Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sunday night

Come early, bring food, and get frisked!

Ben is still on the bike, so Batch will start again. In other news, Farrior will rest his MCL for another week. Clint "Buddy Lee" Kriewaldt will play the buck in his place. Duce will likely play instead of questionable Bettis and Parker. Porter is probable. Tuman is questionable. If I were a gambling man, I wouldn't bet much against that 8 point spread, but look for the Stillers to enforce their will and win handily.

...Rowdy: Steelers cut Willie Williams to have a second tight end today. This is great news. Williams is a class act, but lately when I've seen him on the roster I've wondered how much longer it would be before the Steelers would have a young secondary good enough to not include him. Now we have Deshea Townsend, Ike Taylor, Ricardo Colclough, and Bryant McFadden all playing well.

...they should broadcast the Steelers in Navajo. I would buy that for my iPod.

...speaking of iPods, time for the Pirates to set up an mp3 podcast of Pirates' games. If they will stream it over the internet, they will surely put it on their iPod. I know that if I had the 2005 season, in mp3 format, I might be listening to a game right now instead of listening to this Miles Davis "All of You."

If I could automatically download an mp3 of a game while syncing my iPod in the morning, I would listen to last night's baseball at work on days without day baseball. The league and owners should think about that.

I could easily wake up and avoid the final score long enough to listen to the start of a west-coast night game. With a huge mug of coffee. I would so do that.

I'll put that on my to-do list for the offseason, right below 1. Arrange for sale of Pirates to Mark Cuban.

2. Arrange for podcasting of all Pirates games.

How to Make Red Beans

This is on the stove today to enjoy tonight and tomorrow night. This is the official Honest Wagner Steelers Beat Browns Reds Beans and Rice recipe.

A friend of mine taught this to me. He was from New Orleans, a Katrina evacuee who lived with us for a few weeks in September. I have made it six or seven times already, and I can't stop making it. It is the perfect football-weather fall dish.

What you need: some oil (olive or canola), an onion, fresh garlic, a package or two of andouille sausage (say it with me: ahn-DEWEY), a hunk or slice of ham, a tablespoon or two of cajun seasoning, a teaspoon or two of cayenne pepper, and two pounds of dried red kidney beans. (Canned beans will not work so well.) I use either two packs of chicken andouille sausage (four fat hot-dog length sausages per pack) or one pack and a big slice of ham.

How to make it: rinse the beans, get out any rocks you might find in there. Soak them for a bunch of hours -- maybe three or four or more -- until they swell up and split a bit.

Do your prep work first. Dice the onion, peel three or four toes of garlic, slice the sausage, dice the ham.

In an eight-quart stock pot (something that is more tall than wide), heat a small puddle of oil on high heat. Add the onion. Stand there and stir it while it browns. Keep the heat on high -- that's why you did your prep ahead of time. When the onion is browning up, press the garlic in there. Stir. When that's getting good, add the sliced and diced meat. Then add the seasoning: about one tablespoon cajun seasoning and one teaspoon cayenne pepper.

When all that stuff is good and browned, which should be pretty quick since you are working on high heat, add the beans (which you drained with a colander). Then cover everything with enough water to submerge everything by an inch or so.

Keep the heat on high or medium high. Boil that baby for hours, stir every now and again, and watch the beans cream up.

Make some rice, ladle the red beans on the rice, and cover with your favorite hot sauce. I like Busha Browne's Pukka Hot Pepper Sauce. Melinda's, Tobasco, Crystal, or whatever you like will work just great as well.

This will make enough red beans to serve maybe eight people. It reheats real well. Well you are done eating out of the pot, cover it and put it in the fridge. Then when you want it again, get it out, add water, and get it boilin' hot again.

The first day, it is a great stand-alone meal. You can eat a lot of it. The next day, it is better. And you cook something else as a main dish, and eat a lot of red beans as a side.

If you want more the next day, fried chicken will do you right. Chicken parts or chunks of breast (to make nuggets), breaded with flour, eggs & milk, and Dixie Fry, you fry them in three or four quarts of canola oil in maybe another tall stock pot if you have one.

For vegetables, anything green and cooked with salt and pepper will work good. Bake some plantains if you know how to do that.

Bones' counterpoint on Cuban rumors

Yesterday, Rowdy served up his take on the Cuban rumors. While I agree with his beginning and ending, I'm not feeling his middle part. (Start dream sequence) If I got to edit Rowdy's posts, my version would look like this:

I think McClatchy et al have done a piss-poor job with the team. For sure, they have made mistakes, and mistakes so egregious and extending over a multi-year period are unacceptable by any reasonable standards.

