Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Don't bother us.  We're working on an epic NHL season preview.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GTOPG: Steel Valley 38, Tampa Bay 13

By Finesse
  • Another very important win for the Steelers Sunday (but aren't they all?).  Chazz Batch reminded us all that it's always a good thing to play against a team with cornerbacks who deflect interceptions right into your receiver's hands for touchdowns.  Some could write this off as the Steelers beating a team that was a little in over its head at 2-0 and not put much stock in it, but I think games like this are important.  When you purport to be a good team, like the Steelers do, then you have to handle your business comfortably against teams that you should beat.  Last year, almost every Steelers' game felt like a nail biter and every 4th quarter lead felt like it was one Roethlisberger sack and two Ike Taylor dropped interceptions away from evaporating.  That's what was so nice about yesterday - once the Steelers got up 14-3, this one was in the books.  
  • Speaking of in the books, why on earth was Rashard Mendenhall still in the game in the 4th quarter with the Steelers up 38-6?  He had some nice runs during that stretch, but what exactly is it accomplishing to have your top offensive weapon churning into a pile of bodies for an 8-yard pickup in a game that is out of reach?  Maybe Tomlin is thinking that the Steelers have had their share of bad luck with injuries already this season, but this decision bordered on irresponsible.
More on the QB situation, fantasy football, and icing the kicker after the jump...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pens Win 3-1; Letang and Malkin Send Message

By Artistry

I had a bad dream early this morning.  Nothing serious, just something involving a vicious baby alligator that I was trying to fend off with a hose.  It startled me awake, and I flipped on NHL Network just in time to catch a replay of yesterday's exhibition between the Pens and Blue Jackets.  A few observations for you to consider when CBS cuts to commercial 83 times during the Steeler game:
  • There's been some hype this off-season about defenseman Simon Despres, Pittsburgh's 2009 first round pick.  I can see why.  He clearly needs seasoning, but he already has something most NHL defensemen don't:  the ability to get a quick wrist shot on net from long range with some mustard on it.  He did that a couple of times in the first period alone.  Looks like he has a lightning release.
  • From the limited look I had this morning, I don't think Eric Tangradi makes this team out of camp.  He should only play in Pittsburgh if he can play significant minutes, and I don't see it.  Tangradi still has some baby giraffe tendencies - he's awkward at times and hasn't yet grown into his frame.  He took a lazy hooking penalty in the offensive zone because he wasn't moving his feet at all.  That's going to be the key to a big man like him being an impact player at this level.
Malkin and Letang throw down and "CW" cuts away, after the jump...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Thoughts Exactly

By Finesse

Everyone knows by now that the Pens and Caps will be featured on the HBO series 24/7 leading up to the Winter Classic on January 1, 2011.  It's amazing how quickly this announcement and the subsequent interviews with Caps' players reminded me of how disturbing their inferiority complex is.  Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble apparently believe that the Caps will be more interesting than the Pens on the show, which would have made news if anyone cared about Eric Fehr or Mike Knuble.  Mike Rupp, classy as always, had the following response:
"I think we're naturally more interesting. I think they might have to try a little bit. If they want to do that, I think the great fans of HBO will figure that out quickly."
First off, this show is going to take the Pens-Caps rivalry to astronomical heights.  Second, Rupp's quote is fantastic, but maybe Fehr and Knuble have a point - the Caps could be more interesting than the Pens.  After all, no one cares about a train that gets to its destination on time...we only care about the ones that end in a fiery and disappointing crash.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Net Mouth Scramble: Bret Sterling, Ron Burgundy, and Stephen Tyler

