Saturday, July 31, 2010

Big Ben: Best Shape of His Life

By Artistry

Ben Roethlisberger wants us to know he's in great shape and ready to play football, even if the only action he'll see for the next two to three months will be on the practice field. That's one of the takeaways from his latest exclusive interview with an at least partially sympathetic local media type, in this case respected Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette of the PPG.  If only the beleaguered Ben could have left it at that.

He made a number of additional assertions, including, in no particular order:
  • Ben doesn't normally say so out loud, but Ben is a "yinzer"
  • In Pittsburgh, all yinzers are "like family"
  • Yinzers forgive other yinzers
  • People made up a lot of stories about Ben
  • Ben is actually a really good tipper
  • Ben wants to be like Kobe Bryant, once reviled but now popular
  • Ben is sorry for his mistakes but hopes everyone will just give him a chance
Read GTOG's message to Ben, after the jump...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Child Safety

Another Ron Cook classic this morning in response to the Baltimore Ravens' new policy of limiting autographs at training camp to children between 6-15 years old.  For those new to the site, we like to transform Ron Cook's columns into poetry by eliminating those pesky complete sentences and mashing together some of his more interesting phrases.  You can read about it here.  Anyway, on to today's poem...

I'm not talking about the players.
The fans.
Too bad.
This is a terrific idea.
It makes sense on so many levels.
I just don't get it.
As if they are entitled to one.
Maybe that will happen in the not-too-distant future.
Hopefully, before a small child gets trampled.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Take on Ted's Take: An Inconvenient Health Code

By Finesse

One of our future favorite pastimes here at GTOG is going to be dissecting "Ted's Take," the blog run by Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.  Let's get a few disclaimers out of the way so as not to turn off the sizeable segment of our fan base that likes Leonsis.  First, if we were Caps fans we would like Leonsis.  He is accessible, passionate, and cares about the results in a way that is not just about the bottom line.  Second, he has made the Capitals relevant in a city where they never really have been relevant before.  Certainly some of that is due to Ovechkin's presence alone, but the Caps have marketed him to D.C. in a way that actually puts people in seats and eyes on the TV.  Third, he has helped turn the Capitals into a perennial contender to lose in the second round win the Stanley Cup (just joking, Caps fans).  That alone is a significant accomplishment and I don't mean that with any sense of sarcasm.

(end of disclaimer)

Leonsis has become the face of a fan base with an incredible inferiority and persecution complex.  His words and his actions, in many ways, fan the flames of this complex.  He complains about the officials.  He complains about media coverage of his team.  He complains about having too many opposing fans in his arena.  (I'd link to these things if I had time to look it up, but I don't, so you'll have to take my word for it).  He says his team has "arrived" in February of the regular season but then, after a disappointing playoff exit, chides a reporter who questions how next year's regular season could possibly matter.

To be clear again, Leonsis is actually a GREAT owner and is great to have in the NHL.  We mean that here at GTOG.  But, as he has proven so often in the past, he continues to play the victim while pretending to accept responsibility.

Last week ESPN came out with a fantastic report on the health code violations at sports arenas across the country and the Verizon Center in D.C., which Ted now owns, had 100% of vendors in violation of the local health codeHere was Ted's Take on the situation:

Most Deserved, But…

We get it. It is the summer. It is slow out there. ESPN did a massive report. We didn’t get good grades. We are what our record says we are. We need to improve. We need to be best in class. We are focused.
I do want to make a couple of comments. From what I have gleaned so far, the DC government is really tough on inspections. We get scheduled and unscheduled inspections. There is a description of the problem presented and then there is an immediate fix offered up. Aramark and Levy take this all very seriously, as do we. Any issues that were reported back in 2009 we have taken care of already, and now we as a new team are working to make sure we get zero citations ever again. That is our goal. It will be tough to achieve but we want to have huge aspirations.
And I am actually happy that the local DC health departments are so stringent and tough minded — as they should be. But as I look at some of the other reports from other cities, I do have to ask how standard these inspections are and how level the playing field is on an apples to apples basis. Be that as it may, it doesn’t matter. We are all dedicated to safety, security, cleanliness, efficiency, and your happiness and satisfaction.We will not be defensive. This is the business that we have chosen – and what job has PaintdrinkingPete chosen again? :-)
This is, to our mind, one of the most appallingly passive-aggressive "acceptances of responsibility" by any major business owner.  Ted states that, "we will not be defensive" but there are no less than 3 blatant examples where he is passing the buck.
  1. The title: "Most Deserved, But..."  But what?  It's either deserved or it isn't and here, clearly, it is deserved.  He is essentially saying that he is 100% at fault but he isn't.  It sounds like he is saying, "Yeah there is rat feces in our food, but hey!  It's in their food too!!"  Ted, your take doesn't add up.
  2. Ted is complaining about the standard required by the D.C. Code as opposed to what is required at other stadiums across the country.  In some ways, Ted has a point - just because his vendors are in 100% violaion doesn't mean that the Verizon Center is the dirtiest arena and it certainly could be that D.C. has stricter health codes than other cities.  But you know what?  YOUR ARENA IS IN D.C.  If you want the benefits and privileges that come with having an arena in the heart of a major city, then you have to accept the responsibilities that come along with it.  The D.C. location allows you to charge higher prices than in other about putting some of that money back in to cleanliness?
  3. Ted criticizes the fact that ESPN is even doing this report.  He apparently thinks this happened just because it is a slow time of year for sports news.  I think that the thousands of fans who buy food and drinks at the Verizon Center (I being one of them) would disagree with you about the newsworthiness of this story.  100% non-compliance with the local health code is a major story, even if it was reported on the eve of the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup.  Sorry, but cleanliness matters to people.  Well, most people.
Ted, you've done some great things as owner of the Caps and will likely do some great things for the Wizards as well.  But when something goes wrong, own it.  No buts about it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

7/27/10: GTOG Inbox, part 1

By GTOG Staff

In our last Inbox, we made it clear that here at GTOG, we get a lot of emails (  Well, you can imagine what has happened since we were linked one week ago on Yahoo's Puck Daddy for our prophetic and astute take on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract situation.  In fact, we had to go to to try to find the proper adjective to describe the amount of emails we've received, and one of the synonyms for "brimming" is "impregnated."  So basically our email is pregnant.  It's even gotten to the point that we have to churn out these Inboxes before we actually think they are ready -- thus, we give you "part 1" without really having any idea when (or if) there will be a part 2.  But, we like how "part 1" sounds. 

