Saturday, October 30, 2004

Congratulations, Khalil Greene

Winner of the NL ROY from the newly-formed Internet Baseball Writers Association. Bonds, Vlad, the Unit, Johan ("Mr. President"), Bobbys Crosby and Cox, Buck Showalter, Walt Jocketty, and Theo Epstein also won blue ribbons.

My thanks to the other members of the IBWA for letting me vote. When do we learn the secret handshake?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Jason Bay wins another ROY award

Congratulations and all hail again. Story here. We'll learn about the baseball writers' award on November 8th.

Paul Meyer mailbag

Paul Meyer is back this week with another mailbag.

Two threads I'd recommend. First, on the quality of the play-by-play and color commentary Pirate fans get. What do you want? Second, on the curse of playing so many games in the Central time zone. (Don't get me started on the night games on the West Coast.) As Bob Dvorchak writes up in another article, the games are getting longer. More and more I find that I can only catch the first few innings of a game. More and more the idea that I'll listen to or watch a whole game, start to finish, is not coming into my head with the first pitch. That's not right.

The league could especially pay more attention to the east coast fans who easily lose track or forget about their team when it goes on a nine-game west coast road-trip. If the Pirates have to play a lot in San Diego, let them start half the games at noon pacific time. Baseball became the national pastime by coming on the radio every day. And baseball is most satisfying when it's part of a daily routine. It's hard to get interested in the team if you can only see or hear one Sunday game per week. This isn't football. Only catching one game a week is like reading every sixth chapter in a novel. No one does that.

If more games were ending while people were coming home from work in the evening rush hour, teams like the Pirates would have more fans who were excited to buy tickets. If the game is going to be three or four hours long, it can't start at 10pm if the league expects to build or hold a following among children, parents, and people who go to work pretty early every morning.

Ed Eagle mailbag

I'm a few days late linking to this, Ed Eagle's latest mailbag.

Eagle thinks J.J. Davis has no future with the team. If the Bucs hold him through the Rule V draft, and someone like Rajai Davis is taken by the Tigers, will the fans be mad as hell and not going to take it anymore when Davis is dealt as a throw-in in a two-for-one next spring?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pirates and the Internet Baseball Awards

Congratulations, Jason Bay, for winning the Rookie of the Year award selected by baseball fans with some internet savvy.

Ty Wigginton got a vote for NL MVP. So did Kendall. Jack Wilson got a number of votes. Oliver Perez finished eleventh in the Cy Young voting.

The only crime is Lloyd McClendon finishing in last place in the Manager of the Year voting. Larry Bowa, Art Howe, and Clint Hurdle got more votes. For doing what?

Not so hurt

Will Carroll reports that the Pirates didn't miss so many games to injury in 2004.

Baltimore Jackassery

I sympathize with the central PA fans who have to watch the Ravens on TV. Fuller story here. Anyone who says it's "just three games" doesn't know what he's talking about. Three games of football is like thirty games of baseball. Some of us would rather watch any given football game than go to a friend's wedding. I'm not one of them, but I know some Steeler fans feel that way. Three games is a lot of football to miss.

Unless you like to get angry, or enjoy being taunted, make sure you don't read Dan Connolly's sarcastic and unprofessional column for the Daily Record/Sunday News.

When a reporter cherry-picks his email to publish reader thoughts, with the intention of mocking and embarrassing his readers, that's not much different than a baseball player who throws a chair at the fans.

Grow up, Dan Connolly. Those Steeler fans have a legitimate gripe. Just because they don't write as elegantly as you, that doesn't make them inferior to you. And it doesn't justify your attempt to belittle them in your column. The only person who looks bad in that column is Dan Connolly. Get a grip man, and exercise some self-control before you go into the stands to prove you're a bigger man.

Strzelczyk sober

Justin Strzelczyk was sober. Rest in peace, big guy.

Cowher on them dirty Broncos

Coach Cowher has helped call Mike Shanahan's attention to the quality of play along his offensive line.

I wonder why he gets into this. The Broncos aren't on our schedule. Does Cowher sit on some NFL committee that reviews such things?

