Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mark Madden's Twitter comments drawing some heat

Mark Madden is up to his usual tricks again, turning the Twitter universe upside down. 

After a Twitter battle with Ryan Clark earlier in the year, he's now "catching heat" for his comments towards Twitter user Lacey aka @ZbynekGirl.

Jezebel.com is up in arms over his comments about women.  Lacey herself seems to think she's going to get Madden fired and is talking lawsuits over the whole situation.   Seeing as she has "✔ ZbynekGirl verified" in her profile, she seems to have an inflated sense of worth.   The avatar pic of her cleavage is a nice bonus for her followers I am sure.

Last I checked Madden is just exercising his freedom of speech.  I might not agree with his comments, but he has a right to his opinion, just like his followers have the right to disagree with said opinions.  Lacey has a right to express hers as well, but if she thinks he's going to get fired over this or that she has a winning lawsuit on her hands, I think she's sorely mistaken.

When are people going to learn that Madden is the master of getting attention?  It's what drives ratings in radio and he's damn good at his job.   He's successfully carried over his radio shtick to his Twitter account.  This @ZbynekGirl seems to be getting a lot of extra attention from Twitter as well.  See how this works? 

The truth is people don't realize that Madden's Twitter feed and his radio persona are a character.  He knows the type of character that sparks controversy and he thrives on it.  It gets people talking about him.  How many other Pittsburgh radio personalities make headlines like this?  Most of them are boring, useless retreads that rely on callers to fill most of the time on the show. 

In case some of you think he just spews venom for attention, keep in mind he was one of the first reporters to report the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.   The article is from April, months before the rest of the world started reporting on the story in the wake of the grand jury findings. 

Love him or hate him, Madden puts on an entertaining show that keeps people listening no matter what side of the debate they are on.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Barry Bonds Helps Debunk The Myth That Cheaters Never Prosper

Before and After Steroids
Two completely separate news events happened today.  Yet, in my crazy and twisted mind, they are both related.

Following an eight-year investigation into perjury and obstruction of justice charges, Barry Bonds was sentenced to 30 days house arrest, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $4,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella called the sentence a "slap on the wrist" and the fine "almost laughable".

Parrella argued that home confinement wasn't punishment enough "for a man with a 15,000-square-foot house with all the advantages."

So that's the going rate for lying to the federal government these days?  Even better, Bonds has appealed the decision.  He avoided jail time, but still wants to drag out the legal mess via appeals.  

I don't get it...

Also today, we have the go-ahead for a perjury trial for Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and former vice-president Gary Schultz, who oversaw the university police department.

Here's what I want to know.  Seeing how Bonds basically got away with no punishment for lying to the grand jury, why don't Curley and Schultz just cop a plea bargain, pay their fine, and stay at home for a month?  Seems to me the end result is going to be the same.  They have a lot of money and will find a way to avoid jail time while the state chases the real criminal in this case, Jerry Sandusky.

It would save the government some taxpayer money and would keep my Twitter feed clear from all of the same people reporting the same exact details of the trial word for word.  Newsflash.  I don't need to know every detail that was said in court.  Just write a nice article and tweet it when you're done. 

I'm not trying to say that Curley and Schultz shouldn't face consequences for their actions, but it would be rather laughable if they served jail time when Bonds committed the same crime and avoids the slammer.

I'm sure Roger Clemens will get the same luxury treatment when his day in court comes up.  Sports stars and celebrities always get away with things us mere peasants would not. 

Prosecutors spent 8 years trying to send Barry Bonds to jail but in the end he only has to stay at home in his lavish mansion for a month.  Some punishment.

My god do we live in a messed up society.

What kind of message does this send to people who would lie to a grand jury?  Apparently all you will get is a slap on the wrist.  No big deal.  How about the punishment fit the crime every once in a while?  Plaxico Burress spent time in jail for shooting HIMSELF!  He didn't even harm anyone else. 

If I'm Curley and Schultz's legal team, I'm pointing to this decision on Bonds today and asking why even bother with the charade of a trial.  It's just wasting everyone's time.  I guess it does fill the gaps in between Jerry Sandusky's lawyer offering up a bunch of BS.

I guess I'm just used to the goverment wasting our time and money, but that's an article for another day.

Feel free to weigh in with your comments below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Todd Graham bails on Pitt, named ASU head coach.

Todd Graham is the luckiest man on Earth. 

