Saturday, October 21, 2006

Najeh Davenport, free spirit

A few days ago, I came across this picture of Najeh Getting his Freak On with a high school girls dance team during a charity basketball game.

Today, Gerry Dulac profiles happy Najeh.

"Green Bay, you really had to treat it like a job, like a job-job, like working at Taco Bell, not like a career job. Here, I don't see that. I don't get that feeling. You're here to play football and you're doing something that you love...

In Green Bay, you get fined for every little thing. That feeling they install in you, you don't get the ability, the freedom, to cut loose."

When I look at Najeh now, I don't see a troubled soul. I see a young man in love with life - a free spirit who can't be restrained by such mundane conventions as dress codes, weight limits, power-back-labels, and flush toilets. Just give him the ball.

All hail Azibuck, BIGFISH, and Puzzleman!

For the Week 6 three-way 8-5 tie in the HW NFL pick 'em pool. Like Rod Scurry in '83, I tanked with a 4-9. Rowdy turned things around with a 7-6.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Human Highlight Reel

Gerry Dulac reports some great news on the offensive line. When can we order our Chris Kemoeatu jerseys?

"Strong '06 finish has Littlefield thinking"

Reads a headline at the official Pirates page, referring to Ed Eagle's interview with DL. Bucs Dugout has already poked fun at DL's nihilistic answers. Other than a lefty slugger and a veteran RHP starter, DL is thinking about, of course, his pathological obsessions: a mop-up man, a righty reliever and a utility infielder. Look out, 2007 Cardinals - our bullpen and utility IFs will slay you.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

NLCS Game 7: Cardinals vs. ex-Pirate

This might be a good one. What's the over/under on first-inning baserunners?

I'll take the under if it's three.

Dave Wannstedt a Steeler? speculates that a no-playoffs season for your 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers would result in a new coach. The candidates, they guess, would be Grimm, Whisenhunt, Wannstedt, and the obligatory "Rooney Rule" minority candidate. FWIW.

Ollie to start tonight

It's hard not to root for Oliver Perez as he starts Game 7 of the NLCS for the Mets tonight. Wow, and good luck with that.

Cut blocks

On Sunday the Steelers D will not only have to chase Ron Mexico around, but will have to do so while avoiding those dirty dangerous cut blocks. The NYT has a recent story on the Falcons and their unusual run-blocking plan. Whatever consultant Alex Gibbs has been teaching the OL, it's been working, as the Falcons lead the NFL with an obscene average team rushing of 232 yds/game. Starting G Matt Lehr was just suspended for steroids, so Tyson Clabo will make his NFL debut. This after Vick was sacked 7 times last week, so expect our fearless Samoan warrior to chop some heads.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 7 underdogs

I'm in a SU pool that requires 3+ underdogs each week. So I hunt them down. Today I like Carolina. Cincinnati should not be favored in that one. That team looked terrible--I mean bad--on Sunday, and I don't see how they turn that around in time for Carolina.

But what do I know? I'm hitting a buck-fifty or something.

Any other dogs to recommend?

No slots for the Nutting family

Bill Toland reports for the Post-Gazette. Here's another story link, from a ski site, with pictures.

The quick summary is the Nuttings could not waltz around the various laws conspiring to prohibit a MLB team owner from owning a casino in Pennsylvania. So the Nuttings just made a potentially bad financial gamble. So now they depend, perhaps, more heavily on the profits taken from the operation of the baseball club.

Season recap: marketing

The on-field product was never a priority for the 2006 Bucs. So why should reviewing the players' mostly sorry performances be our priority, especially in another 95 loss year in which Ryan Vogelsong led the team in OPS? Instead the recaps begin with the most important facet of Pirates baseball: the marketing department.

The unveiling of the utterly meaningless "We will" was met with immediate mockery. "We will ... what?," we all asked. We will ... lose 95 games again? embarass ourselves and our fan base again? get lucky in the second half? make money hand over fist? pocket the revenue sharing? inexplicably extend DL's contract? I never would have guessed the answers were "persevere", "entertain", and "have fun", so this goes down as a big whiff for marketing in my book.

Moving on, we have the musician commercials. We were promised a KISS commercial. I never heard or saw one, so I'm provisionally marking this down as a lie. We will NOT lick it up. Despite this whiff, Rowdy and I both thought the John Lee Hooker ad kicked ass.

Moving on (and quickly, before I vomit again), the All-Star Game ballot box stuffing and poetry reading of Brownie were positively nauseating. Some didn't like the punk band.

Most importantly, I blame the marketing department for my personal low point of the season. This came when listening to the KDKA broadcast of a second half game at work with my headphones on. Lanny was plugging Pup Night to outrageous lengths. "For 20 dollars, you and your dog can watch the Pirates battle the Cubs!" In this context, he began summarizing all of the players' dogs and at one point delivered this haymaker to my eardrums: "Jeromy Burnitz has a Maltese named Fluffy. Jose Hernandez has a bulldog named Brad Pitt." Blood immediately began pouring out of all five of my cranial orifices, as I tore off my headphones, rent my garments, clutched my head, and reeled from the sickening pain.

Marketing department grade = F.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Samoan warriors

They will destroy you.

Little ball of muscle

EB reports on the emergence of the running game. With 5 TDs through 5 games, Willie's on track to surpass Franco's 1976 Steelers' single season rushing TD record of 14. Meanwhile, Najeh has solidified the #2 role.

Suddenly, the worries about the Steelers' running game without Bettis and with an ineffective Staley walking the sideline in sweats every game do not seem as acute today.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

NLCS Game 4: Ex-Pirate at Cardinals

Oliver Perez vs. Anthony Reyes at 8:15 PM EDT. Ollie bumaye!

NFL Week 6: Chiefs at Steelers

Game on at 4:15pm. As Bradshaw just said on the TV, the Steelers will turn this around. I'm not sure it happens today. But it will happen.

... UPDATE ... it will happen today.

Pirate-ization of the Reds

John Fay reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Reds plan to re-build their team around high batting average and good defense.

So their best player, Adam Dunn, will be the first to go.

Stick with the man

Ed Bouchette argues that the idea of benching Ben for Batch is crazy talk:

This is the franchise quarterback the Steelers have been awaiting for a generation. He got off to the best two-year start of any quarterback in history, both in his own success and his team's. If you go by passer ratings, his first two seasons are the top two in Steelers history. You don't throw that away because of a three-game losing streak in which Roethlisberger did not play well.

... [Rowdy] Bouchette is right on the main point, but this argument from stats is bogus. Ben had a killer passer rating his first two seasons not because he was Dan Marino or John Elway, but because the Steelers installed a very conservative offense for him to manage. In his first season, he was only looking at one half of the field on all the passing plays. The entire team and coaching staff conspired to protect him and pad up those stats. He did not win those games so much as he managed not to lose them.

So to argue that Ben deserves to start because of the stats he accumulated on those teams with those offensive strategies is not unlike arguing that a six-year-old should start in the Tour de France because he was the greatest biker ever on training wheels.

Ben is and has looked like a third-year quarterback. He has struggled more this year than the previous two because his supporting cast has not played as well as they did when they regarded him a child who needed every advantage they could squeeze from the playbook.

When the Steelers go back to seeing Ben for what he is, then perhaps they can go back to having the success they had with him.

Charlie Batch is no long-term option. Like Tommy Maddox or Mike Tomczak, Batch is the kind of player who can put in a fantastic emergency start here or there. Unlike Ben, he is not a player capable of growing into a Dan Marino or a John Elway.