Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

-- Pirates probably about this good.

-- Draft draft draft, blah blah blah.

-- Penguins bow to Senators.

-- Randoms.

---A Wash---

After tonight's contest against the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates own an 8-10 record. Many would agree that 8 wins, the way that the Pirates have played a good many of the games, is an amazing number. It's equal to the number of wins that the St. Louis Cardinals have, and even the homer-happy-A-Rod-led New York Yankees have.

The Yankees have a vastly superior batting average (.281 vs. .242), but their ERA is considerably worse (4.76 vs 4.24). St. Louis is the opposite case, though not as disparate. Their team BA is slightly worse (.241) but their team ERA is better (3.86).

And despite banging ones head when unintelligent plays are made by the Bucs, both the Yankees and Cardinals have committed more errors (16 for New York, 12 for St. Louis, 9 for Pittsburgh).

The Pirates bane (and if you haven't already answered this in your head, you haven't been watching them much this season) is their inability to capitalize on prime scoring opportunities. The Pirates have had chances to win most of the games they've lost, but they've left entirely too many men on base.

Case in point was last week when I was posting my last entry. The Pirates loaded the bases with none out against the Brewers, and followed that up with three-straight strikeouts. Against Claudio Vargas.

Last season, the Pirates managed the same feat in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That game, despite all the failures that had come before, was where I placed my final nail in the Pirates 2006 coffin. Strange coincidence: Claudio Vargas started that game for the D'backs (he was not on the mound, however, at the time). The Bucs then promptly got swept by the Kansas City Royals.

There's been talk in the papers and the blogs about being "clutch" and if there is such a thing. Charlie at BucsDugout hits on a point that honest Pirate fans have been aware of since roughly 1995 - lack of offensive talent has been a shortfall of the franchise. Read him here.

While I agree in principle, he still indicates that he'd like to see Jack Wilson batting 10th in the order. Right now, I have to disagree. He's been acquitting himself well in the 2-hole. However, he's probably right on that if Wilson reverts to 2006 form, Tracy will keep him hitting second until he "works through it".

That's always the downside to 'partial reinforcement'.

Of course, you don't even need 'partial' reinforcement when you're heading this franchise. Jeromy Burnitz played entirely too long before he was offered a seat on the bench. Folks watching the struggles of Adam LaRoche are probably fearing that we're looking at a repeat, albeit a much younger version.

But based on the results of the season so far, I stand by statements I made (somewhere, that I frustratingly can't find) that it is most important for the pitching to be strong than for the offense to be full of guys named Pujols, Edmonds, et al. That's the one thing the Pirates have going for them so far this year, especially when compared to last season.

---Do you Feel a Draft?---

I might be into the draft more if I followed the NCAA more attentively. I obviously understand the importance of the draft. I am very curious to see who the Steelers select and will delight in analyzing who they take.

I just don't understand getting immersed in mock drafts if your name isn't Mel Kiper. It's not even like the NCAA brackets. It just takes a couple of unexpected trades, and everything gets all wonky. I've seen several mock drafts, and very few of them have the Steelers taking the same player.

I'm perfectly fine saying that the Steelers need to take the most versatile defensive player available, preferably between a linebacker and a corner. Someone who can play either a 3-4 or 4-3. Few things are more nerve-wracking than watching a linebacker who's mainly noted for pass-rushing dropping back into coverage. You just pray the opposing quarterback doesn't see the mismatch. The Steelers also need to take a heralded offensive lineman as a good deal of Big Ben's protection package is either aging, inferior, or not reliably healthy.

What they don't need is a wide receiver, a quarterback, or a safety. At least not until the last round. Maybe.

What do you think they need? Why am I wrong to not care about the full draft?

---Season Finale---

Game 5: Senators 3, Penguins 0

Not the way anyone wants their season to end. But, it was what it was. The Senators had the extra gas, the extra experience, the extra bounces. Perhaps that last one was created by the first two. It just wasn't meant to be.