I'd also add that I don't know Nutting - in pictures he looks to me like Mr. Burns - and I wouldn't recognize him if I sat next to him in a bar. Likewise with Littlefield, who to me resembles a weasel (no offense Dave). I have no ties to any of these guys, and I doubt I ever will.

My advice to fans rooting for an ownership change has two parts. First, don't ever abandon your dreams and succumb to complacency and learned helplessness. Second, give the man the business. I bet public pressure could promote the sale of the team. If anything, I suspect it would only encourage the sale because it would, pretty obviously I think, increase the motivation of potential sellers. And this would increase the chance the ownership group will get the price they want for the team. It's possible, though unlikely, that public outrage will force them to sell low -- the owners are not elected officials but proven losers, cowards, and misers.

I'm sure we'll continue to hear and read about imminent sale rumors for some time. I'll be reading them on the edge of my seat. I'll believe it when I see it, and I'll speculate about what to expect from the ownership change when (and if) an ownership change ever takes place. Please, Mark, buy our team. (/dream sequence)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Steve Courson

Rest in peace.

Get me Bobby Abreu

Jim Salisbury reports for the Inky that the Phils will unload some one of Abreu, Burrell, or Thome:

It's clearly not out of the question that the Phils could keep Thome. Gillick said he is not shopping any of his players, and one rival GM said: "They sound like they might keep him." There is a school of thought that says the Phils could deal Abreu or Pat Burrell, and buy time on the Thome-Howard situation by using Howard in the outfield next year.

You can keep your Bad Back Thome. We need a sure thing if we can get it.

The Pirates are talking about raising their payroll to $50M. Abreu has only two years left on his contract. If he were on the market today, he'd sign a multi-year deal, four or five years I think, despite his age. This is what the Pirates need: a hitter like Abreu (there are not many of them) for what it takes, money-wise, for only a year or two.

I'd trade almost everything to get Abreu on an affordable two-year deal.

Mark Cuban on Piracy

Yeah, he's thinking about Pirates.

If I understand his proposal there, he owes me a penny for linking to his blog.

AFL over

Some of the results, from Paul Meyer's article:

The Arizona Fall League finished its regular season yesterday. First baseman Brad Eldred entered the final day with a .277 batting average, five home runs, 25 RBIs (fifth in the league) and 22 strikeouts in 94 at-bats. Catcher Neil Walker had a .265 average, two home runs and five RBIs in 49 at-bats. He also had six passed balls in his 17 games.
If only Eldred could hit .270 in the big leagues, he'd draw enough intentional and intentionally unintentional walks to post a .380 on-base percentage. And he'd be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sports Illustrated

This week they atone for the wretched "National Geographic" cover of 2004 with this great picture for your drinking room.

Some week 10 picks

Buffalo, New England, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis, Pittsburgh. 3-3 last week, and well below .500 on the year.

alien1011 still leads. All hail.

Cuban rumors

These rumors will probably not go away any time soon.

I have no doubt that the Pirates are for sale -- at the right price. And I have no doubt Mark Cuban, like any other man with the resources to consider such a purchase, has his own price that he wants to pay. If the team has been valued by neutral outsiders at, say, x millions of dollars, I'm sure the team could be had for 2x or 1.5x million dollars. Likewise, I'm sure potential buyers want to bid and pay .5x or .75x millions of dollars.

Kevin McClatchy et al can do what they please with the team. They own it. Despite the stadium-taxpayer swindles and what not, the team is not a public utility that exists to pipe pleasure into area homes. Fan outrage cannot bring some kind of healing political pressure to this situation. It's wasted enthusiasm, I think. With all due respect, those energies would be more profitably invested in reforming the public school system or some other civic project.

So long as they do not sell the team Robert Irsay-style, which appears unlikely, I don't see how new ownership will do much to get more wins from the current roster. Maybe a new owner, say Cuban, will invest millions of dollars into payroll and bring in a new cast of characters that wins more games than St. Louis. Or maybe not. There's no point rooting for an ownership change, in my view, because no promises or guarantees come with new ownership.

I think McClatchy et al have done OK with the team. For sure, they have made mistakes, but mistakes are par for the course.

I'd also add that I don't know McClatchy - in pictures he looks to me not like an individual, but like a type - and I wouldn't recognize him if I sat next to him in a bar. Likewise with Littlefield. I have no ties to any of these guys, and I doubt I ever will.

