Friday, August 22, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! Your Pittsburgh Pirates take their show on the road to Milwaukee to begin a crucial 3-game series tonight against the Brewers. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pirates broke their season high 7-game losing streak in walkoff fashion on Wednesday. Gaby Sanchez sacked up in the bottom of the 9th to win it 3-2. Trouble is brewing for the Brewers! 2)With Wednesday night's win, the Pirates came from behind for the 32nd time this season to put one in the win column. Down, but NEVER out! 3)The Pirates will start LH Jeff Locke, 4-3, 3.73 ERA. Milwaukee will send RH Yovani Gallardo, 8-6, 3.32 ERA to the mound. In his last 6 starts versus the Bucs, Gallardo is 2-0 with a 2.06 ERA. Score early, score often, score BIG with a big, ol' can o' Hit, Run & Score! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE 50-YARD LINE

    Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit, spit, spit! Your Pittsburgh Steelers open their 2014 campaign at home against the Cleveland Clowns. Right now, they are 1-1 in the preseason. The Steelers are in search of their NFL best 7th Lombardi Trophy. Many variables will have to fall into place as the Steelers look to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks at 7 players that will be counted on to get the Steelers to the Stairway to Seven.

    #1-S Mike Mitchell-The Steelers don't typically chase the first wave of free agents when the signing period begins. Heck, they usually don't even go after any of the second wave, either. That changed this offseason when they almost immediately signed S Mike Mitchell to a 5 year, $25 million contract. The 27 year old, oft-fined Mitchell replaces Ryan Clark, who wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Mitchell began training camp on the PUP list with a groin injury suffered while working out. This denied Mitchell valuable practice time with fellow backfield mate Troy Polamalu. Mitchell's signing instantly helped make a gray-haired Steelers secondary younger. The former 2009 second round pick of the Oakland Raiders (#47 overall out of Ohio) comes to the Steelers by way of the Carolina Panthers #2 ranked defense. With 6 career picks, he will be called upon to help the Steelers in both the passing game and run support, while getting acclimated to Polamalu's style of play. Only time will tell if Mitchell can be Magic Mike for the Steelers.

    #2-G David DeCastro-DeCastro came to the Steelers with high expectations as a first round pick, 24th overall, out of Stanford in 2012. The Steelers looked like they snagged the "steal" of the draft. Unfortunately, DeCastro missed the first half of his rookie season due to injury. That made last season his first full season in the NFL. It did not get off to good start as he, inadvertently, took out the knee of C Maurkice Pouncey in the first game of the season, sending the center to IR. But the injury-riddled line began to gel as the season progressed and DeCastro's play improved by leaps and bounds. He's been mentioned as a future Pro Bowler, the Steelers new Alan Faneca, a linchpin for the offensive line. His time is expected to be now. Helping keep QB Ben Roethlisberger clean and clearing holes for the backfield are priority #1 for this former #1 pick.

    #3-WR Markus Wheaton-The word from training camp last year was that this 2013 3rd round pick, 79th overall out of Oregon State, would make the Steelers and their fans forget all about another former 3rd round pick who took his talents to South Beach. That was not the case as the former track and field star suffered injury setbacks in his rookie campaign. Now that WR Emmanuel Sanders is sucking up to Peyton Manning in Denver, Wheaton will be called upon to take his place opposite Antonio Brown. Wheaton will be eager to show off the speed that made him a training camp darling and impress both his quarterback and the fans.

   #4- LB Jason Worilds-The former 2010 second round pick from Virginia Tech, #52 overall, is the first of 2 Steelers LB under Mrs. Black-N-Gold's microscope. After a breakout season that ended in injury last year, the Steelers signed Worilds to a 1 year, $9.754 million deal on the transition tag. The injury prone Worilds finally cracked the starting lineup last year, earning that big payday. But with just 18 career sacks and a laundry list of injuries, can the Steelers depend on Worilds or will he turn into the second-coming of LaMarr Woodley? This question may be on the Steelers' minds as they've yet to sign the outside linebacker to a long-term deal.

    #5-LB Jarvis Jones-The 2013 1st round pick out of Georgia, #17 overall, was forced into action as a rookie last season due to injuries. Usually the Steelers like their rookies, especially on defense, to learn the system before plugging them into the lineup. Jones has no where to go but up as he only recorded 1 sack last season. The Steelers even brought in former OLB Joey Porter to mentor Jones. Now that he has a season under his belt and Peezy lighting a fire under his butt, the Steelers are expecting big things this season from Jones.

    #6-RB LeGarrette Blount-The Steelers signed Blount to a 2 year contract in the offseason to complement the running game of LeV'eon Bell. Blount is expected to bolster the Steelers running attack, bringing with him 2,711 career rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs in stops with Tennessee, Tampa Bay and New England. Undrafted out of Oregon in 2010, Blount brings with him a little baggage due to transgressions made in college and the pros. The Steelers would like to think that he's over the hump with his issues and will help their running game find the endzone this season. However, that will remain to be seen following yesterday's charges of marijuana possession for both Blount and Bell (who was also charged with DUI).

    #7-QB Ben Roethlisberger-You would think a 2004 first round pick, #11 overall out of Miami (OH), and a 2-time Super Bowl winner wouldn't have much left to prove in the NFL. However, the 32 year old Roethlisberger will be in the final year of his contract next season and hopes to cash in on one more big payday. He'd like to lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl in the process. Roethlisberger is the Steelers all-time leader for wins, passing TDs, pass attempts, completions, and passing yards. Yet, he continues to be ignored by pundits in the conversation of elite quarterbacks. He played every game last season behind a porous, banged-up offensive line. Face it, without Ben, the Steelers are no where near a playoff team. With Ben, they can go all the way to Phoenix.

