Friday, September 30, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Revisiting Our Civic Arena Plan

By Finesse

We go back in time this morning to a post that Poise* wrote back in August of 2010 in which he said that the Civic Arena site should be used for an outdoor ice rink (among other things).  David Morehouse must be a huge GTOG fan, because he announced yesterday that the outdoor ice arena from the Winter Classic will have a permanent home on the old Civic Arena site and it will be equipped to host high school hockey games (wish I was still in high school).

*For those who don't remember Poise, he's my brother.  So Smart. Not That Steady. So Prescient.


From August 2010:

The Issue:
Dialogue is beginning to intensify in the City of Pittsburgh regarding the future use of the Mellon Arena site. Since the Penguins ownership broke ground on the new Consol Energy Center, we all knew the day would eventually come when we would no longer need Mellon Arena. Not surprisingly, during the Consol Energy Center’s construction period, we were all too distracted with what was going on with the team to think much about the future of the building. Now that the last game has been played and all the championship banners have been taken down, we are now faced with an empty building and vacant parking lot.

City officials, residents and developers are asking questions regarding what to do next with what is undoubtedly the City’s most compelling and valuable piece of property. The land use battle has begun and the rest of us are left aligning sides in the debate: GTOG takes sides after the jump…

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Is Jose Reyes For Real?

By Finesse

A few thoughts on last night's wild finish to the baseball season.

- The Rays' comeback on the Yankees, coupled with the Red Sox collapse, is what makes baseball so great, you know, so long as you forget the past 6 months of games.  Seriously though, it was exciting, and it reinforced an undeniable truth about baseball: If you want to come back from a 5+ run deficit, load the bases and then have the opposing pitcher walk/bean in the next 2 runs.  Floodgates city.

- If anyone deserved to blow a 9-game lead in September, it's the Red Sox.  Not necessarily because of their current players, but because of Curt Schilling.  I know he retired years ago, but the stench is still there.  He made nonsensical comments the other day about the collapse being "100 percent on the players" but also blaming the general manager.  He has a long history of obnoxiousness, highlighted by his railing against Yankees' players for being on steroids, as if Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were just eating egg whites and doing burpees in 2004.

Went to Zumba class and Whole Foods together three times per week.
- Jose Reyes won the NL batting title, but not without sacrificing the integrity of the game in the process (first and last time GTOG will ever talk about "the integrity" of anything).  He got a bunt single in the first inning, taking his batting average to .337.  Then, because he's a team-first guy, he asked to be pulled from the game so that he'd end his season ahead of Ryan Braun in the race and put all the pressure on Braun to pass him (Braun went 0-4).  Let's let Reyes explain:
"I said, 'If I go 1-for-1, take me out of the game.  And I did that. If I went 0-for-1, maybe I'm still in the game until I get a hit. ... I wanted to stay in the game, but (Mets fans) have to understand, too, what's going on. They have to feel happy about it if I win the batting title. I do that for the team, for the fans too, because they've been supporting me all the way through. I've (had) throughout my career a lot of ups and downs here with a lot of injuries. One thing I do all the time is give 100 percent on the field."
You see, Mets' fans?  He did it for you, so that you can spend the next week getting teased at work by your friends because Reyes pulled himself from the game.

The only time it's acceptable to sit people in an attempt to reach specific milestones is if there is an organizational decision made to tank games to get the #1 pick.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A GTOG Fantasy: Mario Lemieux's Fantasy Hockey Camp

By Artistry

We're engaged in fevered discussions this morning as we try to figure out how to convince our employers to detail us to Mario Lemieux fantasy camp. If we can just explain that taking a pass from Mario is priceless,* I think we can pull this off. I'm equally confident that we can persuade Lemieux to sit down with us and watch some old highlights. Finesse thinks if we get him tipsy, we could get him to laugh at Jon Casey.

*It's $14,866.00.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GTOG's First Sporadic NFL Power Rankings

By Finesse

What's that?  You want hastily put together power rankings that are just as reliable as any put out by the pundits?  OK!

1. Green Bay Packers.  Sometimes I watch someone do something and think to myself, "Man, that guy knows what he's doing."  And sometimes I watch Aaron Rodgers and think to myself, "Man, that guy knows what he's doing. I hope he doesn't get a concussion."  Rodgers has ascended to not just the best QB in the league, but the best player as well.

2. Baltimore Ravens.  As Steelers' fans, we're dangerously close to allowing our arrogance to blind us from seeing what might be happening -- the Ravens eclipsing the Steelers as the top team in the AFC North.  The success the Steelers have had over the Ravens the past few years has been by the thinnest of margins, measurable only by the distance between Joe Flacco's eyebrows.

3. New England Patriots. Do we all fall into the same trap with the Patriots every year?  They look absolutely unbeatable and then lose high scoring shootouts to fired up teams, exposing the Pats for what they ultimately are: a one-dimensional machine with an incredible QB but no Plan B.  Still, I'm terrified.

4. New Orleans Saints.  Here's what I know:  When the Saints are down 6 at halftime, and you have Drew Brees on your fantasy team, you're excited.  Though they have similar holes as the Pats -- overreliance on the QB, shaky defense -- they actually have a decent running game and a coach that doesn't make you want to commit a homicide.

5. New York Jets. There's a feud brewing between Joe Namath and Rex Ryan.  Namath thinks Ryan hurts the Jets by pumping up his players to have them thinking that they are better than they actually are.  (Namath is right).  Rex Ryan takes offense because Namath is on the "outside."  Gentlemen, just relax, grab a beer, and kick your feet up and talk it out.

Who's next?  Find out after the jump...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wake Up With GTOG: Ron Cook Wonders Why Kerry Collins Might Want $4 Million; Steelers Win 23-20

By Finesse

The Steelers defeated the Colts last night 23-20 on a last-second field goal by Shaun Suisham, narrowly avoiding an inexcusable loss to a team with approximately two good players.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, those two good players are on the Colts defensive line, which means that we're going to make parallels to Jurassic Park.

