Monday, April 30, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-30-07

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Cool. This pig (which rules, by the way) loves mini ponies. If it had the mental capabilities to distinguish between the Internet and a corncob, I bet he would check out this site. Either way, I'm giving it an invisible high five right now.

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Passion Defeat Sizzle

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PSaMP, your unofficial official Pittsburgh Passion Blogger, is back with yet another stunning update about your hometown NWFA team.

Behind the stellar play of QB Lisa Horton, the Passion easily dominated the Cincinnati Sizzle, 62-7 (These stats look a little misleading). The 2-0 Passion, the only team above .500 in the division, are looking good, and clearly are the team to beat in the Central Division.

Its pretty much impossible to find any more information about the Passion and how they dismantled the Sizzle, so that's all you get.

Cool undefeated Pittsburgh team, though.

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Buccos Look To Get Back To .500 Tonight

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Continuing the roller coaster season, the Pirates are currently on a 2 game losing streak. After taking the first game in the series against the Reds behind a great outing by Ian Snell, Pirate's pitching imploded in the next 2, causing the team's current slide.

Zach Duke is on the mound tonight, and the Pirates can't be pleased with Duke's efforts so far. ZD didn't record a strikeout in 4 of his first 5 starts. That's not a good sign, especially with Rich Hill, who is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 2 career starts against the Bucs, starting for Larry Appleton and Cousin Balki's favorite team tonight.

11-12 is where the Buccos currently stand. I'll update my Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs This Season list after the Pirates pick up a couple more wins.

The Cubs are currently riding a 4 game winning streak, after winning convincingly against the Cardinals on Friday and Saturday, and the series finale being postponed on Sunday.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-29-07

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Today's MPotD is actually 5 cool tiny horses, one for each of the Steelers' 2nd day draft picks. I guess that's Daniel Sepulveda on the left, Ryan McBean next to it, Cameron Stephenson in the back (slightly obscured), William Gay in the shadow of the foreground, and Dallas Baker on the right.

Name one other sports site that has a cooler picture of its day 2 draft picks. I'll wait...

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7th Round: Steelers Pick Dallas Baker

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In the 7th round, the Steelers used their final draft pick on Dallas Baker, WR from Florida.

Baker averaged over 13 yards per catch as a junior in 2005, which was his lowest yards per catch total of his career. This past year, Baker made 1st team all-SEC (Pretty impressive) with 10 touchdowns, including one in the national championship against tOSU.

That pretty much wraps up PSaMP’s “unprecedented” access into the Steelers’ 2007 draft. Mike Tomlin was able to coexist with Kevin Colbert, and the two geniuses concluded an overall successful draft.

The Steelers clearly helped the DE and Linebacker position, while also picking up some help for the O-line. Plus, Pittsburgh picked up a Chris Gardocki replacement, as well as a Cornerback and a Wideout.

When all is said and done, Pittsburgh fans can rest easy, knowing that Mike Tomlin stepped up to the plate and delivered a quality first draft.

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Mason Crosby to Green Bay

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This has nothing to do with the Steelers' draft, but Mason Crosby, kicker from the University of Colorado, was taken in the 6th round, with the 193rd overall pick, by the Green Bay Packers.

I stated before, that I wanted to see where Crosby went. He can be an elite kicker in the game, and I'm surprised that he fell to the 6th round. Even the Steelers took Daniel Sepulvelda, a punter, well before that.

I just wanted to update on Crosby, who PSaMP picked (in good fun) for Awful Announcing's Sports Blogger's Mock Draft. Well played, Green Bay. Your new kicker rules.

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5th Round, Steelers Choose Cameron Stephenson and William Gay

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In the 5th round, the Steelers picked Cameron Stephenson, OG from Rutgers with the 156th overall pick. Also, with the 170th overall choice, the Steelers picked William Gay, CB from Louisville.

Stephenson is a raw talent, and his size and ability are very promising. Plus it was nice to see Pittsburgh finally address the issue that is the offensive line.

Gay becomes the 4th player from Louisville to be selected in this draft. If Ike Taylor and Bryant Mcfadden finally become the shut-down corners that they were supposed to be, Gay will be relegated to special teams. However, a capable backup is always appreciated, especially when our cornerbacks' "coverage" breaks down.

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Rest in Peace, Josh Hancock

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As a Pirate's fan, I am steadfast in my love for the team, and disgust with everyone else in the NL Central. The Cards winning this past World Series was a kick in the chest. However, there are moments that transcend sports, and unyielding support and prayers must go to hated teams.

The St. Louis organization lost Josh Hancock, a relief pitcher who helped the team win it all last year. He was killed in a car accident, which is something that hits close to home for me.

On Thanksgiving of 2005, my best childhood friend was killed in a car accident. Alex was a year younger than me, and was an outstanding person. I graduated 8th grade from a small parochial school as the only boy in a 10 person class. In fact, I was the only boy in that class from 6th-8th grade. Alex was one of only 2 boys in the class behind me, and the two of us became fast friends. Losing him stays with me to this day.

Only 3 months after Alex was taken from this Earth, my college buddy Paul was tragically killed in a car crash as well. Paul was about 6 foot 5, 275 pounds and awkward as hell. He loved basketball, and I have many memories of watching the NCAAs with Paul, then playing pickup games after. Despite his obvious size advantages, Paul couldn't shoot, and you would have a hard time sliding a piece of paper under his vertical leap. Paul had just graduated college the year before, and his fiancee gave birth to the couple's first child, who was several weeks premature, only 3 weeks before Paul was taken. Paul, too, will forever be with me.

I apologize for the sentimental post, but car crashes really tear at me, and Hancock will be truly missed. The Cardinals, despite being a thorn in the Pirates' sides for many years, are a first-class organization. This is terrible news, and the Cardinals, as well as the Hancock family, will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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4th Round, Pittsburgh Picks Ryan McBean

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Continuing the trend of upgrading on the defensive side of the ball, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers select Ryan McBean, DT from Oklahoma State with the 132nd overall pick.

