Big Lead Sports Bar


Monday Mailbag!

Well, another weekend has come and gone, and that means a few Pirate games to watch in anguish. Luckily, I somehow missed ArmasPalooza on Friday night (although watching a guy who averages two earned runs an inning sounds entertaining). On Saturday night, I arrived home late and had a bad movie by the name of Black Christmas in the DVD player, ready to go. I then made the mistake of one run through the channels before I started the movie, because I then realized that the Pirates were still playing.
I picked up the game in the bottom of the 8th, with the Buccos ahead 3-2. I was treated to the predictable strikeout-flyout-popup 1-2-3 inning by Pirate batters in the top of the 9th. It was all up to Salomon Torres in the bottom of the 9th. Three outs and I can watch my movie in peace. Not so fast, Mondesi.
King Salomon led off the bottom of the frame with a walk...always a great way to start an inning while nursing a one-run lead. The runner, Wilson Valdez, would later advance two bases on a sequence of Torres wild pitch/Paulino overthrow, giving the boys in blue a man on with one out. Being that they were playing the Pirates, a team that couldn't advance a runner in scoring position if you gave them an 89-foot lead, you knew they would probably score their runner, as good teams do. Little did you realize that they wouldn't even have to hit the ball to score the game-tying run, though. Another errant pitch resulted in Valdez scoring to tie the game at 3-3. I presume the Pirate starter, Ian Snell, was looking to jump off of the Hollywood cliff after that sequence.

Think it couldn't get worse? Of course you thought it could get worse. You're a Pirate fan. Their impotent middle of the lineup came to bat in the 10th: Sanchez, Bay, and LaRoche. This triumverate had failure written all over it. Although their efforts weren't totally fruitless, they did result in a whole pile of infield hit by Bay. But you knew he would get stranded, which he did, so the Pirates efforts were, in the end, fruitless.
In the bottom of the 10th, Pirate manager Jim Tracy needed to make a pitching change. Feeling the need to give his old team a better opportunity to win the game, on came Jonah "Skip" Bayliss for a quick pair of singles. Next up from the pen was Damaso Marte, who was called on to walk Luis Gonzalez. You're really pushing the right buttons, Tracy. The final reliever Gentleman Jim trotted out was Shawn Chacon, who threw his trademark pitch, the gopherball. You guessed it: walk-off, extra inning grand slam. Well played, Pittsburgh. This was the only way you could top a 10-2 loss the night before.

Newsflash: the Pirates will continue to reside at or around the basement as long as they trot out such a weak lineup. The aforementioned 3-4-5 hitters (Sanchez, Bay, LaRoche) have combined for a .206 average, 6 HR and 20 RBI through 17 games. When you realize that A-Rod alone is at .373 / 12 HR / 31 RBI, you are slapped in the face with how bad the Bucs offense has been.

The Pirates average 3.64 runs per game, which is near the bottom of the entire majors. They are surrendering 4.71 runs per game. It doesn't take a genius to compute that the Pirate will lose most games 5-4 or 4-3. Their lack of production puts an incredible stress on their starting pitching, like a football team built around defense with no offense. Do you realize that Snell and Gorzelanny are sporting ERAs of 2.00 and 2.05 and have just four wins?
I realize that their bullpen has been less-than-extraordinary, but I point the finger at the bats, specifically those in the middle of the order, for the 7-10 record. Yes, Torres blew the game on Saturday. But so did the other eight guys who left 17 men on base that night.
And by the way, I didn't watch the movie. I'd seen enough horror for one evening.
Enough Pirates nausea, despite the fact that they won on Sunday. Let's get to the mailbag, which has now become my absolute favorite part of this site.

