Saturday, October 01, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

Mexican football

Mexicans are sensible people. They love the Steelers.

Game 160: Brewers at Pirates

The Brewers have to win two of three to finish above .500 and break their equally-long streak of losing seasons. The Pirates have no hope of a winning season, of course.

Pirate fans could chant this weekend, "One of us! One of us! One of us!"

Except for Bones. He will be cheering, "Reverse Wiggy Wheel!"

Oliver Perez starts tonight. Game is at seven. Plenty of good seats, I'm sure. Wear a couple fleeces if you plan to stay for the whole show.

...Pirates 4, Brewers 0, after four. Ollie looks OK.

...I like to think that I've generally outgrown hatred, as in, I'm rarely all about "hating" this or that. But for some reason, Doug Davis is a guy I just loathe. So I'm enjoying this game tonight. If I was ten again, and still had baseball cards (or access to Bones' baseball cards), I find his card and bite down hard on it, leaving ten-year-old-sized teeth marks.

...you have to really try to walk Bill Hall. Good job with the second effort, Ollie.

...d'oh. It's going to take a long time to forget the bad taste of this season.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Week 4 picks

I took a bath last week and did terribly in the pick 'em pool. On the year I'm 13-21, yet more than a dozen spots from last place.

A lot of us did poorly. In fact, I've never seen a year quite like this one, with so many pick 'em players under .500 going into week 4. Only 7 of 34 Honest Wagner players are at or above .500. Only 25 players on the whole site (not sure how many total players there are, but I'd guess hundreds) are at or above .500. Tell me again why the books have to take a cut of any winnings? They are rolling in the profits so far this season.

My picks last week were sweet, even if all wrong. That can happen.

This weeks' picks are sweeter. Have fun picking against them.

Using the lines at pigskin.com, here the picks. Detroit covers at Tampa Bay. So laughable, it just might happen. Houston covers at Cincinnati. More laughter. Indy rolls Tennessee. Kansas City owns Philadelphia. The Bolts come and lose a squeaker to Tom Brady. The Seahags outrun the Redskins in DC. The Giants crush the Rams. The Jets cover at Baltimore.

Jets cover at Baltimore??? I am not afraid of first-time starters at quarterback. I am afraid of bad quarterbacks, of course, but first-timers are not always bad. Tom Brady, for example, was a sixth-round understudy when Drew Bledsoe ruptured his spleen in 2001.

Bollinger was a mobile, smart quarterback at Wisconsin. He's been holding the clipboard for three years. So what if his name is synonymous, in New York, with third-string offensive ineptitude? We've yet to see what he can do with the first-stringers.

Quarterbacks can lose a game; Kyle Orton knows something about that. Generally, though, they are an overrated part of some system. If they take care of the ball, whether or not the team wins on offense is not so much determined by their play.

The Jets offense may be in bad shape around him, but so too is the Ravens' offense. The Ravens are not as good as many think on defense, and the Jets are better than many think on defense.

All in all, even with the first-time starter at QB, this should be a close game. What clinches it for me is the insanely low number: currently 30-31. A seven-and-a-half-point spread is enormous in a game that's expected to generate that little scoring.

Moving on. I had a blue-and-black striped dress shirt in my hands the other day at the mall. It was spiffy. I was going to buy it, but something about it ... bothered me. What is it? I kept thinking. Suddenly I knew: the color scheme was identical to the Dallas football colors. I put the shirt back. I could never wear it without thinking, every time I looked in the mirror: "How 'bout them Cowboys!"

Dallas covers at Oakland. Minnesota covers at Atlanta. Green Bay covers on Monday night.

There are three games I see as a 50-50 proposition: Buffalo "at" New Orleans, Denver at Jacksonville, and San Francisco "at" Arizona. If I was over .500, I'd stay away. But now it looks like a few coin flips might improve my record. I'll take all the visitors. I'm especially curious to see how J.P. Losman, former Tulane standout, plays against the Saints. Since he has a reputation for being too emotional, I guess he might be a little out of control.

Still time to get in our pool. It's free.

Huzza for express, now first among our pool players with the min. plate appearances (24 games picked).

Bones' 2006 playbook

What can I bring to the table as 2006 Pirates manager? A new out-of-the-box playbook. Designed to sell tickets and teach some of these damn kids a lesson that they need to execute the fundamentals they've been taught ... or face Wiggy.

Page 1 is the new defensive play "the reverse Wiggy wheel". In this one, Wiggy plays first. Upon contact, the whole infield sprints into clockwise rotation. P covers 3B, 3B covers SS, SS covers 2B, 2B covers 1B. This frees Wiggy up for a full-speed head-on collision with the unsuspecting baserunner.