Steelers Offensive Line.
Freeney. Mathis. Big Ben.
Thankfully for the Steelers, the Colts two worst players are their quarterbacks and the tandem of Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter instilled no fear in anyone not a Colts fan.  Ron Cook takes umbridge umbrage with the fact that Collins is still in the NFL, asking himself regarding Collins signing with the Colts last month, "Did he really need the extra $4 million that badly?"  Um, Ron. It's $4 million.  Maybe he just wanted it.

Regardless of where you stand on Collins' pursuit of capitalism, this much is clear: we still don't know much about the Steelers.  They got blown out by a good team, they crushed a terrible team, and they escaped a bad team's home stadium.  The game at Houston next week should teach us a lot more about this team.  Hopefully we'll like what we learn.

Full reaction to Week 3 coming tomorrow.  Check out our Week 2 reaction here.

[Artistry is out of commission today so we probably won't get his full recap.  Via email, he offers the following unedited analysis: "For any Steelers post, 3 takeaways: we've been too easy on Jon Scott, the d let Curtis Painter go 80 yards in 2 mins late in the 4th q, and it's only one game, don't panic. Unless we have to go with that O-line configuration again. Then panic."]

Friday, September 23, 2011

GTOG Investigates: Ted Leonsis's War on Counting?

By Finesse

It's a slow news day so let's do precisely what Ted Leonsis laments: Generate Pixels. Clicks. Page Views. Noise.

Hair gel.
On Tuesday, September 20th, the Washington Capitals hosted the Nashville Predators in their preseason debut at 1st Mariner Arena in something called the "Baltimore Hockey Classic."  The Caps lost 2-0.  It was the first professional ice hockey game in Baltimore since 1997.

But who went?  More importantly, how many people went?  And even more importantly, was it a sellout?

According to the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and the No Idea Where Herald-Mail, there was an announced crowd of 11,082.  That's consistency.

But what isn't consistent is the discussion of whether this crowd was a sellout crowd, and even Ted Leonsis, a man who nitpicks like no other, seems confused.  Let's examine.

In an absolutely Classic Ted post recapping the game, Leonsis writes:
Game is done; we lived and we learned. The fans had a great time; at a near sold out arena; the people in Baltimore were really terrific to work with; the ice could have been better as noted in this article. But - no complaints - we move on and head now into our season; thanks for the support. Go Caps!
[Side note: Ted is so good at complaining while saying that he isn't complaining, that he reversed the order from the usual "no complaints, but" to "[complaint], but no complaints."  Ted, you probably threw some people off the scent with that, but not GTOG].

However, in a post this morning titled "Sell Out," Ted ups the stakes, writing:
We sell out preseason games in Baltimore.
Hmmm.  So on September 21st the game was a "near" sellout, but on September 23rd, the game was a "sell out?"  Interesting pivot there, Ted, so let's investigate further.

- The Washington Post recap mentions the announced crowd of 11,082, but does not indicate whether that is a sellout.  Great work!

- The Hagerstown Herald-Mail, also known as the Those Outlets On The Way To Breezewood Herald-Mail, reports "a sellout crowd of an announced 11,082 fans." [This is the same story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun]. Put one in the box for Ted.

But not so fast.

- The Associated Press story on the Caps' own website reports, "the game drew a near-sellout crowd of 11,082 - even though ticket prices ranged from $34 to $147." (Fan friendly pricing, Ted!)

- The Predators/Capitals summary from lists attendance at the following: "A-11,082 (11,286)." For the uninitiated, the number in the parentheses is the capacity. As Shakespeare once wrote, "11,082 doth not equal 11,286."

- The 1st Mariner Arena Wikipedia page lists the capacity attendance for hockey as 11,286.  Obviously Wikipedia is not an unimpeachable source, but we're also pretty sure that it didn't change that number between September 21st and September 23rd.  Oh, and it matches the number from

- The webpage, albeit not updated since June 23rd, says "First Mariner Arena holds a little more than 12,000 fans for hockey. Promoters expect the game to sell out by July." I believe it was Abraham who said, "Thou shalt not equate 11,082 with a little more than 12,000."

Coached the Baltimore Clippers in 1971-72.
- Still stuck on the Herald-Mail article?  Just read further where it says, "There were a number of empty seats, but both curious Charm City sports fans and die-hard puck lovers crowded the concourse before the event."  This fits with eyewitness accounts describing "hundreds" of empty seats, and even entire sections closed off.

- Of course, empty seats doesn't mean that those seats weren't sold ... but to whom were they sold?  Would hundreds of people buy tickets to a once-every-14-years event and then not go?  Maybe.  Or would an owner who wanted his game to be "sold out" purchase unsold tickets so that he could say it was a sellout?  Maybe.

Here's the bottom line.  We don't really know whether this was a "sellout." Maybe it was.  But even Ted seems like he doesn't know for sure.  So why would he write "We sell out preseason games in Baltimore?"  Pixels? Clicks? Page views? Ticket sales?

Not that we're complaining.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

GTOG Podcast: Impressions of Pens Camp, the Steelers, and Big Ben's Faith Rankings

In this week's podcast, we hit on the Pens, the NHL, the Steelers, Big Ben's faith, and even the Republican debate (though we edited that entire part out).  Take a spin (and subscribe on iTunes).

For Flash:

For iPhone/iPad:

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The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want to run that play

GTOPG: Geno Wins Preseason Conn Smythe; Pens Clip Wings, 3-2

By Artistry

Watching preseason hockey is usually a lot like watching The Bachelorette. It's painful, but we can't help it. Last night was different. It was as if after blacking out for two years since winning the Stanley Cup and playoff MVP, Evgeni Malkin suddenly regained consciousness. And of course it's never not gratifying to beat Detroit.