My advice to fans rooting for an ownership change has two parts. First, give the man some space. I doubt public pressure can do anything to promote the sale of the team. If anything, I suspect it would only discourage the sale because it would, pretty obviously I think, increase the leverage of potential buyers. And this would decrease the chance the ownership group will get the price they want for the team. There's no way public outrage will force them to sell low -- the owners are not elected officials but private businessmen.

Second, don't think that an ownership change is a magic bullet that will solve all the Pirates' problems. An ownership change would certainly disrupt business as usual, and that may or may not be a good thing.

The Pirates head into 2006 with a roster that's loaded with youth and value. They sure could use a hitter like Brian Giles or Manny Ramirez, there's no doubt of that. But I'm not sure that simply raising the payroll from $50m to say $70m guarantees that new ownership would spend the extra money wisely. Plenty of teams with $70m payrolls have significant chunks of this money sunk into bad, Darren Dreifort-type contracts.

So be careful what you wish for. I'm sure we'll continue to hear and read about imminent sale rumors for some time. I'll be ignoring them. I'll believe it when I see it, and I'll speculate about what to expect from the ownership change when (and if) an ownership change ever takes place.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ali Boom ba yay

Ali, Boom ba yay

Everybody loves Kevin Mench

Lots of press attention to that big-headed Blue Hen, Kevin Mench.

The free agent market looks like a player's market. I can't see (and hope not to see) the Bucs overpaying or over-committing (i mean, in terms of years) to some of those guys. We need one or two years of someone. The guys that fit that need look likely to get many more. And, in all likelihood, many more dollars than they are worth the Pirates.

To sum up my opinion of the situation: of the various names bandied about, I like Blalock and Wily Mo the most. But I also expect Littlefield to get creative and go after plenty of names that are not being bandied about.

The Bucs need a new second-best hitter.

Could Kevin Mench be that guy? I kinda doubt it, but Mench in 2006 is probably a better gamble than Jermaine Dye going into 2005.

ESPN stats

So what's up with ESPN's stats? I noticed they no longer permit access to splits for seasons before 2005. If they think we'll pay for them ...

Around $50 mil

Ed Eagle reports the team salary will go up to that neighborhood.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Young veteran

John Perrotto reports on the players David Littlefield might be considering:

Among the possibilities are Cincinnati outfielder Wily Mo Pena, Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay, Tampa Bay first baseman/third baseman/outfielder Aubrey Huff and third baseman Hank Blalock and outfielder Kevin Mench of Texas.

Blalock looks like a good fit. He may outgrow the need for a platoon partner.

It's hard not to like the 23-year-old Pena, who plays some centerfield. But he's not exactly cleanup material at this point. With his low OBP, he's something in the Brad Eldred to Preston Wilson range. With the CF abilities, however, Pena deserves a long long look. If he can't help us much in '06, maybe he's worth a year for '07.

Lyle Overbay has been, I think, pretty consistent. Maybe the stats don't support that view, but until I see otherwise I'll regard him that way. With Bay and Overbay as two steady eddies, Tracy could then play whatever players are hot that week.

Aubrey Huff regressed heavily in 2005. Is that the kind of player we want to depend upon for 2006?

Kevin Mench looks like Craig Wilson to me. I'm not sure we need him, or more of players like these guys. As much as I love Craiggers in Jim Thome mode, I don't want to start another season with him hitting cleanup. We can't survive such slumps from such central players.

All those guys are good players, however, and if we can palm off the right goods to get any of them, then I say do it.

I'm not sure what to make about different styles of righties needed in the bullpen. Right now, complaints about the bullpen don't have much purchase with me. It's a bit looking at a damaged car and talking about repairing the racing stripe, which got dinged here and there.

The Pirates need at least one damn good hitter. Two damn good hitters would be even better. We can worry about the bullpen once we solve the scoring runs problem.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


No one stops Duce Staley running behind Dan Kreider, Hines Ward, and Max Starks.

A safety like that

Photo of Troy Polamalu.

Duce returns

Duce is ready to play today. All hail Duce! This should help take pressure off Batch. Look for the Steelers to dominate and cover easily.

In other news, Hines needs four catches to pass John Stallworth's all-time record of 537 career receptions as a Steeler. Hmmm ... I could picture Hines making a catch like this. All hail John Stallworth, the Greatest Steeler WR ever!

... R: I agree with Bones. Steelers pitch a shutout today in Wisconsin, score 14 points on defense, and grind out one rushing TD for a 21-0 game.