Big Lead Sports Bar



The mailbag makes a return after a one-week hiatus. That four-day workweek was to blame. So without further adieu, on to your emails...many of the "Angry Pirate Fan" variety.
Q: Cecil from Cecil:

Mondesi: What other professional sports team compares most closely with the Buccos? I'm thinking LA Clippers of the 80's, 90's, and most of this decade. What do you think?
A: I compared a number of pro sports teams last year in a rather lengthy piece entitled, "
Which Team Will Win First", where I examined the following downtrodden operations: The Pirates, Atlanta Hawks, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, KC Royals, Minnesota Timberwolves, NY Jets, NY Knicks, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It's really worth reading if you have some spare time. Well, it's almost a year later, and that group is still largely pathetic, with the exception of the Jets, who clearly emerged under Eric Mangini. And the D-Rays look like they have some nice pieces in place.
But to answer your question, I'm going to go with the Browns. Think about it: no championships since 1964, constant turnover with coaching/front office personnel, and a perennial state of rebuilding. We have Raul Mondesi, Derek Bell, Pat Meares, Cam Bonifay, Lloyd McClendon, and Kevin Young. They have Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Butch Davis, Chris Palmer, and William Green. Their high picks get hurt (Winslow, Braylon Edwards, etc), our high picks blow out their arms (Bradley, Lincoln, Bennett, etc). We have Francisco Cabrera's hit, they have Earnest Byner's fumble. We're trying to kid ourselves that this is the year, they're trying to kid themselves that this is the year. Folks, your Cleveland Pirates.
Q: Patrick in Pittsburgh:
The real problem with the Pirates is the ownership. The ownership’s #1 goal is to make a profit, not to attempt to produce a winning team. Of course this ownership group has no intentions of selling the Pirates; the team has become too profitable to do that. Why would the ownership want to change the way they run the organization, as long as they are making money they can put up with putting out losing team after losing team. This puts me in a quandary as a Pirates fan. The best way for my beloved Pirates to have a shot at a winning team is to get new ownership, however the only way to force out the current ownership is to find a way to reduce the profitability of the organization. What am I to do; stop going to PNC Park, stop watching the games on FSN, stop listening to them on the radio, stop buying Pirates hats and jerseys? I feel that this is a problem that most Pirates fans face; they want new ownership because they realize that is what is necessary for this organization to get turned around, but they are fans, and can’t stop themselves from making the team profitable by attending games and buying merchandise.
Many fans blame general manager DL for the team’s failures, and I do not blame them. DL has made many poor decisions while in control of the Pirates. The problem however still is with the ownership, why would they fire DL, they don’t want to pay him the remainder he is owed on his contract. Even if the ownership did decide to fire DL, whoever they put in his place would not be given the tools necessary to create a winning team. The organization, whoever is GM, will not put the amount of money necessary into scouting, signing top draft picks, developing and signing players from Latin American, and maintaining a moderate major league payroll to create a winning team, regardless of the GM.
The Pirates will never have a winning season as long as the team has this ownership group.
A: Agree, agree, agree 1,000%. The Pirates really put the fans in a dilemma. You want to support the team, but you don't want to further line the pockets of an ownership group that's as likable as Monty Burns. The problem is that there is really no easy answer to the "right thing to do".
The Pirates are consistent in one area: with the exception of their stadium, nearly every aspect of their operation is at or around the bottom of the league. Think about it: they can't draft, they can't develop, they can't evaluate talent, they don't sign high-end free agents, they'll never get a marquis Japanese or foreign player, they have mostly low-grade MLB talent, they have an unimpressive manager, a bad GM and owners that care only about the bottom line. But as I said, at least they're consistent.
Q: Koz in Indiana:

Did you hear during last night’s Game 4 when a fan made a nice grab of a puck in the crowd, Pierre McGuire suggested the Pittsburgh Pirates sign him to 3B? None other than Eddie Olczyk suggested he actually be placed at relief pitcher. There was a 15 second moment on national television where two hockey announcers were digging on the Pirates, and it came from absolutely nowhere.
A: Actually, both guys have connections to the Burgh: McGuire as an assistant and scout with the Pens, where he won two cups, and EdZo, whose time as Pens head coach will only be remembered in trivia form, as in, "Who was Sidney Crosby's first NHL coach?"
So both of them have spent considerable time in the city and know how bad the Buccos are. Out of nowhere, yes, but these are the slings and arrows you face with perennial "laughing stock" status.