Another young guy that could helo with the future installation of the 4-3, McBean is a guy with very little information. Oklahoma State's website is one of the only place to find any information about McBean, so if you want to learn more, go here.

The later rounds are much less sexier than day 1, but Pittsburgh is hoping to score big with a late round selection. Will McBean be that guy? I guess we will find out.

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4th Round, Steelers Select Daniel Sepulveda

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Yesterday, PSaMP brought you unprecedented (note: "unprecedented" doesn't necessarily mean "good") access to all of the Steelers' first day selections. Today, PSaMP will look to continue this fine tradition.

In the 4th round, with the 112 overall pick, the Steelers selected Daniel Sepulveda, Punter from Baylor. Honestly, when I chose Mason Crosby in the Sports Blogger's Mock Draft, I looked into taking Sepulvelda. The 4th round is kinda high for a punter, but it is a position that the Steelers needed to address.

And Crosby has yet to be picked. Great job calling him a sure-fire first day pick, Mel Kiper.

More "unprecedented" coverage as the picks filter in.

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-28-07

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In honor of the first successful NFL Draft first day between the coalition of Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, I give you a picture of two mini ponies kissing. Yeah, Colbert and Tomlin weren't kissing, but they were able to work together and make 2 (out of 3) pretty good picks. Hopefully day 2 goes half as well.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

3rd Round: Mike Tomlin's First 'Huh?'

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With the 77th pick, Pittsburgh took Matt Spaeth, TE from the University of Minnesota.

After the first 2 rounds, it seemed like Tomlin's first draft was going well. This pick, however, made me scratch my head. For a team that under-utilizes stud TE Heath Miller, using a 3rd round pick on another TE is a bit confusing. Pittsburgh talked about using four wideout sets this year, so maybe a three tight end formation is the next logical step.

Now some positives about Spaeth. He had 109 career receptions at Minnesota, including 12 career touchdowns. Pretty nice numbers for a TE.

Somewhere, Heath Miller weeps silently...

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Pittsburgh Takes Lamarr Woodley in 2nd Round

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How was Lamarr Woodley, DE from Michigan, still available at pick 46? Sure, he's no Mason Crosby, but I guess Pittsburgh fans will have to settle for a guy who anchored one of the best run defenses in the league last year at Michigan.

The Steelers have used their first 2 picks wisely. Pittsburgh not only picked up a replacement (On paper, at least) for Joey Porter in Lawrence Timmons, but a DE in Woodley who will help the team as Mike Tomlin gradually installs a 4-3 defense.

Good work so far, Pittsburgh. I'm sad that the team didn't take my advice for the 2nd round (Not really), but I'll live with the actual picks.

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PSaMP's 1st Round Coverage: Below Your Expectations Like You Were Brady Quinn or Something

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PSaMP is proud to bring you live coverage of the draft straight from Radio City Music Hall (I'm kidding).

This is another high quality shot right as Goodell announced Timmons' name. Its like you're almost there...

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Steelers Use 1st Round Pick on Lawrence Timmons

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The Steelers used their 1st round pick on Lawrence Timmons, LB From Florida State.

This seems like a relatively safe pick. Adding depth to our LB corps was a must, following the departure of Joey Porter.

Also, with the stellar play of Clark Haggans and the continued maturity of former super-backup James Harrison, Timmons won't have to rush the development of Timmons.

More Timmons analysis later.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Let Me Explain...

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Awful Announcing's Round 2 of The Complete Sports Bloggers Mock Draft Version 1.0 is complete, and the picks are posted. PSaMP used the Steelers' 2nd round pick on Mason Crosby, kicker from the University of Colorado. This is my reasoning, in its entirety:

I guess I’ll be that guy…

With the 14th pick in the 2nd round, and 46th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers and PSaMP select not to fill the glaring needs at DE, Linebacker, DB, or the cool-name category, but instead draft to fill the need of never, ever seeing the top of a player’s dong again. Taking a page from Dan Shanoff, PSaMP will pass up a need to take the best available player in the draft. Except in this instance, it’s the best available kicker in the draft.

So I bring you, the Steelers’ 2nd rounder, Colorado K Mason Crosby. Before the heckling, here are some reasons:

Jeff Reed connected on only 74% of his fgs last year, and was 8/11 between 35 and 39. Before last year, he only missed 2 fgs from that distance for his career. Plus the whole “taking a picture of the top of your shaft and your exquisite manscaping with your Motorola razor"-thing completely scarred me, and I couldn’t look at Jeff the same way again.

Now on to Crosby. He’s been called the best kicker in the draft since Sebastian Janikowski, only without the distractions. He has his own cartoon-superhero depiction (search "Mason Crosby" on google images), and was an equal to/better than kicker than Mike Nugent, a 1st rounder, in 2005, when the Cleated Crusher was only a sophomore. Crosby also survived playing a non-contact position (punter, kicker, etc.) in the state of Colorado without having his jealous backup stabbing him in the leg. Plus, the name Crosby just seems to fit on a Pittsburgh jersey for some reason. Also, the last three players the Steelers drafted from the state of Colorado, Clark Haggans, Aaron Smith and Joey Porter, have all been solid contributors. I would’ve included the last 5 players from the state, but #4 was some dude named Ryan Olson (?) and #5 was Kordell Stewart.

(This pick was made for the sole reason that kickers should never take pictures of the tops of their poles. I won’t accept it, and this type of behavior is grounds for a 4-6 game suspension from Goodell. The Steelers already got rid of one player that could be punished by the personal conduct policy in the future, so getting rid of Jeff is the next logical step. Anyone want a manscaped kicker for young, unproven DE?)

Oh, and for the ladies… out there, Crosby has an 8 ½ inch hand. He’s more restrained in dropping hints about his crotch size, rather than blatantly displaying it like our good friend Mr. Reed.

