Thursday, September 30, 2010

Need more proof that the Pirates Organization stinks???

I've been a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since I can remember. For a great many of my almost 32 years on this planet, the Pirates have been pretty bad. But you know what they are my team.

Some of the moves they make though are just amazingly stupid.

The Pirates Class AA farm team, the Altoona Curve, just won the Eastern League Championship. Their manager Matt Walbeck, was named Eastern League Manager of the Year. He has now won three league titles and four manager of the year awards in six seasons as a minor league manager.

You'd figure that the fact one of the Pirates farm managers had some success, that they might want to lock him up long term. You might even argue they should take a look at him moving up to manage the big league club since, let's face it, John Russell is awful.

But no, this is the Pittsburgh Pirates we're talking about. 18 straight seasons of losing baseball. What do the Buccos do? They FIRE Walbeck!! And they give some lame excuse that Walbeck wasn't following the strict rules being laid out for the minor league teams. They also claimed Walbeck wasn't communicating with the parent organization.

While this MAY have been the case, can't you look past some of that based on the results this guy has gotten? He was a 4 time Manager of the year. He obviously understands what it takes to be a winner. But I forgot, we're not interested in that if we're the Pirates.

Is it any wonder this team is stuck in an abyss? They fire unofficial pierogie mascots for saying things on their facebook pages about the team. Then under intense PR scrutiny they backpedal and hire the guy back.

The Front Office has made dumb comments mentioning dynasties. Let's try to have ONE winning season first okay?

I'm almost afraid to see who the Pirates take with next year's number one overall pick.

But getting back to Walbeck, maybe his Pirates days aren't over after all. The Pirates fired John Russell as third base coach only to hire him as their manager a short time later. Maybe this is just the way the Pirates go about hiring managers.

Backwards thinking...just like almost every other move they've made in the last 20 years.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The end of a sports talk era in Pittsburgh and what lies ahead

It's the end of an era for Pittsburgh Sports talk as 1250 ESPN fired their on-air talent and announced they will be changing over to Radio Disney at the beginning of the year.

There are several reasons I can see that led to this happening.

First of all their signal is total crap. Once The Fan went on the air and people had a clear FM choice, it was only a matter of time, in this case a few months, before 1250 was done.

Second of all, 1250 ESPN focused on hosts that were the opposite of what Mark Madden brought to the table, the only problem with this, and the ratings show it to be true, is that people LISTENED to Mark Madden.

Madden isn't afraid to tell you what he's thinking. He doesn't kiss the butts of the callers who say the dumbest things. I heard some caller today say that a quarterback is "taught" to underthrow the receiver intentionally and at least Ron Cook immediately said "You are wrong!" Madden would have said what the rest of us were thinking and probably said something like "You're a complete idiot"

I like Stan and Guy, but it's like listening to your Grandfather and his brother talk about sports. They have their place in today's sports talk world, and I hope they replace Vinnie Richichi on the Fan.

The Fan has a chance to snap up a few key people from 1250 ESPN and I think they would really boost their prominence even further.

Third reason, ESPN had to carry some national programming. This city prefers to talk about Local sports and local sports only. That's why Colin Cowherd only lasted a few months before local programming replaced him. Again this was an area 1250 suffered in because of their ESPN obligations. The Fan came in all local all the time and didn't take long to tie ESPN in the ratings.

The Fan needs better talent on some of its shows but the concept is sound.

93.7 The Fan may have won the ultimate battle if only because they are still standing, but I still find most of their programming to be quite boring. I am probably one of the biggest Vinnie Richichi haters in the city mostly because his public speaking skills are borderline high school quality. He stutters, stammers, and goes "Ahhh and You know" at least 30 times a minute. He also can't offer up a clear and concise opinion. He rambles on for almost two minutes trying to spit out a point and almost never seems to succeed.

Paul Alexander "Absolutely" has to improve which given his less than "Outstanding" history, I don't see happening. And it wouldn't be a morning show if Jim Colony didn't abuse a few of his updates. The first move the station got right was removing Jon Burton from the Morning Show.

Looks like I'm stuck listening to 93.7 The fan or trying out Fox Sports 970. Here's hoping ESPN Radio reemerges somehow on FM radio here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Offense gets back on track - Week 3 report card

Anytime you win a game 38-6 with your 4th string quarterback on the road, the entire team is going to earn some good reviews. This was by far a completely dominating victory for the Black and Gold. Last week I said they were “2 and no” because of the lack of offense. That all changed after this week’s performance. The Steelers move to 3-0 on the season and will now face Baltimore (2-1) next week in a critical early season game. If the Steelers can get to 4-0 without Roethlisberger, we could be looking at a pretty special season. On to the grades!

Quarterback – B
Charlie Batch easily had the best day of any of the fill-in starters during Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension, going 12 of 17 for 186 yards, and three touchdowns. Two of those were long strikes to Mike Wallace. Batch also threw two interceptions, including one on the opening drive which gave Tampa Bay the ball in field goal position. I might be nitpicking a touch but both of Wallace’s TD catches should have been defended and possibly intercepted. Even still, the passing game showed some much needed improvement and I’d rather be lucky than good. It’s even better when you can be both.

