Friday, April 30, 2010

Farewell to April

We bid adieu to the month of April tonight. It was an eventful month for us, beginning, first and foremost, with the Easter Vigil ceremony at St. John Neumann.

We followed that up with a trip to Augusta for the Masters and Edisto Island, SC for some beach time.

The Grandstander also endured raging controversies - and allegations of being too "old school" - involving Joe West, baseball uniforms, and bad behaviour by a certain NFL now-tarnished icon. Oh, and how about those Pirates who are now currently riding a three game winning streak, one that will probably not grow to four with Charlie Morton and his 16.00+ ERA on the bump tonight?

The Grandstander takes full credit for the recent hot hitting of Jeff Clement. My pointing out his lousy batting average two weeks ago was obviously the kick in the ass that he needed to start hitting. Same for Ryan Doumit. He has been doing a Johnny Bench impersonation ever since I ripped him on Wednesday morning.

Who knew that The Grandstander had such power?

Let's see what the Merry Month of May will bring.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kudos to Ryan Doumit

After ripping Ryan Doumit two days ago for his non-block of the plate in Tuesday's game, I must give him his due today. Following his grand slam which won the game last night, he ties today's game with a HR in the ninth and, more impressively, blocks the plate and puts the tag on Jim Edmunds to preserve the tie game. which then led to a Pirates win in the 14th.

Great comeback for the Pirates and Ryan Doumit!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Gem from Neal Huntington

Following on the good performances being turned in by pitcher Brad Lincoln in Indy, GM Neal insists that Lincoln will not be rushed to Pittsburgh, despite the lackluster (and I'm being kind here) performance by the Bucco starters. Here is what GM Neal said in the PG this morning:

"Bringing a guy up to the majors because he's better than what you have right now is absolutely the worst thing you can do."


To be fair, GM Neal goes on to say that baseball is littered with the dead bodies of failed prospects who were rushed to the majors too soon. That may well be true, but why do we have to watch this lousy team pitch Ernest T. Bass and Brian Burres when the "future ace" of the staff is wowing them in Triple-A.

And how about Ryan Doumit's failure to block the plate - and, in fact, backing away from the plate - on that play at home early in the game last night. He deserves a ride on the bench for what is at best a dumb play and at worst a gutless one.

Good thing for the Pirates that I bought my 10 game plan before the season began. I'd be hard pressed to shell out dough for this bunch at this point.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Movie Weekend

Lousy weather this past weekend caused it to be a Movie Weekend for The Grandstander and Mrs. Grandstander.

Earlier in the month, I set a task for myself of watching all three Godfather movies and that task was completed on Saturday night when we watched "The Godfather - Part III." This movie usually takes a critical pounding, due mainly to the fact that it is compared to its two previous incarnations, and let's face it, what wouldn't suffer in comparison to "The Godfather" and "The Godfather - Part II"? However, if you look at this movie on its own, it's not a bad one. The acting certainly isn't up to the standards of the first two, thanks in large part to Sofia Coppola's awful performance as Michael's daughter, and I think that Al Pacino resorted to scenery chewing in large part, rather than the nuanced acting performances he delivered in the first two movies.

Still, a pretty good movie.

For Loyal Reader Big Poppy, a few items of note:

"Lucy Mancini" appears once again as the mother of Vincent (Andy Garcia), the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone. As noted in earlier blog posts, Lucy was a major character in the novel, but a throwaway in the first movie (she did not bear a son to Santino in the novel). She did not appear in Part II. An actress named Jeannie Linero played her in both the original and in Part III.

Also, appearing in Part III was Calo, one of Micheal's bodyguards while he was in exile in Sicily. Calo remains loyal to Micheal by killing the treacherous Don Luchesi (not sure if he was related to Frank) in Part III. The same actor, Franco Citti, played Calo in the two movies.

Finally, the wheelchair bound Don Tomasino in Sicily appears in Part III. This character was in all three films, and he was played by a different actor in each of the three movies.

I hope that these facts can be of use to Big Poppy at the next meeting of the Philadelphia Commission at Dante & Luigi's.

Thanks to for being the source of this research!

