Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chatter Between the Whistles

We now bring you today's workplace instant message chat featuring Artistry and Finesse.  This is not unlike when Lemieux and Jagr played together on the same line.  Enjoy.

Artistry [9:44 AM]:

We give the guy a hard time, but kudos to Ron Cook for producing two straight columns that do not really lend themselves to Ron Cook Poetry.

Finesse [9:44 AM]:

He's still mailing it in, but with complete sentences.

I think NHL free agency will provide ample opportunity for an "honest to goodness" and a "no big deal, though."

Artistry [9:46 AM]:

I see Dan Hamhuis is supposed to decide today if he's going to even talk to the Pens.

Don't see why he wouldn't, except he apparently wants to play close to his home in British Columbia.

Finesse [9:49 AM]:

if he really wants to be in BC, he should go to vancouver. there really is no point in being "close to home" unless you are actually home. If he's in calgary, for example, it isn't like he is going to be taking long weekends back to BC during the season

Artistry [9:50 AM]:

Maybe his parents are like Geno's parents, and they like to come to the games.

I'm done trying to get inside the head of Dan Hamhuis. Either he wants to be here or he doesn't.

More from today's chat after the jump.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Net Mouth Scramble

By Artistry
  • Sometimes when I'm on the treadmill, I watch the Bachelorette.  Other times, when my wife is watching it, I'll glance over a time or two.  (Again, there is a reason why we do this anonymously.)  Tonight it was revealed that Justin, the villainous professional wrestler guy who made it all the way to the Top 6, has a girlfriend.  The Bachelorette was stunned.  "He told me he was here for the right reasons!" she cried.  "He told me so, so many times."  First of all, everybody says they're there for the right reasons.  They all say it so, so many times.  So, so many times, in fact, that I pretend I'm playing a drinking game when I watch the show and do a fake shot when somebody says "right reasons," "wrong reasons," or that they're on a "journey."  I just can't do real shots on week nights any more.  Finesse can attest to this fact.  Anyway, the Bachelorette sent Justin packing.  Waived like Jonathan Cheechoo.
    • Finesse Follow Up: I don't watch The Bachelorette, but I have watched The Bachelorette and although I did not watch last night's episode, I have heard reports on it.  The only comment I can make about this Wrestler-Girlfriend situation is to wonder about this girlfriend.  Who is she?  How is she ok with him going on the Bachelorette?  Did she even know?  If she didn't know, was it awkward when she first sat down to watch it and he was on it?  I can't imagine any girlfriend who would be ok with "Honey, I'm going on the Bachelorette for 8 weeks, I'll email as much as I can."  Also, I'm going to go with 0% as the chances that this wrestler is still with said girlfriend.  Just a hunch.  
      • This guy played The Bachelorette Drinking Game but instead of Artistry's rules, he simply had a sip of beer every time The Bachelorette anguished over the difficulty of having to decide which fake-tanned fake-boyfriend she had to send home despite having an incredible "spontaneous" date that included a pre-reserved luxury helicopter tour of the Pacific coast and climbing on the Hollywood sign at dusk.
  • How do you go from being a 56-goal guy to being cast off by Ottawa, a team which at last check was not blessed with a surplus of scoring wingers?  Well, for starters, by scoring 51 fewer goals last season than you did in your career year with San Jose in 2005-2006.  Cheechoo has one year left on his contract at $3.5 million dollars, which is a brutal number given his recent output.  But if he goes unclaimed and the Sens buy out his contract, maybe he signs for a low cap figure with a team that gives him the best chance to resurrect his career.  Ahem.
More on the Flyers, Willie Colon, and the World Cup after the jump.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "Good for Him"

By Finesse

Good for him. 
Good for all those guys.
Good for him. 
He has earned that right. 
Two players.
Two approaches.
One isn't more right than the other.
He is very good at what he does. 
He has hockey skills. 
Can I say it again?
If not, that's fine, too.
Count me among them. 
He deserves it. 
He doesn't deserve that.