Running Back – A
Rashard Mendenhall continues to show he is an emerging talent in this league by rushing for 143 yards on 19 carries (7.5 avg) and also scored a touchdown. I know the season is only 3 games old but Mendenhall has to be considered the offensive MVP so far for the Steelers. He even looked good with Tampa Bay stuffing extra men in the box to stop him. Isaac Redman also chipped in 31 yards on 5 carries (6.2 avg). This is the kind of production many Steeler fans love seeing out of the running game.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends - A
Last week I commented how the receivers weren’t helping Batch out by dropping some easily catchable balls. This week Mike Wallace made two strong catches while being well covered in the end zone for touchdowns. One of them came off a deflection. The Steelers pretty much abandoned the passing game in the second half because of a comfortable lead and the fact Mendenhall was running all over the Bucs.

Offensive Line – A
This unit really struggled last week and I blasted them heavily for not giving our quarterbacks any time. I also killed them for not opening many holes for the running game. This week they did not allow a sack, they gave Batch plenty of time to deliver some strikes down field, and the holes for our running game were plenty. This unit definitely deserves some mad props for their effort today.

Defensive Front Seven - A
Third string running back LeGarrette Blount led the Bucs with 27 yards rushing, most of which came in garbage time. In other words, the Steelers front seven once again completely shut down the opponent’s running game. Brett Kiesel had a nifty interception of a deflection and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown. This unit also had 3 of the 4 sacks recorded on the day.

Secondary – A-
This unit helped hold Josh Freeman to under 200 yards and no touchdowns. This despite the fact Tampa Bay had to throw to try and come from behind. I don’t think we can say enough about how having all of our key players both in this unit and in the front seven have made a huge difference in this team’s ability to play defense. I have to give the minus only because we dropped some interceptions that should have been caught but you can’t argue with the overall job they did. The backups were all in by the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Special Teams - B
Jeff Reed converted his only field goal attempt of the day, Dan Sepulveda launched a 62 yard punt on his only punt of the day, and overall our coverage teams did a good job keeping the Tampa Bay return team in check. I’m starting to wish we’d see someone else returning punts for us as Antwaan Randle El hasn’t shown me a thing this year on his punt returns. Maybe it’s time to get Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown more involved. Brown has already shown explosiveness on his kick returns.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

2 and No....Week 2 Report card for the Steelers

The Steelers are off to what I would call a 2 and No start in the early NFL season. They've managed to win 2 games with NO offense. How funny is that? They forced SEVEN Tennessee turnovers and still found themselves hanging on at the end to prevent a late game tying TD from Tennessee. It's pretty clear that if the defense didn't play at a legendary level in this one, the Steelers would have lost this game. Man I can't wait for Big Ben to return. On to the grades!

Quarterback: F-
Charlie Batch goes 5 for 11 for 25 yards, Dennis Dixon goes 4 for 6 for 18 yards. What an absolutely disgusting display for the Steeler passing game. Dixon fumbled twice, losing one, and Batch fumbled it twice. It probably didn’t help much that the O-line didn’t do it’s job. More on that later.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: F-
9 catches for 43 yards, and receivers dropping catchable balls all day long. I know the quarterback position stunk today but the few times the ball got downfield, it seemed our guys didn’t do a very good job getting open or making big plays.

Running Backs: C-
23 rushes by Mendenhall netted 69 yards behind a horrendous offensive line. I’m frankly shocked he even got this many. He made something out of nothing on a lot of plays and that’s why I gave him a passing grade. Mewelde Moore saw limited action and really showed zero burst. Isaac Redman had a few nice carries, but nothing spectacular.

Offensive Line: F-
Tennessee’s defense got a ton of pressure on our quarterbacks all game long, Jonathan Scott got blown up on the first offensive drive leading to a crushing hit and lost fumble by Dixon. Scott also got called for needlessly holding on what WOULD have been a Touchdown pass. Left tackle is going to be a huge problem until Max Starks returns.

Defensive Front Seven: A+
Our front seven forced 7 fumbles in this game, recovering four of them. They also had four sacks, two by James Harrison who is looking like he is back in his defensive player of the year form. Lamar Woodley also had one of the sacks as well as a nice interception when he dropped back in coverage. The front seven also ended Chris Johnson’s 12 game 100 yard rushing streak, holding the league’s premier running back to 34 yards on 16 carries. These guys brought a mean streak today and were a decisive factor in the victory.

Secondary: A+
Troy Polamalu had a huge interception in the end zone to snuff out one of the better Tennessee drives of the day, Bryant McFadden also made a nice diving interception on one of Kerry Collins first passes of the game. Other than some garbage time yardage by Collins, both defensive units completely shut down the Titans

Special Teams: B+
The opening kickoff return by Antonio Brown set a tone early, and the only glaring miscue by the special teams was the muffed recovery attempt by Will Allen with the game still hanging in the balance. Jeff Reed made all of his field goal attempts and also did a good job kicking it deep on his kickoffs. Sepulveda had some really nice long punts unfortunately a few bounced in for touchbacks. All in all another strong outing by the special teams.

