Thursday, September 18, 2014

THE BULLPEN

I love that dirty water, Pittsburgh you're my home! Your Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up their series with the World Champion Boston Red Sox tonight at PNC Park. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Last night, this Pirates squad became the first in team history with at least 9 players with 10+ home runs. Chicks dig the long ball! 2)Boston starts RH Brandon Workman, 1-9, 5.27 ERA. The Pirates counter with RH Gerrit Cole, 9-5, 3.92 ERA. Cole's career September numbers are 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 57 strikeouts through 50 1/3 innings. All aboard the Cole Train! 3)In the first 2 games of this series, the Bucs have battered Boston 13-1. Give 'em more Hit, Run, & Score! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Let's go let's go, he can't hit, he can't hit! Your Pittsburgh Pirates continue their series against the Boston Red Sox tonight at PNC Park. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Last night's 4-0 blanking of Boston brings the Bucs a season-best 10 games over .500. #11 would be heaven! 2)LH Francisco Liriano, 5-10, 3.53 ERA, is on the hump for the Pirates. Filthy Frankie has been just that, keeping opponents scoreless through his last 16 innings. Fire it up, Frankie! 3)Boston will start RH Clay Buchholz, 8-8, 5.19 ERA. Boston has won Buchholz's last four starts. No more. Hit him early, hit him often, hit him HARD.  Knock him out with some Hit, Run & Score! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Bucco fever, catch it! Your Pittsburgh Pirates begin their last interleague series of the regular season tonight as they battle the Boston Red Sox at PNC Park. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Boston's starter will be RH Anthony Ranaudo, 3-2, 5.40 ERA. The Pirates tend to make a pitcher with Ranaudo's kind of numbers look like Cy Young. Say sayonara to Ranaudo tonight. Send him off with a big can o' Hit, Run, & Score! 2)The Pirates have RH Charlie Morton, 5-12, 3.84 ERA, going tonight. This is Charlie's first start since a stint on the DL. Grind 'em up, Ground Chuck! 3)Pirates 3B Josh Harrison now leads the NL with a .317 BA. All the way JHay! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!



Monday, September 15, 2014

WHAT IF THEY HAD AN NFL AND NO ONE CAME?

     Some people would say that I love football, notably the NFL and more so, the Pittsburgh Steelers. That is incorrect. I love my family and my friends. I am passionate about Pittsburgh's major sports franchises, namely the Pirates, Penguins and the aforementioned, Steelers. But it seems that, lately, my relationship with the NFL is waning.

     No, it's not because the Steelers are off to an unimpressive start for a third consecutive season (that's an article for another day). No, the reason I'm losing my passion and my interest in the NFL is because of what it's become. It's no longer the National Football League. It has turned into the No Fault League, the National Felons League or the Not our Fault League.

     Every day is seems that more and more players are making headlines not for their play on the field but for their reprehensible behavior off it. On of my favorite sports websites, ProFootballTalk.com long ago added an application on their website called "police blotter". At first it was mildly amusing, to say the least. Typically during the offseason, players would get into minor transgressions due to their enormous amount of free time and money. They'd get busted for misdemeanors such as public intoxication or disturbing the peace. But at some point, a disturbing trend began to develop: Players names were turning up more and more in the police report, for more felonious charges. What were once minor offenses became more violent and life-threatening. The letters DUI became synonymous with NFL. And the violent actions on the field were seeping into players lives off it. Words such as assault, domestic violence and even murder became the norm.

     It seems more and more that players are forgetting that it's a privilege and an honor to play in the NFL, to play for the Shield. Most of these players thinks it's their birthright. And why shouldn't they? The majority of these young men have been coddled since their teen years, sometimes even younger, because of their God-given ability to play a child's game. If a player didn't turn in a homework assignment or performed badly on a test, it was ok because of the way their performed on the gridiron. In college, they're afforded more luxuries than the common student. They are given an opportunity at a first rate education from some of the finest universities in the country with free room and board. Some of them even get rewarded, albeit under the table, away from the watchful eye of the NCAA, with cars, jewelry and money. And if/when the time comes that these athletes should make a mistake and go outside the law for infractions such as shoplifting, burglary, or sexual assault, they are normally let off with a slap on the wrist and a scolding and sent right back into the huddle.

       True, everyone makes mistakes and is entitled to second, third, even fourth chances (Lawrence Phillips comes to mind). Everyone is also innocent until proven guilty and allowed due process. I also realize that there are many players out there that are upstanding citizens, contributing members of society with philanthropic endeavors. God bless them. Unfortunately they don't make front page news. They're not always on the TMZ website and the talk of every sports talk show in the nation.

     And how can we expect the players to accept accountability for their actions when the owners and league commissioner do not. Recently, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was accused of sexual assault. Within the last year, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance. Even the grand poobah, commissioner Roger Godell has come under fire for the possible cover-up of video evidence in the Ray Rice assault incident.

     Even my beloved Steelers are guilty (pun intended) of a laundry list of offenses. One example is from 2008 when former Steelers WR Cedric Wilson was arrested in a domestic dispute. He became a "former" Steeler not because of the arrest, but because of his lack of performance on the field. How do I know this? Because another Steeler was arrested for the same charge in 2008, that player was 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, LB James Harrison. The Steelers even went so far as to recently sign Harrison to a 1-day contract to allow him to retire as a Steeler. Is that really the message they want to send?