- Everyone is buzzing this morning about Geno's dazzling performance with the puck - and the 360 degree spin and blind dish to a streaking Kris Letang was ridiculous - but don't ignore the clearest indication that he's back to his old self: it's what he did defensively. Malkin is back in "You can't have the puck because it's mine" mode, forcing turnovers and outright stripping guys naked out there. That's what makes him a holy terror. This may be the year he surpasses Pavel Datsyuk and leads the league in takeaways. It's not fair that we haven't had more time to enjoy Crosby, Malkin, and Staal together and at their best. But it would be really unfair to the rest of the league if we did.

Pondering just how unfair things should be.
- If and when Sid returns, it's time to split up Crosby and Malkin on the power pay. Geno is much more effective when everything flows through him. Don't buy the notion that either center would feel slighted by being stuck on the second unit. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Does Geno feel sligted because he centers the second line at even strength? This is worth a shot. I tink we can all agree the power play can't get worse.

- Joe Morrow completely outclassed every defenseman not named Letang or Martin last night. Very fluid and confident. Geno really put his finger on it when he said, "Great defenseman. Great skater." We really couldn't be more excited to follow Geno on Twitter.

- Don't be fooled by the fact that Matt Niskanen showed up on the scoresheet. He gives the puck away in his own zone about 17 times each game. Give us Lovejoy and Engelland with Picard as a 7th defenseman.

- We're looking at quite a logjam on the 3rd and 4th lines. Malkin, Kunitz, Neal, Staal, Kennedy, Sullivan, Dupuis, Cooke, and Adams are playing every night. That leaves 3 slots and 6 candidates - Letestu, Jeffrey (when healthy, he may be a lock), Asham, Park, Tangradi, and MacIntyre - to fill them. And that's before Sid comes back. Anyone still want to argue Max Talbot wouldn't be healthy scratch material on this team? Richard Park is not going away.

- Bob Errey weighed in last night on the idea of two lions eating a hippo: "Why am I laughing? Poor hippopatomus!"  It's good to be back.

- Follow us on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Hockey Video or Best Video, Period?

By GTOG Staff

We spent way too much time this afternoon surfing YouTube. Nothing got done, yet so much was accomplished. We found this.

Scotty Bowman with the money quote at 14:48: "He had a lot of Finesse." Yes. Yes, he did.

Largely Hypothetical Penguins Prospect Profile: Tom Kühnhackl

By Artistry

Pens prospect Tommy Kühnhackl has a lot of things going against him. For one thing, he's an undersized scoring winger with allegedly questionable conditioning. For another, he's got one of those names where you're supposed to put two dots over the "u," but do you know how to make that happen without copying and pasting it from somewhere? We don't. Guys with a ü or an ö in their name tend to be overhyped (see Fabian Brunnström). We're not falling into that trap.

The Good German?
Third, Tommy Kühnhackl is a German. How many forwards from that country have edged their way into your consciousness? Marco Sturm, Jochen Hecht, and Marcel Goc. That's basically the list. Oh, Sven Butenschon is also German. Germans tend to suck at hockey. It's just a fact. What are you going to do about it, Germans?

So the odds would not appear to be in Kühnhackl's favor. Until you look deeper. We've never heard of the guy, but apparently Tommy's dad was at one time Germany's answer to Mario Lemieux. Erich Kühnhackl was a 6'5" giant whose nickname was "Wardrobe on Skates." We don't even know what that means, but we're impressed. Clearly, the kid's got good genes. He's currently listed at 6'2", 172 pounds. Get him in a room with Mike Kadar, let him eat like 19-year-olds tend to do, and he'll fill out that frame in no time. The skills are already there. Tommy tore up the OHL last year with 39 goals in 63 games. He's a sniper with legitimate top 6 potential.

We're going on the record here. If anyone is going to overcome being a German named Tommy Kühnhackl, it's probably going to be Tommy Kühnhackl from Germany.

In case you missed our earlier prospect profiles, you can find them here:

Simon Despres
Kevin Veilleux
Dominik Uher
Beau Bennett

Don't miss out. Follow us on Twitter.

Pens to Host Wings in Preseason Opener; We Get Inordinately Excited

By Artistry

It's the preseason, Richard Park is dominating the proceedings, and Steve Sullivan already tweaked his groin, but we don't care. There's a hockey game tonight, baby! Here are your watered down lineups. Look for Dan Bylsma to ease Geno Malkin back into action by matching his line against the likes of Corey Emmerton and our old friend Chris Conner.

May Play Naked to Make This Challenging
Check back in the morning for our report on the game and later this afternoon for another Largely Hypothetical Pens Prospect Profile. LGP. GTOG.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

GTOG Goes Around The NFL

By Finesse

Week 2 in the NFL is always critical because when it's over everyone says "It's too early to make judgments."  With that said, let's make some judgments.

[NOTE: we are going to be ramping up our NFL coverage this year, so spread the word.  And follow us on Twitter.]

Detroit 48, Kansas City 3:  Every year in the NFL, there are at least 3 teams that are completely and totally irrelevant.  This year, there are about 12 of these teams, and Kansas City is front and center.  What a debacle.  First, they lose Tony Moeaki to an ACL tear.  Then, they lose Eric Berry to an ACL tear.  Then, they lose Jamaal Charles to an ACL tear.  Then, you remember that they were irrelevant and likely to be really bad even before they lost those three guys.  Not a recipe for success.  Detroit, on the other hand, is getting dangerously close to doing something that no one ever thought possible -- making Thanksgiving Day football interesting.  We like this development.