By Artistry
  • History was made last night in Pittsburgh, as the Penguins played their first game in the new Consol Energy Center before a sell-out crowd.  Allegedly.   I can't confirm this, because NHL Network chose not to broadcast the game, opting instead to go with an electric pre-season tilt between the Blackhawks and Lighting in Winnipeg.  If Hall-of-Fame Dave Molinari is to be believed, however, the Pens topped the Red Wings in the inaugural contest by a 5-1 margin.  The storyline today is that journeymen wingers Bret Sterling and Ryan Craig both popped in a couple of goals for Pittsburgh, and, can you believe this, one or both of them could be the scoring winger the team is looking for.  Uh huh.  Right.  Sterling has been mired in the Atlanta Thrashers' system for the last while, and he was quoted today in the PPG saying, in effect, now that he's with a good team he can finally show what kind of player he is.  I suppose it's possible that this guy who scored 2 goals in 19 games with the Thrashers could be blossoming into the next Jock Callander in front of our very eyes in games we can't watch on TV, but I'm afraid it's much more likely that there is a reason he is a journeyman.
  • Speaking of journeys, news leaked this week that ABC may have chosen its next Bachelor.  The speculation now is that in January 2011 the network will bring you the first ever recycled Bachelor, Brad Womack.  If you'll recall, and I don't, Womack rejected all of the ladies vying for his affections back during the 2007 season.  Here he was, on a reality dating show where contestants are expected to "find love" during what amounts to a series of televised, glorified first dates and, inexplicably, his walls never came down.  I don't understand it.  Didn't he realize he was living a fairy tale?  Somebody needs to learn to open up his heart this winter, and his name is Brad Womack.  Think of this as something you can look forward to following the inevitable post-Winter Classic hangover.
I don't think you're ready for this rose.  
More on the Winter Classic, the team with the biggest inferiority complex in sports, and why Steelers' fans should worry this weekend after the jump...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anonymous source confirms to GTOG Insider Finesse that Adam Schefter is worthless

By Finesse

Last week I railed against ESPN NFL "Insider" Adam Schefter for never citing actual sources and simply being used as a mouthpiece for information that the league and teams want to be revealed.  His citation of purely anonymous sources is meant to make it appear that he is "breaking news," when in reality he never breaks anything that isn't part of a careful plan to disseminate information to fans according to a schedule dictated by the NFL, ESPN, and the 32 franchises.

Today's ESPN article about Kevin Faulk (which I read solely because I picked up BenJarvus Green-Ellis in my fantasy league) contains the following "report" from Schefter:
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Patriots would put Faulk on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday.
Is this really something that has to be cited anonymously?  The guy has a torn ACL and openly wept about his season being over...but Schefter can't get anyone on record to confirm a technical roster move that everyone expected anyway?

By the way, we're all confused by the new trend to put syllables in front of first names, (ex. JaMarcus, DaBrickashaw), but when did it become acceptable to simply layer one first name on top of another like BenJarvus?  Within 5 years I predict there will be a fullback playing in the NFL named DaMarcusJaMichael.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

GTOPG Follow Up: "We're Back And Ready To Make You Weak Again"

By Finesse

Artistry did perhaps the best summary of a series of events in Get To Our Postgame this morning since David Halberstam chronicled The Fifties.  Seriously, read itAgain.  Artistry waxes poetic about Mike Vick, asking "is it possible that he's a better quarterback now than before he went away?"  It's a fair question to be asked in light of the past few weeks, but as I explain after the jump, Vick should read up on Sisters With Voices and thank his lucky parole officer that Andy Reid is going with Kevin Kolb next week.

Get To Our Postgame: How Can Being So Wrong Feel So Right?

By Artistry

The NFL is impossible to predict. At least that's what I'm telling myself today. Take, for example, the year 2004. The Steelers were coming off a 6-10 performance, and there was no reason to believe they'd be any better, let alone a playoff team. I was convinced they would be terrible. They went 15-1. With a rookie quarterback at the helm. This year, with no Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games, a shaky offensive line, a weakened receiving corps, and an aging defense, I thought they were at best a 9-7 team.  But that was before they completely dismantled Tennessee in Nashville.

Now, I'm still not buying in completely, because things can go south in a hurry in this league. All it would take is a Troy Polamalu hamstring pull and Charlie Batch breaking both of his arms taking a firm shotgun snap from center. It could happen. Having said that, the defense right now looks just as good as it did two years ago during an all-time great season-long performance, and it may even be better due to the emergence of Lawrence Timmons. You rarely, if ever, see Chris Johnson get hit as squarely as Timmons hit him on Sunday. He makes the Steelers' linebacking corps by far the best in the league.

More on the Steelers' playoff prospects, Mike Vick, Brett Favre, and the Redskins organ-i-zation after the jump...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

GTOG Reports from Penguins' Practice

By Finesse

On Sunday morning I went with Poise and the rest of the family to Consol Energy Center to see the Pens practice.  I hadn't been there before, so here are my initial thoughts on the arena and the practice.

