Friday, August 28, 2009

The Pirates Sinking Ship

With another August almost under the Pirates belt and 37 games remaining the Pirates stand at 53-72, 19 games under .500. At this point the Buccos would have to pull off an amazing 28-9 record to break even and avoid being the owners of the worst consecutive losing seasons in professional sports. Unlikely. Okay … very unlikely. Alright … fucking impossible. Let’s face it, these guys are and have been downright awful. They should get an ESPY just for an unprecedented level of crappiness. It would probably look something like this.

But lets face it the moves made this year were pretty good. I mean who did we get rid of? Nate McLouth, our best player, is out on the DL right now. His replacement McCutchen is better with worlds of potential to skyrocket into greatness within a year or two. Freddy Sanchez is solid. He was a clutch hitter. But Delwyn Young has given us no reason to think that he can’t hit or field just as well. I tend to believe he has a little more power too.

Adam Laroche? Laugher. You could replace him with one of those kids from LLWS and not lose any Major League production at the plate. Anybody we put there can’t be any worse.

Jack Wilson? Please. The guy, as loveable as he was, is a mediocre shortstop at best. Jack Wilson is like that mole on Cindy Crawford’s face. You can call them charming and a trademark all you want but the end result of removing it just makes the product even better.

Nyjer Morgan? Now that one is a toss up. But I think the experts were right when they say his replacement, Lastings Milledge, if harnessed and attitude adjusted, can be a really solid and possibly all-star quality player. You can already see the change in him just from playing with Andrew McCutchen. I think he looks up to McCutchen and drives to be as good. These two can be one of the most dynamic duos in the outfield that Pittsburgh has seen in a long time. And depending on where Garret Jones ends up people may start talking Bucco baseball if for nothing else but the best outfield in the league.

Now if we could just get some consistency from the bullpen …

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

5 Reasons Steel Town Gets a 7th

I could give you six reasons

One preseason week down and we are three weeks away from opening up the 2009 NFL season in a Thursday night match up with the Tennessee Titans. We've had no shortage of story lines during the off-season. First Jay Cutler cried like a 40 year old bitch named Brett Favre about not getting his ass kissed by media, fans, and team leadership alike and forced a trade from the Broncos to the Chicago Bears. Speaking of the 40 year old child, Brett Favre retired and came back and joined the Vikings and then didn't join the Vikings and then signed with the Vikings. One of the biggest stories was the Ron Mexico fiasco as Michael Vick exited prison and joined the Philthadelphia Iggles. Just goes to show you that Philly will do anything they can to drive Donovan McNabb from their city. Shame. He's one of those rare, decent athletes that could actually put up with them. Wait a second ... maybe that's not a shame.

The biggest storyline in in Pittsburgh has been the Ben Roethlisberger alleged affair. As the facts surface it's looking like a bigger load of crap than the Pirates upcoming 17th consecutive losing season. It just goes to show you: If you mess with with Steeler Country bad things will come your way. So since that storyline is done like Plaxico's career I decided to take a different approach and give you my 5 reasons the Steelers repeat this year.

1. Big Ben

Ben Roethlisberger is, as Mark Madden puts it, the biggest money quarterback in the league today. Just look at the guy's stats just 5 years into his impressive career. He's been in the AFC title game 3 times with a record of 2-1. He's 59-22 in regular season and playoff games combined. He holds a 89.1 career passer rating. He has 15 come from behind wins in the fourth quarter and the guy wears 2 Super Bowl rings to boot. What more can you ask for?

2. The Renegade Defense

The number one defense in the league returns 9 of 11 starters from last year. They actually upgraded on one of those losses. Yeah. Upgraded. Lawrence Timmons steps in to Larry Foote's shoes as the middle Linebacker and his speed has been compared to Troy Polamalu's. How is a guy that big that fast?!? Who cares!?! Just sit back and enjoy! Of course he won't have the same instincts to start that Larry Foote had. But when the great Dick Lebeau is your defensive coordinator something tells you're going to be groomed into a smart defensive player. Finally the Steelers have a completely healthy outside linebacker corps (don't worry I'm knocking on wood right now so as not to jinx it) who combined for 27.5 sacks a year ago. This year they face teams who, aside from three of them, we're weak when it came to giving up sacks.

