Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm a bad blogger

I'm a bad blogger. Since deciding to form the Pittsburgh contribution to this Sports Fountainhead blog, I have slacked on my duties. My excuse is that the sports just aren't exciting enough during the summertime to write about frequently. But now its mid-August, and with football season starting up soon, baseball entering pennant races (except the Pirates, of course), and basketball and hockey starting up soon after that, the quiet time of the sports year will be winding down and we will have much more things to talk about. For now, I will give a quick summertime recap of what's been happening with the teams I care about.

Pirates - Careening towards a 15th consecutive losing season, which would place them one away from the Phillies' record of 16 (anything Philly can do, Pittsburgh can do better). Those of you who read the old site saw my post suggesting they have to lose a massive amount of games now in order to ever become a contender in the future may have noticed that since I posted that during the All Star break, they have gone 8-18, falling into last place in the NL Central. Our genius GM Dave Littlefield thought that we were buyers heading into the trade deadline, dealing for Cezar Izturis from the Cubs and Matt Morris for the Giants. Five years ago, those would have been two great acquisitions. Now, not so much. Morris becomes the highest paid player in Pirate HISTORY, and he's arguably the third best starter in our rotation. (But he's better than John VanBenschoten!!!! I'm better than John VanBenschoten. Never heard of John VanBenschoten? That's probably because you went to see him pitch and got hit in the head by an errant pitch of his.) As for Izturis, he just creates a logjam of infielders, and many questions about the future of Jack Wilson with the team.
Elsewhere in baseball, Giants juicer Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, blah blah blah. This meant that there were lots of Pirates highlights shown from the early 90's when Bonds was on the team, reminding us of how long it has been since we've had a winner. It really sucks to be a fan of this team. Unless your name is Greg Brown or Lanny Frattare. These men are the play by play guys for the team, and it is apparent they are instructed by management to be disgustingly optimistic. All you will hear them talk about is how we're better now that we swept the (last place) Giants over the weekend, and all the excitement about this weekend, when PNC Park will be sold out for "SkyBlast" an annual fest where bands like Styx and Smashmouth will be playing after the games, while fireworks shoot overhead. I hate the Pirates.

Steelers - We talkin bout PRACTICE. Training camp started on July 23rd, and since then the media, sick of dealing with the Pirates, have over-analyzed every single move that has been made during camp and the two pre-season games. Allen Iverson would not enjoy being on the Steelers. They beat the Saints 20-7 in Canton, looking very good in the process, and lost to the Packers 13-9 this past weekend, looking very sloppy in the process. For those of you not from Pittsburgh, people in this town get VERY upset about losses, even in preseason. But seriously guys, its preseason. That's why these games are played, so teams can get their mulligans out of the way before the real games start.
That said, I like what I see from new coach Mike Tomlin. He's working the players hard, and appears to be all business. He doesn't get overly worked up on the sidelines like Billy C, but that's okay. We'll see what happens 9/9 in Cleveland, but I think this guy has the team going in the right direction.
Of course, I must mention the biggest controversy going on in Pittsburgh right now: the mascot. The Steelers introduced their first ever mascot over the summer. Picture old coach Bill Cowher....Now picture him on steroids....Now picture him with yellow picture him in a steelworker's outfit. That's the mascot. Most people were a little shaken by the fact that the team that doesn't have mascots or cheerleaders or any of that nonsense was getting a mascot, but they were kind of letting it slide. Then they introduced the mascot's name: Steely McBeam. It is a horrendously ridiculous name, but you would think that someone set Heinz Field on fire the way that people have been reacting to it. Seriously, it's a MASCOT, just relax and have some fun with it.
I don't do your typical "season preview" because it really means nothing, however I see the Steel boys finishing no better than 12-4 and no worse than 8-8 this year, mainly because they have a third place schedule. Anything above or below would be surprising to me. With a record in that range, they should be contending for a wild card or even a division championship.

Penguins - Jordan Staal is 18 and likes to drink. Sidney Crosby is the new captain, just signed a ridiculous long term deal, and he just turned 20. Some very good summer acquisitions, including Darryl Sydor and Petr Sykora. Of the three Pittsburgh teams, the one I think has the most championship potential going into next year.

Penn State - Joe Paterno is still old, still has a broken leg, and still coaching. Lost Levi Brown, Posluszny and Tony Hunt to the draft but return just about everyone else. Preseason rankings have us in the 15-20 range, and about 4th in the Big Ten. I think we'll do better than that, because the schedule sets up favorably with home/road games, much like 2005. Michigan only difficult road game. I think a 10-2/11-1 season isn't out of the question. 11-1 won the national title last year for Florida. Tickets still ridiculously hard/expensive to find. Basketball still irrelevant.

That's all for now. I promise the posts will become more frequent after this, not just for the above teams but for anything I find intriguing to write about.

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