Funny how things work.
Going into Thursday’s series wrap up contest with the Mets, Paul Maholm was 2-7. With an ERA of 3.18. That’s not a typo . . . 3.18. He’s been pitching out of his mind to start the season, but the offense seemingly refused to provide run support. Yet Maholm went on, day in and day out, quality start after quality start, giving his team a chance to win.
Inevitably, someone invited Murphy to lay down the law yesterday afternoon. The Mets’ Daniel Murphy, I suppose. Little bugger caused all kinds of havoc for the Bucs this series. Regardless, the runs just came crashing in on Maholm. Wouldn’t you know the day the lineup fluffs a seven run cushion for Maholm to sit on, he blew it.
Bound to happen, I say. The starting pitchers were not going to sustain the mind-blowing 1.67 ERA they had logged in the thirteen games prior to Thursday’s collapse. At some point, the feeble offense of late had to buck up and make something happen. And unfortunately for Paul Maholm, he couldn’t hold it together when they did.
You win some, you lose some, right? All the matters is how you respond. Unlike last year, or the year before that, or the year before that, or . . . let’s just say “in a long time”, this is a team primed to galvanize. I feel as if there are leaders within the clubhouse at both managerial and player level that this Pittsburgh team hasn’t had in many years. Obviously, Hurdle brings confidence and a steady, even keeled cornerstone of attitude to the ebbs and flows of a very long season, and a veteran “been here before” energy comes from Lyle Overbay. And I’d be remiss to not mention the noticeable spark from call up, Josh Harrison. I’m really liking this kid.
BUT what can’t be overlooked or underestimated, is the consistent performance and unwavering presence of Neil Walker. I think he can take the club on his back. It’s his hometown team. He doesn’t say die. I’m sure there’s a fuel to his fire that not only inspires him, but also rubs off on his teammates. At least it should.
The PA Turnpike Series begins tonight. Here’s that opportunity to respond. Let’s see if the pitching can recreate some of its recent magic and if the bats can stay hot. They’ll need both to come out with a series victory against the Phillies.
Time to galvanize, Buccos.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: After two great days in Cincinnati – props to the Cincinnatian Hotel downtown on Vine St, especially to the bartender Natasha - and don’t you meet the most interesting people in a hotel bar? Not to digress, but I will, we met a wonderful, loving woman who along with her other daughter, was helping her eldest battle late-stage breast cancer, and a very talkative Australian guy in his sixties, who has traveled America coast-to-coast, visiting the nooks and crannies of our beautiful country. Something most Americans never get a chance to do . . .
Anyway, we drove the four hour trek to Cleveland in time to check into the downtown Wyndham hotel – which was a steal of a deal at $105 bucks for the night, and then walk the two blocks to the Jake. Progressive Field, I mean . . . although most of the fans still sported THE JAKE shirts . . .
It’s a gorgeous ballpark, and I’d have to rate it ahead of the Great American Ballpark in Cincy. The open “floor plan” was condusive to catching the game action from almost anywhere, and the beer prices were lower. Plus any park that has an open bar in centerfield with the game cornhole set up next to it must have been well thought out . . .
The ushers at Progressive field weren’t very pleasant, you could even say they were annoyed at you being there, shooing people away and not making eye contact when talking to, or AT you . . .
A product of not winning a championship since the Browns did it in 1964? Before the Super Bowl era? Probably . . .
One of my favorite moments came after the game when we walked to down the street to “Harry Buffalo”, a rustic sports bar that had $2, 23oz Miller Lites – cheers – when a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 22 and was TANKED, approached me for directions with her two tagalongs - This is how the conversation went:
DLG (Drunk Little Girl): Heyeyeyeyey!! (while chewing gum with her mouth wider than Angela Jolie’s legs) D’ya know where the wess end issss?
ME: No, I’m sorry but I’m not from here.
DLG: Wowww, where ya from then? (chew, chew, chew, snap)
ME: Pittsburgh, we’re visiting different . . .