You may begin to make fun now…

So there's my reasoning. The pick was made in good fun, and I can't thank AA enough for inviting me to draft. If the Steelers actually take Mason Crosby with the 46th overall pick, I might lose my mind. He's a projected first-day pick, and I do want to see which team actually gambles on him. He could be legit. Just not legit enough for the 46th overall pick...

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-27-07

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The caption next to this original picture was "Heavy Traffic." From the looks of it, I'd say "Cute and Awesome Traffic." Either way, this picture has a lot of mini ponies in it, and I'm all right with that. I believe my back yard will look remarkably similar to this one day.

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Pirates Complete 2nd Series Sweep Against Houston This Season

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Two series sweeps. In the opening month of the season. A 5-3 win yesterday afternoon guaranteed that. The more the Pirates keep handling Houston, the more I'll be able to continue comparing this young Pirate's season to the past Penguins season. We tend to forget that before the Penguin's 16-game points streak that started in early January and contained two 6-game win streaks, the team had 18 wins and 16 regulation losses. The Pens were in the middle of the cluster looking for the 7th or 8th seed in the East before streaking and (at one point) holding the 2 spot in the entire conference.

That's not to say that these Pirates will have the exact kind of season that the Pens enjoyed, but it is a possibility. 10-10 is a deserving record for the Pirates, given the stagnant offense and bipolar pitchers (Armas allowed 1 run after entering the game with a 18.90 ERA). As long as our starters continue this mini hot streak, the Pirates should look to do some damage in the Central (I can't believe I just said that).

Now that the Buccos have 10 wins, I must update my 7 Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs This Season. Reasons 8, 9 and 10 are:

8. Humberto Cota is on the DL. Honestly, why is this guy still on our team? With Ryan Doumit being called up and contributing early, Cota is, at best, our 3rd catcher. He strikes out too much, that is, when he actually gets into a game. I thought he was gone last year, when Jim Tracy struggled to find places for him to play. The Bucs tried to off him by retiring Paul Waner's number 11, the number that Cota was still wearing. That didn't work, so I guess the DL is the next best place for Humberto.

9. We Play Houston 9 More Times. But not again until July 20th. Still, that's 9 more wins towards the goal of 82. If the Pirates continue to mirror the early success of the Pens against the Flyers, then Houston has no chance for the remainder of the season. Who knew that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte had that much of an impact on the club? However, Houston has been a notoriously slow starter for the past several seasons and before you know it, they're advancing in the playoffs. I haven't completely written them off, but I like the Pirates' chances from here on out.

10. The 'Pen is Looking Good. Larry Brown Sports hit the nail on the head when he commented on the outstanding relief arms on the Pittsburgh roster. Jonah Bayliss and Matt Capps recorded the first 2 wins of the season for the Bucs, and John Grabow, who is just back from injury, was credited with the save yesterday. John Wasdin pitched 2 scoreless innings for the marathon win in the 16th, and former Yankees starter Shawn Chacon lurks in the 'Pen as well. The only big question mark is Torres (That's actually a huge question mark right now), so if he can return to form, the Buccos can rely on durable relievers to back up our relatively young starting pitchers.


Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs Archive:
7 Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs This Season

'07 Bucs vs. '06-'07 Pens Archive:
Bucs Win in 16, Fully Endorse Adderall
The 2007 Pirates: Holding Company With John Smiley and Doug Drabek

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-26-07

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Meet Bali. The Mini Pony of the Day. Also, meet the biggest supporter of Wrangler jeans in the world. Bali's like, "Stop wearing ESPRIT pants or whatever the hell those are. You're totally cramping my style." I'm about to start a petition to get this animal taken away from its owner. That outfit clearly constitutes as some kind of animal cruelty. (Note the kickass scrunchie harnessing the lovely gray locks.)

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Mike Penner Announces His Transsexuality

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Figured I'd touch on it...L.A. Times sports journalist Mike Penner revealed his transsexuality. From his Times column:

Today I leave for a few weeks' vacation, and when I return, I
will come back in yet another incarnation.


As Christine.

I am a transsexual sportswriter. It has taken more than 40
years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to
work up the courage to type those words. I realize many readers and colleagues
and friends will be shocked to read them.


That's OK. I understand that I am not the only one in
transition as I move from Mike to Christine. Everyone who knows me and my work
will be transitioning as well. That will take time. And that's all right. To
borrow a piece of well-worn sports parlance, we will take it one day at a
time.


Transsexualism is a complicated and widely misunderstood
medical condition. It is a natural occurrence — unusual, no question, but
natural.Recent studies have shown that such physiological factors as genetics
and hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can significantly affect how our
brains are "wired" at birth.


As extensive therapy and testing have confirmed, my brain was
wired female.



Furthermore:

So now we all will take a short break between bylines. "Mike
Penner" is out, "Christine Daniels" soon will be taking its place.


Shocking, to say the least. Penner is brave for what he's doing, but Awful Announcing had a legitimate question. Why does he get to change his last name as well? Shouldn't it be Christine Penner? And if he was going to change any part of his name, he should have just changed it to Fred Penner. That way, he could have his own Place, where he could crawl through a log, play his guitar and sing to children.



I've officially added nothing to this issue...

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Bucs Win in 16, Fully Endorse Adderall

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Who knew that ADD Laroche's attention span could last 16 innings? I sure as hell didn't.

Salomon Torres, who opened the season with some "lights-out stuff" but has struggled since, blew a save in the 9th again. After a well-pitched game by Zach Duke (Dude allowed a run in the 1st again and the Bucs still had a chance to win it before Torres came out), the offense added 3 runs in the 5th and 6th to help Duke out. Big Country hit a solo shot to dead center in the 6th and the game was all but won. Until the 9th.

