Thursday, June 30, 2011

Note to Jagr: We Remember You When

"You don't want to spoil that kid. You hope he never changes."  Clock is ticking.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Petr Svoboda Calls it a Night; Ray Shero Never Sleeps

By Artistry

There goes the Penguins artificial Wednesday deadline to fish or cut bait with Jaromir Jagr, who said he'd have a decision like 6 hours ago and has now evidently disappeared, leaving his poor agent to field phone calls from mischievous pensbloggers.  Who would pull something like this?  Only Jagr.  Or LeBron.

Meanwhile, Shero hasn't blinked. Pens resign Arron Asham tonight to a 1 year, $775,000 deal.  After leading the team in offense during the 2011 playoffs, we'd say it's fair that he now accounts for about 1% of the team's payroll.


Hello, Jaromir?

You there?

If you can hear us, don't go to Detroit. Go toward the light.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

RHONY Episode 12 Recap: Party Like It's Pre-2008

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

OMG Event planning! Ramona Avery and LuAnn Victoria are both turning sixteen and are planning Super Sweet Sixteen parties. “Man, you definitely look like you’re more than sixteen,” says Anthony, LuAnn’s creepy event planner. Avery is bitchy. “Mom, it’s not your party! I need 10, 000 square feet. You can have, like five guests.” LuAnn just wants her daughter to have a simple little party, you know, like at a nightclub in Manhattan called Arena, because, “It’s like an arena.” Avery does not want a winter wonderland theme. She does not want performers, because it will seem like a Bat Mitzvah. She likes control and she does not like break dancing. She doesn’t, like, want a Hollywood theme. Anthony suggests an ice luge with mocktails sliding down it for Victoria. She seems into it.

There will be none of this nonsense.
Avery is a stone cold killer, while Victoria seems more shy and grateful to her mom. I am having palpitations watching these Housewife mothers with their Housewife daughters. I want my 4 year old to never grow, ever.

Sonja comes to Jill’s dermatologist’s office to meet with Jill’s sister the lawyer about her bankruptcy problems. I too like to conduct all my meetings at my dermatologist. It’s just convenient, and I like the chairs.

Read the full recap here...

Bachelorette Episode 6 Recap: We Would All Prefer Our Fairy Tales to be Simple

By Finesse and Artistry

The Mother of All Bachelorettes, Ali Fedotowsky, tweeted on Monday that this episode is "VERY hard to watch and not because of Bentley."  We agree.  But it's possible we agree for the wrong reasons.  Ali was probably not referring to the fact that watching this show makes you feel like a lonely dragon boat racer, recently concussed during a bout of Muay Thai boxing, trying to keep your eye on the patch of water in front of you, because if you allow yourself to look out at the horizon you'd realize, f---, I still have an hour and forty-two minutes to go.  No, she was likely referring to the reaction of several of the Gentlemen to Ashley's revelation about her true feelings for Bentley.  The palpable anger.  The raging passive aggressiveness.  The fiery indignation.  It was all clearly justified.  Because if there is one thing we've learned about relationships, it's that it is OK if a woman has feelings for six other Gentlemen.  But seven?  Have you no decency, Ashley?  Look, this episode was excruciating for everyone.  We're all emotional right now.  Fortunately, we can offer the always cathartic experience of the GTOG recap.

Honestly, another guy would just be too much.
- Ah, Hong Kong. Ashley loves "the buildings, the shapes, the hustle and bustle. The traffic."  The only other person we know who would actually like traffic is Ryan.  Unfortunately, it seems clear that, much like Rose carried a torch for Jack in the movie "Titanic," Ashley will still be pining for Bentley when she is 113 years old.  When you go through something traumatic with another person - such as the sinking of the Titanic or three conversations on an episode of the Bachelorette - your bond is sealed.  Forever.  Or so we thought.  When Chris Harrison shows up in her hotel room, Ashley's fight or flight instinct kicks in.  "You're scaring me right now," she says.

Harrison knows just how to play this.  "Don't be scared," he says.  "Bentley is here, in Hong Kong..."

Ashley:  "SHUT UP!"

Harrison is unfazed by the assault on all of our senses.  He continues, " this hotel, right now."  This sets up a scene with more punctuation metaphors than we've ever seen on the Bachelorette.

Read on for the FULL recap...

GTOG's Jaromir Jagr Anthem: Mullet Man (To the Tune of "Renegade")

By Artistry

With news breaking late Monday night that the Penguins hope to get at least verbal commitments from both Jaromir Jagr and Tyler Kennedy by week's end, we're taking #jagrwatch to another level.  Because we know nothing inspires fans from our city quite like "Renegade" by Styx, we've asked the extraordinarily talented Daniel Marcus to create a Jagr anthem by borrowing liberally from that most Pittsburgh of tunes.  From the man who brought you the timeless classic "Sushi with Hilary Duff," here is "Mullet Man."

"Mullet Man" Lyrics (to the tune of "Renegade)

Oh Jagr I'm in fear for the season if we don't sign you this week.
Time now to put an end to your running cause you're so far from your home.
Oh Jagr I can hear you crying, you're so scared and all alone.
Friday is coming quick like your backhand, and we don't have very long.

The jig is up the news is out we've finally found you,
The superstar who went astray, oh how we missed you, too.
Never more to go away,
This will be the signing day, of the mullet man. The muuuullet maaaaaan.

Skate down the ice with your sexy hair flowing,
waiting on the halfboards for a pass from Sidney Crosby.
Jaromir, improve our power play.
Use your mullet, use your mullet
to help you with hockey.
Your sexy mullet flowing behind you.
Skating down the ice with your mullet behind you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When Skype Kills Your Podcast, You Regroup and Refocus

We've never been so emotional about The Bachelorette, but thanks to Skype flaking out, we have no outlet for our podcast.  Instead, we huddle cold, alone, and scared, suffocating in our own raw, bottled up emotions.  Rather than let the negativity get the best of us, however, we are determined to regroup and refocus on giving you, the fans, an epic recap on Tuesday of the rawest, most emotional Bachelorette episode yet.  And yes, we will talk about this:

Best Week Ever: Pens Draft; #Crosbywatch; #Malkinwatch; #Jagrwatch

By Artistry

It's one of our favorite weeks of the year at GTOG. The NHL draft, paradigm-altering trades, the free agent frenzy. It's a hockey oasis in the summer desert. Let's take stock of where we are as we begin the countdown to July 1.

