Monday, February 28, 2011

Revisiting "The Boys of Summer"

The death of Duke Snider prompted me to pull from the shelf my copy of Roger Kahn's classic book, "The Boys of Summer." For those not familiar with the book, Kahn was a New York sportswriter who covered the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950's, who he christened, The Boys of Summer. In the book, Kahn writes of growing up in Brooklyn, coming to cover the team he followed as a boy, and then he revisits them in their "middle and old age" to see how time has treated these men.

The story takes away some of the romance that we often associate with the heroes of our boyhood. They didn't play merely for "the love of the game", as we might tend to think. They played for the money, and if it may not have been purely business for the players, it surely was for the owners. It has always been thus. The players of today who strive for free agency and then shop themselves to the highest bidder, are fortunate to have been born when they were. Robinson, Reese, Campy, and Hodges (and from a local viewpoint Maz, Clemente, Groat, and Virdon) would surely have followed the same paths as the A-Rods, Sabbathias, and Cliff Lees of the 21st century had those means been available to them. And you don't have to read too many stories of the treacheries of the likes of Branch Rickey, George Weiss, and Walter O'Malley to be sympathetic to the plight of the players.

Having said that, it was interesting to read that when Snider spent his off-season in California, he would work at a clothing store selling sport coats during the Christmas season to make ends meet.

And on a mildly depressing note, when Kahn was traveling the country visiting the ex-Dodgers to write this book, these "old" Dodgers were younger than I am now. Jackie Robinson was 52, and Snider was in his 40's!

Pictured above, from L to R, Reese, Furillo, Robinson, Erskine, Hodges, Newcombe, Snider, and Campanella.

Oscar Post-Mortems

Cleaning out the Mental In-Box, Academy Awards Edition......
  • No surprises at the Oscars last night. None. (OK, maybe the guy who directed The Social Network had a shot, but he lost out.) Does that make for a more boring Oscar show? That is the existential question for the day.
  • I liked Anna Hathaway as co-host. She's talented, can do comedy, and she certainly is pretty. I liked the bit when she made the tassels on her dress swirl. That was funny.
  • As for James Franco, well, who is this guy? During the telecast, I used the word "wooden" to describe him, Marilyn used the word "bored", and Rob Owen in the PG this morning said he looked "stoned." No matter how you cut it, let's hope we never see him again as an Oscar host.
  • Billy Crystal in his few minutes on stage made you really, really, REALLY wish he would come back for hosting duties.
  • The "Low Class Award" of the night goes to Melissa Leo. First of all, to act "surprised" when she mounted what is said to be a totally offensive campaign in the trade papers was disingenuous to the point of being offensive, then to drop the F-bomb in her speech, well, that WAS offensive. Again, let's send her to whatever island we're sending James Franco and let her disappear.
  • I liked seeing old war horse Kirk Douglas dragging out the announcement of the Supporting Actress Award. He should have kept going so as to further delay Melissa Leo's appearance.
  • No totally outrageous gowns on any of the ladies last night. I suppose that's good, but isn't it a lot more fun when some babe comes out in something completely awful?
  • The acceptance speeches for The King's Speech winners (Picture, Actor, Director, Screenplay) were totally gracious and classy. You gotta love the Brits.
  • Best Actress Natalie Portman is only 29 years old, and started out acting as a child/teenager. Just like Lindsey Lohan. Looks like Ms. Portman has made the better life choices. Here's hoping that young Hailee Steinfeld does the same.
  • That Best Song nominee from 127 hours...what the heck was THAT? Not exactly something you'd whistle to yourself while walking down the street. I guess it worked in a movie about a guy who cuts off his own arm.
  • The necrology. Tony Curtis gets a few seconds of airtime at the beginning of the clip? Come on, now.
  • And Lena Horne gets the coveted final shot? With all due respect for Ms. Horne, but when you say "Lena Horne" how many of you think of her as as movie person?
  • Loved how Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock personally addressed the Actress and Actress nominees when making their presentations.
  • Also loved the touch of Steven Spielberg listing the great movies that have lost the Best Picture Award over the years (Citizen Kane, The Graduate etc.). He left one off of that list - his own "E.T." which lost out to either Ghandi or Chariots of Fire, I can't remember which. I guess modesty prohibited him from doing so.
  • Of the nominated movies that I haven't seen, last night's show is prompting me to make sure I now see "Black Swan" and "Inception." I suppose that I will see "The Fighter" eventually, but you won't be able to pay me to watch James Franco cut off his own arm in "127 Hours."
  • The Oscar review show that I am most looking forward to hearing will come later today when I download the podcast of Tony Kornheiser's Washington, DC radio show.