Torres, who blew his 3rd save in the past 5 outings, hardly looked like a legitimate closer. 4 singles in the 9th, along with a throwing error by Jose Castillo (Maybe he needs the Adderall) helped the Astros back in it

After managing only 3 hits since the 8th inning, an intentional walk to Jason Bay in the bottom of the 16th loaded the pillows for ADD. With a home-opening start of 0-18 at the plate, and a game long enough for his Adderall to wear out, Laroche wasn't really expected to do much. Actually, the guy had 318 career RBIs, the most for any active player without a walk-off hit in his career. To prove everyone wrong, ADD hit a walk-off single, and the Buccos prevailed 4-3.

John Wasdin, who pitched the scoreless 15th and 16th, collected his first win of the season.

The Pirates are on a 3 game win streak, and have now opened the season with 5 straight wins against the 'Stros. During the start of the season, I mentioned how the Pirates' early season success against Houston was kinda like the Penguins' season success against the Flyers this past year. 5 straight wins against Houston will do nothing to change that. Hopefully that equals a playoff run for the Bucs (That would be crazy) this year.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-25-07

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Totally great picture! This reminds me of the Kibbles N Bits Lean commercial from like 10 years ago, when a gang of rough-looking dogs chanted, "Kibbles N Bits Lean. Kibbles N Bits Lean." As they walked down a shady alley, the camera showed the backs of the dogs, and they were all leaning. I know these aren't dogs, but they reminded me of that commercial. That was a great ad. They should bring it back

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UPDATE...

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The Pirates lead the 'Stros 3-1 in the 6th. But you already knew that:

MannyThe Torpedoes: /hits ball over Green Monster, plods around bases and
back to dugout

hey guys gues wha i foun out

MyNameIsSlimJD : Yes. We know. The bases are like pillows.

Its the 8th inning now, and the Buccos are still up 3-1. Big Country took one deep. The Pirates are trying to win their 3rd in a row, and 5th straight over the 'Stros this season. Plus, a 9-10 record look so much sexier than 8-11.

Sorry for the lack of domination today. I had a rough paper due about global terrorism, and that pretty much consumed most of my life today. Oh, and Awful Announcing posted an article regarding a typo on espn.com's front page. In an related instance, I wrote "message" the exact same way (meassage) in my paper shortly after reading that article. Thanks AA, for crushing what otherwise would have been a fairly decent paper regarding the contributions to modern global terrorism by the Islamic Assassins.

"UPDATE..." Update: The score is tied at 3 in the top of the 9th. That sucks the wind outta everything. Oh, and if I have to see that horrible Shop N Save commercial where they have the customers singing the theme song (I guess) one more time, I'm gonna snap. "Shop N Save's the just right place for me!!!" How about use some proper grammar, and some proper singers, you SnS toolbags.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

PSaMP Is About To Hit Another Personal Milestone

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So I happen to make big deals out of personal milestones around here (They're called personal for a reason). My 100th post was exciting (to me) and now PSaMP is about to welcome its 1,000th visitor!

Starting this blog, I was happy when 1 or 2 people stumbled across my disoriented mumblings, mainly through that crazy and unpredictable blogger navbar at the top of the page. And while 1,000 visitors is nothing huge, it means a lot to me.

Many thanks must go out to the swell readers from Mondesis House and Have A Good Sandwich. I've gotten some great positive feedback, a couple sweet compliments and a several tips for future posts from the awesome audiences of both sites, and I can't say how much that means to PSaMP! You are the reason I wake up and write every day (grabs kleenex...wipes tear from eye...throws kleenex away). Who would've thought 1,000 people would ever read about Pittsburgh Sports coupled with some wicked miniature equine?

There's nothing huge planned, but I just wanted to acknowledge in print that I appreciate each and every read. I'd be hard pressed to find a cooler feeling than new readers leaving awesome emails to someone (me) that they never met before.

Thanks again. Hope you find something you like.

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Maholm Tosses a Beauty, Paulino Homers as Bucs Beat Astros

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Paul Maholm, looking very un-Paul Maholm-like, blanked the Astros as the Bucs beat the Astros 3-0. Maholm allowed only 3 hits, earned his first career shutout, and lowered his ERA from slightly above 6 to slightly below 4.

Ronny Paulino homered, most likely because I tagged him as a potential star earlier in the day. He was able to complete his rookie season hitting respectively over .300, and power is something he's been working on. His first dinger of the year helped the Pirates win their 4th straight against Houston and first win at home this season.

The 8-10 record looks a little better, and the team is threatening to get back to .500 (oooh..these are exciting times). I'm going to have to update my "7 Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs" post with reason number 8. I'll celebrate any Pirate win, since those have been as rare as a Michael Keaton compliment to the Pirate's management. I can't say I'd mind growing my list to "82+ Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs."

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-24-07

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Look at the MPotD's cool mane. That thing is sick! Honestly. From one view, it looks like an intentionally-corny 80's mullet wig. Yet from another angle, it sorta looks like the hair on some dude on the cover of a terrible Giant Eagle magazine center romance novel. Amazing what you can see when you look at the MPotD. Its kinda like those trippy 3D digital optical illusion posters that those dudes try to hustle you into buying at the mall, but you just find yourself looking at it for an hour like, "I don't see the Pope above Point State Park at all!" Yeah, like those, only without the frustration.

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7 Reasons to Keep Watching the Bucs This Season

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Since the Pirates now have 7 wins on the season, I give you my 7 Reasons to Stick with the Buccos This Season:


1. Tom Gorzelanny. Wow! I never thought he would be reason number 1. The kid is on pace for 25-30 wins! How could you not get behind a young pitcher with a perfect early-season record? His ERA is a more than respectable 2.05 (Take that, Tony Armas Jr. and your 18.90 ERA), and is second on the team in strikeouts. He might (will) flare out. No pitcher in today's game will win 3 of every 4 starts, but it is nice to have that kind of success early on.

