Friday, September 15, 2006

Game 148: Mets at Pirates

Pedro and Maholm at seven.

NFL films gets all you out-of-town fans

Bob Balz Jr. reports that NFL Films is shooting a half-hour show on Steeler Nation. Seattle fans will no doubt be upset and suspect foul play when they learn that this NFL Films senior producer is a Steelers fan.

[NFL Films senior producer] Cossrow says people often remark about how well Steelers fans travel to away games, but "the truth is most of us are already there. We live around the country. And that's the hook."

We've ranted on this before; good to see that NFL films gets it too.

at Jacksonville, the pick

The early selections here suggest the ESPN suits will not be afraid to pick J'ville straight up. I'll be shocked if Hoge or Jaws pick Jacksonville, though. Peter King also picks Jacksonville straight up. The line opened on an encouraging note for Jacksonville backers, but since then it moved three or four points in Pittsburgh's direction. The line movement suggests the public will be sticking with the big winner. No doubt they overreact a bit to the news that Ben will start, and many probably know Cowher's record on Monday Night Football.

All that said, the information at Wagerline (don't know why we trust it, but there's not much better available) suggests the Steelers are long way from the top of the public's list. People doubt the Steelers.

There's no reason to doubt the Steelers against anyone in the league until they lose.

Game plan and matchup

The USA Today Team Report ends with this analysis of the Monday night game.

GAME PLAN: The Steelers may pass more often than they normally do because of the Jaguars' stout defensive tackles. When they do run, Willie Parker's apt to bounce it outside. Cowher said he does not want Parker to get 30 carries a game — he had 29 in the opener — so they may use Najeh Davenport some against the Jaguars. On defense, they will try to get to Byron Leftwich so he cannot set up and throw deep to his receivers. Fred Young has had some good games running against them.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Steelers All-Pro G Alan Faneca and Pro Bowl C Jeff Hartings vs. Jaguars' stout DTs John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. The best vs. the best. Steelers love to run behind Faneca and Hartings. Henderson and Stroud are good at stopping the run. There's nothing fancy here, power vs. power.

—Jaguars WR Matt Jones and Reggie Williams vs. Steelers CBs Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend. Jones stands 6-6 and Williams goes 6-4. Taylor is 6-1 and Townsend 5-10.

Add your predictions and analysis in the comments.

Parker at Jacksonville

Pro Football Weekly predicts Parker won't get 29 carries against Jacksonville's tough defense. Maybe he should not get that many carries, but I would like to see him get a lot of work.

They also predict big things for Fred Taylor. There are many football players like Fred Taylor, guys who are outstanding when healthy but not always healthy.

James Harrison in the backfield

Ed Bouchette's daily question is a good one.

the Slowest Black Quarterback

Colin Dunlap reports for the PG on Byron Leftwich. Leftwich likes to get hit and he likes to play hurt. He's been that way since his MAC days. He reminds me of Steve McNair. I think he'll play in the league a long time and win many playoff games.

Troy will play

Colin Dunlap reports for the PG that Troy's bone bruise, shoulder contusion and something with his bursa sac won't keep him out. "God forbid, if I were paralyzed, died or called to do something else," Polamalu said. "That would be the only way I'd miss this game."

Most Controversial Steeler QBs

In case you missed it, Mondesi's House nominates the 10 "Most Controversial Steeler QBs". Despite the psychological duress I suffered from Neil and SBXXX, I'd vote for Mark Malone and his 81 career INTs. I have the worst cumulative memories of Malone from that list. I remember as a kid looking up "effigy" in the dictionary after a heart-breaking Steelers loss. I remember the image of the QB dummy being dangled from a stick. Definitely not Bradshaw, who was hung in effigy from the rafters. I want to say it was Malone. Anyone else remember Mark Malone hung in effigy during a game at Three Rivers?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dirty Shit Towel

The shit jokes write themselves once you get rolling. Imagine what Joe Porter would do with one of these should a fan toss one on the field.

The Dump Truck

Say goodbye to "the Bus" and hello to "the Dump Truck". Duce is handling the Dump Truck's addition well, Ed Bouchette reports.

Jack Sprat

Dejan reports that Jack blames the added 20 pounds for his poor glovework this year:

"Last year was all about beefing up, but this one will be all about leaning out," the Pirates' shortstop said. "I'm going back to being skinny."
The added bulk hasn't seemed to help him at the plate much either. Jack's OPS the past two years (.695 this year, .662 in 2005) are both well below his career 2004 year (.794 OPS).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Games 146+147: Brewers at Pirates

12:35 PM EDT: Capuano vs. Mad-as-Snell. Snell apologized to Colborn for his silly remarks. "I said the dumbest things possible. It was a stupid thing to do," said Snell.

4:05 PM EDT: Sheets vs. Chacon.

Memo to Kevin

Commenting on yesterday's DK notebook on the Bucs in Latin America, Wilbur has another excellent post up at objecting to the McNutting's greedy jackassery:

It's pathetic that McClatchy has nothing to offer Pirate fans beyond fantasies of baseball and its associated player markets being restructured solely for the convenience (and profits) of himself and Ogden Nutting. They never have been, never will be, and should not be. If McClatchy and Nutting don't believe they can compete in fair, open markets, they should stop whining and get out of the sport.

And give up pocketing the revenue sharing? Who'd do that?

Ben back, Troy hurt, Najeh innocent

Ed Bouchette busily reporting for the PG:

Omar Jacobs has been released. Turns out St. Pierre was contacted before Ben's injury. Same link says Najeh will play Monday night and Cowher has no sympathy for Saban and his rag arm.