That's it. See you at the movies!!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Absent Friends - Duke Snider

News arrives this afternoon of the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Duke Snider at the age of 84. Snider's greatest years pre-date my time as a baseball fan, but he will, of course, always be remembered as one of the iconic "Boys of Summer" that comprised the Brooklyn Dodgers in their heyday, the decade before they left Brooklyn for Los Angeles.

He is also remembered for being one of the troika of great centerfielders in New York during the so-called Golden Age of Baseball (1947-57) - at least it is "golden" according to the New York-centric baseball establishment - when the argument was "Willie, Mickey, or The Duke."

Ironically, while Snider was identified with Brooklyn and referred to as The Duke of Flatbush, he was born in Los Angeles, and was probably quite happy when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for the West Coast. (I don't know that for certain, but it might be worth revisiting Roger Kahn's "Boys of Summer" to find out.)

RIP Edwin "Duke" Snider

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Look at the Oscars

As the world knows, tomorrow night is Oscar Night. Last year when watching the Academy Awards, I was seized with an all too familiar pain and ended up watching much of the show in the ER at Passavant Hospital while dealing with an attack of kidney stones. Let's hope there is no repeat of THAT particular performance.

As for the awards themselves, Marilyn and I are looking forward to watching them since we have actually seen many of the nominated films and performances....The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, and Toy Story 3. So, we figure that, unlike the Grammys of a couple of weeks ago, we will actually get it while watching the Oscars.

We have not seen The Fighter which figures to cop both Supporting Actor awards. I know that absolutely everyone who saw this movie insists it is a GREAT movie, but I just can't get myself up for watching another boxing movie. Perhaps when the DVD comes out, maybe, but not before then. Also, I would really, really love to see an upset here and have the Best Supporting Actress Oscar go out to 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit.

Natalie Portman is also being conceded the Best Actress award for Black Swan. We were all set to go out and see this flick this week, but, alas and alack, it was not playing at either the Robinson Cinemark or the Rave North, aka, the Dump of a Theater on McKnight Road, so we will have to wait to see Ms. Portman's soon-to-be-Oscar-winning performance.

(As an aside, the other chick in Black Swan, Mila Kunis, who is the actress who played the hottie, Jackie, in That 70's Show, a guilty pleasure show for me. Hasn't she come a long way? Who would have thought that she and Ashton Kutcher would have been the breakout stars from that series? Personally, I thought that Red Foreman was the the REAL star of that show.)

The Best Actor award is also being conceded this year to Colin Firth playing King George in The King's Speech. No argument there, although I really liked Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. However, no way the Academy gives the Oscar to a 27 year old American actor going up against a 50 year old British Actor playing the King of England.

From what I am reading, the Best Picture Award seems to be coming down to The King's Speech and The Social Network. Both great movies and I wouldn't have a problem with either of them winning. I'll also say that I wouldn't have a problem if Toy Story 3 won. That was a great movie, and it will win the award for Best Animated Feature.

Another award that seems to have a strong favorite is the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The predictions seem to be that Aaron Sorkin will win it for Social Network. Again, I can't argue with the choice, the dialog in that movie really was great, but surely the Coen Brothers have to be a strong second in that category for True Grit.

Finally, there was an interesting story in the paper this morning about the always very popular necrology feature on the Academy Awards show, and speculation as to which dead actor will be the last one pictured in the five minute (up from three minutes in previous years; 2010 was big year for Hollywood deaths, apparently) tribute. This is THE coveted spot in the clip. Gotta be Tony Curtis, right?

Enjoy the show. I'll check in with some post-Oscar commentary on Monday.

Let's Go Bobby Mo

We finally made it out to the Sewall Center last night for our first Robert Morris hoops game of the season. Shame on us.