- Anyone who tells you he has a substantive reaction to the Penguins' draft is probably either paid to scout teenagers or Joe Morrow's coach. All we really know about these kids is what other people say about them, and we're not particularly interested in hearsay or speculation. What we do know today is there is more to Ray Shero's draft philosophy than taking the best player available. Some patterns have emerged. Here's the philosphy behind the philosophy:

     1. Mobile Defensemen, Mobile Defensemen, Mobile Defensemen

Shero has made no secret of his view that guys who can retrieve the puck and quickly transition the other way are the most valuable commodities in today's NHL. Enter Brian Strait, Alex Grant, Simon Despres, and now Morrow and Scott Harrington. Stockpile as many of these players as you like; you will never have too much inventory. You will always find some team willing to give you their James Neal for your Alex Goligoski or their Nathan Horton for your Dennis Wideman. These players are so in demand, you'll even find some team willing to take Brian Campbell's $7.1 million salary cap hit off your hands. [Shaking head in disbelief.] There is something to be said for this approach particularly when drafting late in Round 1, when future success becomes so much harder to predict.

Already Coveted by Florida GM Dale Tallon
     2. Gamble on Skill

Certain 18-year-olds are pegged as franchise forwards only because they have the body of a grown man to go with their fully formed offensive game and uncanny hockey sense. Needless to say, if you're regularly drafting outside the top 10, you're not getting those kids.* Instead, a team like the Penguins can wait to grab players who have the skill and the hockey sense, but don't necessarily have the build or the pedigree. This year's 6th round choice, Josh Archibald, along with recent draft choices like Tom Kuhnhackl and Ben Hanowski, may fade into obscurity.** Or they may end up regularly potting 40 goals on Sidney Crosby's wing. You don't know, and it won't hurt you to find out. Call it the Robbie Brown Axiom.

     3. Steer Clear of Europe

I don't think Ray Shero has anything against Europeans, per se. I'm pretty sure if he were in Craig Patrick's shoes in 2004, he would have selected Evgeni Malkin. On the other hand, no one can argue that there's been a pretty pronounced shift in draft strategy since the days when Patrick took Milan Kraft and Konstantin Koltsov in the first round. It may just be a coincidence, but we now have a six year sample size to go on, and put it this way, the Penguins are not going out of there way to find Sweden's answer to Josh Archibald. There's much less certainty that a European player will ever make his way overseas, and that may be all there is to this. It's just a slightly riskier play.

- Positive news Monday on the Crosby and Malkin injury front. Although it's heartening to see Sid "progressing in his activity," as Jack Adams Dan Bylsma puts it, talk to me after he's been through a week or two of full contact drills.  Then you might see some smiling going on at GTOG headquarters. Until then, we're all business. 

- Anticipation builds as #jagrwatch continues.  Is Bro-tistry now in the studio recording an original Jaromir Jagr song?  I'm not going to tell you he isn't.  Stay tuned.

"See you on the power play. I'll be open on the half boards."
- Is there any such thing as a terrible contract in the NHL these day?  I wonder.  I thought for sure Glen Sather had dirt on Bob Gainey two years ago when he somehow managed to get Montreal to take on Scott Gomez's $7.4 million contract.  But then last week Chicago dumped Campbell on Florida.  Hey, enjoy that $7 million cap hit through 2016.  Sure, the Panthers needed to make a dramatic play to hit the salary cap floor, but Brian Campbell wasn't even a top tandem defenseman for the Blackhawks.  The lesson:  never underestimate the ability of an NHL GM to shock your sensibilities. 

- If by the end of this week the Penguins have both Tyler Kennedy and Jagr on the roster, Ray Shero gets a statue downtown.


* Unless one of them falls, precipitously, as in the case of Angelo Esposito.  If an Esposito falls, there is probably a reason for it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take him and flip him in a package with two other overrated players in exchange for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. We always support this kind of move.

** Let's face it, they are already pretty obscure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: The Good News About Big Ben's Foot

By Finesse

Sometimes when you know something is going to be painful, when you know it's going to hurt, when you know it is inevitable, it's best to just rip off the band-aid and let it burn.  It's based on that principle that news of Big Ben maybe/possibly/we'll-see needing foot surgery is good news.

If Ben Roethlisberger has proven one thing during his tenure in the NFL, it's that you hope he's never your son or brother-in-law.  If he's proven a second thing, it's that every off season, without fail, he will be a source of a Shakespearean drama that will last the entire season.  So the news that his foot hurts and may or may not need surgery is fantastic because rather than wait throughout the summer for the inevitable Ben Drama Shoe to drop, we know what the story is going to be.  It's painful for us, and it hurts, but ripping the band-aid off and exposing it early in the summer is doing us all a favor.

How will this all play out?  Let's ask fake Ben:
Yeah, well, I mean it really hurts.  It hurt pretty much all season last year, you know, that season that I escaped all those sacks and led the team to the Super Bowl.  I remember one time Terrel Suggs was pulling on me and my foot hurt so so bad, so bad that I thought it could end my career if I kept playing, but somehow I reached inside and found something in my heart to shake him off and complete a TD pass.  I've never felt pain like that and I don't think any human should ever feel that kind of pain. I don't know how I did it.  Heart of a champion.  Offensive line.  Band of Brothers.
As for the surgery question, we'll see.  I think I'm going to have to make a lot of wincing facial expressions during our first national TV game so that the fans, I mean, so that I can see how much it will affect me.  I'll probably explain it to Suzy Kolber during an interview.  We'll see what she thinks.  Band of brothers.
"Hang on, wait til they're back from commercial."
 [We will have some NHL Draft reaction at some point].

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Explaining the Jagr Situation; Unable to Explain the Flyers Situation

By Finesse

It's been a long week at GTOG, but it's a beautiful Friday morning and it's time to take care of some NHL business.