Q:  Gentlemen, love your work.  Isn't the Kovalchuk saga yet another example of how poorly managed the NHL really is?  How could the league negotiate a CBA with such an enormous loophoole, then ignore the exploitation of that loophole in the form of the Hossa, Franzen, Luongo and other contracts, then try to crack down on the Kovalchuk deal in a transparent attempt to launch a preemptive strike in advance of the next round of labor wars?
Dan "Down" Donzi
East Liberty

Dan, thanks for reading. Mario Lemieux once called the NHL a "garage league," and, as usual, he was right.  We don't know who the league uses for legal advice - wait, actually, we do know - but we're pessimistic about all this ending peacefully.  Anyway, we have a more immediate example that illustrates how Gary Bettman and his team always seem to be a touch off the mark:  today's Winter Classic press conference at Heinz Field.  It's July 27th.  Dan, no one is thinking about hockey right now except us and people exactly like us.  That's for starters.  Second, Crosby (such a gamer), Talbot, and Dupuis showed up to represent your Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Capitals' representatives?  Mike Knuble and Dave Steckel.  Takes your breath away, doesn't it?  If you locked the average sports fan in a room with David Steckel and said, "this is David Steckel, he plays for the Washington Capitals," the sports fan would sue you for false imprisonment.  David Steckel has the electricity of a cinder block.  Really, they couldn't pick a date when someone on the Caps' top two lines was available?  You see the problem, Dan.  The best thing this event had going for it was Mario's suit.

More on the Steelers, Cowboys, NHL, Ben, and Max Talbot after the jump...

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Historical Perspective on a Contract Extension

By Artistry

Ron Cook has returned from his summer vacation with a vengeance.  In today's column, he points out that Mike Tomlin is a good coach and that the Steelers signed him to a contract extension. Granted, this happened two weeks ago.  But Ron Cook has never been inhibited by the boundaries of time and space.  We sum up his belated ruminations in Today in Ron Cook Poetry.

You have a good one, you keep him.
Know what I mean?
That's the way the Steelers do business.
"I love what I do."
"I love where I do it."
"I'm having big fun."
Beautiful, just beautiful.
Good luck to Tomlin with all of that.
That's ridiculous.

Writing Ron Cook Poetry:

GTOG Will Never Forget This Voice

Rest in peace, John Barbero.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Bachelorette for Finesse; Mrs. Artistry Shell-shocked by 20/20

Finesse (pre-show):  This weekend as I was wading through 108 degree temperatures, a 7-year-old child tugged on my shirt and said, "Finesse, why haven't you done a live Bachelorette blog recently?"  Adhering strictly to my policy of talking to children and dogs like adults, I replied, "Well, it's a matter of resource allocation.  First, I'm employed.  Second, the Bachelorette, by any objective measure, is a dreadful show.  Third, if it was between being on the phone with a Comcast customer service representative or watching Roberto contemplatively toss a baseball while in his Savannah Sand Gnats Class-A baseball uniform, I'd go with Comcast."  Slightly shaken, the boy replied, "Finesse, watching the Bachelorette is a journey.  And it's a journey that your legions of loyal GTOG fans want to take with you."  As he cried tears saltier than Mike Green's after a Capitals' playoff loss, I thought about the aforementioned legions and GTOG's responsibility to provide the content that you people demand.  Unfortunately, however, tonight Ali is confronted by all of her fake ex-boyfriends and I couldn't even get through the entire preview.  So, you'll have to wait until next week's epic finale recap.  But don't worry, we have some good stuff in the works.  GTOG.

Artistry (post-show):  20/20 is doing a post-Bachelorette investigative special, "Behind the Rose."  Taking us behind the scenes of the Bachelorette and the Bachelor, with some of the highlights so far including some woman who had a panic attack during the rose ceremony, another lady who took off her underwear and gave it to the Bachelor, and Wes, the country singer who came on the Bachelorette last year just to get famous and sell records, explaining that he has no regrets. "Some say love, it don't come eeeeasaay."  What exactly happened to 20/20?  Mrs. Artistry is sitting on the couch muttering to herself, "This is amazing. This is unbelievable."

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Pitching

In today's Ron Cook Column, Pirates GM Neal Huntington attributes Brad Lincoln's early-career struggles to him having too much respect for opposing hitters.  It's so typical of the Pirates to come up with such a ridiculous excuse for another of their "prospects" who is failing miserably.  Brad Lincoln is 25 years old and was drafted 4 years what point does "prospect" become "bust?"  I'll reserve that judgment for now, but his 1-4 record, 6.57 ERA and 21K's in 50.2 innings are far from promising.  Let's let Cook explain.

Something might have been saved, actually.
Brad Lincoln.
But it's absolutely the right call.
Can you say Charlie Morton?
He kept getting his brains beat in.
The poor guy needed psychological help.
Much better pitching.
Pitching, pitching, and pitching.

Writing Ron Cook Poetry:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

RIP Kaye Cowher

Sad news to pass along today, although by now most people have heard.  Kaye Cowher, wife of our man Bill Cowher, passed away Friday after a battle with skin cancer.  She was only 54 years old.  Bill Cowher was a great coach and from all indications a great family man as well.  We're sure this is an incredibly difficult time for his family, but we're also sure that he will feel the love from the 'Burgh.  Cowher Power.