First off, the University has done a brand new paint job on the interior walls of the Sewall Center (which the school publicity machine is now calling "The Chuck", and appellation that deserves to die). The walls now sport the red, blue and gray colors of the team as well as the large Colonials logo, pictured above, on either end of the building. Very nice. Makes the place seem much more intimate.

On the floor, the Colonials posted a not very pretty 65-57 win over Mount St. Mary's that took their NEC record to 11-6 and assured a home game in the first round of the NEC tournament. A win on Saturday would assure a #3 seed for them in the tourney.

In truth, this version of the Colonials is not as good as the teams of the prior two seasons, and the news arrived today that an injured Karon Abraham is out for the rest of the season. That does not bode well for a team whose tallest player is 6'7".

Still, it was a fun night at the Sewall Center last night.

Go Colonials!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The House That Jeter Built

So, the buzz from the Grapefruit circuit yesterday was Hank Steinbrenner's thinly veiled shot at Derek Jeter and his "building mansions" instead of concentrating on the God-given mandate of having the Yankees winning the World Series last year.

Now, I am no big Yankees fan, but for those of you who are, I would be interested in hearing from you on this proclamation from the Little Stein. It seems like the very last guy that the front office should be dissing is Derek Jeter, starting with their low balling him in this winter's contract negotiations.

A couple of questions from me on this:
  1. Is it true that it is Hal Steinbrenner, and not Hank, who is really running the Yankees, and that he, Hal, basically told Hank to shut his pie hole over this Building Mansions nonsense?
  2. Does Hank hang around with Rex Ryan up there in Gotham? They seem to have so much in common.
  3. I hear that the house Jeter is building, or has built, in Tampa has 30,000 square feet. THIRTY THOUSAND SQUARE FEET!!!! Good God, has anyone seen pictures of this place? It must be as big as a Giant Eagle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Unbroken", Stan the Man, Bob Nutting, and Dick Groat

It has been awhile since I have checked in, so here goes an extended version of The Grandstander for today.

Let's start with a book, Laura Hillenbrand's #1 bestseller, "Unbroken." I just finished reading the incredible story of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was a young member of the 1936 American Olympic track team in Berlin, who was looking to be right on track, no pun intended, to win a gold medal for the USA in the 1500 Meter race in the 1940 Olympics that were scheduled to be in Tokyo.

Of course, WWII intervened and those Olympics never took place. Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps and therein lies an amazing story. In 1943, Louie's plane crashed over the Pacific, he survived for 47 days floating in a raft in the ocean, was captured by the Japanese and then spent two and one-half years in several POW camps.

It is a most compelling story of perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit, and an incredibly sad and depressing story of man's inhumanity to man. At times while reading the book, I felt like I couldn't take much more of this story, but in the end, you are in awe of what Zamperini and his fellow POW's withstood.

Not to give too much away, but here is one statistic that will give you some idea of this. In WWII, 1 in 100 American POW's held in Germany and Italy died. Of the Americans held as POW's in Japanese camps, 1 in 3 died.

No doubt, this is an important and worthwhile book, but Hillenbrand's book of a few years back, "Seabiscuit", was a lot more fun to read.


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?

News came from Bradenton yesterday that Pirates owner Bob Nutting addressed the team. This is the year, Bob said, where things will change....merely being "good" is not enough....the only acceptable goal will be the National League Championship. I also believe that
the old Nutting buzzword, "accountability" was also tossed out there. Yawn.

We've sure heard this song and dance before haven't we?

I don't believe that any mention was made that the Bucs will open the season with a payroll in the bottom five (if not the bottom one or two) of MLB. This has been another hallmark of the Nutting Era.


I know that Dick Groat is considered by many to be a hallowed institution here in Pittsburgh. After all, Dick Vitale always has the ESPN cameras pan in on him while he, Vitale, sings his praises whenever the four letter network is televising a Pitt game. So, at the risk of committing a mortal sin, I have to say that listening to Groat in the closing moments of Pitt's loss to St. John's while out running errands on Saturday was high comedy. Oh, the foolish turnovers, oh, the fouling of St. John's best free throw shooters, and, of course, the jobbing of Pitt by the officials. I thought old Richard Morrow Groat was going to start weeping at any moment during those final three minutes when Pitt was unable to make a basket. Even the biggest homer announcer of all, Bourbon -Nose Billy Hillgrove, was a model of journalistic comportment by comparison.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

High School Hoops

If you do not already have a horse in the race, please begin rooting for the Shaler Lady Titans in the Girls' WPIAL Basketball Tourney that began this weekend. We went to the opening round game this past Friday night and saw them crush Fox Chapel (who seem to have fallen some since the graduation of the Cowher girls!).

