Posted on: December 16, 2008 9:37 pm
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Why the Pittsburgh Pirates will NOT suck

At least not too much longer.
We all know the Pirates are probably the worst run franchise in the history of sport. After all i can barely even remember the good old days when they were above .500. That probably has a little to do with the fact that I was one year old. However there is actually reason for optimism in Pittsburgh other than the Steelers and Penguins.

Reason No. 1 - Neal Huntington looks like he's actually trying.
Everyone loves to rip on the Pirates for giving players away for monetary reasons, but if you look at the trades over the summer Huntington actually traded for -gasp- players. Not only did he trade for prospects but he's spending money too. That's right, no more trading Aramis Ramirez for a sack of magic beans because we can't afford him. He has been talking long term contracts with Nate McClouth and Ryan Doumit. He also brought in Joe Kerrigan who should be able to show our pitchers how to throw over the plate, instead of taking talented players and making them suck like the Pirates usually do.

Reason No. 2 - A roster with ... talent?

Midway through the season, before blowing the roster up the Pirates had one of the top five offenses in the Major Leagues. That's right, the Pirates. Hitting. And Scoring.

Outfield
The Pirates look to be pretty set in the outfield. Nate McClouth is already a stud, Andrew McCutcheon is on his way to the majors and is also supposed to be a stud. Brandon Moss will turn into a fine young fourth outfielder. And the third outfield spot should eventually to go Jose Tabata, the extremely talented prospect who came over in the Nady trade. He was having a down year this year, but immediately turned it around after the trade, and has been dubbed the next Manny Ramirez in the part.

Infield
Now this is where it all falls apart for the Buccos. They have one stud prospect in Pedro Alvarez on his way. One player who would be extremely good if he played the whole year in Adam LaRoche. One great young hitting catcher in Ryan Doumit, who batted .340 a good part of the year but can't stay healthy. A couple of hit or miss prospects in the so far busts Neil Walker, Steve Pierce, and Andy LaRoche. A former batting champion in Freddy Sanchez, and Jack Wilson, the big drain on funds who can only play defense. Now all this probably won't turn out to be too great, but it certainly isn't horrible in the long term.

Pitching
Yes, the pitching was too horrible to even explain last year. But the year before pitching was the Pirates biggest strength. Paul Maholm is a good solid pitcher. Phil Dumatrait looked good until he got injured. Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny were horrible last year, but studs the previous year. They have a bunch of hard throwers with closing prospect Craig Hansen, former top prospect Ross Ohlendorf (the main part of the most recent Randy Johnson trade), former top prospect Donnie Veal just taken in the Rule Five Draft, and two game super stud Jeff Karstens. A good closer in Matt Capps. A prospect that should project to be solid in Daniel McCutchen. And at least two solid relievers in John Grabow and Sean Burnett. Also another former stud pitcher in Zach Duke. With Joe Kerrigan now in the fold, the pitching staff probably will work their way to being not awful. They could even eventually be considered good with work.

So the Pirates definitely are not world beaters, and won't be soon. But if you add in another high draft pick, whatever they get in return if they can unload Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, and even a few Littlefield prospects like the not Matt Weiters first rounder Daniel Moskos, they definitely have talent. I know all of these prospects won't develop, but this is what the Pirates have been missing. Prospects, good ones. They have great offensive prospects, and if just a few pitchers return to form this could be the next version of the Rays or Brewers before them. The short term will probably be more painful losing, and more idiots who can't spell going "lolz Pirates sucks 4 eva" which is well deserved since we are the Detroit Lions of baseball. But in the long term the Pirates should develop some good players, and keep them, and easily break the .500 barrier, possibly vaulting into the playoffs.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 5, 2008 6:18 pm
 

Penguins Preview

The Penguins are once again going to be a power team in the East, though they may want to temper the excitement a little. Free agent losses and injury (though stop-gap options are in place) will hamper the team a bit, but they still should be a high flying, offensively powered hockey team. To start, the lines they came out with for the opener:

Offense
Fedotenko - Crosby - Satan
Staal - Malkin - Kennedy
Cooke - Talbot - Dupuis
Bissonette - Taffe - Godard

*Sykora injured
*Pesonen DNP

Defense
Orpik - Gill
Scuderi - Letang
Sydor - Eaton

*Gonchar, Whitney injured
*Goligoski DNP

Goalie
Fleury
Sabourin

Now that the lines are out of the way, time to get to actual analysis.