Inspiration for Today's Poem: http://post-gazette.com/pg/10178/1068635-87.stm#ixzz0s4EWyXVn

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem? http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lesson Learned

By Artistry

One additional note to supplement today's silky smooth post by Finesse on the Hamhuis deal.  Ray Shero made a mistake in July 2008.  He bet that Marion Hossa would do the economically rational thing and re-up with the Pens for 7 years and roughly $50 million.  It didn't happen, and Ray was caught with his pants around his ankles.  By the time Hossa decided to jump ship in order to join Kris Draper in the 2009 losers' handshake line, the other desirable free agent wingers were locked up, and Shero was left to choose from the likes of Miro Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko.  Now, of course, that worked out fine, but Ray clearly isn't about to let that kind of thing happen again.  Maybe the Pens sign both Hamhuis and Gonchar, though that will likely mean another year of bargain basement play on the wing.  More likely, they sign one and not the other.  Either way, the Pens are not going to be left with a gaping hole on defense, and I suspect we won't be caught with our pants down on July 1.

Hamhuis, State of the Pens' D, Beau Beastly, World Cup

By Finesse

  • None of us really knows that much about Dan Hamhuis.  The Pens acquired the defenceman's rights from Philadelphia and have until July 1 to sign him or else he becomes an unrestricted free agent.  From everything we are reading about him, he sounds like a better version of Mark Eaton.  I guess that means he is So So Smart, So So Steady, and So So Serviceable.  If that's the case, he sounds like a good fit.  
  • Ray Shero doesn't trade for exclusive negotiating rights to someone and then not sign him.  GM's like Bobby Clarke do that.  It is against the CBA to negotiate with a player who is not on your team prior to the start of free agency, so technically Shero has had "no contact" with Hamhuis.  Still, it would be shocking if the Pens could not come to a deal with Hamhuis prior to July 1 - it just is not in the Pens' nature to make a move like this and have it come back to burn them.
  • Regular reader(s) of GTOG is (are) not surprised by this move.  Our free agency preview from 10 days ago listed Hamhuis as the number 3 target for the Pens this offseason and had posted the videos of him that all the other outlets are now posting.  There is a lesson to be learned here.
  • The other thing that all the outlets are saying about Hamhuis is that he is not "overly physical."  As far as Hamhuis himself is concerned, that's fine.  But looking at the overall makeup now of the Pens D (obviously, this is subject to what happens in free agency), I can't help but wonder if the D will be "too soff" again next year.  If we pencil in Hamhuis, that gives the Pens Orpik, Hamhuis, Letang, Goligoski, and probably Lovejoy as 5 of the top 6.  Outside of Orpik, there is not a lot of sandpaper there.  For the Pens to be successful, they have to be hard to play against and this past season they were anything but.  In 2008-09 the Pens were not fun to play against - teams had to work incredibly hard to beat them (similar to how we feel trying to beat the Red Wings). So what I'm basically trying to say is that if the Pens do sign Hamhuis, I'm not sure that it would be the best idea to bring back Mark Eaton and/or Leopold - I don't think they would add anything to the D that we wouldn't already have.  
  • As for Gonchar, who knows.  The sticking point is apparently years - he wants 3, the Pens want to only give 2.  I hope Shero doesn't budge.
  • Have to like the Pens pick of Beau Bennett (Beau Beastly as he will hereinafter be called).  The Pens need homegrown low-cost goal scoring from the wingers and he seems to fit that bill.  In fact, the key to the Pens winning another Stanley Cup (or more) in the next few years is low-cost goal scoring.  Solid analysis of the pick at Pensblog and Faceoff Factor.
  • I watched the USA/Ghana game at a bar today and it was a lot of fun to get into the patriotism thing.  I was definitely disappointed that the USA lost, but having watched the past few games I've reached the simple conclusion that our players aren't talented enough (yet).  We generate TONS of chances in these games, but have an extremely difficult time burying it.  I don't attribute this to bad luck when it happens a dozen times in 3 games.  It seemed like every time one of our guys had a chance to get behind their D, we pushed the ball just a bit too far ahead and their goalie was able to get to it first.  This is not a coincidence - better players would probably be able to corral the ball better and finish.  We can't, so we lost.

Friday, June 25, 2010

NBA players are athletic

By Finesse
In case anyone wasn't sure about whether NBA players were athletic, Jay Bilas made sure to remind us during the 2010 NBA Draft last night that every single prospect was, indeed, athletic.  For this post, we turn to the perspective of a childhood friend.  We'll call him Joey.
NBA Draft:  One Man's Observations:
The NBA draft concluded last night and it would behoove ESPN to not torture its viewers by allowing Jay Bilas and the other ESPN talking heads to evaluate each NBA prospect in exactly the same manner when they are drafted.  It was approximately the end of Round 1 when it dawned on me that just about every single player (Sans Gordon Heywood, more on him in a  moment) had been described as “Long” “Athletic” and having a “Great wing span”.

