The Daily Bongo
Sports between October 2005 and July 2005
Sports by TopicPittsburgh Penguins / Pittsburgh Steelers / Turin Winter Olympics 2006 / Hockey / Horse Racing / Soccer/World Cup / Beijing Summer Olympics 2008
Monday, October 31, 2005 -- AfternoonThe word is officially out. Both Ryan Whitney and Erik Christensen have been brought up from the minors to lending a helping hand to the Pens. At least, it's a move in the right direction. I don't know if it is enough though. We will just have to wait and see. Whitney is the defenseman, and he leads the AHL defensemen with five goals and 14 points. Christensen is third in the AHL with nine goals and ten assists (total of nineteen points).
Monday, October 31, 2005 -- MorningThe Penguins management has given a vote of confidence to Eddie Olczyk. According to Craig Patrick, Eddie O's job is safe for now. I like the way the "for now" was added because the thought that runs through my mind is that they are saying, "you're okay for now while we look for someone to replace you" or "we won't fire Eddie O. We'll just encourage him to quit." Craig Patrick does admit that there are problems with the team and thinks that the solution is to adjust the mix of players. Also, two players from the minors will be brought up to handle two of our lacking areas. Defenseman, Ryan Whitney, is going to be called up and center, Erik Christensen. Both players have been big contributors to the Wilkes Barre Pens success. We shall have to see how it goes. Our next game is tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils.
The Steelers are playing tonight against the Baltimore Ravens. It should be a good game for us because Baltimore has not been playing well of late. There is a great rivalry with the team, so it should be entertaining to watch. It's going to be hard to come into work tomorrow because the game is going to start at 9 pm, and will run until after midnight. It seems that 9% of employees wind up calling off sick after sporting events that happen the previous evening. It's perfectly understandable because you want to enjoy yourself, and getting up for work the next morning just puts a crimp in the fun.
Sunday, October 30, 2005 -- Late AfternoonWhile the Pens can't seem to get their act together, the Baby Pens, the minor league team associated with the Pens, is undefeated. Their record right now is 9-0. Obviously they have some things going right for them. The players are playing well together, Marc-Andre Fleury is playing well. Right now, Fleury has six wins for the season. So what are the Baby Pens doing right that the NHL Pens aren't? That might be a multi-layered answer. Of course, as you probably know by now, I have serious problems with the coaching staff and lay alot of blame at their feet. Another possible problem is that Craig Patrick might not have done the best job of putting a team together. We have alot of stars on the team, but they don't seem to be playing together well. Our defense is weak. That can be the problem of the coach or of Patrick not recruiting someone for the role. Yes, Sergei Gonchar is the highest score defenseman, but maybe we need a defenseman who doesn't score, but clears the puck from our end. Also, Mario Lemieux might not be allowing the coach to do his job. There might be alot of issues beneath the surface that are causing the problems that the Pens have. The question is how can the problems be resolved? Firing the coach might be a start, but then can we get someone to replace him who can handle Lemieux and the team that Craig built?
Saturday, October 29, 2005 -- MorningThe Pens will be playing the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. I have tickets to the game, and will be commenting on it when I get home. I don't think that tonight will be a win because Carolina has been pretty good this year. So far, they have seven wins, two losses and one overtime loss.
Friday, October 28, 2005 -- EveningAlot of folks are happy now because the Pens have finally won a game, but it is nothing to be too excited about. First of all, we beat a goal who hasn't played in a while and who was brought in as a last minute save for a team with no goalie. Second is the fact that the play in the first ten minutes of the game was atrocious. It's nothing that the team should be proud of. Thank goodness they have the win, but they have to do alot better than they did in yesterday's game. One of the disappointments for the team is that Dick Tarnstrom will be out indefinitely because of a torn MCL (a ligament in his left knee).
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 -- AfternoonI have been talking with friends alot lately about the Penguins. What I have been hearing from some of them is that the Pens didn't so bad in the last regular season (2003-2004). The actual results don't show that. At the end of February, the Pens had won only 13 of the 64 games that they played. (That means we only won 20% of the games we played till that point.) Yes, we were the bottom of the league. Granted in March, the team finally gelled, and went on a winning streak, and added 10 more wins to finish the season 23-47-8-3. (That's 23 wins, 47 losses, 8 ties, and three overtime losses.) Everyone made excuses then that the team was young with alot of younger players and Eddie Olczyk was new to coaching. The thing is that I think that Eddie O is still a neophyte. Instead of being a head coach, he should be an assistant coach. I don't know who might be availble, but someone needs to get involved and stir this team in a winning direction, and from the stats, Eddie O is not that person. what makes all of this even more painful is to hear Eddie O say that there's nothing wrong with his system, and he sees no reason for change. If I were failing at my job, and I told my bosses that I still thought my way was the way to go, I could expect a swift kick in the behind. And I would deserve it! Someone needs to give Eddie O that swift kick. All the players on the team can take some of the blame, but the buck stops with the coach, and he has to acknowledge his hand in their recent woes. Maybe he doesn't want folks to realize that he doesn't know what he is doing, and is hoping that the smoke and mirrors of blaming the players will buy him some time. It is a pitiful performance, befitting the pitiful coach that Olczyk is. Sure, blame the players for not following the system, but blame the coach for not enforcing his policies. If Olczyk is right, and he has a system that no one is following, whose fault is that? All the players, or the coach who does have the respect of the players and the demeanor to enforce the rules?
I do like Bob Smizik's comments on the Pens. He does not believe that Eddie O should be fired, but would understand that happening based on the fact that the Pens have nine losses and no wins for the season. The losses are starting to affect the number of folks who are showing up at the games. For the first few games, the attendance was in the 17,000 area. Last night it was in the 14,000s. Mario Lemieux and Mark Recchi may think that Eddie O is not the problem, but then how would they address the reasons that folks are giving for the problem: not working hard enough, too slow in the neutral zone, too concerned with perfect shots, too weak on faceoffs, too left handed, too old? Fix the problems guys, and give us a win!
One thing that I think would benefit the Pens is to look at the Baby Pens. The team has won all of their games this season. They are 7-0. Something is going right there, and horribly wrong here. Heck, I may not be Lemieux or Recchi, so what do I know, but I still say look at the coaching!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 -- MorningMario Lemieux is sticking up for Eddie O. According to Lemieux, the problem is that the players just aren't playing well. That explains it all. Every player has a problem, not the single coach. It's Crosby's fault that he's not on the power play, not the coach for not sending him out on the ice. If Lemieux can explain to me how all the players on the ice are deficient, but not the person who oversees them all, I might consider the possibility. Lemieux doesn't do that however. He just says that the system works, the players aren't doing their job. Even if that is the case, the reason all the players aren't doing their job is because they are not being molded properly by the coach. However you look at it, it always comes back to the fish rotting from the head. We are playing the Florida Panthers tonight. Let's hope that we have a win by the end of the evening.
Monday, October 24, 2005 -- EveningThere was a very interesting discussion about the Penguins on the KDKA Sports Showdown. The Showdown brings together some of the local sports reporters (both print and broadcast), and they discuss various aspects of Pittsburgh sports. As can be imagined, the main topic of conversation was why are the Pens losing and what can be done to get the Pens winning again. My favorite reporter, Dejan Kovacevic, who used to be on the hockey beat full time before the lockout, is of my opinion that the problem lies in a lack of a system. The team gets the system from the coaching staff, and that's where the changes need to be made. As Dejan was saying, other teams in the NHL that had a system and had a coach that provided discipline and structure are the teams that are winning now. The others agreed that the Pens are just out there hoping that archary will reign, and it isn't. Ellis Cannon said that he thinks that the problem is in the mind of the players, that they aren't focusing on the job. Again, a coaching problem if you ask me. The other thing that Dejan brought up that I have mentioned also is that Sidney Crosby isn't being given a chance to make a difference on the team. When you have a player like Crosby, who is scoring and making a positive difference when he appears on the ice, you give him ice team, you put him on the power play. Again another coaching issue. It's demoralizing to the offense to spend so much time in their own end defending the goal because the defense is more concerned about making offensive moves. Let's hope that something changes with the team soon because I want to see a number other than a zero in the win column.
The sports reporters on the Showdown also brought up the story about Tommy Maddox and the trashing of his lawn. The thing that is disturbing about this story is that Maddox and his agent have spread the rumor that folks threw things on Maddox's lawn, even though Maddox's wife denies it. I think that in this case, Maddox has really tried to generate sympathy for himself, and what I don't understand is that obviously the story was either fabricated or exaggerated, and Maddox is doing nothing to clear up the story. He is just going to let the story put a black eye on the Pittsburgh fan because his fragile little ego was hurt by the booing of his subpar performance.
Sunday, October 23, 2005 -- EveningI'm not alone in asking this question: Why isn't Sidney Crosby getting more ice time? So far, he is fifth on the team with amount of ice, and he has two minutes less than Mario Lemieux. Lemieux is on the ice for 20:14 minutes while Crosby is only on for 18:30. There's something seriously wrong with having someone who is 40, even if he is Lemieux, on the ice more than someone who is 18. There's also a problem when the 18 year old has more points than anyone else on the team. The first thing that you have to think is that there is a problem with the coaching staff because they are ultimately responsible for overall direction in which the team goes. There will always be standouts on a team that do what they do regardless of the coach. However, when a team has the personalities that the Pens do then more is expected from it. If the team doesn't perform, it has to be the coaching staff. I have been ready to overhaul the coaching staff for a week now, but others are not as hasty. Even so, most people are expecting something to happen if the Pens don't start winning consistently, and based on Eddie O's performance in the full year that he coached, it's obvious that coaching ain't his forte.
Saturday, October 22, 2005 -- EveningAnother Penguins game this evening, and another loss. I went out to watch the game so I could see it on a larger screen than at home, and I was sorely disappointed by the performance of the Pens. Sidney Crosby managed to get two points, but the final score was a win for the Boston Bruins with a final score of 6-3. The Pens had a lackluster performance, and can't seem to understand that you have to shoot the puck at the net to get a goal. By the end of the second period we had 11 shots on goal compared to 38 from the Bruins. The final was 47 shots on goal for the Bruins and 21 for the Pens. That is really unacceptable. Another problem was the number of penalities, 14 by the Pens, 11 of which were handed out by the middle of the second period. I really hate to sound like a broken record, but the only solution I see is to fire Eddie O. The guy has no system of any kind. What we need to do is to beg Kevin Constantine to come back to be our coach. All the people that I talk to have been willing to give Eddie O time to really get us into the basement, but the last season that he coached was equally bad. I think that he's had his chance. Eddie O's incompetance as a coach is glaringly obvious, and I hope that the Penguins management wakes up to see it before the season is lost. Also as a season ticket holder, I'm going to have to start asking for a reduction on my ticket cost for the team sucking so much. The Pens need to stop this notion of "let's hire a former Pens player to be a coach".
There was a bright spot of sorts for Pittsburgh sports fans today. The Pitt Panthers managed to beat the worst team in the Big East. That team happens to be Syracuse. The final score was 34-17. At first it seemed that Tyler Palko was trying to give the game to the Orangemen with an interception and a fumble, but he came around to run in two touchdowns and to throw one too.
Friday, October 21, 2005 -- Late EveningWhat is not getting alot of press, but is being talked about on some of the local sports shows is the fact that the Tommy Maddox may not have experienced the harrassment that has been making the rounds of the national media. It appears that it may have been a fabrication. The question is who was the originator of the fabrication? Right now, Maddox and his wife are denying the stories, and the agent commented yesterday that he was unaware of such stories. It does make you wonder if the stories were fabricated to generate sympathy for Maddox since he has been getting so much flack for his performance last Sunday. I suspect that it comes from the Maddox camp, and that now the individual regrets it.
Friday, October 21, 2005 -- MorningTommy Maddox has been telling others that he is getting harrassed by fans over his loss in last Sunday's game. Supposedly, people are throwing things on his lawn and harrassing his kids as they go to school. However, last night on the sports call in show, the sports announcers were saying that Maddox's wife and agent did not know about the issues when questioned by reporters. Actually when questioned, Maddox's agent said that he was caught offguard. So I'm not sure what the real story is here, and if Maddox is just trying to drum up sympathy. If the stories are true, it's very sad that fans would go to such low levels as to harass someone's family. It's perfectly fine to boo Maddox at the stadium, but another to terrorize his family. Of course, if the stories aren't true, shame on Maddox!
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 -- EveningThere's plenty of news in Steelers country. First is that Jerome Bettis was not happy with the way that the game progressed on Sunday. As he was saying on a local news show today, the role that Bettis is supposed to play is to come into the game during the clutch times and to get the ball either into the endzone or into field goal range. That's what he is being paid to do. So he was very disappointed when he was called on in the second half or the overtime. Of course, Bill Cowher is taking responsibility for all the mistakes of the game. One does wonder what he was thinking though as the game was playing out. Yes, anyone can make mistakes, but this whole game was a series of endless mistakes. Hopefully this weekend's game will be better, but there are already several players who might not play in it like Cedrick Wilson, Antwaan Randle El, and Joey Porter.
On the Pens front, Jocelyn Thibault will be back in goal tomorrow. The Pens will be playing the New Jersey Devils again. This could be a tough game. The Pens did have a lengthy session studying video tape of past games. I think that the team needs to actually practice its defensive moves more than it has been because that is the area that they are not very strong. Tomorrow should be an interesting night, and will hopefully be our first win.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 -- MorningBen Roethlisberger will be starting this coming Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. What's funny is that the Bengals refer to this week as Steeler week. The team used to suck before this year, and the big game in town was always when the Steelers came to town. That has to have a psychological effect on the team, and we are hoping that the Steelers will win. Cincinnati has been good this year, so it will be a difficult matchup.
Two local folks are fighting hard to get a slots license for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have a website called Slots for Mario and are going to attend the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force meeting tomorrow night to put in a word for the Pens. Let's wish them luck! Meanwhile, the Pens are trying to work on their problems with the defensive line. The team has been doing some practicing on 5 on 5 situations in the hopes that they can improve and win a game sometime soon.
Monday, October 17, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Tommy Maddox doesn't understand why he was being booed by Steelers fans yesterday. As was evident from Maddox's post game interview yesterday, he is totally clueless about what happened. Maddox blames the wind for all his problems. It must have been the wind that held him up and prevented him from falling on the ball that he fumbled in overtime. Or maybe he just didn't want to get grass stains on his uniform. Maddox also claimed that he had a great view of the field and all that was going on. So that must mean that he was purposefully throwing consistently into double and triple coverage. Yeah right! As Maddox said, for all that he has done for this city, he just didn't deserve to be booed. So what has he done for the city? His quarterback rating since the 2002 season has been consistenly below 100. In 2002 it was 85.2, 2003 75.3, 2004 58.3, and 2005 30.1. Check out Maddox's complete stats. I think that he should be glad that he was saved from being an insurance salesman, and should seriously consider returning to it. After all, the consensus is that Maddow handed the Jaguars the game yesterday with a bow wrapped around it.
On to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have much more serious problems than the Steelers do. I'm not the only one who is noticing that our defense sucks. The offense can only get us so far if the defense still lets preventable goals into the net. I don't know how we can remedy the situation with the lineup that we currently have, and the sorry thing is that I don't think our coaching staff has a clue either. We do know that Eddie O doesn't have any plan to pair up Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby on the same line. Of course not. If you have the opportunity to put two people together who might actually be able to put more pucks in the net, why pair them together? At least that is the world according to Eddie O. I think that Crosby needs someone who can play with him, and not do as Mark Recchi did the other night. Crosby passes Recchi the puck to make a shot on net, and instead of doing that, Recchi passes it back. Meanwhile Crosby was waiting to get the rebound and wasn't in position to just get a meandering back pass. Eddie O is like Maddox thought. As Eddie O says, he sees alot of good in the team when he looks at the tapes. Maybe Eddie O should get some new glasses and take a closer look. When you have a player like Crosby who already has nine points for the season and is in second place in the points race, and you only have him on the ice for 23 seconds during a power play, you have a problem. I think that it is a coaching problem because who else is responsible for the lines that are sent out?
Afleet Alex is not going to race in the Breeders Cup this year. He is still recovering from his leg injury. Afleet Alex fractured his left front cannon bone on July 21. The cannon is the part between the knee and the hoof. He had surgery the week after the injury and a pin was put in the leg. He just isn't up to snuff yet, and the owners don't want to risk further injury to such a valuable commodity.
Saturday, October 15, 2005 -- EveningIt was another very disappointing Pittsburgh Penguins game. Marc-Andre Fleury started in goal, and he did the best that he could with lack of support from the defensive line. Donnie Iris sang the national anthem. The only comment that I have to make about the game is that we are sorely in need of someone who has coaching experience. I don't know where in the world some people get the idea that just because you were a half way decent player that you can coach. In Eddie Olczyk's case, he doesn't seem to have a clue of how to coach, and it really shows because the team as a whole sorely lacks the cohesiveness that a good team should have. I don't think that his assistant coaches are much better. Until the coaching system is fixed, I think that regardless of the quality of players on the ice, the team will be in the pits. The other thing that is becoming noticeable is that some of the older players did not benefit from the league not playing last year. John LeClair seems incapable of making plays, and even though he is only 36, he seems to need an injection of monkey glands to get him back into the competitive game. The only person who makes plays is Sidney Crosby. He had another assist today. So do we play Crosby during the power plays? Nope, because Eddie O doesn't have a clue. In this game, he only had 23 seconds of power play time. What a waste of a player. I am going to start the chant of "let's fire Eddie O" and hopefully someone in a position of power will act upon it. There was a bright moment in the game. In the last two minutes of the game, Fleury made a huge leap in to the air to save a score. He was being pulled from the goal to put an extra man on the ice, and the crowd got on its feet to cheer Fleury. Shots on goal sucked with the Pens only making three in the second period, for a total 21 shots in the whole game. Ziggy Palffy made the only Pens goal with an assist from Crosby. The final score was Lighting 3 - Pens 1.