Friday, July 23, 2010

American Greats

By Eloquence

Yesterday, the USA Hockey Hall of Fame selected its 2010 class. Most notably, the five new inductees include administrator Art Berglund and longtime University of Minnesota physician Dr. V. George Nagobads. GTOG fully endorses the selection of these two gentlemen for their contributions to the game of hockey. We couldn't be happier for them and their families (or as their families are more commonly referred to, "the only people who have ever heard of Art Berglund and V. George Nagobads").  Oh, and the other three inductees include Jeremy Roenick, and brothers Kevin and Derian Hatcher.

Kevin Hatcher played three seasons for the Penguins during the mediocre stretch in the late 90s. Pittsburgh is probably more memorable for him during the earlier part of the decade when Hatcher played for the Capitals and the Penguins owned them in the playoffs. 15 years later, it seems like it's true -- history tends to repeat itself. (Okay, to be fair, only one series lately and it went seven games).

Anyway, in honor Mr. Berglund and Dr. Nagobads, GTOG wanted to briefly look at Penguin greats who have been inducted into the USA HOF:

Herb Brooks --A legend and rightfully he is more more well-known for coaching the USA Olympic hockey team to a miracle on ice, but he made solid contributions to the Pens as a head scout and coach.

Badger Bob Johnson -- Led Pens to first Cup in team history. Legend.  A Great Day for Hockey.

Craig Patrick -- 2 Cups, incredible drafting, the best trade in the history of the NHL, and assistant GM during Olympic gold medal in 1980.

Joe Mullen -- First American born player to score 1,000 points. Won 3 cups. Came to Pens for a second round draft pick after winning his first cup in 1989 with the Flames.

Tom Barrasso -- You don't win Cups without a bad-ass between the pipes.

Finally, an open question to the USA Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee: where is Kevin Stevens? He nearly averaged a point/game during his career, and had a four-season stretch with 408 points. We know he had some off-ice challenges and the NHL has a low tolerance for bad PR (in a related story, the newest street-slang for cocaine is "off-ice challenges"). But Jeremey Roenick damages the game's image far more every time he opens his mouth and dyes his hair with blond streaks before nationally televised games.

If it helps, GTOG would endorse his selection. Give it some thought.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Introducing Biz Nasty Poetry: Thanks BP

By Poise

Sometimes these posts just write themselves.  Paul "Biz Nasty" Bissonnette was one of our favorite Penguins of all-time because even though he wasn't from Pittsburgh, everything about him just screamed "Cogo's in Greenfield."  He played 15 games with the Pens in 2008-09 and racked up 1 assist and 22 penalty minutes.  But with Biz Nasty, it's not about the numbers.  It's about the tweets.  His Twitter account was recently taken down by the Twitter people because he told Ilya Kovalchuk to "go back to the soviet."  Puck Daddy has a marvelous post today that screen-shots his most (in)famous posts.  In honor of Ron Cook, who appears to be on vacation from mailing in columns, here are Biz Nasty's best tweets compiled in a poem we will call, "Thanks BP."

Best bum of all time is in Vancouver.

He sings a song about the clap, with spoons.

If you don’t know what the clap is, lookup urban dictionary.

I dump more toonies into that guy than condom dispensers.


At my parent house trying to convince my dad to put his shirt on.

He has a body like a milk bag.

Just gave this guy money on the side of the road.

Amazing sign.

Love homeless people.


A bird is sitting on my hockey pants and won’t move.

Then it took a shit on them.

What the ef is going on?

Kovalchuck signs for 100 Sheets.

How many lap dances can u buy for that much money?

I make league min and I bawl out of control.

I would be a danger to society if I made 6 shmill a year.

If I made that much every bum on the face of the planet would have a biz nasty jersey.

And if I could afford it season tickets 2.

K got it.

If a strip club was open 7 days a week for 24 hours a day.

U could spend about 11 years of your life getting lapers.

To be more specific about my last tweet.

That’s with 100 mill and 20 dollars a dance.

That’s what I heard people pay.


Kovalchuck is gonna have to give lap dances for 20 years instead of getting them now that he got rejected. 
Sorry Communist.

Back to the Soviet.

Lisa Lampinelli is funny, but once again her gender is my main concern.

Her chin hides her adams apple so we are gonna have to go to the judges.

F my life.

Someone call the police.

I was just raped at the gas pump.

Thanks BP.

Reflecting in Jail

By Eloquence

Maybe the only person doing more reflecting lately than Frank from The Bachelorette, is William "Boots" Del Biaggio III.

Currently serving an eight year prison sentence handed down last year for many counts of fraud, the AP reported last night that Del Biaggio's $25 million stake in the Nashville Predators has been sold for $15.2 million.

What a turn of events for this guy. He went from nearly buying the Penguins in "2005 BC" (Before Crosby), to then nearly* luring the team to a brand new arena, The Spring Center, in Kansas City, and then he finally gets a team but ends up in jail and bankrupt.

(*Let's be real, Mario used this guy as a PR prop to get a new arena in the 'Burgh. Del Biaggio lies and cheats and is still eight steps behind 66).

Very fortunate that the Pens stayed out of any deals with this guy. Plus, Mario doesn't need an owner who has to forge papers to get loans for a mere $110 million. It's much easier just to ask Ron Burkle to take out his wallet.

Speaking of lottery draft, be on the lookout for a variety of blog posts starting July 30 to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of Crosby era.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Net Mouth Scramble: Kovalchuk Reaction, The Long View, and Pouncey [UPDATE: KOVALCHUK CONTRACT REJECTED]