Less than one year after realizing his dream of being the head coach at "one of the finest programs in the country" he has achieved another dream by becoming the head coach at Arizona State University.

Please note the sarcasm.

He promised the fans of Pittsburgh that he'd build a championship program, but the only thing he managed to do in his one and only year was completely fail on all levels as a head coach.

Throw your quarterback under the bus?  Check.
Fail to adapt your system to fit the talent you have?  Check.
Manage to blow several late leads, including a three TD lead on the road in Iowa?  Check.
Fail to win a weak Big East conference?  Check.
Leave town like a damn coward without even facing your now former players?  Check.

That's right, the man of high moral values, who wanted his players to do the right thing, sent a text message to an assistant coach to be redistributed to the players.  He didn't even have the balls to face the players face to face.

It's not like Graham hasn't done this before.  Days after receiving a contract extension and pay raise from Rice, he bolted for Conference USA rival Tulsa.  He only coached Rice for one year.  He learned from the best.  He was an assistant for another backstabbing traitor, Rich Rodriguez in 2001 and 2002.  RichRod bailed on WVU to become the head coach at Michigan. 

I want to know how much it'll cost PAT Transit to repaint all the buses with this snake oil salesman's face on it. 

If you're ASU, how could you even take this guy seriously as a candidate?  Barely went .500 in a completely weak Big East Conference.  Willing to bail on you after less than one season.  That's right.  this scumbag won't even coach Pitt in the Compass Bowl. 

I found this quote from ASU president Dr. Michael Crow to be rather amusing.  "What we sought in a football coach was someone who would be in it for the long term at Arizona State, who would build and guide a program that would be competitive in the PAC-12 and on a national level year after year after year, who would communicate and connect with the community, and represent our University with honor. In Todd Graham we have that person,"

If one year is your idea of long term, something is wrong with your head. 

What exactly has Graham done to make him a worthy hire in the first place?  5 years in Conference USA and he could never win that league.  One year in the Big East and he couldn't win that either, even WITH all the teams tyring their hardest to lose it.

Graham was supposed to be out on the recruiting trail bringing in players for Pitt but at the same time he was plotting his departure from the school.  Backup Trey Anderson said it well.  "I go take a nap and wake up to find out my head coach is gone."

Quite the vanishing act, but I'm sure now that he's found his dream job at ASU, he'll settle in for the long haul. 

So what happens now?  Pitt has had Dave Wannstadt, Phil Bennett (interim coach for last year's BBVA Compass Bowl), Mike Haywood, Todd Graham, and now interim head coach Keith Patterson who will lead the squad into THIS year's BBVA Compass Bowl.  That's technically five head coaches in the last 12 months. 

What kind of message does that send to recruits?  Chris Peak from Panther Lair has reported some Pitt recruits remain committed, including quarterback Chad Voytik.   Even still, Pitt fans have to be nervous until letter of intent day arrives and these guys officially sign the dotted line.

Who does Pitt hire at this point to coach the team?  You need to find a guy that truly is committed to the long term, regardless of whether the guy has previous head coaching experience or not.  Ideally you find a guy who has ties to the local area and won't go bolting for the next BCS job to open up. 

Before such a decision is made, you need to look at why Pitt is in this situation to begin with.  Maybe if Steve Pederson made better choices than Mike Haywood and Todd Graham, Pitt would not be looking once again for a head coach so soon. 

How does Pederson survive as athletic director in the face of this?  He made these hires and their failures on so many levels have brought a lot of shame to the Pitt program.  Pederson needs to be fired.

I may be anything but a Pitt fan, but their fans deserve so much better than this.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pittsburgh Power Announce Radio Partnership & More Player Signings

The Pittsburgh Power and TribLive Radio will be radio partners for the 2012 season.

All Power games will be broadcast live via the TribLive Radio feed (sportstalk@triblive.com).   Ken Laird (play-by-play) and Mike Logan (color analyst) will be calling the action for all 16 Power games this year. 

It also looks like my Power Talk show on TribLive Radio will now be the official pregame broadcast, which is pretty cool.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.

For those who didn't catch a Power game last season, you missed out on some very exciting football.  The best is yet to come as the Power have spent the offseason improving a roster that barely missed out on the playoffs a year ago.

Speaking of additions.  The Power have brought a few more players into the fold for the 2012 season. 