Shocking news! Brett Hull has retired effectively immediately. It seems that his quality of play has not been up to his standards, and Hull realizes that as hard as it is for him, he should leave the game. It has to be hard on him because Hull has always been one of those players who has always put his all into the game. I think that year off due to the lockout has really been hard on the older players. It's harder for them to come back from the time off. Best wishes Brett!
Saturday, October 15, 2005 -- AfternoonBen Roethlisberger has returned to practice, but it seems that Tommy Maddox will start the game this coming Sunday. What I think is funny is that Maddox had hurt his calf a couple of weeks ago, and was expected to be out for three to four weeks. But since the opportunity arose to actually play, he miraculously became better and will be able to start. It was amazing to hear last Sunday that he would be out for awhile, and then to hear on Monday, oops, sorry, all better now.
It also seems that Hines Ward might not play this Sunday after injuring his hamstring last week. It seems that he hasn't been practicing this week. If Ward misses the game, it will be the first time that he missed a game since joining the Steelers in 1998. Yep, he has been playing 122 games straight, and has started in 89 consecutive games. That is impressive for a football player.
Surprisingly, Pittsburgh Panthers won today against the South Florida Bulls. The final score was 31-17.
I am heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins game tonight. We are playing the Tampa Bay Lighting, and I am hoping for the first win of the season. Knowing the Pens though, and the poor coaching of Eddie O., it will probably be another overtime loss. I will comment on the game when I get home.
Friday, October 14, 2005 -- AfternoonNo news on the Steelers front on who will be starting as quarterback on Sunday. At this point, it is a game time decision. Meanwhile Ben Roethlisberger has been jogging and doing everything in his power to be the person who starts the game. The official word is that Bill Cowher has not made a decision and will not until Sunday.
The Penguins are playing the Philadelphia Flyers this evening. I'm hoping for the first win of the season. If not tonight, then tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Lighting tomorrow. I have tickets for tomorrow's game, and it will be nice to have a win.
Thursday, October 13, 2005 -- Early EveningThe Pittsburgh Penguins are the only team in the NHL which has yet to win a game. What's fun though is that we are one point ahead of the Flyers who actually won a game. We have been lucky enough to have three overtime loses that garned the team a point for each loss. Meanwhile, Jocelyn Thibault is expecting to return to playing this coming Saturday. He seems to be feeling well, and thinks that he will be able to return this weekend.
Ben Roethlisberger was off his crutches yesterday and is hoping to practice some throws today. It seems that Roethlisberger is like the Timex watch from the old commercials that would take a licking and keep on ticking. He does seem to have the ability to rebound quickly.
Hines Ward was mayor of Washington, Pa. today. He received the key to the city at 5 pm. Ward says that he does not harbor any future political asperations.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 -- AfternoonSomething of interest to Pittsburgh Panthers fans is that Rod Rutherford, who played for Pitt a couple of seasons ago, signed as up for the Steelers practice squad. Rutherford really hasn't made it in the NFL.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 -- AfternoonIt seems that Ben Roethlisberger may not have a serious knee problem after all. The MRI confirmed the doctor's original diagnosis that the knee was hyperextended (meaning bent the wrong way) and bruised. In fact, Roethlisberger may even play this coming week. The way it stands right now is that it will be a matter of wait and see. If Roethlisberger has a good week, he will play.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 -- MorningSo far, the initial report on Ben Roethlisberger's injury is that the knee was hyperextended. Ben isn't too concerned because he thinks that he is a tough guy and will be fine. He's on his way back to Pittsburgh and will have an MRI of the knee to determine the full extent of the damage. This is, in a way, all good news for Charlie Batch. Of course, he doesn't want his teammates to be injured, but now Batch will have to take the lead role in next week's game. Tommy Maddox is also out for the next three to four weeks with an injured calf muscle. It's amazing how quickly things change. There was a time when folks were seeing Batch as totally expendable because he was the third string guy. How likely was it to have both quarterbacks injured? Not only that, but in a pitch we could use one of our slash players, like Antwaan Randle El. Fortunately for the Steelers, they kept Batch.
Now this is interesting. Even though the Penguins haven't won a game, they are still just a point shy of .500 because of the scoring rules. A team now gets one point for making it to overtime and losing. So since three of our four losses are in overtime, we have three points. The Penguins have a problem. I wonder if the brunt of the issue lies with the coaching system and Eddie Olczyk. Yeah, so Eddie O was a player. That doesn't make him a good coach. I think that the Pens need to move away for the mentality that players are the type that can plot out a good game. So what if someone is a good player? That means that there was probably a good coach behind him molding him into that player. The Pens need a coach like that, and I don't think that is Eddie O. He should go back to color commentating during the games.
Monday, October 10, 2005 -- EveningOne of the things that the analysts talked about during the intermission was whether players should wear visors on their helmets. It seems that the question came about because Mats Sundin took a puck to the eye on the Toronto Maple Leafs opening night. Sundin wound up with a fractured left lower orbital bone. It looked really bad from what I saw, and it seems that they are still trying to decide whether to operate on it or not. They are going to wait for the swelling to recede and then work on it. You have to feel for poor Sundin, but if he had a visor on, this particular injury could have been prevented. Granted there are times when something will come up under the visor, but I would wear the visor. I can understand the claim by some players that they feel that the visor obstructs their line of sight and peripheral vision. I hate wearing hats or anything on my forehead because I just feel that it gets in the way of me seeing. Alot of that is psychological though, and if I forced myself to wear hats, I would adjust. Being an eye glass wearer, I know that others will agree on is that at first the frame of the glasses really is obvious, and always seems to be in the way. Over time, usually in a few days, an adjustment happens, and you don't know that it's there. Of course, you can't force someone to do something for their own safety. I do think that the manufacturers of the equipment should work on making something that it less obtrusive for those who think that the visors affect their vision.
Monday, October 10, 2005 -- AfternoonTonight is going to be a busy night. Both the Penguins and the Steelers will be playing tonight. Fortunately the Pens game starts at 7 pm so hopefully I will be able to watch a couple of periods before the game starts. News for the Penguins: Brooks Orpik has been having a disagreement with coach, Eddie Olczyk. It seems that Eddie O thinks that Orpik may be out of condition because Orpik took time off during the lockout to take classes at Boston College. Orpik thinks that his conditioining is just fine and that he has been working out and doing well in practices. Eddie O thinks that Orpik isn't as sharp because of a puck stealing incident in the season opening game. Now from what I have been seeing of the team, it looks like alot of them are having synching issues, and I know that some of them were playing during the lockout. Another thing that Orpik has commented on is that the new rules that the NHL has implemented is making it more difficult for the Pens defensive players. It's hard for some of them because if you have been playing under a certain set of rule for awhile, it's hard to switch to a new set--especially if those rules make your job harder.
Sidney Crosby is in a multiperson tie for fourth place in the total points scored for the year. He has five points with one goal and four assists.
As for the Baby Pens, they have been doing much better than the Pens, and so far this season are undefeated AND won a shootout this weekend. All I have to say is that maybe we should bring some of them up here because we aren't winning, and really suck at shootouts.
Sunday, October 9, 2005 -- EveningNews from the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury has been called up to replace Jocelyn Thibault. Thibault hurt his knee at a practice skate earlier in the day yesterday when he was hit by a slap shot from Rico Fata. The knee is bruised, and I haven't heard anything about how long Thibault will be out. The interesting thing is that they initially called up Andy Chiodo to backup Sebastien Caron yesterday, but they are going to send Chiodo back down to the minors. I wonder why they didn't bring up Fleury from the beginning unless they thought that the injury wasn't as serious at first. Also, Chiodo was in West Virginia at the time which might have been closer than Fleury. Anyway, Fleury will be starting in the game tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres.
Sunday, October 9, 2005 -- Early AfternoonSurprisingly, Pitt beat the Cincinatti Bearcats yesterday afternoon. The score was 38-20. So Pitt is now 2-4 for the season. Pitt shouldn't be jumping up and down because all this win means is that they aren't the bottom of the Big East barrel. Looking at the schedule, we might have another win this season against Syracuse who does seem to be scraping the barrel.
Saturday, October 8, 2005 -- Late EveningInteresting tidbit from yesterday's hockey news. It seems that the Great One, Wayne Gretzky made a faux paux by having a player listed as a scratch suit up for the game and play. Fredrik Sjostrom was listed as the scratch. Gretzky's screwup cost the Phoenix Coyotes with 19 men on the roster as opposed to 20. The real scratch was supposed to be Petr Nedved. The thing that I don't understand is why players think they can be coaches. Just because Gretzky was the Great One with playing doesn't mean that he will be much more than mediocre as a coach. After all, those who can do, those who can't teach or coach.
Saturday, October 8, 2005 -- AfternoonTonight is the Pittsburgh Penguins home opener game. We will be playing the Boston Bruins. Some of the local sportscasters were saying that it would be fun if the game ended in a shootout because it is exciting for the fans. I'm not as excited about the idea because the Pens seem to have real shootout issues. I noticed that on the game on Sunday, the Pens weren't doing well in the shootout, and yesterday no one scored. So I'm hoping for a clear cut win. I will have my impressions of the game later on tonight.
Friday, October 7, 2005 -- Early MorningTonight is the second game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will be playing the Carolina Hurricanes. Sebastien Caron is going to be in goal tonight. The game will be show on the local FSN Sports channel which had alot of success with Wednesday's game. The ratings for Wednesday's game was 7.5 which is impressive when you look at the numbers for the previous hockey season. It seems that with the 2003-2004 season, the ratings for the season averaged around 4.5. We will have to see if the viewers stick with it if the Penguins don't perform to expectations. As I heard from someone yesterday, he loves to watch the Pens when they are winning, but when they are losing, he loses all interest. Of course with any sport, you will have the fair weather friends. I think that the Penguins have a more difficult time in the fall because Pittsburgh is really a football town.
Thursday, October 6, 2005 -- AfternoonSome folks here think Hines Ward is benefiting from Plaxico Burress not being in Pittsburgh. The most obvious benefit is that Ward can make more money, and the other is that he is going to get the ball more. Right now, he is benefiting by having more touchdowns (four in the past three games). Personally, I think that he is also going to have the negative of more doubleteaming. I'm just waiting for the Steelers to face tougher competition, and to see the whole season's stats.
Tuesday, October 4, 2005 -- AfternoonSo what do you think Sidney Crosby's nickname is? I know that some people, myself included, have called him Sid the Kid. However, it appears that for the past few years, he has had the nickname of Darryl. The name comes from Darryl Sittler. Why? Because in Crosby's first exhibition game, he scored eight points. Sittler had scored ten points in his first game, so the others started calling him Darryl and the name stuck. Some of his fellow Pens call him Darryl now too after they noticed the name stitched on his hockey gloves (where players usually put their nicknames).
Mario Lemieux has been doing well this preseason. Not only is he healthy, but he has also been playing like his younger self. Lemieux had four points in Columbus early in the week, and another four points this past Sunday (with a goal and three assists). If Lemieux can stay healthy and continue at this pace, he should have a stellar year. This is pretty amazing considering that Lemieux will be turning 40 years old tomorrow, which is also the first day of the Penguins season. Yesterday at the Kickoff Luncheon that the Pens have, the rookies gathered to sing Happy Birthday to Mario.
Monday, October 3, 2005 -- AfternoonPlaxico Burress has an outstanding game for the New York Giants yesterday. Burress had 10 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns. You know that whoever has him on their fantasy team is probably jumping for joy. I admit that I thought of Burress for my team and turned him down because here in Pittsburgh, he was Mr. Butterfingers. That's what amazes me now. There he is making all his claims that he wasn't utilized to his fullest capabilties seem like the truth. After all, what really changed with Burress? The only thing is the team itself. I will wait to see how the entire season turns out, but I have to admit that I am really rethinking my opinion of Burress now. The Giants beat the St. Louis Rams by a score of 44 to 24. That is impressive considering what a loser team the Giants were last year.
Fans are getting excited about the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. There is alot of talk about them making it to the post season. Yesterday's game was a good one, but as always with a win like that, you have to consider the opponent. In this case, the Washington Capitals are a team either in a decline or a rebuilding stage, depending on your point of view. Before the lockout, the team has spent megabucks on getting some of the premier players on their team. Granted, they do have Oveckin, but that's pretty much it.
Sunday, October 2, 2005 -- Late EveningI have had a busy past few days, and it culminated this evening in attending the final pre-season game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. My boyfriend and I got the 20 game season ticket package, and today was the first game of the package. This package didn't include the home opener game, but we purchased that ticket separately. Now onto the game. We got there at 6:30 pm with the start of the game at 7:30 pm. I have to admit that I like to get there early so I can get some food prior to the game starting. Also, I like the watch the practice. When the Pens came out, I had my eyes open for Sidney Crosby. My boyfriend saw him first. Crosby was bouncing the puck alot on his stick. I guess that he does that to improve his hand eye coordination. The funniest thing was when my boyfriend thought that Mark Recchi had dyed his hair red--in a male pattern balding pattern. The game was a very good one for a fan because the Penguins beating the Washington Capitals by a final score of 7 to 1. Ziggy Palffy scored two goal in the game, and Mario Lemieux a total of four points with three assists and one goal. When it came to the end of the game, the top three players of the game were number three: Ryan Malone, number two: Ziggy Palffy, and number one: Mario Lemieux. The interesting thing to note about these three is that they were playing on the same line. Here is a complete official stats for the game and the scores stats. What I thought was impressive is that for the seven games that made up the preseason, Mario had 34 assists. That's not bad! Let's hope that he can continue with the same during the regular season.
Saturday, October 1, 2005 -- Late EveningThe Pittsburgh Penguins have their final selection of players for the regular season. The biggest surprise in a way was that Marc Andre Fleury was sent to the minor leagues. Fleury was one of the better players during the pre-season, but he would be making alot of money in bonuses if he played for the Pens. So the thought is that he was sent to Wilkes Barre because the team can pay him less, and that it might be to Fleury's benefit to be the main goalie as opposed to a backup.
Saturday, October 1, 2005 -- AfternoonWhen you suck, you suck, and the Pittsburgh Panthers suck this year. Last night, they played against Rutgers, and lost by a score of 37-29. Right now, Pitt is 1-4 for the season, and is now 0-1 in the Big East conference. The thing that is so bad about this loss is that Rutgers is not that great of a football team. They have only won three Big East games since 2000. Sometime really bad is going on with the Panthers and someone really needs to take a look at the situation. It doesn't help that the only reason we were able to get close after being blown away in the first half was because Rutgers started to make some really bad mistakes. We were 27-0 at the end of the first half! Can we say Fire Dave? You hate to say it but since 2003 Wannstedt has had an incredibly bad record as a coach. He was 1-8 in 2004 with the Miami Dolphins.
The Montour Spartans aren't doing too well either. They lost last night. That means that so far they only have one win and five losses. This really has to look bad for ESPN's experiment, and it makes you wonder if Lou Cerro would have done a better job without all the distractions of the filming of the series. The parents should not be happy about this turn of events.
If you are in the Pittsburgh area, and you want to see the Penguins games in high definition, you have to hope that you have Armstrong Cable. A deal should be announced next week about the deal between Armstrong and FSN Pittsburgh to have a high definition sports channel that will play the games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to have to decide today which players they are going to keep for the team, and who will be headed to the minor league. It's going to be a hard decision, especially for the backup goalie. It will be interesting to see what the final result will be.
Thursday, September 29, 2005 -- Late EveningAfter having the best game of his career, Clark Haggins is going to be out for five weeks after surgery on his groin. It seemed that Haggans injured himself during Sunday's game, but he continued to play.
It seems that Ryan Malone has been doing a good job on the same line as Mario Lemieux. It seems that line is really clicking as was evident from that line's performance in the preseason game the other day.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Penguins won the first home preseason game last night. The score was 7-2. The big star of the evening was Mario Lemieux with one goal and three assists. Poor Sidney only had one assist. He's young and should get better. Of course, the Pens might not have had alot of competition from the Blue Jackets because half of them were out with a stomach flu. They probably had the nachos at the Arena.
If you are a student in the Pittsburgh area, you can go to some of the Pens games with the student rush program. Students with a valid ID can purchase tickets for the Pens games one hour before the start of the game for $20. That's $20 regardless of which seat is available. The only issue may be that there won't be seats that are together, so if you go with friends, you might not get to sit together, but you will see the game.