2. Ian Snell. He is reason number 2, because he leads the team with 24 strikeouts through 27 innings pitched. His strikeout per innings ratio is a little lower than Gorzo, but he can flat-out make hitters miss. In a sport where games can turn on one bad pitch, I'm relying on Ian to trust his stuff (I never like when people use that expression. Sounds kinda weird and dirty) and keep making batters whiff.

3. Brad Eldred. Yeah, the Pirates are having trouble making room for Big Country. The management seemed to forget Country when they decided to trade for ADD (.105 avg, .281 slg) Laroche this past offseason. The same thing happened last season when the Bucs brought in "hometown hero" Sean (Left fielders can throw me out at 1st) Casey. Neither 1st base pickup brought any life to the Pirates bats (I'm still hoping Laroche will heat up), and Big Country is still forced to look from the dugout. Even though Eldred is sporting a .117 average, he has only been to the plate 17 times. As the season progresses further, expect the Paul Bunyan-esque Brad to get more playing time while stepping in for guys that are tired/slumping

4. We Play in the National League Central. This argument always frustrated me, but it is the truth. While the NL Central isn't the worst division in the bigs, it isn't necessarily a powerhouse. A 7-10 record is only 4 games behind the Brewers (who have played 2 more games), the only team in the Central with a record over .500. If the Buccos can warm up against Woody Williams and the rest of the Astros staff this week, the team has a legitimate shot at reaching .500 and contending for the division lead.

5. Andrew McCutchen. He's not in the bigs yet, but a mid-to-late season call-up is not entirely out of the picture. Citing 14 years of regular season debacles, there is a high possibility that Andrew could be in a Pirates uniform before the active roster expands from 25 to 40 on September 1st. For a team that once employed Adam Hyzdu, having McCutchen on the roster would definitely be a bonus. The Buccos will still be entertaining to watch as the season rolls down even if this year turns out like the past 14, simply because we might get a chance to see Andy face some major-league pitching.

6. Adam Hyzdu is Not on the Roster. While the offense is still finding its groove and the team sits 3 games below .500, there is no reason to believe that this team can't make a meaningful run. Jason Bay is a 2-time All Star and former Rookie of the Year. Freddy Sanchez is the defending NL Batting Champ and an All Star last season. ADD Laroche put up career-bests last year with a .285 average, 30 home runs, and 90 RBIs. Jose Bautista and Ronny Paulino have the ability to be big-time performers in the future, and Chris Duffy is actually looking like a legit leadoff man who can swipe a ton of bases. The roster is good enough to get this team over .500. Let's just hope the motivation and execution are there as well.

7. Its Only April 23! The season is still young. The Pirates have played only 17 out of 162 games. There's no reason to believe (Other than the past 14 years) that the Buccos will play 7-10 ball from here on out. Alex Rodriguez hit his 14th homer in New York's 18th game overall. He tied the April Home Runs record set by Albert Pujols last year. Did Pujols keep up that pace and hit 125 homers last year? Not a chance. What I'm saying is that the season is long, and this is only April. The Bucs have a long way to go, but I'm expecting a vast improvement over the course of the season (Although I've said this for the past 14 years).

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Kevin Pittsnogle and the Xplosion Demand Your Attention

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This is a promotional flyer that was distributed throughout Pittsburgh during the past (awful) season of your Pittsburgh Xplosion! My recent post about the Passion (in which I briefly mentioned the Xplosion) reminded me that I had this picture somewhere deep within my phone's photo archives (the picture is from this past November 18th). Needless to say, I was happy to find it so that I could share it with you, the reader. That's Kevin Pitts in the lower left (in case you couldn't tell).

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-23-07

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Awesome. Pick whichever one of these mini ponies you want to be your own, personal MPotD. They both kick ass, and probably hang out on a regular basis. The baby knows that the older pony is the man, and is learning how to be cool from an awesome source.

I dare anyone to look at this picture and not say something along the lines of, "Sweet!" Or, "Awesome!" Or even, "This rules!" Go ahead. Let it out.

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Gorzo Gets 3rd Win as Pirates Beat Dodgers 7-5

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Go ahead and cheer, Pittsburgh fans. Your Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Dodgers yesterday, 7-5, in Los Angeles. No extra innings here. No walk off grannys. Just good, Pirates baseball. Chris Duffy had 3 hits, scored 3 runs and swiped a pair of bases, while ADD Laroche (I've quit calling him Adam) hit a solo shot. I hope the Pirates offense is coming around, because we can ill afford to get stuck in the Central cellar again.

Before the season started Tom Gorzelanny was the last Pirate pitcher I would've expected to start the season with 3 wins. Ian Snell, if he could find his location, would've been my 1st pick. Zach Duke, if he could keep the opposing team from scoring 8 runs in the 1st inning, would have been a close 2nd. I probably even pictured Tony Armas Jr. with a couple of wins of his own. Paul Maholm...yeah I don't think I even figured him into the equation. But it is impressive that Gorzo leads the team in wins. No other young Pirate arm even has 2 wins.

The team's record is 7-10, which is still 3.5 games behind Milwaukee. I'm just happy that the team didn't lose again.

Paul (great...) Maholm (0-2) is on tap to pitch Tuesday in Houston against Woody (maybe we will have a chance) Williams (also 0-2). Both pitchers are sportin' ERA's over 6, so maybe the Buc's offense will be able to keep the momentum and really tee it off in Houston.

One more thing. Why are the seats behind home plate at PNC called the Lexus Club? Do you have to own a Lexus to sit there? And if the "Lexus" refers to preferred, or exclusive seating, then shouldn't the general admission bleachers be renamed the 1993 Plymouth Duster Club? Just a thought...

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-22-07

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Yes! Two mini ponies standing right next to each other! Plus a cool miniature fence! While I wouldn't want mini ponies to ever be fenced up, miniature fences are cool. Plus, you can totally look at this picture in a different way, and imagine that the woman whose shirt you can see down is fenced up, and the mini ponies are like, "Check out how free we are!" That way of looking at this picture is so much cooler! So cool that it makes these mini ponies the Mini Pon(ies) of the Day.