View from the top
  • Consol is a beautiful arena, but not state of the art.  The sight lines are terrific and the fact that the upper consourse is above the upper level seats (as opposed to being behind the upper level seats) gives the arena a much more open feel.  That being said, some of the actual pieces of construction seem a little cheap - I can't pinpoint it because I'm not a contractor, but it doesn't have that sturdy feel.  Even the seats had a very soft foam that seems like it was the low cost option of the options that were available.  I'm not knocking this design - when something is built with public funds, it can't necessarily be Falling Water.  If some corners have to be cut to save money (aka, YOUR tax money), then that's ok with me.
More after the jump...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Net Mouth Scramble: Staal, Brady, Jeter, and Schefter

By Finesse

  • Jordan Staal's foot is infected and it looks like he will miss the beginning of the season.  This is not a surprise.  The news about his foot over the summer was consistently negative and every time Shero gave a prediction about his availability for the start of the season, it was laden with caveats and hedging.  This is not a good thing for the Penguins, but the team has plenty of forwards to hopefully pick up the slack.  Looking at the positive side of things, it will provide more of an opportunity for some of the young guys and new additions to prove their value.  It sucks seeing Staal's iron-man streak come to an end, but I prefer his streak of being a beast in the playoffs.
  • I thought that choking in the Super Bowl against the Giants and having his knee Carson-Palmer'd in the first game of the following season would have humbled Tom Brady but he has reclaimed his spot atop my list of players who I hope are the victim of a cheap shot.  I understand that the speculation is that the car accident was not his fault, but might it not have been in bad taste for him to sign a gazillion dollar extension that same night while one of the passengers in the other car was in the hospital in serious condition?  I know he can't put his life on hold, but it's a little suspect.  And now he calls out Patriots' fans for leaving in the second half of a blowout against the Bengals.  It was a blowout - the fans, whose ticket purchases enable Brady to sign that contract, can do whatever they want.  Someone needs to remind Brady that he hasn't won a Super Bowl in 6 years - it's time for him to be brought down a notch or two and I will be begrudgingly rooting for the Jets to do that this weekend.  
  • Derek Jeter pretended to get hit by a pitch last night (the ball actually hit his bat) and the next batter hit a home-run.  I don't know how I feel about this because I'm not sure yet whether it is against the "unwritten rules of baseball."  Unfortunately, there is no list.  If the unwritten rules of baseball say it is ok to act like you've been assassinated by a ball that never touched you, then I think it was a bush league move. However, if the unwritten rules say that it is NOT ok to flop around like Chris Osgood, then I applaud Jeter.  To those defending Jeeeetah, I would like to point out that if A-Rod did this, the reaction may be slightly different...
  • Allow me to vent about Adam Schefter, ESPN's NFL "reporter."  Adam is not a reporter.  He is a mouthpiece.  He never breaks any story that a team or the league doesn't want to be broken.  He rarely cites actual sources, but instead just says "sources."  Anonymous sources are ok in certain circumstances (ex. Watergate), but when that is all you rely on, then you are being used.  Adam, pull up a chair...ESPN and the NFL have a very cozy relationship.  They are building you up as a "brand" for reasons that escape me, but nevertheless, you are being used as a mouthpiece to "leak" info that the league and teams want you to leak.  It is better for the NFL if they help build intrigue by making it look like you are releasing information that they don't want released.  If you are actually a reporter, then it would be nice to see you break a story that the NFL and/or ESPN (is there any difference?) are uncomfortable and actually name your source.  It's the same thing that was happening during the LeBron-o-mania with Chris Broussard.  Sources close to ESPN tell me you're worthless.  

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Bachelor Pad

    By Artistry

    It all begins innocently enough. I'm behind the wheel, driving the family to Pittsburgh for the weekend, and Mrs. Artistry launches herself into the backseat to keep Little Artistry company. I don't think this is necessary. He is perfectly content sitting in his car seat and talking to himself. But she's his mother, and who am I to argue. After a few minutes of small talk about milk and his pacifier, Mrs. Artistry gets down to business. She whips out her iPad and turns to our 20-month-old son.

    Uh Oh.
    Mrs. Artistry: Do you want to watch a show with Mommy?
    Little Artistry: Yeah. (He never says "no." To anything.)
    Me: What show?
    Mrs. Artistry: Bachelor Pad.

