Saturday, November 11, 2006

John Perrotto, if the Pirates go bold

John Perrotto writes:

If the Pirates want to be bold in a trade market, there are three hitters who could be available for the right package of pitchers, most likely closer Mike Gonzalez and left-handed starter Zach Duke. They are Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira, Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford and Cincinnati left fielder Adam Dunn.

Littlefield has always been reluctant to trade pitching, but he almost certainly would have to part with closer Gonzalez.

Teixeira, Crawford, or Dunn would make great additions. But I will believe Littlefield could manage such a trade when I see it.

The forecast for the Pirates before March 1 looks like this: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Bernie Williams

I wonder if Bernie would not be Littlefield's kind of free agent. He switch-hits and has won some gold gloves in the outfield. He's not expensive.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Requiem for a Heavyweight

Have a beer for Jack Palance.

Years ago we had a Jack Palance festival and watched three or four of his best in row. His boxing movie or made-for-TV movie is one of the best sports films ever.

All hail Jack Palance!

Ike might start

The PG's Gerry Dulac reports:

Cowher hasn't made up his mind yet but thinks Ike just might start on Sunday. Santonio will return punts. And Hines will pay Nate's $5K fine for crashing Nate's dance party. All hail the Superfast Smooth-Dancin' Big-Hearted Deep-Pocketed Super Bowl MVP!

Ben is getting creamed.

Ben has been sacked 23 times in seven games, matching his total from last season. Nine have come in the past two games, even though teams have been rushing only three or four players and dropping the rest into coverage.

Teams have stopped blitzing Roethlisberger -- his last 12 sacks have been by defensive lineman -- and are daring him to find creases in their packed zones. Still, though, the sacks come.

"They're putting us in position to see if he can read coverages and beat them with the passing game," said receiver Hines Ward, who has 28 catches for 438 yards the past four games and has benefitted from the increased number of passes. "When you're dropping that many guys, it's hard. We got eight guys against four and we're trying to get open."

This could explain the INTs. Earlier in this same link, Dulac sounds like Rowdy, with the "training wheels" analogy:
Even though the Steelers have taken off the training wheels on their passing game, the results have not been nearly as proficient as when they clamp on their quarterback to be more judicious and conservative.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lloyd McClendon, hitting coach

I wonder if he'll manage again, ever. Story here.

Porter flaps jaw, Ike to sit

Terrified of the impending disasters that are DL's offseason moves, I haven't completely given up on the Steelers. Theoretically, they could still win out and sneak into the playoffs.

The first step is a win on Sunday vs. the Saints, which is already in the bag because Joey Porter has guaranteed victory. JPeezy has taken a lot of flak this year, accused of being overrated, inconsistent, and of having dogs that eat (tiny) horses. He might come off as a simpleton sometimes, but to me, Joey sounds pretty smart here:

"We haven't lost any hunger. We had more turnovers now than we had all of last year. We were involved in every game, but you're not going to win the game when you have four, five turnovers a game."
Or six. Moving on, HSS discusses an interesting Unsubstantiated Rumor of the Year involving Cowher, a contract, and the Rooneys. Getting back to Joey, HSS also links to MJD, who explains that Joey's $15K fine was for threatening an official. Joey angrily denies even making the comment and is hoping one of his teammates will step forward and confess.

In other Steeler news, McFadden will start on Sunday while Ike is assigned to chatting Duce up on the sideline.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rowdy Claus recommends the killer Hans doll

Best present for your little Pirate fan? I suggest one or more of these 12 inch posable Cooperstown Collection "Honus Wagner" dolls. They are just like the big eleven-inch GI Joes of my early 1970s childhood--except they play ball. Do an ebay search for honus-wagner cooperstown-collection to find more.

They retailed in the mid-90s for $30. Many people bought them and stuffed them into their closet as "collector's items." For this reason, they are easy to find in a mint, unopened box. How cool is that? All hail crazed investing!

Rowdietta and Rowdy Jr. share about six of them. Cinderella and Pocahontas hang with "Hans," "George" (the Babe), "Ty" (Cobb), "Lou" (Gehrig), and their assorted "evil twins." The one and only Cy Young has been AWOL for many months; he's probably spelunking deep inside a sofa. You can see the whole set here.

Strip these guys down and they look like Gabe Kapler; they have what looks to me like the total mid-90s 'roid aesthetic. George, who comes in two versions (New York and Boston), has an extra layer of padding to make him fat. Rowdietta calls this his "onesie." They also come with baseballs, gloves, bats, and batting helmets which you can set aside if you worry about choking hazards. Again proving he's the greatest player of all time, Hans makes, easily, the most handsome of the dolls. FWIW, Lou's head is too big for his hat. Once you remove it, it never stays on again.

While I paid an average of about $10 for the dozen or so dolls I have collected to give to various children, I would go farther and recommend the mint ones at $25-$30 a pop. (I don't know any of those people now selling them on ebay, either, in case you wonder about that.) They are that cool to have lying around with your four-year-old's Cinderella and Barbie dolls. Hans looks good in the Barbie convertible. You should not have to pay that much, however, unless this post starts some kind of pre-holiday run on them. As you can tell by doing a "completed auctions" search, they often go unsold at any price. They rock. Get some. They make great Christmas presents for your young people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pirates showcase players in Japan interviewed Indy's pentalingual hitting coach Bam Bam Meulens, who comments upon visiting Japan this summer:

"Dave (Littlefield) and his staff gave us a list of guys to watch," Meulens says. "We also took a list of players -- in our organization -- who will be available to play in Japan next year. There were a couple of our guys who we were trying to showcase and a couple of their guys who we went to look at."

The group identified many promising players during the trip, but the astronomical resources needed to acquire Japanese players can prohibit a trade.

I'd guess that DL had Meulens scouting players like the Nippon Ham Fighter's Shigeyuki Furuki, who can play all IF positions, and could conceivably be converted to a middle reliever.

Seriously, DL sends scouts to Japan to try to showcase his own players? Is this standard practice for MLB international scouts - to showcase their own players rather than focusing on trying to sign talent to improve their team?

Logos and uniforms

Pat at WHYGAVS nicely details the history of Pirates' logos and uniforms. In the comments over there, Azibuck points out the roid-enraged appearance the players take on by 1997. This occurs abruptly in 1995, as the players simultaneously sprout evil menacing faces, just in time for the black-hearted Nuttings' sinking of the team in 1996. Curiously, the home player also suddenly holds out one of his hands. Just behind him, the road player angrily grips his bat. Together they're clearly demanding money for the Nuttings, as in "Give me your freakin' wallet, sucker."

Monday, November 06, 2006

How does this end

Second-half predictions for the Steelers? I figure they are a .500 team who has squandered several wins. It's likely they will squander as many as they quietly steal in the second half, so I foresee, without looking at the schedule, a 4-4 record, meaning they finish at 6-10. That's my prediction. What's yours?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

NFL Week 9: Broncos at Steelers

Game on at 4:15. If this turns sour, I recommend you click over to and surf the Highlight Machine, which rocks very much. Use the video links on the daily scoreboard to get into it.