Was listed as "questionable" to return despite near on-field leg amputation.
Buffalo 38, Oakland 35:  In our AFC preview, we gave Ryan Fitzpatrick the coveted "Would cheat off of but not draft in fantasy" tag.  We'd like to officially change that to "Would cheat off of and would like to have on our fantasy team until it gets freezing cold in Buffalo in mid-October."  We'd also be remiss if we didn't acknowledge Denarius Moore's enormous game and highlight reel catches.  Will he be an extreme disappointment to all the fantasy owners who rush to get him on waivers this week?  Yes, yes he will.

Tampa Bay 24, Minnesota 20: When a team blows a 17-0 lead, there is a lot of analysis that can be done.  We're not going to do that analysis.  Instead, we're going to throw Vikings' coach Leslie Frazier's words into the GTOG Translator:

Frazier: "My only words to our fans are be patient. We’re going to get there. I have great belief that we will.”

GTOG Translator: "While I'm only in my first season as the full-time head coach of the Vikings, I realize that this thing is going off the rails and I might get fired.  I'm begging the fans not to buy billboards asking for a new coach.  Please don't do that.  I think we might get moderately better.  Yes, I'll have to bench Donovan McNabb in order for that to happen.  I have great belief that I will do that at some point."

"You're the next one, Donovan. You carry the torch for all washed up QBs."
Explore the rest of the NFL after the jump...

Monday, September 19, 2011

GTOPG: Steelers Dominate; We Wonder Why We Didn't Bet This Game

By Artistry

This was all very predictable. The 24-0 win (we predicted 29-3), Ron Cook following the win with a column praising the defense's "Golden Oldies" with no acknowledgment that the Seahawks are horrendous, and Ben Roethlisberger taking numerous vicious shots, staying in the game, then turning to face the camera as he stepped gingerly down the stairs to the locker room at halftime. Like clockwork, every bit of it. And, ultimately, it means as little in the context of an entire season as last weekend's embarrassment in Baltimore. In case you missed this, your Opening Day Super Bowl champion Ravens just got handled by Elisabeth Hasslebeck's brother-in-law. 

- Everybody is 1-1 here in AFC Central, and it's just as pointless to prognosticate about where we go from here as it was last week. Why? Mostly because we don't even know who's going to be walking in two weeks let alone playing. Two guys on the offensive line* went down last week, Brett Keisel got banged up against Seattle, and we've already entered Big Ben "I just need to play through the pain" territory. Ligaments are not being treated with respect out there, and we're sure people didn't stretch properly during the lockout. Dez Bryant is out with a quad. Stephen Jackson also has a quad. Reportedly, Santonio Holmes is dealing with a quad. And these are just the quads! Michael Vick is spitting up blood. Felix Jones has a shoulder. According to the Kansas City Chiefs, Jamaal Charles was "questionable" to return yesterday with what looked like a severed leg. It's rough all around, I'm telling you.

One of the best quads in the league
 - Fortunately, our quarterback is built like an oak tree. You really might need to remove Ben's legs to get him off the field, and even then, one suspects you'd find his torso back in the huddle after missing a single play. Then he would complete a pass and inch up the field, shaking his throwing hand and grimacing, momentarily distracting observers from the larger issue of him having no legs.

- The Steelers hit a fair amount of check-down passes. "It just proves that our guys can get it done even when you give them the ball short; you don't have to go deep every time." No you don't, but nor should you feel compelled to draw up multiple screen passes for Hines Ward every game. He's not exactly showing a lot of burst out of the gate these days. We still love him as a red zone option or a safety valve between the numbers, but are the Steelers obligated to get him the ball behind the line of scrimmage? Apparently, yes. A source provided GTOG with Ward's contract, which provides in pertinent part:

Section 7.1.4. Two (2) Mandatory Screen Passes: Club agrees that at least twice per game, with the first attempt coming no later than 25 minutes into the first half, Club's designated Quarterback must throw a wide receiver screen pass to Player. A "wide receiver screen pass" is defined as a pass to Player that is completed either at or behind the line of scrimmage and has less than a 5% chance of resulting in a first down. Such passes must be made regardless of the game situation, defensive coverage, or anticipated effectiveness. Club agrees that if the attempts are incomplete, Club will re-attempt said screen passes until two (2) are completed, regardless of whether Player or Quarterback is at fault for the pass being incomplete. If the pass is completed and results in a net gain of less than 2 yards, Club agrees that it will publicly deem such pass a "successful attempt to counter the defense's pass rush" whether or not the completion has any mitigating effect on opponent's pass rush. This provision must remain confidential at all times.

There you go.

Always sees the humor in 2nd-and-11
- If Willie Colon could stop incurring season-ending tricep popping and Achilles bursting injuries, we believe Rashard Mendenhall would be a much more effective running back, and perhaps the Steelers' offensive line** wouldn't be dominated by teams such as the Seahawks on the goal line. Willie Colon couldn't be on steroids, could he? Did I say that out loud?

- William Gay, credit where it's due. Granted, you weren't facing the Packers offense out there, but no Seahawk shall henceforth take for granted a relaxing stay on Gay Island. Also, early indications are the best deal the Steelers made this off-season was the one they made with Ike Taylor.

- Daniel Sepulveda. What a weapon.

Did someone say "weapon?"
- The Kerry Collins Colts don't scare anybody, but it's loud in that stadium, and Trai Essex had about 27 false starts last time the Steelers played in Indy. So beware. That's going to be Dwight Freeney coming off the edge and accidentally on purpose taking out Ben's knees on Sunday night. Still, the prediction is Steelers 28, Colts 17. And we're not betting this one either.

*Band of Brothers
**Band of Brothers

Wake Up With GTOG: Steelers Win 24-0

By Finesse

We'd have a comment on the performance of the Steelers' defense, but we watched the game on the Red Zone channel so we never saw it.  The Ravens lost, the Bungles Bungled, and the Browns won so despite the beatdown in Week 1, the Steelers are in first place.