- The Pens' pursuit of Jaromir Jagr continues, but the seriousness of both sides' interest in still a relative unknown.  Contrary to initial reports, Jagr will have to wait until July 1st to sign with anyone, meaning the NHL Draft this weekend just got a whole lot less interesting.  The whispers that we are hearing (from other people who hear whispers and then report them), is that JJ would prefer to come to Pittsburgh so long as the money is acceptable (even if it is less than he could get elsewhere).  We're as excited as anyone about the possibility of Jagr coming back, but the cynical side of us thinks that there is a chance that all of this is just Jagr taking an emotional victory lap around the NHL, all the while driving up his price for the KHL.

If you don't still have the t-shirt Jagr is wearing, you're lying.
- The degree of the Pens' interest in Jagr is less clear.  Dan Bylsma is "intrigued" by the possibility of bringing back Jagr, and "sources" are telling Josh Yohe of the Trib that Mario is "encouraged" by the conversation he had with Jagr yesterday, whatever that means.  Ray Shero, however, does not appear to be as enthusiastic: He tells Molinari that Jagr is just one of the many "moving parts" for the Pens right now and, according to Yohe and Rossi, Shero isn't interested in going much over the $1 million mark for JJ's services.

- Here's my unofficial speculation on what's going on.  Ever since Ray Shero became the GM, he has done an incredible job of sticking to the plan -- a solid long-term approach that is flexible enough to allow for short term risk taking when the time is right (See Hossa, Marian).  Along the way, he has also been very careful to manage fans' expectations of the team and of the people he has brought in.  But Shero was burned last year by the acquisition of Kovalev, not in terms of what he gave up (nothing), but in terms of what Kovalev brought to the Pens (less than nothing).  While Kovalev is 1/10th the player Jagr is, some of the same concerns are there: a big name player arriving with lofty expectations, but who just doesn't have it any more.  Just as it was with Kovalev, that problem could be compounded by Jagr's enormous personality.  That's not to say that Jagr would be a bad "locker room guy" or would step on Sid's toes; instead, it means that because he is Jaromir Jagr, the team and coaching staff starts relying on him to do more than he actually can do -- think Kovalev getting unlimited ice time on the worst power play in the history of the NHL (unofficially) because he's Kovalev and is supposed to be good on the PP.  Essentially, Shero's lukewarm (at best) interest in Jagr is understandable based on Shero's track-record, the Pens' needs, and the team's cap situation.

This picture is moving at real speed.
- Having said all that, we still want Jagr back.  First, as we just said, he's not Alex Kovalev.  He's a top 10-15 player of all-time and a first-ballot HOF'er.  Second, and unlike Kovalev, Jagr has shown very recently that he still has game - witness the hat trick against the USA at the World Championships.  Third, Jagr's strength is on the PP and the Pens' power play is a joke, even when Sid and Geno are healthy (that the PP isn't at 20% every year is a legitimate indictment of the coaching staff and, yes, of Sid and Geno's greatness).  Fourth, Jagr seems to have an affinity for Pittsburgh and Mario, and a happy #68 is a productive #68.  Fifth, who else are you going to get?  We have no right wingers other than Kennedy, and if TK is re-signed, he is likely going to be more expensive and for a longer term than Jagr.  And it's Tyler Kennedy, for God's sake. Finally, we're talking about Jaromir Jagr.  Bring his ass back.  #jagrwatch

- The risks of bringing him back are real: Shero may have to let TK walk, Jagr may suck, he may be too big of a presence for Sid and Geno, he will intimidate Bylsma into giving him more ice-time than he deserves, he will miss at least 25 games (that's a fact, not a risk), he will be a sideshow for already the most talked-about team in the league, and he will cost more than he is worth.  Legitimate concerns, yes, but let's remember.  This is Jaromir Jagr.  Bring his ass back. #jagrwatch

- In other free agent news, the Pens offered Talbot a three-year deal but he rejected it and will likely test the free agent market.  With the higher salary cap floor, there is no doubt that he will get more money elsewhere.  We won't blame him if he takes it.  Mike Rupp and the Pens are apparently getting close to a deal.  Let's hope the price is modest because as much as we and the rest of the fan base like Rupp, he is a replaceable part and Shero has been able to find guys like him almost at will.  Pascal Dupuis and the Pens are still talking, but don't have anything signed.  Out of these three guys, I think Dupuis should be the priority.  Yes, he costs more than Talbot or Rupp, but that's because he is better.  He scores goals (18 and 17 the last two years), kills penalties, and is versatile enough to play on every line (though obviously he is better suited for 3rd/4th line duty).

- Early Thursday afternoon, the Flyers dismantled their team by trading away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards for some decent players and prospects, though not anyone who has actually done much in the NHL (yet).  Immediately after the dismantling, the Flyers re-mantled their team by signing a 31-year old goalie to a 9-year/$51 million contract.  Yes, Ilya Bryzgalov will count $5.6 million against the Flyers' cap when he is 40.

- Trading Carter is understandable - his performance declined markedly last year, he has a gazillion year-contract, and he's a one-trick pony (great shot).  But the Richards trade is much more surprising.  We don't like the guy for obvious reasons, but he's a really good player.  Not captain material, but an 80-point guy and the maybe the most dangerous penalty killer in the league.  And then a nine-year contract to a 31 year-old goalie?  What, was Garth Snow only offering eight?  The only explanation for any of this is that they are the Flyers, and they were due. sunglasses at a bar.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RHONY Episode 11 Recap: Debt, Judgments, and a Little Lovemaking

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

Back in New York, and the women have missed their mens! Ramona is at a fancy hotel, pouring a hearty glass of Peens Greegs and getting in the mood. You might remember that she’s a businesswoman, so she has to find time for intimacy with Mario. Brightly lit, rose petal strewn, lingerie wearing intimate sexy time. Her lips are so plumped by some kind of filler she can barely speak. So she waits, lips permanently pursed.

Ed. Note: We Will Never Tire of Posting Ramona Pics
And we go to Brooklyn where Simon and Alex are smacking each other with dishtowels in the kitchen. Out come the oysters. Of course. “No other husbands met their wives at the airport with flowers,” Alex points out. “Not that many girls still have husbands,” Simon answers bitchily but truthfully. I usually defend Silex because I think they are harmless nerds but last week with the sexy skyping and now with this cheesy lead up to nookie scene they are totally grossing me out.