We also rented and watched "Crazy Heart" to see Jeff Bridges Oscar winning performance, as well as the Amelia Earhart biopic with Hilary Swank. We liked both movies. I even went to iTunes to download the Crazy Heart soundtrack.

Finally, we went to the theater to see the Disney documentary, "Oceans," which we also enjoyed.

Whew! Think we are movied out for the time being.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wrapping Up the Steelers Draft - 2010

You know, I am a football fan, and I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable one at that, but I have to tell you that before this weekend, I had never heard of any of the guys that the Steelers drafted this weekend. Not one of them. I would venture to say that I am not alone in this regard.

I did no research to make the following statements, but I am betting that my ballpark figures won't be too far from wrong. I will venture to say that of the 10 guys the Steelers drafted that roughly half of them will never make a significant contribution to the Steelers. If three or four of them become solid starters within three years, this will have been considered a successful draft, and if one of them becomes a Pro Bowl caliber player, then it will be a wildly successful draft. The same is probably true for any NFL team.

I guess that my point is that no event demands such saturated media coverage and hype in such an inverse proportion to its actual worth.

Don't get me wrong, I hope that Maurkice Pouncey and the rest of the class of '10 are holding Lombardi Trophies aloft in the near future, but can we see how that actually, you know, play football in the NFL before we roll out the hype machine?

One cliche that always comes to light during the NFL draft is that a team drafts a guy in the second round and the team says "we couldn't believe he was still there; we had him projected as a mid-to-low first round pick." Well, this year the Steelers trumped that. Jonathan Dwyer, a RB from Georgia Tech taken in the SIXTH ROUND was said to be projected as a first or high second round pick. Wow. How could 32 teams be so wrong as to let this guy fall to the sixth round???

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Witnessing History

There is an old saying that every time you go to a baseball game, you might see something that's never happened before. Such was the case today as we watched the Pirates lose 20-0 to the Brewers. It was the WORST LOSS IN THE 124 YEAR HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE!!!!

Worse than the historic blowout, which comes on the tail of 8-1 and 8-0 losses to the Brewers in the series, was the fact that the Pirates, on April 22 in the 15th game of the season, had the look of a team that is 35 games out of first place in the third week of September - just playing out the string.

They now face a 10 game road trip, and if they end up 2-8 or 3-7 on this trip, they'll never recover, and the ever dwindling fan base will be in as ugly a mind set as I've ever known.

The good news is that none of the players, as far as we know, are attempting to seduce any underage college girls during their off hours.

More on "To Win and Die in Dixie"

Following up on my reading recommendation of a few weeks ago, the link below will allow you to hear an interview with author Steve Eubanks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Civic Arena Memories - Part II

As I sit on hold awaiting some tech support person from Verizon to help me out with a glitch (to quote John Russell) in my email, I thought that I would take a stab at my memories from 49 years of attending events at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, known for the past several years as the Mellon Arena.

I am not presenting this as a Top Ten list. Rather, it will be a stream of conscious recollection of good times past.

A certain person that I know would be quite upset if I did not mention that the Civic Arena was where she and I had our First Date. (Can you guess who I'm talking about?) The date was December 8, 1972, and the event was the late and sometimes lamented Steel Bowl college basketball tournament. It was the the first round of the tourney, and Pitt and Duquesne faced off against two since forgotten opponents. It was the start of something big, and the Civic Arena was the launching pad!

That Great Event aside, I can remember many things since the Arena opened in 1961.

** I saw my first ever hockey game there, featuring the red clad Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL. I also think, but am not absolutely certain, that I saw the short-lived Pittsburgh Rens of the short-lived American Basketball League play in that initial season of the Arena's existence.

** Speaking of defunct teams and leagues, I CAN say with certainty that I did see the Pittsburgh Triangles, Pittsburgh Spirit, Pittsburgh Pipers, and Pittsburgh Condors play under the Dome. Never did make it to a Gladiators game.

** The Pipers bring back especially fond memories of their ABA Championship season of 1968-69, while watching the great Connie Hawkins do amazing things on the basketball court. Not to mention Art Heyman and Chico Vaughn!