--First up is an email from Kevin B. about my recent thoughts on the Steelers:
I found your site last year and have throughly enjoyed your fairly dead-on takes on the beloved Steelers over the past year....but I think Hines Ward has built up a little leeway to speak his mind over the years. Aside from Jerome, I can't think of another player in my lifetime that has done more for the Steelers. I don't agree with everything he's said, but he also hasn't really said all that much. Seriously, "Whines Hard" just isn't laugh out loud funny.
I had several emails defending #86. That's fine, I can deal with that. But I totally stand by what I said. I'm seriously getting tired of hearing Hines' opinion on everything. I mean, what's the point of still bringing up the loss of Joey Porter? Was there anyone on the planet who didn't see that coming? And Porter's certainly not bitter...the Steelers did him a favor. Actually, they did him 32 million favors. He's smart enough to realize the Steelers could not afford to drop that kind of cash on him.
I realize that Hines misses having Porter around, but what is complaining about it going to accomplish, other than anger his bosses? It's certainly not going to bring back Porter. What is Hines exactly doing to help the team as a "leader"? Is it supporting the organization and realizing that in the cruel reality of life, this is ultimately just a business? No, he's upset about a guy who probably couldn't care less about the Steelers at this point.
I vowed to cover Hines fairly, despite the fact that he sent his verbal assasins after me and Mark Madden following that autograph debacle in December. I am a confessed Steeler fanatic. But I am not a Steeler apologist. I look at things in the best interest of the team. Each time Hines or Alan Faneca opens their mouth, they are not helping the team. If Faneca's heart is with Russ Grimm, then thank him for his contributions over the years and send him on the first flight to Arizona.
I'm less interested in hearing about players' opinions and more interested in hearing about what they are doing to help the 2007 team given their assets. As a Steeler fan, don't you want the same?
And for the record, despite his cache as the face of the team, I don't ever remember Jerome Bettis speaking out in such a manner.
--Nicholas in Sutersville, PA gives us a little lighter of a football story:
The Pittsburgh Passion won their season-opener yesterday! They beat the Cleveland Fusion. Anytime a Pittsburgh team beats a Cleveland team, I'm all for it. Who cares if its the NWFA, Pittsburgh won!

Congrats to the Passion on a big win over their rivals. I'll bet Fast Torina Henley doesn't criticize her team.

--Meg from Cresson, PA checks in with some thoughts on the Penguins:
I just got done watching the Pens lose to Ottawa in game 5. I am absolutely crushed over their loss but I can't put my finger on why they lost. I know the PP wasn't exactly great but there has to be more than that. I was wondering what your thought on it was. I keep hearing they lack experience, but I don't know where they are going to find that. Who do you think they can get in the offseason? I personally think it would be a shame to break the team apart.
Well, it sounds like Meg is probably a new hockey fan. So let me guide her through a few of her questions:
1. The power play was horrible, at least by Penguin standards. It didn't help that their top scorer had a broken foot and that their second-ranked goal scorer hit the wall after a year that was more tumultous than Borat's journey across America. They were beaten by the better team. They are still way ahead of schedule. This year was just a bonus.
2. The only way to find experience is to A. let the young guys play and B. possibly add a few veterans in the offseason.
As far as moves, I've already heard from a pretty reliable source that Recchi and T-Bo will probably not be back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they find a way to get Gary Roberts in a Penguin uniform. But they need to add a winger to help their gifted young centers. Have a little patience, this team will be a contender for years to come.