    I jerk the wheel hard toward oncoming traffic but steady myself quickly. The reflexes are still there. What's my next move here? Do I need to pull this car over right now? Do I just grab the iPad and throw it out the window? Is there even a third option? I steal a glance in my rearview mirror at Little Artistry, so open and innocent, so trusting, and, quite suddenly, it hits me. OF COURSE he should watch the Bachelor Pad! He's the perfect age to absorb a massive amount of information, and upon further reflection, every single thing he needs to know, he can learn from watching this spin-off from the hugely popular Bachelor/Bachelorette series, in which our favorite contestants from those shows come together for another chance at love and $250,000. Why didn't I think of this before? The money we'll save on his college education. Discover the lessons Little Artistry will learn, especially in light of last night's Bachelor Pad finale, after the jump...

    Get To Our Postgame: "I seem to amaze myself."

    By Finesse

    OT: Steelers 15, Falcons 9

    Artistry is proud of the name "Get To Our Postgame" for our regular Monday/Tuesday feature and I'm happy that I have some time to indulge myself and write down my thoughts on Steelers-Falcons and other sporting issues from the weekend.
    • At this point in the season, VERY solid W for the Steelers.  The defense looked fantastic - Timmons was a beast (the roughing the passer call on him was Charmin-soft), Woodley gets his sacks by throwing offensive linemen into the quarterback, Harrison has proven that he is physically abusive unstoppable without being held, and James Farrior was serviceable (which, after his performance last season, is a welcoming sign).  That's probably the best 4-man linebacker unit in the fact, it probably isn't even close.  Add a healthy Polamalu, Hampton and Smith to the mix, and this Steelers' D looks dramatically improved over the end of last season (albeit it is still just one game).  And Bryant McFadden is an upgrade simply because he at least appears to know what he is doing out there.
    • Not overly impressed by Dennis Dixon, but he did enough.  He missed a few layup third down throws that would have been much more costly if Atlanta had been moving the ball better.  There was discussion on Stan & Guy yesterday about what to do if Leftwich was available to play this week - start him or continue to go with Dixon.  It should be a no-brainer - stick with Dixon until something goes wrong.
    • When Atlanta coach Mike Smith tried to freeze Jeff Reed before one of his field goals on Sunday, we tweeted, "Jeff Reed has alcohol in his veins.  You can't freeze alcohol."  Well, it turns out that maybe having alcohol in his veins is a bad thing because missing that 40-yard field goal at the end of regulation is inexcusable.  If you're going to cry about your contract, then at least make the kicks.
    • Speaking of crying, why is Hines Ward still so angry about being drafted in the 3rd round?  First of all, being drafted in the 3rd round is not a slight - it's still relatively high.  Tom Brady picked in the 6th round is a slight.  Second, he was a classic "tweener" in college as his Wikipedia page points out.  He wasn't exceptional at any one thing, so who would have predicted he would develop into such a solid receiver?  If he wanted to be drafted higher, he should have been better in college.  Third, he was drafted 12 years ago.  At some point, he needs to get over this perceived slight.  He still uses it as motivation which I guess is fine because it makes him play better, but it's annoying.  He's been to the Pro Bowl four times and has won a Super Bowl MVP.  No one is slighting you anymore, Hines.  Fourth, even LeBron James rolled his eyes when he read that Hines Ward said, "I seem to amaze myself."  I hope Little Artistry says that when he completes potty-training.
    • Speaking of people who amaze me - Daniel Sepulveda.  A world-class punter and a world-class holder on field-goals. GTOG has total confidence in him.  He may be the best player in the league.  
    • For some reason the bar I was at watching the game didn't have it in HD.  If it is true that the camera adds 10 pounds, then Mike Tomlin must have been filmed by the paparazzi.
    • Maurkice Pouncey is already the best offensive lineman on the Steelers.  Consider the center position solidified for the next 12 years.  That was an incredibly shrewd draft pick by the Steelers, not just because of Pouncey's ability, but because the Steelers play in a division with tough interior d-lineman that have been giving the Steelers fits for the past few years - Shaun Rogers and Haloti Ngata.  If he can handle those guys, he may be fortunate enough one day to wait 5 years to get into the Hall of Fame like Dermontti Dawson.
    • We all saw Crosby's homerun out of PNC Park.  I would love to see him attempt challenges from other sports.  This week's would be a 50-yard field goal.  I predict it would be good from 60.
    Non-Steelers Thoughts...
    • No shame in Penn State losing at 'Bama.  If you watched the whole game, as I did, then you knew PSU never had a chance to win but did make some nice plays that would have kept the game more competitive if not for Bolden insisting on throwing passes in the red zone while getting drilled in the ribs.  But isn't Evan Royster supposed to be good?  He is playing himself into signing with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent.
    • Great tan for JoePa.
    • Mark Sanchez?  Ooof.  I was with Poise watching his attempted 2-minute debacle drill last night against the Ravens and made an analogy that involves one's sanitation habits in the bathroom that may be a little inappropriate for the blog.  But you can email us and I'd be happy to share. 
    • Artistry is not glad his two fantasy QBs are Kevin Kolb and Matthew Stafford.
    • It was a blessing in disguise for Federer that he lost to Djokovic because he was not going to beat Nadal in that final.  Nadal is a machine right now.  He forces people to hit perfect shots to beat him every time. 
    • Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN is worse-than-unwatchable.  It's non-watchable, meaning I physically cannot watch it.  I'll die.
    • Brent Musberger is the best TV play-by-play guy in the business right now (and has been for 30 years) and John McEnroe is the best analyst.  Not even close. 