I thought that Bill Belichick was rude when he told the Steelers doctor to get lost. Well, it seems that others agree with me. The president of the pro football athletic trainers said that it was not the usual sort of thing that would happen. The home team doctors usually offer as much assistance as possible. I wonder if Belichick was having a bad day.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 -- AfternoonDon't you just wish sometimes that you can turn the clock back? I'm sure that the Steelers would love to do that. It appears that the press box operator made a mistake with the clock that resulted in the game being 52 seconds longer than it should have been. Now the game winning field goal was scored in the last few seconds on the clock. IF the time had been correct, the game would have gone into overtime, and who knows what would have happened? Cowher is being diplomatic and says that it would not have made a difference and that New England won fair and square. You just have to wonder. Granted there is nothing that can be done now, but the mistake should have been caught and fixed at the time.
The other Steeler story deals with Bill Belichick turning down help from the Steelers' doctor. When Matt Light was injured, with what turned out to be a broken leg, the Steeler doctor ran out to help him, and was told to get lost. John Norwig, the Steeler doctor thought it was funny because he was just going out to help someone in need. I guess that Belichick just thought that Norwig was going to turn the screws on Light to get team secrets.
Sid the Kid will be making his home debut tonight in the Penguins game tonight. The game is a preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and will be our sixth preseason game. So far, the first five have been loses, so everyone is hoping for a win. This is not a good sign, but I'm hoping that it is just because we are playing around with the lines and don't have things firmed up yet.
Monday, September 26, 2005 -- EveningThe Penguins have reduced their roster to 35. 12 players were sent to the Wilkes Barre Penguins. There are going to be more cuts tomorrow.
Monday, September 26, 2005 -- AfternoonI do have some additional notes about the Steelers loss yesterday. The one comment that I didn't like was made by Hines Ward in explaining how New England won. His comment was "They're the Patriots. That's why they're champions." The reason that I don't like it is that in a way it excuses bad performance on the team's part because they were just playing a better opponent. At the NFL level though, I think that the players should be more level. Besides, the Steelers had many opportunities that they just blew.
All is forgiven with Antwaan Randle El. Even Cowher told him that he should just let it go. He understood that Randle El was trying to make a play, but that you just can't do that with a team like the Patriots. I would feel really bad if I were Randle El, but you can't let it eat at you. Just realize what you did wrong and move on with life. Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum, Clark Haggans had one of the best games of his career.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 -- EveningSecond Half
In the first few plays of the half, New England was still having problems. Brady was sacked, and they were just not moving the ball. Adam Vinatieri missed a 53 yard field goal attempt. That was a quandry for me because I have vinatieri on my fantasy team, but of course want him to do poorly in this game. Roethlisberger is on the field.
The audience found out that the way that Brady communicates to his snapper in noisy places is by tapping him on the butt. The announcers didn't know what the scheme was, but it was probably a pat on the butt, the linesman says something and then off they go. It didn't work for Brady because he was sacked as they were saying it. Then Haggans caused Faulk for the second time in the game to fumble, and it was recovered by the Steelers.
I just realized that I didn't see Staley play. I can't tell if he is suited up and just on the sidelines, but he hasn't made it into the game yet. Reed just scored a 24 yard field goal, so the Steelers are ahead 13-7.
Brady can't seem to get anything going, but fortunately for them, our special teams let them get close to the endzone. Vinatieri wound up capitalizing on it and making a field goal. The score is now Steelers 13-Patriots 10 with seconds left in the third quarter.
Things are not looking good for the Steelers. Corey Dillon just scored a touchdown and the Patriots now have the lead. The score is 17-13 in the Patriots favor.
Roethlisberger was under attack in the end zone, but he managed to get a pass off to Verron Haynes for a first down. In the very next player, Roethlisberger got sacked. The Steelers just seem sort of out of it. Duce Staley is playing now. The ball wasn't passed to him, but he was on the field.
The Patriots seem to have something going for them that the Steelers are lacking. The Patriots have suffered some injuries in the game, and yet are still plugging away. Meanwhile the Steelers just seem to be out there on the field doing nothing much of anything. What is sad about it is that the Steelers had the momentum in the first half, and it just seems to be totally gone. There is less than four minutes left in the game. vinatieri just scored another field goal for the Patriots, and the score is now 20-13.
Ricardo Colclough, from Special Teams, got the ball to the 50 yard line. A pass to Cedrick Wilson has us to the 40 yard line. We have to score a touchdown here to stay in the game. Ward got another first down just as we reach the 2 minute warning. Ward got his leg wrapped because he was having hamstring problems. We lost yards with two holding calls, and are at second down and 11. Now it is third down and 11 because Randle El wasn't able to hold onto the ball. This is not looking good because we have to score a touchdown to tie. On the third down, Roethlisberger was tackled as he tried to run with the ball. Now the question is what will we do with the fourth and 11. We have a timeout now, and the guys on the Steeler sideline look down. Pass interference called on the Patriots and it is a 23 yard penalty and a first down. We are on the five yard line, and Roethlisberger just threw a nice pass to Hines Ward who scored the touchdown, the extra point is good, and the game is now tied! There is still 1:21 left in the game. This is nerve wracking.
The defense seems to be having problems, and it really sort of sucks because we are so close. There have been plenty of opportunities though that the Steelers had but didn't take advantage of. We should have had a touchdown with the Randle El mistake that caused a turnover. Vinatari just scored a 43 yard field goal with one minute left in the game. New England wins and Roethlisberger has his loss in the regular season. He's 15-1. This was really disappointing. Final score is 23-20.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 -- Late AfternoonFirst Half
The Steelers game has just started. The Steelers won the coin toss and elected to receive first. We didn't have the ball for very long before we had to punt. The New England Patriots have the ball and are in the red zone with their first sets of moves. The Steeler defense doesn't seem to be stopping or blitzing Tom Brady, and Corey Dillon just ran the ball in for a touchdown. The Patriots have scored first. 0-7.
Not to worry though! Ben Roethlisberger is hell bent to prove me a bad predictor and I love it. He threw a pass to Hines Ward who ran the ball in for an 85 yard touchdown, and the game is now tied. 7-7. The fans are psyched now. I have to admit that I didn't think much of Roethlisberger based on his pre-season, and I'm all for putting someone in his place, but Roethlisberger is proving me wrong. He has been consistently good in the regular season, and really seems to want to work. So he may be a jerk in real life, but he is a good player.
New England has the ball, and James Farrior just sacked Brady. Bad news in the first quarter with 7:32 left to play. Rodney Harrison was badly injured on the field, They had to bring out the cart to take him off the field, and it looks like he really hurt his left leg somehow. Earlier in the week, Harrison was trash talking the Pittsburgh fans in a way by saying that all they could do is make noise. As Harrison said: ``It's just fans yelling. I don't care how loud it is. It's just fans, It's people sitting on their butts, standing up, yelling and screaming. That's all it is. They can't do anything. They can't throw, they can't catch. All they can do is yell, scream, swear at you, maybe give you the finger, and those type of things. But they can't do anything. They're fans, sitting down, drinking beer, eating popcorn and pizza, and you respect that."
Roethlisberger did something unusual. He was underattack, and ran with the ball, and took a tackle. Usually he, and other quarterbacks, slide to avoid the hit, but he plowed right in. I was surprised. Of course, you don't want your quarterback taking risks like that because you don't want him to be injured.
The Steelers weren't able to convert on their next move, but we did manage to get it within field goal range. We now lead 10-7.
In the second quarter, New England had the ball but Clark Haggans caused Kevin Faulk to fumble. Larry Foote recovered and we are on the 35 yard line. Roethlisberger threw a long pass to Antwaan Randle El who was running, and almost tackled. Randle El, threw the ball to Ward, and the ball was fumbled and New England recovered it. Boy, what a stupid move on Randle El's part.
New England had the ball, couldn't do anything and had to punt. We tried to make some moves, but then Roethlisberger was trying to throw to Randle El and the ball was intercepted with 7:23 on the clock. The Steelers challenged it, and it is being reviewed now. It looks like it is going to be ruled an incompletion, and it was. The Steelers are not charged with an interception. It was fourth down though, and we just basically wound up throwing the ball away. New England wasn't able to do anything and had to punt. It doesn't seem that either team really has things going right. I am really surprised because New England is really seeming lackluster this season. Right now, they are 1-1 for the season.
Roethlisberger was injured with 2:37 left in the first half. He was rolling on the ground and it is not clear right now what the issue is, and there isn't an instant replay on the tv. one guy was holding onto him and Roethlisberger threw the ball, and the guy still dragged him down and fell on him. Jeff Reed tried a 47 yard field goal, and it was good, but there were whistles before the snap. We had a false start, and it is now a five yard penalty, and it is a 50 yard attempt. The second attempt was blocked though, and we make no score. It is still 10-7. Roethlisberger hurt his left shoulder, and it's not known yet if he will come back into the game.
Chris Hope intercepted the ball within yards of the endzone. Rothlisberger is on the field, but he took a knee, and the teams are going to the locker room.
Sunday, September 25, 2005 -- Early AfternoonBig news from the Penguins is that Mario Lemieux has been moved from the left wing position to center. It seems that the line will be Lemieux with Ziggy Palffy and Ryan Malone. what is just great is that this is our second line! When you look at the depth that the Pens have this year, it is really exciting. My boyfriend and I received our tickets to the home opener which is scheduled for Oct. 8.
Saturday, September 24, 2005 -- EveningFinally, the Pittsburgh Panthers were able to beat a high school level team. That's right, Pitt beat the Youngstown State Penguins. The game was abit of a route and the final score as 41-0. I know that the team is probably whooping it up at the fact that they finally won a game and won't be starting the season 0-4. The fact of the matter is that there is not alot good with the team just yet, and it is going to take some work to get them into shape to play a better team. Granted our schedule is weak, but I'm not anticipating alot more wins.
Friday, September 23, 2005 -- AfternoonIt seems that there is a chance that Duce Staley might play in this Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. It seems that Staley has been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks and Bill Cowher thinks that Staley might be able to play a role in the game. I'm thinking that Staley won't be a starter, but will see some action in the game. We'll have to see how he does. I'm not a big fan of Staley's because to me it seems that he has always had some sort of physical issue over the past two years. What gets to me is that for all the time we have had him, he hasn't really produced what we had hoped for.
I must not have been listening too closely to the sports news because I missed this story. It seems that Rafael Palmeiro is at it again. No, he hasn't tested positive for steroids again. What has happened is that Palmeiro claimed that if he had steroids in his blood, it must be because a teammate who claimed to inject him with B-12 actually injected him with steroids. Who did Palmeiro implicate but his teammate Miguel Tejada. What is really wrong with the story is that Tejada only had B12. So he didn't give Palmeiro steroids. What I think stinks to high heaven about this is that Palmeiro knows that he has been taking steroids, but to protect himself, he blames an innocent teammate. What a jerk and asshole Palmeiro is! I think that MLB needs to just give Palmeiro an ass kicking and suspend him from playing for a couple of years. Palmeiro did the deed and should pay the price, and should pay double for being a jerk.
Thursday, September 22, 2005 -- AfternoonSidney Crosby garnered an assist in his debut as an NHL player. It was a preseason game, and the Penguins actually lost in overtime with a score of 5-4. The nice thing is that Crosby didn't seem to be out of place playing against older, more experienced players. It's going to be a good season, and I am excited that I have my partial season tickets!
Some of the local sportscasters have issues with the way things are being presented on the Bound for Glory. The main issue is that Dick Butkus is being presented as the coach on the show, but in real life it is Lou Cerro. I know that they did this for the cameras, and folks outside of Pittsburgh will only watch because Butkus is on the show. I think that the show is hilarious. I'm not sure if that is the way that it is meant to be, but to see Butkus go off on one of his stupid tirades is just hilarious. There's Butkus saying that the 15 years old should be playing hurt. Come on, they are only 15! Do you want them to ruin their bodies now so they never make it to college or to the professionals? I guess that Butkus wouldn't mind that. I think that the kids from Montour aren't necessarily hoping to be the next biggest star. They are just hoping for a scholarship that will pay for college.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005 -- AfternoonYesterday was a busy day for me as I mentioned, and I had some difficulty in getting caught up with all the things that needed to be done. The first episode of Bound for Glory was on last night right after Big Brother. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch all of it, but I do have the show recorded and will give a full update on it this evening. The show looks like it is going to be an entertaining one for drama, but I don't know how much the kids will gain from it with football experience. You have to feel sorry for the coach that was just hired to take on the real full time duties of the team, Lou Cerro. He is one of the better high school coaches, and has to take a back seat to the drama of Dick Butkus on the show. From what I hear in real life, Cerro takes a more active role. You would have to hope so!
It seems that Ben Roethlisberger hurt his back with a hit that he received in Sunday's game. That didn't prevent him from soldiering on. Roethlisberger should be proud of his 15-0 record in regular season games. The first loss will be hard, but hopefully, he will bounce back with another win. He is impressing me because I have to admit that I was writing him off after his pre-season performance. It just goes to show that you shouldn't judge someone too much on their performance when it really doesn't count.
Monday, September 19, 2005 -- AfternoonThe official word from Bill Cowher is that Willie Parker will be starting for the Steelers next week. This past game was Parker's third consecutive game where he managed to get over 100 yards so for now, he is the man. Another high note from the game yesterday was Troy Polamalu, the Daily Bongo player of the game yesterday. He has been getting alot of kudos for his three sacks yesterday. It appears that three sacks set an NFL record for the most sacks in a game by a safety. Polamalu well deserves all the recognition that he is getting because he is a play maker who can always be counted on to make something happen in the game. Also, he is just a nice person off the field. Hines Ward also had a notable game with six catches and two touchdowns. All in all, there is alot to be happy about with yesterday's game.
Sunday, September 18, 2005 -- AfternoonSecond Half
The Texans got the ball first in this half, and they actually managed to make a play, and got short pass that gave them a long gain. Polamalu just sacked Carr with abit over 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Polamalu is a great player. I love him because he does interceptions, sacks, and just general play making. You have to love a guy like that. He is one of the folks on my fantasy team, and even if he doesn't score points, I would keep him because he is entertaining. Carr just missed a tackle and ran for 19 yards to make first down. Houston is doig a good job of moving the ball down the field and have gotten down to their own 10 yard line. It looks like they might actually get a score of some sort. With a short pass, the Texans were finally able to score on their first drive of the half. They got the extra point and the game is now 20-7.
The temperature on the field is now 108 degrees, down from near 120 degrees at kickoff. Boy, this was quite a play. Roethlisberger had the ball on a third down with 5 yards to go. Roethlisberger was under siege, but he kept on running and evading, and made a 40 yard completion to Cedrick Wilson. It was something else. We got the ball down close to the end zone and Parker ran it in for a touchdown! Reed made the extra point, and the score is now 27-7.
It seems that there have been moments during this second half were the Steeler defense just falls apart. With around 11 minutes left in the game, the Texans were able to throw the ball and get a first down when they were at 2nd down and 24. It's not that the defense is doing poorly, it just seems that there are times when things just aren't meshing. It's probably because of the heat on the field. It was all okay because Polamalu sacked Carr yet again for his third sack of the day. It's amazing to see svelte Polamalu fling Carr around like a baby. The guy is amazing.
The game feels like it is winding down even though there are 7:54 minutes left to play. We were just going to punt, but the Texans roughed our kicker, so we have the ball again for a few more minutes. Even the announcers seem to be talking about personal stories of the people on the team and showing folks on the sidelines.
Two minute warning. The Steelers have the ball. It looks like another win. One of the local sportscasters was claiming that the Steelers would lose today which seemed like a stupid choice to me because the Texans aren't a good team. Roethlisberger is still playing which is surprising considering the fact that he had the bone bruise in his left knee earlier. There is 1:10 left in the game, and we are at 4th and 6 on the 22 yard line. We just ran the ball and didn't make the down, but the game ran out of time. It finished with Carr getting sacked yet again. The feed cut to another game quickly, but it was a sack by James Harrison. Anyway, the game is now, and the Steelers have won.
Sunday, September 18, 2005 -- AfternoonFirst Half
The temperature on the field was nearing 102 degrees. That is going to be a problem for the Steelers because of their black uniforms, but right now, we are lucky because the sidelines for the Steelers is in the shade. We received the first kickoff, and Ben Roethlisberger did play. The first play was a handoff to Willie Parker who got 18 yards on the initial run. The announcers are commenting on the fact that Roethlisberger had a perfect passer rating in last week's game. Nice play just now with Roethlisberger evading a tackle and throwing a ball to Antwaan Randle El who caught it just inside the line. So far with 5 rushes, Parker has 39 yards. He can wiggle through some tight spots. Hines Ward just dropped a pass, and now we are at third down on the twenty yard line, and then Roethlisberger missed another throw. Jeff Reed just made a 37 yard field goal for the first score of the game. Steelers have 3.