Through acquaintance with some family members, we have adopted the Shaler girls as "our" team for this tournament season. They are a very disciplined and well coached team. Very impressive to watch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One for the Old Timers

This Spring Training shot of Pirates Josh Fields and P.J. Forbes should bring back memories for older Bucco fans!!

Batting Practice

A picture like this, combined with the beautiful weather in Pittsburgh today, has simply GOT to make you feel good!!

Andrew and Neil get ready for BP!!

Yes, Another Obituary

A Loyal Reader has recently chided me saying that The Grandstander has turned into The Obituary Blog. That same Loyal Reader, however, has also stated that everything in life can be traced back to something that we have all seen on "Seinfeld" (or "The Sopranos"). So, with that in mind, we note today the passing of actor Len Lesser at the age of 88. Lesser had a career that allowed him to appear in scores of TV shows, but he is best know for the role of Uncle Leo in "Seinfeld."

RIP Uncle Leo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Follow-Up on Chuck Tanner

In my post the other day about Chuck Tanner, I told of him telling the story of once pinch hitting for Hank Aaron and hitting a home run. I also mentioned how the "spoilsport researchers at SABR" will tell you that this never happened. Well, I posted my blog entry on the SABR Listserv and, sure enough, out came the humorless seamheads to put the lie to the story.

So, to set the record straight, here is what really happened:

On May 13, 1956 in the first game of a double-header at Crosley Field, the Braves had a 15-0 lead over the Redlegs. Aaron was taken out of this blow-out in the sixth inning and replaced defensively by Tanner. When batting in the top of the eighth, Tanner hit a home run. Obviously, in telling the story over the years, batting "in place of Hank Aaron" became "pinch hitting for Hank Aaron." It made for a better story. "Print the legend" as the newsman told James Stewart, the "man who shot Liberty Valence."

Tanner actually had only one pinch hit home run in his playing career, and it was while pinch hitting for another Hall of Famer....Warren Spahn. This was the oft-noted home run that Chuck hit on the first pitch of his first at bat in the majors.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pirates New Practice Jersey

So, what does everyone think of the Pirates "new look" practice jerseys?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday, Monday.....

