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Showing posts from April, 2009

NFL Draft grades don't pass this test

My beef with the NFL Draft doesn't end with the hours of television time it eats up.

It continues right through to the grading of teams after the draft.

This is another exercise in futility.

The problem is the preconception of players by those handing out grades.

The gurus who grade the teams for their performance, or lack thereof, already are locked into a belief of where a player should or should not be drafted.

So let's say Draft Guru A has Football Star B rated really high on his draft board.

For some reason, the NFL teams selecting players keep passing on Football Star B. When a team finally gets around to drafting our broken-hearted player in the third round, Draft Guru A will rave about what a steal that selection was.

Why?

Maybe Draft Guru A doesn't want to look so bad. Maybe it's a way to cover his behind.

By the time everyone figures out Football Star B doesn't have the talent to be a starter in the NFL, we'll have forgotten about Draft Guru A's assessment…

With the 32nd pick of the NFL Draft, the Steelers select ...

Who cares?

No, not about the Steelers. I share the same passion of thousands, if not millions, of Steelers fans cheering for their team.

I mean who cares about the NFL Draft?

As a recovering draft-watcher, I have no plans to park myself in front of my television for 5 hours and listen to Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair tell me why so-and-so is a great pick at No. 21 when 20 other teams passed on the guy.

I've seen the error of my ways and won't spend my day doing that -- especially when the weather forecast is for a sunny, 70s day.

There's better things to do. Like sit in front of my television and watch baseball for 5 hours (I jest).

The NFL Draft is the biggest hoax on TV these days. It's Geraldo Rivera finding nothing in Al Capone's vault. You see chatter, endless chatter. The live action includes players walking up to a podium, putting on a team hat and smiling.

Talk about excitement. I think I'd rather watch soccer on TV.

Let me get back to the actual draft.

Picking at th…

There's nothing like a 22-4 loss by the Yankees

It's always satisfying to see the New York Yankees lose a baseball game.

It got better when they opened the $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium on Thursday and lost to the Indians.

The best part, however, was the 22-4 bludgeoning of the Yankees by the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

The highlight was a 14-run second inning that lasted 37 minutes. The Tribe sent 17 batters to the plate that inning.

How has it been going for the Yankees so far? Check out this comment from the New York Daily News after that thrashing:
"We thought Obama banned torture in the United States, but it doesn't count for Yankees fans," said Larry Fannin, 51 of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., who paid $100 for his ticket. "The people around us were screaming we want a refund."
Fannin was lucky. The top ticket at the new Yankee Stadium costs $2,625. I wonder what that person was saying after the game?

The park is a celebration of greed and excess. The only thought put into the stadium was to extract more money…

Pens' chase for the Cup starts with a bang

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a mad dash at the end of the season to grab the No. 4 seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After Wednesday's thrashing of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their best-of-seven showdown, the Penguins are showing no signs of slowing down.

Sidney Crosby and Evegni Malkin each scored a goal and assisted on one, and Marc-Andre Fluery was solid in goal in the team's 4-1 win that wasn't even that close.

Pittsburgh improved to 19-3-4 under interim coach Dan Bylsma.

The Pens dominated for most of the game and the Flyers tried to get dirty at the end to send a message. They finished the game with three players in the penalty box.

"We know that's their style. That's how they play," Fleury said after the game. "But it's nice to see how the guys handled it with no problem and just moved on."

The Pens' message was better. They'll move on to Game 2 Friday night.

Expect the Flyers to come out with something to prove. Just expec…

Pirates opener: A lot to like

I'm a sucker for opening day.

I've been going to Three Rivers/PNC Park many years now to kick off the start to Pirates' season in good times and bad.

I enjoy the crowds, the ceremonies and all of trimmings that come with the opener.

Monday at PNC Park was no different.

Except if you're looking at the Pirates' record at PNC.

Zach Duke looked like an all-star, the offense looked like the Lumber Company of old and the crowd had one heck of a time celebrating the Bucs' 7-0 win.

It was just the Pirates third win at a PNC Park opener.

The game was one to remember.

Adam LaRoche (!) and Ryan Doumit hit home runs, Freddy Sanchez looked like a former batting champion and the fans actually had "the wave" going around the park.

But it was Duke's day.

It was his third career shutout and the first shutout in a home opener since 1978.

Yeah, it was a good day. It all came together for the Pirates.

Maybe there's more down the road this year.

Ian Snell had a case of the runs

Now we know what really happened in Ian Snell's first start of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Snell gave up six earned runs in a loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.

