Now that that's behind us, let's try to return to some level of normalcy with that long post my brother promised on my behalf.
--The power outage on Tuesday forced me to take to the road, and it landed me at my parents' house in beautiful Fayette County. This meant the first Pirate game of 2007 that I took in with my father and brother.
ESPN.com fingers Salomon Torres as the goat of the game, but I have some issues with that. This was a team collapse, from their awful manager on down. We'll start, though, with Jason Bay. Bay, by many accounts, is the foundation of the team. You would think he would have some common-sense baseball knowledge, especially being in the position I just described.
So let's set the scene: top of the 9th, Torres on for the save, 2-0 Pirates lead. Eckstein singles, Duncan walks. First and second, no one out, with an appearance by one Albert Pujols pending (he of the 19 HR at PNC Park since 2001). Pujols flies out to Bay in left field, Eckstein tags, and Bay manages a meek throw to third base, neglecting to throw the ball to second base and holding Duncan at first. So instead of having first and third, Duncan moves up to second on Bay's poor decision, and we're now faced with second and third. Might I add a hat tip to Jack Wilson for not lining up Bay for a throw to second, instead directing him to third. That's some great fundamental baseball by another "team leader".
Next up is the red-goateed Scott Spiezio, who, of course, singled to right, scoring two.
Scott Spiezio: consider sexy brought back
Tie game, but the Pirates still have a chance in the bottom of the ninth...which they promptly burn through. What, you expect Klopek to win the game?
Also, it's worth noting that Bay's brain freeze came moments after he killed an eighth-inning rally by grounding into a double play. You'd think if anyone was prepared for a cold-weather game, it would be someone from Canada, but I guess that's not the case.
So we go to extra frames, and the Pirates somehow compose themselves for a rally in the bottom of the 10th. With Big Country Eldred and Chris Duffy reaching in consecutive at-bats, the Pirates have something cooking. Two on, none out, and the heart of the order around the corner. With the 3B and 1B playing for the bunt, up steps Jack Wilson...who promptly bunts right into a fielder's choice, as Eldred is forced out at third. Mr. Tracy, any explanation for the gift of an out for no apparent reason? Continuing their unclutch evening, Freddy Sanchez struck out, and Jason Bay topped Freddy's effort by striking out in especially awful fashion. Two on, none out, and you score no runs. Sorry Buccos, but you deserved this loss. Well, everyone except Tom Gorzelanny.
--I was watching the Fedko Fone Zone after the game (which opened, yet again, with a prominent endorsement of Mondesishouse.com by host John Fedko), and a great point was made: why was Adam LaRoche starting this game instead of Eldred? LaRoche is hitting .097. He's 3-for-31. St. Louis is starting a lefty. I'm sure LaRoche will eventually get it turned around, but wouldn't tonight be a good opportunity to give Eldred some time at first? Wait, I forgot, Jim Tracy knows more than us. Scratch that idea. And remember, bunt with two on and the corner infielders in your face.
--OK, FSN, we get it: you have a new studio. I beg you, please, enough with the moving-in spot.
Seriously, I have FSN on the brain so much, I actually had the thought that Rob King's ample jawline makes him resemble Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire.
Hey, no need to sell me. I'm a fan...more for the off the field stuff, but a fan nonetheless (due to the reasons I outlined last week). The official "Don Kelly Hit Watch" has begun (so far, no, nothing yet).
But try selling his good points to some of the other Pirate-related blogs and message boards. Might be a tougher sell than ol' Mondesi.
--Becky from Parts Unknown chimed in on Large Benjamin Roethlisberger:
"Fun is great, but he already had his little tv tour this offseason and blew off half of last week's workouts playing golf in Cali. You would think that he wants to prove the naysayers wrong. His work ethic DOES suck. And if he's gonna blow off being a leader for his team, the least he could do is look happy. He looks more intersted in that freaking icecream bar than his girlfrend. Idiot. Here's to 8-8 again..."
I have many thoughts in my head about the state of the Steelers. I think that's going to be a seperate column for another day. But count Becky among the growing amount of Steelers fans questioning Big Ben's love of the game.
Personally, I don't think he's a Peyton Manning, all-day, all-night film study guy who eats, sleeps, and breathes football. Doesn't particularly look like the finest physical specimen on the planet, either. I think he's more in the category of "shows up when the lights come on", and that rubs some fans the wrong way. There's a perception that he's done more partying/travelling this offseason than after the Super Bowl, and I'm not the registrar of Roethlisberger's comings and goings (that would be this site), but I would probably agree with that.