I'm not sure many people would have predicted a 2-0 start for this Steeler team but the defense is singlehandedly carrying this team to greatness right now. Now they head to face an upstart 2-0 Tampa Bay team on the road. Should be another interesting matchup.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Steelers Week 1 Report Card

Allright time to really get serious about blogging. This should become a weekly thing for me as I breakdown the Steelers games for you.

Quarterback - C-
Dennis Dixon, making his second career start for the Steelers ended his day with 236 yards and 1 INT. On at least three drives he woefully underthrew a wide open receiver on third down which would have kept drives going. I didn't have very many expectations for him in this but I suppose it could have been worse.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends - B
Hines Ward made some clutch catches down the stretch to keep drives going. Mike Wallace showed a lot of speed on his big play early in the second half. I'm trying not to punish the receivers for Dixon's off target passes. They were doing a great job of getting open all day long.

Running Backs - B+
It was painfully obvious that we were going to feature the running game today to try and take pressure off Dixon. Mendenhall kept gaining positive yards on all his plays, and Isaac Redman was 2 for 3 in crucial short yardage situations. And of course we can't neglect that the game winning play was a huge run by Mendenhall to claim victory in overtime.

Offensive Line - B
For the most part they did a decent job giving Dixon a little bit of breathing room in the pocket. Sure they gave up 3 sacks, but I've seen worse out of this unit over the past few years. they DID do a good job pushing the defense back in short yardage situations and also giving Mendenhall lanes to run in. Overall they helped contribute to a close win. PS. Maurkice Pouncey is going to be a stud lineman.

Defensive Front 7 - A
Our Front 7 was causing a lot of pressure all day long forcing Matt Ryan off target on a few throws. They also did a phenomenal job stuffing Michael Turner all day long. he simply had no running room whatsoever. The boys showed up to play today and are a major reason the Steelers are claiming a W this afternoon.

Secondary - B+
The Falcons were able to move the ball through the air somewhat effectively, though I am hesitant to blame it on the secondary. There were a lot of plays that the Falcons just made fantastic grabs in strong coverage. Troy Polamalu showed great football instincts on his exciting interception which SHOULD have sealed a Steeler victory in regulation. Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden did a good job helping us remember how god awful William Gay was last year. Speaking of William Gay, he dropped an easy interception that really could have helped in the field position battle.

Special Teams - B-
Jeff Reed made the longest FG in Heinz Field history, then nearly broke his record on a later attempt which bounced off the right upright. His knock comes on missing a 40 yarder which would have won the game in regulation. Reed also got some good length on his kickoffs. His missed FG didn't end up hurting us so I'll give him a pass for now. We looked good on our coverages, not really allowing a big runback. Our own return teams didn't really look all that outstanding, but they didn't hurt us either.

Overall I am pleased with how the team looked except for Dixon. We were extremely fortunate that the Steelers D was up to its usual elite level. It's a good sign for the Black and Gold as they try to navigate 3 more games without Big Ben at QB.

Feel free to comment below.

-- The Voice


Well I'm sitting here a few hours after the PSU/Alabama game ended and while the end result was certainly disappointing for us faithful followers of PSU, you have to like some of what you saw in that game.

Yeah the red zone turnovers were a killer, but the fact is that PSU WAS moving the ball somewhat easily on Alabama. For Bolden being a true freshman Qb, he didn't do all that bad.

Yeah I know moral victories don't count for much, but this game could have been a lot worse.

I will say this though, the difference in talent between the two teams was quite apparent. PSU might be "Linebacker U" But I sure didn't see many big plays out of our linebackers. This team needs another LaVar Arrington to dominate again.

The future is bright though, so I won't let a loss on the road to the defending national champions get me down.

WE ARE!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

College Football/Vinnie Richichi the moron.

I heard Vinnie Richichi, the world's dumbest radio talk show host, say that he felt College Football players weren't compensated enough for what they do.

What world does this moron live in? Many college football players are given full ride scholarships to some of the strongest academic schools in the country.

A Non PA resident going to Penn State this year would pay $27,000 in tuition for the fall and spring semesters combined. These guys are getting tuition PLUS room and board for FREE!! And this is for a public university. A lot of other schools charge even more for tuition.

To me college football is like an internship/audition for the professional/NFL level. When I went to CSB School of broadcasting and it came time to do an internship, I had to choose one that was 2 hours away from where I live, and it was unpaid. Sometimes these are the sacrifices you have to make to try and get your big break.

These guys get free housing and free transportation to all their games, have access to top quality training facilities and medical care, and they get to work with some of the best coaches in the country. Oh and did I mention they are getting paid all of this to PLAY A GAME!

The best part is that Vinnie couldn't understand why more people weren't on board with his dumb way of thinking. He only serves to remind me on a daily basis why I switch over and listen to Stan and Guy as long as the 1250 ESPN signal holds up.

I'm sure 93.7 The Fan is happy with their investment in a buffoon who can't even pronounce half the player's names right. Remind me again who Lance Milledge is? I know a Lastings Milledge plays for the Pirates...but no Lance.