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "Soccer in Cranberry"

By Artistry

Is it me?
Am I wrong?
If the answer to those questions is yes ...
I'm proud of it.
This is a good thing? 
Shouldn't they, maybe, you know, have had the door closed?
That really would have been disturbing.
That was rather humorous, actually.
No dives for those fellows.

Real men, not soccer players.
Only in soccer.
I'm telling you, you can't.
We're supposed to beat Ghana, right?
But that's silly.

I don't think they'd ever play it in Cranberry.

Inspiration for today’s poetry: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10176/1068161-87.stm

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem? http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recap: 2010 NHL Awards Ceremony

By Finesse

One thing that I think everyone can agree upon is that non-NHL fans are completely justified in scoffing at the fact that the NHL puts on a faux-Oscars at the end of its season. If I asked some random guy on the street what he thought of the 2010 NHL Awards in Vegas on Versus featuring music from Shinedown, his responses in order would be:
  1. What is the NHL?
  2. What is Versus?
  3. Why does an awards ceremony start at 7:30 when it is nearly impossible that Versus has some more important programming that it has to rush to get started at 9pm?
  4. I'm a suicide-prevention specialist and I tell all my patients to avoid listening to Shinedown.
As an NHL fan, however, I was strangely intrigued by the awards show (after I accidentally realized they were on at 7:31 last night). Here is a quick recap:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strange Days: The 2010 Offseason

By Artistry

Tonight capped a bizarre first two weeks of the NHL offseason, with Canucks forward Henrik Sedin taking home the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Now, I love watching the Sedin twins, and I wish the media paid more attention to teams out west and to hockey in general. That said, no way that guy was more valuable to his team than Sidney Crosby. Yes, of course I'm biased. But I'm also correct.

You can't even tell which one he is. Look, I have no problem with Alex Ovechkin taking home the Ted Lindsay Award for Most Outstanding Player. Well deserved. Great player. Chokes in big moments. Maybe the ugliest truly great athlete in the history of modern sports. (Seriously, who is even close? Randy Johnson?) But I digress. The point is, the Penguins don't make the playoffs in 2010 without Sid. The Canucks are still one of the better teams in the league without Henrik. Case closed.

Word out of Las Vegas is Mike Green actually showed up tonight hoping someone would present him with a trophy. I know, crazy. And it gets weirder.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "A New Hope"

By Artistry

Wow, Ron Cook is experiencing a lot of strong feelings about the Pirates these days. We have a hard time even acknowledging them. In any event, Cook's prolific prose stylings are distracting us from blogging about anything substantive. That has to stop. But first, we need to bring you another installment of Today in Ron Cook Poetry.
No need to thank me.
I do it every year, you know?
Do I hear May Day?
Or worse?
I wouldn't.
Details at 11!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
Or maybe not ...
Ordinarily, I'm tuned out by now.
Pirates baseball.
I know, I can't believe it, either.

Inspiration for today’s poetry: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10173/1067350-63.stm

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem? http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "He Lives"

By Artistry

Pirates manager John Russell is alive!
I have to be honest, though.
It was the most amazing part of an amazing day.
Yes, even dead.
Again, I'm happy to say that isn't true.
One of those rare times was Sunday.
John Russell is alive!
Did Russell hear the crowd's roar?
Then, he smiled.
Honest to goodness.
Two shows of emotion in one day.
I've seen everything now.
That he really is alive.
Well, Russell is.

Inspiration for today's poem: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10172/1067134-87.stm

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem? http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "Requiem for a Pitching Staff"

By Artistry

I have a 17-month-old son. The little guy wanted Daddy's attention this Father's Day morning, just as I was noticing today's new Ron Cook column. "Daddy needs to do a blog post," I said. "It'll only take 3 minutes. I promise." And with that, we give you Today in Ron Cook Poetry.

Let's assume the very best here this morning.
It will be some lineup.
A lot more.
A lot better.
That is worth repeating.
It's really hard to be that bad.
No, it is not all on the pitchers.
Of course, it's not.
You might have heard that sort of thing can be a real setback for a pitcher.
Good luck with that.
How do you keep him?
His pitching surely hasn't been.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Inspiration for today's poetry: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10171/1066942-87.stm

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem? http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "The Comatose Skipper"

By Artistry

Who said the comatose skipper doesn't have a sense of humor?
Thursday night?
I mean, really?
I know, it was shocking.
Against all odds, at times.
Insulting, actually.
He and the organization look like fools.
Amazing, isn't it?
What a franchise!