By the way, the Pirates did sign that fan. He'll be in the lineup on Saturday against Roger Clemens.

Q: Rege in Harrisburg:


What's the deal with these announcers on NBC screaming while calling the game? This is why the NHL is struggling to become mainstream. These guys sound like they are calling the play by play of the half pipe finals the X-games. Everything is HUGE, or OH MY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!! My fav: That's WICKED!! Get a life. Hockey is exciting...we don't need shills like these guys overhyping a sport where there are no casual fans tuning in to watch any hockey game at 10:00PM on a Monday. That's obviously who they are trying to win over. Give it up... Go watch some Moto X.

A: Wow...two NHL TV-related beefs in a row! But I can relate to what Rege is saying. For the most part, I don't enjoy nationally broadcast NHL games, especially the ones on Versus. It's just not good television. I think the TNT coverage of the NBA is much more interesting, especially during the playoffs. They have superior announcers and color guys, such as Marv Albert, and I also enjoy their free-for-all in the studio, which on one night had opinions from Magic, Barkley, AND Shaq going on simultaneously.

I must add a note to ESPN: I'm enjoying all of the Women's College Softball where the NHL playoffs belong.

Q: "Chico Lind's Pants":

Recently stumbling across your site and the Lambert EBAY auction, I thought I would bring up the possible topic of athletes who smoke or smoked cigarettes. Not cigars.

Here are a few: Jim Leyland, Dave Giusti, Jack Lambert, Elroy Face, Myron Cope, and Dave Parker. Honorable mention to Dick Allen for being on a Sports Illustrated cover smoking a cigarette.

A: Not really a question, but Leyland jumps off of that list for me. His consumption of tobacco is legendary, as this anecdote from a Yahoo story attests to:

“See that (bleeping) sign out there,” Leyland said, pointing to the center-field scoreboard. “What does it say? Miller Lite. Here’s my problem. These (bleeping) guys can come out here and drink 20 Miller Lites and hit a pole on the way home. Guy don’t ever get drunk smoking a (bleeping) cigarette.”

And since I couldn't come up with a decent pic of the former Bucco Boss lighting one up, here's the Dick Allen SI "Smoking" cover for you. I'm guessing SI wouldn't put a photo like that on a cover these days.

Q: Dave B:

I have a friend from New Orleans who is into Voodoo (long story), she owes me one (longer story). Should the need arise, I could pull some strings to get a crop dusting of lime over the Pirates dugout. Perhaps the broadcast booth as well? I must admit, she is a smooth operator, they will never know what hit them.They only caveat is that she always insists on doing this "victory dance" after she completes her task. There is a little yelling, waving some flaming swords, it is a bit tedious but only takes about 3 1/2 minutes. As long as no one wanders into her dancing danger zone (about 15 yards in diameter), I think it can be pulled off without further incident.

A: Wow. Pirate fans are into calling in Voodoo favors to change our fortunes. If this goes down, I request only a YouTube video to share with the rest of the world. But I'd rather hear about why your friend owes you a Voodoo favor.

Q: Jack:

Hi, I'm a long time reader. I don't know what your schedule or desire to do either of these things are, but I'd love to see an interview with Ronnie Florian. I too am suspicious of how real he is, but ever if he's exactly like how he is in the commercials, that would be incredible.

A: He is all too real, my friend. A few of my buddies attended the Bucco game on Friday night, and at 8:45 PM (I just verified the time in my cell phone), my friend Andy called with an official Ronnie Florian sighting. The glasses, the 'stache, it's not an act.

And for those of you who are in the dark on this, you simply have to click this link and get up to speed.

Q: John H:

Just because I am so frustrated at the Pirates inability to understand what they need to be a winner and invest the money to do it, I Googled Dave Littlefield only to be reassured that this guy should probably change his name quickly. The write ups at Wikipedia and at are for the most part embarrassing to him and to the proud Pittsburgh Pirate franchise. I couldn't bring myself to Google Kevin McClatchy. Adding to insult, Dejan's readership seems currently ready to "sell the farm to save the crops". Could Mark Cuban please contact the IRS and get approval to donate tax free about $200 million and make the Nutting's sign a contract to acquire:

1. A #1 Starting Pitcher who can add confidence to the other players that once every 5 days the Pirates may not have to score 6 runs to tie a game.