By Artistry
  • UPDATE:  Late last night the NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced, "The [Kovalchuk] contract has been rejected by the League as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."  Scott Burnside does a solid job showing that this Kovalchuk deal is not materially different from the extra-long deals signed by Hossa, Luongo, Franzen, etc.  The consensus seems to be that there is nothing explicit in the CBA that would bar these types of contracts, although everyone involves understands that the lengthy deals are a violation of the spirit of the CBA.  If the NHLPA files a grievance, which we at GTOG expect they will, the issue will go to an arbitrator familiar with the CBA.  It is looking like an uphill battle for the League in arbitration - odds seem to be that the contract will be upheld by the arbitrator because it doesn't specifically violate the CBA - but kudos to the NHL for calling shenanigans.  
  • The more I think about it, the more I consider the Kovalchuk contract a lousy deal for the Devils.  There's been a lot of debate about this on the Internets, but there is some consensus developing on two points:  1) Kovalchuk is certainly worth $6 million dollars now; and 2) it's nearly as certain that he won't be worth close to that by about half-way through his 17-year deal.  But let's focus on the present for a moment and take stock of recent developments.  New Jersey now boasts a top-6 forward group of Parise, Elias, Kovalchuk, Zajac, Langenbrunner, and Arnott.  And lo and behold, look at Tampa Bay's bench and you see Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Malone, and Gagne.  I don't need to name the Capitals' and Flyers' forwards for you because I just ate, and it's important that I keep my food down.  These teams are all pretty stacked up front.  But there's something all of them lack.  
  • And wouldn't you know it, Ray Shero zigged when everyone else zagged, constructing the finest group of top 4 defenseman in the conference.  Am I concerned about the holes the Pens have right now on the wing?  Full disclosure:  a little.  I also think we'll be more versatile and playoff ready than the forward-heavy teams.  Granted, I thought the same thing a year ago at this time.  But that was before we stole the Devil's best defenseman.
Thoughts on the Steelers and Buccos after the jump...

What a Kovaltastrophe

By the GTOG Staff

Tonight on "The Bachelorette," Frank explains that his feelings for Ali are real, and they are strong. Yet somehow, through the course of his "journey," it occurs to him that he may still be in love with his ex-girlfriend. "I have to go to Chicago," he reasons, "to find out if I'm still in love with Nicole." Cut to Frank walking through the streets of Chicago, in search of Nicole. Cut to Frank walking into Nicole's apartment building and knocking on her door. "What is going on?" Nicole asks upon opening said door, except you get the impression she knows precisely what is going on, due to the fact that she doesn't seem fazed by all the large television cameras following Frank. Moments later, on Nicole's couch, Frank's walls come down. "I need to know if we still have that spark," he says. "You complete me," she replies, and GTOG is not even kidding. "Come home." Frank nods and begins caressing her arms and shinbone. "Now I need to go to Tahiti," he intones, "to tell Ali. This will take a lot of courage and strength."

You can predict what Ali's reaction was to this news...

...but somehow, this exchange was only the second most ridiculous thing that happened today. The first, by far, was the Devils re-signing LW Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17-year contract worth a total of $102 million (an annual cap hit of $6 million). does a nice job breaking down Kovalchuk's career numbers, but let's look at some of the "highlights" after the jump...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Top 5 Penguin Player Nicknames

By Artistry

Nothing is happening right now in the sports world, unless you are a big fan of Louis Oosthuizen (pronounced "Fahr-ven-nugen") or John Daly's pants.  And it's the Sunday night before the final three showdown on "The Bachelorette," aka "The Thriller in Tahiti," aka "Frank's Last Chance to Explain How Hard This Has Been on Him."

In honor of this dead zone on the sports calendar, and to avoid speculating about Pens prospects whom none of us have ever actually seen play, I offer you GTOG's Top 5 Penguin Player nicknames.  It just so happens that all of these nicknames were coined by Mike Lange.
This wasn't intentional, but as it happens, Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey really have no talent for this kind of thing.  When Mike Lange gives you a nickname, it sticks.

Here are your Top 5 Penguin player nicknames, after the jump.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

And the ESPY for Inappropriate Taunting Goes To...

the squash player from Trinity.

GTOG has never felt so bad for a kid that goes to Yale.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Net Mouth Scramble: Chuck Fletcher, Mike Tomlin, and Nitro, WVa.

By Finesse
  • When Chuck Fletcher left the Pens to become GM of the Minnesota Wild, we all figured that he would take with him the Ray Shero mentality - i.e., pay people what they are worth now and not what you expect/hope they will be worth in a few years, don't give franchise money to non-franchise players, and have a Blackberry that isn't even scheduled to be manufactured for another 3 years.  So, we were a little surprised to learn that Fletcher's first big move was signing Mikko Koivu to a 7-year, 47.25 million extension with a no-trade clause.  Puck Daddy does a nice job pointing out the MIKKO F'ING KOIVU is going to have a higher salary cap hit ($6.75 million) in 2011-12 than Nicklas Backstrom (the Scarlett Caps one, not the goalie), Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathon Toews, and Henrik Sedin.  Koivu's career high in production is 22 goals and 49 assists last season (that's 71 points).  Koivu is a #1 center and his numbers are barely better than Jordan Staal, a 3rd line center -- but somehow he is worth $2.75 million more?  Absurd.  My only disappointment with losing Fletcher now is that he didn't go to an Eastern Conference team.

  • The Steelers extended Mike Tomlin's contract through the 2014 season.  I support this decision.  My only concern with Tomlin is whether he has the ability (guts?) to stand up to the sense of entitlement that has overcome this team.  A lot of the veteran players (Ward, Hampton, Farrior, Harrison, etc...) seem to think that past success guarantees future success without actually having to take the season seriously...can Tomlin change this attitude? 
  • A lot of Tomlin's success will be dependent on whether Superman or Clark Kent returns from the 4 game suspension.  Obviously Ben's dad just wants Clark Kent back, but Superman has won two Super Bowls.
  • GTOG is not a math blog, but we would like to propose the following: If the amount of sexual assault allegations against you is greater than or equal to the amount of Super Bowls you have won, that's bad.  This works no matter what number you put in.  Superman has 2 Super Bowl rings, and 2 sexual assault allegations against him.  That's bad.  I have zero Super Bowl rings and zero sexual assault allegations against me.  That's also bad.  I would love a Super Bowl ring.
  • When Ben decides where Ben is going to assault someone on a particular evening, does he say to his entourage at the last minute, "Um - man this is tough - but um, I'm taking my exposed genitals to the bathroom."
  • Two items from Hall-of-Fame Dave's (Molinari) Q&A about the Pens this morning intrigued me.  First, two of the questions were from Nitro, West Virginia and Sheppton, PA.  How are these real places and why were there no letters from Nitro, West Virginia in the GTOG Inbox?  That will not happen again.  Second, our buddy David from Sheppton asks, "Is there a chance that Dan Byslma's system is not working?"  David seems to be suggesting that the Penguins aren't getting to their game.  We at GTOG reject that notion.  The Penguins are always getting to their game.
  • A man camping in Yosemite National Park recently attempted to approximate the reaction of Penguins' management upon winning the lottery that enabled the team to select Sidney Crosby in the 2005 NHL draft.  He falls short, but it's a good effort.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ESPY Recap

