Thursday, March 26, 2015

SLAP SHOTS

   Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick 'cause it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road to Carolina tonight as they faceoff against the Hurricanes. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)Following Tuesday's 3-2 OT home loss to St Louie, the Pens have dropped 5 of 6. Nothing would be fina than a win in Carolina! 2)Carolina at 26-36-10 with 62 points has been eliminated from the playoffs. The Pens are 40-22-11 and 91 points. Their recent freefall has them jokeying for playoff position. Get in the win column and get to the playoffs! 3)The Hurricanes are 27th in the league in goals per game with 2.2. The Pens have the 5th best goals against at 2.4. Stone the 'Canes! Let's Go Pens!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE BULLPEN

     It was a slow day here at the Black-N-Gold newsdesk. Any time it's uneventful, Mrs. Black-N-Gold's wheels start spinning in her head. Your Pittsburgh Pirates are less than 2 weeks away from the start of the regular season. As usual, Mrs. Black-N-Gold is concerned. The Grapefruit League standings show the Buccos at a mediocre 10-8 with a few ties thrown in for good measure. They've hardly played their regular starting lineup yet (although as Mrs. Black-N-Gold types these words, the Pirates were scheduled to start alot of the regulars in Tuesday afternoon's game). Those that have played, haven't looked all that impressive. Which begs the question, "How important is spring training"?

    Andrew McCutchen was penciled into his usual spot of centerfield and third in the batting order. This is the first start for Cutch since March 12. Both the Pirates and Cutch insist he is a go for Opening Day. Apparently, Cutch doesn't need all of spring training to prepare for the regular season. LF Starling Marte took advantage of Cutch's absence by shifting over to center and posting impressive stats. He has a batting line of .395/.410/.605 and an OPS of 1.016. Can we expect Marte to carry the party over into the regular season? Meanwhile, while Cutch is out, fans have been treated to the likes of Wily Garcia, Gorkys Hernandez and Mel Rojas, Jr. Mrs. Black-N-Gold can't help but think it's time to send the scrubs to their respective assignments and get your starters on the field. If they're hurt, as in Cutch's case, fine. Why don't you start players who are actually going to make the trip north with the team and need the work?

     The pitching is a bit harder to gauge. Sometimes you have a hurler on the mound that is just working on his pitches or fine-tuning his delivery. Mrs. Black-N-Gold remembers last spring, RH Edinson Volquez had a horrible exhitibtion season. His ERA ballooned over 9. Yet, there he was, leading the Pirates staff in the regular season, through to his start in the Wildcard Game. Several pitchers, both starters and relievers, that are being counted on to contribute this season are suffering from over-inflated ERAs: AJ Burnett is 6.39, Antonio Bastardo is 7.50, Charlie Morton is 7.71 and Jeff Locke is 9.00. Meanwhile, Arquimedes Caminero, Radhames Liz and Vance Worley are drawing raves.

     It's all quite maddening. Mrs. Black-N-Gold figures every player is different and knows their body better than anyone else. Their comfort levels are different, too. What may work for one player may not for another. Who would have expected C Tony Sanchez to come into camp, tear the cover off the ball at a .440 clip and make the team? He gained valuable playing time while C Chris Stewart has been hampered by a bad hammy.
    
     Then there is the curious case of INF Jung Ho Kang. After signing the Korean import the Pirates declared that he would not be sent to the minors but would start the season on the Major League roster. After having some time off, Kang played yesterday and lowered his spring average to .111. Manager Clint Hurdle is expected to give Kang some extra at bats at Pirate City today while the rest of the team has the day off. Hopefully the extra work will help Kang find his way.

     So there you have it. Everyone takes a different approach to spring training. Some players need to work on things while others might not need to work so hard. While Mrs. Black-N-Gold wishes that the next time she hears the name "Pedro" in reference to spring training, it had better be regarding the Pirates 1B Alvarez and not the light-hitting INF Florimon. I'd rather see Liz pitch than Leesman. But I guess Mrs. Black-N-Gold needs to chill out and wait for the games to matter. Let the games begin! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SLAP SHOTS

     You can spit shine your shoes, Mabel, 'cause it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins are back on the home ice of Consol Energy Center tonight as they faceoff against the St Louie Blues. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)St Louie's #3 power play (22.7%) goes toe-to-toe with the Pens #2 penalty kill (85.6%). Don't let them take advantage of the man-advantage! 2)The Pens putrid power play (#8 at 19.8%) did manage to score with the extra man in Saturday night's 3-1 win at Arizona. Hopefully they can take advantage of St Louie's #10-ranked PK (82.8%). Man-up! 3)St Louie is on a skid. Coming off a 2-1 OT loss at Detroit on Sunday, the Blues have lost 3 straight. #4 would be great with Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