Josh Lay returns an interception
Bernard "Josh" Lay, the team leader in interceptions for 2011, is back with the Power.   Lay missed a few games due to suspension but still made an impact in the Power secondary.   He had 44 tackles, 7 passes blocked, and four interceptions in 2011, one of which he returned for a touchdown.  The local Aliquippa and Pitt standout knows how to play a physical style of AFL ball and should further solidify a strong Power secondary. 

Oderick Turner, a former Pitt wideout, will be competing for a position in the Power receiving corps this year.   He is the son of former NFL wide receiver Odessa Turner.  Turner spent last season playing in the SIFL.  Despite missing two games with injury, he finished second in the league in receiving yards, hauling in 68 catches for 1084 yards and 23 touchdowns.   He also earned a spot on the SIFL All-Star team.

The Power also signed former Baltimore Raven wideout Randy Hymes.  The former Grambling product has NFL experience with the Ravens, Jaguars and Vikings along with AFL stints with the Cleveland Gladiators and the Philadelphia Soul.  Hymes played quarterback at Grambling, so look for him to be a potential dual threat player for the Power, similar to the way Xavier Lee was used last season.

Former Pitt and IUP running back Tyre Young will join the Power this year.  The 6'0" 310 beast played for Milwaukee in 2010, amassing 65 rushes for 173 yards and 20 touchdowns.  He also plays some linebacker, so we might have another potential Ironman on our hands. 

Last but not least, the Power have signed WR Perry Baker from Fairmont State.  Perry is the younger brother of former Steeler wideout Dallas Baker.  Baker recorded 1,552 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in his collegiate career at Fairmont State.

For the latest Power news, follow me on Twitter @SteelCityVoice, or subscribe to the blog.  You can also get information from the Power at their website,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pirates Welcome Nate McLouth Back To Pittsburgh

A few years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded then All-Star/Gold Glove outfielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez.

Today, the Pirates officially resigned McLouth to potentially be their fourth outfielder.  So in hindsight, the Pirates got a solid pitcher with a lot of upside and a solid depth outfielder and end up with the original outfielder back.  That's kind of funny don't you think?

At the time, many fans out there blasted the Pirates for trading away such an important piece of the future.  Never mind the fact that 2008 was a career year for an otherwise decent but unspectacular player.  He has 81 homeruns and 270 career RBI in a 7 year career, and a third of both of those stats came in 2008 when he hit 26 HR's and drove in 94 runs for the Pirates. 

McLouth's playing time has been severely curtailed by various injuries during his stay in Atlanta, so maybe a return to Pittsburgh will be just what is needed to keep him healthy.

He won't be displacing regular superstar outfielder Andrew McCutchen, and I doubt he'll steal a ton of playing time from Jose Tabata in right field, so most of McLouth's time will be earned by spot starts and splitting some time with Alex Pressley.

Much like the Erik Bedard signing earlier in the day, this is a lower risk signing for the Pirates.  You're getting a guy who has done some good things at the MLB level.  Given the current outfield situation, there's no pressure on him to perform at a superstar level.

Yes the injuries have been a concern, but I'd like to think you'll get some pop out of him unlike Matt "Can't hit a single homerun for us" Diaz.

These are exactly the types of signings the Pirates need to make right now.  You aren't going to get top tier free agents to come here, but you CAN get players who are looking to rebound and need a place to prove they still have what it takes. 

Hats off to Neal Huntington for getting these deals done.

Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Erik Bedard, Who Starts The Other 75% Of The Year?

The Pirates have come to terms with free agent starting pitcher Erik Bedard on a one year deal.  The deal is worth $4.5 million.  It's a low-risk high upside type deal for the Pirates and I do commend them for it.

If Bedard is healthy, he can be a top of the rotation type of guy for a Bucco rotation that is lacking top end talent.  The problem for Bedard is he rarely makes it through a season unscathed.  You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time Bedard went through a season without an injury.

He's been a full time starting pitcher since 2004.  He averages 18.5 starts per season,  Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers made 34 regular season starts last year, so that should give you a good feel for how many games Bedard has missed.

For his career he has appeared in 168 games and started 165 of them.  His career W-L record is 56-50 and he's put up 926 strikeouts in about 950 innings of work.  He has a strong 3.70 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in his exclusively AL career, and those numbers could get better in the National League.

I've always though Bedard was an intriguing possibility for Pittsburgh mostly because he's a risky signing who could pay off big time.  I usually spend a late round pick on him in my fantasy baseball drafts, and the time he is healthy he puts up great numbers.  I just draft extra depth for those times when he goes on the disabled list.

