Saturday, October 23, 2004

McLouth and Miller next?

Ed Eagle reports on the progress of the Bucs playing for the Arizona Fall League. The article ends with this:

Fellow Curve teammates Jeff Miller and Nate McLouth have more than held their own against top competition. Miller has tossed seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in his four appearances. McLouth has batted .265 (9-for-34) with a pair of doubles and three RBIs in nine games.

"Miller and McLouth have been especially impressive," said Graham. "I like the fact that they are competing and having success at a level that is higher than the level that they have performed at during the season. Both of those guys are very tough mentally. This is a very good challenge for them.

The front office will add these two to the 40-man roster before November 20 unless they enjoy being ridiculed by the fans and the rest of the baseball-loving nation.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Replacing Larry Bowa

The Phillies will get a new manager. John Russell is one of the candidates, as Joe Rutter reports.

Radio News

Bob Smizik reports on the change or two the Pirates will make for the 2005 radio broadcasts. Sounds like Lanny Frattare will be back. Steve Blass will join him for home games only. Greg Brown might move on to greener pastures.

The best thing the Pirates could do to improve their radio broadcasts? Win more games.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Roethlisberger featured in SI

Link here.

What was he thinking when he agreed to pose for that photo?

Hoke biography

The PG's Shelly Anderson wrote this brief biography of our Mormon in the Middle, Chris Hoke. Warning: scary picture included.

Just kidding, Chris. He talks about how he used to spook the French going door to door to talk about religion. His strategy, which needed refinement, included the greeting of door-openers with a hearty "Trick or Treat."

Jeff Miller and J.R. House

Rotowire (subscription req'd) reports that Jeff Miller and J.R. House are playing well in Peoria.

Q & A with Dave Littlefield

Good stuff in today's Q & A.

Shorter Littlefield: "Yes, we'll add a scrubby FA or two. Yes, Ramirez was traded for immediate money reasons but we'll keep Bobby Hill, we like him. Yes, we're still looking in the Dominican for the talent we know is out there. Sorry we haven't found it yet. In trade, the Bucs are looking for players who can play at the major-league level right now. No point trading for A-ball players. Brad Eldred will play at Indianapolis next year unless he really wows us. Finally, no, I won't share any strategy secrets with you the fans. Keep playing at "What is Dave thinking?" All I will say about general strategy questions is this: Look over there, at Minnesota and Oakland. And: Remember, running a ballclub is hard work."

One for John Madden

The PG ran a pair of articles about physics and the Immaculate Reception this month. Here is the latest one. The earlier one was vague and unsatisfying, perhaps because it was a report about some Raider-demented physics professor who was speculating that the ball never hit Tatum. I'd have a hard time reporting that too.

The folks at Monday Night Football sure screwed up their selection of games this year. They play behind the curve and only pick teams that were good the previous year. How hard are they kicking themselves for not getting a Steelers game this year? Note to world: the Steelers are rarely bad two years in a row.

The only silver lining is that we won't be subjected to John Madden's always-peevish comments about the end of ye olde Raiders-Steelers game. Or maybe you enjoy them? The man has never gotten over it.

All hail Leeeny for the link.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Honest Wagner NFL pick-em: week 7

stl -6.5 MIA ..stl ..stl ..MIA
ten 06.5 MIN ..MIN .MIN* ..MIN
det 06.5 NYG ..NYG ..det ..NYG
chi 06.5 TAB ..chi ..chi .TAB*
snd 02.5 CAR .snd* ..snd .CAR*
buf 06.5 BAL ..buf ..buf .buf*
phl -7.5 CLE ..CLE .phl* ..CLE
jax 08.5 IND ..jax ..jax ..jax
atl 03.5 KSC ..KSC .atl* .KSC*
nyj 06.5 NWE .NWE* .NWE* ..NWE
sea -6.5 ARZ ..ARZ ..ARZ .ARZ*
dal 03.5 GNB ..dal ..GNB .GNB*
nwo 02.5 OAK ..nwo ..nwo ..OAK
den -5.5 CIN ..den .den* ..den

Asterisks indicate best bets.

Season to date:

Scoop 54-34 .614
Bones 51-37 .580
Rowdy 44-44 .500

Best Bets
Bones 16-11 .593
Scoop 08-08 .500
Rowdy 16-17 .485


Dr. Bones made his picks in a great hurry & is out the door & on his way up the river.

Captain Scoop, responding to these comments, writes: You're right, except for a few games this is a week full of stinko matchups.

Eagles play the browns, ravens, and steelers on consecutive weeks. How each team fares against them could determine the winner of the AFC North.

I would love to hear any possible rationale for favoring either oak or nwo in their game this week. It's like setting a loaded crack pipe between two addicts and betting on who can hold out the longest.  I guess I'll just take the points.

Rowdy: I'll take the home teams with no home wins: Miami, Kansas City, Green Bay, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. That group should deliver three covers and that will make me happy. Also, Baltimore is weak, easily the second-worst team in the AFC North. They are missing Jamal Lewis, facing the rallying Bills with Willis McGahee unleashed, and they spot the Bills a touchdown? I'm down with that. I'm in. Cleveland is scrappy, esp. at home, if mediocre in talent. They will hang around and make a game of it with Philadelphia. And the Jeff Garcia - Terrell Owens thing should make things fun. Finally, Seattle traded for that curse and troublemaker, Jerry Rice, so I expect they'll fall on their face against the better-than-expected Arizona team.

