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Showing posts from June, 2009

A trade by the Bucs that I like

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was busy Tuesday, making two trades.

In the first, the Bucs sent outfielder Eric Hinske to the evil Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers, pitcher Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer.

Hinske didn't have a role or a future for the Bucs. In fact, Hinske goes from the lower class to the elite. He should be happy.

The Bucs should be happy that they get some help for their farm system. Erickson was 3-3 with a 2.25 ERA at Class A. Fryer hit .250 in Class A Tampa. The Bucs will be lucky if either contributes in the bigs, let alone has an impact.

The bigger trade happened hours later when Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett went to a team that appears worse off right now than the Pirates, and that's the Washington Nationals. In return, the Bucs got toolsy but troubled outfield prospect Lastings Milledge and former closer Joel Hanrahan, who actually lost the job twice this season.

This trade works for the Bucs because it's the classic sell-high, buy…

Latest example of Bucs' bumbling bats

For several seasons now, and probably beyond that, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made a bad habit of making poor pitchers look like Cy Young Award candidates.

The latest example was Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians.

The Tribe sent David Huff to the mound and won the first game of a three-game series.

Huff entered the game with a 2-2 record and a 7.09 record. All he did was shut down the Pirates for eight innings, giving up just four hits.

Here's a look at some other pitchers and what they did to the Bucs this season:

Bronson Arroyo pitched eight shutout innings on May 1. That lowered his ERA to 4.91. His ERA today is 5.16.Brian Moehler pitched a complete game against the Pirates on May 29. He gave up one run. His ERA after that game was 6.43.On May 31, Mike Hampton dominated the Bucs, giving up one run in seven innings. He had a 5.07 ERA after that gem.Glen Perkins picked his second win of the season June 16. He had a 5.04 ERA after giving up two runs in six innings.There are …

What type of celebration would the Pirates draw?

Pittsburgh loves the Penguins, and rightfully so.

A rough estimate of 375,000 fans gathered in the city Monday to celebrate the Penguins' Stanley Cup championship.

There estimate was higher than the number of Steelers fans in February celebrating the Super Bowl championship.

Monday was a great day for a party, much better than a cold February afternoon.

Either way, the sight of fans lined up in parking garages, along streets and climbing on whatever they could to get a glimpse of their favorite players and Lord Stanley's Cup, was amazing.

It was the same route and same scene as four months earlier, but I'm still amazed.

The Pens' first Cup celebrating drew about 80,000 people at the Point in 1991. In 1992, they celebrated in Three Rivers Stadium.

My, how times have changed.

So after Monday's Stanley Cup hangover, I have a question about the Pirates. Would a Pirates celebration draw as many fans?

Yeah, I know, the chances of the Pirates winning a World Series are as likely a…

The City of Champions name is back

Four months ago it was the Steelers. A few hours ago it was the Penguins.

Both are champions. Both bring pride to the city of Pittsburgh.

The label City of Champions was used back in the late 1970s with the Steelers and Pirates (yes, the Pirates actually won back then) were world champions.

Now, it's back where it belongs.

The Penguins' thrilling win Friday was one to remember. The last five minutes of Game 7 were excruciating to watch, but a thrill-a-minute as well.

I'll say this, this new version of the City of Champions has a flair for the dramatics.

Santonio Holmes' touchdown catch in the Super Bowl was one to remember. Marc-Andre Fleury's saves at the end of Game 7 kept you on the edge of your seat.

Now, it's time for another victory parade.

This stuff never grows old.

Game 7, here we come!

The wait is finally over.

It's not as bad as the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, but the two days between Game 6 and Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals has taken a long time to get here.

Now that it's here, how will the Penguins do?

I'm still confident in their chances tonight against the Red Wings.

A guy at work last night asked me if I thought they could win at Detroit.

"Oh, yeah," was my quick response.

The Pens played well enough to win Games 1 and 2, they won in Detroit in the regular season and they won there in the finals last year.

So, why not tonight?

Odds certainly aren't in their favor, as the home team always seems to win Game 7s.

That's OK. I'll take the Penguins' chances.

Marc-Andre Fleury is coming off a great game, Sidney Crosby is due to break out, and the Pens are in line to have a few bouncing pucks go there way.

