Archive for February, 2010

Steelers Re-sign Hampton And Reed, Piss Off Steeler Fans Who Were Looking Forward To Getting Pissed

February 26, 2010

P-G:

The Steelers and nose tackle Casey Hampton have come to a three-year contract agreement worth $21.3 million this morning. The deal includes a signing bonus of $6.5 million.

The deal comes ahead of today’s 4 p.m. deadline in which the Steelers planned to make Hampton their franchise player.

The team also placed the franchise tag on kicker Jeff Reed, meaning he will earn $2,814,000 in 2010 — the average of the top five kickers in the NFL…

By placing the franchise tag on Reed, the Steelers virtually eliminated him from leaving in free agency. At the minimum, it would provide the Steelers with two first-round draft choices in return if he signs elsewhere.

Hampton’s officially locked up, and considering no one’s gonna give up two first round picks for a kicker (now that the Raiders have re-signed Janikowski), Jeff Reed’s as good as locked up too. I was initially reserved about a Hampton extension, even taking into account his 2010 performance and what he means to their 3-4 defense, but because of my anecdotal recollection of Hampton’s injury history, although a quick look at his numbers reveals that he’s played at least 15 games in four of the last five seasons, so perhaps my memory’s just a little fuzzy because Hampton’s absence is always so pronounced when it occurs, plus he’s really fat and it’s easy to picture him getting hurt. It’s a good deal, especially considering that his game doesn’t really depend on any skills that would deteriorate with advanced age — he’ll remain useful for the immediate future as long as he doesn’t tragically lose a ton of weight this offseason, or the Fat Boys miraculously get back together and offer him a cameo in their comeback film Fat Boys 2000: Fat Thing You Do. Both of these are unlikely.

Reed’s deal might be a little on the expensive side, and probably isn’t totally efficient in strict dollars-to-value terms, but it was a pretty necessary move for the Steelers. Kickers are similar to closers in baseball in many regards; they’re always readily available, their performances are erratic from year to year except in the most elite cases, and they’re usually not worth overpaying (as the Patriots proved with their hard-line Adam Vinatieri negotiations), but when your team has a crappy one, there’s just nothing more frustrating. Sometimes, especially in the case of a perennial contender like the Steelers, the certainty that comes with overpaying a known commodity like Reed just trumps any potential financial savings that come with drafting or signing a replacement, and since the franchise tag is only a one year ordeal, it at least buys the Steelers time to work out a long-term contract with Reed or formulate a Plan B if he continues holding out or sucks in 2010.

Overall, these were two moderately pricey but very necessary moves by the Steelers. GMing with your heart instead of your head is a recipe for disaster in any sport, but in the instances where legitimate value happens to overlap with likability — as with Hampton, Reed, and the case of Hines Ward before this — the team’s course of action becomes a no-brainer.

We can now resume focusing any Steeler anxiety we were wasting on these contract situations back onto Bruce Arians.

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Good News, Pirate Fans: Lastings Milledge Has Been Born

February 26, 2010

Any Bucco fans wondering whether or not 2010 will be the season the enormous skills of Lastings Milledge finally come to fruition, look no further than this quote from his father, that proves unequivocally that it will definitely happen this season:

“This is the first time I’ve seen smiles on his face,” the father said of Lastings Milledge… “Everything is like he’s born, like it’s the first time it ever happened. If he’s got a smile on his face, he can play.”

Um…I guess that’s a good thing? Lastings Milledge is smiling for the first time ever, like he’s been born. Before you’re born, you literally cannot smile. But when he’s smiling, oh boy, look out, it means he can play! Even though we’ve never seen it before and thus have no prior evidence. Huh?

Bottom line, I am now expecting nothing short of .300 / .420 / 580 and 40 homers from Smiley Milledge. I believe that’s fair.

NEWS IN BR…F: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010

  • Chargers Release Tomlinson After NFL Finally Takes Him Off Fantasy “Can’t Cut” List



  • Manny To Leave Dodgers In 2011, Buys More Bridge-Strength Lighter Fluid



  • Bode Miller High On Victory, Everything



  • Damon Says Detroit Is “Where I Wanted To Be From Day One: A Cheap Plane Ride Away From New York”



  • Aaron Boone Retires, Joins ESPN, Tears ACL

OLYMPIC HOCKEY ROUNDUP: Pavol Demitra’s Ridiculous Shootout Winner Against Russia

February 19, 2010

Before we get to a couple quick points about Olympic Hockey so far, check out ( / rewatch) this clip of Pavol Demitra’s shootout winning goal in Slovakia’s 2-1 win over Russia last night (click on the pic below to watch – Demitra comes on at 1:55, but be sure to check out the amazing super slo-mo at 2:41):

Some thoughts on the first few Olympic games:

— During NBC’s postgame of Canada’s shootout win over Switzerland, one of the analysts (forget who) waxed poetic that Mike Babcock’s decision to re-use Crosby in the shootout was his statement to Crosby that “you’re gonna be the one who has to carry us to Gold.” I understand that Crosby’s become the personification of Canada’s ravenous Gold medal addiction, but the idea that Crosby or anyone else has to carry the goddamn Canadian Olympic Team — a squad comprised of 15 or so of the world’s top 25 players — is hilarious, and foreshadows exactly how bad the anti-Crosby firestorm is gonna be if this team loses in the Elimination Round.

For this reason, while I’d love to see the U.S. go all the way, I’m thinking it’d just be a lot easier on all of us if Canada wins so we don’t have to deal with a 3.8 million square mile chunk of land pissed off at the Penguin captain for the rest of eternity. The East Coast of the U.S. is plenty big enough.