[Ben Roethlisberger]: Now, you listen to me. We all have a destiny. Nothing just happens. It's all part of a plan! I should have died out there with my men, but now, I'm nothing but a goddamn cripple! A legless freak! Look! Look! Look at me! Do you see that? Do you know what it's like not to be able to use your legs?
Forrest Gump: Ye-yes, sir, I do.
[Ben Roethlisberger]: Did you hear what I said? You cheated me! I had a destiny. I was supposed to die in the field with honor! That was my destiny, and you cheated me out of it! You understand what I'm saying, Gump? This wasn't supposed to happen. Not to me. I had a destiny. I was [Big Ben]. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pitt Sees Writing on the Wall, Likely Headed to the ACC

By Finesse

Depending on what you're reading, Pitt's move to the ACC is either confirmed or a very very strong rumor.  [Update: Definitely confirmed.]  It's regrettable that the Big East is going in this direction, but if the move goes through, Pitt AD Steve Pederson should be applauded for being proactive.

For a school like Pitt that is competitive in both football and basketball, the current state of the Big East is unacceptable.  The basketball is incredible, but the football is abysmal.  Pitt is situated in an absolute hotbed of football recruits, but why would any of the best ones want to go to Pitt to play against Connecticut, Rutgers, South Florida when they could go to Penn State, Michigan, or The Ohio State Corporation?  ACC football isn't great, but it's better than the Big East.  And the Big East has built itself into a league that has no choice but to shrink -- it can't go poach a Maryland or North Carolina from the ACC because there is simply no room to bring them into an already too-big 16 team basketball conference.  As awesome as Big East basketball has been for the past few years, bringing in Louisville, South Florida, Depaul, etc. may ultimately mean the demise of the conference as we know it.

"I'll still have the best basketball-coach-hair in the ACC, so I don't really care."
It will be unfortunate to watch the Big East dissolve into a true (almost) basketball-only league.  (There is no way that West Virginia football can stay in the Big East without Pitt.  The ACC should welcome the Mountaineers with open arms).  But this is a necessary move for the Panthers.  Pitt, to even the most ardent supporter, is not a driver on the college sports landscape.  It's not Texas or Oklahoma.  Those are the dominoes -- Pitt is just the collateral damage.

So while it will be tough to watch Pitt (and Syracuse, which is also reported to be moving to the ACC) have to pay lip service to the already self-congratulatory "Tobacco Road" contingency, this is a move of necessity.  The train was leaving the station -- kudos to Pederson for hopping on before it was too late.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Defending 'Goon' From Fake Outrage and Hyper-Sensitivity

By Finesse

The Internet has empowered people to do a lot of things that they were unable to do before.  Before the Internet, for example, Artistry and I used to use U.S. Mail to send each other our thoughts on the Bachelor.  Different times back then.  Unfortunately, it appears that the Internet has morphed into a forum where a battalion of Sensitivity Czars have been self-deputized to patrol popular culture looking for anything that could possibly be construed as insensitive to some group of people.  And once the offending words or actions are uncovered, the Czar will immediately turn to his or her outlet -- usually Twitter -- to do at least one of three things:

Give me a moment to get up here .... Ok, thanks.
1) Patronizingly call out the alleged offender(s) by saying something to the effect of, "People, how about showing some class?" or "Folks, how about showing some class?" or "Come on guys, how about showing some class?"

2) Turn up his or her own outrage/sadness/disappointment meter to astronomical levels.  This usually turns in to a contest between Czars over who can be the most sad about a tragedy or who can be the most shocked and outraged when someone else does something inappropriate.  The contest will play out on Twitter with tweets such as, "There are no words to describe how I'm feeling right now.  I'm literally shaking" or "People, how about showing some class?"  It's also common to see someone quote the tweet containing the news of the tragedy and adding insightful commentary such as "disgusting" or "awful" or "how disgusting" or "how awful" or, simply, "no words."

Proper use of "no words"
3) Prejudge things that they think will be inappropriate because much like reporters seeking to break news, there is a race to be first with outrage.  This is dangerous.  And it brings us to a particularly concerning example from SB Nation.

[On a side note, maybe Twitter is just the wrong vehicle to express emotion.  Maybe, you know, find another live human being to do that with (or do a podcast about the Bachelor).  But if you want to say something funny or tell the world that Mark Letestu is a last minute scratch from the Pens lineup, please tweet it.]

Read on for the defense of Goon...

Largely Hypothetical Penguins Prospect Profile: Beau Bennett

By Artistry

Penguins training camp is underway, people are breathlessly tweeting the news every time Zybnek Michalek farts, and observers swear Geno Malkin is in the best shape of his life even though he says he's not. Excitement is running high. We're doing our part by giving you the inside scoop on our near baseless evaluations of some of the prospects looking to make an impression at camp. Today's subject: 2010 first round draft pick Beau Bennett.  

In short, we're high on Beau. For several reasons. First, Beau Bennett does not play Penguin hockey, and we mean that in the best possible sense. He is not a high energy kid with a positive attitude who loves to compete but who will never get you 30 or 40 goals. He is an occassionally disengaged former roller hockey player from California who probably will get you 30 or 40 goals while stoned. Sign us up.

Softest handshake of the 2010 draft
It's OK to introduce a little creativity on the wings. Really. That brings us to the second, related point: Bennett is described as a superb puckhandler who "has a diverse repertoire of shots and moves with the puck." Wait, are we sure we know what to do with someone like this? Aren't we more comfortable with wingers who have only one move with the puck, like the Dupuis shot or the Kennedy move? Really, what are we going to do with you Beau?

And there's the thing that really puts the kid over the top: what a name. Not Bo, Beau. Other famous Beau's include Beau Bridges, Beau Brummell, and Beau Peep, who is a loveable loser and a coward, but never mind. Here are some Beau highlights from 2010.