--Mr. Nickels is one of many who has taken sides on the never-ending Pitt-PSU debate:
You're my man. I read you every day. I like your work. I rarely disagree...rarely. Your Pitt vs PSU article fires me up a bit, since I am a die hard PSU man:
Quoting me: "This isn't meant to be a piece celebrating Ron Cook or bashing Joe Paterno. This is a piece crying out to JoePa to back down from his lofty demands and give the fans what they want to see. I know, I know, Penn State fans claim they don't care about Pitt anymore. To those fans, I ask: do you honestly enjoy spending your hard-earned dollars watching Akron, Youngstown State, and Temple? You really wouldn't relish a chance to shut Pitt fans up on a regular basis? Really?"
Are you kidding me? Eastern Mich, Mich St., Navy, and Grambling for Pitt? C'mon. It's no secret we're better than Pitt. Our Staff against Wanny's staff? It's not even close. Proven winner vs proven franchise wrecker. It's the nature of college football to play a few bums to get the psyche right. I dont mind paying my money to watch us smack around a few teams once a year. Pitt had their chance and you know it. But, they s*** the bed when it came to comitting to the East Coast league. Can you blame Joe? Now he's supposed to be happy about it? C'mon, DON!
Mr. Nickels, you're obviously a very intelligent guy, but let me ask this: did Jeff Long turn his back on the East Coast League? Did Dave Wannstedt? So how long is Penn State going to hold this grudge? That's my first issue.
My second issue is that some Penn State fans have a superiority complex, plain and simple. I look at the past seven seasons, and you know what I see? Three winning records. We have 5-7, 5-6, 9-4, 3-9, 4-7, 11-1, and 9-4. That's 46-38 (.548). So don't force-feed me this deal that you're the second coming of the USC Trojans and that Pitt is so far beneath you. That 11-1 didn't automatically negate the mediocrity that came beofre it.
(For the record, Pete Carroll is 65-12 / .844 with two national championships at USC. And if they wouldn't schedule Pitt, I would certainly understand.)
Over the same time frame, Pitt's records are as follows: 7-5, 7-5, 9-4, 8-5, 8-4, 5-6, 6-6...a total of 50-35 (.588).
I know the next rebuttal is the obligatory "Big East sucks, Big Ten is awesome, look at the strength of schedule" stock answer. Here's the bottom line: I just want to see an entertaining football game that gets the blood boiling, that's all. Just look at all the passion in these endless debates (one of the greatest debate topics in Pittsburgh sports history, I might add). Settle it on the field!
Unfortunately, I think that day will never happen as long as JoePa is alive and kicking.

--Art in Slippery Rock, PA tells us about an upcoming Butch Patrick Appearance:
I love Minor League Baseball promotions. Glad to see Butch grow up and continue his success from his child actor days. Changed his name and went on to coach consecutive National champs in NCAA Basketball.

Seperated at birth?
Date: Friday July 13, 2007
Time: 7:05 PM
It's Friday the 13th Night at Blair County Ballpark! And it's the perfect night for the Curve's Retro Celebrity Series to continue with a visit from television's "Eddie Munster", Butch Patrick! Plus, scouts can brave the ballpark elements with the Scout Night Sleepover.
Sidenote: longtime buddy/loyal reader Bob from Baldwin suggests a Mondesi Field Trip to Altoona to get a first-hand look at Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. Maybe they can drive in runners in scoring position.

--Nick from the University of Florida via Weirton, WV:
I am a native of Weirton, WV, a current University of Florida law student and a fellow tortured Pirate fan. (I long for the days of Jay Bell and Jose Lind) My friends and I recently started a blog similar to yours and wanted to let you know that we really like your website alot. The website is Nonetheless, keep up the good work and GO BUCCOS.
Thanks for the kind words about the site. But let me get this straight, your school just won three consecutive D-I titles and you want the Pirates to win as well? Is it me, or is that asking for a little too much?
--Drew from Pittsburgh gives me an update on my favorite Pirate commercial subject, one Ronnie Florian:
Thought you might find this funny.. I grew up playing baseball with Ronnie Florian's son (Ronnie also), and his dad was at every little league game...I don't ever remember him being a hardcore Pirates fan.

Wow...the Pirates stretching the truth. Imagine that. And yes, I do find it funny.

PS: I let Drew, creator of the Playoff Beard T-Shirt, know that his shirt and Mondesi's House were both mentioned on the Comcast Blog Show, broadcast in the DC/Baltimore area. If only the Pens would have cooperated, Drew could have retired by June. The Pens didn't have enough time to grow Playoff Peach Fuzz.

--Bill from South Park sends over a list of the 100 unsexiest men. Probably one of the funniest things I've read on the net all year.