Clark Haggans just knocked the ball out of the hands of the Texans quarterback, David Carr, and Joey Porter grabbed the ball. Our ball. Now with the offense on the field, Roethlisberger threw a 16 yard pass to Ward for a touchdown. Jeff Reed made the extra point, and it is Steelers 10, Texans 0 with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers have the ball again with 20 seconds left in the first quarter and we are within field goal range. Parker was tackled and we didn't get anywhere, and then a holding offense on our offense put us on the 14 yard line, and so the first quarter ends. The very first play of the second quarter was a touchdown pass to Ward. The Steelers had a false start penalty that moved them back for the extra point, but Jeff Reed was able to come through. Steelers lead 17 to 0. Roethlisberger is 8 for 11 with 135 yards and 2 touchdowns
Troy Polamalu is making life suck for the quarterback, Carr. That's good news for us because Carr is having difficulty getting his act together. We challenged the spot of the ball on a throw that was completed, and lost the challenge so we got charged with a timeout. The Texans are really not doing very well, and so far, they really aren't providing the Steelers with alot of competition. Polamalu just sacked Carr when they are trying to get close enough to get a field goal with 8:20 left in the game. So we get the ball back again. Roethlisberger threw a 54 yard pass to Randle El for a completion. One of the Houston defensemen, Robaire Smith, got injured, and Roethlisberger called over the trainers for him. Parker is not getting alot of yardage at this point. The fans aren't too happy and I can understand why. It must be as hot as hell there because the Texans are trying to affect the Steelers with the heat. Unfortunately, it has to suck for the fans too. Willie Parker just got a first down for us, and we are on the 15 yard line. There are abit over 5 minutes left in the game, and it looks like we are trying to use up some time before making our next score. We couldn't capitalized because of some penalities, but Reed scored another field goal. It's now 20-0.
Carr got sacked just after the 2 minute warning in the game by Ike Taylor. We got the ball and on the first play, Roethlisberger got sacked. He didn't even see the defense guy coming because Roethlisberger was trying to run with the ball. We almost made the down, but it didn't matter because it was the end of the first half.
Sunday, September 18, 2005 -- Late MorningThe Steelers are warming up in Houston right now, and it looks as if Ben Roethlisberger will be playing today. At least he is practicing more with the team than Tommy Maddox is. There are alot of comments about how Roethlisberger's right leg is wrapped but that it's his left leg that was injured. I guess that the thing that the Steelers are trying to attempt to do is to confuse Texans to attack him from the side they think is injured but that in reality isn't.
Saturday, September 17, 2005 -- EveningThe only disappointment was the Pittsburgh Panthers game itself. As my boyfriend said, "Pitt is not it". The final score of the game was 7-6 with Nebraska winning. Don't let the score fool you. The game was not that close. Pitt had plenty of opportunities, but didn't capitalize on them. The most frustrating and sickening part of the game was in the final few seconds of the game. Pitt had the ball in the last 30 seconds of the game, and managed to get the ball down within 40 yards of the endzone. All that was needed was a 42 yard field goal. Well, the first attempt went horribly awry with the football being thrown before the holder guy was ready. The ball ricocheted off the helmet of the holder and flew into the kicker's hands (Josh Cummings). Cummings threw the ball down the field almost to an interception. One second was left on the clock, but Pitt still had a second chance. Well, that attempt was blocked and Pitt lost. The game was a huge disappointment. There are alot of problems. The offense seemed out of sync--how else could you explain the holder not even looking toward the line for the ball, hence having the ball ricochet off his helmet. Also, the defense didn't seem to understand that this was NOT a touch football game, but a tackle game. The team needs alot of work, and a 0-3 start for the season is really not looking good for Dave Wannstedt.
Saturday, September 17, 2005 -- Early AfternoonThe Penguins practice continued at Mellon Arena yesterday. The big news was that a defenseman outscored Sidney Crosby in the scrimmage. Everyone will be analyzing and over analyzing the poor kid's moves all during camp. I don't think that a defenseman who hasn't scored much in his career outscoring Sid the Kid means very much. I would like to go to some of the practices, and used to in the past. However, visiting the practice at Mellon Arena isn't as nice as going to Southpointe. At Southpointe (the old practice area), you could sit in a restaurant overlooking the ice and actually have some lunch or breakfast while watching the team. Granted the arena was meant for junior hockey, and had those awful medal benches that required a blanket for comfortable sitting, but you could see the players upclose. Afterwards, if you had your skates, you could even go out for a public skate on the ice. I miss Southpointe practices.
Friday, September 16, 2005 -- MorningThe big news here in Steelers country is that Ben Roethlisberger has a bruised knee and is questionable for the game this coming Sunday. That means that there is a 50-50 chance that he will be playing. On KDKA they have a segment Monday through Friday at 5:45 pm with a Steeler, and yesterday was Antwaan Randle El's time. The sportscaster asked Randle El if he thought that Bill Cowher would have Roethlisberger play, and Randle El just said, if coach says 50-50, it's 50=50. I thought that was funny. There isn't alot of concern on the players part in having Tommy Maddox play because he has played with them in the pre-season and did well, by the way. Also, Maddox used to be the starting quarterback. The injury to Roethlisberger is one that he suffered in the opening game. Now if you talk to Roethlisberger, he thinks that he will be playing on Sunday, but coaches are notorious for thinking about the whole season, not just one game. So I expect that we will see Maddox starting on Sunday.
Congratulations to Randle El! He and his wife had a baby girl on Saturday and named her Ana Lauren. The baby was seven pounds 15 ounces and is Randle El's third child. I really like Randle El. He has a great personality with a huge bubbly smile that lights his whole face. I love the way his eyes crinkle up when he smiles--he's a whole face smiler and those are my favorite people because you know that they are basically fun and good people. It's especially true if they smile that way alot, which Randle El does.
On the Pittsburgh Penguins front, Sidney Crosby had a really good practice yesterday, and of course, folks are getting an image of the Stanley Cup in their minds. We just all need to take a chill pill and remember that it is only one practice and that the kid is young and still has a lot to learn about playing NHL level hockey. After all, even Crosby himself has admitted that the guys are alot bigger, stronger and faster than the kids that he is used to playing. I'm not saying that he won't catch up and be able to contribute. I'm just saying that we should be taking deep breaths and calming ourselves down!
On the goalie front, we have a wealth of options, and right now the battle for second place is being faught by three players. Marc Andre Fleury is my favorite right now, just because I like him. He is the youth option since he is only 20 years old. I think that he needs more seasoning though because he can be abit inconsistent with his play, but I would be willing to give him a chance. It's a wonderful feeling to be sitting back and watching so many good players battling for positions on the Pens. I remember back just a couple of years when we didn't have any big name players because we had to trade them all away for financial reasons. It's wonderful to be able to have a competitive team, and I think that it will be good for all of NHL hockey because I imagine that alot of teams can be in our situation.
There's alot of controversy here in Pittsburgh over a former Steeler who died a few months ago. The coroner's office has said that Terry Long died of swelling of the brain that is consistent with the person receiving multiple traumatic events to his head--which is the sort of thing that happens to lots of football players. Since the coroner here is none other than Cyril Wecht, I would be tempted to believe that he's right. The Steelers doctor is disagreeing though and saying that Long didn't have any concussions on the field while playing. The doctor wound up with egg on his face when some notes surfaced about Long getting hit one time on the field and not being able to walk steadily, being light headed and not being able to concentrate and having to sit out for a week. Sounds like a concussion even to me, and I'm not a doctor. I think that the Steelers doctor just doesn't want folks to think that football is dangerous. Come on, any of us would have to admit that the repeated damage that is done to the body has to have some long term effects. Perhaps in Long's case, the blows to the head just brought out an inherient problem that might have remained hidden without the blows.
Thursday, September 15, 2005 -- AfternoonDuce Staley practiced with the Steelers yesterday, but probably won't be starting this coming Sunday. Bill Cowher has said that he wants to play it safe and use Staley for third down situations when he first comes back from his injury. That means that Willie Parker will be starting on Sunday. Meanwhile Ben Roethlisberger didn't practice, but folks aren't thinking too much about that one. Roethlisberger got banged up abit in the game last week, and the team is just taking procautions with him. His status is listed as probable.
Thursday, September 15, 2005 -- MorningI'm not the only one who would like to see a reality tv show centered on the Lemieux house in Sewickly. A local sports columnist, Gene Collier, would like to see the dynamics and interactions also. It seems that Sidney Crosby has the run of the second floor of the house (I would love to know how this house is laid out). It seems that a typical day sees Mario and Sidney getting up around the same time, breakfasting together and then heading off to practice. Mario has said that Sidney is a different person than Mario was when he came to Pittsburgh as an 18 year old in the 1980s. Mario really didn't speak English and was quieter and more reserved. Sidney is a native English speaker and is also fluent in French. It also seems that Sidney is outgoing and chatting up the other players. Mario has said that there will be no female sleepovers in his house, and I thought that was funny. As Collier says, it seems that it is a father son type relationship with Mario keeping his eye out for Sidney's well-being.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005 -- Late MorningThere are some things that Mario Lemieux is not sure of. He's not sure if the Penguins will make it to the playoffs this year, although he is feeling pretty good about their chances. He's not sure if they will make it to the Stanley Cup, but again, there is a possibility. The one thing that Lemieux is sure of is that the Pens are going to lose money this year, even if the season is all home games are sold out. If the Pens make it to the second round of the playoffs, the team will have lost $7 million. This topic is being brought up again because some are thinking that just because tickets are being sold that the Pens' financial woes are over. The Pens still want and need a slots license to secure the funding that is needed to keep and maintain a hockey team in this town. Let's hope that they get it because if they don't, we will probably lose the team in 2007. The lease that the team has with Mellon Arena will expire in 2007, and the team will then be free to go to another city.
The Steelers have re-signed Charlie Batch and have let Nate Washington go. Washington is an interesting story. He is an undrafted player from a small school in Ohio who tried out for the team, made it, and performed decently in the pre-season. If Washington is not signed by another team today, the Steelers will sign him up for their practice squad. I think that will be good for Nate because he really seems like a hard worker, and I wish the best for him.
Bill Cowher has been taking things slowly this year as he did last year. His attitude is to take each game at a time and not look too far down the road. Yesterday at his press conference, reporters tried to get him to comment about playing the Patriots in a few weeks time and Cowher refused. He also wasn't too excited about the win this past weekend. As Cowher said, he knew there were things that the defense and offense needed to work on, and things weren't quite where he wanted them. I can see what he means about the defense because there were some first downs that were made that the defense should have held up. Yes we won, but it might be different if we played a stronger offense. Anything thing that I think folks here in Pittsburgh are getting carried away with is Willie Parker's performance in the first game. One game does not make a champion. Let's see how he does all season before we start calling him the greatest player. Folks are so quick to throw someone up on a pedestal and just as quick in ripping the guy down. Let's take a deep breath and follow Cowher's suggestion to take the games one at a time and slowly build a season.
Shaq is at it again! This weekend, he noticed a man who yelled anti-gay slurs and threw a bottle at a gay couple walking down the street in Miami. Shaq followed the man in his car and flagged down an officer who was then able to arrest the man for his actions. Shaq hopes to be a police officer one day, and was already working with the Miami police on fulfilling that goal when the incident happened. Shaq is the man, and I really do have alot of admiration for him.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 -- AfternoonNews on the Penguins front. Brooks Orpik decided to take that take it or leave it deal. There is no word on what the terms of the contract are. The rumor is that it is a one year deal for $600,000. I would take that deal. Of course, it's not enough to live on for a lifetime, but with good investment and a few more years of work, Orpik should be a-okay.
The big news in my mind is that Mike Lange has been signed by FSN Pittsburgh, the local sports channel, to announce the Penguins games. I love Mike Lange's commentaries. He's the guy who came up with the quotes "scratch my back with a hacksaw" and "Elvis has left the building". Okay, I don't know if he is the originator, but he uses those sorts of comments all the time when announcing the games. He's a nice guy and very knowledgeable about hockey. It will be nice to have him in his usual seat during the games.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 -- MorningBrooks Orpik still hasn't signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins yet and isn't sure just what he will do. Eventually, he is sure that he will re-sign with the Pens, but isn't really happy with the "take it or leave it" deal that was offered to him last week. I would imagine that if the deal is a true "take it or leave it" one that there really isn't much choice. Perhaps Orpik (or more likely his agent) doesn't believe that the offer really is a final one. That could be a tricky game to play.
The NHL has made a $100 million deal with XM Satelite Radio to broadcast games. The deal will be for 10 years and will start in 2007. At that point, XM will have the exclusive rights to the games. XM will have a station that will be dedicated to hockey. Things are really looking up for the league.
Monday, September 12, 2005 -- EveningJavon Walker of the Green Bay Packers tore his ACL and is going to be out for the rest of the season. The controversy here is that Walker's contract is up in a year and he was trying to renegotiate his deal. Well, Brett Favre put his two cents into mix and said that Walker should show up for training camp. Walker did. Favre was applauded because he showed his leadership role and got one of his teammates to show up to camp. Meanwhile Walker said that he did it to show that he was worth the money that he wanted. Well, well. Now Walker is injured and gosh knows what he will be like after this. The only thing that one can say is that this is probably going to affect Walker's salary in a negative way. So, Favre--it's nice that you got your teammate to play without a contract renewal. Are you going to pony up some bucks to cover what Walker lost because of his injury?
Monday, September 12, 2005 -- Late MorningFans are really excited over the Steelers' win yesterday. The offense did a great job that was totally unexpected based on the performances in the pre-season. The defense looked shaky at first allowing a touchdown, but managed to get their act together and hold the Titans to a big goose egg after that. Everyone, both locally and nationally, have been enthusing over Willie Parker. He got 161 yards rushing which puts Parker at number 12 for the most ever rushing yards in a game by a Steeler. In addition to that he also got another 48 yards from the screen pass. Parker didn't even play the entire game, so goodness knows what he could have done. There was no need to risk injuring him though when we were so far ahead.
Rico Fata is happy to be in training camp for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. He had a bout with testicular cancer earlier in the year, but seems to have recovered nicely. Everyone is hoping this will be a great year for the Pens, and there are some stories that are up for consideration. Who will be the second goaltender? Who will be the second center? It is already assumed that Sidney Crosby will be the center on the first line. Of course, this is all depending on how the training camp goes. How will the young defensemen on the team do, and will any make the official starting lineup? What will the third and fourth lines look like? It will be interesting to see how these story lines play out over the season. My biggest concern is Eddie Olczyk because I'm not as sure of his coaching abilities. The team was getting much better at the end of the last regular season, and I think that was a result of both the players and coach gaining experience and confidence.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- EveningRoger Federer beat Andre Agassi a few minutes ago. The final score was 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1. It's amazing that Agassi was able to get as far as he did, and he has nothing of which to be ashamed.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- Early EveningThe men's final is now being played in Flusing Meadow, and the sets are tied between Roger Federer and Andre Agassi. Agassi just won the second set, and the score is 3-6, 6-2. This should be a good match.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- AfternoonRoethlisberger wasn't able to convert so we had to resort to a field goal. Fortunately, Jeff Reed was able to make the score a 44 yard field goal and we now lead by a score of 10-7.
Thank goodness! The Titans weren't able to convert either, and their kicker, Bironas, was not able to score a field goal. For some reason, kickers have trouble making the mark in Heinz Field. Folks claim that it is because there are swirling winds in the field because of the one end being open to give a good view of the point. I have to admit that the field is a gorgeous one, and the view is terrific. It just sucks if you are a kicker.
Shocker! On the first play after the missed kick, Roethlisberger threw a 63 yard pass to Antwaan Randle El who ran it in for a touchdown. Score in the second quarter is now 17-7. Roethlisberger has had two touchdown passes in the game. Well, it just goes to show that pre-season means nothing.
Troy Polamalu just made an interception with 5:40 left in the second quarter. The guy is a real play maker. The interception was in the Titans red zone. The Steelers are really doing well. Willie Parker is also doing well with 10 carries for 48 yards.
Again, we got down within touchdown range, but couldn't convert. Jeff Reed just scored a 27 yard field goal, and we lead 20-7 at halftime.
After the half time, the Steelers came back, and Willie Parker ran in another touchdown. This time it was for 11 yards, and so far for the day, Parker has 100 yards. Jeff Reed made the extra point.
Willie Parker is doing an excellent job this game. He has 161 yards so far this game, and there are still abit over three minutes left in the third quarter. Right now, we are down by six yard line, and close to another touchdown. Verron Haynes just ran the ball in for a touchdown. The score is 34-7. So far, the Steelers offense has scored in one fashion or another every time they had the ball. That's pretty good. This particular run was a total of 80 yards.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger was sitting on the sidelines with some ice on his left hand. The sports announcers don't know what is up. They think that it was because of a bad snap that caused Roethlisberger to go down with the ball and have folks pile up on him from the left side.
Joey Porter just sacked Steve McNair, and the ball came loose and the Steelers recovered. I've never seen so many defense guys charge a quarterback. You know that McNair had no chance.
We didn't score off of the other interception, but we just had another interception by Ricardo Colclough. It's his first career interception. Tommy Maddox is now playing in the game. I think they want to make sure that Roethlisberger doesn't get too hurt and since we have such a larger lead with less than three minutes to play, they are giving Maddox some time. Two minute warning.
The game is over and the Steelers have won with a final score of 34-7. This was quite a surprising game for me and showed how little you can tell by the pre-season performance. Roethlisberger was on the mark this afternoon, and the offense played like a well oiled machine. The defense did a great job of putting pressure on the Titans, and they made some good plays with the interceptions. I think that my player of the game was Willie Parker who really showed that he has the stuff. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the performance of the team as a whole. Of course, the Titans really don't have a very good team this year. In two weeks time, we will be playing the New England Patriots. I'd like to see how we do then before I start revising my predictions for the year.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- AfternoonRoethlisberger wasn't able to convert so we had to resort to a field goal. Fortunately, Jeff Reed was able to make the score a 44 yard field goal and we now lead by a score of 10-7.