Offense

The penguins are going to score goals, a lot of goals. Offense is the teams biggest strength and will continue to be so this season. Expect them to be near the top of the league.

Line 1

The Penguins top line is going to do what top lines do, mainly, score goals. Fedotenko is a former 26 goal scorer, and Satan is a 40 goal guy. Playing with Crosby, both of these players should near, if not surpass, their career highs for goals. Assuming he is healthy, Crosby will once again be Crosby. Expect 100+ points and 30+ goals out of Crosby, with 20 - 30 goals and 50 - 60 points out of Satan and Fedotenko, or anyone else who may play with him.

Line 2
The Penguins second line is going to keep going right where they left off last season. With Sykora coming back to play on the right wing, and Staal taking Malone's spot in front of the net, this line won't miss a beat. Expect similar numbers to last year 100+ points for Malkin with 40+ goals, and 20 - 30 goals, 40 - 50 points coming out of his wingers.

Line 3
When Sykora comes back and bumps Tyler Kennedy down to Line 3, this will be one of the best energy lines in the NHL. Talbot is a Wild man, as are Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis. Expect a high amount of energy, a high amount of grit, and some decent scoring from this line, along with the occasional clutch performance. Fedotenko could also end up down here which would bump up the scoring some. With consistent playing time, expect breakout years from Talbot and Kennedy, each has a chance to get to 20 goals and around 30 to possibly 40 points. Expect 10 or so goals, with around 25 points for Dupuis.

Line 4
This will be one of the most physical lines the Penguins have had in a long time. Godard takes Laraque's spot as a fighter (only one who knows he's only a fighter), Cooke will take Ruutu's spot as the annoyer, and Bissonette is a former defenseman who is a fighter as well. Pesonen should also see time here to add a bit of a scoring touch. This line will fight and draw penalties, and do both well. Don't expect many points out of any of these players, except for some potential ones for Pesonen depending on playing time. Taffe will see time here but there's not much to say about him, solid enough player.

Players to watch:
Janne Pesonen: The new European has everyone raving, and could add some scoring as he continues to adapt and improve his game. Expect a lot of playing time here.
Luca Caputi: The Pens other European has improved every year since he's been in the organization. He should get to the NHL pretty soon, and when he does, he will turn some heads.
Jonathan Filewich: Yes, he is here every season, but there has to be some reason for that. He may or may not ever reach his potential, but if he does, he should finally work his way off the Baby Pens.
Nathan Moon: The Pens top pick probably won't make the big club this season, but the Penguins do know how to pick them late, and Moon could eventually make a splash.

Defense

The defense has already been ravaged by injury, but luckily they are a deep enough unit to be able to play solidly until their Stars come back. Expect a solid unit, but don't be waiting for too much out of them.

Line 1
Orpik and Gill are the most physical defensemen on the Penguins, while continuing to play solid defense. Don't expect too much in the way of scoring out of this two, but expect hits, and a lot of them. Also expect Gill to keep the crease clear for Fleury.
Line 2
With Gonchar out, Letang is expected to pick up some of the scoring slack as a talented offensive defenseman. Expect a good amount of points from him. Scuderi is solid defensively, with a skill set that compliments Letang's well. Even though he scored in Game 1, don't expect him to do it again.
Line 3
Sydor is not the player he once was, but is still a solid defender. Eaton is constantly injured, but when healthy he does nothing but block shots. Expect Goligoski to see significant time here, especially when Eaton goes down again. Don't expect much in terms of scoring, this line's job is to not do anything that blows the game.
*Eventual Line 1
All Gonchar does is score points and play great defense. He should routinely be in the running for the Norris, and never gets the respect he deserves. Whitney is also well on his way to becoming a stud defenseman. This line will give the Penguins a huge boost when they come back from injury.

Players to watch:
Alex Goligoski:
The top prospect in the Penguins organization is  expected to see significant playing time this season. A puck moving, offensive defenseman, he is expected to help in the absence of Segei Gonchar.
Carl Sneep: A 6'4 210 pound puck moving defenseman, Sneep should also see a good amount of time with the Penguins due to the thin defense corps. He is good with the puck, and brings the added combination of size and strength.
Brian Strait: Should also see playing time this year, Strait is a defensive defenseman through and through. He focuses on his own end, is a gritty player, and brings a leadership aspect. Should end up a rock on the blue line eventually.