Polamalu's shoulder was injured on Thursday, he's questionable for Monday. Get well, Troy

Big Ben could start Monday night in Jacksonville if he practices well the next few days.

Yesterday, EB profiled Najeh and asked him about the closet defecation incident. Najeh "maintained his innocence and said he wished he would have gone to court to prove it." I'll give Najeh the benefit of the doubt: it wasn't him.

All hail Lou Crandall!

Going 13-3 ATS is impressive. All hail Lou for his Week 1 NFL pick 'em pool victory. Rowdy and I both begin with a respectable but lackluster 9-7. Still plenty of time to get in the pool.

No more KDKA

Strictly business: KDKA out, Clear Channel in, Smizik reports. "...the Pirates announced that all five of their broadcasters, whose contracts expire at the end of this season, will be back next year." I wonder what a ballgame announced entirely by Bob Walk would sound like. Other than Walkie, I've found the KDKA broadcasts insufferable this year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

minimal speed, limited power and questionable pitch selection

According to the New York Times, Rocky Bleier Jr. plays third base for the Pirates.

Sanchez was 13 months old, with a pin in his right foot and a cast covering most of his right leg. But when the wagon came to a halt, he stood up, stepped over the side and walked out on his own.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Michelle Sanchez, Freddy’s mother. “From that moment, he has never stopped being a miracle.”

Lee Jenkins also reports that

Tracy is treating the batting title as if it were a playoff spot. He reviews Sanchez’s statistics — better against lefties than righties; better in the day than at night — to make sure he is using him in the most advantageous situations.

So if Freddy does not win the title, we can blame Tracy. This is a good development in the whole batting title race thing. The stakes are raised. I am finally prepared to jump into the fray and pay attention.

Seriously, I would not monkey with small-sample splits. The day/night stuff is probably noise and the batter vs. pitcher data, unless it fits the general overall scheme, is probably noise too. I'd start Freddy five times a week against the type of pitcher he looks more comfortable against. He's a right-handed lefty masher, so it makes sense to keep him away from the kind of right-hander that's tough on him.

This is the same thing I'd be doing with everyone on the roster, every week of the season.

If Freddy's going to win the battle title, he's not going to win it because the manager games an extra percentage point or two studying Strat-o-matic cards.

And more to the point, I question Tracy's decision to not remain neutral. He should do what he's been doing all along. By conspicuously managing Freddy with the batting average title as high priority, we can now all blame him if Freddy slumps the rest of the month.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Game 145: Brewers at Pirates

Doug Davis and Zach Duke tonight at seven. The Brewers are thirteen games under .500 and nearly ten back in the wild-card race. Their season is about as over as our season.

Pirates to dump KDKA tomorrow

The Pgh Biz Times passes on this rumor. KDKA or Clear Channel, the announcement is set for tomorrow.

Willie Parker something like Tiki Barber?

Ed Bouchette suggests the backfield depth, with Staley looking useless, is not what it should be in his daily answer for 9/10.

I still have my card for the Verron Haynes fan club. Not sure he would stay healthy if forced into a starting role, but I would not be afraid to see what happens should he ever be thrust into the spotlight.

Watching the Colts-Giants last night, I thought that Tiki Barber, who is listed as 5' 10" 205 pounds, reminds me of this Willie Parker guy. They are about the same size and shape, and they look more like each other than like a lot of other NFL backs. In the last nine seasons, Barber has missed two games.

So we already got Parker, who reminds me of one of the more durable and productive players today, and there should be at least a few more years on his tires. It's too early to suggest one might some day be as good as the other, but it's not too early to say there's no reason to think that Parker is sure to be injured soon, is sure to need time off, or is sure to wear down over the season.

And teams with outstanding run-blocking personnel can also make stars out of scrubby guys.

So no worries about the backfield depth. I see no reason to fret about Parker's health or workload, and I see no reason to worry that any semi-competent backup would fail running behind our line and tight ends and fullbacks and wideouts.

Plays with a thought process

Paul Meyer reporting.

"He's been a prototypical leadoff hitter for this club," Tracy said. "[Duffy has] played with energy, conviction, commitment and a thought process."

FWIW, this post was composed without a thought process.

First of something

Paul Meyer quotes Tracy:

Before the game, Tracy conceded he was eager to see Youman pitch.

"You're always anxious to see a young guy make his first appearance and wet his feet at the major-league level," Tracy said. "There have been a lot of very special players come along in this game who had to make their first of something -- whether it was their first at-bat, their first start, their first relief appearance -- and it goes on from there."

I should just let it go, but I'm still trying to decipher this. The non-very-special players have not had to make their first of something? After the first at-bat, start, etc. come the subsequent ones? Maybe he's just saying that everyone has to start somewhere. Unless you're an established idiot, in which case you can just continue to spew meaningless horseshit.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Game 144: Pirates at Reds

Shane Youman makes his major league debut vs. Bronson Arroyo starting now.

LL Insane

Ian Snell is mad as hell. This time, Colborn has been getting on his nerves:

After his start Friday night, Snell took exception to pitching coach Jim Colborn's visit to the mound in the sixth inning... "I know it's his job to come out and try to calm me down," Snell said Friday night. "But it gets on my nerves. It's really bothering me."
I get the feeling that it gets on Ian's nerves when a bartender serves him a drink and when the mailman brings him his mail. Not that I'm convinced Colborn has been particularly good at it, but Jim's just doing his job. If Ian takes issue with how Jim does it, he should bring it up with him in private, not publicly mouth off nonsense to the media.

Get in the pool

Still plenty of time to get into the free HW NFL pick 'em pool.