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Move Over, Willie Parker. Make Way For Fast Torina Henley

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In all fairness of this being a Pittsburgh Sportsblog, I like to occasionally update on some bizarre/non-popular sports happenings in the 'Burgh. I've mentioned the Xplosion, Pittsburgh's CBA team that is headlined by the one, the only, Kevin Pittsnogle. So with the NFL Draft only days away, football is starting to overwhelm my subconscious.

With the Steelers' season still months away, only the Pittsburgh Passion can fill the "lack of football in the 'Burgh"-void. What? You didn't know that Pittsburgh had a women's full-contact football team? The NWFA (National Women's Football Association) has been around for awhile, and the Passion opened their 5th season in Pittsburgh yesterday. It was fitting that the Passion opened against a Cleveland-based team, the Fusion. Pittsburgh won (Of course), and are 1-0. Their record puts them atop the Central Division of the Northern Conference, ahead of the Erie Illusion (1-1), Cleveland (0-1) and the Central PA Vipers (0-2).

Torina Henley (above) rushed for 113 yards on only 17 carries in Pittsburgh's 23-14 win at Cupples Stadium on Carson Street. That's a 6.7 yards per carry mark for Henley, easily eclipsing the 4.4 yards per carry mark that made Fast Bill Parker a Pro Bowler last season. Just as I expect all Pittsburgh teams to win their respective championships each year (Yes, even the Buccos), I will be disappointed if the Passion fails me and doesn't reach the title game, which is in only 89 days, according to the NWFA's website.

Good win, Torina and the Passion. Keep it up and continue protecting your house (Cupples Stadium, below).


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Sid Reveals That He's Much More Of A Badass Than We Already Knew

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So I thought I was done talking about the Pens, seeing as how their season is over. But the truth is, I'll never be done talking about the Pens. Its moments like these when we find out how much we've taken for granted, and the level of effort that these professionals put into a "game."

The Kid announced that, for the final 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season and the playofffs, he's been playing with a broken foot. Let me say that again. HE'S BEEN PLAYING WITH A BROKEN FOOT!

This puts the scoring title in a much bigger perspective. Joe Thorton, the only real competition to Sid in the scoring race, really put the pressure on Sid during the last few weeks of the season. Before Joe, it was Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. In order to win the title, Sid not only had to fend off some prolific scorers, but also had to do it with one foot!

If I get a paper cut, my finger is out of commission for a few days. My hand will be up in the air when I shower, and I make sure that its clean and not in contact with anything...because those things hurt like a bitch. Sid played hockey during the home stretch of the season and in the playoffs with a broken foot (I can't stress this enough), and even wore minimal padding so as to not tip off the media. Alright, Ted Nolan and Bryan Murray, go ahead and call Sid soft one more time. Honestly, we haven't heard it nearly enough.

Sid plays a game. For a living. How easy would it be to take time off from the "game" and let your broken foot heal? Hell, you kinda need your foot to play hockey. Whether its simple skating or blocking shots, feet are an integral part of the game. The impessive part is that Sid's performance hardly took a hit because of the gimp foot. He believes he broke the foot on a blocked shot against Montreal on March 16th. That equals 11 regular season games and 5 playoff games (none of which he missed) in which Sid put up 19 points (8 goals and 11 assists). 19 points in 16 games...with a broken foot.

Hats off to Sid, the newest badass in Pittsburgh sports. Now knowing what he's capable of with one foot, I can't wait to see his maturity next season when he is able to use both.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-21-07

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Today's MPotD looks huge! But remember, that's a baby sitting next to it. Normal humans would tower over this cool animal. And the baby should probably not be trying to eat this pony's tail. Although they look cool and act cool, mini ponies probably do not taste cool. I'm guessing they taste like a normal sized pony. I haven't ever tasted pony before, though, so maybe this baby is on to something.

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Wolf Uses Arm, Bat To Beat Buccos

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Allow me to shed one more tear for the completion of hockey season in Pittsburgh. Why? Because the raucous fans in Pittsburgh get to focus on the Pirates, and only the Pirates, until the NFL draft and the start of training camp. And in a 162 game season, the layoffs between hockey and football can seem endless. Especially when your team decides to alternate winning streaks and losing streaks.

The Pirates lost, again, to the Dodgers, 10-2. Randy Wolf struck out 10 Buccos and hit 2 doubles (the picture above shows Wolf hitting a two-run double in the 3rd). With one swing of the bat, pitcher Randy Wolf equalled the total offense the Pirates could muster all game. Tony Armas Jr., who last started on April 7th (nothing like a 2 week break), lasted only 2 2/3 innings, giving up 8 runs.

Just when it seems like the Bucs have turned it around with a 2 game sweep of the defending champion Cardinals, Pittsburgh decided to take a mental break, and have now lost 3 in a row. The first 2 losses came against the Brewers, and yesterday's loss was to Wolf and the Dodgers. Ian Snell pitched today, with hopes of getting to 7-9! Awesome. After the sweep of the Redbirds brought the Buccos back to .500, I didn't think Pittsburgh would suffer its 9th loss before its 7th win. Unfortunately, this is how it goes in Pittsburgh baseball, or at least how its gone over the last 14 seasons. Now that the Warriors are in the NBA playoffs with a record over .500, the Pirates are the only team in the four major sports with a losing season-mark in the double digits. Always nice to be recognized!

That's enough for now. Hopefully the Buccos win tonight. We can sure use a decent outing by Snell. Anything to snap this current losing streak would be great. If not, we've got a long wait till Steelers' training camp.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-20-07

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The mini pony of today is such a hard worker. And the lady with the mid-90s Etonic windbreaker or whatever is lazy as hell. But back to the mini pony...it should totally jump up and knock out the "rider." Then it would be free to go do other cooler stuff.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pens Lose. Knocked Out Of Playoffs

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Pittsburgh's season is over. Ray Emery shut out the Pens, 3-0. Rest in Peace, Larry Brown's Playoff Beard. We hardly knew ye. Estimated time of death, 9:30 P.M. E.S.T. The series loss is unfortunate, but I'll hold my head high and remember the good that has come out of the past season.