** When the Pipers returned to Pittsburgh a few years later, reincarnated as the Condors, I do remember going to quite a few of their games in a near empty Arena while cheering on John Brisker. I also have specific memory of watching Rick Barry play in the ABA against the Condors. I also remember seeing a game where Stew Johnson poured in 63 points for the Condors. I believe that that was an ABA record at the time.

** Speaking of basketball, how about watching some great Duquesne Dukes games led by the Nelson Twins, Jarrett Durham, Billy Zopf, and Gary Majors. I especially seeing a game where the Dukes beat a highly favored St. Bonaventure team that was led by Bob Lanier.

** Many, many of the early years of the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic.

** Attending NCAA tournament first and second round games in 1997 and 2002.

** Seeing John Wooden leading the UCLA Bruins to Pittsburgh for a Steel Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, these were the Bruins after Lew Alcindor and before Bill Walton. Nothing against Steve Patterson, but he was no Alcindor or Walton! I did walk across the floor and shake hands with Coach Wooden after the game. True story.

** While hockey is not my main interest, I can say that I saw Wayne Gretzky play and, of course, Jaromir Jagr, Evgeny Malkin, Sydney Crosby, and the great mario Lemieux. I also was fortunate enough to attend some Stanley Cup playoff games, which were particularly exciting. The Penguins certainly know how to create an exciting in-game experience.

** It must be noted that I attended many of the aforementioned sporting events with my Dad and my older brothers, which make the memories that much better.

** Many of my best memories of the Arena will be of concerts that I attended. Top of the list, of course, would be seeing Elvis Presley with Marilyn in 1973. Others of note would be Jose Feliciano with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra (twice) in the early 90's, Simon & Garfunkel in 2003, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Reba McIntire, and in 2009, Bruce Springsteen. (Bruce and the E Street Band covered Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" - unforgettable!) So, it can be said that I saw The King, The Boss, and The Chairman of the Board under the Arena's stately stainless steel dome!

** Speaking of concerts, sorry to say that I missed The Beatles' appearance in 1964, but I was only 13 at the time and Frank and Ruth weren't quite ready to let me loose at that stage.

** The only time I can remember being in the Arena when the roof opened was for a concert of the Pittsburgh Symphony led by Henry Mancini.

** Oh, and how can I forget such memorable evenings of Pro Rasslin' featuring the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The Moon Dogs, and other WWF greats from the mid-1980's. I even saw the great Bruno Sammartino at the tail end of his career in the Squared Circle.

** For all of these great memories, I hate to say that it will go down that the last event I attended at the Arena was the hokey "Get Motivated" all day seminar last August. True, it was neat to hear General Colin Powell, but the rest of it was, as I said, pretty hokey.

All in all, lots of happy times spent in the Civic Arena. I look forward to seeing things in the new state-of-the-art Consol Energy Center, but I am not guessing that I will spend the time there that I spent at the Arena over the years. I am guessing that my first event there will be a concert of some sort. Anyone have any extra tickets for Lady Gaga?

I welcome others to share their memories, as Loyal Reader BigPoppy already has.

A Nugget from John Russell

John Russell was quoted in the Post-Gazette this morning as saying that Charlie Morton needs to find his proper "glitch" in order to get straightened out (and, boy, does he need straightened out!). In fact, JR was quoted twice in the story about Morton needing to find his "glitch."

OK, I'll swing at this conversational softball and belt it over the fence by saying that Morton's entire body of work for 2010 has been one big glitch. Wow, I feel guilty over that one.

I guess that JR really meant to say "niche." If he really mean to say "glitch", then all I can say is that I am flummoxed by the Skipper's choice of words.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Civic Arena Memories

It is kind of sneaking up on us, but soon the Civic Arena - I never could get in the habit of calling it Mellon Arena - will be closing its doors for good. The attached column by ESPN 1250's Guy Junker brings this point home sharply:

This is prompting me to put on my thinking cap and come up with some personal Top Ten memories of the Arena. (I did a similar list for Three Rivers Stadium back in 2000, which was greeted with great ennui across the land.) I will be posting that before the week is out. In the meantime, should any of you wish to post your own memories of the Arena, please feel free to do so.