Don't miss out. Follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GTOG Presents: Guess the Real Ben Roethlisberger Quote

By Finesse

Often times GTOG scores "exclusive" quotes from Ben Roethlisberger.  It's one of our most popular features, mainly because it is so spot-on.  You can find some recent examples here and here and can even read his wedding vows here.

And because Ben is the faux-humble-faux-religious-faux-leadership quote that keeps on giving, we're unveiling what we hope will be a regular feature on the site: Guess the Real Ben Roethlisberger Quote.  We anticipate that as long as he keeps talking, and we don't see that ending any time soon, we'll keep playing this game.

Here's how you can play from home -- simply guess which of these two quotes is a "GTOG exclusive" and which one is real.

1. "It seems like every year we kind of go through offensive line changes, moving guys around.  They've always done a great job of stepping up, next guy stepping in. You have to have 100 percent faith, trust and belief in the next guy. And I have that."

2. "Yeah my hand was a little banged up from that hit.  There are no excuses.  I just have to shake it off, have faith in my guys, and get ready for the next play.  We're a tight unit out there.  We'll stick together this week in practice and trust that we have each other's backs and will be ready next week."

Find the answer in Joe Starkey's Trib article here.

"I'm not even sure."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GTOG Podcast: Reflections on Goon, the Steelers, and That One Night With Sarah Palin in 1987

A review of Goon from the Toronto International Film Festival; reflection on the Steelers' decimation at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens; the Sarah Palin-Glen Rice "scandal"; and maybe a few other things. We're not really sure.

We're going to try to make the podcast a weekly (or more) feature this fall and winter, so be sure to subscribe on iTunes.

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"You should subscribe on iTunes also too."

Largely Hypothetical Penguins Prospect Profile: Dominik Uher

By Artistry

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Hypothetical Penguins Prospect Profiles, where we assess the potential of prospects based almost entirely on uninformed speculation. And I have to tell you, I'm concerned about Dominik Uher. How do you go about pronouncing that? Yoo-her? Ooo-her? Ooor? This is a threshold problem that really distracts from our evaluation. That's point number one.  More substantively, how many high energy kids with a positive attitude who love to compete but who will never get you 30 or 40 goals does one team need? That describes the young, pudgy attorney sitting down the hall from my office, and I don't want him on the ice for the Penguins in the last minute of a one-goal game, you know what I'm saying?

Uher? I don't even know her.
Wait, what's this? We've unearthed the Dominik Uher hightlight video! It contains a lot of raw footage of Dom cycling the puck. Go get 'em kid. All the best.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'Goon' Gets Big Distribution Deal; GTOG Accepts Credit That No One Is Giving Us

By Finesse

We're a few hours behind on this (pesky work in the way), but congrats to the 'Goon' cast and crew for inking a deal with Magnolia Pictures.  If the crowd reaction from Toronto is any indication (and why wouldn't it be?), 'Goon' is going to be the next great hockey movie.  Not really sure what the last great hockey movie was, but still.

There was some ridiculous backlash against the movie earlier today from one person. Not even going to link it, but if the emotion boils up again tomorrow, we'll handle appropriately.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get To Our Press Conference: No Holds Barred as Steelers Process 35-7 Loss

By GTOG Staff

It was a tense and emotional scene today as Steelers players and coaches took their seats on the dais to field questions from the media in the wake of Sunday's 35-7 thrashing by the Baltimore Ravens.

Moderator: First question, the good looking gentleman in the front row with the dreamy eyes and warm smile.

Artistry: Thank you. Pleased to be with you this morning. This one is for Coach Tomlin. Mike, taking a loss in Week 1, let alone a huge loss, is a first in the Tomlin era. How do you explain that the team looked so completely unprepared for the game?

Mike Tomlin: Let me begin by commenting that you are indeed an attractive man. I am entirely secure in my own manhood, so I do not hesitate in making that assessment. To your question, our goal every year is to maximize our performance on offense, defense, special teams, and things of that nature. I will get with the men, I will get with the coaches, and we will set about accomplishing that task of performance in all three phases of the football game. I understand that the Baltimore Ravens will join the Washington Capitals this week for a joint parade to celebrate their respective regular season accomplishments, to which I can only say, give my best to Ted Leonsis, and we will see you again on November 6, at which time we will be playing November football, not September football.

Then we will play Dee-cember football.
The press conference continues, after the jump...

When Ron Burkle Dined With Diddy

By Finesse

While you're licking your wounds from the beatdown the Steelers received at the hands of the Ravens yesterday, we're having this picture analyzed by a team of forensic scientists.  What could Ron Burkle and P. Diddy have been talking about at the U.S. Open?  Why are they friends?  How are they friends?  Has Diddy ever been on Burkle's plane?  Is anything that happened on that plane permitted to be discussed?

We're 98% sure that's Burkle. If we're wrong, it would be the first time ever.
Later today we will recap Steelers-Ravens with a new feature called Get To Our Press Conference.  We will have exclusive conversations with Big Ben, James Harrison, Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Tomlin, and more.

Still not as good as Tyler Palko.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dispatches from Toronto, Part IV: Goon. What a Movie

By Finesse

More details and analysis (and emotion) will follow, but Goon is a homerun.  GTOG doesn't fly to Buffalo and get picked up to drive 2 hours to Toronto for bad movies.

Congrats to the Goon crew.  Great stuff.

Not in the movie, but funny.

Dispatches from Toronto, Part III: The Hall of Fame

By Finesse

If Wayne Gretzky looked at your girlfriend like this in a bar in Edmonton in 1981, what would you do?  What could you do?

Dispatches from Toronto, Part II: Tim Horton's

By Finesse

Welcome to Canada, where the coffee tastes the same as Dunkin' Donuts, which means, "Where the Starbucks at?"
Uh oh.  Did I just turn into Peter King?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dispatches from Toronto, Part I: Canadian People Love Ryan Gosling

By Finesse

The highlights so far:

Some place called Massasauga, Canada claims to have a population of 700,000 people.

