs now sport a 6-2 record with one game left against the Braves this afternoon (one game was rained out).  Pretty good, regardless of what happens this afternoon.  

Tomorrow they will begin a ten game road trip against the Phillies, Cardinals, and the Hated Brewers, and they will do so with no worse than a .500 record.  If they can win five, six, or, dare I say it, even seven games on that trip, that weekend series with the Nationals that begins on May 3rd could be a mad house at PNC Park.

Let's hope the Grilled Cheese keeps on coming!

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