For more on what grosses out Sheer Elegance, read on after the jump...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GTOG Podcast: Emptying the Inbox

We answer some reader questions, including our take on the possibility of the Pens bringing back Jaromir Jagr.  SPOILER ALERT!  We're for it.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast: The Bachelorette Episode 5

After another shocking episode, we try to pick up the pieces and figure out what the hell just happened.  What changed that made Ashley seem so determined early on?  Are Ben F. and Constantine the same person?  Who is Ben C. dating online?  Does Ashley actually like any of the guys?  Will Chris Harrison win 4 or 5 Emmy's this year?  We answer those questions, and more, on this week's Raw Emotion Podcast.

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This Week in GTOG: Raw Emotion, Reader Questions, and Shameless Self-Promotion

By Finesse

We're not even going to call this upcoming week arguably huge.  We'll just call it huge.  With an inconvenience we'll call "work" occupying us most of the week, we're going to channel all of our emotions into something we can do at night from the comforts of our own houses - Podcasts.

Tonight we'll be recording another Raw Emotion Podcast with instant reaction, analysis, and soul-searching after tonight's episode of The Bachelorette, one which carries the prospect of Bentley returning to continue his sabotage of Ashley's Journey in order to entice parents and children to sign up for his Family Fun Center in Salt Lake City.  There will be no written recap this week so make sure to listen to the podcast, especially if you haven't given it a try already.

Some believe that listening to a podcast requires carving out time in front of the radio like when FDR gave updates on WW2.  It's not like that.  You can listen from our site or you can make the podcast portable:  Click here to subscribe on iTunes, or click here to find a link to download an audio file to your computer and/or smartphone.  The GTOG Podcast is the first building you pass once you cross Bill Clinton's bridge to the 21st Century.

Huge fan of the podcast.
Tuesday night we'll be emptying our GTOG Inbox and answering reader questions on yet another podcast.  No subject is off limits.  If you want your question answered, send us an email at and we will personally guarantee that we will answer your question on the podcast.

Wednesday night we will be watching the NHL Awards Ceremony with the folks from Puck Daddy at a bar in D.C.  We will be shamelessly promoting ourselves.  Full report on Thursday.

You're in good hands with GTOG.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Darkness Falls on Father's Day

By Artistry

Happy Father's Day to all the dads in GTOG Nation.  I hope you experience even a fraction of the joy I felt spending the morning with Little Artistry.  But I cannot ignore the black cloud that now threatens to spoil our fun, fun, or even thinking about fun.  Brace yourselves.  Rebecca Black's "Friday" video has been removed from Youtube.  In an ongoing copyright dispute between Black and the production company behind "Friday," we, the fans, are the losers wondering what seat we can take.

No Room For the People
This is like the NFL and the players' association quarreling over how to divide billions of dollars in revenue and alienating everybody else.*  Once again, stubbornness and greed trump common sense.  "Friday" has 160 million views over four months, and these people can't figure out how to make this work for everybody?  Tragic.  Alas, we'll always have the Rebecca Black podcast.

* Speaking of which, good post here comparing in-over-his-head Roger Goodell to the oft-maligned Gary Bettman.

Friday, June 17, 2011

GTOG on the New Bill Simmons Website: Grant Revoked

By GTOG Staff

Let's get one thing out of the way up front: We dig Bill Simmons. He's smart, funny, passionate, and prolific. He gets paid to do something we try to squeeze in between a conference call and calculating the time we spent on a conference call.  He's also innovative and ambitious.  ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series?  His idea.  And at the same time, to many people - especially men of a certain age - Bill Simmons is totally relatable.  He has more than earned the title, "The Sports Guy."  Does he spend way too much time writing and talking about the NBA, Boston, and Beverly Hills 90210?  Of course he does, and we admire the hell out of it.  You can't be great at this stuff if you're not inspired by your subject matter.  Simmons just covers what he loves.  In case you hadn't noticed, we're a little heavy here on the NHL, Pittsburgh, and the Bachelorette.  Sports is personal.*  But the key to great sports writing is making the reader feel like a game, a moment, or some insight into the lives of an athlete or a team, is shared.  The reader has to have some buy-in.

Living the Dream
Which brings us to Grantland.  The latest Bill Simmons project is intended to be a gift - a grant - to smart people with frivolous hobbies, a platform for guys like Simmons, Chuck Klosterman, Dave Eggers, and Malcolm Gladwell to write long form posts and really, really explore "the space."  Predictably, people are fawning all over it.   We've been visiting the site every day and there's just one problem: it's virtually unreadable. Well, not all of it. We appreciate the wall-to-wall hockey features from a guy who, admittedly, pretty much stopped following hockey until his hometown team showed up in the Finals and, in fact, almost all of Simmons' stuff is entertaining.  But thousands of words by two guys covering a cricket match, complete with digressions about their respective cricket histories and the rules of cricket?  That's not personal. That's painful.  And it's a good example of the problem with Grantland: the features are just incredibly self-indulgent.

For example: Can you guess which of these sentences are actual lead-ins to "pieces"** on

"Like most 6-year-olds in the METCO-serviced suburbs of Boston, I spent the last two weeks of October 1986 with a Red Sox cap on my head."

"My grandfather used to tell a story about a wrestling show in small-town North Carolina."

"The Australian-born, Queens Park, London resident sitting next to me on our British Airways flight was putting in a good shift as an aerial tour guide, but I could tell he was getting a bit tired of the whole act."

"I remember the moment when I realized I wanted to write."

"My father had three things left on his Sports Bucket List: seeing a Stanley Cup finals game in Boston, going to the Masters, and going to the Kentucky Derby."

Trick question.  Grantland ran every one of those leads. 

My grandfather laughed too, at that exact moment, but about something else entirely.
Look, we might be in the minority here, but not only do we not care about soccer, we especially don't care about the guy you were sitting next to on the plane on the way to the soccer stadium.  We like when writers hold up a mirror to the world.  We are less interested when they hold up a mirror to themselves, then write 10,000 words about what they see.  Go to therapy, for Christ's sake.  What do you want from us?

