Sunday, April 29, 2012
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Deadline is tonight 4/29 at midnight.
Here is my 1st attempt:
I Pledge Allegiance to the tahn of the United Stilller Nation, and to the towel at which we wave, one nation under the Chief, undefeatable, with victory and more rings for us.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
New contest for a free shirt from our shop.
Here are the rules. The first 1 of the 3 Twitter accounts to gain 1200 followers will select a follower to receive a free shirt.
So if @mikedarnay hits 1200 first, he will pick 1 of his followers. If @theclassyyinzer wins, he will select. I will say this, we will pay attention to RTs and we can be swayed to pick you. Have fun.
There is no deadline to the contest.
@mikedarnay : 799
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
How does a team with the 2nd lowest ERA (2.63) in all of Major League Baseball
hold a 6-9 record? It may have something to do with that same team sitting in the
spot for lowest average (.202). The Pittsburgh Pirates have managed to score
a mere 30 runs in their first 15 games of the 2012 season. Sure, baseball isn’t
typically a regularly high scoring game, but compare those 30 runs with the team
that rank right above the Pirates: The Oakland A’s, who managed to score 22
more runs than the Pirates in just 3 extra games.
On the bright side, the defense still gives us fans a glimmer of hope. A.J. Burnett
shined in his debut at PNC Park on Saturday with seven scoreless innings;
striking out a team season high seven batters, and walking two. Erik Bedard is
another new face to the Pirates bullpen this year. Bedard’s current ERA stands
at 2.63. His first start came on Opening Day where he pitched a complete seven
innings; allowing only six hits, one walk, and one earned run. In his following
three starts he allowed two earned runs apiece, a total of nine walks, and only
gave up one homerun. Not bad numbers there if you ask me. At least not
numbers that deserve a 0-4 record on the season. Hmm… that sounds familiar.
I bet Paul Maholm is sitting in Chicago laughing his butt off at Bedard, thinking to
himself, “See, it wasn’t just me! Jagoffs.”
The good news is the Pirates have played some very good teams, and the
schedule gets easier starting now. I’m sure the bats will heat up soon, and we’ll
start seeing some bigger numbers on the scoreboard. If not, we’re in for one long
summer at PNC Park.
One thing I think people often forget is our biggest problem in Game 6 was not pulling the trigger and looking for the razzle-dazzle play. This stems clear back to Michel Therrien. It's been a problem for years, and it caught up to us finally. I know there is multiple facets of our game that faulted, but honestly this is a huge one. Sidney Crosby before injury was scoring goals like a BOSS. He wasn't too trigger happy when he got back and was always looking for the perfect play, but in a big game, such as one like Game 6 facing elimination, put the team on your back like everyone knows you're capable of. It was disappointing at times to watch him play against the second D of the Flyers and be so conservative. Malkin also got shut down by a rookie and showed countless poor decision making.
As fan though, I'll lick my wounds, the players will train harder and hopefully come back better, but the fate of this team truly lies in what the front office does during the off-season. Sign Sid, Sign Staal, dump Martin at all cost even if its for him to sit in WBS and find a shut down D-man. The young talent is there, but with all the Marquee forwards we have, we need more than just Letang and Orpik picking up the slack on the blue line.
It will truly be interesting to see what plays out over the summer...
Monday, April 23, 2012
Well, what a hell of a run this season was. From October there were very high expectations for this team. With James Neal coming into his own, and the looming return of our Captain, there was a buzz around this team like there was in 2009, a thought that this could be the team to capture yet another Stanley Cup, which would of been the teams second championship in 4 years.
Well, as of approximately 3:00 p.m. EDT yesterday, baseball season unofficially kicked off in the minds of most of the Pittsburgh sports nation. I, like many of you, watched as many games as possible since opening day, including two at PNC Park, and the entirety of the late-night games on the west coast. However, with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking up approximately 99.5% of my conscious thoughts at any given moment, the early-season Bucco games were just a convenient way to waste time before the puck dropped on the next Pens game. But now, unfortunately, they're all we've got until mid-July. (Well, except for the other 15 Power fans in existence, but after another mental meltdown that cost them another game in New Orleans, dropping them to 2-4, I'm not even getting into that) So let's "preview" the Pirates' season. To start, I'd have to say that I'm with the Root Sports team. During yesterday's postgame show, they called the Bucs' 6-9 start "the absolute bottom level of acceptable." I agree with this assessment. The Pirates seem to be the only team that I follow on a daily basis that I can seem to keep realistic expectations for, and not flip out, so I fully understand where they're coming from. No one expects to make the playoffs this year, but if you buy into the rebuilding process, (I do, this time) then .500 is the next realistic step in the long trek up Mount Everest that is the Pirates actually turning into a contender. You look at 6-9 and it seems to be a huge red flag for another 90 or 100 loss season. However, considering that we have already played nine road games, three against the defending NL East champions, three against the defending NL West champions, three against the defending world champions, and three against the hottest team in baseball, I'd say 6-9 is far from the worst case scenario.