2. Another player who can add to Jason Bay and Adam Laroche's potential to hit 30 home runs

3. A real closer who can come out when the Pirates are leading to the tune of "Wild Thing" or something similar. King Solomon has been very good in the setup role but his theme song can't be much more than something from a Disney movie

4. A reliable bench player that can actually get a hit in a pinch-hitters role

Unfortunately for this season, these type players can only be had as free agents, or at mid season during a salary dump (a la, Aramis Ramirez for Jose Hernandez). In the interim, can't there just be an extensive effort in the media and at the ballpark to rid ourselves of Dave Littlefield?

A: Great ideas. And I'd like someone to hand me a check for a million dollars tomorrow. But sometimes, we don't get what we want. First of all, Pirate fans need to stop wishing upon their Mark Cuban star. The team isn't for sale, and he's not going to buy it. Period. Besides, he's too busy with his underacheiving basketball team and his new football league anyway.

Second, just one of the above mentioned players from your list would be a great start, but unfortunately, the most probable would be the decent pinch hitter. They're not adding a 30-HR guy or a #1 starter, mostly because those would come at a minimum cost of about $10 million a year.

Sorry to break the news, Bucco fans, but we're still a large handful of players away from a squad capable of a serious playoff run. And I must add that I discourage anyone from Googling Kevin McClatchy.

David F. gives his weekly array of questions:

Q: Glad to hear you share my absolute hatred of the Bengals. I was physically ill when the Steelers threw away the game against them last year. I think the only reason their fans are so arrogant is because they're encouraged by the national media, who fall all over themselves worshipping the team. ESPN loves big passing games and obnoxious wide receivers, and the Bengals give them that in spades. I also think the Bengals benefit from what I call the "Fantasy Football Effect". I know fantasy football has attracted many new fans to the NFL, but it's also warped people's appreciation of the game. The concept of "team" has been rendered irrelevant, and now all people care about are individual stats, because that's all that matters in their fantasy leagues. The Bengals put up lots of nice individual stats, but they're purely empty stats because they have little effect on the team's ability to win games. I know ESPN is dying to make the Arizona Cardinals the "new Bengals" because they're drooling overall the "explosive offensive weapons" they have. On the flip side, any team that wins a lot of games without putting up any great stats or "SportsCenter highlights" in the process gets ignored by the national media.

A: As I've written numerous times, the Bengals and their fans are at the top of my enemies list. I tore into them in my May 21 mailbag (mucho scrolling required), and I feel the same today. Remember, this core they boast of so much has won zero playoff games. Yet all we hear from national pundits and Bengal fans is how Carson Palmer is so much better than Ben Roethlisberger. I get bothered by the short memory of football fans. Ben led the team to a 15-1 record and the AFC Championship as a rookie. He won the Super Bowl in just his second season. Last year, he has calamity after calamity, and all of a sudden he's looked at as lower than Joey Harrington by some. I'm predicting a big bounce-back year from #7 in 2007. And a statement, if you will, to coaches Cowher and Whisenhunt.

Q: I somehow doubt the NBA is too happy that Oden and Durant will end up in Portland and Seattle. If there was ever a year to fix the lottery, this was it. Though, I LOVED the look on the Boston fans' faces when they got screwed. It was up there with that of the Dolphins fans when the team picked Ted Ginn.

A: Yeah, nothing like another Boston team crying the blues. I loved how Bill Simmons then tried to explain how the Celtics are "cursed". Sorry Bill, but poor hires and atrocious personnel moves do not qualify as a curse. If anything, the Celtics got what they deserved for tanking all of those games this year. Enjoy Yi Jianlian.

As far as Oden and Durant, if the Sonics stay in Seattle, this could be the beginning of an amazing basketball renaissance in the Pacific Northwest. But the lottery was another tough pill for the Eastern Conference to swallow. All the powerful teams in the West, and Oden AND Durant are headed there as well? You might as well pencil the Cavs into at least the Conference Finals for the next five years.

Q: I don't know if you've heard yet or not, but FSN now has a new studio on the North Shore. What do you think of it? I think it's pretty bizarre how they have Rob King standing up in the corner, talking across the room to Stan Savran. I keep waiting for someone to do something obscene in the window behind the anchor.