I saw Ryan Gosling from 60 feet away.

There were some people chanting "Ryan! Ryan!"  I wasn't among those people.

My Dad thinks, but isn't sure, that he saw George Clooney's head.

Everyone wears Lululemon.

Hamilton, Ontario doesn't appear to have any buildings.

If Tim Horton's coffee isn't good in the morning, Canada as a country will be a fraud.

If it is good, then Canada is awesome.

Go Pens.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

GTOG AFC Preview: Five Pressing QB Questions

By Finesse

Previewing just the NFC without also taking a look at the AFC would be like Canadian reporters only asking Crosby once if he was retiring.  Can't be done.  So because the NFL is a league where pretty much the only thing that matters is your quarterback, let's take 5 questions about the AFC QB's.

5. How devastating for the NFL is the Peyton Manning injury?

Huge.  Arguably the biggest of the season.  Many people are annoyed by Peyton, but two things are indisputable: 1) he's a historically great quarterback; and 2) he's interesting and unique in a league that is often neither.  Let's take the greatness first. He has his playoff failures, but when you watch Manning play, it is immediately apparent that this is a person performing his job at an extremely high level.  It's like if you came into my office building, walked by my office, and watched someone else work.

Now, the interesting and unique part.  The NFL is so monstrously popular that you are almost forced to watch games in which you have no rooting interest (other than fantasy) because if you don't, you won't know how to properly engage your spouse in sexual intercourse in two separate outdoor bathtubs with no water source.

Peyton Manning makes those games not only watchable, but entertaining.  So for any Manning haters, think about how you'll feel when Curtis Painter throws his fourth interception at New Orleans on Sunday Night Football in Week 7.

More questions, after the jump...

Frequently Asked Questions: NFC Preview

By Artistry

It's that time of year again already, when we realize at the very last moment that the NFL season starts tonight, and we need to post a hastily drafted preview. And for the second year in a row, my blog partner has managed to duck NFC duty because of an alleged "work" obligation. Much like my toddler when he crawls under the table, squeezes with all his might, and insists he isn't taking a poop, Finesse is under the illusion that I can't see through his charade. But it doesn't matter. The joke is on him, because this year, the NFC is the superior conference. Look at the game tonight: New Orleans at Green Bay is the best Thursday night opener I can remember.* With the Saints, Packers, Eagles, Cowboys, Falcons, Lions, Bucs, and Rams, there are now 8 NFC teams I'll actually be happy to find on TV. Yes, I'm tuning in for Sam Bradford.

What a shirt and tie combination.
I can't remember the last time I felt this way. It takes me back to my youth. What are the 5 most frequently asked questions about this new and improved National Football Conference? I make it up as I go along, after the jump...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GTOG Podcast: Talking Crosby, Twitter, the Steelers, and Some Other Stuff

It's the triumphant return of a long overdue podcast.  On the heels of a tumultuous day, we talk about the KHL tragedy, the Sidney Crosby announcement, Twitter, the Steelers and, obviously, the Bachelor.  Plus, a big announcement.

You can listen below, or click here to subscribe on iTunes.

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He's listening. Are you?

Retirement? I wouldn't bet on that: Sidney Crosby is a Vestibular Ferrari

By Artistry

We still have no idea when Sidney Crosby and his elite vestibular system will play hockey again. We were confident Wednesday's press conference wasn't going to clear anything up on that front, and it didn't. But Dr. Mickey Collins today used the words "excellent" and "supremely confident" in connection with Sid's prognosis. And when a CNBC reporter suggested the Penguins captain maybe should just go ahead and retire, Crosby almost killed the guy with his stare. There was no hesitation. No doubt. Sidney Crosby is still with us. He's just waiting for ignition.

We're talking Sid tonight on the podcast, so make sure you tune in. For now, take heart. Dr. Ted Carrick says it's Christmas for Crosby.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Tale of Three Announcements

By Finesse

There were three enormous announcements made today.  Some were riveting, others put you to sleep.  Some made you cry, others made you cry harder.  Some were interesting, and others were made by Alex Ovechkin.

Let's take them one at a time.

Ben Flajnik is going to be the new Bachelor

There are a lot of newspapers that have a rule requiring that two sources confirm a story before the paper runs with it.  We have a rule that we don't believe someone has been picked as the Bachelor until he tweets out the word "journey."  So despite weeks of rumblings that Ben F. was the new Bachelor, we weren't convinced until this tweet came across our feed just a short time ago.

That's how you make an announcement.  Here's hoping that he learned a lesson from his runner-up finish on this summer's The Bachelorette: it's OK to lament the loss of a parent, but if you're going to cry, Artistry would prefer that you cry about Ashley, not said dead parent.

Alex Ovechkin is switching from CCM to Bauer

Hopefully writing about this will not serve to convince you that we care.  Because we couldn't possibly care about something less. Witness, this tweet from James Mirtle:

Boy, isn't that something.  His first insight should be to figure out how to make more interesting announcements.  Word is that Bauer is also donating 108 sets of equipment to kids at the Caps local practice facility.  Kids can pick up their equipment by center ice while the puck is in the Caps' zone.

Sidney Crosby will be holding a press conference tomorrow

At this point, no one really knows what the press conference will be about, but we can deduce one thing for certain: it's not going to be "good" news.  It's likely that Sid will describe his ups and downs from training this summer and maybe even make some pronouncement about his future.  If you're expecting him to be ready for the start of training camp or even the start of season, then you might be concussed.  There has been almost no positive news since Sid sustained the concussion(s), and there is no reason to think this will be any different.  Best case scenario is more of the same: "I'm making progress, but I'm not 100%.  I'll be back when I'm ready.  I don't know when that will be."