Now, the next question becomes: what exactly needs to happen for this team to hit that magic 82 win plateau? Of course, the key to any successful MLB team is rock-solid starting pitching. In that department, it's so far, so good. The rotation has far exceeded expectations, to this point. The Burnett and Bedard signings appear to be home runs for Neal Huntington. After the first three batters on Saturday, Burnett was lights out through seven. And, he wasn't playing the Houston Astros, boys and girls. He went seven scoreless against the defending world champs, and barely broke a sweat, not even throwing 80 pitches. That is a great, great sign. Bedard, on the other hand, has been mostly great through his first four starts. Unfortunately, we've averaged less than a run a game in his starts, so despite his sterling 2.64 ERA, he finds himself at 0-4. If either or hopefully both of those two can continue at this pace (sure, it's unlikely but we can dream, no?) then we may be looking at the closest thing we've had to an ace since Doug Drabek packed his bags for Houston in '93. Even if they can stay steady throughout 25+ more starts, we've got a chance. If Correia can pitch at his All-Star pace of early last year throughout an entire season, that's three very reliable starters. If this perfect scenario were to play out, then we only need to get two serviceable starters out of the combination of McDonald, Morton, and Karstens, then this may actually look like a rotation. Again, there's a lot of ifs in this scenario, but after 19 straight losing seasons, it's not like we're stocked with $20M arms. If the rotation continues to be a strength, then we've got a chance. If not, well chalk up number 20.
Now, as good as the rotation has been, the lineup has been equally awful. Sure, Andrew McCutchen looks like the bonafide superstar that we all thought he would be, and Casey McGehee has come as a very pleasant surprise. Outside of that, pathetic wouldn't even begin to describe the struggles the Bucs have had at the plate. Tabata has been awful and looks lost. Presley hasn't been as bad as the rest, but he doesn't appear to have progressed from his solid rookie season. Barajas wasn't brought in for his offensive skills, but man, if I have to hear how "he has some pop in his bat that will come around" one more time, I may reach through the tv and choke Greg Brown. GFJ? More like LOL. I didn't think it was possible to have a shortstop worse than Ronny Cedeno, but Clint Barmes has proven me wrong. Dear God, he's awful. I don't care if he's Hurdle's boy from Colorado, ship him to Indy ASAP. I'll gladly take the rest of the year watching d'Arnaud and Harrison play short over Barmes. At least they're young and have some upside. Walker has looked decent, probably will have a season similar to last year, but as much as I like his game, offensively and defensively, is he really the prototypical cleanup hitter that we desperately need? Which brings me to the elephant err...."El Toro" in the room. It's been said ad nauseam that Pedro is the "x-factor" of this lineup. It is 100% true. Outside of him, there is no legitimate power threat in this lineup. It's a fact. They've invested a ton of money in Alvarez, and a ton of time and resources into his development. He may be the single piece, that if he flops, may derail the entire rebuilding effort. He needs to be the cleanup hitter. No question. It's not Walker. He fits somewhere else. It has to be Pedro. No one is confusing him with someone who will hit .300 or even .280. Sure, his two home runs, especially the monster shot over the stands at PNC, have been glimmers of hope, but we're in year three of this project. There has to be real progress. If it happens before the heat of summer, we could be in good shape. If he, along with everyone else, continues to struggle mightily, then we may be in for yet another long, long summer until training camp. Well, either way I'll continue to fly the Jolly Roger and go down with the ship, taking shots at all the bandwagon Yankees and Red Sox fans along the way. At the very least, hopefully Cheese Chester brings home another Pierogi Race championship. See you at PNC. Let's go Bucs.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Playoff losses are always tough to swallow. First round playoff losses while you're the consensus Stanley Cup favorites are even worse. First round playoff losses to your most-hated rival, while being Stanley Cup favorites will make even the most die-hard of Pens fans question the very existence of the Consol Energy Center, and wonder if the team would be better off playing its home games in Kansas City. Ok, ok...so it's not the complete end of the world. The sun will come up tomorrow (if its not hidden by six inches of snow). There will be more seasons. More highs. More lows. More hold-on-to-your-sac moments like the final 20 minutes of game five. But, there's one thing that's certain: something has to change.