Baseball Uniforms

The Grandstander took some heat last week and was accused of being an old crank because of his opinions on how players wear their baseball uniforms. I present to you two examples of players in uniform - Old School and Current Day.

You tell me which one looks better.

Some (Very) Early Season Numbers Crunching

Bob Prince used to always say that you couldn't put much stock in batting averages and other such stats until players had about 100 At Bats, so please keep in mind that it is still really early in the season, but the numbers of three Pirates might bear examination at this point.

1B Jeff Clement

29 AB, 2 H, .103 BA; 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

OF/1B Garrett "The Legend" Jones

43 AB, 9 H, .209 BA; 3 HR 10 RBI, 5 R

Reserve OF Ryan Church

16 AB, 7 H, .438 BA; 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R

Give John Russell credit for sitting Clement in Sunday's game and moving Jones to first and putting Church in RF, but will this be a trend or was it just a Sunday afternoon aberration? I know you can't judge a guy on 29 AB's, but maybe JR should consider this line-up as more than just for day-games-following-night-games.

Oh, and just to add a little fuel to the fire, here are the numbers for rightfielder-in-waiting Jose Tabata down in Indy:

42 AB, 14 H, .333 BA; 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

(Not sure why those hit totals haven't translated into better run and RBI production. Just shows you that stats aren't everything, I guess.)

Some other interesting numbers in Indy:

Pedro Alvarez

43 AB, 10 H, .233 BA; 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R

Neil Walker

35 AB, 11 H, .314 BA; 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Grandstander Hits a Milestone!!

Yes, as the headline indicates, this is a Milestone posting for The Grandstander. It is Posting Number 100!! I started this whole thing up a little over three months ago on January 8, and now we hit the century mark. And they said it wouldn't last!! My thanks go to all dozen or so of you who read this, and special thanks go out to those of you who post responses. I know that Google makes it a bit cumbersome to post a response, so I appreciate the efforts that you all make to respond, and I hope that more readers will continue to do so.

I was wondering how to make Post #100 special, and what better way to do that than to set forth, with apologies to Myron Cope, a fresh batch of Shirt Pocket Notes.....

*** Ben Roethlisberger. Wow, what can I add to the mountains of words that have already been spoken on this subject? To call this whole affair low rent, tawdry, and disgusting, wouldn't even begin to cover it. When Ben said in his prepared statement the other night that he wants to still be a "role model for kids" my thought was "man, has that ship ever sailed."

*** What do the Steelers do now? Obviously, Roethlisberger is a great football player, a QB who comes to a team every third generation or so. If your goal is to win and win championships, you just don't jettison a QB like this as you would, say, a Super Bowl MVP wide receiver. On the other hand, the Steelers do love that "Steelers Way" line that they talk about. That said, I see a suspension for Ben, but I'd be surprised if he was not the QB for the team in 2010.

*** I wonder if we REALLY knew about the character of the 53 guys who comprise any given Steelers roster, would the "Steelers Way" just be so much B.S.? James Harrison, Cedric Wilson, Najeh Davenport, and Jeff Reed aren't exactly guys you'd want your sister to date are they?

*** I made a comment the other day that these types of incidents didn't seem to happen when Bill Cowher was the Head Coach, but I believe that a couple of the guys listed in the previous paragraph were here under Cowher's watch. And, of course, Ernie Holmes did his thing on the Ohio turnpike when Chas Noll was in charge.

*** Maybe all this proves is that no organization in any sport is exempt from these types of problems when you are dealing with a bunch of elite athletes with a sense of entitlement who have been coddled and pampered and had their butts kissed since they were about ten years old. Perhaps everybody, including the Steelers, have been kidding themselves when they talk about the "Steelers Way" being different from the rest of the NFL and other sports.

*** When I think of how the Yinzers of "Steelers Nation" ran Neil O'Donnell and Kordell Stewart out of town for the crime not winning a Super Bowl, I don't know how Roethlisberger is going to survive in Pittsburgh. In his first game if the season, he better win the game, throw four TD's and pass for 350 yards - and then keep getting better from there on. I can just imagine the loyal Steelers fans when Ben throws his first INT at Heinz Field this season.