50-YARD LINE

     Yesterday, your Pittsburgh Steelers made news as they signed OLB James Harrison to a 2 year deal, bringing back the former Defensive Player of the Year for another go-round. Mrs. Black-N-Gold feels the move smacks of desperation on the Steelers part. But what else could they do? They are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to the sudden "retirement" of free agent Jason Worilds and the lack of impact from first round pick Jarvis Jones.

      Clearly Deebo's best days are behind him. He'll be 37 years old at the start of the season, no spring chicken for an outside linebacker, especially in a 3-4 defense that relies heavily on pressure from the outside. Brought out of retirement last season to help with the depleted linebacking corps, Harrison played in only 11 games. He had his moments but finished with only 5.5 sacks and 29 total tackles in a limited role. The strip/sack used to be #92's calling card but no more. He forced no turnovers last season.

     Harrison just made the announcement over the weekend that he would make a decision on returning to Pittsburgh or following Dick LeBeau to Tennessee. He must have made up his mind quickly as the signing was made public less than 24 hours later.

     Harrison may still be able to contribute to the defense in a part time role. And, who knows, perhaps he can help light a fire under some of the young guys, notably Jones and another first rounder, Ryan Shazier. The problem is, the Steelers are forced to continue to put their eggs in the greybeard's basket. The Steelers have no one to blame for their desperation moves but themselves.

     Although the current regime of GM Kevin Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin have found some gems in the draft such as WR Antonio Brown and RB Le'Veon Bell, they have left the defensive cupboard mostly bare. Ziggy Hood (1st round pick), Alamada Ta'amu (4th) , Thaddeus Gibson (4th) and Bruce Davis (3rd) are just some of the many examples of defensive misses in the draft for the Steelers. Not to mention a 2nd round pick on Worilds. It seems that when Worlids didn't break the bank as expected on the open market, he decided to suddenly "retire". This, even though the Steelers were willing to bring him and his measly 7.5 sacks back on a long-term deal. See how desperate the Steelers have become for some D?

     Before this May's draft, the Steelers personal department and coaching staff may want to take a long, hard look at how they are evaluating and developing players. Jones is a shining example of this. True he has been injured more often than not (another red flag). However, when he is on the field, he rarely contributes to the defense. Shazier is in danger of suffering from the same affliction. Although he will get a bit of a pass considering last year was just his rookie season.

     In other words, the Steelers need to fix the D with more than duct tape in the form of Harrison and a prayer in the form of this year's draft. As always, Mrs. Black-N-Gold says "put the "D" back in the defense". Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

BLACK-N-GOLD NEWS

     Good Sunday morning one and all! It's time for another edition of the latest from Mrs. Black-N-Gold, the Black-N-Gold News. Don't forget to keep it here for the most up-to-date information on your favorite Black-N-Gold teams.


BLACK-N-GOLD NEWS  
Penguins-Our Pens finally got back in the win column with a 3-1 victory over AZ last night. Unfortunately, it was the only W they managed in a woeful week. To make matters worse, they continue to be without the services of C Evegni Malkin and F Patric Hornqvist. Although they aren't expected to be out for extended periods of time, Geno and Horny's absence clearly is a blow to the offense. Hopefully they can return in time for Tuesday night's battle with the Blues at Consol Energy Center. Let's Go Pens!!!

Pirates-Our Pirates will give the ball to LH Francisco Liriano on Opening Day in Cincy. Manager Clint Hurdle announced his rotation to start the season: Liriano, RH Gerrit Cole, RH AJ Burnett, RH Vance Worley or LH Jeff Locke and RH Charlie Morton. This leaves the Cole Train in line to pitch the home opener vs. Detroit. The Buccos also made some roster moves this week. They announced that C Tony Sanchez will make the trip north with the club as C Chris Stewart deals with hamstring issues. RH Nick Kingham and C Elias Diaz, who both had strong camps, were sent to Triple A. Also, the Pirates continued to leave CF Andrew McCutchen out of the lineup due to a "lower body injury". The Pirates don't seem concerned about Cutch but Mrs. Black-N-Gold is beginning to worry. We only have a few more weeks until April 6. Mrs. Black-N-Gold would feel a little more comfortable if she saw Cutch on the field a little. Could he possibly be in the lineup for today's game against the Houston Astros? We can catch it on MLB Network to see. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Steelers-Not much activity from our Steelers this week following last week's signing of QB Ben Roethlisberger to an extension and the free agent acquisition of RB De'Angelo Williams. In fact, owner Art Rooney II said that he didn't expect the Steelers to obtain any more free agents this offseason. That may explain why CBs Patrick Robinson and Sterling Moore, both expected to visit the Steelers offices this past week, signed elsewhere. Mrs. Black-N-Gold hopes the Steelers scouts are working feverishly to load up during May's draft. We're going to need it. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