Also, nice work here by Elvis Has Left taking Ron Cook to task on substance.  Actually, congrats to Elvis Has Left for finding substance in a Ron Cook column.

Inspiration for today's poem: http://www.postgazette.com/pg/10169/1066483-63.stm.

Want to write your own Ron Cook Poetry?  http://gettoourgame.blogspot.com/2010/06/ron-cook-poetry.html

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stray Thoughts...

  • 30 for 30 "June 17th, 1994" was fantastic. We had never heard the full transcript of O.J.'s call with the police - riveting stuff. Keith Olbermann's mustache was something to behold. Bob Costas looks EXACTLY the same then as he does today.
  • We'd love to know the ratings of that Knicks/Rockets game during the O.J. chase. Who was watching that? We were annoyed when the documentary flipped to game footage because we were so captivated by the O.J. stuff--we can't imagine any person in 1994 who would have stuck with the game.
  • The documentary played a joke by the K.C. Royals' (we think) announcer that night -- "O.J. played in the U.S. Open today. He's already at 2-under." A refreshing throwback to less politically correct days. Today he would have been fired by the time he said "O.J."
  • Mike Yeo is replacing Kevin Constantine - let's bring Constantine back.
  • The big news in Pittsburgh baseball today: the Bucs released Aki Iwamura. Think Dejan Kovajevic ever misses the Penguins beat? We miss him.
  • Not that Dave Molinari isn't a hall of famer. Addressing a reader question the other day about whether Mario Lemieux would ever consider appearing on "Dancing With the Stars," Hall of Fame offered this response: "About as good as the chances that he'll ask someone to jam knitting needles into his eyeballs within the next 15 seconds. ... No, come to think of it, if Lemieux were given the choice, he'd probably opt for the knitting needles." OK then.
  • We don't know who is handling the PR strategy for Ben Roethlisberger these days, but if you're set on pushing the whole "Forget the past - all that matters is what Ben does now" meme, you might advise Ben to stop referring to Ben in the third person. You see, when Ben repeatedly mentions that he lost track of who Ben was, and that Ben is just now rediscovering Ben, it detracts a bit from the notion that Ben has found some humility. Along the same lines, Ben also might want to cool it with the "All Ben did was play Superman, and Ben lost track of Clark Kent" analogy.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Pens Top 5 Offseason Targets

    Be realistic.  We are not trading for Jarome Iginla.  We are not sending Geno Malkin to the Kings for Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, and 11 first round draft choices.  There is certainly nothing wrong with fantasizing about a better life, a better world, a better team.  But come on, Barney. You and me live in the real world... most of the time.  (That's right, we just quoted Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.  That is why we do this anonymously.)

    Let's look at the Pens' offseason options through the eyes of General Manager Ray Shero.  You've got 11 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 2 goalies under contract for the 2010-11 season at a total of roughly $45,953,000.  Based on Gary Bettman's recent statement that the cap could rise by $2 million, you're looking at a ceiling of about $58,800,000.  OK, you say, we've got $13,000,000 to play with.  You can sign Ilya Kovalchuk!  Sure you can, if you want to make like Chicago and go over the cap with only 14 players under contract.  (Mazel tov on the Cup win, but now you're screwed.)

    Fortunately, you're Ray Shero, and that's not how you do things.  Let's make a couple of assumptions for the purposes of this exercise.  First, you bring back Sergei Gonchar only at your price and on your terms.  That's 2 years at $3.75 million per, and it's probably not going to happen.  Gonchar is, in all likelihood, gone.  Second, you have to resign Matt Cooke for 3 years at $1.5 million per year.  You understood this the minute it occurred to you during the playoffs that Cooke and Craig Adams were, for long stretches, the best players on the ice and, at that moment, you also understood that it might be a good idea to keep both of these two warriors on your bench for approximately one-third of the price of a single, heartless Alexander Semin.