*** Interesting reading two extremes in the blogs on this issue. In his weekly column in the Beaver County Times, Mark Madden makes the case for Ben-as-Martyr. On the other end of the spectrum, John Stiegerwald is ready to round up a lynch mob and string Roethlisberger up from the nearest tall tree. Not that either of THESE guys should be taken seriously.

*** For a guy who said he had no case, that DA in Georgia really tried and convicted Roethlisberger during that press conference, didn't he? Again, I am not an apologist for Roethlisberger in this whole crummy affair, but is what the DA did in that news conference correct? Seems he threw away the concept of "innocent until proven guilty."

*** Speaking of John Stiegerwald, every time I go to his blog, I vow that it will be the last time I do so. It is one thing to don the persona of a cranky curmudgeon (hey, I do it myself on occasion), and it is another matter entirely to be just a total miserable ass. As for his beating the Roethlisberger Matter to death, my bet is that Ben stiffed him for an interview once and now Stiegy is getting his payback.

*** Perhaps the best writing about the Ben matter has come from Bob Smizik in his blog in the Post-Gazette online edition.

*** Speaking of careers gone wrong, it doesn't look like Tiger Woods is ever going to recover in the court of public opinion from the mess he has made of his life.

*** Phil Mikelson's win at the Masters with his wife Amy appearing in public for the first time since her cancer diagnosis sure made Tiger's travails seem all the worse, didn't it?

*** That said, I say Woods wins at least one major this year, and that he will break Nicklaus' career record of 18 majors by, say, 2013.

*** The Pirates. Zach Duke sure has looked good in his two starts, but who else has? The lopsided nature of their five losses is alarming.

*** I noticed a paragraph in Sports Briefs the other day that Canada won the World Curling Championship over the weekend, and that the USA lost to Norway in the bronze medal match. Did John Shuster spit the bit again for the USA?

*** Kudos to MLB umpire Joe West for calling out MLB sacred cows the Yankees and Red Sox and their propensity for four hour ballgames. Of course, you might wonder why West and his fellow men in blue don't enforce the pace of play rules when these teams meet, but that, I suppose, is another issue. I had to laugh when guys like Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia acted with such outrage over West's comments. I guess the Yanks and Sawx feel that they operate on a different plane and cannot be criticized. For anything.

*** I think that the length of MLB games would be reduced DRAMATICALLY if batting gloves were eliminated. Watching guys fiddle with their batting gloves between EVERY PITCH is enough to drive you crazy.

*** Why do guys need batting gloves anyway? Mays, Mantle, Aaron, Clemente, and Williams did pretty well without them.

*** The NFL gets criticized, not without justification, as being the No Fun League for, among other things, their nitpicking enforcement of how the players wear their uniforms. I think that the NFL might be onto something there whenever I watch a major league baseball game. How players wear their uniforms borders on being a disgrace. Watching the Pirates-Giants game yesterday...yoi! Pedro Sandoval was wearing a uni that was baggy and his shirt was almost hanging out of his pants. Lastings Milledge's flashy shoes. We all know about the Brewers and how they untuck at the end of a game. And don't get me started on baggy pants that cover the shoe tops. Oh, and then there are the guys with so much pine tar on their batting helmets that the logo is obscured. Go find a picture of Bob Gibson or Willie Mays or Roberto Clemente from the 1960's. THAT is how a uniform should look on a major league ballplayer.

*** Have been catching up with the AMC TV series Mad Men on DVD. We are about two-thirds of the way through season two, and the season three DVD set arrived from Amazon today. Did people in business offices smoke THAT much in the 60's? Did people really have bars in their offices like that? And did we really treat women that shittily back then? This is really a good show. Good stories, good acting, and good story lines. I am not surprised that it has won so many Emmys and Golden Globes.

*** We also just watch the first season of Nurse Jackie, the Showtime series with Edie Falco on DVD. Another good show.

*** Speaking of good TV shows, we never miss Modern Family every Wednesday on ABC.

*** On the local TV front, watching the KDKA news the other day, fatso John Shumway was "live at Steeler headquarters on the Southside" covering the Big Ben Affair. He was wearing a jacket with a Steelers logo on it. Not sure if that passes the good journalism sniff test.

