Archive for May, 2010

About That Dumb Pirates Report Article

May 21, 2010

So some dude wrote an article on a website called Pirates Report, which no one reads but which is apparently owned by the Nuttings, arguing, essentially, that Mario Lemieux would be a bad owner for the Pirates because the Penguins have underachieved during his tenure, winning only one measly Cup with the best nucleus in the NHL.

I’m not gonna link the article, nor am I going to be baited into a debate here. The post was a blatant, shameless attempt to garner pageviews for that dumbass site that no one cares about; the concept is not a viewpoint that any actual person holds, and any resulting firestorm of Penguin fans pointing out the uber-obvious (that one Cup is successful, and what have the Pirates done under Bob Nutting) is just people getting angry and yelling at no one.

This situation is not, as Deadspin titled it, “Pittsburgh Ownership War Heats Up”. Nothing has happened. Literally nothing has happened. Lemieux and Ron Burkle have not had any new discussions with Bob Nutting about buying the Pirates, and none of them had anything to do with this post (even if Nutting owns that site and the writing is biased towards the company line, does anyone really think the Pirates owner is taking to the time to tell some random guy what nonsensical, backlash-inducing posts he wants him to write?)

There are plenty of rational reasons to make a case for or against the merits of the Lemieux/Burkle group taking over the Pirates. Bashing the Penguins isn’t a poor argument, it’s a non-argument. Spending any time responding to the post itself is worthless and self-defeating. Let’s move on. It’s nice outside.

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The Brewers Clearly Just Watched The Matrix

May 20, 2010

Last night’s Pirates/Brewers game included a number of unusual plays, including most notably Ryan Braun attempting to take third base while the bag was uncovered during a defensive shift, but Andy LaRoche turned around and instantly tagged him for the second out in the ninth.

Judging by the Brewers’ postgame quotes, I’m guessing they happened to catch The Matrix on their hotel tvs last night:

Braun looked behind him, saw no shortstop Ronny Cedeno as backup, and bolted for third. A few steps later, he turned and headed back to second — where LaRoche had that angle covered, too. LaRoche dived and tagged him.

“He did, like, some ‘Matrix’ [stuff] or something, I don’t know,” Braun said.

I know what you’re saying: “Big deal – ONE Matrix reference in the Brewers’ postgame comments? Quit wasting my time, Hopper. Time is money. Money is power. Drugs are the women. Scarface.” Ha! You just quoted nothing, person I made up!

But the Matrix refs didn’t stop with Braun — take it away, awesome Randy Wolf quote:

…the RBI single led to the ninth consecutive loss for the sinking Brewers, about whom Wolf said: “Obviously, we are just getting on the losing end of these games. It is tough, it’s a hard pill to swallow … I wish I had that easy pill that would fix everything …”

You know, that easy pill, that makes baseball easy.

Does he mean…THE PILL FROM THE MATRIX??

Then Ken Macha went on about how giving up bloop singles is like the Brewers’ “Agent Smith,” and how they need to “Dodge more bullets in slo-mo” if they want to get back in the “National League Carrie Ann Moss race”, and so on. It didn’t make much sense.

What He Said

May 20, 2010

My position on the Pirates’ roster bloodbath from a year ago is well-documented (meaning, documented in posts on this blog that like three humans accidentally saw while Googling whether or not Elvis was left-handed), but many of the principles I’ve argued about — in a nutshell, the merits of paying to keep an aging proven-noncompetitive baseball team together versus utilizing playing time as a resource to improve and evaluate players who may fit a longer-term plan — are extremely well articulated in this post by Joe Posnanski, one of the best baseball writers out there today.

Click here to read the article, Diary of a Losing Team 5/17

Posnanski’s rational frustration in this post is specifically geared towards his hometown Royals, but it’s an equally applicable retort to the Pirate masses who were outraged at Neal Huntington a year ago (and continue to be).

Incidentally, the Pirates beat the Brewers tonight off another unexpectedly competent Brian Burres start, 6 RBI by 6 different players (including Burres), another solid bullpen performance, and a hilarious baserunning mistake in the 9th by Ryan Braun. The Pirates are currently sitting at 18-22, and are better than 8 other teams in baseball at the moment, though their astonishing -100 run differential (by far the worst in the majors) suggests their near-.500 record isn’t representative of their actual play and is likely to regress (even if the -100 is in itself also probably not representative of their play, as it includes a lot of piled-on blowouts and meltdowns by Charlie Morton and Hayden Penn).