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Game 4 Was a "Must-Win," But Game 5 Really Means It This Time

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I've been struggling to write a piece on game 5 tonight, but its kinda hard today. After finding every possible way to lose in games 1, 3 and 4, its hard to find legitimate reasons to keep watching. Blowouts hurt, because early deficits lead to stuff getting thrown at the t.v. Close games hurt, because afterwards, its like, "why did I get so excited and worked up? I just got so disappointed." Still, the black and gold blood flows through my veins, so games 1, 3 and 4 mean nothing to me. They are in the past, exactly opposite of where Lord Stanley sits. In honor of the future, and the slim possibility that the Pens make it out of the series alive, I will focus on all the positives that the Pens need to take into game 5.

So the game will be in Ottawa tonight. The Pens won their only game in the series in Ottawa, so that's a plus. I have never been a true disciple of "home field advantage" and the "effect of the crowd" on a game (unless said game is in Pittsburgh), but there is something special about going to another team's home, and really sticking it to their fans. Trust me, with all the sticking-to that Pittsburgh has gotten from the Sens, I can't say I'd mind really blowing out Ottawa tonight. While the Pens only had 24 shots last game, they still made it seem like there were more biscuits put on Emery. The Pens were able to keep momentum in the offensive zone, but Emery did a great job of stopping (nearly) everything the Pens threw at him.

Another positive: the sign at the top of this post. What is Bryan Murray's deal? Does he honestly have to dislike everything? I feel like if I was hanging out with Mr. Murray (which would never happen, mostly because of his weird lisp) and I offered him free money or something, the dude would probably find some reason to get mad at the Pens for it. His current bitch is that Gary Roberts is playing too physical. Except Murray would say that Roberts has been too "phythical."

Laraque's playing time has been real shady. I mentioned that he needed to play in game 4. I stand by that opinion, and feel that he should be in game 5 as well. This is like if the Steelers picked up, I don't know, Duce Staley, and didn't use him for 3 seasons (Oh wait...). The Pens played Nils Ekman, who played 2 out of the Pens' final 29 games, and he already mentioned that he will be ready for game 5. Uh, remember the way the Pens excelled down the playoff stretch? Didn't they mature to the point where they were actually competing for the Atlantic division lead (which they held, momentarily) and the #2 overall seed in the East? Was Nils Ekman in the lineup? No. Georges Laraque was in the lineup.

This game 5 analysis has started to shift from positive to negative real quick. So I'm gonna watch game 5, and support my team like it was any other game. The Pens have rallied from a 3-1 deficit before. And the coach pf the team they're playing this time has a lisp. So even in a 3-1 pit, there's still some hope for our Pens.

Something must be done about the recent 0 for 9 Power Play drought. With the talent on this Pens team, 0 for 9 is inexcusable.

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-19-07

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WHAT THE SHIT IS THIS THING? In my quest to find today's mini pony of the day, I came across a rather odd picture of something that I can't truly describe. Could be a horse. Could be a donkey. Could be one of my night terrors. Honestly, what is up with those ears? And why are there random beasts of burden grazing behind it? I guess looks don't count for much in the animal community. This weird thing probably did something so badass that the other animals were like, "whoa man, you're cool with us. We respect the hell outta you, and we ain't tryin to start no trouble."

Sorry bout all that. Here's the real MPotD. Its actually two of them. They are both going after the same piece of hay or something. Come on, buddies, I can spot like 30 other pieces right next to you. If looks did count in the animal world, these things would rule (figuratively and literally).



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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Some Hints To My Pick

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So I'm not allowed to reveal my pick for Awful Announcing's Complete Sports Blogger's NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0. I can, however, reveal that my pick has been made. Here are some of the reasons for my pick.

With the 14th pick in the 2nd round, and 46th overall pick, the Pittsburgh
Steelers and PSaMP select not to fill the glaring needs at DE, Linebacker, DB,
or the cool-name category, but instead...will pass up a need to take the best
available player in the draft.


Furthermore, my pick:

...also survived playing...in the state of Colorado. The last three players
the Steelers drafted from the state of Colorado, Clark Haggans, Aaron Smith and
Joey Porter, have all been solid contributors. I would’ve included the last 5
players from the state, but #4 was some dude named Ryan Olson (?) and #5 was
Kordell Stewart.


So that's probably all the information I can give you. Check out AA's round 2 of the Complete Sport's Blogger's NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0. The picks should be up before the end of the work week. I'll re-print my full pick once the 2nd round finds its way to AA.

And before any feelings are hurt, I just want to say that my pick in no way reflects who the Steelers should actually take with the 46th overall pick. It was made in good fun. You may disagree mightily.

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-18-07

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The dog in this picture looks like its about to take a poo on the sidewalk. Don't worry, awesome dog! Its only the MPotD! It won't hurt you. Its too busy being the coolest thing ever! That dog is probably thinking, "Man, that's close enough." The Mini Pony would be like, "Dude, let's just hang out for a minute. Calm down."

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Despite Good Play, Pens Drop "Must-Win" Game 4

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I'm officially running out of negative adjectives to describe the 3 playoff losses so far. Yesterday's game felt right. The team actually played the 2nd period, but was unable to use to the momentum swing to score more than one goal. Jordan Staal buried a shot right in front of Emery, but the Pens could not find the back of the net again, falling 2-1 in what was viewed as a must-win game.

Its tough to take the loss last night, because the Pens were able to put themselves in a position to possibly win and even up the series. The Senators scored on a fluke goal just over 3 minutes into the game. The Pens battled to tie the score (See? Rebounds, a result of shots on goal, can lead to goals. Amazing!) but were not able to capitalize on having Volchenkov in the box in the 3rd, and that same Volchenkov came back to put the 30 foot winner past MAF.