Goalies

This year the goaltending all depends on the maturity of Fleury. He improved by leaps and bound last year, but there's no Conklin to step in for him if he struggles or goes down again.

Starter
Marc-Andre Fleury is vastly improved from a few years ago. While he still has a tendency to give up a soft goal every once in a while, he has the athletic ability to make saves that no other goalie in the league can. He needs to continue to mature, but once he reaches his potential, there might not be anyone better.

Backup
Sabourin isn't bad, but then again he isn't good. He is right where he should be as a backup, he can do pretty well when he has to be in goal, but can't hold up as a starter if Fleury went down.

Players to Watch
John Curry:
An athletic goalie once considered a top collegiate talent, Curry was picked up as a free agent by the Pens. He came on fire during the year, posting a sub 2.5 goals against average and a .900+ save percentage. If either goalie went down, Curry looks like he could step in just fine.
David Brown:
Also an athletic netminder, Brown had a pretty darn good season himself behind John Curry. Posting a sub 3 GAA and a .850+ save percentage, Brown will not see any playing time in the NHL, but looks like he knows how to play some hockey.

Power Play
After watching the first game, I'm very concerned about the Penguins power play. They won't be as bad as that all season, but missing Gonchar hurts. Almost all his points came on the power play. Letang should take off some of the slack, and putting Malkin on the blue line will replace the shot, but there's nobody who can replace the whole package. Whitney will also be missed with his backdoor play Crosby loves along with his wicked shot. The forwards will do just as well as ever. The power play should be pretty good, but not as stellar as last year until we get our defensman back.

Penalty Kill
The PK could actually end up spectacular this year. It will still hurt being without defenseman Whitney and Gonchar, but Talbot and Eaton are some of the best penalty killers in the league. Also, Therrian is started to use his big guns in Crosby and Malkin on the PK, which could lead to a lot of shorthanded goals like the one we saw in the first game. With a great group of shot blockers in Talbot, Eaton, and Dupuis, and some goal scorers to get breakaways, this group has the potential to be one of the best in the league, especially when Gonchar and Whitney return from injury.

Overall
The Penguins will again be spectacular on offense, solid on defense, solid goaltending, and good on special teams. Expect them to struggle a bit in the beginning, but eventually get their act together, especially with Gonchar and Whitney. Expect them to win the division over the Flyers and Ranger, and pull down one of the top seeds in the East. Though a lot hinges on Fedotenko and Satan, they should easily step up and fill the gaps in the team. There may be some deals waiting at the trade deadline. A return to the cup is not out of the question, though the team should probably focus on the 2009-2010 season, when there will be a stellar crop of free agents, along with Detroit losing many of their players. I would not be surprised to see the Pens go deep into the playoffs, but I like the cup to come to Pittsburgh in 2010, not 2009.

Let's Go Pens!
Category: NHL
Posted on: September 25, 2008 5:55 pm
 

Ode to the Lions

In honor of Matt Millen's firing.
To be sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

You know Joey and Charles
And Michael and Kevin,
Teddy and Marty,
And Stevie and Roddy,
But do you recall
The most famous Lion of all?

Millen the inept GM (GM)
Couldn't draft to save his life (Joey Harrington)
And if you ever saw it (saw it)
You would even say he blows (Charles Rogers)
All of the other GMs (GMs)
Used to laugh and call him names (like an idiot)
They never let poor Millen (Millen)
Join in any GM meetings (Draft receivers)

Then one September 24
William Ford came to say (Mike Williams)
Millen with your picks so bright
Won't you guide my team tonight?
He couldn't win a game (game)
Never had a winning season (7 years)
Millen the inept GM (GM)
You're the worst in history (and you're fired)
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 24, 2008 11:51 pm
 

The race for the #1 pick

The race for the number one overall pick is heating up here beginning week 4 of the NFL season. There are three clear front runners at this point in the season.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

    Apparently nobody told the Bengals that offensive teams were supposed to play offense. We all know the Bengals defense is just impressive all around, but if Carson Palmer doesn't remember how his arm works and his offensive line doesn't remember they have to hit the guy in front of them, this team can easily steal the top pick. They do have a chance to move out of the running this week with the suddenly lowly Browns coming up. Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson will be competing to see who can have the lower passer rating.