Thank goodness! The Titans weren't able to convert either, and their kicker, Bironas, was not able to score a field goal. For some reason, kickers have trouble making the mark in Heinz Field. Folks claim that it is because there are swirling winds in the field because of the one end being open to give a good view of the point. I have to admit that the field is a gorgeous one, and the view is terrific. It just sucks if you are a kicker.
Shocker! On the first play after the missed kick, Roethlisberger threw a 63 yard pass to Antwaan Randle El who ran it in for a touchdown. Score in the second quarter is now 17-7. Roethlisberger has had two touchdown passes in the game. Well, it just goes to show that pre-season means nothing.
Troy Polamalu just made an interception with 5:40 left in the second quarter. The guy is a real play maker. The interception was in the Titans red zone. The Steelers are really doing well. Willie Parker is also doing well with 10 carries for 48 yards.
Again, we got down within touchdown range, but couldn't convert. Jeff Reed just scored a 27 yard field goal, and we lead 20-7 at halftime.
Sunday, September 11, 2005 -- Early AfternoonToday is the Steelers first game of the season. They are playing the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have the ball first and drew first blood by scoring a touchdown. The score is now 7-0 with the first 6 minutes of the game gone. I'll have periodic updates on the game throughout the afternoon. One news item on the Steelers front is that Charlie Batch was released to make room for a rookie replacement for Clark Haggans who is injured. I think that the release of Batch was a big mistake because you know that one of the teams who don't have a quarterback of note will pick him up. We shouldn't put all of our eggs in the Tommy Maddox basket because I don't think that Ben Roethlisberger will be doing well. One of the local sportscasters has commented on Bill Cowher isn't known for having good opener games. It seems that he has a history of losing the first game of the season--we are 6-7 in opening games.
One person that I really admire is Shaquille O'Neal. The guy goes out of his way to give to the community. The latest story is that Shaq has collected together a truckload of supplies for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in both Louisianna and Mississippi. He thought that he needed to do something other than just give money. So he went back to Florida and he and his wife organized a collection, loaded up the trucks personally, and are driving them to the folks that need them. The only concern that Shaq's wife has is that the local authorities in the states will unload and distribute the items, and she doesn't think that they will get the folks who need it with any great speed. I really admire Shaq because he gives money and time, and really seems to be a caring person. He does his Shaq O'Claus bit for poor kids in LA where he gets truckloads of presents to personally hand out to the kids at Christmas. We need more people in the world like Shaq. Instead, we hear from the NFL that manages to only contribute $8 million for the victims. That is a spit in the bucket compared to the amount that the players, owners and teams in general make from the public.
The Steelers just scored a touchdown. Heath Miller caught a pass in the end zone. The game is now tied at 7-7.
Mark Messier may be retiring. The announcement is expected tomorrow. Messier has had an outstanding career and is now 44 years old which is old for someone in hockey.
Yesterday at the US Open Kim Clijsters won the women's final against Mary Pierce. The score was 6-3, 6-1. The match ended shortly before the Big Brother show was broadcast last night. This is the first Grand Slam win for Clijsters. Meanwhile Andre Agassi won his semi-final yesterday, and will meeting Roger Federer later today in the men's final. Federer still has Lleyton Hewitt's number and beat Hewitt in the semi-final yesterday. Hewitt beat Federer in eight of their first ten matches, but lately has lost nine straight matches to Federer.
There was a turnover in the Steeler game, and we got the ball from the Titans. Maybe the team will show me and have a much better year than I thought they would. I hope that they do because I would love to be proved wrong!
Saturday, September 10, 2005 -- MorningPitt is the Pitts. The game yesterday was one of the worst exhibits of college football that I have seen. I think that ESPN showed the game on a Friday night because they were equating the game to one that you would see two high school teams play. So Pitt tied the game in the last 11 seconds of the game. The score was 10-10 and went into overtime. In overtime, Pitt got the ball first and had the chance to make the first scoring opportunity. So what happens? Tyler Palko threw an interception that was run down the field for a touchdown. Ohio won by a final score fo 16-10. What is so disappointing about this loss was that we should have won. The Ohio Bobcats have not had a game on national television since 1969, and were expected to lose by everyone! Our team did a really crappy job. Supposedly, there were folks that were trying to talk Tyler Palko up as a possible Heisman Trophy winner. They must have been living in a dream world because I don't think that Palko has shown anything in his college career that would put him up for consideration. Talk about the Heisman pretty much dried out yesterday because of Palko's three interceptions. This is the worst start for Pitt since 1984 when they were also 0-2. People are already calling for Wannstedt's head. As I said yesterday, I will wait to start my bashing for next year because I think that he is stuck with alot of the bad recruiting that was Walt Harris' legacy. Most of the sportscasters last night were saying that Wannstedt can't coach for a college team and has to realize that this isn't the NFL. That is a problem. I think (and hope) that as the season progresses, Wannstedt will learn. All I have to say is that Fire Dave Wannstedt is available as a hostname. I would imagine that some Pitt folks might be gathering their dollars together to get rid of Wannstedt sooner rather than later.
Friday, September 9, 2005 -- Late EveningPittsburgh Panthers are really sucking right now. They are losing to a college that is not even considered in the same league. This was supposed to be one of the games that Pitt would win, and right now in the 4th quarter the score is 10-7 with Pitt losing. So what is the problem? I think that we don't have any really good players. It's hard when you bring in an NFL coach who really hasn't even coached for a college and then give him players that a half-ass coach recruited and expect him to do well. Pitt has been on a decline for the past couple of years, and I think that it might take a couple to get them out. I'm going to hold out on bashing Dave Wannstedt this year, but next year the gloves will be off. I'm just not holding out much hope for Pitt to do well at all, and it's really going to look bad when we don't get to any bowl at all with our football team, and no Big East of NCAA tournament for our basketball team.
Friday, September 9, 2005 -- EveningSidney Crosby signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins today. The deal is for three years and will garner Crosby $850,000 a year with the possibility of making double that amount based on performance based bonuses. Those are the bonuses for thinging like the number of goals scored, time on ice, awards won, etc. The signing was broadcast live on one of the local sports channels and crosby said that the process was an easy one. He is living with Mario Lemieux for now, and said in one of the interviews that was telecast that Mario has been driving him around town showing him how to get to places and Crosby has been asking alot of questions. The kid, he is no more than that at 18, comes across as a well-mannered and professional player. I wish a bright future for him, not just because he is playing for my home team, but also because he just seems like one of those good guys that you want to have the best.
In other Penguins news, the team has traded Kris Beech to the Nashville Predators for a conditional draft choice. What this means is that the Penguins are saying that Beech is worth us receiving a higher draft pick, and Nashville says that Beech ain't all that, and want to give us a lower pick. So based on his performance with the team, Nashville will give the Pens an equivalent pick.
Joey Porter has been moved from doubtful to questionable. That means that Porter is likely to play this coming Sunday. On the other hand, Duce Staley has been downgraded, and won't be playing. The Steelers have also released the captains for the 2005 season. The offensive captains are Hines Ward and Alan Faneca. Defensive captains are Joey Porter and James Farrior.
The Pitt basketball team has released the schedule for the coming season. The beginning of the schedule is the same old Pitt story--playing high school quality teams that gives the team a weak schedule. I think that it is also presumptuous of the team to already have the time blocked out for the team to attend the Big East Championship and the NCAA championship. After all, I don't even think that we will have a very good season this year.
Tyler Palko is hoping that the Pittsburgh Panthers will improve in the upcoming game tonight at 8 pm. Palko is willing to shoulder the responsibility to make the teams' performance better. We'll have to see how they do. After all, they are playing a high school type team today that we should beat. So I expect them to win easily. If they lose, that is an extremely bad sign.
Thursday, September 8, 2005 -- MorningIt's time for Sidney Crosby to negotiate a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it isn't expected to be much of a problem. Because of the new labor agreement with the NHL, the most that Crosby can make salary-wise is $850,000. However, that's not the limit. He can also get bonuses that are tied to performance. If Crosby would be lucky enough to win all the awards available, he could make up to $4 million. What sort of awards are we talking about? Bonuses would be available for winning end of season trophies like the Calder for best rookie or the Art Ross for scoring champion. Also, he could win bonuses for amount of time on ice per game and for the season, scoring, assists, you get the picture.
Wednesday, September 7, 2005 -- MorningI'm not a big fan or follower of baseball, but the big news in the city is that Lloyd McClendon was fired from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ever since McClendon started as coach five years ago, the Pirates have been doing miserably. Actually, the Pirates have had losing seasons for the past 13 years. There have been calls for McClendon's head for a long time. There is no word yet on who will replace McClendon. For the rest of the season, the bench coach (who has only minor league experience) will be coaching.
The Steelers have released Lee Mays yesterday and signed Quincy Morgan. Mays will be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, and Morgan will be used to boost the wide receiver section of the team. At yesterday's press conference, Bill Cowher said that his only concern is with the out of sync passing. At this point, I don't think Cowher is concerned enough to not have Ben Roethlisberger start. I guess that he will wait until we lose a few games before he makes a change. It will be interesting to see how the team does this coming Sunday.
Hines Ward showed up an autograph session yesterday, and was greeted by some folks who were gathering money to help evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. They told Ward that they had gathered abit over $10,000, and Ward said that he was so proud of them that he would match the donation. That was really a nice thing to do.
In hockey news, Scott Stevens has announced his retirement. Stevens said that having a year off showed him that he could live without hockey. The biggest issue for Stevens is that he mentally isn't up for the task, and since he is 41, he decided that it was just time to retire.
Tuesday, September 6, 2005 -- MorningThere is some talk that Mario Lemieux might take on the role of center when the Penguins start the regular season. Since Lemieux came back from his retirement, he has been playing mostly left wing. It will be interesting to see what the line up will be when the season starts because the Pens have really gotten some good players. It's a nice problem to have a wealth of players from which to choose.
It seems that Joey Porter might be playing this coming Sunday. He was practicing with the team yesterday. Porter hasn't been playing since his August 10 knee surgery, and there is no official word on whether he will be playing on Sunday. Sunday's game is the first of the regular season, and will be played at 1 pm against the Tennessee Titans.
Monday, September 5, 2005 -- EveningThere's more news on the Hines Ward contract. It appears that the deal is worth a total of $27.5 million dollars and includes a $9 million dollar signing bonus and a $1 million dollar roster bonus. His salary is $17 million for the next four years. It seems that Ward's mother was crying at the news that her son had managed to get such a huge financial boost.
Monday, September 5, 2005 -- AfternoonHines Ward has finally gotten his contract extension from the Steelers. It seems that the extension will be for the next four years and the rumor has it that Ward will get $17 to 18 million over three years and a base salary of $1.669 million a year. There isn't an official word on the amount though. There's supposed to be a press conference later on today. I wonder if folks will be complaining about the amount at the end of the season if Ward doesn't do very well, and we don't make it to the playoffs.
I have a bet with my boyfriend on how well the Steelers will do this year. I don't think that we will have a winning season, and I told him that I believe the final result will be 7 wins and 9 loses. I think that our offense is going to be subpar this year, but that our defense is going to be superb as it was last year. The only thing is that I don't think that we can count on our defense being our sole producer on the field. Last year we won a few games because our defense held back the other team and scored points off of interceptions. We should not count on the Steelers having a winning season based solely on the efforts of our defense. I also think that Hines Ward will not have the stats that he has had in previous years. Now Ward has never been a stats heavy player which is why I question labeling him as an elite receiver. He's a well rounded receiver, but as part of a core of receivers not as a standalone. I think that ward will not hold up well with double teaming, especially if Ben Roethlisberger is throwing the ball to him. I also think that Roethlisberger will not perform well this year, and that Tommy Maddox should be the starter. Cowher is going to go with Roethlisberger though. My final prediction is that we won't make the playoffs this year. I think that we might be second in our division, perhaps third. I think that Cincinatti will be first in the division with the competition for second going between Baltimore and the Steelers. As for my boyfriend, he thinks that the Steelers will have 12 wins and 4 loses and make it to the AFC Championship. Our bet is for $5. I would hope to be wrong because I would like the Steelers to do well this year, I just don't think that it will happen.
The other breaking news today is that Jerry Rice is going to retire. The announcement is supposed to be made this afternoon. It seems that Rice was told by the coach of the Denver Broncos, Mike Shanahan, that Rice would not even make the number 3 receiver and that Shanahan could not even guarantee that Rice would be active for every game. For those of you who might not know the implications of being active, it would mean that Rice wouldn't even be allowed on the sidelines during the game. You have to feel sad for Rice because it seems that his decision to retire is not based on desire on his part, but because he won't be allowed to play.
Sunday, September 4, 2005 -- EveningBrian St. Pierre was one of twelve people who were released by the Steelers today. Meanwhile, the local newspaper, the Post-Gazette has some stories that we should keep our eyes on this coming season. The first thing that we have to keep our eyes on is the running game for the Steelers. With Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley injured, we will have to rely on some untried players and hope for the best. Other things to keep our eyes on are the offensive line, not having Plaxico Burress and the secondary lines.
Venus Williams beat Serena today at the US Open today. Venus will be advancing to the quarterfinals with a score of 7-6 (5), 6-2. I always liked Venus more than Serena because Venus has a face that just looks friendlier and more approachable. On the men's side, Lleyton Hewitt managed to hold on to win in five sets against the number 25 seeded Taylor Dent.
Sunday, September 4, 2005 -- AfternoonPitt lost to Notre Dame last night, and it was not pretty. The final score was 42-21.
Saturday, September 3, 2005 -- AfternoonTonight is the first home game of the season for the Pittsburgh Panthers. There are alot of high expectations on Dave Wannstedt, and folks are hoping that he will have the team winning more and making it to a bigger bowl game this coming year. Tonight we are going to be playing Notre Dame.
Saturday, September 3, 2005 -- MorningMontour won its first game last night. It was the second game of the season, and Montour was playing a team from a high school in Uniontown (the Albert Gallatin Colonials). The final score was 38-14.
There is alot of discussion about the Steelers first line offense. According to the folks at the team, the fans are overreacting. The first line really hasn't had a chance to play much in the preseason games to get any sort of rhythm going. Then what is the point of the preseason games? If the players that need the experience don't get the practice in the games because the coaches are afraid that they will get hurt, why have the games? Supposedly alot of teams are out there stinking up the place. I think that the only thing that concerns me is that we have seen nothing in the practice sessions that were open to the public and the media or the preseason games to recommend Ben Roethlisberger as a starter this year. It seems that the best quarterback in practices has been Tommy Maddox. I say that he should get the starting position (even though I am not a fan of his) because the position should go to the person who is performing the best at that time. You don't let your second year quarterback be the starter even though he isn't performing because you have sentimental reasons to keep him in that position. That's the only thing that I can thing is happening in this case. If the Steelers start with Roethlisberger and he plays as poorly as he has in the preseason, I will have no respect for Bill Cowher. Take emotions out of it and use your head. I was reading an article in a magazine a few months ago about this kid who makes predictions about how the football teams will do. He said that he didn't think the Steelers would do well this year because Bill Cowher was unable to put together two winning seasons in a row. Meanwhile, it seems that Brian St. Pierre will be cut from the team today. Charlie Batch, on the other hand, has shown that he is someone that we should keep, and maybe alternate in starting with Maddox. I would bench Roethlisberger for now because the important thing is win games, not to make players feel good.
Friday, September 2, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Steelers cut six players today, and still have to cut twelve more by tomorrow at 6 pm. The guys who were let go today were not any names that I recognized.
Friday, September 2, 2005 -- MorningNow for a note about the football game yesterday. The Steelers wound up winning 21-17. But it had nothing to do with the first team. Roethlisberger sucked, and the hero of the game was Charlie Batch. I wonder if anyone on the coaching staff is concerned about Roethlisberger's performance because they should be. I don't know if I would be getting rid of Batch which was the rumor from a few weeks ago. I think that I would keep him because he has been doing a good job in the preseason.
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- EveningThe reason that Big Brother isn't on at its usual time tonight is because the Steelers are playing Carolina this evening, and doing a horrible job. Ben Roethlisberger made some really bad throws in the little bit that he played. It's the first time that I saw a football thrown by a professional quarterback where the ball flew through the air end over end. It was the type of throw that an unathletic girl (like me) would make. In fact, I think that I've thrown the ball better than that. I think that we are in for a long season. This is probably not the politically correct thing to say in this city, but I wonder if Roethlisberger should be our starting quarterback. I don't think so, and I think that if he starts the season that way, we will see a quick change later on.
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- AfternoonOn the lighter side, the Penguins have signed Ryan Malone. The details have not been released, but he will be staying with the Pens for now.
Yesterday while Serena Williams was playing, I noticed that she had these big ass earrings on. I just didn't realize that they were worth $40,000. The earrings are a distraction when you look at her in close-ups. They just don't see the sort of thing that you wear on the tennis court. I can imagine them at a gala, but not during a competition. That's the Williams sisters for you though. Every year, they come up with a new way to generate gossip at the . Andre Agassi is still battling it out right now. He is playing Ivo Karlovic and the score is 4-4 in the first set. People have been talking about Agassi retiring for awhile now, but he's like the Energizer bunny who just keeps on going.
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- MorningOLN Network has released its hockey schedule for the coming season. It is subject to change.