"I look forward to continuing to look awkward in RBK commercials."
If we sound pessimistic, it's because we are.  We've erected our walls.

What about yours, Ben?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

GTOG's Official 2011 College Football Preview

By Finesse

Conducted with the rhetorical flourish of ESPN's College Game Day, here's a transcript of GTOG's official college football preview.

Generic Host: So GTOG, who do you like this year in college football?

Artistry: Well, you look at Oklahoma and you look at Alabama.  And then obviously you have the Pac-10 and Oregon and then Texas and the Big 12.  Ohio St., obviously.  And Florida with the SEC and Coach Hoke with Michigan.  Obviously there's that and then you have the SEC the best conference.  But Wisconsin and even of course Florida St.  What about you, Finesse?

Finesse: Well, you have the running game obviously with what they do with the football on the offensive side of the football.  But I like the Big 10, though it's more like the Big-12.  HAHAHAHA.  You have South Carolina, of course, and what they're doing.  Boise St. with the blue field and Stanford with the west coast and everything they have going on there.  Then there's the coaches at Arkansas and Notre Dame.  And you know, you have Auburn, Florida and Missouri, too.

Artistry: I agree with you about the running game, but you also have to look at the spread offense.  Of course you have Nebraska and Georgia with their defenses and what they're doing on the defensive lines.  All the stunting.  You look at LSU and then you have to look at Texas too with that program.

Finesse: I disagree. I think you have to look at the coaching situations at Texas A&M and Oklahoma St. and with their secondaries and everything on the defensive side of the football.  I like Oregon and what Coach Saban does at Alabama with the turnaround at Nebraska you could see, too.  But their schedule is tough, though the linebackers and of course the quarterback situation with Virginia Tech and everything that's going on there.

Artistry: On the football field you look at what's happening on the offensive side of the football field and you look at that what with the quarterbacking and the spread offense and I think that's a dangerous combination. I like them, too.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Can't Grantland Rank? We Rank Grantland's Rankings

By Finesse

If you're like me, then you wake up at least 3 times per week in a panicked sweat wondering, "How am I going to decide who is better between Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston?"  Thankfully, is dedicated to devising numerical ranking systems to rank things that aren't numerical and that no one wants ranked.

Always <3
For example, Jay Caspian Kang's "Diva" rankings (created for a different website in 2010 to settle Aretha vs. Whiteny once and for all) have been brought to Grantland to help us understand just how Adele could let the opportunity to surpass Lady Gaga as the world's #1 pop star slip through her fingers at the VMAs.  And thanks to Katie Baker's "NUPTIALS" scoring system, we now know that it is better for an Asian to marry a blonde (3 points) than for a Jew to marry an Asian (2 points). Or consider Chuck Klosterman's "Rock VORP," a baseball-statistic-inspired way of teaching us that Thin Lizzy was better than The Stooges because Thin Lizzy is a 0.88 and The Stooges are only 0.84.

But that's just scratching the surface.  The one-named "Carles" organized NBA players by degrees of self-awareness.  Chuck Klosterman used 2,000 words to dissect "Edgar Winter's Finest Nine Minutes," which sounds like a porno.  Dave Jacoby has a Reality TV Fantasy League Scorecard which is actually kind of funny, but still leans heavily on the arbitrary points system as a crutch.  Harris Wittles gave us a "power ranking" of Twitter's all-time most egregious Humblebraggers and promises us that he will supplement this list monthly.  (We're holding you to that, Wittles).  And if you've ever needed proof of Adam Carolla's theory that America doesn't have any real problems despite all of the negative things you read about in the paper, someone named Steve Kandell wakes up every Monday morning and ranks Breaking Bad, Larry David, and Louis CK.

You get the point.*

There's only one way to make sense of all this.  A rankings system.  We've created the W.A.S.T.E. Algorithm to determine once and for all what the best rankings are on Grantland.

Explore the ranking system after the jump....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Largely Hypothetical Penguins Prospect Profile: Keven Veilleux

By Artistry

Welcome to the second installment of our sporadic feature leading up to Penguins training camp, where we analyze prospects based on factors including but not limited to seeing them play maybe one time, tops, their pedigree, their looks, and how they make us feel inside. In case you missed the first profile, Finesse gave Simon Despres high marks based on a combination of pure speculation and the fact that he has a great name.

Today's subject: 2007 2nd round draft pick Keven Veilleux. We clearly recall the team drafting the big center out of St. Georges, Quebec and thinking, "He's tall." We stand by that initial assessment. At 6'5" and 215 pounds, he is still tall, but we would also point out that Sidney Crosby's thighs alone weigh like 215 pounds.  Put some meat on those bones, kid.  If he fills out, the Pens could have something interesting here.  He has an awful haircut, which, as you know, is a terrific sign for a hockey player.

We understand Veilleux has unusual puck skills for someone super-tall and that he was a wizard during summer shoot-out sessions. To confirm this, we turned to his Wikipedia page, but unfortunately, we don't speak French Wikipedia. Lucky for us then that @Allie874 tweeted a highlight video of young Veilleux, so see for yourself.

Looks like he does have nice hands. He is also clearly not afraid to use them to pummel smaller players, and, while we can't in good conscience advocate these huge men punching each other in the head anymore, it's encouraging to see Veilleux has an edge to his game and knows how to plant himself in front of the net.

His name? "Keven" is ridiculous. You had "Vincent" sitting right their, Mr. and Mrs. Veilleux, and you tried to get cute. Big mistake, but not fatal. We have hopes for "Keven." Hopes that he could be the power forward Eric Tangradi should be, but probably isn't. Not high hopes, mind you, not Simon Despres hopes, but "Keven" could sneak up on you like one of his blink-and-you-missed-it wristers under the crossbar.