SLAP SHOTS

     Hallelujah Hollywood, it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins try to find the win column in the desert tonight as they faceoff against the Arizona Coyotes. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens have lost 4 in a row, scoring only 2 goals during this drought. Crank up some Motley Crue and Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! 2)AZ has lost 16 of 17 and 6 straight. #7 would be great! 3)The Coyotes are 10-21-5 on home ice. They are in the midst of a 1-12-2 stretch at home. Despite the Pens recent woes, they're 18-10-7 on the road. Road Warriors! Let's Go Pens!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

THE BULLPEN

     It's a quiet day in the world of Black-N-Gold & Blues for Mrs. Black-N-Gold. Our Penguins are in a tailspin as the season unwinds. The Pirates are still a few weeks away from Opening Day as they continue to work in Bradenton. Our Steelers made some noise last week with some signings but have not been heard from since. And it's sometimes hard for Mrs. Black-N-Gold to keep up on recent blues happenings when she can't always afford tickets to the latest shows or the newest CDs. Fear not, Mrs. Black-N-Gold continues her goal of a blog a day in 2015.

       As you may have guessed, Mrs. Black-N-Gold loves baseball, especially her Pirates. What she also enjoys is a good movie about the grand old game. So today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold presents to you her 5 Favorite Baseball Movies. If you haven't seen all of these fine pieces of baseball cinema, she highly recommends that you do so. Perhaps you have your own favorites such as "Field of Dreams" or "Angels in the Outfield". If so, feel free to share them with Mrs. Black-N-Gold and tell he why they're your favorite. You may change her mind or at least make her see the movie in a whole new light. Let's step up to the plate, shall we?

5)Fever Pitch-This is a romantic-comedy starring the likable Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, two actors that Mrs. Black-N-Gold feels you could sit down with and have a beer. Ok, it's not exactly about baseball but it does have the Red Sox improbable 2004 World Series run in the storyline. It's fun to see Fallon's character try to woo Barrymore's as he's carrying on his love affair with the BoSox. There are even cameos by some of the players. Of course, we also get to see Johhny Damon's "sweetest ass in the league". Sigh.

4)Pride of the Yankees-A movie about the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, starring Oscar-winning actor Gary Cooper. This black and white feature may seem old and outdated to some of you. To Mrs. Black-N-Gold, it never gets old. Cooper brings to life a true, larger-than-life figure, both on the field and off. For Pride of the Yankees, you're going to need a hanky, especially when Coop delivers the famous "Luckiest Man Alive" speech. There won't be a dry eye in the house.

3)Major League-You'll get plenty of laughs out of the original movie starring then-unknowns Charlie Sheen and Wesley Snipes as well as the hilarious Bob Uecker. Unfortunately, the studio decided to milk this one for all it's worth. Nothing beats the first Major League. The sequels were like replacement players during the strike of '94.

2)The Bad New Bears-This was another franchise Hollywood ran into the ground with sequels, a television show and a re-make. Except no substitutes. The original starring Oscar winners Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal is the real deal. Who could not love the underdog story of the woeful, ragtag Bears and their crumdgeon of a coach?

1)A League of Their Own-Batter up, hear that call.....Another movie with star power in the form of Academy Award winners Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. This movie is losely based on experiences of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which ran from 1943-1954. The Penny Marshall-directed film reminded us that "girls are what you sleep with after the game, not what you coach during the game" as Hanks's character Jimmy Dugan spews. He also chastises that there is "no crying in baseball". He's wrong on both counts. Break out the tissue again as the ending always makes Mrs. Black-N-Gold cry.

So there you have it, some of Mrs. Black-N-Gold's favorite baseball movies to tide you over until first pitch on Opening Day. Now go get yourself some peanuts and crackerjacks and enjoy the show. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!