We get what Grantland is going for.  Simmons wants "pieces" like the ones Sports Illustrated used to run in the back of the magazine.  Sports literature. But those stories were never about the writer, there was only one of them per week, and nobody was reading them on their work computer while answering an email from their boss.  Incidentally, Simmons tweeted the following message on Friday:
"Getting feedback today that certain companies are now blocking HOW DARE THEY! You suck, companies who want employees to work."
Sort of a humblebrag tweet right there, but let's address the substance of it.  Of course companies are blocking  Would you want your employees reading "War and Peace" at their desk every morning?

Bookmarked on work computer.
We have no doubt that Grantland (is it "Grant-LAND" or "Grant-LUHND"?) will be a success, if you measure success by how many Subway ads you can fit on one page.  And we have no doubt that we will continue to read and listen to Simmons and his know, so long as we have time left over after reading 26,000 words written by an "up-and-coming" author about his experience at a Rugby match when he was studying abroad in 2005.

So we wish Simmons the best of luck with (like he needs it from us), and we hope that the site becomes an even bigger success by learning from some of its early and rather wordy mistakes.  In the meantime, if you're looking for something that goes down a little easier, a little smoother, then look no further.  You know what you're getting here.  It's all we know how to be.  So Smart.  So Steady.  So Serviceable.  GTOG.

* 15 years ago Artistry was a local sports anchor in Billings, Montana. If there is one thing in this world that is certain, it's that no one in Billings, Montana cares about the Pittsburgh Penguins. That didn't stop Artistry from leading off a sportscast with a regular season tilt between the Pens and Boston Bruins. Just so he could do the highlights. Sports is personal.

** Isn't it a touch pretentious to call these things "pieces?" Pretending your 10,000 words on J.J. Barea is like precious art is exactly the issue we're talking about here.  It would be like us referring to our podcasts as "sublime." Oh wait, we did that?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Congratulations Boston Bruins*!!!

By Finesse

Congratulations to the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins*.  Without a doubt, they were the best team in the Finals and absolutely deserved to beat the Canucks.  Whether the Bruins* were the best team in the NHL this season is a moot point - they won the Cup so, by definition, they are the best.

We each picked the Canucks to win a close series, so let's analyze what happened - did we overrate the Canucks or underrate the Bruins*?

Can someone explain this?
Many people, including us, definitely underrated the Bruins*.  They don't really have any truly great players (maybe Chara, but the OT goal in Game 2 is a perfect example of why he is good, not great) and they relied too heavily on Marc Recchi (we all know how that worked out for the Pens....6 years ago).  But two months later, Tim Thomas was setting playoff records and Marc Recchi was consistently pulling multi-point games out of his Centrum Silver bottle.   They peaked at the right time, bonded as a team, rallied around some injuries, and took advantage of every opportunity.  That's the formula for winning the Cup.

But any analysis of this series begins and ends with Vancouver.  Their performance in the Finals was epic softness.  Straight baby thighs, son.  It starts with the Sedins who were essentially invisible on the ice, but were even less effective off the ice.  Daniel Sedin "guaranteed" the Canucks would win Game 7....and then changed his mind!!!  Looking back, how could we have thought that the Canucks could win this game after that happened?  Then there's Roberto Luongo, who was so bad in four of the games that he never even gave his team a chance to compete.  He can fall back on the Olympic Gold if he wants to, but we're going to give that one to the real heroes - Sid and Iginla.

And then there are the Vancouver fans.  You can't paint them all with a broad brush and say they are all drunken rioters who went abooot the city destroying things after the game.   99% of them didn't riot, and trust me, you don't want to have the characteristics of the worst 1% of people in your city attributed to you either.  But what you can get on the fans for is the performance of the in-arena crowd.  They were so tight, so nervous, so much in "waiting for something bad to happen" mode that, you guessed it, something bad was destined to happen.  Either they put way too much pressure on themselves or the team or, maybe, they just realized Boston was better.  Whatever the case, they weren't doing the team any favors.

We might have to do an emergency podcast about this picture.
Last night's game was reminiscent of the Pens-Canadiens Game 7 from just last year.  By all measures, the home team should win - superior talent, better resume, home-ice advantage, etc.  But there was still something off, something that felt wrong about the whole thing.  Last year the problems that had plagued the Pens all playoffs came back to bite them in that game so in hindsight, it was no surprise at all.  The same thing happened to Vancouver last night -- shaky goaltending, no-shows from the biggest stars, injuries taking their toll, and, most importantly, a complete vacancy of all mental toughness.  We should have seen it coming.

So congrats to the Bruins* and their fans.  Nothing is better than the Cup.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

Pens 2012

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bachelor Episode 4 Recap: Think of the Soldiers

By Artistry

Nothing is more emblematic of the tried and true Bachelorette formula than the moment at the beginning of Episode 4 when Chris Harrison confronts the Gentlemen and announces that, wait for it, they will be leaving the mansion.  What???  Jaws drop.  Eyes go wide.  Dudes faint.  You mean the Journey to find love continues in some exotic locale?  You have got to be f---ing kidding me, Harrison! This has never happened before. We're all incredulous.  Yes, our host reveals, we will be heading to Phuket, Thailand.  "Wheels up" in two hours.

"Goose. Iceman. Final Rose Tonight."
Cut to Ashley, riding the rocky Phuket-ian waters and walking the idyllic Phuket-ian beaches.  She's thinking.  We know this because we can hear her thoughts, in voice-over.  And you may find this difficult to believe, but she is thinking about Bentley.  Their whirlwind, several hour-long romance, marked by three or four conversations during which he mumbled noncommital and often incoherent sweet nothings while massaging Ashley's scalp, left an indelible mark on her heart.  He's unforgettable.  She hopes she can dig out of this dark hole.  How will she do it?