Eventually, probably about five minutes after the Flyers are inevitably eliminated from the playoffs for the 37th consecutive time, we'll start to heal from this loss. All of our hockey thoughts will start to migrate from the missed opportunity that was 2011-12 to the upcoming opportunity that is 2012-13. I am firmly of the belief that Ray Shero is the absolute best man on the face of the planet at his job. In my mind, there's no question. The Hossa trade. The Kunitz trade. Rebuilding (so we thought) the defense corps. And so on, and so on. In the salary cap era, the man is the best. All that being said, I don't envy his position this offseason. Granted, we are a hell of a long way from the NHL Draft, let alone July 1. But, as we move forward, there are plenty of tough decisions that will have to be made before the puck drops again in early October. For a team that looks unbeatable on paper and has very few free agents, there are many things that will need to be addressed before dreams of Lord Stanley return to our heads.
I was wrong about Sidney Crosby. At least I really, really, really, really hope I was. After taking quite a few bumps and hits, not to mention getting his clock cleaned by Geno's friendly fire in game five, he looks like he'll be able to survive a full season next year. He needs extended for as long as possible. What we would have considered a no-brainer in late 2010 is a no-brainer again. On the same topic, after watching this series, hell, this entire season, where are all of the people screaming to trade Staal? Again, longest, most financially smart extension possible. If Shero lets him walk in 2013 or trades him at the deadline, he'll kill us at some point, guaranteed. Another player that needs extended? See Sullivan, Steve. If his old legs are willing to come back at an affordable price for another year, sign him ASAP. Playing an entire season with Sid would offer a ton of production for a very cheap price. If those three moves are made, no matter who else is brought in, we'll be fine, offensively. Add in some of the young d-men for an entire season, and the Pens could be scary good if they're healthy.
Things get progressively tougher for King Shero when it comes to deciding who not to bring back. Again, there are very few free agents, so cutting ties with some players (and their contracts) may be easier said than done. *cough* Paul Martin *cough* There is absolutely no way Martin can be back on this roster next year. He was the weak link all season long. I am by no means an expert on the salary cap or the CBA, but he needs to be gone at any cost. I highly doubt that anyone will be willing to trade for him at $5M per year, so he needs to be bought out, shipped to Wilkes-Barre, or have his leg permanently shattered by a hitman hired by Mario. By any means necessary, he does not put on a Penguins sweater next season. I think we all understand that Arron Asham won't be back, and that's fine. He's a UFA, so let him sit out the last game of his suspension elsewhere. Brent Johnson, so long. Again, he's a UFA, so it's ride or die with Thiessen for 15-20 games, or sign a different, i.e. more solid veteran backup goaltender. And finally, in what will surely be his most controversial move if he has the stones to make it, Dan Bylsma absolutely needs to be fired. He cannot be back. He was outcoached so bad during this series, and really this season as a whole, that my toilet and garbage cans are incapable of holding the amounts of vomit that I'll put in them next season if I have to sit and hopelessly watch other teams adjust to the Pens' game and beat them repeatedly, as Bylsma refuses to adjust to anything, change anything.
Dan Bylsma is a great human being. Surely he's a fun person to play for, a good guy to work with. Unfortunately, that means jack shit in professional sports. Of course, the common outcry will sound something like this: "He won the Stanley Cup! He won the Jack Adams award! The players love him!" Blah, blah, blah. Sure, he won the Cup in his first (partial) season. A trained monkey could have led that team to a championship. They were 100% done with Michel Therrien, and him being gone alone was enough to ignite the team to prove that they could win it all without him. Any coach in the NHL would have won it all that season. It was addition by subtraction. Had everything to do with a lack of Therrien behind the bench, and nothing to do with the addition of Disco back there. Therrien was a conservative dictator, whose system didn't match the players on the Penguins' roster and whose personality poorly clashed with those of his young, talented, energetic players. Bylsma is the prototypical "players' coach," the former fringe player that relates to his players and their state of mind. He can provide all the rah-rah speeches and talk about "grinding bitches down" all day, everyday. Unfortunately, when shit hits the fan, this approach doesn't do much. Players are not held accountable. He will never get in anyone's face, or challenge or call out any of his players. There has to be a compromise somewhere. There has to be a coach available that will hold players accountable for their performance, not be their best friends, yet not piss them off all the time, too. I don't want John Tortorella. I sure as hell don't want Bruce Boudreau or Mike Yeo. Find a balance. Please, Ray, do the right thing. Fire Bylsma. As much as I'll miss his personality, I'll enjoy the return of winning hockey when it matters much, much more. In Shero we trust. See you in October, let's go Pens.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
The Flyers are on tilt with Claude Giroux snapping his stick on the goal post and Scott Hartnell trying to instigate a fight as the horn sounded to end the third. The time is NOW for the Pens to tie this series up and humiliate the Flyers once again in Filthadelphia. LETS GO PENS!!!