A: No, I haven't heard that FSN has a new studio. Maybe another 800,000 commercials about it will do the trick.

Q: I can't wait for the Bucs to play the Mets, so they can get torched by Oliver Perez.

A: That's going to be a sad day for Pirate fans. Perez was like Tim Wakefield...he reached his expiration date in a Pirate uniform. He wasn't going to have any success here. He needed a change of scenery, and most of all, coaches that could actually harness his considerable skills. One of those coaches was not named Jim Colborn.

Don't get me wrong...Xavier Nady's .282 average has been spectacular...but a dominant left-hander sporting a 2.80 ERA would look pretty good in a Pirate uniform these days.

Q: Do you think the Steelers should re-sign Big Ben this offseason, or wait until next offseason? I think he needs to play for his contract this year, to prove to the team whether or not he'll ever fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of the motorcycle crash. I know they need to sign Polamalu this offseason, though I'm a little concerned about him judging by how injury-prone he seemed to be last year.

A: I think they should let him play out his contract and see where he's at when the time comes, kind of like what the Bears are doing with Rex Grossman. HA! Just seeing if you're still paying attention.

Seriously though, I know that Ben has already discussed the topic, but he is signed for three more seasons. We probably don't need to get that far ahead of ourselves at this point.

As far as Polamalu, I think he'll be fine. Pending contracts like his are part of the logjam that's contributed to Alan Faneca's discontent. Troy will be a Steeler for a long time.

Q: What kind of mother did Ronnie Florian have? She wouldn't let him go see Roberto get his 3000th hit OR the last game at Forbes Field. He's obviously spent the rest of his life trying in vain to compensate for this trauma by aimlessly going to every Pirates game he can.

A: Had to close on yet another Ronnie Florian question. This guy has officially become a cult figure among Pittsburgh fans. Anyone still going to games because they think they're going to miss something as historically significant as Clemente's 3000th goes way past fan and straight to "fanatic". And straight into our hearts. We love you, Ronnie Florian.


HotDog_Zanzabar said...

A 3.5 minute voodoo dance. According to Louis Lipps' math, that should take roughly 32 seconds.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Har har har!

Hey, didn't Lemieux used to smoke?

I recall reading that he smoked like 2 packs a day in the 80s. Swear to god.

snoopyjode said...

louis lipps,

you are correct. you can read about lemieux puffing away here. (it's about halfway down the page.)

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Wow snoopy,

That Lemieux interview was actually a pretty good read.

Looks like it took place right after his 2000-2001 comeback.

Unknown said...

I caddied for Guisti about 5 years ago, we were on the course 6 hours, he put away at least 4 packs of cigarettes, he still puffs like a steel mill. When are we going to start seeing Ronnie Florian merchandise, Raul? We have the internet, we have printable iron-on t-shirt decals, this could blow the Teek shirt out of the water in terms of cult classics. I see an auotgraphed Florian shirt on the auction site, its friggin' on.

Anonymous said...

Lou Lipps, you're right on Lemieux's smoking in the old days. In Rick Reilly's 1990 autobiography of Wayne Gretzky, The Great One said that Lemieux wouldn't become truly great until he quit smoking.

I guess he quit sometime between when the book hit the shelves and when he undressed Mark Tinordi and Jon Casey in Game 2 of the '91 Finals.

Also, Patrick in Pittsburgh, great letter about the Pirates awful ownership.

I tell people that if the Pirates had $300 million to spend on their 2007 payroll, they would still suck b/c they can't get out of their own way.

snoopyjode said...


i don't know about you, but i thought that mario having 68 assist for jagr and jagr having 66 assists for lemieux was the coolest stat ever - even if lemieux himself wasn't impressed...

Unknown said...

I almost cry when I think about Jim Leyland bringing the Tigers from like what 119 losses to the World Series.

Wanna hear the best part? After the Tigers hired him he said that he had been waiting for the Pirates to call him after they fired McClendon. Let me say that again, Jim Leyland didn't have a job AND THE PIRATES DIDN'T EVEN CALL HIM!!

I gotta go, I think my head's about to explode like that guy in Scanners

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

When Leyland was working as a scout for, I think the Cardinals, he used to use it as an excuse to hang around PNC Park and watch the Buccos.

Question: Will anyone even see this reply since it's to a day old post?