His years with Baltimore in 2006 and 2007 are what standout the most to me.  He went 15-11 for a crappy Baltimore team and had 171 strikeouts, while putting up an ERA/WHIP combo of 3.76/1.35.  He got even better in 2007 when we went 13-5 with a 3.16/1.09 and an eye popping 221 strikeouts.  That's the type of numbers that draw you serious consideration for the Cy Young award.

There's never been a question about his talent, just his durability.  Even in the face of this problem, I'm glad to see the Pirates take this risk.  It's exactly the type of signing they need to make. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

NHL Realignment: What It Means For The Penguins

The NHL Board of Governors approved the realignment of the league into four conferences.  Two conferences will have eight teams in it, and two will have seven. 

It's a stark departure from the current format of two conferences with three divisions each.

The Conferences break down like this:

New Jersey/Philadelphia/Pittsburgh/NY Rangers/NY Islanders/Washington/Carolina

Boston/Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa/Buffalo/Florida/Tampa Bay

Detroit/Columbus/Nashville/St. Louis/Chicago/Minnesota/Dallas/Winnipeg

Los Angeles/Anaheim/Phoenix/San Jose/Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton/Colorado

The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, giving the NHL their usual 16 teams. 

The new alignment also enables the NHL to create a balanced schedule in which all teams will play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road, giving fans a chance to see every team and superstar in the League. The remaining games will be played within the conferences.

In the seven-team conferences, teams would play six times -- three home, three away. In the eight-team Conferences, teams would play either five or six times in a season on a rotating basis; three teams would play each other six times and four teams would play each other five times. This process would reverse each season: An eight-team Conference member that plays an opponent six times in one season would play it five times the following season.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the survivors playing for the Stanley Cup.

I like that the Penguins seem to keep all of their rivals in their conference, so we'll still see them squaring off against Philly, Washington, NY, and NJ.  I'm not sure I'm a fan of the conference teams playing each other in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  Isn't that the purpose of playing each other five or six times in the regular season?

I'd rather see the conference number ones assigned 1-4, and the second place teams 5-8 and so on down the line.  You could even base it on record overall if you wanted.  I'm sure though some people will argue the rivalry aspect of the first two rounds will add to the intensity.  I guess we'll see.

Looking at the other conferences, how much sense does it make to have the two Florida teams in the same conference as Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa?  Nothing screams rivalry like Montreal and Florida.  I guess you could say Boston and Tampa Bay already know each other because of the Rays and the Red Sox, but this is a totally different sport.

Detroit wanted to move East, but it doesn't look like that necessarily happened with this choice.  At least they stay with all their current division rivals, plus they add Dallas and Winnipeg.

I wish they'd find a way to even out the amount of teams in each conference.  Find a way to add two more teams and give every team an equal chance of making the playoffs to start the season. 

Hopefully they come up with cool names for the Conferences.  Some people on Social media have already suggested naming the conferences after famous players.  I'd love to see Orr, Howe, Gretzky and Lemieux honored for their place amongst the all time greats. 

Is it a perfect plan?  Nope, but not everyone was going to be happy anyways.  You can always tweak the playoff format at a later time.  The main thing was getting the alignment correct, and for the most part I commend the NHL on a job well done.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

BS National Championship Rematch

What the BCS Logo SHOULD look like
Well the SEC fans got what they wanted, bragging rights for a guaranteed SEC victory in the national championship, but the rest of the country continues to laugh at the complete farce known as the BS, errr excuse me, BCS system.

By virtue of the complicated computer and human rankings hodgepodge, they've spit out that LSU is the number one team, which no one can dispute at this point, and Alabama is the number two team.  They have already played this year, but who cares about that?

The regular season is SUPPOSED to matter! Every game is a playoff we're told, and yet Alabama gets a second chance to beat LSU. 

Alabama didn't win their conference, they didn't even win their division.  They had their chance and blew it.  If LSU beats them in the BCS championship game, all they are doing is reaffirming they are better than Alabama.  If Alabama beats LSU then the season series is tied 1-1.  LSU will still have the better overall record. 

Oklahoma State won their conference and they possess 3 victories against top 15 BCS teams, compared to one for Alabama.  Oklahoma State only has one loss just like Bama.  Looking at most of the Computer rankings for the BCS, Oklahoma State came in 2nd as opposed to Bama's average rank of 3rd.