Cleaning out the Mental In-Box.....
  • My Facebook friends already heard this, but last night I watched the Grammy Awards for the first time in many years. The allure of performances by Barbra Striesand, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan is what made me tune in.
  • The performers and records that won most of the awards are mostly people with whom I am not familiar. That said, I am planning on downloading the much decorated Lady Antebellum later today.
  • I'll give you that Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are talented people, but will they have the staying power of Jagger and Dylan? I think not.
  • Did you see Mick Jagger last night? Amazing, simply amazing, and the guy is 67 years old!!
  • And Barbra Striesand can still belt out a tune like no one else. After watching all of the overblown production numbers last night, Babs proves that nothing tops a great singer with a great orchestra behind her.
  • If you follow pro football, you should make it a point to read Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback on every week. That said, he will beat you over the head with his reporting on the NFL labor negotiations and make it sound like an NFL labor stoppage will be the worst crises in the history of mankind. Hey, Pete, it's only football games we're talking about here, not transplant surgery.
  • In today's MMQB, King talks about how shabbily the paying customers were treated at JerryWorld at the Super Bowl last week, over and above those ones whose seats weren't ready.
  • This reinforces a point that I have long held: that the people that pro football teams care LEAST about, are the ones who buy tickets to sit in their stadiums. Switching game times at the last minute, overpriced food and beverages, the allowance of tailgating, which leads to drunks populating the stands, while they continue to buy even more beer, night playoff games in cold weather cities. I could go on and on, and these are among the reasons that I gave up my Steelers season tickets a few years back. The debacle that King describes in Dallas is nothing less than an absolute disgrace.
  • There is a story in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine that is alarming for Pirates fans. It is called Terminal Velocity and it is about the phenomon of young fireballing pitchers who come out of high school and then go into the pro ranks and actually LOSE velocity from their fast ball. It focuses on Tim Alderson, the highly touted prospect the Bucs received from the Giants in the Freddy Sanchez trade.
  • The story mentions how the Pirates pitching coaches have filled his mind with so much stuff about mechanics and foot placement and leg kick, that he has basically forgotten how to pitch. His own high school coach has said that Alderson was a better pitcher when he was a high school freshman than he is now.
  • The story mentions how the training methods used by the Pirates - and to be fair, the Pirates are not the only team that does this - also have served to hinder the abilities of these young pitchers. In theory, these methods (too detailed to spell out here; read the article) are used to protect these valuable young arms from injury. Yet, paradoxically, five of seven pitchers drafted by the Pirates in the first round from 1999-2007 have suffered major arm injuries and needed surgery, but we all know THAT story.
  • This should send chills through the minds of Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.
  • Enough of the gloom and doom, though...Spring Training opens today and hope springs eternal. Right?
  • So, how did everyone survive the first weekend since last July without football? Me, I read a book and had a nice afternoon nap, and then watched the AT&T National from Pebble Beach.
  • How about Bill Murray winning the Pro-Am at Pebble yesterday? How great was that? A true "Cinderella story"....which is nice.
  • Did anyone watch the 60 Minutes story on the Chilean miners last night. Not surprisingly, these men are having some serious adjustment problems following their dramatic rescue last year.
  • I see that the Adam Sandler movie, "Just Go with It" was number one at the box office this weekend. I'm sure that this is a generational thing, but I just don't get Adam Sandler. Also, I saw a trailer for this flick a few months back and figured that the Brooklyn-Decker-in-a-bikini scene would be the highlight of the movie. Based on the reviews, it looks like I was right.
  • The reviews also pretty much pan Jennifer Anniston, which seems to be a typical reaction to her movies. Perhaps she should stick to TV sitcoms.
  • A Loyal Reader has suggested that I should change the name of The Grandsdtander to "The Obituary Blog." It does seem that there have been a preponderance of "Absent Friends" pieces in recent days, and I didn't even mention the death of former Steelers guard John Nisby!! I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Here's to a good week for everyone out there!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Absent Friends - Gino Cimoli

It has been a rough week for Pirates Alumni as the news comes today of the death of Gino Cimoli, a member of the 1960 World Series winning Pirates.
RIP, Gino.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Think of a Number"

Thanks go out to my older brothers for recommending the book pictured at the left, "Think of a Number" by John Verdon.

This is a thriller/murder mystery about retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney, who has, he thinks, moved to the country in upstate New York to settle into a peaceful retirement. Until, that is, an old college acquaintance calls on him to tell him of a mysterious letter he received asking him to "think of a number." This sends Gurney on a multi-state journey to track down a mass murderer, and it leads to a stunning conclusion.

This is the first novel for John Verdon, and I would hope that we'll be seeing more Dave Gurney novels in the years ahead.

Check it out. A great read and only nine bucks if you have a Kindle!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

To Absent Friends - Chuck Tanner

Sad news arrives today with the word of the passing of Chuck Tanner at the age of 81. Tanner, of course, was the manager of the 1979 Pirates World Series winning team, and probably the most optimistic man ever to wear a baseball uniform.

I had the pleasure of running into Chuck at PNC Park a few years back and asking him if he would be willing to speak to the SABR Forbes Field Chapter at one of our meetings. He immediately agreed and the day he spoke to the group remains one of the highlights of my association with SABR and the Pittsburgh Chapter. He talked and talked (hard to believe, I know) and when his hour was up and I went to tell him he didn't have to stay any longer, he looked at me and told me that he would finish talking when he was ready and not before. So it is always a thrill for me to say that I was sent to the bench by Chuck Tanner.

A post script to that meeting was having the phone ring at home early the next morning, a Sunday morning, only to hear that it was Chuck Tanner calling me to thank me for having him at our meeting. Tanner was a genuine person. The guy you saw in media interviews was the real person. A real gentleman.