Tonight is another preseason game for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is saying that he can handle the pressure. As Roethlisberger says, he puts pressure on himself because he wants to perform his best. Coach Cowher, however, doesn't want the pressure to get out of hand. Cowher knows that fans are looking at every interception and failed pass that Roethlisberger throws, and he doesn't want Roethlisberger to crack under the strain and do an ever worse job. It's not such a bad thing to have a bad preseason. After all, the preseason doesn't count in any rankings, and it is just an opportunity for the team to get some practice, identify weak and strong points, and to work on those elements.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -- EveningThe matches at the US Open are on rain delay right now, but at 10 pm, the courts are almost dry enough for the matches to resume. Last night, Andy Roddick lost. The game was a close one actually with a final score of 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7-1). Roddick lost to Gilles Muller. Meanwhile Serena Williams easily won her match, and so did Leyton Hewitt.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -- MorningNegotiations are still ongoing between Ryan Malone and the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this point, Ryan Malone doesn't know what is going to happen. Will he be signed by the Pens, will he be traded? Malone would just like to know what is going to happen so he can decide where to buy the home that he and his fiancee hope to purchase.
Even though the Steelers offense really needs some work, the starters won't be playing more than a quarter of the game tomorrow. The rationale is that the coaches don't want the starters to get injured. Considering the injuries that we already have with running bacsk, it does make sense. However, this really does make you wonder what is the point behind the preseason games. If you don't use the preseason games to get your starters syncing with each other, why have so many? One sports announcer here in Pittsburgh said that we should only have two games since that might be all that the players can handle, and maybe extend the regular season to 18 games instead of 16.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 -- AfternoonFour inexperienced players were released by the Steelers today to get the team down to 71 players for the final week of the preseason. None of the names sounds familiar to me, and three of the players are rookies.
The US Open started yesterday. So far, all the big names are still playing. I have many fond memories of watching the US Open. When I was younger, I would spend as much time as possible watching the matches, especially throughout Labor Day weekend. I would love the tennis, but I would be so sad every year when the tournament started because it would mean that school was starting again and summer was over for the year. I hated going to school so all the things that come at the end of August even today give me twinges of sadness. So the US Open and the song of the crickets bring on the same sad feeling. I have to admit that this year the crickets seemed to be vocal earlier than usual. It sort of put a damper on the whole summer because it was a reminder that it was going to be over soon. Back to the US Open. There is a new twist to the proceedings on the court. After the match, the winner signs three tennis balls and lobs them into the stands. As the announcer said after the Roger Federer match, why not make it four balls because there are folks on all four sides of the court? As the announcer said (I think it might have been John McEnroe), the cost of balls is cheap.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 -- Late MorningHines ward still hasn't gotten very far in his contract proceedings with the Steelers. The regular season starts on September 11, and everyone is hoping that the matter is settled by then. Meanwhile Ward responded to some comments that Plaxico Burress made about the Steelers fans. Burress claims that the fans had a downer on him because he was black and had cornrows. Ward said that the only thing Steelers fans have a downer on is poor performance. I agree with that statement 100%. The reason that I didn't like Burress is because he could be counted on in moments of pressure to drop the damn ball. It's all fine and dandy that you are tall, but if you can't come down with the ball, it means diddly squat. Burress is one of those people who is inconsistent and arrogant about his ability. Another point that Ward makes is that he saw alot of fans out there wearing Burress shirts. Burress was a loser, and his comments just illustrate that. The only comment Burress made that made sense was that the fans wouldn't let him forget the dropped three yard touchdown pass that probably cost us the AFC Championship. All I have to say is that if you are a highly paid wide receiver, and you drop a simple pass like that one, you deserve the wrath of the fans!
Monday, August 29, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Penguins have decided to keep Dick Tarnstrom. Tarnstrom was saying that he wanted to stay in the city, and I suppose that he was able to convince the Penguins management that he should stay. With Tarnstrom, we would have four offensive defense players.
The Steelers cut ten players today. Eight of them were rookies and two were veterans. They were Matt Cushing and Chris Doering. The Steelers will have to cut four more people by tomorrow at 4 pm. Right now the roster is at 75. The question is what will they do with the quarterbacks that they have. We have four now. How many will we have tomorrow at 4:01 pm?
Monday, August 29, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Jerome Bettis will be out for two weeks. The injury to his calf isn't thought to be serious, and the MRI was inconclusive. So at this point, Bettis will be missing the season opener, but hopes are good that he will be back after that. It seems that Willie Parker might not play in Thursday game, but the last thing that Bill Cowher will want to do is risk the only other first line running back that he has.
There is also a nice article on one of my favorite players, Troy Polamalu. Polamalu is someone who plays whatever position is needed on the defense, and he always does the best that he can. Polamalu is a dervish on the field with his hair flapping freely from under his helmet and a perpetual smile on his face. Some folks call Polamalu the Tasmanian Devil after the whirling Looney Tunes character. The Steeler defense is really something to get excited about. Too bad the offense sucks--or at least appears to be sucky at this point.
Sunday, August 28, 2005 -- AfternoonAlthough the fans are nervous about the Steelers offensive line, and the fact that the first string offense hasn't scored a goal, the players themselves are confident and optimistic. They would have to be. We have another preseason game this coming Thursday at 8 pm. and we can only hope that the first string offense will final score some points.
Dick Tarnstrom was awarded a 1 year $1.6 million contract by arbitrators yesterday. Because of the cost, it's probable that the Penguins won't sign him, and Tarnstrom will become an unrestricted free agent. Tarnstrom would like to stay with the Pens. The Pens have 48 hours to sign or trade him before Tarnstrom can be a free agent and approached by other teams.
Saturday, August 27, 2005 -- MorningFor the other local reality series Bound for Glory, Montour had its first football game last night, and lost to Chartiers Valley. The final score was 14-7. The Montour team's only score was an interception that was run in for a touchdown. The offense seemed to be stinking up the field, and really wasn't contributing much to the game. Something that the sportscasters noted who were at the game, was that Dick Butkus really didn't seem to be the head coach during the game. He pretty much just stood on the sidelines and did his routine either encouraging the team or looking disappointed and upset. Lou Cerro had the headset on and called the plays. Butkus claims that what he does it give direction on non-game days, and leaves the game day calls to Lou Cerro. It will be interesting to see how this plays out of television. The show will be on ESPN starting on September 20 at 10 pm.
The Steelers played another preseason game last night and it was a disappointment offensively. The touchdown that the Steelers made last night was an interception by Troy Polamalu and run in for a touchdown. The final score was 17-10. The most disappointing moment was when Ben Roethlisberger got the team down into the red zone and couldn't convert because he couldn't see open players. The announcers for the show (from FOX even showed the clip when Roethlisberger had open players to his right, but he was staring steadily to his left, and never say the guys on the right, and then finally after several wasted precioius seconds had to scramble because he was under attack from the offense. Bill Cowher said that the offense just didn't seem to be synced. That's true. The throws seem to be too short or too long. The other bad news of the evening was the Jerome Bettis strained his right calf and was pulled from the game because of the injury. Hopefully it won't be that bad, and Bettis will be back. I am not going to expect much for the Steelers this year. Of course, the preseason doesn't mean anything because it is a practice and lots of other teams are stinking up the place. The thing that I think is of concern is the lack of rhythm with the offense. As John Steigerwald said in the nightly sports call-in show last night, if Roethlisberger did not play last year, and you saw his performance so far in the preseason, you wouldn't be very excited or thrilled thinking that he would be your starter. That's the thing that I think is happening here. We are thinking that in the regular season, Roethlisberger will step up and start winning. He has a double whammy on him. Expectations are high for him to perform on one hand and on the other hand is the group just waiting to jump on every mistake. His performance so far, in my opinion, has been lackluster. I'm not saying that the guy doesn't have the potential to be really good, but to expect two winning seasons in a row from this young quarterback is expecting too much. I am expecting an average season, and no post season for us. We'll have to see if I am right. I would love to be proved wrong, but I am afraid that won't be the case.
Friday, August 26, 2005 -- Late MorningEvgeni Malkin will not be playing for the Penguins this season. It seems that the team will have to give up on bringing Malkin over for this season, and will concentrate on having here for the next season 2006/2007. The word has come from Malkin's agent who says that Malkin is going to have to play in Russia for the upcoming season. The agent, Pat Brisson, thinks that Malkin could work out a deal with the Russian team for a release next year if he gives them one more season. At this point, there is nothing in Malkin's Russian contract that would allow for this deal, but Brisson thinks that it will happen. The general manager of the Russian team, Gennady Velichkin, said that he thinks that Malkin will benefit from another year in Russia. Malkin played a hand in the decision, and hopes that the Penguins will respect his decision. It seems that Malkin thinks the Russian team is a strong one and that will be good for him. Also Malkin wants to go to the Olympics and thinks he stands a better chance of doing that if he does not work for the NHL.
It seems that Tommy Maddox wants to be a starter again. He claims that he will not ask to be traded, but that when he watches some teams competing who really don't have a strong lead quarterback, he wishes that he had the opportunity to play for them. Maddox says that he loves playing for the Steelers though, and it is nothing against the team, management organization, or the fans. It's just something that he wants to do. I can understand that. If you have the ability, you want to do something with it. I just don't think that Maddox had the ability, and that's why Roethlisberger was able to keep the number one spot. Yeah, Maddox is capable of throwing the ball and handing it off to a back. The problem comes when he can't stand like a statue to do it. The guy has no manuvering ability and just looks like a garden gnome waiting for the dog to pee on it. As you can tell, I'm not a big Maddox fan. I don't think that he is the pits, but he's definitely not the heights either.
Thursday, August 25, 2005 -- MorningI was watching the nightly sports call-in show last night, and the guys brought up an interesting story that I can't find on the Internet. It seems that there have been rumors that Ben Roethlisberger isn't very well liked by his teammates. John Steigerwald and Bob Smizik were talking about someone who brought the rumor up yesterday. It seems that Roethlisberger does have a problem (if you want to call it that) with arrogance, and he does not get along well with the media. Leaving before meeting with the media after last Saturday's game did not go over well. The question is if Roethlisberger can handle having people asking him the hard questions when his performance isn't up to par. It doesn't seem at this point that he can, and he better start learning. I hate to tell Roethlisberger this, but he's going to have some crappy games. No one is great in all of their games, and since the end of last season he has been on the borderline between good and bad. Officially, Roethlisberger is saying that he feels confident this year because he is starting the season as the starter, and has had some good practice sessions with the other players. Roethlisberger says that he doesn't screw up the huddle calls as much as he used to last year. That's good to know.
In France, the director of the Tour de France would like an explanation from Lance Armstrong about the EPO that was found in his sample B blood sample from 1999. Rumors have always swirled around Armstrong in the cycling world, especially in France, that his amazing stamina and overall performance were attributable to performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong's answer to the claims at this point is that the blood sample was mishandled, and he questioned the ethics of the lab that tested the sample last year and released the results publicly this year. Armstrong even says that the folks at the Tour de France are involved in floating the story and that this is no truth to it. His claim is that this is just a bid to smear his reputation. Armstrong mentioned the possibility of legal action, but probably won't because of the cost and the time that it would take from his schedule. Hmm! Shades of Rafael Palmeiro who said that he was going to sue Jose Canseco for saying that Canseco gave Palmeiro steroids. My boyfriend has been saying for the longest time that he believed that Armstrong had to be doing something because he couldn't believe that someone of Armstrong's age was able to be so consistently good over seven years. Of course, bicycling is a team sport, and the Armstrong team may be the reason the individual won. However, where there's smoke, there's fire.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 -- Late AfternoonThe World Anti-Doping Agency head wants Lance Armstrong investigated for drug abuse. It seems that there is controversy over blood that was taken from Armstrong after his 1999 Tour De France win. It seems that two blood samples were taken. Sample A was tested for illegal substances that were known at that time. Sample B was frozen and tested for new substances only last year. It appears that the report is that the Armstrong's blood tested positive for EPO which is an endurance boosting drug that works by allowing the blood to carry more oxygen. Tests weren't available for EPO in 1999, and didn't become available until 2001. Armstrong denies that he ever took any performance enhancing drugs at any time. The question is how can this latest bit of information be resolved. There is an eight year statue of limitations, but the only way to sanction an athlete is if both Sample A and B are found to have drugs. In this case, Armstrong lucked out that Sample A was thrown out and that there wasn't a test for EPO. This isn't the first time that Armstrong tested positive for illegal substances. Also in 1999, he tested positive for steroids, but the amount in his blood was not that large, and he claimed it was from a steroid cream that he was taking for saddle sores. Some don't think this news will have much of an impact on Armstrong because he is now retired, and is very popular. It does put a question in my mind though. Are there any athletes out there who excel and don't do drugs? I am really becoming disillusioned.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 -- Late MorningIt looks like Aleksey Morozov will not be playing for the Pens any more. There really isn't a slot for him on the team. Also, it's not sure if he will be picked up by any other NHL team. Morozov is a restricted free agent, so the only option for the Pens will be to see if they can trade him elsewhere. It is not looking good for Morozov. It's a good thing that at least for now he does have an agreement with the Russian league, so he may still be playing, just not in the US.
The Steelers are doing some thinking about the third quarterback situation. It seems that they may decide not to fill the position, and may utilize Randle El. Randle El is one of those slash folks. So he plays the wide receiver/special teams role and now it seems that he may add quarterback. It seems that in his college years he did get some quarterback experience. It will be interesting to see what decision the Steelers make. I'm sure that money will be a factor because they will probably need to get rid of someone to make up for signing Hines Ward. This wouldn't be the first time that the Steelers went with two quarterbacks. They did the same thing in 2004. Roethlisberger and Tommy Maddox were the one and two with Charlie Batch on the injury list. Brian St. Pierre was brought on at the last minute when Maddox got hurt.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 -- Late MorningCasey Hampton signed a new contract with the Steelers. He got a $6.975 signing bonus which is the third highest in team history, and a total salary of $22.775 million through 2009. The Steelers have always made sure to take care of their defensive players. Hampton was in the same situation as Hines Ward because his current contract was up next year. we are still waiting on word about Ward's contract.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Madden Football 06 don't think much of Ben Roethlisberger this year. Roethlisberger was given ranking of 12th best quarterback in the game and is referred to a slight above average quarterback. I don't think that folks should get too upset about this ranking because for one its a game. For another, I don't think that having one good year makes someone a great quarterback. Roethlisberger is going to have to prove himself over time. The one thing that the producers of Madden Football say is that usually it takes a few years for a quarterback to gain awareness of his surroundings and considering the fact that Roethlisberger has thrown a few interceptions and incompletions towards the end of the season and in the pre-season games gives some support to the lack of awareness through lack of experience. That should improve with time--hopefully. Last night as I was watching the local sports call-in show, Bob Smizik was talking about Roethlisberger's attitude, and it seems that it leaves something to be desired. Roethlisberger is gaining a reputation as a bit of a jerk especially when it comes to dealing with the media. It appears that after the Miami game on Saturday, Roethlisberger left and did not make himself available for the usual post-game interview. Speculation is that he may not have wanted to be around for questions about his less than stellar performance. As Smizik said Cordell Stewart used to stay around for the interviews even when Stewart did a bad job.
There was a rumor that Dick Tarnstrom would be coming to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it doesn't seem that will be likely. It seems that the talks between the Pens and Tarnstrom's agent got abit contentious yesterday so the talks might be off. Tarnstrom is an offensive defensemen which means he's someone who can actually score which alot of defensemen don't do.
Monday, August 22, 2005 -- Early AfternoonHines Ward is saying that he and the Steelers are close to making a deal. Other sources are not able to confirm this information, but that's what Ward says that his agent is telling him. Ward wants a guaranteed sum somewhere between $16 and 18 million.
Folks are concerned about Ben Roethlisberger's performance in the past two pre-season games, but the team isn't as concerned as the fans are. The claim is that the problem is just timing issues between Roethlisberger and his receivers. Hopefully by the time the season starts the timing issues will be resolved.
Sunday, August 21, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Steelers won a pre-season game against the Miami Dolphins last night. The final score was 17-3. There were some good moments in the game, and some others that made you thankful that it was only a pre-season game. One of the latter moments was when one of the special teams guys touched the football on the kickoff, but didn't grab it and hold it, so the other team wound up with the ball. The game was postponed for abit over an hour because of some violent thunderstorms that came through the area around an hour before start time. The rain was done by the time the game would have started, but the teams needed to get a warm up, and the officials had to be assured that another storm wouldn't whip through. The problem was that it was a lightening storm, so you can't have people out on the field playing in those conditions. Ben Roethlisberger did not play a very good game. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't good--average would be an accurate description. I think that the fans have to remember that it is only his second year in the NFL, and that he is definitely not going to have as good a season as he did last year. It was amazing for a team to be 15-1 in the regular season, and we are going to have to expect some loses.
Saturday, August 20, 2005 -- AfternoonGood news for Pens fan. The Pens have actually managed to pay off almost all of their creditors from their 1998 bankruptcy claim. It seems that usually creditors can only expect to get back 50% of what they are owed, so this is really an amazing feat. It seems that most of the credit probably should go to Mario Lemieux because he's done alot to turn around the team financially, and also gave up claim on $7.5 million dollars that was owed to him. Meanwhile the campaign to get a slots license for the Penguins continues. The guys who run Slots for Mario want people to take action and to go to board meetings and City Council meetings to make sure that the licenses don't go to cronies or those who contribute money to political campaigns.