3. Young Blood

As key aspects of the team have supposedly gotten older the front office has yet again proved it's genius and performed miracles in drafting and signing key players to fill in the holes for the future. Such youth include a run stopper up the middle in Ziggy Hood who is faster and leaner than the amazing Casey Hampton. Time will only tell if he can fill in Hampton's pants ... er ... shoes but all signs point to yes. The return of Rashaard Mendenhall is great news as Willie Parker has been injury prone as of late. While he may not replace Parker right away he stands to become a great change of pace/power back right now. If he pans out to be the runner that he was during his impressive college career the Steelers can put their mind at ease on a much improved running game this season. Especially with the pickup of Frank the Tank and Isaac Redman. The running game of the Steelers may be at the best it's been in years ... nay decades! And that isn't even the topper! The Steelers now have two Super Bowl MVP wide receivers. Holmes is only entering his fourth year. In the wings we have two more ultra talented receivers. One being Limas Sweed who has shown incredible potential and has a burning desire to make up for some key dropped passes last season. Never underestimate a young player like that who has tutelage from Hines Ward. The second receiver being veteran Shaun McDonald who, while not being too young, is still only 28 and in his 7th season and new to a team with a great QB, seeing that he has come from the lowly Detroit Lions.

4. The Rest of the League

I don't get why everyone is hyping up the Patriots this season? Is it the return of Tom Brady? The guy who hasn't thrown above 30 TD passes, aside from one great season in which he broke the record. Is it the fact that they lost their Offensive coordinator and key elements of their defense? Or maybe it's because they think Brady will have the return season that Carson Palmer didn't following his horrific knee injury. I think they're being overestimated a bit. I would take them to win their division but they'll never be as dominant as that 18-1 one season (oops ... cheap shot ... I know). The Ravens didn't get any better. Flacco will only have the Sophomore jinx affected on him this season. The Giants are always overestimated as long as they think Eli Manning is the greatest QB in the league. So who's left? The Vikings with Brett Favre? The Eagles with their upcoming QB controversy (yeah ... it's still freakin' Philadelphia too)? The point is there is nobody on the same level as the Steelers this year barring injury to the starters (knock on wood again). Which brings me to my last point ...

5. Strength of Schedule

The Steelers ended up 12-4 in the regular season and won the Super Bowl in a season in which the 'experts' said they'd be lucky to go 9-7 and make the playoffs (these same experts said the defense was aging and would be a weak point ... go figure). This year, with a probable better team, they face a weaker set of opponents.

I am Irish Road ... I don't claim to be an expert. Although I did pick better than most of them against the spread last year. But as I sit here drinking my craft beer I am predicting another 12-4 season. One filled with a Stairway to Seven, as we may come to call it in Steel Town after the Men of Steel hoist a record seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Real (Sports) Talk

With training camps around the NFL in full swing we are now able to get that awesome feeling of football season, and more importantly Steeler season, creeping up on us. With the Ben Roethlisberger scandal there have been no shortage of stories around the team. If you’re Big Ben though it’s nice to know that Steeler Country has your back. She probably missed this sign on the way into fix his T.V.

Polamalu is sitting out practices left and right with discomfort in the hamstring again. Dick LeBeau one of the top two players he’s ever coached (Carnell Lake is the other) and Mike Tomlin was quoted saying "I would imagine he could role out of bed and play strong safety in the NFL, That's what makes him Troy." No small exchange of words from a Super Bowl Champion head coach. The other notable Steeler missing practice is the great Hines Ward. But as the Super Genius Mark Madden puts it, if you have two veterans of that caliber missing practice its not that big of a deal unless some rookie complains about it and causes a stir. “I’d rather they missed practice in August than games in January.” Just more wisdom from Mr. Madden.

And just to throw in some Baltimore love from the gays in purple … I mean the ‘Men’ in purple Terrell Suggs has started the trash talk early by sporting a t-shirt at practice that says "You Bet Your Sweet Ass I Hate The Steelers." He also called the rivalry the "biggest in sports right now." The ‘Hitman’ Ryan Clark may have ended the running early for greatest quote of the season when he responded with "They can wear their shirts. I guess while they wear their shirts, I'll wear my ring, and we'll see which ones look nicer." Well played good sir, well played. To all those suckers in Baltimore still rooting for the Ravens we’ll see you at the end of November and we’ll see you at the end of December … and if you want to lose again we’ll see you at the end of January.
In Pirate news the team is finding more ways to suck as they got 1-hit for the second time this season courtesy of Yusmeiro Petit and the Arizona Diamondbacks. But don’t let anyone say that the Pirate fans suck or are uneducated about baseball. The crowd gave Petit a standing Ovation after his no-hit bid was broken up in the eighth in recognition of his great pitching performance.