Friday, March 6, 2015

SLAP SHOTS

     Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one, too, it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins continue their west coast swing tonight as they faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens and Ducks have both been on a roll through their last 10 games. The Ducks are 7-3-0 while the Pens are 6-3-1. It's Duck season! 2)The Ducks have been powerless on the power play, scoring just once in their last 11 games with the man-advantage. The Pens need their special teams to be special. Kill those penalties! 3)The Pens have won their last 3 games vs. Anaheim. Get win #4, score, score, score the Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BLACK-N-GOLD N'AT

     Mrs. Black-N-Gold can't stop grinning from ear to ear. This is a wonderful time of year to be a fan of the Black-N-Gold. Today she reflects on why this is such a special time for be a fan of your Pittsburgh Penguins, Pirates and Steelers.

     As Mrs. Black-N-Gold types these words, the Pens are waiting for the puck to drop in Colorado. They open a 4-game road trip against the Avalanche, riding a 4-game winning streak. GM Jim Rutherford made a few deadline deals last week, trading D Robert Bortuzzo for D Ian Cole and D Simon Depres for D Ben Lovejoy. He also traded away a few draft picks and F Zach Sill for F Daniel Winnick prior to the deadline. Will these moves put the Pens over the top? That remains to be seen. What we do know is that it's beginning to look a lot like Stanley Cup season as the Pens gear up for a Cup run. G Marc-Andre Fleury continues to play out of his mind. C Sidney Crosby and C Evgeni Malking look to, finally, be clicking on all cylinders, too. The recent line changes by Coach Mike Johnston may have awoken the Pens from the months-long slumber. Just in time for the playoffs. Let's Go Pens!!!

      Hopefully, by the time you read this, Mrs. Black-N-Gold will be making her long-awaited pilgrimage to Bradenton to see the Bucs battle the Rays in a spring training tilt on Saturday. Yes, it looks like spring may be finally in the air. The Pirates won their first spring training game on Tuesday, defeating Toronto 8-7. Good news from that game: Both INF Jung Ho Kang and 1B Pedro Alvarez connected for homers. If ever there were two players that needed to get off on the right foot this spring, it was Kang and Pedro. Unfortunately, the Buccos lost to the Jays yesterday 4-1. But the beauty is it's spring and it's early. There is plenty of time for the Pirates to work things out en route to the NL Central title and the World Series. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

      The Steelers have many tough decisions ahead of them in the coming weeks. They have been busy restructuring contracts to clear some cap space. They also need to work out a deal with QB Ben Roethlisberger who is in the final year of his current contract. Speaking of contracts, the Steelers failed to tag OLB Jason Worilds, deciding to let him enter the free agent market. Will they replace him in free agency or via the draft? Or will they bring back OLB James Harrison for one more go-round? They still need to make some tough calls on the fate of S Troy Polamalu, CB Ike Taylor and DE Brett Keisel, too. With free agency just around the corner and the draft after that, keep an eye here for the latest transactions as the Steelers look to get back to the Super Bowl and Lombardi #7.  Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

SLAP SHOTS

     Great balls of fire, it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road as they begin a 4-game road trip tonight versus the Colorado Avalanche. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens have gone into Colorado and defeated the Avalanche the last 3 times. The Pens have also won 4 in a row. #5 Would not be jive! 2)Pens G Marc-Andre Fleury has won 3 straight games and has compiled a 1.59 GAA vs. Colorado during 7-1-0 stretch. Flower Power! 3)The Pens ride into Colorado following Sunday's win over Columbus, 5-3. The Avalanche are coming off a 3-1 loss to Minnesota on Saturday. The Pens have a chance to improve on their #9 ranking in goals/game at 2.9. The Avalanche are 24th in the league in goals against at 2.8. Give them an avalanche of Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

THE BULLPEN

     Well, Mrs. Black-N-Gold has her bags packed, her Xanax in hand and is ready for her flight to FLA. She will travel to Bradenton to take in her first spring training with your Pittsburgh Pirates. Excitement is in the air as Mrs. Black-N-Gold has never made the pilgrimmage to McKechnie Field. Here are some of the things Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks forward to in her travels.

1)Saturday afternoon, Rays-Pirates. Of course this would be at the top of Mrs. Black-N-Gold's list. She's been reading about the Bucs all offseason and can't wait to get an up-close-and-personal look at them herself. I've been compiling questions should I have the honor of meeting anyone within the organization. The questions run the gamut from "Can you get me tix to PNC Park" (that one is for anyone that crosses my path), to "Why haven't you signed the Homeboy to a long-term deal (that one is for Huntington, Coonelly, and/or Nutting. You can be sure I have questions at the ready for the players, too. I'd ask SS Jordy Mercer if he's feeling any heat from newly arrived INF Jung Ho Kang. Or C Francisco Cervelli if he feels pressure to put up Russell Martin-like numbers. Don't worry, if any member of the Pittsburgh Pirates is within earshot, they're going to hear from Mrs. Black-N-Gold.

2)Trading in turtlenecks, boots, and gloves for sandals, shorts and sunglasses is definitely up there on Mrs. Black-N-Gold's list, too. I hope Mother Nature is good to me in Florida. In the past, I've been known to be a bad-weather jinx, bringing record cold temperatures wherever I go. Right now it looks like Joe DeNardo is the weatherman in Bradenton, as there is a lot of "party cloudy" scheduled for my trip. At least it will be in the '70s and no snow in sight.