    The Steelers and their black-n-gold bleeding fans hope that these 7 men have what it takes to get the Steelers that 7th Super Bowl victory. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!




   

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE BULLPEN

The crack of the bat, the thrill of the hit! Your Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up their series and their homestand tonight against the Atlanta Braves. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Following last night's 11-3 drubbing at the hands of Atl, the Pirates have lost 7 in a row and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Are the Bucs waving the white flag? Is this Collapse III? Mrs. Black-N-Gold is not giving up the ship. All hands on deck, Raise the Jolly Roger tonight! 2)In dropping the first 2 games of this series, the Pirates have been outscored, 18-6. I'll simplify these keys for the Pirates. Hit, Run, & Score! 3)RH Gerrit Cole looks to give the Pirates pitching staff a shot in the arm tonight as he returns from the DL. All aboard the Cole Train! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

THE BULLPEN

One, two, three strikes, you're out! Your Pittsburgh Pirates continue their series against the Atlanta Braves tonight at PNC Park. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pirates are mired in a season long 6-game losing streak following last night's 7-3 loss to the Braves. Gotta get this fixed and stop on #6! 2)Last night, the Bucs were a paltry 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They also hit 3 home runs, all of them solo. Get those Bucs on the pond and Hit, Run, & Score! 3)At one point, the Pirates were a season best 9 games over .500. They've now fallen to just 3 over. How about we start a WINNING streak?! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

We interrupt our regularly scheduling programming for a special announcement:

Have you seen me? Fans in Pittsburgh used to take me with them to PNC Park and wave me high into the Pittsburgh skyline after a Pirates win. For some reason, they don't do that anymore. They leave me to sit on the concrete with their empty beer cups and their smashed peanut shells. Oh, I don't blame the fans. It's the Pirates that don't give those fans the opportunity to wave me. Please, if you see me, please contact Mrs. Black-N-Gold at 1-800-PIRATES so she can take me off the side of her milk carton. RAISE IT! LET'S GO BUCS!!!!!





Monday, August 18, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Root, root, root for the home team! Your Pittsburgh Pirates begin a crucial 3 game series tonight at PNC Park against their NL wildcard-rival Atlanta Braves. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)After getting swept in both Detroit and DC, the Pirates will try to halt their longest losing streak of the season at 5 games. Right the ship & Raise The Jolly Roger! 2)The Braves have lost 8 straight on the road. At 39-24, the Pirates have the best NL home record. #9 would be fine 'cause there's no place like home! 3)Atlanta will start RH Ervin Santana, 12-6, 3.66 ERA. In his last 6 starts, Santana is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA. The Pirates will go with RH Vance Worley, 5-2, 2.51 ERA. Worley is looking to bounce back after allowing 5 runs, 3 earned, and 9 hits in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-4 loss at Detroit in his last start. Get back in the win column with some Hit, Run & Score! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!




Sunday, August 17, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Hey batter, batter, batter! Your Pittsburgh Pirates finish up their series in the nation's capital today as they face the Washington Gnats. These are your keys to today's game. 1)After allowing the Gnats a come-from-behind 4-3 victory last night, the Pirates have lost 4 in a row and look to steal one in Washington to close out the series. Meanwhile, The Gnats go for a season best 6 wins in a row. Veto Washington! 2)The Pirates send RH Edinson Volquez, 10-7, 3.67 ERA, to the hill. Eddy has been steady, winning 6 of his last 7 starts. Right the ship! 3)The Gnats go with RH Doug Fister, 12-3, 2.34 ERA. In his last 7 starts, Fister is 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA. Hit him early, hit him often, hit him HARD with a big dose of Hit, Run & Score! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Woop, woop, woop! It's time for another Standings Alert! The Pirates and St Louie lost last night, Cincy was postponed and Mil won again. the Bucs remain in 3rd place in the NL Central but are now 4.5 games out and fading fast. Where is the Jolly Roger when you need it? Also, both San Fran and Atl were winners. The Pirates are now on the outside of the NL Wildcard, looking in at .5 games back.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

BLUES N'AT

    This weekend is the 45th anniversary of Woodstock, 3 Days of Peace & Music. Most people associate the music of Woodstock as hippy, dippy, trippy psychedelic music. In reality, blues left its footprint all over Woodstock.

    In between raindrops and dropped acid, there was music and in that music was the blues. They came from came from near and far and they trucked up to Yasgur's farm. It was 1969. Change was in the air and it was happening at Woodstock.  Performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Canned Heat, Santana and 10 Years After brought more than flowers in their hair and tie-dye on their backs. They brought the blues.

    19 year old Carlos Santana lead his band through a scorching "Soul Sacrifice". Canned Heat brought the "Woodstock Boogie". The Grateful Dead closed their set by turning on the crowd to Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Turn On Your Lovelight". Creedence Clearwater Revival performed a haunting version of Sreamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You".

    Of course, some artist's sets were more colored in blues music, than others. Janis Joplin brought the Kozmic Blues Band with her. Joe Cocker  invited the crowd to "Let's Go Get Stoned", covering the popular Ray Charles hit. Alvin Lee with Ten Years After and Johnny Winter, both riveted the audience with their manic blues licks. And, of course, Jimi Hendrix brought down the stage for the throngs that stayed until that Monday morning to hear the frenetic fretwork of the guitar master.

    Sadly, many of these performers are no longer with us. They helped introduce blues music to an audience that may not have otherwise been exposed to the wonderful world of the blues. All that remains are the memories and the music.

    Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!