The other major one loss team in the country is Stanford who lost to Oregon and lost their chance to play in the PAC-12 championship.  Similar situation to Alabama, but there's no SEC bias propping up the Cardinal in this one.

The truth in college football is that there's plenty of teams who are talented enough to win a national championship but you are forced to rely on a bunch of biased rankings to determine just the top two teams.  It should be settled on the field like it is in every other level of football and every other NCAA sport.

Look at the March Madness tournament.  There's room for every conference winner big or small along with plenty of at large bids for deserving teams.  You could limit it to the AQ conferences, (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, PAC-12, Big 12 and SEC) and two remaining teams as determined by the BCS rankings. 

If you aren't good enough to win your conference outright, you run the risk of missing out on the playoffs.  It's time to do away with the Beef O' Brady's Bowl, and give football fans what they want.  A real way of determining a national champion.  Maybe more people will start caring again. 

Going 10-2 should mean something in college football, but unless you play in the SEC, you're eliminated from the National Championship game.  Look at teams like Boise State who have proven over and over that they can not only compete with, but beat the teams from the major conferences.

They have no chance this year at a title because their kicker missed a FG at the end of a game, something quite a few kickers in the NCAA do.  Alabama's kicker missed four against LSU and they get to go try again.

It just makes no sense, and leaves you wanting more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pittsburgh Power News - 12/02/11

The kickoff to the 2012 AFL season is coming up fast, and there's a lot going on with your AFL team here in Pittsburgh. 

Here's a breakdown of some of the latest news and happenings with the Power.

Freezin' For A Reason
The Pittsburgh Power are proud to be supporting the Special Olympics by participating in the 2011 Pittsburgh Polar Plunge at Heinz Field. 

Chief Operating Officer Michael Gorham, Fullback/Offensive lineman Mike Lucian, and Offensive Lineman Sione Ohuafi are amongst the Power players and staff willing to jump into the frigid waters of the Allegheny River to support this wonderful cause.

If you want to help donate to one of their pages, click their names here. 
Gorham | Lucian | Ohuafi

TV Coverage
The Pittsburgh Power will have a bigger television presence this season.

WPCW, the Pittsburgh's CW will carry Power games for the second year in a row.

After only carrying home games last season, they will expand their coverage to include some away games as well.  In total, the CW will have seven home games and five away games.

The NFL Network will also be airing four additional Power home games, giving them TV coverage on 16 of their 18 games in total.

Radio coverage for the 2012 season has not yet been announced.

2012 Sparks Announced

The 2012 members of the Sparks dance team have been finalized.  Congratulations to the returning Sparks Veronica, Megan, Emily, Nicole, Shannon, Abby, Richelle and Sam.

Also please welcome the newest members of the Sparks!  Weatherly, Radine, Asia, Rudy and Renee.

Tryouts were on November 19th at Mullen's on the North Shore. 

The ladies will take place in promotional events around town and of course perform at all Power home games. 

Merchandise & Tickets
The Power have opened a new kiosk at the Mall at Robinson where you can get "powerful" deals on tickets and great merchandise to show your colors with pride.

Speaking of tickets, you can save 10% off season tickets between now and Christmas, so be sure to get some great stocking stuffers for the sports fan in your life.

For the latest info about the Power, visit www.pittsburghpowerfootball.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Future's So Bright, I've Gotta Wear Shades

The Pittsburgh Power have been assigned Callahan Bright (6'3" 340 pounds), a defensive lineman who played college ball at D-II Shaw.   He spent some time with the Philadelphia Soul and New Orleans Voodoo in 2011.

At one time, Bright was a top five recruit in the nation overall, and was ranked ahead of Ndamukong Suh by Rivals.com.  His brother, Eugene, saw some brief time on the Steelers' active roster. 

I found an article about Bright from Sports Illustrated.  You can read it by clicking here.

Coach Chris Siegfried's take on Bright, "Callahan is a big, strong lineman who can be a force on the defensive line and has the ability to play offense if needed."

Bright has great acceleration and strength,  and could potentially be a monster force in the Power's pass rush this season.

The only thing holding him back at this point might be inexperience.   He has the immeasurables you look for in an NFL level talent.  All he needs is some coaching to harness that talent and help him achieve those dreams.  Here's hoping he'll dominate in the trenches this year for the Power.