There's a Steelers game tonight, and it may be the last chance for Charlie Batch to show that he should be the number three quarterback. Right now, Tommy Maddox is a sure bet for the second position, and it's down to Batch and Brian St. Pierre. Right now, the money is on St. Pierre because he is the younger player.
Friday, August 19, 2005 -- MorningPenguins tickets are selling like hotcakes. I put off getting tickets until today, and wasn't able to get anything in the south end. I did manage to get tickets in the North End. Now there were tickets still left in the south end (where the Pens shoot twice), but they were underneath the overhang. I've had seats there before, and the seats sucked because it was difficult to see the scoreboard, and you felt like you were in a tunnel. So I went for the north end. Whatcha gonna do when you wait too long?
Thursday, August 18, 2005 -- AfternoonOver in training camp yesterday, Ben Roethlisberger had his foot stepped on. I know how much it can hurt to have someone trod on your foot. The team doctor looked at this foot, and it looks like it will be a-okay for practice today. Hines Ward is getting back into the swing of things in training camp. The first thing he did is go around to his teammates and apologize for any disruption that he may have caused. That was a classy thing to do. I've always liked Ward. I just didn't agree with the salary demands and everyone insisting that we had to pay Ward whatever he wanted or else we wouldn't win the Super Bowl. That's not how business works, and football is a business. Also, I don't like the psychological ransom/threat--pay him or we win. Come on! Ward may play and we won't win! Or he may get injured and we still win. Who knows about these things.
Comcast has made a deal with the NHL to broadcast games over the next two years. The games will be broadcast on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). OLN will broadcast the first two games of the Stanley Cup and then NBC will broadcast the rest of them. Comcast is paying $65 million this year and $70 million next year. This is Comcast's challenge to ESPN. It seems that Comcast wants to have a sports channel, and this will be a good start.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 -- Early AfternoonBen Roethlisberger caused a scene at the filming of the ESPN reality series at the Montour school district. He stopped by to say hello to Dick Butkus and to give the players some words of encouragement to go for an undefeated season. Bound for Glory is scheduled to start on ESPN on September 20.
On the Steeler front, there is some concern about the running game. With Duce Staley out for awhile, and Jerome Bettis really not meant to be playing all the time because we don't want to have him get injured and be out for a portion of the season, we have to rely on others. So far in the first pre-season game, those others weren't really pulling their weight. This does not bode well for a team that bases itself on its running game. Meanwhile, our defense wasn't too good in the red zone and let in four touchdowns and a field goal the five times Philadelphia got into the zone. That's not very promising but hopefully some work can be done to improve it. We do know that special teams is doing well since they brought in two touchdowns. Three standouts for the team were Nate Washington who had four receptions for 76 yards, Ike Taylor who had the 100 yard touchdown return, and Larry Foote who did his usual good job with two tackles that resulted in losses for Philadelphia.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 -- AfternoonKonstantin Koltsov resigned with the Pens today.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 -- MorningThe Steelers won the game last night with a final score of 38-31. The big news though, was the return of Hines Ward to the team and the sidelines. The players are excited to have back a player who is known to be a team motivator. It seems that there are players who are talkers on the field and during practice and Ward is one of them. You need a talker on the team to rouse the rabble into fighting the other side, and Ward and Joey Porter are two guys who do that. With Ward holding out and Porter out with an injury, the practices have been quiet and there hasn't been a good motivating force among the other players.
The Penguins have been signing up a storm. The latest storm though has been with older players. Some may say, myself included, that the players might be past it. However, maybe Craig Patrick knows what he is doing, and I shouldn't be second guessing him, but I do wonder what the goal is. John LeClair has been dropping off in the past few years and is 36 years old, so I'm not very hopefully that after a year off he will have a restoration of his playing prowess from a few years earlier. The other player that we signed yesterday was Steve Poapst. He's also 36 years of age, and plays defense. The interesting thing about Poapst is that he only had a full NHL season starting in 2001-2002. The previous years were spent going back and forth between the AHL and the NHL. Meanwhile, it doesn't look very promising for the Pens to get Evgeni Malkin. There have been problems with the Russian Federation signing an agreement that will allow the Pens to bring Malkin over to the US. I am going to wait for the season to see how these players work together. After all, it might be a matter of synergy. The individual parts might not be too exciting, but together they might spell Stanley Cup!
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- Later EveningWe are nearing the end of the third quarter in the Steeler game and the score is 31 to 17 with the Steelers leading. The team is doing really well. I love the way the NFL shows the live games with a field and down lines.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- EveningThe Steelers have been doing very good so far, and we just started the second quarter. Right now the score is 21-7. The Steelers made their scores with an interception and two kickoff returns for touchdowns. In fact the second one was a 100 yard return by Ike Taylor. The special teams players are doing really well, and the defensive players are doing well too. We really haven't seen much of the offense to make any decisions. Hines Ward is on the sidelines, and right now, is being interviewed by a sportscaster. Here's a play-by-play of the game.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- Early EveningBreaking news! It is an hour before the game tonight and Hines Ward is having a press conference right now stating that he has ended the hold out. He talked to Bill Cowher last night, and decided to come back to work and restart the negotiations. Hines has said repeatedly that he needed to hear from Cowher that he was a valued player and that he was wanted back on the team. Obviously cowher had the right words and Ward is back. Ward is saying that his agent has given him options of what he can do, but Ward is the one who calls the shots. Ward said that he wants to retire as a Steeler, so he wants whatever needs to be done to actually be done. So, let the negotiations begin. Ward was already offered the best deal in Steeler history, so it's not to surprising to think that it will happen in actuality.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Pittsburgh Penguins signed John LeClair today. There isn't any word on just what the deal entails. I'm not sure what the point was in getting LeClair. Do we need another winger whose stats have been falling over the past few years? I think that LeClair might be abit past it, but I could be wrong. We also resigned Josef Melichar.
Monday, August 15, 2005 -- MorningThere is a Steelers pre-season game tonight. It's going to be held here in Heinz Field, and will be against the Philadelphia Eagles. It will be interesting to see how the team does although pre-season games don't really mean much. You can have a bad pre-season and a great season and vice versa.
Sunday, August 14, 2005 -- EveningESPN has an analysis of the Steelers training camp. The first item that Michael Smith mentions is the Hines Ward situation. This writer refers to Ward as an elite receiver and the best complete receiver in the league. However, he does mention the point that I have made--that Ward has NOT been the victim of double teaming. Surprisingly, the competing teams don't see this elite receiver as someone worthy of double teaming. It's probably because they were double teaming Plaxico Burress. Some of the local media are making a big deal out of Ward completing 75% of the passes thrown to him. I think that the only reason for that is because he has not been double teamed, and I think his stats will fall when that does happen. Right now, his number of touchdowns don't match the other "elite" receivers, and I shutter to think what it will be like when he is the only game in town for the opposing defense. Being offered the largest salary/bonus package in Steeler history isn't the slap in the face that Ward believes it is. I say to Ward--play, show us what you have, and see if you get better offers next year.
Saturday, August 13, 2005 -- MorningThe Steelers are still having discussions with the agents for Hines Wards, but it appears that there is a rumor that the Ward might come back, play out the season, and then become an unrestricted free agent in the following year. That would mean that he could be picked up by another team at the salary and bonus that he wants. The thing that I think would be interesting is if there is a fall in his statistics this year because he will be THE prime wide receiver for the team. It might prove my point that he is a good, serviceable, workhorse of a player, and that the Steelers offering him the biggest deal ever by the club was nothing to sneeze at. we'll have to see how the season plays out though, and it Ward returns. I used to be a big fan of Ward, but I have to admit that I am turned off by his attitude this season.
Friday, August 12, 2005 -- EveningI was just listening to the local sports show, and they were saying that there was a report in the Pro Football Prospectus 2005 that said that Hines Wards was one of the most complete wide receivers and that he was an elite wide receiver. That doesn't really fit in with the statistical comparison that I did the other day, and it doesn't fit in with this analysis of the wide receivers that USA Today had. That report referred to Ward as a notch below the elites. Even looking at the ESPN statistics provided for all wide receivers in the NFL doesn't put Ward at the top of the pack. Some even say that Ward is a consistent Pro Bowl receiver. This past year, Ward was on the reserve list. Chad Johnson made the starting line of the Pro Bowl, averaged 2.6 yards more per reception, and had five more touchdowns in 2004 (9 for Chad to 4 for Hines). Chad is also looking for more money, but isn't a holdout. Don't get me wrong in this situation. I'm not saying that Ward is not a decent and very good player. I'm just saying that I think he was given a fair and reasonable offer by the Steelers. In the stats from the Prospectus, it is mentioned that Ward makes 75% of the passes thrown to him. I would love to see if this statistic continues in the upcoming year, if Ward plays. Why? Because last year, Burress was getting double coverage while Ward did not. What will his stats be, if like the "elite" quarterbacks, he has to receive with constant double coverage? All of the good and decent quarterbacks want more money and more money. The thing is that someone needs to set a cap so the monetary expectations don't get out of hand and wind up crippling a team because the plethora of good players want elite salaries.
Friday, August 12, 2005 -- Early MorningSidney Crosby made an impression on his fellow rookies with his poise and maturity. It seems that he has been a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers in his youth, and was impressed with the sight of Pittsburgh as he came through the Fort Pitt tunnel.
The Steelers have brought back Alonzo Jackson to replace Joey Porter. Poor Jackson! Last year, he was asked to gain weight to play for the team, and this year, the position they want him to play would require a weight loss. Meanwhile training camp was a changed place yesterday. The field is quiet because the noise makers are all injured and not playing. You have the noisy folks who encourage others, and those who just quietly go about their jobs. You need the noisy guys because they are the ones who really set the tone for the team.
Thursday, August 11, 2005 -- MorningSidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh last night to some fanfare. It appears that some fans were able to figure out when and where he might be arriving, and were there to greet Sidney along with a gathering of sports journalists. It seems The Kid was late because of some problems with immigration and a flight delay in Chicago. I have to admit that as I watched his arrival on the late night news last night, he was a cutie, and there were a bevy of young girls there to greet him. I'm sure that he will be a babe magnet while he is here.
At Steeler training camp yesterday, we had another injury. This time Joey Porter hyperextended his knee and had some cartilage removed yesterday. Porter should be out for a month.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 --AfternoonIt seems to be official. The Pens have a goaltender. Today the goalie in question is Jocelyn Thibault. It seems that the Pens traded a fourth round draft pick to get Thiabault from the Chicago Blackhawks. Now we still have to sign Thibault because he is a restricted free agent.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 --AfternoonIt seems to be official. The Pens have a goaltender. Today the goalie in question is Jocelyn Thibault. It seems that the Pens traded a fourth round draft pick to get Thiabault from the Chicago Blackhawks. Now we still have to sign Thibault because he is a restricted free agent.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 -- MorningPractice starts today for the Pitt Panthers. They have a problem though because Joe Flacco who was the backup quarterback didn't return to school, and is not considered part of the team anymore. So that means that the team will have to resort to having one of two freshman players as backup.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 -- EveningLeave it to the Canadians to make you look bad. It seems that Sean Burke did NOT sign with the Pens. Instead he wound up turning down their offer and going with the Tampa Bay Lightening. It shows what happens when you listen to unoffical news reports. From now on, I am waiting for the Pens to announce their signings before I believe anything.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 -- AfternoonHallelujah! The Pens have finally gotten a goalie. That means that we don't have to rely on young, unreliable goal tending. We signed Sean Burke to a two year $3 million deal. Maybe the team is shaping up okay. I do know that I am looking forward to the coming season.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 -- MorningJerome Bettis is going to be taking the lead role as running back because Duce Staley will be out for the next month. It seems that during yesterday's surgery it was found that Staley had a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. This episode has to have the Steelers thinking because last year, Staley was out for most of the last half of the season, and still isn't at 100% at the beginning of this season.
Some dodo has a petition that folks can sign if they want Hines Ward to get the money that he wants from the Steeler management without any compromise on Ward's part. Over the past week or so, I have really changed my mind over Ward's no show at training camp. I believe that based on what I have heard of the offer, the Steelers made a good offer to Ward. It was the best offer that the Steelers have ever made to anyone in a Steeler uniform. Of course, what Ward wants it the type of salary that the elite wide receivers of the league receive. That would mean a signing bonus over $10 million and obviously a fairly decent yearly salary. What folks don't appear to realize is that the Steelers have made an offer that they believe is fair. Ward can turn it down. Currently he is still under contract to the Steelers for another year. Next year, if he thinks that he can get the money, then he can go to another team. The Steelers really aren't a passing team, but a running team, so maybe Ward can get the money that he believes he deserves from a passing team. Personally, I don't think that Ward deserves the money that an elite wide receiver would make. If you do a comparison of the career statistics of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward, you will note that the average of yards per reception are lower for Hines that for either of the other three (Moss has 15.9 yards, Owens has 14.6 yards, Burress has 16.9 and Ward has 12). In fact a comparison between the career stats of Moss and Ward is probably more telling because the number of years in the league are the same. The difference in the number of receptions is in Moss' favor--he has 69 more receptions than Ward, but Moss has 49 more touchdowns. Now there can be any number of factors that might account for the difference is average yards per reception and the number of touchdowns, but I would say that at this point, I don't see Ward worth the same amount that Moss, Owens, and maybe even Burress is worth based on statistics. I'm not saying that Ward is not a good player, or that he would not be an excellent player. I'm just saying that maybe his monetary expectations skewed. Ward should reconsider his stubbornness and show up at training camp.
Over at Montour School District, filming has begun for ESPN's reality series, Bound for Glory, that will show Dick Butkus coaching a local high school football team. The goal is supposed to be a championship, but considering the fact that Butkus has never coached before, it's probably not likely. Yesterday was the first day of training camp for the Montour Spartans, and things seemed to go well without Butkus really stepping on the toes of coach Lou Cerro. So far, Butkus only "knows" about 12 of the student players, but considering that he doesn't know how to pronounce their names, he must not know them that well. It just goes to show to what depths a school district will go to get some money. I don't think this was a move to get to a championship. Hiring Cerro was the thing that would get them to the championship. Having Butkus come in deters from the work that Cerro could do. I will be watching the series though since it is Pittsburgh based.
Monday, August 8, 2005 -- AfternoonThe MRI that Duce Staley had yesterday was inconclusive, so they are going to do arthroscopic surgery on his knee to find out what is wrong. I know what the problem is with Staley. I think that he is injury-prone and that is a problem for us. I'm not the only one who is concerned about the fact that Staley is injury-prone. It seems that he has a history of not being fit to play. I don't know why we picked him up last year. I guess that the management thought that he would be fit enough to give Jerome some down time.
Sunday, August 7, 2005 -- AfternoonInteresting news on the hockey front. Wayne Gretzky is going to be coaching the Phoenix Coyotes. So the Great One is trying to emulate Le Magnifique. After Mario took over an ownership role with the Pens, Gretzky did the same with Phoenix. At least Mario had a connection to the Pens so it made more sense. Mario is an owner/player, and now Gretzky is an owner/coach. I wonder if he would be a good coach. Just because you can't play doesn't mean you can coach.
Sunday, August 7, 2005 -- MorningThere is abit of concern about the physical well-being of Duce Staley. Since training camp has started, Staley has been complaining about his knee and not playing very much. The Steeler managment don't think there is a major problem, but Staley is going to have an MRI taken of his knee today to confirm whether there is a more serious problem with the knee.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 -- EveningThe Pittsburgh Penguins signed Ziggy Palffy today. I'm really trying to figure out what is going on with the folks that are being picked by the Pens. I'm not sure that I see what the bigger picture is, but I am really wondering if they have been making the best choices. I think that what will happen is that we will see what happens when the season progresses.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Mario Lemieux will still be a majority owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins. A few months ago, William DelBiaggio was going to get to purchase a majority share of the Pens, and there was some concern that the Pens might wind up moving from Pittsburgh. However, winning the lottery and getting Sidney Crosby changed everything. It seems season ticket sales have been so good that the current Pen ownership feels more comfortable letting DelBiaggio in with only a minority share.
Friday, August 5, 2005 -- MorningJerome Bettis ran over Ben Roethlisberger yesterday during practice. This lead to some slight injury and bruising on Roethlisberger's part, but as he said, for Bettis, it was just like "going over a speed bump". Because of the slight injury, Roethlisberger had some ice on his leg and right hand for abit, and stopped practice for abit. He did return to practice later on in the day. The bigger concern was that Duce Staley did not practice for the second day in a row, and he had some fluid removed from his knee on Wednesday.
Sidney Crosby was on the Tonight Show last night. He was only on for a few minutes, and some of the highlights were watching some old video of Crosby playing hockey when he was a kid. One of the scenes showed him skating into an adult referee and knocking him over. We also got to see a picture of the Crosby family dryer. It appears that Crosby used to go into the basement as a kid and he used it as a training rink. The dryer was the goal, so he would shoot the puck at the dryer. It was really banged up, and all the buttons were knocked off. As Crosby said, his mum was abit upset at first, but she just learned to live with Crosby banging up her dryer. It seems that the family has been using the dryer all along, and just replaced it recently. So Jay Leno brought out a dryer and had Crosby shoot some pucks at it with the door open. Well, the first three veered to the right of the machine. The fourth one hit the open door, the fifth hit right below the dryer opening, and the sixth went in for a goal.