By Finesse

When games start that we care about, GTOG will get much more into the analysis.  In the meantime, it's mid-July and there is absolutely nothing going in the sports world that really moves our meter.  Sorry, British Open.  But our legions demand content, so content is what we provide.  Later today we will post some thoughts on the various things of interest that have been going on in the sports world, but first some brief thoughts on the ESPYs last night.

  • Say what you want about ESPN, but they can do a montage.  Even Brooks Orpik was in it.  If I had to nitpick, I think the montage of people who died this year later in the show.  Sure, that is stealing from the Oscars but it is stealing the second most compelling part of the Oscars behind watching millionaires take themselves incredibly seriously when they play pretend for a living.
  • Seth Myers' opening monologue was strong.  I was really surprised there were no Roethlisberger jokes, especially because Myers is a Steelers fan.  The two best jokes (not verbatim)
    • "So LeBron is moving to Miami.  I didn't know he was Jewish."  (This got very little reaction from the crowd)
    • And the one that slayed the crowd: "The ESPY's, where sports and entertainment come together.  Kind of like a Kardashian sister's bedroom."
After the jump: women's basketball, Phil Mickelson, Norm MacDonald, the NHL, and GTOG's first official crush...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

GTOG Real-Time "Bachelorette" Reaction

In an unplanned but inspired development, the entire GTOG Team tuned in to last night's hometown date episode. No one cared about the home run derby.  The following email interaction ensued.

Finesse to Artistry, Eloquence, Poise
(no subject)
9:47 p.m.

GTOG makes the call: Chris is gone. Ali finds him too substantive.
Artistry to Finesse
Subject: Watching on a Delay
9:55 p.m.

I'm way behind. Roberto is so hot right now. Ali described their date as "everything I want in life."
Finesse to Artistry, Eloquence, Poise
Fwd: Watching on a Delay
9:56 p.m.

Artistry on delay - no one spoil it.

Spoilers after the jump...

Top Free Agents to Leave Pittsburgh

 By Eloquence

As Pittsburghers, it's rare that we would publicly display any compassion towards Cleveland. But we have hearts and brains -- we're from Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia -- so we feel for the sports fans in Ohio after the departure of Lebron James.

To express our empathy, here is a list of the top five free agents, in no particular order, to leave Pittsburgh recently:
  • Barry Bonds: The last three years that Bonds was a Pirate, they went to the NLCS. In total, since the 17 seasons since he left, the Pirates have an estimated win-loss record of 11-2,531.
More after the jump...

Monday, July 12, 2010

5 Things To Watch For

At Tonight's Homerun Derby

1.  Great players reminding us that they are just happy to be around all these great players.

2.  ESPN re-running the audio of Chris Berman's Home Run Derby Schtick from the last 20 years.

3.  David Ortiz becoming exhausted by 10 minutes of what is essentially batting practice.

4.  Miguel Cabrera becoming similarly exhausted, but winning the Home Run Derby in the process.

5.  A ratings decline.  There are no other sports on TV, but there is certainly nothing to see here either.

On Tonight's Episode of The Bachelorette

1.  Any sign that Frank has gone through puberty.

2.  Frank shouting, "Ma, the meatloaf!" while sitting on his parents' couch in his boxers.

3.  Ali becoming moody and distant upon seeing a picture of Roberto with his prom date.

4.  Chris's father saying he doesn't want to see his son get hurt, causing Ali to become moody and distant.

5.  Frank revealing that his ex-girlfriend also lives with his parents.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

GTOG Inbox

By GTOG Staff

If there is one thing we get a lot of at GTOG, it's adoration.  If there are two things we get at GTOG, they are adoration and emails.  Enormous, voluminous amounts of emails.  We're hesitant to even give out our email address ( because negotiations with Google over more storage space are still ongoing and are in a very delicate stage.  If we knew what bandwidth and servers were, we'd be on the phones with the investment banks to ask for funding to purchase our 4th server and 8 more terabytes of bandwidth just to accommodate our emails.  Or something.

Anyway, we have spent the past 48 hours sequestered in our respective homes culling through emails from all over the world.  There are only so many that we can share due to the fact that we have jobs, so if yours didn't make the cut, keep sending to

Q: I think it's safe to say that each of the four remaining contestants on "The Bachelorette" are there for the right reasons.  So whose walls are most likely to come down on Monday night's special home town date episode?  And whose journey will come to an end?
Denise O'Hanrahan
McKees Rocks, PA

GTOG:  We'll tell you whose walls better come down tomorrow, Denise.  Roberto, as striking as he may appear while either hovering half naked above a Broadway stage or wearing his Single-A baseball uniform, needs to open up to Ali in a way that allows her to connect with him emotionally.  And he needs to do it fast.  GTOG wonders if he has it in him.  We're guessing the teaser for tomorrow night's show suggesting Frank has a girlfriend is a red herring.  Think it through.  Ali is admittedly insecure.  Frank has a meltdown every time Ali spends time with another guy, seeming genuinely perplexed that this would happen on a reality dating show.  He's by far the neediest guy still standing.  And he still lives with his parents.  GTOG is guessing Frank makes Ali feel pretty good about herself.  No way she sends him home until she's sure one of the other three will agree to guard and protect her heart.  The thinking here is that Kirk's walls continue to come down, to such a degree that Ali can almost touch his soul.  And in the most shocking rose ceremony since Portugal, Roberto goes home.
More Reader Emails After the Jump... 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Good for Korea

By Artistry

Nothing gets the blood flowing on a rainy Saturday morning like a Ron Cook column about keeping Korean women away from Oakmont Country Club.  The man clearly has his finger on the pulse of Pittsburgh sports fans.  With that, we bring you Today in Ron Cook Poetry.