I have three syllables for you, Ash: Con. Stan. Tine. Yes, after our heroine "plans" her Phuket dates with a nice Thai lady named Annie, to the forefront steps Constantine, the...hang on....checking my notes from the season premiere...ah, here it is...the restaurant owner who gave Ashley a pink dental floss bracelet when he stepped out of the limousine, for the first one-on-one date of the evening.  If you were wondering why we haven't heard Constantine utter more than a word or two since that initial meeting, wonder no longer.  I'll explain in a minute.  But first, Contantine must face a test that's challenged many a Gentleman in seasons past:  the date rain-out.  When you're scheduled to go out on a sailboat, but then the native fisherman comes over tells you it might not be a good idea on account of the weather.  Con - may I call you Con? - go to the Bachelorette playbook, man!  Your forefathers established that at times like this, you a) immediately say you wouldn't have it any other way; b) frolic in the rain; and c) move in for the kiss. 

What does Con do?  Whither Ames?  Read on, if you dare...

Wake Up With GTOG: A New Year

By Finesse

As you now know, yesterday was GTOG's one-year anniversary.  Today, we get back to work.

- Game 7 of the NHL Finals is tonight, and the Bruins come to Vancouver fresh off of (another) convincing home victory.  If you are a believer that the best team always wins a 7-game series, then you probably think that tonight is the night the Bruins finally take one on the road.  They've outscored the Canucks in this series something like 44-2.  But Vancouver has been resilient at home all playoffs and it's hard to argue that they don't have a superior roster top-to-bottom.  If you think you know what is going to happen, you're insane.  So here's my hedge: I'm tempted to go with the road team here because all of the pressure is on the Canucks.  If the B's score first, look out.  But I picked the Canucks in seven and they've been the best team all year, and unlike Reality Steve, we don't change horses midstream.  Canucks win, 3-2.

- What the hell is going on with the Pirates' pitching?  When did they become the 1995 Atlanta Braves?  The Buccos are back to .500 after a 1-0 win over the Astros last night.  It's a remarkable achievement.  Look at the batting averages of the 9 guys in the Bucs lineup last night:

  1. .267
  2. .221
  3. .292
  4. .256
  5. .245
  6. .233
  7. .000
  8. .223
  9. .087
Clint Hurdle for manager of the year.

- If you want to read about adults behaving like children, read this account of the Lance Armstrong/Tyler Hamilton "altercation" at a restaurant in Aspen.  It includes: snubbed hugs, harsh words, non-tipping, and threatening voicemails.  And a government investigation.

Stay tuned later today for the most shocking Bachelorette Recap ever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RHONY Episode 10 Recap: Ya Habibi B#%ch

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

Truth be told: I thought this was not only the end of Morocco but the end of the series. And I was not unexcited to be getting to the end. These housewives are making me weary. These pretzels are making me thirsty. But upon actual viewing, this episode turned out to be a lemony zesty tagine of Housewifery, so here goes my report.

Jill is not going to let the fight with Ramona get her down. She is moving on. Which means she will probably make up with her later in the show because her PR people back in NYC are telling her that people are more likely to buy her shapewear if she takes the high road with Ramona.

The brunettes are on a tour of a beautiful palace. Mustapha is full of stories of concubines and wives. Jill makes a sex joke – only having to do it with her hubby once a month – I’ll take that job, she says. Jill asks lots of questions about tiles and fabrics. Good for her that she’s interested. Sonja thinks Mustapha is hot.

For more RHONY shenanigans, read on after the jump...

Happy Anniversary to Us: How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

By Artistry and Finesse

It's been quite a Journey. On June 14, 2010, two men who were in the habit of starting the work day by sending each other unusually passionate and detailed emails about Pittsburgh Penguins games first decided to publish their thoughts for the world to see. It was a momentous occasion, marked by our parents calling us, ostensibly to "check in," but really to confirm that we were still employed. 365 days and 555 blog posts later,* has more than earned its reputation as the most trusted news magazine on the Internet. Is that a bold statement? Of course it is. But look at the facts:

GTOG Facebook followers as of 6/14/2010: 0
GTOG Facebook followers as of 6/14/2011: 94**

Just one year ago, this was only a dream.
Those numbers don't lie. GTOG is gaining followers at a rate of .25 people per day. There's a good chance that, as you read this post, someone's right leg is liking GTOG on Facebook. But the numbers - as powerful as they are - tell only a fraction of the story. How did this website, which grew from deceptively humble beginnings, become the first stop in the morning for scores of people looking for shrewd and original coverage of everything from hockey to reality television?

For a look back at Year 1, read on after the jump...

Wake Up With GTOG: The Pirates, The Bruins, and The Dormont Pool

By Finesse

For those of you who don't know, and that's everyone except for me and Artistry, today is the one-year anniversary of GTOG.  We will celebrate ourselves fully, completely, and with our whole hearts later today, but until then...

- The Pirates are not bad.  The starting pitching is legitimately good and the closer, Joel Hanrahan, has left the great Dejan Kovacevic speechless. We aren't really sure what to make of this, given that we spent the preseason  holding a daily Twitter contest in which I took one real Pirate name and then made up another name and asked you, the fans, to figure out which was real and which was fake.

More than the courtesy Pirate on your fantasy team.
- The Canucks failed to show up for the third time in Boston, getting blown out of the building in the first period before settling in to a 5-2 loss.  So far, we've learned the following from these playoffs:

1) Vancouver is good, but also kind of a joke.

2) He could have 11 straight shutouts, save a child from a burning building, and spend his offseason adopting three-legged dogs and I still could never like Tim Thomas.

3) The December 2010 Penguins would be on their fourth straight day of swimming with the Cup in Mario's pool if, you know...

4) Pens fans seem to be rooting for Boston which, to me, is confounding.  It would be patriotic to root for the Bruins if their players were all American but the most prominent American on their team is Tim Thomas and that's a non-starter here at GTOG.  As a Penguins' fan, it's difficult to root for anyone from the Eastern Conference, especially an organization that thinks it was one Ulf Samuelsson hit on Cam Neely away from winning the Cup in 1991 and 1992 (nevermind that the Pens went on to absolutely humiliate the Bruins in 8 straight Wales Conference Championship games).

- According to LeBron James, today is the day that people in Cleveland must get back to their personal problems.  Sorry Cleveland.  Hope you enjoyed Monday.

- Why do people hate Roberto Luongo so much?