DLG: WAIT! D’ya saya Pisssttburgh? (no more chewing, mouth just hung open)
DLG: Are ya Steelers flan?
DLG : F*#K OFF! (chew, chew, snap)
Then she quickly stormed down the street sideways, with her tagalongs in tow, before I gathered my thoughts to say, “okay, and I’ll take our six lombardi trophies with me.”
I think I was in shock that this young chick would say something like that to me. I’m a 30-year old woman. Do kids have ANY respect any more?
Or is it just a product of not winning a championship since the Browns did it in 1964? Before the Super Bowl era? Probably . . .
An Ode to Cleveland….Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
YES! I am voluntarily going on a road trip visiting baseball parks and the NFL Hall of Fame. I mention my intentions for my vacation to many with an overwhelming response ” why not the beach?” Because as my readers know, I LOVE SPORTS. Any chance I get to enhance my sports experience, knowledge or actuality, I WILL. Plus, I am more into beer than I am bathing suits right now . . .
FIRST STOP: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati OH – Courtesy of Mo Egger, of WLW & WCKY radio in Cincy, you can check him out at http://1530homer.com/pages/mo.html, where you can enjoy the Cincinnati sports rhetoric and the insightful female commentary to this statement “August 31st, 2009, when the Reds played the Pirates in front of maybe 1,500 people.” My husband, Jason, and I were at the afternoon game today and there were BARELY that many people at the park and the “paid attendance” was 11,516 – I thought to myself, who in the heck are you trying to impress? Seriously? Besides that weird calculation, there were many fabulous, and several funny, things about our trip to Cincy this far. Including:
WOOHOO! You can buy beer in a coinvienence store . . .
Okay, you got me, that wasn’t the first thing I realized, but it was VERY high up on the priority list . . .
Pittsburgh 6AM – First stop 9:30AM – While you are driving from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, you don’t realize how southern you are getting. We stopped about 30 miles outside of Cincy at a Mickey Ds (Jeffersontown?) - cause its the ONLY recognizable stop for a good 80 mile stretch – and the accent was crazy! One of the workers was shouting over and over again- CAN WE GET FRESH EGGS WITH THAT BIG BREAKFAST? in an insane southern accent – just stop and say that to yourself several times . . . crazy.
Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park is gorgeous – the only thing I didn’t like is that you can’t see the field from the entire concourse.
As we got in the ball park after sneaking a quick chugging of a couple miller lites – you never want to take chances in visiting ball parks with drinking in public – just fyi . . . we bought a couple of beers – 16 oz plastics at $7.50 a piece . . . so we were paying a buck fifty each beer pair more than we do at PNC PArk in Pittsburgh – but guess what? We don’t care, we are on VACATION!!!
Then, we turn around the corner and find a BAR. A real live bar where you can order SHOTS. Yes, shots . . . so Jason and I did some tequila. Who wants to hear my joke? Okay, you do . . .
Why did the husband throw his wife over the bridge?
TEQUILA!!! Get it? I hope so . . .
Anyway, here are a few more observations on our trip so far:
LOVE the highlight zone with 13 flat screen TVs – although only 4 were ON while we were there . . .
Weird, random, female fan overdosed on tanning and had an accordian skin two rows in front of us . . . gross.
Loved the Skyline Chili Dogs – got a FREE dog and just LOVED the dish . . . Big ’n Rich weren’t lyin . . .
Met a few extra cool fans – including the newly 21 year olds, Kelly & Ben . . . both them and their parents were FAB!
The Police Officers were also top notch, including Officers, Jodice & Brehm . . . picture coming soon!
Thanks for a great expderince, Cincinnati!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
DO THE PITSBURGH PIRATES EVEN HAVE A FRANCHISE PLAYER? Sure, second baseman Freddy Sanchez won the National League batting title in 2006 – wait, you didn’t know a Pirate led the league in batting recently? Well, he did – but he never really stuck as “the guy”. And every year that management claims to have signed the “face of the franchise”, they turn around and trade him for minor league prospects and reep the ires of their tired fanbase. Pittsburgh’s once beloved Buccos have become faceless.