Good for Korea.
Bad for women's golf in America.
Really bad, actually.
Natalie (Yes, I Dated Ben Roethlisberger, But I Really Don't Want To Talk About Him) Gulbis 
Pretty good, right?
Well, there's more.
Well, that's not exactly true. 
Not to be critical.
Thank goodness for Kerr, Lang and the others.
The bigger American names, that is.
She's drop-dead gorgeous and has some game.
Seems a shame to me.
It's still taking that beating.
Of course, it would.
But let's be really honest here.

Inspiration for today's poem:
Want to write your own Ron Cook poem?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Breaking Down the Lebron James Announcement

By Artistry

At 8:55 p.m. EST, ESPN's Lebron Panel of Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon, Chris Broussard, and someone in a thick coat of orange makeup who I believe was John Barry, huddled close together in breathless anticipation. 

"Chris," said Stu Scott, leaning in tight.  "What is the very latest. Right now, this minute."  Just in case you couldn't wait five minutes until, you know, the actual announcement of where Lebron is going to play basketball "in this fall" as James himself ultimately put it.  "My heart says Cleveland.  My sources say Miami," Broussard replied, before completely undermining his "sources."  "But you can't count out Chicago and New York."  Yes, this was some ridiculous television, and yes, of course we watched it.  Might I remind you that we also sometimes watch the Bachelorette, and occasionally live blog it

Let's break down some excerpts of the ensuing scintillating back and forth between LBJ and Jim Grey, after the jump.

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: "Wooooooooooo"

By Artistry

But first, a love story.
OK, a lot self-conscious
"She's a catch."
It took awhile for the relationship to blossom.
But now?
They're inseparable.
Yes, that Danny Quinn, the former Penguins center.
"That's awesome."
Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!
She's going to turn pro after college, he's going to ...
Did I promise you a love story or what?

Inspiration for Today's Poem:
Want to write your own Ron Cook poem?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ESPN is a Joke

Did anyone watch Scott Burnside's video report on the first day of free agency? Honestly, how much does ESPN hate hockey? Did the high-price real estate market in Bristol, CT force ESPN to cut back on studio space and cause Scott Burnside to report from his grandmother's house down the road?? Look at that lamp!

When is the last time that Peter Gammons or Chris Berman reported from a living room that hasn't been updated since the great depression?

While Burnside makes it happen with barely more than a lantern at local senior center, ESPN subjects viewers to useless things like the "Virtual Playbook" for other sports.

Only hockey analysts would do this and not care. ESPN...what a joke.

Finally, in honor of my first post on Get to Our Game, I'll sign-off with video of Mario's first goal (merely an excuse to watch 66 in action -- would never compare him to a mortal). A great idea from Finesse.

Top 10 Penguins' Enforcers

By Artistry

Quiet times in the hockey world these days, but it doesn't seem appropriate to allow Lebron James and his giant ego to continue to dominate the GTOG headlines.  So in honor of Bob Probert, who died Monday at the age of 45, we decided to bring you our list of the Top 10 Penguin enforcers of the last 25 years.  Our rankings are certainly arbitrary and open to debate (which we encourage), but they are informed by our sense that these were the players who best understood their role and executed it with the most admirable combination of skill and enthusiasm. 

We should acknowledge that, although Probert will long be remembered as one of the toughest men to ever lace up the skates, he could play a little, too. Somehow, in the midst of piling up 398 penalty minutes during the 1987-88 campaign, Probie managed to finish third on the Red Wings in scoring with 62 points.  None of the guys we are about to name ever approached that level of production.  Indeed, some of them struggled with concepts like "staying on-side," "icing," and "passing."  Regardless, we appreciate their contributions.

Read on for GTOG's List of Top 10 Penguin Enforcers

We Are All Clevelanders Today

By Artistry

Never have I felt such solidarity with the unfortunate sports fans of Cleveland.  At best, I've felt mild disgust mixed with a dash of pity. I mean, look at them.

But today is different.  Today, Lebron James is doing a one-hour prime-time special television presentation, orchestrated by his team of advisers, reportedly to announce that he will crush the hearts of Clevelanders and leave the Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. 

What must this be like for those poor people?  Lebron is 25, the best player in the game, just entering his prime, and by far the most beloved sports figure in the city's history.  This is sort of what it would have been like if Mario Lemieux had given up on Pittsburgh after the 1989-90 season, except, stay with me now, exponentially worse.  First, Lebron is from Akron.  He is essentially turning his back on his home town.  Second, Cleveland never wins anything.  No prior Super Bowls, Stanley Cup parades, or remotely recent World Series titles to fall back on.  Now this jagoff guy has to go on ESPN and rub the city's face in it? 

If this is the way it goes down, GTOG feels terrible for Cleveland.  Even the Browns fans.  Pittsburghers stand with you today.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


[7/8/10, 7:30am] By Finesse

Latest report is LeBron will join Wade and Bosh in Miami.  If true, tonight's special should be renamed "The Cop Out."  I don't think that LeBron is making this decision solely because he wants to win multiple titles...I think he is doing because he is afraid that he can't win titles on his own.  He would rather sacrifice the opportunity to become an all-time great and truly lead his own team to a championship to join Miami and, in some ways, ride the coattails of Wade to a title (or 2, 3, or 4).  I'm not saying LeBron needs to stay in Cleveland and truly do it on his own...all great players need other great players on their team.  What I am saying is that this appears to me to be more about LeBron avoiding the "Greatest to Never Win a Title" label than it is about actually winning titles.

Would Kobe or MJ have done this?  Kobe couldn't wait to dump Shaq and MJ wanted to kill everyone.  Sorry, LBJ...I'm not impressed.