Dan Marino will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Thursday, August 4, 2005 -- AfternoonThe Pens have signed Andre Roy. I'm not understanding the logic that the Pens are using in their selections. Maybe they can't get anyone better, but I am disappointed in this signing. Hopefully there are others that are waiting in the wings for a signing that will inspire me with more confidence.
Thursday, August 4, 2005 -- MorningThe Montreal Canadiens have resigned Alexei Kovalev so he won't be coming to Pittsburgh. I am waiting to hear that the Pens have gotten a goalie.
Terry Bradshaw was at the Steelers training camp yesterday. Bradshaw had something to say about Ben Roethlisberger. As Terry said, Ben should wait until he retires to ride his motorcycle. The other thing he commented on was the Hines Ward situation. As Terry said, you have to do what you have to do. Terry never was a holdout because he thought that you should play. When I saw the interview with Terry on television, I got the feeling that he didn't really like Ward being a hold out, but that he understood why he was doing it. As Terry said though, you can't let this disrupt the team too much.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 -- AfternoonSome exciting news on the Pittsburgh Penguins front. We signed Sergei Gonchar. The deal is for $25 million dollars over five years. Gonchar is a pretty good player and has played in three All-Star games.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 -- MorningThe Pittsburgh Penguins didn't signed any free agents yesterday. This doesn't mean that we aren't going to sign anyone, just that matters are still in the negotiation stage. In the meantime, Marty Straka has signed with the NY Rangers. I am not disappointed over not signing Straka. Ever since he broke his leg a few seasons ago, he has been injury prone, and hasn't had the stats that he had prior to the leg break.
Shaquille O'Neal signed a $100 million, five year deal with the Miami Heat yesterday. This means that Shaq will be taking a pay cut because he was scheduled to make $30.6 million next year. However, on the plus side, he will be making a guaranteed salary over five years, and there is talk of incentives that were added to the package that would make up for any lost money.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005 -- MorningBen Roethlisberger has a new buddy who has been giving him advice and support. That buddy is none other than Dan Marino. It seems that the pair have been talking regularly on the phone for the past month. Roethlisberger is interested in picking Marino's brain to figure out how to be a winning quarterback. The one thing that he doesn't want to repeat is Marino's lack of winning a Super Bowl.
In the meantime, Bill Cowher has been saying that no calls have been made Hines Ward. So far, there is no word on what is going on with Ward, and no comment has been made on whether Ward will be fined $6000 a day for not showing up to camp. That is the fine that is levied on players who don't appear to training camp. I think at this point, they don't want to be hostile. However, it is equally obvious that no negotiations will be proceed as long as Ward isn't at camp.
Shaquille O'Neal should be signing a long term contract with the Miami Heat. There is a moratorium on signings until Tuesday, and it is assumed that Shaq will be signing with the team shortly after that.
After denying vehemently last March that he took steroids, Rafael Palmeiro was tested positive for steroids. Believe it or not, Palmeiro denied that he knowingly took the steriods. So how does he account for the steroids? Maybe he was taking flaxseed and BenGay just like Barry Bonds. The part of this story that I find positively abhorrent is that Palmeiro tested positive for the steriod on July 1. At that point, he was still not at the 3000 hit mark. That mark was finally achieved on July 15. So while the MLB knew the results of the testing, they still let Palmeiro play so he could achieve his goal of 3000 hits. What penalty does Palmeiro receive for taking steriods, lying about it under oath, and besmirching Jose Canseco's name by claiming that Canseco lied in his book about Palmeiro's steroid use? A ten day suspension. Yep, you read that right. Ten days--not ten games. Major league baseball's reputation has been muddied beyond repair in my mind by this incident. Not only do they not adequately penalize someone for abusing the regulations, but they keep it on the downlow so the miscreant can achieve a record that he probably doesn't deserve. Tell me with a straight face that Palmeiro would have achieved his results without the drug. I know that I won't believe it.
Monday, August 1, 2005 -- MorningThe Pittsburgh Penguins are going to start making some offers for the plethora of free agents that are available. With the new changes in the collective bargaining agreement, we might actually be able to get some quality players for a reasonable cost. Last night on the local call-in sports show, there was the usual talk about Kovalev, and some new talk about Marty Straka. It will be interesting to see who we do get.
There is a standoff in Latrobe this morning. That's where the Steelers have their training camp. Hines Ward did not show up for training camp as he promised, and the Steelers have announced that they will not negotiate with anyone who is not at training camp. Now we should be clear that the offer that Ward was given would have made Ward the highest paid player in club history. So the offer was not a shabby one. Ward wants more though because he believes that the overall price that other teams are willing to pay for the work that he does is higher. This is the first major holdout that the Steelers have experienced since 1993. In that year, Barry Foster returned to training camp and negotiations. In 1988, Mike Merriweather sat out the season because of stubborness. We'll have to see which route Ward chooses.
Sunday, July 31, 2005 -- AfternoonTraining camp for the Steelers starts today, and there are alot of expectations on the Steelers this time. Last year, expectations weren't very high because we really didn't have a very good record in the previous season. This year, of course, expectations are out of the roof because of the 15-1 regular season, and the fact that we got to the AFC Championship. There are a variety of items that are of concern. First there is the fact that Plaxico Burress is no longer with us and Hines Ward is a hold out. That puts a hole in our wide receivers section that could cause problems. Personally, I don't think the loss of Burress is of much concern, but not having Hines Ward also would put a crimp in the Steelers' style. There's also some question about whether Ben Roethlisberger will sink under the pressure of trying to be good. After all, it would be something of a stretch to think that Ben could go undefeated again this year. We are going to have to expect some losses and not jump all over the kid. Last year our offense line held up well under pressure, but it wasn't that good the year before. Which offensive line will we have this year? when you throw all these items and more into the pot and give it a good stir, it's potluck. We might have a good bouillabaisse or an inferior clam chowder. We'll have to wait to see how the pre-season games go.
Not only do we have high expectations for the Steelers, but we are also hoping for alot from the Penguins this coming season. There are rumors about Alexei Kovalev and Johan Hedberg returning to the Pens. Nothing has been said about either officially, but the sportscasters in Pittsburgh have been talking about the possibility. Also we have Sidney Crosby coming to town and possibly playing immediately.
Speaking of Sidney Crosby, it seems that the kid was born to play hockey. Both is father, and his uncles on his mother's side were hockey players. When Sidney was a kid and first picked up a hockey stick, he took to it like a duck to water, and held it properly, even at the age of 2. His skating abilities were such that folks thought that he was older than he was because a kid his age couldn't possible skate that well. Our second round selection, Michael Gergen, will be heading to college first to do some maturing before he plays in the NHL. Sidney may be staying with the Lemieux family for abit here in Pittsburgh. Because of his age, his parents would prefer that he bunk with a more experienced player instead of being on his own. Who better to bunk with than someone who was in Sidney's position twenty one years ago?
Saturday, July 30, 2005 -- Early Evening> Plaxico Burress injured his knee this morning in a practice with the NY Giants. He was able to come back to practice in the afternoon, however. I don't think that Burress will be as good as the Giants think he will be, so it will be interesting to see how he plays if he remains injury free.
Saturday, July 30, 2005 -- AfternoonI am waiting for the NHL draft to start. It should happen in the next few minutes. It will be exciting to see the formal and official offer from the Pens to Sidney Crosby. Crosby has been creating quite a stir. They are "choosing" now. I guess that they can't immediately say that they are taking Crosby. Craig Patrick and Mario Lemieux are there. They are now all heading to the stage. It was only a minute or so. Craig Patrick is making the announcement. They select Sidney Crosby. Surprising, isn't it? He looks small next to Mario, and stocky. There are pictures of Mario and Crosby holding the number 87 Penquins shirt, and right now, he has the jersy on and pictures are being taken with Craig Patrick and Mario on either side of him. The sportscaster there talked to Crosby. Crosby says he is happy right now, and it is amazing. The interviewer asked about the heavy expectations, and Crosby says that is not on his mind now. I was really amazed because Crosby was very soft spoken and polite. The folks who are commenting on the draft said that they see aspects where Crosby is mimicking Lemieux in the way he talks and stands. Mario is being interviewed and says that it will be a huge step for Crosby because it will be an adjustment because of the size and difference in players. Lemieux says that Crosby has the tools so it would just be a matter of giving Crosby the time to adjust. Lemieux has also said that there might be a room for Crosby to bunk in with the Lemieux family for a year or so. When Mario came to Pittsburgh, he stayed with a family here because Mario was also just 18 years old when he was drafted.
Thursday, July 28, 2005 -- AfternoonHines Ward has turned down an over $7 million dollar signing bonus with the Steelers yesterday. Negotiations are still on, and things will be worked out, at least according to the local sports analysts. The Steelers really do want to sign Hines, and it's probably just going to take some compromise on both sides to make it happen. Training camp starts this Sunday so we will have to see if Hines shows up for it, or if he will be a hold out.
It's about time! Bob Goodenow is stepping down as the head of the NHLPA. After he wrecked havoc with the players and hockey in general, he steps down. It seems that even though there were several years left on Goodenow's contract, he wasn't too happy with the labor agreement so he stepped down. Goodenow is one of those people who believe that a stone can release blood if you squeeze it hard enough. For what Goodenow did to hockey, the only I have to say is good riddance!
In other hockey news, The Dominator, Dominik Hasek will continue to play for the Ottawa Senators. The Dominator should make $2.8 million this coming year. I have to admit that the Dominator is one of my favorite players. He has such a slinky spine, and makes the most amazing saves.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 -- AfternoonThe NHL has released the schedule for the coming season. For the Pens schedule, the first game will be an away game on Oct. 5 against the New Jersy Devils, and the home opener will be on Oct. 8 against the Boston Bruins.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 -- MorningThe Pitt basketball team is trying to improve its chances of getting a good NCAA seeding with the release of their non-conference schedule. The complaint about Pitt has been that they have a soft non-conference schedule. Usually the Athletic department seems to come up with teams that would be comparable to a high school team for Pitt to play. That generates some problems because the team doesn't get a good preconference schedule workout, if you lose to a high school team it really looks bad, and it doesn't help for seeding purposes later in the year. So you beat five high school teams? We'll have to wait to see how the team does this year. Not alot is expected from them because some of the "big" names have graduated or moved on.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 -- AfternoonIt seems that Jaromir Jagr might be considering remaining in Europe and playing for a Russian hockey team. His reason might mostly be because of the money. Under the new collective bargining agreement, Jagr would not be able to make the salary that he's supposed to make. This coming season, he should make $11 million, but the CBA says that no player can make more that 20% of the $39 million team salary cap. That means that Jagr could only make a maximum of $7.8 million. Also in Europe the season is shorter, less physical, and it favors the offensive player. Playing for the Russian team, Avangard Omsk, this past year also saw a return to Jagr's formal scoring skill. So for Jagr, it might make sense to remain in Europe. We'll have to see what decision he makes.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 -- MorningSidney Crosby has already had a positive effect on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since it was announced that the Pens had won the lottery draft, the season ticket sales have increased dramatically. Although the Pens have not officially released any figures, rumors are that the number of tickets sold is estimated to be 150,000. The only thing that the Pens have released is that they are getting phone calls from ten states for tickets. That is good news for the Pens because in the last season that we had hockey, ticket sales were down. I went to a few games because I got some free tickets, but I have to admit that I wasn't too excited about paying $50 for obstructed viewing seats while the Pens were playing so poorly. Since ticket prices have dropped, I am looking at some partial season ticket plans myself.
So far, Hines Ward still has not signed a contract deal with the Steelers. It's not clear what the hold up is, or if Hines Ward will report to training camp this coming Sunday. From what I have heard from the local sports reporters, the Steelers are going to sign Hines, so I'm imagining that the hold up must be how much money Hines will get.
Monday, July 25, 2005 -- AfternoonSarunas Jasikevicius, my favorite EuroLeague player, has signed a three year deal with the Indiana Pacers. It seems that he chose the Pacers even though he will make less money and possibly get fewer minutes because he might stand a better shot at the NBA title. His only other offers were from the Jazz and the Cavaliers.
Sunday, July 24, 2005 -- EveningLance Armstrongwon the Tour de France today for the seventh year in a row. He will be retiring after this year. I'll bet there are alot of folks who are happy to hear it because it will give someone else a chance to win the race. It's amazing what Lance has done after being diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread.
Saturday, July 23, 2005 -- MorningOn the sports scene, Carl Krauser says that he will be returning to Pitt this coming season. Alot of the sports commentators here in Pittsburgh think that is a bad decision on Krauser's part. They think that he should have taken an offer to play in the European league because it would have been better development for him. Supposedly Krauser had a few offers in that area. Well, Krauser claims he made his decision because of the fans, but I think that he made it because he thought that it would be the safe and comfortable decision. Also, I think that he has dreams about the NBA that will not be realized. Hmmm. Maybe he is only putting off the inevitable for a year.
The sports fans in Pittsburgh are really excited over the Penguins winning the lottery yesterday. This is just the boost that the team needs. Now if Ed Rendell gets off his butt and makes sure that the some assistance goes towards an arena for the Pens, either with some funding or a slots license, we would be able to keep the team here in Pittsburgh. Rendell is supposedly trying to buy votes in the area because he is not as well liked in this region because for most of his term of office he has pored money into the eastern half of the state.
Friday, July 22, 2005 -- Late AfternoonThe NHL draft lottery was just televised live on ESPN's news channel. Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the number one pick in the lottery. I am still trying to calm down from my emotional exhiliaration. As they were counting down from the number 30 pick to the number 1, it came down to the final two--the Penguins and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Next week is the actual draft. Wow! It's just hard to get over the fact that we will be getting Sidney Crosby!
Thursday, July 21, 2005 -- AfternoonThe NHLPA has ratified the agreement with the NHL. The only part that is left is for the owners to agree to it. The owners will be signing the agreement tomorrow at 3 pm, and that will be streamed on the NHL website. The draft lottery will also be streamed on the same website at 4 pm. That will be on interest to Pittsburgh Penguin fans because the team has a shot at the number one draft pick.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that Rico Fata had testicular cancer. He has received treatment for it, and is currently undergoing routine blood tests and CT-Scans to make certain that he remains cancer free. Best wishes to Rico!
Sunday, July 17, 2005 -- MorningThe controversy continunes over the Montour school board's decision to make the ESPN series. Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette thinks that it was a decision that undercuts the authority of the new coach that was hired. Lou Cerro has a good record as a high school football, but in his first season of coaching for Montour will have to play second fiddle to Dick Butkus who has never coached before. Initially, Montour announced that Dick Butkus was going to be an assistant coach, but they had to take that back one word leaked that it was misinformation.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to have to go on a spending spree to get to the league minimium of salaries for the team. It seems the team has $17.5 million dollars to spend. This means that we might be able to get some good players back on the team for the upcoming season, and could possibly be a viable contender for the Stanley Cup.
Friday, July 15, 2005 -- MorningThe NHL draft is scheduled for July 30, and the guy that everyone is out to get is Sidney Crosby. Because of the Penguins poor record the last time we had a hockey season, we have a good shot at getting Crosby. The NHL draft runs on a lottery principle to prevent a team from intially having a bad season just so they can get the top pick in the draft. You think that sounds funny, but that's exactly what the Penguins did in 1983-84 so they could get Mario Lemieux in the draft. For this years draft, we will be one of four teams that will have three balls in the pot that could allow us to get the first draft pick. The other three teams are Buffalo, Columbus, and the New York Rangers. That means that our chance of getting the first round pick is 6.25%.
Thursday, July 14, 2005 -- MorningIt seems that there is a slight bit of controversy over the coaching of the Montour School district football team. The show that ESPN is planning will actually show Dick Butkus as the head coach. The controversy was because the initial announcement had Butkus as the assistant coach. Montour just hired a head coach this past January, wooing a coach away from a rival school, Seton-LaSalle, where in the past three years, the coach, Lou Cerro, won two WPIAL Class AA titles.
Here are some of the details for the NHL agreement. The one that I think the most interesting is that the top ten revenue gathering teams will be sharing that money with the bottom ten teams. There's also a salary cap for the team ranging from $21 to $39 million and a player cap that won't allow one player to make more than 20% of the total team payroll.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 -- AfternoonDick Butkus is going to be filming a reality show for ESPN at a local school here in Pittsburgh. In fact, the school district is near my old home of McKees Rocks. The Montour School district football team used to be a powerhouse team, but in the past several years, it has really fallen on hard times. Dick Butkus is going to be an assistant coach, and they are going to see if they can revive the team to its former status. The show is going to start filming on Sept. 20 at 10 pm, and will continue every Tuesday while the season lasts. Usually the high school football season is over by Thanksgiving.
It seems that the NHL and the players union have finally come to an agreement. This doesn't mean that it is final because the agreement has to be approved by the players and the owners. This is great news, and finally for the first time in months I am feeling hopeful about a season this year. I'm just hoping that the tickets will be a bit more reasonably priced! I don't like the idea of paying close to $50 a ticket to sit in nosebleed seats where I can barely make out the players let alone the puck, and have this feeling that I am going to pitch head over heels onto the ice because of the steepness of the seating!