--Pat Imig of, a big St. Louis-based website and one of my favorite non-Pittsburgh sports sites, gave me the heads up on Kent Tekulve's inclusion on their article about baseball eyewear in the '80s (Tom Henke's Army). But that article may be topped by another I found on their site, the top seven Little League Concession Stand Items. An excerpt of #5:

5. Nachos

Some things just never change. This is where you first learned of the value of hook-ups at various establishments, because if you knew the guy working there, you could get 45 ounces of cheese with your chips.

How true. Little league is a reflection of things to come. In fact, I remember the best player in our league, who would make it rain with change on the team moms and buy all of the Big League Chew., your source of everything Roethlisberger, checks in with an update on our favorite QB:
Hate to tattle on poor Ben....but he is scheduled to partipate in yet another Celebrity Golf Tournament! It is this month (April 26-29th) right after his community participation in the Air 7 QB University Mini-Camp in Pittsburgh. This event is in Phoenix and is called the 2007 Celebrity Pro Classic Series. He will be playing golf with Bill Cowher, Jim McMahon, Dermontti Dawson, Roy Jefferson and Jim Youngblood. Also actors Andy Garcia, Chris O'Donnell, Dennis Quaid and Cheech Marin (no, that is not a typo, I did say Cheech!).

Also on hand: Tommy Maddox and Bode Miller. I will of course have a couple of photos for you when the time comes (maybe even one of him with Cheech!).
Anyway, for more info on the bazillion celebrities attending, the info is on my site under the Events/Appearances section.
It's hard to defend Ben's 8,271 postseason appearances (I once tried to chroncle), which have taken him around the globe and back, but at least he's not pining for Peezy. And for the record, I would love to see those pictures.
--My very own brother (you know him as Ramon Mondesi) pointed out the plethora of fantastic Penguins videos on YouTube these days:
FSN's official 2006-07 Penguins highlight reel.
Or as I call it, 2:44 of Paul Steigerwald screaming, "he scorrrrres!"

Sid's Top 5 2006-07 Goals...not scored with any broken feet:

Jarkko Ruutu, pwning Jaromir Jagr at the Olympics

Ruutu calls a Montreal Canadien a very un-PC name, along with several other choice words:

Annie is as hardcore of a Pens fan as you will ever find. But the ending of this video, entitled "The Real Jordan Staal", will get any true Penguin fan's blood boiling.

As always, I encourage you to send your thoughts on anything to for the next installment.
And please include your city and state if you can.


tecmo said...

i tried to fight my computer monitor when the ending of the staal video appeared.

oh and thanks for the link

Unknown said...

hockeyfanx445, meet my fist. Fist, meet hockeyfanx455's face.

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

In an article in yesterday's post-gazette discussing Recchi and Roberts' possibilities of coming back, Mark said he'd love to (of course, but I hope not), and Mr. Roberts ended the article saying "Pittsburgh isn't that far from Toronto," which as we all know his daughter is finishing school. So there is hope...

tecmo said...

im really hoping roberts will be back. recchs would be a bonus, but i dont know if thats gonna happen

Taud's Pal said...

Thanks for the site plug. For the record, although I go to UF law school, I am a West Virginia fan for life. I celebrate an NIT championship this year, not that second rate NCAA title the Gators won.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

The Staal video... ummm when will people get over the fact that young guys like to drink beer and goof off, athlete or not?

And, I'm not necessarily an apologist, but I do think Hines has been catching some excessive shit on this site. Look, I know that autograph debacle was shady, but give the guy a break. It was one shitty incident, certainly not patterned behavior.

And it's not like he's going around bashing the Rooneys to anyone that will listen. He's basically saying he misses his old buddy and wishes he were still here. I used to work at a place with my best friend. He got fired. I had no problem telling people that I missed having him around. It wasn't like I was bashing my employers. It's not really a big deal, and it doesn't really sound like excessive whining to me.

For a guy who plays his ass off, and who I've never heard one bad "off the field" story about from everyone I know who's seen him out and about, I think he's taking too much of a beating on this site.

I say less Hines Ward bashing, and more Big (headed) Ben bashing, being as though Steeler-bashing is popular on the interweb these days.

Adam said...