- Within a 2-week period, people from Mt. Lebanon saw the opening of the Dormont Pool and Mark Cuban win an NBA Championship.  That's living the dream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

GTOG: The Decision [UPDATED]

Earlier today, we revealed that we were going to have a big announcement about our plans for tonight -- whether to watch Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals or The Bachelorette.

And all we have to say about our decision is...

Do you think we're insane?

There for the right reasons.
To anyone who disagrees with this decision, we release the following statement:
All the people who were rooting for us to pick The Bachelorette, at the end of the day you have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life you had before.  You have the same personal problems you had to today. We're going to continue to live the way we want to live and continue to do the things that we want with ourselves and our families and be happy with that.
[For those who want to go through the raw emotions of The Bachelorette with us, we'll just have to push it back a day.  Stay strong, and stay together.  We can do this.]

GTOG: The Decision

As many of you know, GTOG is an unrestricted blogging free agent.  We've spent the last year in cold and frigid NHL Land, an old rust-belt town where the recession has hit everything but fan pride and loyalty.  But now we are being pursued by a sexier alternative, a land where the sun always shines, where the driveways are shiny, and where the fairy tales always come true -- The Bachelorette Mansion.

Tonight we must Decide: Game 6 of Bruins versus Canucks, or the latest in Ashley's Journey to Marry a Man Who Wishes She Was Emily.

Where will we take our talents?*

Jim Gray gets to GTOG headquarters at 11:30am.

*All proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club.

Wake Up With GTOG: 5 Weekend Reactions

By Finesse

Lots going on, so here's a quick list to scan through.

5. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks on winning their first ever NBA title last night.  After Game 1, everyone wrote them off and even predicted a Miami sweep.  But the Mavs had an epic comeback in Game 2 and then once LeBron fell off the face of the Earth in Game 4, the Mavs wouldn't turn back.  Dirk Nowitzki was slightly irritating early in his carrer with the gyrations, the flopping, the hair, and the complaining.  But at 31 years-old, he has matured into undoubtedly the craftiest player in the league, like the old guy you play against in pick up who does underhand scoop shots that you should block every time but can somehow never get to.

4. Here's GTOG's unofficial diagnosis on what happened to LeBron James in Games 4-6.  His legs went dead.  If you watched Game 6 closely, there were numerous times when LeBron just didn't jump very high.  Three times he finished with layups at the rim when usually he was dunking.  He seemed hesitant to shoot because when he did shoot, it was all arms.  So, how did this happen?  It says here that it was a combination of nerves and fatigue.  LeBron rarely comes out of the game, so he has some argument for being tired, although that's only a partial excuse.  He got tight when D-Wade took over as the clear #1 player on Miami and didn't know what he was supposed to do.  Rather than trying to be a co-#1 with Wade, he went too far the other direction and started playing hot potato with the ball.  But he was never comfortable in this role either, so the nerves got going again and, as anyone who ever has been nervous before can tell you, it sucks A LOT of energy out of your system.  Thus, he was brutal in Games 4-6.

"Oh my god it's so hot! Get it away!"
3. Stop me if you've ever heard this before: Star athlete gets serious injury, says recovery is going better than expected, says he is motivated to come back better than ever before.  Well, that's where Evgeni Malkin is right now according to Rob Rossi.  We don't doubt Geno's motivation to come back strong, but we've heard this before (Remember, before last season, Geno said he was better than he ever had been before.  Then he averaged less than a point-per-game).  It's encouraging to hear that the medical rehab is going well, but until he is pumping in power-play goals, the motivational stuff is cliche to feed to columnists.  (FYI - we are Geno's biggest fans).

2. Artistry and I had a back and forth on this recently, but here's a condensed version of my thinking on Pens' restricted free agent Tyler Kennedy.  My position is to let him go to arbitration and get awarded a relatively high one-year salary and then pay it.  A one-year deal is not going to kill the cap.  There will still be some money left over to fill in the gaps on the 3rd and 4th line, and although it won't be much, Shero has proven to be remarkably effective at finding bargains for the grind lines.  The Pens have a window to win the Stanley Cup next season, and unless there is a cheaper replacement for TK's production (there probably isn't), then let's not let the window shut just so we can have an extra 200K to invest in a 12th forward.

1. I was at the Belmont Stakes this weekend, and if you've never been to a horse race, here's three pieces of advice.

1) Get general admission tickets and then sneak (or bribe) your way to better seats.  Don't ever pay $120 dollars for grandstand seats.
2) Wear whatever you want as it's the only time that d-baggery in clothing is officially sanctioned.
3) Gamble on long shots.  It's no fun rooting for the favorite and there is no money in it.

Standing with the crowd and hearing the cheering as the horses came around the final stretch was one of the cooler things I've ever seen at a sporting event.  You may not have any idea which horse is which, but it's license to indiscriminately yell "Go!" as loud as you can as many times as you can.  Put a Triple Crown race somewhere on your sports bucket list.  You won't regret it.

GTOG on the scene reporting.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Penguins Hire New Goal Celebration Coach

Bold move.

Wake Up With GTOG: Thud.

By Finesse

Maybe the most disappointing triple-double in NBA history.

"Oh, you're guarding me? Ok, I'll pass to Mike Bibby's carcass."
LeBron wasn't terrible last night, but he didn't do enough for the Heat to win, especially with D-Wade hurting with a bum hip.  Maybe Dallas is just better, but something is off with LBJ, as he's been taking his talents to the corner and watching the 4th quarter.  He's coming back to the friendly confines of Miami for Games 6 and 7, and should be a lot more comfortable there.  If not, it's going to be a long summer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tonight May Define LeBron's Legacy, AND WHAT HAVE YOU!

By Finesse

Stephen A. Smith has been all over the ESPN airwaves today to insinuate that there is something traumatic going on in LeBron James's personal life that caused his historically terrible and passive Game 4, in which James went 3-for-11 and attempted only 1 shot in the 4th quarter.  To paraphrase Stephen A.

Last year, LeBron dropped a similar stink bomb in Game 5 against the Celtics and was slammed, so to speak, by the media.  The explanation that emerged for that terrible performance was that - let's just be frank about it - his teammate Delonte West was sleeping with his mom.  If accurate, can you really blame LeBron?