*** I was sad to see in the PG this morning that Robert Morris University is putting their downtown "Pittsburgh Center" up for sale and moving all operations to the Moon Township campus. From the enrollment figures that were cited, I suppose that this is a sound move and an inevitable one. Going to college in an eight story building that overlooked the exercise yard of the County Jail was certainly not the "college experience" of a rolling campus and ivy covered walls, but I received a good education at the RMC "Pittsburgh Center" and, more importantly, it is where Marilyn and I met. I hate to think that the empty classroom where we exchanged our first kiss will now be just another cubicle in a soulless office building.

*** How about that Larry King? Married eight times to seven different women, he is getting a divorce because he is having an affair with the sister of wife number eight!!! Larry is 76; the sister is 45. My mother had a saying about things like this: "There's no fool like an old fool."

*** Is there a more perfect food than a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup?

*** I will close on a serious note. As most of you know, Marilyn completed the RCIA program and was welcomed into the Catholic Church at the recent Easter Vigil mass. It was a beautiful ceremony and it capped what has been a wonderful experience for BOTH of us. And I can't describe how great it has been for us to go to Communion together these past two weeks.

*** Finally thanks again for being here for the first 100 Posts. Tell your friends and stick around for the next hundred!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Book Recommendation

Did you ever hear of golf professional J. Douglas Edgar? Well, neither had I until I stumbled upon a new book by Steve Eubanks call "To Win and Die in Dixie."

Douglas Edgar was an English golf professional who emigrated to Atlanta in 1919 and became a club professional where he crossed paths with, among other luminaries, the great Bob Jones. He discovered a technique in the golf swing that was radical back in the 1910's, but has since become the basis for what we all know today as the modern golf swing. He became a champion golfer - a two time winner of the Canadian Open - and established a scoring record that no one - not Sarazin, Hogan, Sneed, Palmer, Nicklaus, or Woods - has been able to best in over 90 years. He came to a mysterious death on the streets of Atlanta in 1921, a case that is still officially listed as "unsolved," and the whole thing would have been whitewashed but for the courage of a young Atlanta newspaperman.

All the stuff of a great story (this could be a hell of a movie), but who knew?

Well, Steve Eubanks has told this story in a very well-written book. I highly recommend that you check this one out. You don't have to be a golf fan to appreciate this terrific true story.

For Loyal Reader Susan

At the request of Loyal Reader Susan, I am including some pictures if the Edisto Island portion of our recent vacation. Unfortunately, I have no actual beach pictures, as I didn't have the camera with me on the days we visited the actual beach. However, these pics will give you a glimpse of our "cottage" at the Wyndham Ocean Ridge resort.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Georgia (and South Carolina) On My Mind

No doubt you loyal readers out there underwent some sort of withdrawal due to the absence of The Grandstander in recent days. As you know, Marilyn and I, along with Mare's brother Jim and his wife Judy, left last Monday for a visit to the hallowed grounds of The Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters golf tournament. Following our visit to Tuesday's practice round, where, as you can see, we did get to see the eventual champion in action, we visited the beach town of Edisto Island, SC for some mini-vacation time.

The trip entailed a lot of driving - over 1,600 miles through six states, and the drive home on Saturday was a killer, but the whole trip was well worth it.

This was my third visit to Augusta National, and I will say what I always say:

A) No television picture really captures how beautiful the course and the grounds of the golf course are.

B) You have no idea from watching TV how hilly the course is.

C) The Masters is the most well run and efficient sporting event I have ever attended.

D) They do not gouge you down there. For example, at lunchtime I visited a concession area and bought 2 sandwiches, a bag of chips, a chocolate chip cookie, 1 Coke, and 1 beer and the entire tab came out to $11 and change. Think of that the next time you go for an $8 beer at PNC Park.

E) The money you DON'T spend on food is more than made up for in the money that you spend in the merchandise buildings. I'd love to have the receipts for just one day from the merchandise sales at The Masters. And, yes, we did our share to boost the coffers of The National last Tuesday!