     And what do we fans do? We continue to eat this up, myself included. We continue to watch their games, buy their merchandise and fill their stadiums. Every Sunday and Monday and now Thursday nights, too, we sit on the edge of our seats with our game jerseys on, drinking the official beer of the NFL and eating pizza from the official pizza maker of the NFL, watching, waiting and wondering.

    The NFL loves it. It's no longer just watching a game. The league, the owners, the players and the networks have turned this into WWE meets As the World Turns. It has everything: suspense, intrigue and even a little football. "Who will Ben bang in the public restroom this week?" "Did Ray kill that man in the back of the limo?" "What blond will Jerry fondle this week?" There is even extortion. Because the owners will continue to blackmail the unwitting public week in and week out. If the taxpayers don't build us a new stadium, we'll move the team. If the fans won't sell out our games, they won't be able to watch them on local television. And we continue to pay for it.

      The NFL is also called the No Fun League. That's just it, they've taken all the fun out of the game for us. Think about it. If X amount of people don't watch the networks shows every week, that show is canceled, banished from the airwaves, never to be seen again. What I'm wondering is "What if they had an NFL and no one came"? What if we, the hard-working public, decided that we've had enough of the drama and the bad behavior? Enough of watching entitled billionaires looking down on us from their luxury suites as they count their copious amounts of cash. What if we tired of watching entitled athletes continue to behave in manners that aren't fit for society? After all, we don't watch our favorite television shows when we think they've "jumped the shark". At what point do we all agree that the NFL has jumped their shark?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

THE BULLPEN

Hey batter, batter, batter! Your Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up their series with the Chicago Scrubs this afternoon at PNC Park. These are your keys to today's game. 1)The Pirates look to get back in the win column today and win their final series with their division rivals. Sink the Scrubs with a heavy dose of Hit, Run, & Score! Oh my! 2)The Scrubs send RH Jacob Turner, 5-9, 5.84 ERA to the mound. The Pirates go with RH Edinson Volquez, 11-7, 3.36 ERA. Eddy is 6-0 with a 3.12 ERA lifetime versus Chicago. #7 would be heaven! 3)In 5 of his last 6 home starts, Eddy has give up 2 runs of less. There's no place like home! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!





Saturday, September 13, 2014

50-YARD LINE

Mrs. Black-N-Gold needed some time to calm down following your Pittsburgh Steelers demoralizing 26-6 loss at the hands of their dreaded rivals, the Baltimorons. On national televsion, no less. Now that I've talked myself off the ledge and calmed down, it's time to take a look at the Good, the Bad & the Ugly from Thursday night's debacle.

1)The Good-The best part about this game is that it's over and the Steelers don't have to worry about facing the Baltimorons again until November 2. Also, they now have more than a week to prepare for the next opponent, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, next Sunday night. Other than that, I don't see much of anything for the Steelers to hang their hat on. Demoralizing defeats like this will do that to you.

2)The Bad-Space and time limitations prevent me from listing all the bad. I'll have to hang the "Bad" tag on the defense. They did not record a sack of Baltimoron QB Joe Flacco. By not pressuring the quarterback, that does not help setup the defense to force their opponents into making mistakes. Through 2 games the Steelers have just 2 sacks and no turnovers. The veterans look "slow and old" to quote Warren Sapp. The youngsters look unfocused and lost. We knew that the personnel changes to the D would lead to growing pains but it's just painful to watch. Is it Coach LeBeau's schemes or is it the players? Maybe it's both.

3)The Ugly-Don't worry, the offense isn't blameless in this one. Especially when they haven't scored a touchdown in 6 quarters. T Marcus Gilbert looks like a revolving door as he's allowed QB Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked twice in each of the first 2 games. Ben suffered a brutal hit at the hands of LB Courtney Upshaw early in the game and was not himself the rest of the night. The offense couldn't find a rhythm. WR Justin Brown fumbled away the Steelers opening drive. The usually reliable TE Heath Miller fumbled over a late drive, as well. All in all, the offense failed to sustain any meaningful drives and put significant points on the board. The few opportunities they gave themselves ended in turnovers or settling for field goals. Where is the promise and potential that this unit showed in the first half of the Cleveland game? The cries of "Fire Haley" are sure to get louder if the offense doesn't start to perform.

Ugly honorable mention goes to the fans in the stands at this game that were wearing Ray "Wife Beater" Rice's jersey and the players that dedicated this win to him. This only reinforces my thinking that there are Baltimorons in Maryland.

It may be too early to push the panic button but if the Steelers continue to (under)perform, that button better be darn close. The coaches need to get this team prepared and focused and set them up for success. If the players don't take that game plan and execute to the best of their abilities, it could be another long offseason as the Steelers will be home for the playoffs. Back to the drawing board, boys. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!





THE BULLPEN

Take me out to the ballgame! Your Pittsburgh Pirates continue their series tonight at PNC Park versus the Chicago Scrubs. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Following last night's sinking of the Scrubs, 7-3, the Pirates can make it 2 in a row over Chicago and 4 straight overall. Get win #4 with lots o' Hit, Run, & Score! 2)The Scrubs start LH Felix Dubront, 3-5, 5.43 ERA. Last week in Chicago Dubront lasted just 5 innings against the Bucs, giving up 2 runs in a 5-0 loss. The Pirates go with LH Jeff Locke, 7-4, 3.60 ERA. In Monday's 6-4 win over Philly, Locke was stellar, giving up just 1 run and 3 hits in 7 innings while fanning a career high 9 and not allowing a walk. Lockedown the Scrubs! 3)Mrs. Black-N-Gold will be attending her first game of the season tonight and will have her Jolly Roger with her. Raise It! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!