"You can call me Dad."
Whether some similar situation is going on in Miami (which would say something interesting about his mom, don't you think?) is anyone's guess, at least until Stephen A. gives some sort of detail about what he is talking about.  But regardless of what may be going on in his personal life, LeBron's legacy risks suffering permanent damage if he continues to stand by idly - literally - while watching D. Wade attempt to carry the Heat to the title.  No one can predict what LeBron will do tonight.  He could go for 5 points or 50 points and I wouldn't be surprised.  But I'll be watching.

Pens Re-Sign Navy Seal Craig Adams

By Artistry

If you know anything about GTOG, you know we're huge fans of Craig Adams.  He was the biggest bargain on the team at $550,000 per year.  And as of today, he'll still be the biggest bargain on the team after signing a two-year deal at $675,000 per year.  Adams certainly left some money on the table he could have gotten from some other team in free agency, but he had to realize what a great fit this is for everybody involved.  Great move.

Celebrating By Doing 800 Pushups

Guerin, Kovacevic, and Lessons Learned

By Artistry

What makes a great organization? Or, in hockey-speak, what makes a great organ-i-zation?  Capable management?  Consistency?  A good employee cafeteria?  All important, but mostly, you can track excellence by answering a simple question:  Do people stay, or do they go?

Billy Guerin retired more than a year ago, he doesn't even live in Pittsburgh, but he's sticking with the Penguins in the newly created position of "Guy Involved With Player Development."  That announcement comes on the heels of assistant coaches Tony Granato, Gilles Meloche, and Todd Reirden, in addition to practically everybody else down to the assistant coach at Wilkes-Barre, all re-upping with the team.

Looking Forward to More Dan Potash Interviews
By contrast, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette watched Pirate beat writer Colin Dunlap step down recently for personal reasons and, far more significantly, saw Dejan Kovacevic bolt for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.  That's a huge blow to the PPG.  Even though DK left the beat for a while, he is - in GTOG's view - the primary authority on the Penguins among Pittsburgh media.  Why did he leave?  Maybe the Trib threw money at him.  Maybe there's something rotten in Denmark or Ron Cook's office.  Maybe both things are true.  Either way, the PPG is looking for some new writers.  And no, they can't afford us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GTOG Point-Counterpoint: Cleaning up the NHL

One of the critiques we get here at GTOG is that we never disagree. It could be that there is one truth and we both know what it is. Or, it could be that we just don't disagree that often. Either way, we actually do have some slight disagreements about the NHL's handling of violent plays, who is to blame, and what steps can be taken to change it.

Definitely not the answer.
Finesse: In light of the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton and the non-suspension of Alex Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron's finger, I take it you still are in the "NHL is a garage league" camp?

Artistry: No question. But we're dealing with a much different problem now than when Mario Lemieux uttered that criticism years ago. Now the problem isn't clutching and grabbing. The problem is the NHL can't make it through a playoff series without a significant controversy, and the sideshow regularly overshadows the main event. How is the league addressing the issue? With an incoherent, piecemeal approach to headshots, finger biting, and finger bite baiting that cultivates moral relativism and general fan and media outrage. I submit that this is not a good strategy.

The conversation continues after the jump...

RHONY Episode 9 Recap: It's Not About You

By Sheer Elegance, GTOG Special Guest Blogger

Tonight the girls had glimmers of being normal and kind of fun to hang out with, possibly because they got out of the luxurious riad and got to do more touristy Morocco stuff. Like visit a souk and not get robbed, get rubbed down at a hamam, stepped on by camel toes and eat food that would give them the runs. It was nice to see them enjoy like 10 minutes of their trip – a rarity for this bickering bunch of beyotches.

We open with the fortune-teller cliffhanger from last week. Everyone is reeling that Smoove Mario is having an affair, everyone except Ramona, who seems to waver between participating in these ridiculous storylines and plumping them up by acting unhinged and then turning around with a smile to promote her products.

Better Think Before You Cheat
Kelly actually seems kind of normal this episode (“kind of” is relative) and is trying not to make everything worse by translating the fortune teller’s news very directly so she doesn’t get accused of distorting information.

There’s a lot of whispering and people taking people aside. The woman who is now Brad’s new gay wife takes Ramona under an archway and they start gossiping about how LuAnn is always trying to get it on with Mario.

Who, exactly, is it not about? Read on after the jump...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bachelorette Episode 3 Recap: "When I love, I love hard."

By Finesse and Artistry

One of the most riveting and shocking episodes in the history of The Bachelorette began with a scene that plays out in small towns across America every day -- a 26 year old dental student driving a Maserati between mansions. And it ended in the same way that we prepare for our podcasts -- one of us taking a dump and reading classified ads aloud while the other one frosts his tips at the sink.

Walls down. Heart broken.
What took place in between these two bookends was a textbook "If Being Here For the Wrong Reasons is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right, Even Though My Reasons, Wrong or Right, are Completely Nonsensical" scenario. Our heroine Ashley was emotionally broken down and defeated, her insecurities exposed to the world by a terribly ineffective stand-up comedian and then exploited by a ruthless Family Fun Center owner/operator. Sobbing, weeping, and flailing about her bed like any woman would do to get over a guy she met the previous week, Ashley pondered rhetorically, "Were my instincts wrong?" What, because you fell in love with a sociopath in like 3 days? Don't be so hard on yourself. The important question we've asked ourselves now is, "How do we heal?" We're afraid there are no easy answers. Let's process this episode, one piece at a time, and try to get through it together.

Let's hold each other, metaphorically, after the jump...

Monday, June 6, 2011

GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast: The Bachelorette Episode 3

[Before you listen, please click here to subscribe on iTunes.  If you're at work without iTunes, make yourself a note to subscribe when you get home.  Thanks! -GTOG.]

Wow.  What an episode.  Still reeling from one of the most shocking and heartbreaking episodes in Bachelorette history, we sit down to pour out our emotions over what it all means.  How could Bentley do that? What will it mean for his business?  Is William still a contender?  Who else is still alive?  We hit all that and more on one of our rawest, most emotional podcasts yet. (There are minor sound issues at the end, but the emotion is all there).

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"There there now."