I wish I could write about this all day but unfortunately I have a job.

[7/7/10, 3:00pm] Two of the most reliable sources in the sports world -- Jared Dudley and Chad Ochocinco -- are tweeting that LBJ is headed to the Knicks. 

What we really need to know is the location of the press conference...if he is not staying in Cleveland, he can't possibly do it from anywhere in Ohio, right?

And following up on the ESPN conflict of interest situation...doesn't ESPN have a responsibility to tell us where this thing is airing from?  The location of the press conference could be highly indicative of where LBJ is going, but ESPN may not want to step on its own programming by "breaking" news that it created and thereby killing some of the buzz it is creating for tomorrow night's special.

So essentially we are in a situation where ESPN execs (and probably some cameramen, producers, etc) KNOW where the press conference will be, but are hiding that info from the public and, presumably, from its own reporters.  ESPN is likely going to allow its reporters, anchormen, etc. to speculate on the location of the press conference when ESPN itself must KNOW the location.  This doesn't sit well with GTOG.  We think Versus should counter-program with an Ilya Kovalchuk press conference announcing he will re-sign with New Jersey.

Artistry follow-up:

If I ever decide to move back to Pittsburgh, I am totally holding a press conference from an undisclosed location.

ESPN to Air One Hour Special on LeBron's Hubris

By Finesse
  • It's impossible to ignore what is happening in NBA free agency so it is time for GTOG to weigh in.  This morning ESPN's Chris Broussard broke the story that D-Wade is returning to Miami and will be joined by Chris Bosh.  We have also learned through mysterious "independent sources" that ESPN has partnered with LeBron James to host a 9pm EST special Thursday night during which LeBron will announce which team he is going to sign with.  The "S.S. Objectivity" has long since sailed from ESPN's Bristol, CT headquarters but this LeBron special is going a little too far.  Essentially ESPN is turning over its airwaves to allow a person it is covering to break news about himself.  ESPN and LeBron try to offset this obvious conflict of interest by donating the money to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a noble effort.  Even with that, it seems a little inappropriate for ESPN to morph into LeSPN for an hour during primetime.  If ESPN really wanted to do something for charity, just give the money from the unwatchable "LeBron Announcement Follow Up Show" which so obviously is in the works for 10pm tomorrow night.
  • Despite LeBron commandeering the sports media for the past 2 weeks, I remain fascinated by the story even if its only because it means less baseball coverage.  If not for LeBron, here is all we would have been hearing for the past two weeks:
    • All-Star game format where winning league gets home field in the World Series...good or bad?
      • Talking Head #1: Love it, brings back the competition we need.
      • Talking Head #2: The All-Star game is an exhibition!  An exhibition!!
    • Pete Rose...Hall-of-Fame? 
      • Everyone: "Who cares!?!?!
    • "The unwritten rules of baseball!!!!  The unwritten rules of baseball!!!!  The unwritten rules of baseball!!!!  The unwritten rules of baseball!!!!"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Also Watched the Bachelorette Last Night

By Artistry

It was just on in the background.  Forgive my misconduct.  Substantive hockey post coming soon.

GTOG live-blog: The Bachelorette

By Finesse

Our passion is the Penguins, but in mid-July there literally is nothing Pens-related to talk about.  So, we decided to take our holiday weekend in a different direction and give you a live-blog of Monday's The Bachelorette on ABC.  Enjoy.

This past weekend: Heard a rumor through a mutual friend that the as of yet undisclosed 4th member of GTOG is a hardcore fan of the Bachelorette and thinks that Ali is “genuine.”  GTOG leadership has no official comment at this time.  

7:56: Just realized the show is 2 hours long.  I immediately regret this decision.

8:00: In the previews we are teased with the quote: “Some fairy tales you don’t believe.  Then, they happen.”  Tonight’s phrase-off will be between “fairy tale” and “connection.”  “Connection” is a 2-statement favorite.

8:01: Still in the previews, we hear that tonight is the most important night of one of the bachelor’s lives.  That should have been Ali’s warning sign.

8:02: Ali’s eyelash extensions make it impossible to actually make out with her.  When she isn’t wearing them, I think they are used to measure first downs.

8:02: To begin the show, host Chris Harrison calls the 5 remaining bachelors into a public square in Lisbon, Portugal.  Somehow, these guys are able to hear him even though they are standing 50 feet away.  Have you ever been in a group with a tour guide and lined up 50 feet away from the guide while giant buses roar by in the background?  Apparently sound travels well in Portugal.  You could probably even fit Ali’s eyelash extensions in that chasm.

8:02: The guys enter their temporary apartment in Lisbon and are somehow surprised that it is nice.  Have they not seen this show before?  Aren’t they on the show?

8:03: Breaking news: Kirk thinks he is more compatible with Ali than Roberto.  

8:05: Next time I go on a date, I’m going to spend the first 10 minutes talking about how happy I am to be on the date like Roberto did.

8:05: Roberto getting high marks from me for pretending to have fun while being “carefree” and taking “crazy” pictures in the promenade.  High marks, indeed.

8:06: Ali’s first moment of naïveté: When Roberto is naturally inspired to dance in the middle of the sidewalk at the mere sound of music, Ali reveals that she thinks it will always be like this.  

8:06: Ali breaks Walt Disney’s 82-year-old record by using the phrase “fairy tale” 4 times in 1 sentence.

8:07: “That’s what she said” moment 1 of 71,132: Ali wants to “close her eyes and take it all in.”  

8:07: About a dozen kisses between Ali and Roberto on the yellow trolley…Ali’s tongue has yet to make an appearance.

8:10: I predict that Ali will feel like she gets to know the guys better when she meets their families.

8:11: Roberto asks Ali, “what are you thinking?”  Ali responds, “nothing.”  I buy that.

Click Read More for the rest of the episode...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Signing with the Enemy?