Congratulations to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, and all the youngsters who defied expectations and played well enough to help sway the arena talks in the Penguins favor. I'd have rather seen the Penguins get locked up for another 30 years in the 'Burgh than watching the Pens win a "going-away" Stanley Cup. So, it's a successful season by anyone's standards (who isn't on the team).

The rest of the NHL...I went 5-for-8 in the first round picking the winners. The Stars very nearly made me 6-for-8. But my "final four" is still in.

Of course, I'm surprised it's that good. All of my predictions have been mud this year.



Since WPGB has taken over as the flagship station of Pirates baseball, there's one noticable difference: they do not, during their broadcasts, play the instrumental version of "A New Pirate Generation". Apparently, good ol' 104.7 doesn't like that song, or otherwise thought it was ubiquitous enough in the "We Will" commercials.

I just can't help but think what J.C. Carter, the writer of the song (and Greg Daniels, co-lyricist) are thinking, especially if they weren't paid a lumpsum to use the tune.

I like their tune better than the one it replaced. I don't remember what it was called, but it brings back memories of a poorly-animated Pirate on the Three Rivers Stadium jumbotron waving a sword in a ridiculous crossing pattern while player intros were going on. Ah, well.


A couple of pics I found on another computer that I forgot I saved. Again, these may amuse only me:

This was on Yahoo! today.
I don't think I need to say anything else.

Yahoo! does this stuff on purpose.
This was from the NCAA tournament.

Who's the idiot who left out
the "none of the above" option?
It's 3-card Monte, MySpace style.


Anonymous karri said...

Hi Mike,
Wow...3 sports and random...really good post. You have me lookin' forward to them. *_*

I absolutely agree with you on your assessment of the Pirates. Pitching has to be strong. I see a huge improvement over last year. Maholm was fantastic on Tuesday; Duke pitched much better on Wednesday, wish he would've gotten the win; and Armas was ok today with Bayliss, Capps and Grabow doing their part Wednesday and today. But please...just kill me now and put me out of my misery if Tracy puts Torres in one more time to blow the lead! I can't take it any more. Take him out of the equation and you'll see that the Pirate batters have been more than adequate in their hitting.

I could care less about the draft.
I'll be interested once the Steelers have picked.

The Pens...awwww...still sad...I also was 5 for 8 in the first round...however, I had the Pens winning it, hockey puck from ThePensblog for me...But I agree with you Mike..."I'd have rather seen the Penguins get locked up for another 30 years in the 'Burgh than watching the Pens win a 'going-away' Stanley Cup."
But Mike...New Jersey?

Random - Agree with you also about the song.

And lastly...Bonds is having way too much fun huggin' from behind.

4/26/2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous nicole said...

Sorry no comment for a while. I’m still in mourning. I think I like the Senators getting beat by the Devils though. I just don’t want them, the Devils, to win the cup (sorry Mike). Rather see Buffalo or one of the west teams.

The Pirates, ok, in second place, .500, 11-11...but I have to scream in agreement with Karri, and thanks for saying it girl. Please, someone smack Tracy upside the head when he gets the brilliant idea to put Torres in the game to “save it.” He nearly lost the game for Snell in the 9th on Friday. What was wrong with the way Marte was pitching? Why only let him pitch in the 8th? When Dunn hit that HR, I went crazy! I thought, “Oh no, here we go again!”

I’ll think about the Steelers in like...September...

Btw…you had me laughing a lot in this post. I’m liking your writing style, Mike. “All of my predictions have been mud this year.”, “This was on Yahoo! today.
I don't think I need to say anything else.”, and Who's the idiot who left out
the ‘none of the above’ option? It's 3-card Monte, MySpace style.” - hahahaha

Like the pics too...Bonds...ohhhh...Hahahaha!

4/29/2007 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man,
i like your thoughts on the pirates. you make sense. to me, tracy seems to be more of the problem with them than any of the players. and i agree with karri and nicole about torres. i can't watch him pitch. nice bonds pic. haha


4/29/2007 10:55 PM  

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