Burress works the refs

Alan Robinson of the Associated Press quotes Plax talking about the favorable treatment accorded to the New England secondary.

Ricardo Colclough

Joe Byrd of the Greenville Sun catches up with local boy and former Tusculum All-American Ricardo Colclough.

Roethlisberger "meaty"

If I owned a restaurant within 100 miles of Heniz Field, I'd put a "Roethlis" burger on the menu, too.

Here come the tortured meat puns. For an article that presents itself as "meaty," it sure contains a lot of fluff.

Curt Schilling's Pittsburgh Thing

The Boston Dirt Dogs published an email Q&A with the mighty Schilling:

The Pittsburgh thing

Curt can you explain to the folks your Pittsburgh sports history ties for the panicky Nation? And were you a Willie Stargell or Dave Parker guy?

CS: "My father was born and raised in Somerset, Pa. I was raised a Steeler and Pirate fan. My first and only ML game as a fan was Clemente's last game in 1971. Definitely a Stargell guy.

How cool would it be to see Curt Schilling pitching for the Pirates? It would be sweet to see him end his career with us.

P.S. Who could describe themselves as a Parker guy instead of a Stargell guy? Parker was good, but I don't see any statues of Dave Parker outside the stadium. It's like asking if you were an Al Oliver guy or a Roberto Clemente guy.

Thanks to reader AB for the link.

Ed Wade on John Russell

When you hear this sort of talk after your interview, you know you won't be getting the job. Still, it does sound like McClendon's understudy is highly regarded around the league and in line for a manager job one of these days.

Honest Wagner NFL pick-em: week 8

nyg 06.5 MIN ..MIN .MIN* ..nyg
bal 07.5 PHL ..PHL ..PHL .bal*
gnb -2.5 WAS ..WAS ..gnb ..WAS
jax 01.5 HOU ..HOU ..jax ..jax
arz 03.5 BUF ..BUF ..arz .BUF*
det 02.5 DAL ..det .det* ..DAL
cin 02.5 TEN .TEN* ..TEN .TEN*
ind -1.5 KSC .ind* ..ind ..ind
atl 06.5 DEN ..atl ..atl .atl*
car 07.5 SEA ..SEA
nwe -2.5 PIT ..nwe .PIT* ..PIT
oak 05.5 SND ..SND ..SND ..SND
snf 02.5 CHI ..snf .CHI* ..snf
mia 06.5 NYJ .NYJ* ..NYJ .mia*

Asterisks indicate best bets.

Season to date:
Scoop 61-41 .598
Bones 58-44 .567
Rowdy 52-50 .510

Best bets
Bones 17-14 .548
Rowdy 20-19 .513
Scoop 09-09 .500


Scoop Jackson: My heart says pit, but the stillers haven't quite shown they belong in the nfl elite. I think things will go much like they went for the jets last weekend -- a good showing with some positives to take away, but I'll take borderline-arnsparger's-syndrome belichick's pats by a touchdown.

Dr. Bones has nothing to say.

Mister Rowdy: The play of the NFL generally reflects the mood of the country. With the election a day or two away, I expect the games, like the crowds, to be on edge. Everything's unsettled. So I'll take the rising team as a home dog against the "elite" squad that's overdue for a breakdown. The Steelers are good enough that they can exploit a clutch mental lapse or two.

Here's a specific question: with Hoke replacing Hampton, how good will Foote look? How good will Kendrell Bell look, if he can get in there and play this weekend? We all know that running backs are overrated and that their success depends, in large part, on the quality of the offensive line. The same is true with the defense. Hampton has been making the guys behind him look good. The measure of Hoke's performance on Sunday will also be seen in the effectiveness of the linebackers.

Congratulations, Boston Red Sox

All you Red Sox fans are pretty happy this morning. All hail the Boston Red Sox.

And congratulations to the Cardinals. Redbird Nation, know that your men were the best the NL had to offer. You had a great season with lots to enjoy all summer long.

And of course, we look forward to pounding on the Cardinals all next summer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Leyland to interview in Philly

Story here. He'll have to get permission from Colorado to take any job with Philadelphia.

Is Leyland still a heavy smoker? It's been a while since I've seen a manager chain-smoking in the dugout.