Just yesterday the Pirates traded freshly signed, All-Star centerfielder, Nate McClouth, who last year won the first gold glove for a Pirates’ player in ten years, to Atlanta for three prospects. Here are the details. The positive? The move makes way for celebrated centerfielder, Andrew McCuthchen, to play on the big stage. A consolation prize of sorts . . .
This follows the big splash move – well, not for Pittsburgh – of last season where the Pirates sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox to replace Manny Ramirez in Left Field as he escaped as far away as he could from Boston in a three way trade to Los Angeles. What did the Pirates get? Pieces for the “future”. And fans are waiting to see a glimmer of hope from Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche, who are starting in the big leagues, but haven’t yet delivered in a way that replaces fan favorite, Jason Bay.
Outfielder Brandon Moss has 7 homeruns in the 90 games he’s played in Pittsburgh, is hitting .242 over that span and strikes out once every four at bats. His fielding is not terrible and he’ll pull out a gem every now and again, but he’s not the “amazing” player the management touted he would be. Not yet . . .
After a forgettable start to his Pirates career in 2008, Andy LaRoche is rounding into form so far this year, batting nearly .300 with 13 doubles and making some spectacular plays at the hot corner, not withstanding his terrible 3 error performance in the first two games of the season, of course . . .
With Jason Bay instrumental in the Red Sox playoff run last year and already totaling 16 dingers for Boston this season, Pittsburgh fans feel like they’ve just sucked on a bushel of lemons . . . SOUR.
There might be hope for the future, but the loyal fans that support the once proud participant in the “City of Champions” have been waiting 16 years for a winning team to cheer on.
Not for bobbleheads, fireworks and Styx concerts . . .
Yes, this is only the second year with new management, and President Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington are focusing on the hated “future” during a season where it is imperative that the team gets to at least 81-81 or else they will hold the most dubious distinction of WORST FRANCHISE IN PRO SPORTS via their 17 consecutive losing seasons . . .
Haven’t the Bucco faithful been waiting long enough?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Or A-Rod. Or Roger.
Except they were never suspended for 50 games during the season for testing positive for a banned substance. Was it performance enhancing drugs? Or PEDs as “they” call them? That always reminds me of PEZ when I say it . . . just not as fun to pop . . .
I always wondered if Manny Ramirez juiced. He seemed to always be big, there wasn’t noticeable unnatural body morphing going on over the years, so I thought he was clean. And he still may be. There are other banned substances that aren’t steroids, per se, and of course Manny’s camp denies the violation is for PEDs. Check out his statement:
Statement from Manny
“Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons. I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I’m sorry about this whole situation.”
Here’s my favorite part of that statement:
“I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing . . .”
I wonder what his personal health issue was. I guess he’ll have a lot of time to straighten it out . . .Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
You know that dude . . .
No matter what type of sports fan you are, there’s that dude . . .
The dude that seems to have your team’s number EVERY time. You involuntarily start to dry heave when you see him on TV making an amazing play. You actually hate him. And if he happens to get injured, you don’t feel bad.
You know that dude. Or dudes . . .
At this very moment, there are two players that I want to punch in the face.
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: He always answers. It’s the match up the NHL dreamed about all season. Sid “The Kid” Crosby versus Alexander “The (puke) Great” Ovechkin in the playoffs battling for bragging rights in a well documented hate – hate relationship. Through two games, he has responded to every goal and has matched Crosby’s 4 goals in the series with 4 of his own. His excessive celebrating and lack of respect for his competition makes him the NHL’s version of Terrell Owens, except he doesn’t drop the puck and is leading his team, not destroying it. I can’t stand him.
Matt Garza, Tampa Bay Rays: Spitface. It seems like every time the camera is on him, he is spitting on the mound. In between EVERY pitch. Annoying. Even more annoying is the fact that the Red Sox just can’t figure him out. His ONLY two wins this season have come against Boston. Since his stellar Game 7 performance in the ALCS last year, which earned him MVP honors, Garza has dominated my team. In his last start versus the Sox, he engineered a 13-0 win with 10 strikeouts, taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning before Jacoby Ellsbury got to him. That clobbering made Garza 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 career starts against Boston. ARGGGHHHHHH!