Moving along…

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Matt Morris Is Performing In My Office Today

February 18, 2010

I received the following email in my VH1 work account this morning, and my Pirate brain did a double-brain-take:

Subject: MATT MORRIS PERFORMANCE – TODAY @ 1:10PM

Please join Music & Talent welcome MATT MORRIS TODAY @ 1:10pm—in front of desk 20-55.

You’ll recognize singer/songwriter MATT MORRIS from his JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE duet (“Hallelujah”) on the HOPE FOR HAITI NOW telethon.

After writing songs JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, KELLY CLARKSON and CHRISTINA AGUILERA, he’s been signed to Tenman Records and today he’ll be here, singing his songs to us!

Please come by and have a listen!

As much as I’d love to see the personification of the Littlefield era whip some 85 MPH fastballs around our office, I think I’m gonna skip this one. If Bobby Hill ever makes an appearance, though, I’m so there.

Olympics Update: Everyone’s OK

February 16, 2010

Check out the top three headlines on ESPN’s NHL page right now:

What is this, the Radiohead album “ESPN’s NHL Page Right Now Computer”? Am I right??? This thing on?

Oop, forgot, can’t write posts by speaking into my new Reiser-Tron 2000 80s-comedian standup computer mic. I’ll go back to typing.

Weekend Wrapup: Pens Lose To Rangers And Predators, Aaand We’re Back To Blaming Fleury

February 16, 2010

This past weekend, the Penguins lost in overtime to the Rangers and in a shootout to the Predators. I will begin by blaming Marc-Andre Fleury for a poor weekend, first for giving up an overtime winner to Olli Jokinen on a very standard wrist shot from the right circle, and next for allowing three goals to Nashville on three separate non scoring chances, followed by a far more excusable but still moderately disheartening two goals on two Predators shootout attempts to forfeit a potential second point.

But wait! Time for the obligatory, redundant paragraph about Fleury not being the only one to blame! Even though no results in hockey can be solely blamed on one single source, unless you’re solely blaming, say, Marty McSorley for single-handedly slashing a dude in the head. The Penguins did indeed play a thoroughly uninspired second period against the Rangers and ultimately allowed 39 shots in the contest even though Marian Gaborik left the game after two shifts. Losing to the New York Rangers without Marian Gaborik is as pathetic as losing to the Gaborik Family without Marian Gaborik, but this still wouldn’t excuse Fleury for giving up an overtime winner on an unscreened wrist shot from Gaborik’s Mom.

Likewise, the Nashville game wasn’t without some giant red finger-pointing targets of its own; the Penguins failed to score on a 2-minute, 4-on-3 overtime powerplay, took seven penalties of their own, and threw in another godawful second period (outshot 15-8) for good measure. Furthermore, the Pens’ offense seemed largely uninspired for extended periods against the undermatched-on-paper Predators and Rangers; the once-dominant Staal third line didn’t turn in any of its standard full-minute-of-cycling shifts in either game, Crosby and Malkin snatched some points but didn’t play in any manner one might confuse as dominant, and Kris Letang continued his disturbing trend of pinching really far into the offensive zone, barely helping the Pens’ rush, and immediately causing a troublesome odd-man-rush back the other way (or a 2-on-2 where one of the Pens’ guys back is like, Mike Rupp).

Sure, the Penguins lost these games for a number of reasons. But things in hockey always happen for a number of reasons, so qualifying any criticism of Fleury’s poor play over the weekend with a “but it wasn’t all his fault” defense is redundant and unnecessary. Obviously it wasn’t all Fleury’s fault. But he still played really, really poorly, especially coming off the heels of an encouragingly dominant game against the Islanders, and it cost the Penguins at least one, and likely two points.

I’d also like to clarify a fact that often gets muddled in these heated postgame message board blame-fests: Criticizing Marc-Andre Fleury’s play isn’t the same thing as criticizing Marc-Andre Fleury.

Seth at Empty Netters, with whom I frequently across-the-board agree, wrote the following rant against Fleury naysayers in his Rangers game wrapup:

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Derrek Lee Covers The 2010 Issue Of “Cubs Anal”

February 12, 2010

I know some people are into really specific, bizarre porn fetishes, but there’s an entire magazine devoted to this?

Back-to-back “What are you, seven??” posts! My next one is just gonna be a jpg of poop with the title “Poop!”

Giants Sign Lincecum To 2-Year Deal; Torry Holt Somehow Involved?

February 12, 2010

ESPN reports that the San Francisco Giants have re-signed Tim Lincecum to a 2-year, $23 million deal. I’m still not entirely sure how Torry Holt was involved, but there he is:

I realize that laughing at a photo mistake is borderline 3-year-old humour, but as you may or may not know, I am literally a baby. Frankly it’s pretty impressive that I’m writing anything, let alone an entire blog, and spelling the word “humour” Britishly.

[Ed Note – The photo has since been corrected. They can try to cover up Torry Holt’s obvious involvement in this deal all they want, but this investigative blogger KNOWS THE TRUTH]

Commercial: Willie Stargell = Bobby Bonilla

February 11, 2010

Here’s an awesome old Pirates commercial from 1990 linking the Pirate greats of the past (Willie Stargell) with the Pirate greats of the present (…Bobby Bonilla). Though I guess hilarious-in-retrospect comparisons like Stargell to Bonilla aren’t quite as amusing as the Pirates’ ad campaign of the last ten years, which are just clips of the 70s with “We Are Family” playing then a picture of a bobblehead flashed for a half-second at the end.

Also, the game information is on fire, which is awesome:

(PSAMP via WHYGAVS)