My point is just, the Pirates are doing what the Posnanski article is saying and taking advantage of the time they have to evaluate players, and the team isn’t embarrassing itself in the process (and in fact, is playing about the same as it was a year ago). Isn’t this at least a little more refreshing than the hypothetical alternative of watching Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez (both DLed), Jason Bay (would’ve left regardless), Adam LaRoche, and Nate McLouth earning $50+ million between them and the Pirates being, like, 19-21?

Pens Win The Cup Of Deryk Engelland Re-Signing

May 19, 2010

The Pens’ 2010 Stanley Cup run might have been cut tragically and unexpectedly short, but they did win something this week – The Cup Of Deryk Engelland Re-Signage:

The Penguins have re-signed rugged defenseman Deryk Engelland.

Engelland, who would have been an unrestriced free agent July 1, accepted a one-year deal that will pay him $500,000 if he is in the NHL and a reduced salary if he is in the minors. (P-G)

YEAHHHH!!!! This month wasn’t a total waste after all. The Pens beat out EVERY OTHER TEAM to bring back an acceptable fringey NHL defenseman. I’m grasping at straws, you say? Hahaha, no. I don’t even know what that means, haha! Haha. Ha. . …

(Sorry for the spotty posting of late, been busy at work. I haven’t, as it may appear, just been sitting with my jaw dropped glaring at the static on my tv that hasn’t been touched since Game Seven)

Worst Loss In Penguins History

May 12, 2010

Easily. The David Volek game was inexcusable, but it was a one-goal loss in Overtime. This was the biggest all-round failure imaginable, on the biggest stage imaginable, at home, against a #8 seed, when leading 3-2 in the series, with the 1-3 seeds all out of the playoffs and the Conference ripe for the taking. Absolutely pathetic.

Goodbye to Mellon Arena, Sergei Gonchar, Alexei Ponakarovsky, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, and arrogant sportswriters haughtily dismissing any of our legitimate, rational concerns about Marc-Andre Fleury.

Hello summer and no longer worrying about this crap. Full recap tomorrow, when I’m no longer paralyzed with swearing-filled bewilderment.

Countdown to Crosby injury announcement and his subsequent “I’m not gonna make any excuses”: 12 hours.

GAME SIX: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3 – Pens Keep Dream Of Horribly Choking Alive

May 11, 2010

Well, this isn’t good. Four games into this series, it still seemed inconceivable that the Pens would lose the best of seven, as they clearly outplayed and outchanced Montreal in almost every one of the first 12 periods of the series aside from the first 10 minutes of Game Three and the third period of Game Four, and even though the Capitals similarly outchanced the Canadiens in their series and came up short, any just law of averages would dictate that a team couldn’t get badly outplayed 14 games in a row and win eight of them.

Games Five and Six, on the contrary, have basically been even hockey games, with the Canadiens even outshooting the Pens in Game Five and Pittsburgh needing a dominant Fleury performance to sneak away with a win in regulation, and not surprisingly, the Canadiens won Game Six and came darn close in Game Five, making Game Seven look like a lot more of a toss-up than one might have expected one week ago.

I’m worried about Fleury again, and not because he played terribly in Game Six (he didn’t), but precisely because he didn’t play terribly — he’s shown a remarkable ability to bounce back from terrible performances with stellar performances, but what about when he plays totally mediocrely, as he did in Game Six? He wasn’t floundering, and didn’t give up a harmless dump-in shot from the left circle, but he also didn’t play “well”, allowing 4 goals on only 25 shots, including two shots from just inside the blue line (albeit on a one-timer and a serious screen, respectively). Will that hamper his ability to have a miraculous bounce-back game to allow haughty sportswriters to rip on us poor mongoloid fans for pointing out when Fleury plays badly?

The Pens’ D often shoulders some of the blame for Fleury’s weaker outings, but in Game Six, they were exceptionally responsible, with Kris Letang setting the tone early by turning the puck over just outside the Pens’ blue line and immediately falling down to give Montreal a clean 2-on-1 and an early lead. The Canadiens’ fourth goal was just a jamboree of failure on the Penguins’ part, and in between, the Pens’ D turned the puck over far too often, played far too tentatively with the puck, and despite Letang’s power play goal and Gonchar’s late tipped-in slapper to cut the lead to one, the defense corps was far too shaky in both zones to loosen the Canadiens up from their “All five dudes collapse to the net at all times” defensive strategy, which will continue to work as long as Goligoski, Leopold, Eaton, and Orpik (and more often than not Gonchar and Letang too) can’t hit the net or have their shots not extremely blocked.