C'mon St. Louis

C'mon you Cardinals. Get your butts to the World Series.

Ed Eagle mailbag

Lots of good stuff in this one.

We should come up with some questions based on the discussions we've had of his work in the comments.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Honest Wagner NFL pick-em: week 6 results

We all looked smart in week six. It scares me how they speak in tongues, but I have to admit, Scoop and Bones continue to channel accurate picks from the fifth dimension. In my defense, I'll argue that even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. Week six: Scoop 10-4, Bones 9-5, Rowdy 9-5; best bets: Scoop 3-0, Bones 4-1, Rowdy 4-2.

Overall: Scoop 54-34 (.614), Bones 51-37 (.580), Rowdy 44-44 (.500). Those are against-the-spread records. Scoop and Bones are doing better, ATS, than most of the "talent" at ESPN has done picking games straight up.

We're a third of the way through the season and I am buried in the standings. That said, Scoop will tell you that I have rallied from deeper deficits in the past.

Overall, in best bets, the Honest Wagner scoreboard stands at Bones 16-11, Scoop 8-8, Rowdy 16-17. I expect all those numbers to improve over the next third of the season.

Looking ahead at week seven, I see a quality-starved schedule as the NFL rests its most exciting team (i.e., the Steelers) while MLB attempts to stage a World Series that will draw more viewers than the 1pm Philadelphia at Cleveland game. The marquee games appear to be 4-2 Jacksonville at 4-1 Indianapolis and 5-0 New York at 5-0 New England. The latter game is a gem, but the former game is a mismatch with the Jaguars getting something like ten points from the oddsmakers. Otherwise, unless you can get excited about Detroit or Cleveland, there's not much else in the realm of appetizing matchups. I mean, no Steelers, but I already said that, I know. Buffalo at Baltmore? St. Louis at Miami? Chicago at Tampa Bay? Yuck, yuck, and who cares.

The poison pawn this week is Atlanta. They take a 5-1 record into Kansas City to play the 1-4 Chiefs. And the Chiefs are favored - by more than a field goal. I could see Atlanta minus one, but plus three or four? Even if Michael Vick is the next Kordell Stewart, (minus the crying jags,) Atlanta still has a good defense and a much better record.

In other news, what the heck has happened to the Raiders? I was stunned to see them roll over like that on Sunday. They'll play their NFC counterpart in inconsistency and incompetence, the New Orleans Saints, next week. I want no part of that game. Perhaps now that they have shed that notorious troublemaker, Jerry Rice, perhaps now the Raiders can get it together and win one at home.

Steelers-Cowboys top-ranked sports event

In the print edition of today's USA Today, page 3C, a table of selected overnight weekend TV ratings lists the Steelers game as #1 draw around the nation. It garnered a 12.9 rating for CBS, edging the 12.1 rating for Fox's Seahawks-Patriots game and the 11.3 rating for game four of the ALCS. Game four of the NLCS was good for a 7.9 rating.

Uphill from here

It won't get easier for the Steelers going forward. Or, for Ben as the season progresses. As Steve Young is quoted in Ed Bouchette's PG notebook:

Former quarterback Steve Young, on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" said, "He's like an old man in a young man's body with a lot of moxie. The evaluation process is in its median time. The rest of the league is evaluating him to see what his tendencies are. Watch for the next three games to be a little harder."

No doubt the league will find "tendencies" that Ben didn't know he had.

Chris Hoke will have a chance to become a household word taking over for Hampton at nose tackle.

Backups don't worry me; I'm sure Hoke will be fine. Generally, there's not that great a drop from starters to backups in the NFL. Or so I think. The big drop is from the starter to the backup of the backup. The first-and second-string are usually pretty interchangeable with a clear edge, of course, to the first-stringers. When a team begins to mix in a bunch of third-stringers, that's when things can get ugly fast.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Steelers win

Classic Vinny down the stretch. I remember when he used to do that kind of thing for the Browns.

Sweet, sweet victory. More later ...

...Ben's QB rating climbs to 100.1. This team has problems, for sure, but QB doesn't appear to be one of them.


The Steelers have won four in a row. And it will be Roethlisberger, the cool rookie who stood in the pocket and made some tough throws against a rugged pass rush, who will be credited with guiding them to this one.

"I was trying not to get hurt," said Roethlisberger, who was sacked three times but avoided several others. "I was able to make some people miss and luckily I have the best receivers in the game."

Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, Antwaan Randle El, Duce Staley, and with Riemersma healthy and looking like the guy we thought we had last year, and with Tuman making a catch like that: I say Ben's not exaggerating.

Roethlisberger was sharp at the outset. After Richie Anderson capped the Cowboys' first drive with a 21-yard TD run, the Steelers marched downfield to tie it on Roethlisberger's 5-yard pass to Burress.

In that one play, Roethlisberger showed more mobility than Marino ever did, scrambling out of the pocket to his right and slinging the ball to Burress an instant before Marcellus Wiley tackled him from behind.

The play excited the many Steelers fans sprinkled throughout Texas Stadium who waved their signature "Terrible Towels" with every first down.

"For a minute there I thought we were in Pittsburgh," said Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley. "It felt like it was a home game for them."

I also loved the cries of "Duuuuuuuuuuce" every time he handled the ball.


The Pirates are not paying $3M for the services of Brian Boehringer next year. He'll get a buy-out and we should get another 40-man roster space.