      Sunday, September 12, 2010

      Today in Ron Cook Poetry: 12 Questions

      By Finesse

      Kanye West once pointed out that you have a dyslexic girlfriend whose favorite 50 cent song is "12 Questions."  Would you believe he was talking about Ron Cook?  Cook somehow convinced editors at the PG  to let him go to Tuscaloosa to watch the predictable beatdown of Penn State by Alabama (you wonder why newspapers are going out of business).  He took full advantage of this opportunity, apparently practicing the centuries-old tradition that a sportswriter covering a game is supposed to unleash as many semi-rhetorical questions that convey neither relevant information nor opinion as possible.  And with that, here's today's "questions-only" RCP: 

      12 Questions

      Shredded for 409 yards?
      Dozens and dozens of missed tackles?
      Completely outclassed?
      Are you kidding?
      Really, if it continues to play like it did Saturday night, who is going to beat it? 
      Who saw that coming?
      Five receivers in the empty-set spread offense?
      Power football?
      A little wildcat action?
      Mark Who?
      You think Alabama coach Nick Saban loves him as a quarterback?
      Would you believe 16-0 as the Alabama starter and 16-0 as a high school senior in Southlake, Texas?

      Saturday, September 11, 2010

      Frequently Asked Questions: the NFC

      By Artistry

      Take a good, hard look at the NFC, I dare you.  It's hideous.  This is a place where the Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, Lions, Bucs, Redskins, and Bears reside.  I'm not sure how Finesse orchestrated this division of labor (he covered the AFC yesterday), but you have to admire his, ahem, finesse.

      What do all the children want to know about the NFC?  Do they even have any questions?  Believe it or not, a number of youngsters approached me at schul Thursday to say Good Yontif and, "Artistry, is Matt Moore just keeping the seat warm for Jimmy Clausen?"  I was as surprised as anyone.  These kids never cease to amaze me.  So let's get the new year and the new season started right.  The 10 most frequently asked questions about the National Football Conference, after the jump...

      Friday, September 10, 2010

      Ron Cook's Prediction, By Ron Cook, Based on Finesse's Post

      By Artistry

      Today's PPG offers a special NFL season preview, including a column entitled "Ron Cook's Prediction," which is followed by a picture of Ron Cook and, in case there is any confusion, a caption under the picture that says "Ron Cook" and a tag at the bottom identifying the author as... wait for it.  Wait for it.  Ron Cook. 

      Ron Cook.  Seriously, Ron Cook.
      As the set-up for his much anticipated prediction, He-Who-Is-Repeatedly-Named offers the following insight:
      Peter King of Sports Illustrated predicted last week that the Steelers will win Super Bowl XLV in February. He has them beating the Green Bay Packers, 33-26.
      Should I mention here that King hasn't been right with a Super Bowl prediction since -- when -- 1995?

      Sure you should, Ron Cook.  Just so long as you acknowledge that Finesse first made that very observation back on September 1.  Ron Cook, are you reading our blog again?  Ron Cook's Prediction is poetry, after the jump...

      Frequently Asked Questions: the AFC

      By Finesse

      Every day, a child comes up to me and asks, "Finesse, what do you think of the AFC this season?  I have a lot of questions about it...can you answer them?"

      "Of course," I say.  "And if you know anyone who has questions about the NFC, you should ask Artistry cause he decided that he would write about that conference when we realized neither of us really had time to write about this."