    Now you're down to $11.5 million, and you still need to sign at least three defenseman and at least one forward.  Part of this is easy.  By all accounts, Ben Lovejoy is ready, and you can slot him on the third pairing with Mark Eaton for a combined $3 million a year.  Just make sure to hold your breath when they get stuck out there against Ovechkin after an icing call next spring.  Whatever, you're doing the best you can.  You've got $8.5 million left in your pocket.  You'd better parse it out carefully, because you're missing a number 1 defenseman and a first line winger.  Maybe an additional veteran forward in the event you don't bring back Billy Guerin to play fourth line minutes for Craig Adams money.  [Note: please let Billy go, Ray.  He seems like a terrific guy "in the room," but "on the ice" he hasn't moved his feet to collect a pass in the neutral zone since 2001.]  With all of that in mind, here are 5 guys you're targeting on July 1, if not sooner:


    By Artistry

    Word today per the PPG that Assistant Coach and purported powerplay specialist Mike Yeo may be off to succeed former Pens HC Kevin Constantine as skipper of the Minnesota Wild's American Hockey League affiliate, the Houston Aeros.

    In the event he does decide he can handle the pressure cooker that is minor league hockey in Houston, Yeo will be remembered in these parts primarily for two things:  1) presiding over easily the most under-achieving powerplay in Penguin history; and 2) always looking like he was on the verge of popping a blood vessel when biting off answers to inane questions from Dan Potash between periods.

    No need to belabor the obvious here.  We're not going to miss Yeo's special teams input.  Stick our moms behind the bench and they could just as easily advise the forwards to establish some "net presence" in the event a Kris Letang shot finds its way on net.  But we acknowledge and admire the apparently Herculean effort Yeo displayed night in and night out during in-game interviews.  Best of luck, Mike.  Strong work, sir.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Ron Cook Poetry

    By Finesse

    This blog's first post was dedicated to actually writing your own Ron Cook column from scratch.  But the beauty of Ron Cook is that you can create timeless literature using the words (most likely in the form of questions) that he has already written.  It's called Ron Cook Poetry.  All you have to do to write a Ron Cook poem is take all of the questions, reminders, one word answers, etc. and you have a poem.  It's that simple.

    For example, this is a poem from the article that was one of the catalysts for Get To Our Game.
    Sleep?  Who needs it?
    Ganassi is 52, you say?
    I don't believe it.
    You might say.
    Can you say historic?
    Now, there are two.
    So he didn't say.
    The rest will come later, much later.

    Trust us, this works with ANY Ron Cook article.  Read on for more...

    Writing a Ron Cook Column 101

    By Finesse

    Ron Cook is someone who we all grew up not idolizing.  The only reason that any of us was ever excited to read one of his columns is that he isn't Bob Smizik.  For those of us who follow Pittsburgh sports but don't live in the Burgh, the Post-Gazette is a critical link to the homeland - one of the first bookmarks we hit every morning.

    As lucky and proud as we feel to be Pittsburgh sports fans, it also means we have to read Ron Cook's columns.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), Ron Cook is not actually a necessary ingredient to writing a "Ron Cook column."  Instead, all that you need is 25 minutes, 850 words, one statistic, a sturdy question-mark key on your keyboard, and these rules.
    1. Ask as many rhetorical questions as you want
    2. Answer your own rhetorical questions, preferably with as few words as possible
    3. Use more one-sentence (or one-word) paragraphs than multiple-sentence paragraphs
    4. Add/Subtract/Multiply/Divide things that aren't numbers.  Ex. "Marc-Andre Fleury + Evgeni Malkin + Sidney Crosby + Jordan Staal = Stanley Cup"
    5. End as many sentences as possible with the following words: though, right, really, you say, I say, too, actually
    6. Have a consistent "theme" that occasionally appears throughout the article in italics
    7. Start all non-controversial, universally agreed upon points with an affirmative (ex. Yes, Yep, Sure, Of course, Certainly, No doubt)
    8. String together consecutive sentences that are 4 words or less.  Ex. "Accumulate high draft choices. Make smart selections. Have a little luck."
    9. Write sentences without a subject.  Ex. "Be bad for a long time."
    10. Ask/demand the reader to do the following:
      • Tell you something
      • Tell himself something
      • Think about something
      • Remember something
      • Not mention something
      • Not tell you something.  Ex. "You can't tell me that isn't the Big Ten's No. 1 goal."
      • Not get you started.  Ex. "Don't get me started."
      • Not get you wrong.  Ex. "Don't get me wrong."

    11. End one out of every four columns with the phrase, "You don't have to _____ to understand _____."
    12. Start three or more consecutive sentences with the same word.  Ex. "So smart. So steady. So serviceable." [Note the overlap between rules].
    13. Tell the readers something that you just told them that they don't have to tell you.  Ex. "I don't have to tell you whom they're laughing at now."
    14. Ask yourself for your own opinion.  Ex. "Me?"

    Read more to see the rules in action...