One story that he told that day was that he played for the Milwaukee Braves he once pinch hit for Hank Aaron, and not only did he hit for him, he hit a home run in the at bat!! Quite a story, but the spoilsport researchers at SABR will tell you that while Tanner may indeed have pinch hit for Hammerin' Hank, he did not hit a home run when so doing. Too bad, but as they said in the closing lines of John Ford's classic "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence"....."when the truth contradicts the legend, print the legend!" So here's hoping that Tanner continues to tell the story of that pinch hit round tripper of his up there in Baseball Valhalla.

RIP Chuck Tanner.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Absent Friends - Woodie Fryman

News arrived this week of the passing of Woodie Fryman at the age of 70. I was amazed to see in the news report that Fryman's big league career lasted an incredible 18 seasons (1966-83) with six different teams (Pirates, Phillies, Expos, Tigers, Reds, and Cubs). He finished with a record of 141-155 and an ERA of 3.77.

I can remember Fryman as a rookie sensation with the Pirates back in 1966. He went 12-9 that season with 9 complete games and three shut outs. I specifically recall a game against the Mets where he gave up a lead off single and the runner was then immediately thrown out trying to steal second. He then set down the next 26 Mets batters. Her faced the minimum of 27 batters over nine innings. It was great.

RIP Woodie Fryman of Ewing, KY.

And while we are talking about Pirates pitching, how about Ross Ohlendorf winning an arbitration award against the Pirates this week? In case you missed it, the arbiter ruled in Ross' favor and as a result, his salary will go from 2010's $429,000 to $2,025,000 in 2011. Yes, you read that right, $2.025 MILLION.

This is coming off a season wherein Ohlendorf went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA and had two trips to the disabled list. Is this a great country or what?

Of course, you know what this means: if Ohlendorf shows ANY sign of being a quality pitcher (which, btw, I think he can be, despite last year's record), he will be the primary piece of trade bait when GM Neal goes on his annual July 31 salary dump/trading purge.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Caring Place Note

Tonight marked the conclusion of one of the Fall/Winter sessions at the Warrendale location of The Caring Place.

To use the language of the eight teens that I worked with this session, it was a "totally awesome" experience.

Some people get dealt some bad hands in life. The grief journey never ends, but it is rewarding to think that maybe, just maybe, you have helped these kids start to get through it. I will never forget these eight very special kids.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Old School Logos

I hope that everyone enjoyed the old-style Packers logo that I included in my post on the Super Bowl this morning. When I came across it, it made me think of seeing it on football cards when I first bought football cards way back when.

In any event. it prompted me to do another search for another old-style logo, and I thought why wait until sometime in the future to honor the early logo roots of the Packers' opponents in yesterday's Super Bowl.

Makes you think of Bobby Layne and Ernie Stautner, doesn't it?

Super Bowl Thoughts

First and foremost, congratulations to the Green Bay Packers! The better team on the field last night in Dallas won, no doubt about it.

While it is disappointing that the Steelers didn't win, how can you feel bad that a team like the Packers won? As one of our guests commented last night, if any AFC team other than the Steelers were playing in that game last night, we'd all have been rooting for the Packers, right? And if it was an NFC team like the Cowboys or Redskins, how much worse would we be feeling today?

And as bad as I might be feeling over the Steelers loss today, I STILL do not feel a tiny fraction as bad as I felt when the Braves won Game 7 in 1992.

I have decided to skip talking about the game itself. We all know what transpired. I am also skipping the talk shows for a few days. I don't want to hear how stupid Mike Tomlin has become, and how lousy Ben and Troy have become in the space of the last 24 hours. However, a few comments as to the peripheral events surrounding the Super Bowl. As we had company yesterday (and Marilyn did come up with a dandy new sandwich-type dish for dinner!), it was not conducive to intense watching of things like pre-game, half-time, and commercials, but......

  • While I vowed not to do so, I did have the Fox pre-game on as background during the afternoon, and it was awful. Spreading out over 4 and 1/2 hours what could be done in thirty minutes, tops, is torturous.
  • I thought the Black-Eyed Peas were fun and the light show around the act was impressive, and it certainly was an improvement over geezers Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend from last year.
  • Someone suggested it last year on this blog, and I agree - in a Texas setting, Kenny Chesney would have been a better choice for the half-time show.
  • And I STILL say that an even better show would have been to wheel out a basketball hoop and have the Bud Light Daredevils do their thing!