      After the jump, in as fast as I can possibly churn this out, read the top 10 questions about the AFC that I hear on a daily basis...

      Tuesday, September 7, 2010

      Today in Ron Cook's Hubris

      By Finesse

      There isn't quite enough ammo for a full Cook poem today, probably because Cook was too busy making references to himself throughout today's column about Rashard Mendenhall carrying a bigger burden with Dennis Dixon getting the start at QB on Sunday against the Falcons.  It contains the following references to self:
      I'm not sure...
      I'd feel a whole lot better...
      ...if I knew...
      I'm thinking...
      ...if you ask me.
      He can play on my team any day.
      No worries.
      That's a comforting thought...
      ...I'll be surprised.
      If you haven't already read our rules to drafting a Ron Cook column, you need to get on that.  Art imitates life...and then some.


      Sunday, September 5, 2010

      Casting Call for "Goon"

      By Artistry

      The list of great sports movies is long, but where are the great hockey movies? For the casual viewer, the list pretty much begins and ends with the 1977 Paul Newman classic "Slapshot." Let's throw in "Miracle," starring Kurt Russell, the incredible story of the 1980 Olympic men's hockey team. Even though I'm a child of the 80's, I don't think I could sit through Youngblood again, but you may want to consider watching a few scenes just to marvel at the level of acting going on here.

      What a performance by Keanu Reeves, as always. When "Youngblood" is third on your list, you know there's room at the top for a new classic. Well, GTOG Nation, we've got one on the near horizon. The movie "Goon," inspired by the story of minor league enforcer Doug Smith, and based on a screenplay by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, is starting production in Winnipeg next week.

      We've got the inside scoop on casting and other news about "Goon," after the jump...

      Saturday, September 4, 2010

      Pirates v. Nationals: A 5-Inning Recap [9-3-10]

      By Finesse

      I haven't watched a Pirates' game on TV all season, so I circled the calender for this night because I could get the Nats' feed on MASN2 (That may reveal GTOG's super-secret location).  I planned on going 4 innings with this game, but I got kind of into it so I went...5 innings.  Here are my reflections on the 57-77 Nats at PNC Park against the 44-89 Pirates.  You don't need to manufacture any artificial excitement for this one.

      The Opening

      Beautiful opening shots of the city and PNC park.  The Pirates playing at PNC is like going to the bathroom in a diamond-plated toilet.

      In light of the Rob Dibble firing, MASN2 gives us Ray Kight as the color guy with Bob Carpenter as the play-by-play announcer.  Rough start for Ray.  "A lot of things going on, uh, Bob.  Suspensions."

      Don't get me wrong, Nyjer Morgan is insane.  But how can the Marlins possibly be offended by the fact that Morgan stole two bases when the Nats were losing by 10 in the 4th inning.  The Nats were LOSING!  Are they supposed to just stop playing the game in the 4th inning because they are down?  I give Morgan credit for stealing those two bases.  Anything that goes against the "unwritten rules of baseball" is a positive in my book.  Throw at guys' heads, slide spikes first, yell at guys trying to catch pop ups like A-Rod did.  Do it all.  Look at it this way - it can't make baseball less interesting, right?

      Livan Hernandez against Zach Duke is tonight's pitching matchup.  A guy who was supposed to stop being good 5 years ago against a guy who was supposed to start being good 5 years ago.

      The recap continues after the jump...

      Friday, September 3, 2010

      Pens Sign "Recreational Hockey Player" Named Mike Comrie

      By Finesse

      Ray Shero is at it again, continuing his streak of shrewd signings that have little or no downside.  Today, the Pens inked former Oilers' LW Mike Comire to a 1-year/$500,000 contract, he of married-to-Hilary-Duff fame.  Quick background on Comrie - he's a two-time 30-goal scorer, had 13 goals in 43 games with Edmonton last season (not a bad pace for the worst team in the league) and will turn 30 years old next week.  From a hockey perspective, this is another move that makes sense - a veteran winger (a la Aaron Asham) with some pedigree at a bargain basement price.  But from a non-hockey perspective, is it a good move? 

      Down Goes Leftwich

      By Artistry

      Look, when Ron Cook gets on a roll like this, no one has the energy to convert every one of his columns into a poem.  But this morning I have to give you the abbreviated version of "Today in Ron Cook Poetry" because of the timeliness of Cook's words:   

      Not Dennis Dixon.
      The Steelers can hope right?