By Artistry

Devoting the Penguins' remaining $2 million under the cap to a third line center makes sense, given the way the free agency period has played out.  The team clearly envisions moving Jordan Staal onto the second line with Geno Malkin - we will debate whether that will make the team more or less effective in a different post - and that hole needs to be filled.  Mark Letestu is not the answer.  I'm impressed with him as a playmaking center, but he is not well suited for a checking role.  Craig Adams is the guy that along with Mike Rupp allows HCDB to roll four lines.  You don't mess with that.  So today we're hearing some familiar names bandied about.  Not necessarily familiar in a good way.  Two of them are familiar more in an "I hate that guy" way.  But isn't either Jeff Halpern or John Madden possibly the best man for the job?  I'm agitated just thinking about a line with one of these guys and Matt Cooke.  Someone mentioned their names to Mario Lemieux, and he instinctively elbowed his personal assistant in the chin.   

GTOG Back from the Holiday...

Loyal Readers, we are back from the brief holiday hiatus.  We spent most of the weekend wondering whether Ilya Kovalchuk's agent is able to keep a straight face when he demands $10 million/year for a 45 goal scoring one-trick pony.  There are two (relatively) short Ron Cook poems after the jump.  Also, stay tuned for a post on the Pens' winger situation coming either later today or tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Five Things We Learned On July 1, 2010

1.  If You Chose to Chase Forwards on July 1, You Chose...Poorly (Artistry)

While GTOG and Ray Shero spent the days leading up to July 1, 2010 identifying value among soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, a number of NHL GM's appear to have either been deep in denial, spending too much time with Glen Sather, or both. Derek Boogaard aside (you see what I did there?), a number of free agent forwards received new contracts that seem, shall we say, incommensurate with what they'll bring to their new teams. Look at these names and numbers:
  • Colby Armstrong to Toronto (3 years/ $3 million per)
  • Matt Cullen to Minnesota (3 years/$3.5 million per)
  • Manny Malhotra to Vancouver (3 years/$2.5 million per)
  • Ollie Jokinen to Calgary (2 years/$3 million per)
Whuh?  Wha ha happened?  Ray Shero could not have been more on the money in avoiding this market for forwards.  Locking up two of arguably the finest group of top 4 defensemen in the entire league strikes me as the better move.

Read on for More Things We Learned

Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Just the Two of Us

But still, I'm wary.
I love it.
They have to, right?
They are all about winning.

Not the first choice, though.
He eats a lot of minutes.
And he's just 27.

There's no cap space.

One of the kids, perhaps?
It's impossible.
That makes two of us.

Inspiration for Today's Poem:

Want to write your own Ron Cook poem?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Free Agency Live-Blog Wrap-Up

We are going to be updating this post throughout the day as more developments occur so keep checking back.  Hopefully Blogger can handle the spike in readership we expect today.

Finesse, 12:05pm:  I had an awakening on the Metro this morning that the Pens really should sign Volchenkov.  Lebrun's tweet confirmed that Hamhuis and Gonchar are both headed to the market.  As Artistry confirmed this morning, Gonchar will be gone.  Someone will give him the money and years and he should take it.  Hamhuis is also on the open market now and seems to want to drive the price as high as possible.  I'm disappointed about that but he isn't good enough to command much more than $4 mil/season.  So, if the price is too high, let him go.  (Not a great development here for Shero that we gave Philly a third round pick for nothing).
  • Artistry may take issue with this, but I think the Pens should really pursue Volchenkov and go over $5 mil/season for him.  The Pens, as currently constructed, are easy to play against.  Volchenkov, as we know, makes opposing forwards uncomfortable and causes opposing coaches to worry about line matchups.  No offense to the guys on the team now, but no opposing coach was concerned about matching his forwards against any of the Pens' D-Men last season.  The Pens need a rock on D and Volchenkov can be that guy.  If he costs $5.5 million (or a little more), I'm ok with that.  Also, let's hope Shero does whatever it takes to keep Volchenkov away from the Capitals.  
Finesse, 12:17pm: Martin Biron signs with the Rangers to back up Lundqvist.  Now the Rangers have one of the worst goalies in the league to back up one of the most overrated goalies in the league.  Big season ahead for the Blueshirts!!

Finesse, 12:20pm:  Lebrun says Gonchar to Ottawa!
The Sens have signed Gonchar to a $16.5-million, three-year deal. The deal will pay $5.5-million per year and includes a no-trade clause.
GTOG instant reaction: It will be sad (for Gonchar) when Malkin steals the puck off him 14 times in the first round of the playoffs during the 2-7 matchup.  Good for Gonchar.  Take the money, you've earned it.  Pressure now on Gogo and Letang to handle the PP duties.

Finesse, 12:28pm:  Alex Tanguay signs in Calgary.  Finally something to get LeBron off the front pages. 

Finesse, 1:04pm: Pens considering Paul Martin.  GTOG says not a bad Plan B, but we'd like to see Martin AND someone else good.  Flyers have re-signed Braydon Cobourn.   The worst thing that could happen for the Pens today is if the Caps trade Alex Semin and free up the space to sign Volchenkov.

Finesse, 1:12pm: Rumor swirling that Caps management is waiting for the JumboTron to tell them what to do.  Working to confirm. 

Finesse, 1:13pm: Confirmed.

Finesse, 1:17pm: Pens sign Zbynek Michalek to 5 years/20 mil. This confirms that Shero is a reader of GTOG.  This blog also confirms that I don't want to be at work today.

Finesse, 1:30pm:  Opening line at 3:1 that Ron Cook's column tomorrow begins as follows:
Huh?  Spell that for me, again.
Yeah, I could get used to the sound of that.  Definitely could.
Read on for more.  A lot more.

Decision Time

By Artistry

Sarge is gone. Not official yet, but somebody is going to give him the three or four year deal he wants.  Just go Sergei and, don't look back. Ssshhhh. Just go. I am actually feeling sad about this. 

Versteeg to Toronto for guys you've never heard of. 

We'll try to give you some real-time reaction to today's events, but we have meetings and stuff, so we'll see.