Listen, a guy is entitled to some free time. As demanding as the NFL life is, I fully expect players to enjoy their leisure time in a non-Making-it-Rain-with-PacMan way. But coming off of a bad season by most accounts, Ben's very public offseason is going to agitate some Steeler fans. That's just reality.
*By the way, Becky included a pic of Big Ben eating an ice cream bar while in full Sean John gear, hence the reference to said "freaking icecream bar" in her email.
--Longtime reader TJ from Cleveland checked in with this:
"I went to the Cavs game last night with my sister for her b-day, and as we were walking to our seats, right in front of us was this couple. The guy was probably 6'4'', and his wife was one of the hottest women I've ever seen, ever. Anyway, the guy turns around, and its Kellen Winslow. He's lean; not as big as I thought he might be. He seemed pretty cordial; people were calling out his name and he was waving and smiling and stuff. What made me laugh though was that he was rocking a fedora; I don't know if he was going for the D-Wade look or the K-Fed look.
During the game they panned the crowd and put a picture of him at his seat on the scoreboard, which got a mixed reaction of cheers and jeers. I don't know how I'd feel about that if I was an athlete/celeb - I guess its a double-edged sword. On one hand, you just want to go to the game with as few distractions as possible, but on the other hand, when you're at that status, you just have to accept the fact that it will happen."
If I were a member of the Browns, any reaction involving cheers would have to be looked upon as a huge success, especially if I were Kellen Winslow II.
--TJ also sent along this virtual kick in the nuts to Cleveland fans: the website "God Hates Cleveland Sports". He describes it as "kind of like Mondesi's House, but for Cleveland". Hey, watch it. At least our teams win something from time to time other than the draft lottery (which we also win---cough---sidney crosby---cough---).
I know, Lebron's going to play for real now that the playoffs are ready to start. And then you can send me another recap of Kellen Winslow at the playoff game. But this time, remember, a picture of a fedora'd-KWII would be even better than a recap.
--Brad sent along the website http://www.yourtvlinks.com/:
"Has almost every tv show or cartoon one can imagine available for online viewing."
Wow...Brad really doesn't want anyone reading this site to get any work done today. But thanks for the link...cool site.
--A popular submission was anything relating to the Colin Cowherd-Thebiglead.com situation. I think Cowherd was out of line for what he did, I think he deserved disciplinary action from ESPN, and I think The Big Lead should explore possible legal angles. Great write-up from the ESPN Ombudswoman on the topic.
--PacMan, PacMan, PacMan. I received this link numerous times today. So tell me, what exactly is PacMan Jones going to do with himself over the next year? May I suggest Head Recruiter for Coach Huggins? Why not help his Alma Mater?
--A few people sent over the link from Teapot Dome Scandal entitled "LaRoche Unable to Handle Pressure of Playing in Pittsburgh". LaRoche? Heck, I'm still wondering if Jason Bay can handle the pressure.
*After you read that piece, remember, I officially declared Shawn Chacon a "True Pirate" on August 10, 2006.
--Also a popular submission: the Bob Huggins-Kansas State "reaction" article.
"As Huggins officially changed jobs again, purple-clad fans sipped Boulevard beers, watched college baseball and quietly moved on. Kris Smith, the general manager at Kite's Bar and Grill, said Thursday night was rowdy. Some angry fans at a bar down the street tried to get screwdrivers and yank a picture of Huggins off the wall. "
Yikes. And for those of you who missed it, you may want to check out my little list of Huggins' various indesrections from last week. West Virginia...wild and wonderful.
--Bill from Pittsburgh sent this story about a PA teacher suing over a fake Myspace page created by one of his students.
--Doug thinks you should know about Carmen Electra's new naked wrestling league. No, Kurt Angle is not in it...yet.
--Sam in Mt. Lebanon sends over this montage of the Pens' 2006-07 season. The only problem: it's incomplete without Jim Balsillie's opening-night s-bomb. But seriously, some great stuff here.
--I can always count on David M. from Mississippi to provide me with some great news of the weird. We'll take you out with some of his findings of late:
Memphis Belle arrested (you have to click for the pic)
The mailbag is here to stay! As always, you can send your thoughts on anything to firstname.lastname@example.org for the next installment. And please include your city and state if you can.