      Powerful stuff.  Cook is going out on a limb and saying Charlie Batch will be the Steelers' starting quarterback on opening day now that Byron Leftwich is out with a sprained knee, suffered in last night's completely, utterly, it's impossible to emphasize this enough, meaningless final exhibition game against Carolina.  I didn't even realize the Steelers played last night and they lost their starting quarterback?  How could this happen?
      Mike Tomlin blew this one.  Byron Leftwich's knees are in danger every time he leaves the house in the morning.  He has a history, he's putting a lot of weight on those suckers, and he has the mobility of, um, Bryon Leftwich.

      The Steelers are hanging by a thread already this season.  In the first four weeks of the season, we're looking at Atlanta and Baltimore at home, Tampa Bay and Tennessee on the road.  That looks like 1-3 to me, maybe 2-2 after I have my coffee.  Either way, thanks again, Ben.

      Thursday, September 2, 2010

      Today in Ron Cook Poetry: Bob Pompeani is Crazy

       By Artistry

      Today Ron Cook reminds us no fewer that three times that Pitt must win the Big East in a column practically throbbing with Cookisms.  It's pretty much a verbatim transcript of his conversation with Bob Pompeani, it's glorious, and it's "Today in Ron Cook Poetry."

      Are You Out of Your Mind?
      Bob Pompeani is Crazy

      I told him he was ridiculous.
      What if Pitt loses?
      I told him he was nuts.
      Say Pitt beats Utah.
      You read that right.
      The Big East is the big prize, people.
      You, too, Pomp.
      Nor should you.
      I repeat:
      The Big East is the big prize.
      You want to talk about "must-wins"?
      There's only one for Pitt this season.
      It must win the Big East.

      Read more:

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Guy Who Never Predicts Anything Correctly Predicts The Steelers Will Win the Super Bowl

      By Finesse

      Peter King of Sports Illustrated is picking the Steelers to beat the Green Bay Packers 33-27 in Super Bowl XLV in this week's issue of SI.   This would be cause for optimism if it hadn't been 16 years since King last predicted a Super Bowl Champion.

      From a logical perspective, it's an interesting pick.  If you compare the Steelers' roster today to what it was in Super Bowl XLIII against Arizona, the roster is substantially similar (albeit with the conspicuous absence of the MVP of that game).  The Steelers are slightly under the radar this year with the suspension of Roethlisberger and the fact that the team went only 9-7 last year.  If recent history is any guide, rarely have the preseason "consensus" top teams actually won the Super Bowl (so let's count out the Ravens, please).  So can it be done?  Of course it can, but we wouldn't be making that prediction.  As a teaser to our NFL Preview coming out either this weekend or some other time when we feel like it, here are 3 keys to making it happen:

      1) Mike Wallace.  Hines is going to decline at some point, but even if he still produces his 1000 yards and 6TDs, the Steelers will need Wallace to make some big plays.  The road to the Steelers' two most recent Super Bowls was marked with big play after big play (not necessarily in yardage, but in skill + importance) despite the Steelers not having that reputation (Randel El to Hines in SBXL, Santonio punt return versus SD, Santonio catch versus Baltimore, etc...).

      2) Health.  This one is obvious, but the Steelers are very susceptible to injuries at a lot of positions.  The offensive line is Kate Moss-thin, Troy can't be replaced, the starting CB's suck so I can only imagine how bad the backups are, and the Leftwich/Dixon combo isn't scaring anyone.  The Steelers can beat anyone in the league at 100% full strength...but with the age of the defense and some of the injury history of those guys (Troy, Aaron Smith, etc.) how likely is that to actually happen?

      3) Mike Tomlin.  GTOG is a big fan of Tomlin, but his schtick got a little stale last season (Ex. "unleash hell").  He should finally be getting to the point where he is comfortable seizing total control of the team.  In his first couple of years he was, understandably, very deferential to his assistants and to veteran players probably because he was still a little unsure of how to handle himself as a coach (to his credit, he did win a Super Bowl this way).  If and when he puts his stamp on this team this season, will it be for better or worse?  We think it will be for the best, but it will require guys like Ward, Hampton, Farrior, Roethlisberger, etc. to lose some of their sense of entitlement and get with the program.  Maybe Tomlin just needs to motivate Ward by telling Ward that no one believed in him (despite the fact that he was drafted in the 3rd round).