Commercials. As I said, our setting yesterday didn't lend itself to really watch the commercials, but the general feeling in our house was that it was weak bunch of commercials. Some thoughts...

  • Loved the spot with the monkeys parking too close to the guy in the parking lot. Nothing beats monkeys in suits!!
  • Thought the Coke commercials were overproduced and not very good.
  • The highly hyped Budweiser western commercial was a letdown.
  • As expected, the Bud Light commercials, especially the "kitchen makeover" one, were very good.
  • The PepsiMax spot with the guy and the girl on the date revealing what they were thinking was pretty funny.
  • The E*Trade baby is always funny.
  • That's it. Nothing else is sticking with me 15 hours after the fact.

Now, so far as football is concerned, we can prepare ourselves for story after story about labor negotiations and lockouts. How fun will THAT be?

On the bright side, Spring Training opens one week from today. As a Facebook Friend said to me last night, "Let the Clint Hurdle Era begin!"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Here We Go....

Three hours and twenty minutes until kickoff. We await the arrival of our company - the same four people who got us through the Seattle and Arizona wins - for our Super Bowl party.

I'll stand by my earlier predictions....
  • a high scoring game that..
  • will be decided in the fourth quarter that...
  • the Steelers will win with...
  • an MVP performance by Ben Roethlisberger

Enjoy the game, and

GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl - The Winner Is....

Okay, okay...I am not going to force the world to wait for The Grandstander's prediction for the Super Bowl. I won't wait until tomorrow, so I'll give it to you right now.

I am predicting the following....
  • A high scoring game (I'm not sure what the official Over/Under is, but if I was in Las Vegas today, I'd drop a sawbuck or two on the Over) that will not be decided until late in the fourth quarter.
  • That I will develop a major tension headache while watching this game.
  • One run of 30 or more yards for Rashard Mendenhall.
  • A total of five TD passes between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers.
  • That Bud Light will follow a season long effort of great commercials with at least one blockbuster commercial during the game.
  • Another great E*Trade baby commercial, but not one that will surpass the "Shankipotimus" commercial of two years ago.
  • Interceptions for both Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews.
  • A defensive touchdown by the Steelers.
  • At least one pass of 40+ yards from Ben Roethlisberger, probably to Mike Wallace.
  • A Hines Ward touchdown.
  • At least a dozen arrests for public urination on the South Side.
  • That Ike Taylor will drop one sure-fire interception.
  • No special teams touchdowns for either team.
  • At least one mention from the Fox broadcasters of Mike McCarthy's "Pittsburgh roots", with perhaps a picture of Mike when he was an unpaid assistant coach at Pitt.
  • A Steelers victory, and a Super Bowl MVP award for Ben Roethlisberger.

You heard it all here first, folks. Enjoy the game, and, as always where my predictions are concerned, watch, but don't bet!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Been Away for a Few Days

I know, I know, you are all wondering why I have not been posting for a few days. For the past week or so, I have had a pain in the neck (no wisecracks, please) that I am calling a pinched nerve. Said condition has made it very uncomfortable to sit at the desk and type on the computer. The fact that I am typing now speaks of some improvement, but I am still not 100%. Suffice to say that I will no longer criticize an athlete for sitting out a game because of a pinched nerve.

On to other things, we are all awash, of course, in Super Bowl media hype. I mean, how many more stories can we read/see/hear about Packers Coach Mike McCarthy being a "Pittsburgh guy"? So I won't add to it other than to say that I think it is going to be a really good game. I will also be following the advice of Andy Rooney, of all people, concerning watching the game. Many years ago I read a column of Rooney's wherein he stated that you will enjoy the Super Bowl more - a lot more - if you skip all the multi-hour pre-game blather and turn the game on right at kick-off and watch it from there. This has proved to be very sound advice over the years. This same advice also works for regular season NFL games as well, which is why I seldom, if ever, watch the pre-game laugh-a-thons on CBS and Fox.

Finally, if you haven't already done so, I refer you to the comments of "The Legend" to my prior post (January 26) concerning Bob Nutting's decision to move the Pirates-Red Sox interleague series from PNC Park to Fenway Park next June. Hilarious stuff!

And to Brother Jim, the picture that you could not identify in that prior post is none other than Bob Nutting himself. Now, you can put a face to the name!