Monday, September 26, 2011

#222: Scorecasting

---SSL Broadcast #60---

This is going to seem like a shameless plug.

And it is.  Only it's not for anything I've done.

I encourage everyone to go out and either buy or go to the library and check out the book "Scorecasting."

It's bloody awesome.  It puts to the task many of the held truisms of sports and does a fair job of debunking some of them.  Listen to the first fifteen minutes of the show and my interview with co-author L. Jon Wertheim.  We just scratch the surface, but if you're not intrigued by this book, maybe you're not really interested in sports.

Oh, and enjoy the technical difficulties at the very front end.  I know I did...

Also on the show:

- Despite historic collapse for a one-time first place team, Pirates have first 70+ win season in 7 years.

- Penguins look good so far in preseason.

- Pitt D once again the problem in loss to Iowa.

- Steeler fans should be worried about undermann(ing)ed Indianapolis. Jonathan Scott vs. Dwight Freeney is the main reason why.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

#221: Baseless Grudge

---SSL Broadcast #59---

Someone needs to give Seattle Seahawks fans something - anything - to complain about.

It doesn't help that prominent sports networks continue, six years later, to feed the fire that there was controversial officiating in Super Bowl XL. However, the words are the only kindling that truly keep the flames burning. There is no - and has never been any - substantive fuel.

Introducing Bill Leavy as the referee for Sunday's tilt at Heinz Field only serves as kerosene.

Leavy's presence should not matter one iota. The 2011 Seattle Seahawks are not a championship-caliber team, so any talk of a "rematch" are silly at best. The head coach in that Super Bowl is in the front office of a team on the other side of the country. Its starting quarterback is in Tennessee. Its star running back is no longer in the league. It's not even fair to say this year's Seattle team is a shell of its former self. It's much worse than that.

The reason that the officiating continues to be the focus of that game is that there really wasn't anything special about it. In the scope of championship games, it might be among the worst football has ever seen. Even in some of the blowouts in the 80s, at least ONE team was clearly superior. In the case of XL, neither played anywhere close to potential.

Here's a statement I encourage all readers (no matter when you come across this article) to repeat and spread:

Super Bowl XL was a poorly played game by both sides.

That's the only legitimate complaint that football fans everywhere should have with that game. The rest is as artificial as aspertame.

Bill Leavy owes no one anything tomorrow.

Seattle fans (and Steeler haters and the football-ignorant) owe the rest of us a break.

Also on the show:

- Post-mortem of Pittsburgh's blowout loss in Baltimore.

- Pirates lock up losing season #19 in a row.

- With all the attention on Pitt's transition on offense, the pourous defense is being ignored.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

#220: 2011 NFL Preview

---SSL Broadcast #58---

True to form, the final 5 cuts for the Pittsburgh Steelers that I tried to predict was half right.

Jeremy Kapinos and Jerrett Crittenton were cut, and I said it would be between John Gilmore or Weslye Saunders (it was Gilmore, and I didn't commit to one, so that counts as half). I also predicted Keenan Lewis and William Gay would be shown the door. Instead, offensive lineman Tony Hills and defensive back Crezdon Butler didn't make the team.

That's probably an accurate portent of the NFL Preview on today's show with my producer, Jerome Shell.

The preview is probably the shortest such event in broadcasting, as it does its best to not be as self-important as other pundits and "experts" out there. And it'll probably end up being just as accurate.

As long as New England doesn't win it all, I couldn't care less if all my predictions fall flat.

Aside from the preview:

- Pitt football head coach Todd Graham not satisfied with team's win last week

- Civic arena demolition one step closer

- A brief look at Steelers/Ravens 2011, Part I


Saturday, September 03, 2011

#219: Final Cut

---SSL Broadcast #57---

My biggest fear as a Steeler fan this season is that this team is deceptively shallow.

In a list of players cut Friday, none of the names on the list really jumps up and bites you as a major loss.

I would have preferred to keep John Clay instead of Jonathan Dwyer at running back, for example, but I don't think it will adversely affect the team that they went the other way. I also feel bad for Tyler Grisham. This guy tries so hard and falls short every year. I might have kept him and cut both 10-year veteran John Gilmore and rookie Weslye Saunders. Again, though, that cut isn't going to make or break the team.

Of the remaining 5 cuts the Steelers must make by 6PM this evening, I don't think that's terribly difficult.

It's a tough decision as to which punter they keep, but they'll certainly cut one. They have to weigh whether it's better to keep the oft-injured Daniel Sepulveda, upon whom the Steelers utilized a fourth-round pick to obtain, or the capable Jeremy Kapinos, but one will go (I'd take a chance on Kapinos, but the team will almost certainly keep Sepulveda). The one who's out will certainly land with another team sooner rather than later.

They likely will part with either the aforementioned Gilmore or Saunders (two cuts).

Undrafted free agent Jerrett Crittenton will also likely go.

And I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on Keenan Lewis or William Gay, either (the latter of which might free up a little bit of cap space).

The fact that it was this easy for me scares me. Some years, it's been torture to try to decide between which players have the least upside, rather than determine which players have virtually none.

Time will tell.

In today's show:

- The Pitt Panthers are going to open wide for the first time the evening

- Some Pittsburgh Pirates have obviously mailed it in

- TCU takes its first step in becoming a Big East team