This doesn't work for walks or homers. So page 2: say Kip just got cute with his sixth walk of the game or Mesa just grooved a fastball. Of course, the game is now beyond reach and the pitcher needs a sharp correction. I signal for the "Wiggy hook". In this one, Doumit lofts the ball back to the mound, but about a third of the way towards third. Kip/Joe/whoever jogs off the mound to shag the errant throw. Wiggy sprints off third, seemingly also shagging said errant throw. But of course, he never slows down, overruns it and does what he does best. Page 3 is a variant of this one where Wiggy gets shifted to LF after Tike botches a play in CF. Fogg comes in to serve up fly balls and Wiggy does his thing. Page 4 is "Wrong-way Wiggy". This one gets prescribed after egregious baserunning blunders. Next time offender gets on base behind somebody else, lead baserunner is replaced with Wiggy. You can guess what comes next.

We might not win many games, but that hasn't been the goal in awhile, right? More importantly, I think all these puerile shenanigans would sell tickets, and make a LOT of money for Mr. Nutting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Game 159: Pirates at Cubs

Pirates have a lead here in the sixth.

How would Bones handle this situation? I guess he'd call a beanball, just to keep them Cubs honest. And in their place.

Bones throws his name into the ring

After reading about all these other guys, I can't resist. I hereby publicly declare my willingness to manage the Pirates in 2006.

Despite no managerial experience of any sort and extensive family and second job commitments, I could do the best job I could to keep everybody afloat. If Dave and Kevin (and Ogden) picked me, I'd make changes. I'd have my own program. My specific platform is: the daily starting line-up would be determined by a daily HW reader vote. That plus I'd ban laundry carts. And lying down (while on the clock).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

All hail Zach Duke

Add tonight's game to the evidence that Zach Duke deserves the NL ROY award. Sure, other guys played more often, but no one has been as consistently good as Zach Duke.

That's the second time Duke has beaten strong outings from Greg Maddux. (Here's the first.)

No Zach Duke, then perhaps Maddux gets his 15 wins.

Duke also beat Tim Hudson.

Game 158: Pirates at Cubs

Duke and Madduke.

The silent killer

Brian O'Neill on the walk.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Neil Walker's journal

For MLB.com. Send him email and remember, he's only 20. Be kind.

Freddy Sanchez to play third in 2006

Dejan Kovacevic considers the idea. Uh, I say, no. He's not the worst stopgap option, but he's not the kind of impact hitter this team so seriously needs. He's Abraham Nunez with the stick, more or less.

If the Pirates can any kind of high-upside third-base prospect in trade this offseason, I think they should do it, even if it means trading some of the young pitchers so near and dear to our hearts.

If it's Chris Stynes or Freddy Sanchez, I'll take Freddy Sanchez.

Paul Maholm

Dejan Kovacevic wrote this biography of Paul Maholm for Sunday's PG.

I believe that the first five starts of a rookie's career suggest, in a fairly reliable way, whether or not they will make it in the big leagues. Maholm threw four gems and then got hit hard once.

We'll see what he looks like in March. For now, regardless of what happens the rest of the year, I'll be thinking we have a good one.

The extra 52 seconds

The spin here - that it cost the Steelers the game - is just bullshit. (No offense, Alan Robinson. Keep the stories coming.)

All day the Steelers had loads of opportunities to win, to put New England away, and this had nothing, nothing at all, to do with the losing.

...With the bye week coming up, I'm not talking about the Steelers again until October 10th.

Game 157: Pirates at Dodgers

The harsh light of day.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had hoped to be battling for a playoff spot in the last week of the season. Instead, they're just trying to stay motivated as the season winds down.

The Dodgers look to build some momentum heading into the offseason as they wrap up a four-game series with the league-worst Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium.

Arrrrrgh. It's true; we're a game and a half out of Colorado. If Pete Mackanin is worth his salt, he'll take advantage of the Rockies closing the season with seven road games. He'll overtake them, plunder their good shit, and leave their sorry ship wrecked and burning on some distant rocks.

Kip "The Glory of 2005 Will Always Be On Me" Wells and Edwin Jackson, the uber-prospect Los Angeles would not trade for Adam Dunn.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

NFL week 3 thread

All hail Alan Faneca!

Game 156: Pirates at Dodgers

The Pirates play today at 4:00 o'clock, which is, unfortunately, the same time that the great Alan Faneca takes the stage.

Lots of good Pirates reading in the PG today. Perfect Sunday morning cup of coffee stuff. Maybe we'll link up and discuss those things next week.

What's the news about Eldred's hamstring? I hate to see them starting with the hamstring injuries.