Here's a DVD to purchase - when it's available - and save for distraction & inspiration during the next long, depressing losing streak. Here's to hoping we won't be seeing it for a few years.

Give me a break

For crying out loud:

Boston Red Sox fans think their team operates under a curse?

HA! SOMEONE SHOULD TELL THEM to try the life of a Pirates fan. While the Sawx might live under the Curse of the Bambino, Pittsburgh baseball has a multitude of more tangible, authentic curses placed on it. They just don't have catchy names.

The Curse of Front-Office Ineptitude? No? How about The Curse of the Barren Farm System? Doesn't roll off the tongue, does it? OK, try The Curse of Talent Deficiency? Or The Curse of the Torn Elbow Ligament? (this one particularly seems to affect every single friggin' pitching prospect the organization has ever had).

I think I found a winner: The Curse of Having Really, Really Bad Players.

Click here to read the rest of Chris Adamski's juvenile screed. I don't know how he gets work writing about the Pirates for when his specialty appears to be rooting for the Yankees and rubbing salt into the wounds of Pirates fans.

FWIW, I shit on the notion that the Pirates are a "cursed" franchise. I don't think Pirate fans are so irrational or superstitious. And more, I am annoyed by writers who peddle petty jollies by holding up the Pirates to ridicule.

Of course there's some truth to what he's saying, but the evidence does not support the conclusion and I object to the tone of the whole.

In a related story, the Bucs' president of marketing and sales, Mike Berry, resigned. I don't know anything about the circumstances of the resignation, but it can't be easy to sell tickets to the locals. It's unfortunate that so many fans are put in the position of defending the team when exaggerated or ill-informed interpretations of their progress are so commonplace in the newspapers, magazines, and television shows. Writers who would prefer, all things being equal, to do some good for the storied but struggling franchise, might consider the fact that the Pirates are dealing with a demoralized fan base when they frame their arguments and color their conclusions.

I'm not saying that it is some kind of crime to be critical of the team or to see the glass as half-empty: I don't complain when someone writes the truth. And it's not the duty of all baseball writers to encourage ticket sales. I know that. If someone wants to slam the Bucs, more power to him. But if those slams are exaggerated, childish, or just plain inaccurate, then the crowd will kindly part when I come forward to reprobate such criticism.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Curt Schilling: All Hail the Steelers

Reader AB saw Schilling's Steelers cap on TV and wrote to ask about it. A quick google search finds this story:

"I feel beat up a little bit," Schilling would say later on, wearing a yellow Pittsburgh Steelers cap and a weary disposition in the hour after throwing a six-inning, four-hit master work at the Cardinals last night, inching the Red Sox to within two games of Valhalla with a 6-2 win. "Honest to god, I didn't think I was taking the ball today. I didn't think I could. And then things just began to happen. We made it work. It happened."

Any idea why Schilling would be a Stiller fan? AB found more evidence. Is this a Casey Hampton jersey? If it's 2002, it's ... whose number? Hampton, Cushing, Vincent, Mathis?? Maybe it's a Lynn Swann jersey done up with the modern numbers.

He was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where his pop, a U.S. Army paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, may have been (I'm just guessing) stationed at Elmendorf Air Force base. I can't find any evidence that Schilling has ever lived in Western Pennsylvania.

Of course, that doesn't make it surprising that Schill would support the black and gold. Plenty of people outside the area have the good taste to support the best franchise the NFL has to offer.

Honest Wagner NFL pick-em: week 7 results

I was terribly wrong about Baltimore and/or Buffalo but otherwise enjoyed a fine week of amateur prophesy. Team Rowdy finished 8-6, Scoop 7-7, and Bones 7-7. In best bets, Rowdy went 4-2, Scoop 1-1, and Bones 1-3.

Year-to-date, Scoop still leads at 61-41. Twenty games above .500 in an ATS pool is pretty good. Bones is three games back at 58-44, and Rowdy trails at 52-50. The best bet scoreboard is tighter. Bones leads at 17-14, Rowdy next at 20-19, and Scoop trails at 9-9.