Friday, April 20, 2012
All photos will be accepted.
And by the way....
Believing. Hold on to that feeeeeeeeeling. If this song wasn't the first thing that you played on your iPod on the way to work this morning, then you may have to be checked for a pulse. The Pittsburgh Penguins can't win three hockey games tonight. They have to go back to all the cliches and not let themselves think outside of the current shift. Play 60 minutes of "Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey," and we'll see what happens. This is a tough thought for all of us to keep in mind, especially as #PensIn7 explodes across the Internet. We don't need the Pens in seven, tonight. We need the Pens in 5. Keep chipping away. As fans, (and hopeully players) completely lose yourself in tonight's game. Nothing else matters. #PensIn7 can never happen if we don't survive game five.
For those of you headed to Consol...for the love of God, BE LOUD. The Pensblog guys have laid it out perfectly. Tonight is all about remembering the Igloo. She is our Alamo. Protect her honor at any cost. Bring Consol to life like she hasn't been yet. Mellon was a shithole, but damn it she was our shithole, and if you don't have an unlimited bank of memories from that barn, well, chances are you just started watching hockey in the past six years and I don't give a shit what you think, anyway. Scream your lungs out as if you're about to hear John Barbaro throw out a "The PITTSBURGH goal, scored by number 66, Mario Lemieuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuux!" Scream like you're just about to order some "Cotton candy here!" Stand up, high five everyone in sight, and go ape shit, as if Rock and Roll Part 2 is about to come on. Do your part. Send this son of a bitch back to Philly.
If you keep one thought in mind tonight, let it be this: we're playing the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia. That's where they're from. If you've followed any of the three major professional sports (the NBA blows, so no way will I count it) for more than five minutes, you know what Philly fans are all about. Boo everything in sight. Turn on your team at the first possible chance to do so. Rinse, wash, repeat every season. Eagles, Phillies, Flyers. It's the same bullshit with those people. They crave hating their own team much, much more than they enjoy actually winning anything. Although, to their credit, they never win shit. So, if we can scratch, claw, fight, do anything possible for one more W, all the pressure in the world falls on the Flyers to do something in front of 20,000 orange assholes on Sunday. The seed of doubt has been planted. Tonight is our chance to water up that son of a bitch and put it in summer sunlight for 60 minutes of hockey. Fear the bear. Let's go Pens.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Pens finally got a win and more importantly Flower got to get some confidence back into his game performing two shut out periods after the respected teams settled in. A 10-3 win is definitely a confidence booster, but I hope to see the Pens play their game tomorrow night and some desperate hockey at the Consol Energy Center and force a game 6 back in Filthadelphia.
I won't be able to attend the game. However, I want to have a hand in the crowd. For those of you attending, I challenge you to a 3 minute Lets Go Pens chant from the drop of the puck to the 17 minute mark of the 1st period. Rock the house early. Don't stop for anything but a Pens Goal. The players will hear you. Use the hashtag #3minPensChant and tweet famous Pittsburgh celebs. We can do it.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
When I first saw the Steelers’ new uniforms I wanted to vomit everywhere. The pure site of them was horrendous and the thought that they would be worn on national TV made me feel sick to my stomach. Then I started to think about it more and the reason why the alternate jerseys are being released, or at least the reason I hope they are being released.
The reason I hope the Steelers are doing this is to honor their rich tradition and history as a franchise. This season will be the Steelers 80th season as a professional football franchise. These are the jerseys that were worn by the Steelers in 1934, one of their first few years of being a professional team. I would sincerely hope this is the reason the Steelers are deciding to go with this jersey. However, as much as I would hope this is the reason they are wearing the jersey, I have a gut feeling it is for a different reason.
If I had to guess, I would say the Pittsburgh Steeler jersey sales are down, and they need something to boost sales. They could release the ugliest jersey in the history of sports and the Steelers have such loyal and committed fans that they would buy the jersey no matter what it looks like. I unfortunately believe this is a PR move to make more money, and have the millions of Steeler fans all over the world go out and purchase a new jersey.