Whatever happens, it's been a great ride during the postseason. This team wasn't su…

Scary thought about the Pirates' scouts

I want to believe Pirates general manager Neal Huntington when he says Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez was the highest player on their draft board Tuesday.

I'll toss aside his other comments about putting money into signing other draft picks, although I would think you would want to put as much money into getting a high-impact player as possible.

Let's take Huntington at his word, shall we? Let's believe the Pirates honestly had Sanchez as the No. 3 player in the draft.

The Bucs got their guy, and that makes me scared.

More talent evaluators, and I think it would be easy to say most evaluators, didn't think that highly of Sanchez. They had Sanchez pegged for the bottom of the first round of the draft. Instead, the Bucs took him at No. 4.

If that's not a big, red flag, then I don't know what is.

If the Pirates are off on evaluating talent for the draft, then maybe they're off on the players already in the minors and big leagues. Maybe they're off on the pl…

Yep, the Pirates know how to waste draft picks

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the baseball draft are almost an annual joke.

Starting with the failed picks of the 1990s through Tuesday, the Pirates made money the deciding factor over athletic ability for many of their picks.

There have been a couple exceptions, Andrew McCutchen being one, and Pedro Alvarez last year being the other.

But more often than not, the Bucs went with budget, and it cost them.

There are two ways to build a franchise these days: buying players or drafting players.

Obviously, the Pirates aren't in position to buy players like the Yankees or Red Sox. The only recourse they have is to draft good ones, like the Tampa Bay Rays have done.

Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez doesn't qualify as a fourth overall pick, however. ESPN and Baseball America had Alvarez rated as end-of-the-first-round talent. As an aside, you can see how Keith Law of ESPN.com rates the Bucs.

The Pirates disagreed.

At least that's what general manager Neal Huntington said.

The Pirates had Sa…

Bye, McLouth. Hello, another losing season

My cousin got married last week and I finally was able to grab a minute to talk to him at the reception.

Of course, the topic quickly moved to sports, and he couldn't help but bring up the Pirates.

"You know, I was at a game earlier this year, we were in the box and no one cared what was going on during the game," he said.

That's understandable and pretty reasonable, I guess, considering how the team has played for 16 years.

His next question really stumped me. "When are they going to win again?" he asked.

I didn't have an answer.

To him, and what seems like many Pirates fans, the baseball season has become a distraction between the end of the Penguins' season and the start of Steelers training camp.

After hearing the news Wednesday night about the Pirates' trade of Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for three minor league players, I'd be able to tell him that it's at least a couple years longer than it was last week.

To call the trade a stunner…

With a rush, Pens stay in Cup finals

For 20 minutes Tuesday night, the Detroit Red Wings were perfect.

At least that's what some people were saying at intermission of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

And the second period sure did look like a perfect effort, if you didn't glance at the scoreboard and see the game still tied 2-2.

But it was tied and the Pens had life.

They turned everything around, getting a power-play goal and empty-net goal to cap a 4-2 win and climb back into the series.

I don't think this series is over. In fact, a win Thursday night and this series is the Penguins' to win.

Why the optimism?

The Red Wings got plenty of breaks and bounces in Games 1 and 2.

Missed penalties? Check.

Penguins' shots hitting posts instead of the back of the net? Check.

2-0 series lead like last year? Check.

That's where the similarities end in my book.

With all going right for the Wings, they should have won Game 3.

Instead, the Pens' survived that second period Tuesday night and put on a display of their o…

What we witnessed from LeBron is bad for sports

LeBron James is a great basketball player.

He has an MVP award, numerous endorsements and millions of fans everywhere.

But he's also a poor loser.

We witnessed his actions after the Cavaliers lost to the Magic on Saturday, eliminating them from the playoffs. And what he did speaks louder than any commercial.

James walked off the court, didn't shake anyone's hand from the Magic, let along congratulate them, and blew off the press.

The NBA doesn't need to have a line form at the end of the series and have the players shake hands like they do in hockey.

I will admit, though, that hockey has the best tradition around.

But what James didn't do, was something that goes all the way back to Little League. You shake a person's hand after a game.

Here's what James had to say Sunday, a day after his Cavs lost, trying to explain his actions:

"It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them. I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anyt…