For now, that’s who I am hating on . . .
P.S. Of course, you would love to have that dude on YOUR team . . . Jerks.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
LEFT FIELD BLEACHERS AT PNC PARK . . .
During a recent rainy visit to watch the Pirates on dollar ticket night – hey, they had to do something to attract fans while the Penguins were playing playoff hockey, although there were probably only 8,000 people in the stands anyway - my husband and I were lucky enough to run into a father and son who couldn’t sit in the front row of the left field bleachers because the 6 year old couldn’t see over the fence.
That’s right, they gave us their seats. Close enough to pat the left fielder on the tookas . . .
My husband Jason tells the little boy with his tiny glove on, “If I get a ball from Nyjer Morgan (Buccos’ left fielder) I am going to give it to you.” The kid was thrilled! A promise of a real, live, major league game used baseball . . . you could plainly see that he could feel it in his little hands already.
So what happens?
Before the beginning of the first inning, Jason is yelling for Nyjer to throw the warm up ball to him, and I mean really workin’ it for that ball to give to the young man like he promised. Nyjer Morgan turns around and obliges. Here it comes! Jason tries to balance a beer in his left hand as he reaches up to snag it out of the air. Then THUD . . . .
It hit him right in the palm as his $8 beer was spilling out of the cup . . . and he missed it. It bounced off of his hand, onto the ground where a fan with a glove scooped it up . . .
Nyjer Morgan waves him off with a big smile on his face as if to say, ”how’d ya miss that McFly?” A minute later, after the crowd dissipated, that cute, wide-eyed, grateful little boy comes over to Jason and says
“YOU SHOULDA HAD THAT!”
Then walked away . . .
It was one of the funniest scenes I had ever well, seen . . .Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
As we move into the meat of the second week of the young baseball season, I have a few thoughts on what has taken place so far on the diamond:
I GOT 5 ON A STEINBRENNER EXPLODING . . . Hey Bud Selig, I would dedicate an official to monitoring Alex Rodriguez closely as he rehabs. Someone in the Yankees organization just might try to pump him up with HGH so he can heal faster. Cody Ransom looks lost in the field and is batting .083. Nick Swisher is leading the team in every offensive category, which is NOT a good thing, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning last night in the game against the Rays that should have ended in the 5th inning via the mercy rule. Watch the madness for yourself:
P.S. And the Pirates have a better record. We are just starting the 2009 campaign, and Joe Girardi has got to be looking over his shoulder . . .
OH WHERE OH WHERE HAVE MY CY YOUNG AWARD WINNERS GONE? I could have told you that Cliff Lee was going to fall off the face of the Earth this year. In fact, I did on my radio show when I previewed fantasy baseball action. He was always inconsistent, and in 2007 was even sent to the minors, without pitching 100 innings at the major league level. Could last year be an “I’m going to show them” aberration? With an 0-2 record and an ERA of 9.90, it’s looking that way so far. We’ll see.
Tim Lincecum is also sitting ugly with an ERA of 7.56, winless in two starts this season. Lincecum is having trouble locating his heat with only 56.1% catching the strike zone. Last year he had amazing command with two-thirds of his fastballs thrown for strikes as he led the majors in strikeouts. With two seasons of work to scout, hitting coaches will have more material to research so batters won’t be as wide eyed at the plate, and that’s expected during a young pitcher’s development.
However, I’m more confident in Lincecum shaping up once he regains confidence in his fastball than I am in Lee figuring out whatever it is that’s making last season’s performace look like mirage . . .
QUICK! END THE SEASON . . .