I also wouldn’t be completely surprised if when the Pens’ season ends, they reveal that Crosby was playing with an injury. He really just doesn’t look like himself, and it’s not like he’s flying around playing awesomely and the Canadiens defenders keep perfectly checking him off the puck or diving to deflect his passes (though I give credit to Hal Gill for his impressive Crosby-holding highlight reel that Versus runs every game to compliment his defense), but Crosby’s been less impactful than usual for a far longer stretch than we’re used to seeing. I realize things tighten up in the playoffs and it’s tougher for individuals to dominate, but no matter how well the Canadiens’ D is playing, Sidney Crosby just doesn’t go six game stretches with only one tip-in goal. I’d like to confidently exclaim “Oh he’ll be fine,” but my thoughtless, general optimism heading into this series has given way to cold indifference, as every stretch of every period continues to fall more and more squarely into the toss-up category.

Home ice doesn’t impact Game Seven in any way, either, as much as people who confuse the NHL with the NBA continue falsely believing it does. While it’ll be nice to get the Pens away from the whiny boo factory that is the Bell Centre, they also played their worst game of the series at home in Game 5, and played terribly against Ottawa at home in Game 1 of that series then failed to close out a beaten-down Senators team at home in Game 5, so I’m not drawing any false confidence from the location of this contest. The suckiness of the Pens’ D and Fleury’s proneness to astonishing letdowns cannot be constrained by geography.

So like I said, Game Seven is a toss-up. The Penguins should win if Crosby plays well and Malkin plays well and Fleury plays well and the third line chips in a goal and the penalty killing stops being stupid and the power play continues miraculously being not stupid. But am I confident more than two of those things will happen at the same time in this bewildering series? No, I’m not. If I had to bet, I’d take the Pens, but I’m sitting about 53-47 on this one, and in a one-game winner-takes-all scenario, that’s not a good thing.

GAME THREE: Penguins 2, Canadiens 0 – Pens Still Can’t Finish Or Play D, Win

May 5, 2010

Let’s review yesterday’s 8 Obvious Observations Heading Into Game 3 and see how the Pens fared:

1. Crosby needs to score. [Nope]

2. Malkin needs to score. [Yep]

3. Fleury needs to play better. He’s quietly allowed 6 goals on 52 shots this series for a Save Pct. of .885. [Definitely]

4. Guerin and Kunitz need to do anything, ever. [Nope – Guerin didn’t play, and Kunitz played badly enough to suck for the both of them]

5. Brooks Orpik needs to not leave dudes open in the slot then take pointless holding penalties behind the net, directly resulting in two goals. [Yep]

6. Alexei Ponikarosvky has been playing more noticeably this series than he did against Ottawa, but it’d be awesome if he ever found himself in the same zipcode as the scoresheet. [Nope]

7. Hal Gill needs to not be allowed to randomly bear hug dudes. [Yep – His penalty led to the Malkin power play goal]

8. Halak? Whatever. Fucking score on him. [Ehhhh…not really]

So the Pens went 4-for-8, and squeaked out a win. Hopefully they can up that number to 5 or 6 for Game 4 and wrap this series up (8-for-8 would be awesome and Cup-worthy, but I’ve basically given up hope for #4 or #6 ever happening). Tyler Kennedy hitting the net would be a nice change of pace too, but let’s not go nuts. I’ll take the W.

8 Obvious Observations Heading Into Game 3

May 4, 2010

Pens/Canadiens Game 3 is tonight. Skipping the long winded “there’s no reason the Pens shouldn’t crush this team” Game 2 recap, here are 8 very obvious things I’d like to see happen in the series:

1. Crosby needs to score.

2. Malkin needs to score.

3. Fleury needs to play better. He’s quietly allowed 6 goals on 52 shots this series for a Save Pct. of .885.

4. Guerin and Kunitz need to do anything, ever.

5. Brooks Orpik needs to not leave dudes open in the slot then take pointless holding penalties behind the net, directly resulting in two goals.

6. Alexei Ponikarosvky has been playing more noticeably this series than he did against Ottawa, but it’d be awesome if he ever found himself in the same zipcode as the scoresheet.

7. Hal Gill needs to not be allowed to randomly bear hug dudes.

8. Halak? Whatever. Fucking score on him.

This Bruin Just Ripped On My Girlfriend

May 4, 2010

Interesting billboard in Boston:

Hmm, I happen to date a Flyers fan. I guess Dating Advice Bear and I will just have to agree to disagree. For the record, adult male bears frequently murder bear cubs so the mothers go back into heat, so I’m not sure we should accept dating advice from these assholes.

Personally, I stick to the rule of never dating a girl who traded away all her forwards so she needs to use Mark Recchi AND Miroslav Satan on her power play. Fortunately this rarely comes up.