We were left with this offering from the Associated Press:

Snell, who came down with a severe case of the flu during the final week of spring training, said he had his first full meal on Thursday night. The illness left him incapacitated for several days."I've never felt like that in my life," Snell said before Friday's game was postponed. "I really got sick. That was the worst."
That might have explained Tuesday's game.

Was he sick all of 2008?

What the Snell is going on?

A key for the Pirates this year will be starting pitcher Ian Snell.

Tuesday, he proved it.

Snell was shelled for eight runs in four innings in a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals, bringing back memories of many starts in 2008.

He finished last year with a 5.42 ERA after sporting a 3.76 ERA the previous season.

One problem Snell had last year was with left-handed hitters, who combined to hit .314 off him. That, and Snell's road ERA last season (6.22) was a recipe for disaster.

And a disaster it was.

The Cards' Chris Duncan proved Snell's not over his lefty problem with a two-run shot.

Then the Bucs showed they weren't over their Albert Pujols problem when he sent a Snell pitch over the wall. It was Pujols' fifth career blast off Snell.

Let's remember one thing: It's one start, so a lot can change.

Many pitchers have been hammered in their first start this season (CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Webb), so things can turn around.

However, with a poor season from Snell in the…

Opening Day highlight

There were plenty of memorable moments Monday.

New Marlins leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio had three stolen bases and an inside-the-park home run. Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez each hit two home runs for the Diamondbacks.

My Mighty Pirates rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals. And, yes, you can call them the first-place Pirates today!

What I really enjoyed was seeing the high-payroll Yankees stink up the joint in Baltimore.

CC Sabathia, the Yankees' $161 million investment, gave up six runs on eight hits and couldn't get out of the fifth inning. On top of that, he walked five, threw two wild pitches and didn't strike out a batter.

"I was terrible. I battled from the first inning on," said Sabathia.

The other megabucks star, Mark Teixeira, went 0-for-4 and was booed loudly by Orioles fans who were upset that he turned down the team's free-agent offer in the offseason.

All of that added up to a 10-5 loss by the Yankees.

It's only one game and the Yankees…

Opening Day magic gives reason to believe in the Bucs

Opening Day of the baseball season is a time for unbridled optimism.

We're talking the Tampa Bay Rays can make it to the World Series kind of optimism.

Yeah, it can happen. It did last year, in case you forgot.

That's what makes Opening Day so special. That's why Pirates fans can think positively and hope for the best when no one is giving them a chance to have a winning record, let alone be a part of a pennant race.

So, with a caveat of anything can happen and the new season brings a clean slate, let's set aside any preconceptions and a look at why the Pirates could shock everybody this year and make the playoffs.

First, the past few years a team has come out of nowhere to make the postseason.

There are the Rays from last year, the Rockies from two years ago, the Tigers before that and the White Sox were unexpected champs in 2005.

So, why not the Pirates?

Paul Maholm could be the ace the team has been looking for. His trends are going in the positive direction and he demonstr…

Finally, baseball season is here (and so are my picks)

Finally, baseball season has arrived.

That means, despite the weather whipping across the Midwest and Northeast, spring is here.

So, while I await some snow, now's as good a time as any to make my picks official.

NL East
1. New York Mets: The bullpen stunk last year. It's better this year.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: The champs are fighting for a wild-card berth.
3. Atlanta Braves: They're better and will stay competitive all season.
4. Florida Marlins: The Pirates need to follow the Marlins' blueprint for rebuilding.
5. Washington Nationals: Jordan Zimmerman is the pitcher to watch in a couple weeks. Will it be Stephen Strasburg in a couple months?

NL Central
1. Chicago Cubs: The best team in this division.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: Tony La Russa finds a way to keep this team near the top.
3. Cincinnati Reds: What a rotation.
4. Milwaukee Brewers: They will miss C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets.
5. Houston Astros: No one in the rotation after Roy Oswalt.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates: Another long …

Joe Carter needs to get over himself

Joe Carter wants some attention.

Specifically, he wants his World Series-clinching home run in Game 6 of the 1993 Series to get more attention.

The Associated Press quoted him the other day:
"Mine, it will make the top 10 but it's never No. 1, it's never been No. 2, it's always been in the middle of the pack. Had it been for the Yankees or the Dodgers, then I think it would have been No. 1. But because it was in Toronto, it has not gotten the respect that I think it really should deserve."Really?

Carter think his home run should be No. 1 or No. 2?

In my book, the top spot is reserved exclusively for Bill Mazeroski and his Game 7 winning home run against the Evil Empire, the New York Yankees.

That shot broke a 9-9 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning. It doesn't get more dramatic than that. Carter's shot happened in Game 6 against a washed-up reliever, Mitch Williams.

Bobby Thomspon gets second billing in my book, although I won't argue if you want to give h…