Edisto Island was a nice beach area. Not as nice as Hilton Head, but much more quiet and quaint. We stayed at a Wyndham Resort in a rental "cottage." Very nice place to stay. Ate some great seafood and played golf at a very nice course on the grounds of the resort (although, MAN was it windy that day!!!).

All in all, a great trip. Really nice to be away like that and realize that you don't have to come back and go to work!

And how about that golf toon-a-ment that they put on this year? Watching the action on Sunday afternoon certainly was enjoyable, and Phil Mickelson certainly was a great and deserving champion. How about that shot from the pine straw, through the trees, and onto the green at #13 from over 200 yards out? That, my friends, was a GOLF SHOT!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Classic Quote from JR

So, following the Pirates 16-5 loss to Arizona today, which included the D'backs scoring 13 runs in one inning, charismatic Bucco Skipper John Russell had this to offer:

"Thirteen runs in one inning. What are you gonna do?"

I'm sure that JR will, as Charlie Dressen once said, think of something.

Actually, as easy as it is to make fun of the emotionless John Russell, he probably makes a good point with the above quote. When you give up 16 runs in one game, it is probably best to forget about it and not even try to analyze it. Still, I see it pointed out that in the three games the Pirates have lost, the combined scores have been 34-7.

Do three lopsided losses (out of six games) constitute a trend? Let's hope not, but if it does, "what are you gonna do?"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Introducing...The 2010 Big Train

I realize that there are few things more boring to people than hearing someone talk about their Fantasy sports teams, but I'm going to do it anyway!

The North Park League of Fantasy Baseball held its 2010 draft last night. This league has been in existence for 20+ years, and 2010 will be my 12th year of participation. Draft Night is always a fun social occasion for the 11 guys who participate, and last night was no exception. Lots of laughs. (Kind of like the sports equivalent to a Star Trek Convention.)

I usually come out of the draft filled with enthusiasm for my squad, but last night - not so much. I am excited about the pitching staff (CC Sabathia, Chad Billingsley, Scott Kazmir, Carlos Zambrano, Jair Jurrjens, Johnny Cueto, Joe Saunders, Joe Blanton, and relievers Brian Fuentes and Ryan Franklin), but am concerned that I will be middle of the pack - at best - offensively. One good omen is that my first round pick was the Phillies' Chase Utley. In 2007, I was able to grab Utley in the first round, and I ended up winning the League that season. In what could be a bad omen, I have two Pirates on the team, OF Garrett Jones and 3B Andy LaRoche, who was my 26th and last round selection.

Four other Pirates were drafted last night: Andrew McCutcheon, Ryan Doumit, Akinora Iwamura, and Zach Duke.

It might of interest to some as to how the first round of the draft went, so here is the order of selection:

Albert Pujols
Roy Halladay
Alex Rodriguez
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Evan Longeria
Hanley Ramirez
Ryan Braun
Joe Mauer
Mark Teixeira

Readers will receive periodic updates on the NPL as the season progresses. The better the Big Train does, the more frequent will be the updates!

Let the games begin!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Classic Comedy Scene

No one uder the age of forty much remembers the Marx Brothers these days which is too bad. Check out this classic scene from "Night at the Opera."

Now, THIS is funny!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Couldn't Believe It When I Heard It

I am sure that you have all heard the criticism, or at least ONE of the criticisms of ESPN is that if a sports event happened before 1979, when ESPN was created, then the four letter network doesn't believe it happened.

This criticism smacked me in the head this morning as I was out driving and listening to "Mike & Mike" this morning. Doug Gottlieb, who was filling in for Golic, stated that a case could be made for Derek Jeter being the "greatest Yankee of all time." Yes, you read that correctly. He said that you could argue that Derek Jeter is the GREATEST YANKEE OF ALL TIME.

Hey, Doug, didya ever hear of Babe Ruth? That alone smashes Gottlieb's statement to smithereens, but just for fun, I'll also throw in the names of Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle.

Even Mike Greenberg, who believes that all of sports began with Michael Jordan, choked on his morning coffee on that statement.

Even conceding that Gottlieb is a basketball guy, can he ever really be taken seriously again?