Week eight has some real barnburners. New England (6-0) at Pittsburgh (5-1) is surely your game of the week. The Patriots are favored by a field goal, which makes sense to me. And I could be wrong about this, but I don't think there's an advantage in coming off a bye when you do so to face this kind of competition.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bay-Greene reunion

The Padres have announced their 2005 schedule and the Pirates are coming to town to play their first 2005 games in Petco.

How come the Padres have announced their 2005 schedule, but the Pirates haven't?

Best Manager Prospect

Apparently, John Russell is still in contention for the job at Philadelphia. They drafted him. Another thing I didn't know: Russell was twice named "Best Manager Prospect" by Baseball America. Given that he's spent so much time watching and learning from McClendon, this makes sense.

More day games please

Yes, this article caught my eye because it begins with the beautiful story of the Pirates roughing up Cy Young in the first inning of the first-ever World Series game.

But it's also worth reading to get Whitey's take on the damage wrought by the switch to night games. I agree. I think baseball, more than any other professional sport, is a radio product. With more day games, more working people can enjoy the games during the day. And more schoolkids can follow the game at school. I would guess that the Pirates could boost their attendance by playing more day games. The effect would be gradual and long-term, but well worth it. Since the Pirates don't play in the hottest of cities, you'd think that scheduling more home games in April and September would help the team draw crowds. Who wants to go to an April game when the evening high is set to be 55? It may also help the pitchers to avoid injury. And it would definitely help the team to avoid having to play so many doubleheaders: day games are less likely to get rained out than night games, for obvious reasons.

Hillcat recap

Craig Rutter (any relation, Joe?) sums up the Carolina League season for, a site I've never read before.

Shorter version: Rajai Davis, Brad Eldred, Nick Gravelle, and Zach Duke are good.

Pirates sign young woman to minor-league contract

This almost happened back in 1947. Sagamore native Dorothy Kovalchick, the AP reports, was offered a spot in the Pittsburgh system but her mother refused to let her accept it.

Fans of a A League of Their Own will enjoy the full story. This made the news because she has a book out. More here.

Ralph Kiner in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs, California Desert Sun features an excerpt from Kiner's book, Baseball Forever, that focusses on the down-and-out days he's endured in Palm Springs, that California slum, since retiring from baseball.

I didn't know that William Powell was a Pirates fan. The Thin Man is one of my all-time favorite movies and one of the few movies I'd recommend to total strangers. Go see it if it's new to you.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

On bye

The Steelers don't play today so I may take the chance to completely blow off football and do something fun like raking the beautiful leaves, cleaning the beautiful gutters, assembling beautiful cribs, or cleaning the beautiful cat boxes.

Looking at today's games, here's a wish-list of best-case scenarios for the Steelers. The general wish, for humiliation and exposure, holds in all games. It's not right to wish for maimage, but it's OK to hope for humiliation. And of course we'd like to see every team in the NFL exposing large weaknesses in every other team in the NFL.

More specifically, we'd like to see Jacksonville upset the Colts. We don't need competition for home-field throughout the playoffs. Philadelphia ruins Cleveland, Carolina upsets San Diego, who look poised to make a playoff run in the AFC, and Buffalo exposes and humiliates Baltimore. More: Detroit crushes the New York Giants, plunging them into a season-ending losing streak of incompetence and depression, thus softening them for our December 18 date. Minnesota crushes Tennessee, a team we don't want to see in the AFC playoffs. The Jets and Patriots can battle to a tie. Or no, the Patriots win in embarrassing fashion. The Steelers can snap their winning streak next week then. Oakland beats New Orleans. Since we beat Oakland on opening day, that would help the team in the BCS standings. And, why not root for Amos Zereoue? Dallas beats Green Bay, making the Steelers look even better for last week's game. Finally, we'd like to see the Bengals upset the Broncos, another candidate for home-field throughout the playoffs. In the other games - Chicago-Tampa Bay, St. Louis-Miami, Atlanta-Kansas City, Seattle-Arizona - it's hard to come up with a pro-Steelers angle. I guess we could hope for Atlanta to upset Kansas City. That would further reduce the chance that the Steelers would play at Kansas City on Monday Night Football next year (something that has happened way too often during Cowher's tenure).