4. Oakland Raiders
      
    Their leading receivers are Johnnie Lee Higgins and Ashley Lelie. JaMarcus Russell has looked adequate, though he still needs to throw more than two passes per quarter. They do have a bunch of running backs, if only Kansas City could come to town every week. Not to mention their coach is just waiting to be fired and Al Davis is still alive, they haven't done enough to move out of the rankings. They have legitimate talent at a few positions, their biggest problem is being the Oakland Raiders.

3. Detroit Lions

    Now we get down to the real three horse race. The Lions can't play defense, their quarterback is Jon Kitna, and Rudi Johnson is now their top running back. Detroit is awful, but they do have a few talented players, which is keeping them out of the front runners for the number one pick. They finally got rid of Matt Millen, now if they could just go back seven years in time and convince Barry Sanders to unretire they'll be all set.

2. St. Louis Rams

    Trent Green starting at quarterback gives them a big step forward towards the top pick. They have looked like the worst team so far, but right now Steven Jackson and Torry Holt and basically single(or double)handedly keeping this team afloat. They should just take their defense off the field and replace them with the cheerleaders because then people may at least be entertained, but this offense line will, at some point, block someone. The offense will pick it up and they may win just enough to not get a good draft pick.
1. Kansas City Chiefs

    Now this is a roster devoid of talent. Larry Johnson still has some ability but man this team is bad. Every team runs for a minimum of 150 yards against them, and they back that up by putting the ball in the hands of Tyler Thigpen. Until Kansas City find themselves a quarterback, a wide receiver other than Dwayne Bowe, an offensive line, a defense, and a new coach, they aren't going anywhere. They can't move the ball, they can't stop the ball, there's nothing I can even say about them. Let's just replace their team with a binched of trained monkeys. They would play about the same, but more people would watch the monkeys.
Posted on: June 16, 2008 5:46 pm
 

Tiger wins, but story still Rocco

Surprise, surprise. Tiger Woods, bum knee and all, wins the U.S. Open by beating Rocco Mediate. Regardless of the eventual outcome, the best part of the story still lies with Mediate. People have been saying it was a great victory for Tiger and, of course, it was. But, even with his injury everyone expected Tiger to win. The true story is the 40+ year old Rocco Mediate overcoming fatigue, both physical and mental, and endless stress to even reach the ninety first hole against the world's number one player. We all know Rocco is currently ranked in the 150's, as the announcers so frequently told us, but how about the fatigue he had to beat. The 46 year old, not a young man by any standards, had to not just play these five days in a row, but survive a sudden death playoff just to get into the tournament. Going into the fourth day, the question was would Tiger hold on or would Lee Westwood catch him. Not a thought towards Rocco. Nobody gave the man a thought before, or all throughout the tournament until he was suddenly leading it. Tiger has multitudes of great moments. Rocco has never, and probably will never have another chance, to have a moment like this. So Tiger won his fourteenth major in dramatic fashion, but from this tournament there is only one thing that should stick out in people's minds. Remember Rocco. One of the most affable and personable guys on tour, this is his moment, regardless of the fact that he didn't win. Let Tiger take his other moments. Remember Rocco.
Category: Golf
Posted on: June 10, 2008 7:58 pm
 

Junior's 600 a testament to shattered expectation

600 home runs is, obviously, a momentous occasion, with only five other players having done it, and only three of them cleanly. Though it is something to be celebrated, when the name is Ken Griffey Junior, thoughts begin to turn to what he could have accomplished. Watching Griffey as a 19 year old kid, hitting 16 home runs in his first season, everyone knew he had the smoothest swing ever to come through baseball. When he really started to pound the ball, hitting 50 home runs in back to back seasons, there was no question Junior could get to 800. Then came the injuries, limiting him to 317 games over four seasons, and then forcing him to miss another 105 in the next three. Now Griffey is still going to be a Hall of Famer, and will obviously go down as one of the greats, but there's no way to help thinking about what he could have done rather than what he actually did accomplish. Griffey is obviously an incredible player, but he poses the question: Which is going to be left as his legacy, what Griffey did accomplish, or what he could have accomplished if not for injury?
Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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