At 4-3, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still above .500. They look like they have a new attitude and it starts with their scrappy lead off hitter and left fielder, Nyjer Morgan. He is tearing up the base paths with an OBP of .424 and 3 steals, breaking up double plays and drawing from his hockey playing days to take out catchers at the plate – just ask Ramon Hernandez of the Reds what it feels like to be bulldozed. In Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati, Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez not only turned an amazing, “oh no you didn’t” double play, but they chimed in on a triple play, the first for the franchise in 16 years. Oh, what a coincidence, the Pirates haven’t had a winning season in 16 years either . . .
PLUS . . . pitcher Zach Duke is returning to form, undefeated in two starts at 2-0 with a minuscule ERA of .59. Pirate fans are wearing out their knees, praying that they can keep this up, avoiding their 17th consecutive losing season and the distinguished title of professional sports’ worst franchise. Let’s go Bucs . . .
CARL PAVANO’S ERA IS 81.00 . . . No, that’s not a typo. Plus he’s making $11 million this season. Where’s Alyssa Milano when you need her? Heck, with Cleveland’s pitching making fans sick, they’d be better off bringing in Charlie Sheen to pitch as Rick Vaughn. At least they’d be entertained while almost winless . . .
YOU RANG? Is it me, or does Aaron HARANG look like Lurch from the Addams Family? At 6’7″ he’s definitely tall enough. To get the full effect you have to pronounce Harang in the same drawn out, creepy way Lurch delivered his infamous line “You rang?” See for yourselves . . .
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THEY SAY . . . Bad things happen in threes. Why does this statement always ring true? And who are “they”? When tragedy strikes once, the second and third instances are never far behind. On the heels of Nick Adenhart’s senseless death, the usual time for optimism and excitement during the opening weeks of baseball season have been cast with a somber shadow twice more yesterday.
HARRY KALAS, 73 . . .
The voice. We will all miss the voice. Distinctive, baritone, calming. For almost 40 years, Harry Kalas epitomized Philadelphia baseball and on Monday afternoon around 12:30pm, he was found on the floor of the broadcast booth before the Phillies game against the Washington Nationals and pronounced dead as he was rushed to the hospital. His love for baseball began with Washington. He always said the Senators sparked his lifelong passion for the game and his sudden passing happened the only place it could . . . in the broadcast booth in D.C.
I will always remember him as the stormy voice behind NFL Films. He could send chills through you and emotionally take you to that exact instant in the game as you watched on the edge of your seat, hanging on every word, even though you already knew the outcome. You will be sorely missed Harry. Irreplaceable.
THE BIRD, 54 . . . Resembling Big Bird from Sesame Street with his curly coif, the animated, former Detroit Tigers pitcher, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was found dead under a 10-wheel dump truck on his farm in Massachusetts at 2:30pm on Monday. Fidrych baffled baseball fans with his antics as he would groom the mound with his hands and
talk to the baseball incessantly, among other things. In 1976 he threw batters into fits and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with a record of 19-9, an ERA of 2.34, 24 complete games and a trip to the All-Star Game. Sadly, injuries cut his career short and he only had a handful more starts, leaving the majors with a career record of 29-9. Yesterday, his life was cut short as well, but his spirit and approach to the game will always live on.
FUNNY . . . I happened upon this article from ESPN.com’s Page 2 – which always has some hysterical content – and this list of best and worst promotions at the ballpark by DJ Gallo is definitely worth your read.
Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites:
Miguel Cabrera Bobblehead Presented by Little Caesars (Tigers, April 13)
Also presented by Little Caesars: Miguel Cabrera’s waistline.
Fausto Carmona Hat Clip Figurine (Indians, August 13)
“Why do I have a three-inch-tall Fausto Carmona clipped to the bill of my hat? I say why NOT have a three-inch-tall Fausto Carmona clipped to the bill of my hat?”
Crab Mallet Set (Orioles, June 13)
You’re an Orioles fan. It’s mid-June. Now’s about the time you’ll be jonesing to beat the @#%& out of another living thing.
Kids Pirates Pillow (Pirates, July 19)
This one is only available to those 14 and under. So everyone who gets this item will not have been alive the last time the Pirates had a winning season. And they very well might be asked by their father to hold the pillow over his face until he is sent to a place where the Pirates don’t suck.
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