Please Mondesi. Cite the last 7 seasons all you want. Its not gona take our 3rd most bowl wins of all time away. its not gonna take the BCS win away. And it certainly isnt changing the futures of the two programs.

Not the second coming of the USC Trojans? of course not. we play in a far superior conference, which we won tha same year USC played in the Rose Bowl. They did what they had to do, and I'll take nothing from them, but we all know Penn State was 2 seconds in Ann Arbor from running the table on a better schedule than both USC and Texas, which would have had us in the Rose Bowl becuz of the formula factoring in strength of schedule.

Has Pitt been that high? No. I would trade all the losing for that BCS win, and bowl win over Tenn. any day.

Of course,Pitt hasnt played in a BCS Bowl or on New Years day in the last seven years, so i guess u wouldnt know how it feels.

Unknown said...

Adam, I point to 2004, when Pitt did play in a BCS bowl. (yeah, they got in via the backdoor, but a BCS bowl is a BCS bowl) 2nd, your "superior conference" saw its supposed superpowers (UMich and OSU) get pwned in their BCS forays this past winter. The Big East teams had better bowl matchups, but they still took care of business.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...


Are you capable of talking about anything other than Pitt v. Penn State?!

And if you're gonna ramble about it, at least get your facts right. Pitt was in the Fiesta Bowl in 2004.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

And by the way, I dont think Mondesi was citing the last 7 years to say that Pitt is superior to Penn State, he's citing it to show that the supposed superiority of Penn State (as stated repeatedly by their fans) is waaay overblown.

All I hear from the PSU side is excuses. Just man up and agree to settle it on the field. Otherwise, to Pitt fans and everyone else across the country that's not a PSU fan (and by the way, nationally you're not thought of as highly as you think you are) you just look like punks.

This is all PSU excuses to cover up the fact that JoePa might actually have ::GASP!:: made a mistake!

Adam said...

Wow, you all crack me up.

There is a huge differace between beating the champion of another conferance in 3OTs to win a BCS game and finish at #3 and winning a back door conferance title and getting absolutely anihilated by a Mid-Major. I mean if Pitt fans take pride in that, then who am I to judge. But at real football programs that stuff doesnt happen.

As for how awesome the Big 10 is, Michigan and Ohio State lost to two of the best teams in the nation in 2 BCS Bowls. Am I happy about that? No. That doesnt mean the conferance doesnt still have FAR more dignity that the Big East, a conferance who plays their biggest games on Thursday nights and has 3 high level powers. The rest of the conferance is no better than the MAC and you all know that. Ohio State and Michigan would have rocked WVU and Louisville to sleep. Dont foo, yourselves.

Plus, I think you forget, the Big 10 still went 2-1 against the so called "best" confrence, the SEC. All the talk about the SEC's "speed" went out the window when PSU and Wisconsin "manned up" against a rival conferance's superpowers.

Pitt is not a legitimate team in a crappy conferance. How can you honestly expect us to give you a 1 for 1 series when 2100 people show up for your spring game? We brought in 71,000 fans fellas.

IF you live outside of this Pitt bubble, you'd know every college football expert would agree with JoePa when he gives Pitt the finger every year. Period. Just because its a "historic" rivalry doesnt mean we should let Pitt's administration rip us off.

Maybe this is an analogy you'll all understand. Pitt's admin, alumni and fans are like Dave Littlefield. They come to the table and make a horrible offer, only to get laughed off by the rest of the college football world. And yet, they STILL think their offer is viable for PSU.

You guys are unbelieveably stubborn. Admit it, your program sucks.

Again, Mondesi, I'd take an 11-1 season. #3 ranking with a BCS win and 2 New Year's Day Bowls including 1 victory against one of the most storied programs in the country over anything Pitt has accomplished in the last 7 years.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

No one said our BCS trip was as good as yours.

Fact is though, we did go to a BCS game and you said we didn't, correct?

I'm not reading the rest of that by the way. It's late and that's long.

Adam, seriously though, do you know anything else about sports?

Unknown said...

"Dont foo, yourselves"-Does Adam have Mr. T typing for him?