3)What would a trip for Mrs. Black-N-Gold be without the blues? I've heard of a place called Ace's in Bradenton that is supposed to be good for blues music. Unfortunately, I've also heard it's a Cleveland Browns bar, if you can believe that. I may have to take the good (blues music) with the bad (Cleveland Browns fans). I see the legendary Nighthawks are listed for Friday. I've seen them quite a few times and was hoping to catch an act I hadn't already seen. I did hear there is a blues jam on Thursdays at the Flying Dog CafĂ© in Bradenton. I'll have to check my schedule. One way or another, there will be blues in Bradenton for Mrs. Black-N-Gold.

I hope to get some pictures while I'm gone. If I'm lucky enough to get any quotes, maybe I can write about the Pirates or the blues from this trip. Is there any way I can write this trip off as a business expense? What's that? You say you have to get paid for this to be considered "business"? Oh, if only. I can dream, can't I? Let's Go Bucs!!!!! Keep It Bluesy!



Monday, March 2, 2015

50-YARD LINE

     Mrs. Black-N-Gold has been hearing the chatter all weekend. She doesn't like what she's hearing and it's time to speak up. What is all this Mike Wallace wants to return to Pittsburgh talk? After two uneventful yet well-paid seasons in Miami, former Steeler WR Mike Wallace and the Dolphins may soon part company. There are rumors that Wallace won't take a pay cut if asked and may have played his last down in South Beach.

      All Pittsburgh Steelers fans remember the name of Mike Wallace. He was the speedster that was drafted by the Steelers in the 3rd round out of Mississippi in 2009. He was a 3-time Rookie of the Week that season and was awarded the Steelers Rookie of the Year honor. He also made the Pro Bowl in 2011 while with the Steelers.

     After that, the honeymoon appeared over in Pittsburgh. Wallace held out of OTAs and most of training camp in 2012, his contract year. While Wallace was holding out for a big payday, the Steelers rewarded his fellow WR Antonio Brown with the big-money contract Wallace coveted. Brown has gone on to bigger and better things with the Steelers. In 2013 and 2014 he made the Pro Bowl, he was second-team All Pro in 2013 and first-team in 2014. He was the NFL leader for receptions and receiving yards and led the AFC in touchdowns for 2014. He was also Co-Offensive Player of the Year in the AFC in 2014.

     Wallace has put up respectable numbers while in Miami but no where near the 5-year, $60 million deal that he signed. Wallace has appeared in 32 games with 140 catches, 1792 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wallace reportedly quit on his team in the final game of the season, exhibiting the need for an attitude adjustment. Word is the Dolphins are trying to swing a trade for Wallace.

      The rumor is Wallace would welcome a return to the Black-N-Gold. Sorry, Mike. That ship has sailed. Not only has AB blossomed into the best WR in the NFL, the receiving corps has turned into a strength for the Steelers. With Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton in the fold, Mike Wallace is old news in Pittsburgh. Take your one-trick pony somewhere else. Mike Who?  Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

SLAP SHOTS

     Eddie spaghetti, it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins return to the home ice of Consol Energy Center as they faceoff against the Columbus Blue Jackets today. These are your keys for today's game. 1)Columbus rides into Pittsburgh after losing to New Jersey last night 2-0. In fact, the Blues Jackets have lost 5 straight. Beat them black-n-blue! 2)The Pens have won 3 in a row, edging the Craps Wednesday night, 4-3. We want more with win #4! 3)The Pens are looking to exact some revenge as Columbus defeated them at CEC last week, 2-1. Fire up the Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

BLUE'S N'AT

     Brrrr. When Mrs. Black-N-Gold awoke from her nice, warm and cozy bed this morning, it was a freezing 6 degrees outside. It was so cold outside, it could stop time. Thank goodness this is the final day of February as Mrs. Black-N-Gold surely has the "Cold Weather Blues" to quote the great Muddy Waters.

     As long as there has been blues music, there have been songs about the weather and the winter is certainly no exception. Many musicians would use the chilly temperatures as a metaphor for their relationships with their significant other.

     In 1935, Blind Willie McTell released "Cold Winter Day", telling his woman "you need me on a cold winter day". Well that is definitely true in these conditions, when the barometer dips below freezing and you need someone to hold you close and keep you warm.

     Sonny Boy Williamson wasn't so lucky. In his song "Nine Below Zero" he sang "that woman wait till it got nine below zero and put me down for another man". Boy, that woman sure was cold-blooded. She must have had ice water in her veins to give old Sonny Boy the deep freeze like that.

     Muddy Waters wasn't finished with the winter weather when he wrote "Cold Weather Blues", oh no. See, Muddy migrated from the Delta and moved up north to the Windy City of Chicago, a town known for its blistery winter weather. That's why Muddy sang "it's so cold up north that a bird can hardly fly. Now you know I'm goin' back down south, let this winter pass me by" in "Cold Up North". Was he actually singing about the freezing cold temperatures or was his lady giving him the cold shoulder? Maybe, both.

     And we mustn't forget Stevie Ray Vaughan's hit "Couldn't Stand the Weather". Stevie says "all these years that you and I've spent together. All this, we just couldn't stand the weather". Sounds like SRV's relationship could use a log on the fire.

     So yes, relationships are conducive to the weather. But fear not, spring is just around the corner and with it warmer weather to heat things up. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!