Is it possible for the Pens to rattle off 3 straight wins? Most definitely. The Senators have just won two in a row, so they have put themselves in a position to win 3 straight games. The Penguins need to go back to Ottawa as a different team in game 5. Reassess game 4, focus on all the positives, and play with some desperation.

Georges Laraque was not in the lineup last night, and the same fate beset Erik Christensen. Christensen being benched was almost a given, seeing how the young forward has digressed lately, and his play has slipped. Laraque not being in the lineup, is a travesty. What was the point in picking up the guy, if he's benched for 3 of the 4 games so far in the series, and only skated for a total of 5 minutes in game 1? Sure, Gary Roberts' contributions have been impeccable, and the 40 year old (soon to be 41 year old) nut has been throwing his body at any Senator he can. However, Big Georges can bring that physical play, while giving guys like Roberts more of a chance to score rather than carrying the bruising load. As much the Roberts acquisition has been applauded by the league and anyone who watches the Pens, the acquisition and use of Laraque leaves more to be desired. Let him play, and skate him alongside Crosby on the first line to start the game. Why, you may ask? Well, its one combination the Penguins haven't tried, and at this point in the series, we need to scrap whatever we've been doing. Plus, guys like Volchenkov and Phillips are constantly on the ice with Crosby, so lets send a message early that the Pens can play physical, too. (I know this will never happen. I also know that Laraque doesn't have the speed, skill or stamina to play alongside the top line all game. I'm just making a point that Laraque needs to play, and more than just 5 minutes.)

Enough with that, time to check back in with the Buccos. Its been awhile since I mentioned the Pirates, mainly because I've been mad about the St. Louis sweep, the Torres blown saves, the Bonds homers, and the rainout of Jack Robinson day in the 'Burgh. With that being said, ADD Laroche hit a homer, and the Pirates beat the Redbirds 6-1. Gorzo got his revenge against the Cards, and lowered his ERA to 1.33. Gorzo had a chance to get the complete game, but was pulled in favor of Matt Capps, who recorded the final two outs. This win comes on the heels of a 3-2 win on Monday, in which Torres was given another chance to blow the game in the 9th, with Pujols on and the bases loaded. King Albert popped out on a well thrown sinker, as Salomon righted the closer ship. So the Bucs have a 2 game winning streak, and are now back to .500, sitting at 6-6. Tonight is an 8:05 start in Milwaukee (What? Are we the Indians or Angels?) and Paul Maholm will try to earn his first win this season. I hope Paul can follow up the two excellent starts by Ian Snell and Gorzo with a quality outing himself.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-17-07

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Fluffy mini pony babies are awesome. So awesome that they make frequent appearances as the MPotD. This one's head looks so out of proportion, but its still sweet.

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100th Post! Awesome.

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And the 100th post is about...the Pens. Come on, with game 4 tonight and the Pens looking at a 2-1 series deficit, what else could consume my attention? Also, since I'm graduating from college in a couple weeks, I need to get my mind off of the tragedy at Virgina Tech yesterday. Seriously, all prayers and thoughts go to the entire Hokie nation.


With that being said, its time to look at what the Pens need to do differently in game 4 (uh...everything?), in order to have a fighting chance against Daniel "I'm going to outshoot the Pens in this series" Alfredsson and Company.

The shooting is a big problem. Although Geno has 4 assists in only 3 career playoff games, he has been nearly nonexistant. 8 needless penalty minutes in the series will do that to a player. If he doesn't snap out of this shooting slump, there might be problems in Penguins-land. Sidney Crosby needs to pull the trigger more as well. Actually, all of the Pens need to start firing the biscuit. How many times has just putting the puck on net helped the team? Isn't this one of the reasons that we picked up Gary Roberts? Haven't both of his goals in the series come while cleaning up in front of the net? And what about redirects ? Even unintentional redirects will find the back of the net. Ryan Whitney's goal in game 2 hit a Ottawa leg before going in.


But back to Sid. I know he's already got a goal in each game and he's a great passer, but he is passing up way too many scoring opportunities by trying to feed his teammates with better shots. I can't count how many times during this series, as well as the final 2 weeks of the season, in which Sid was streaking down the right wing with a teammate to his left, and he opted to pass to the teammate rather than shoot (for which he still had a good angle). Many of these passes were intercepted or blocked by the opposition, so the Pens got no shot rather than a clean look. Its a best of 7 series, and any smart team would put a lot of time into learning the tendencies of a superstar like Sid. Eventually, they are going to figure out that Crosby looks to pass first when he's coming down the right wing with a teammate to his left, and blocking these passes become an easier task. If Crosby puts the puck on net rather than passing to the guy to his left, he can set up a perfect rebound just as easily as he can fire a perfect pass. All I'm saying is mix it up, Sid. What's the harm in putting the puck on net? There's 3 outcomes.

  1. Save
  2. Goal
  3. Rebound


Plus, more shots equals a greater chance of numbers 2 and 3 happening. The Pens have been outshot 99-66, so its not hard to see the biggest reason we're down 2-1. Actually, the Pens are fortunate to have 1 game. A few different bounces in game 2, and we're down 3-zip. Good article here regarding the "must-win" status of tonight's game, by Penguins playoff-beard wearer, Larry Brown.


I think Laraque needs to play game 4. He seemed kinda frustrated with not being in the lineup for games 2 and 3. I read an article yesterday, but can't seem to find it again, where Laraque basically said, "I'm not going to talk about it now," in response to his benching for games 2 and 3. If I was Laraque, I'd be upset, too. The Senators have been much more physical than the Pens, and its come down to Sid, Max Talbot, Gary Roberts and Colby Armstrong to provide the physical plays to boost the team. Now each guy can hold their own, but no player on this list is Georges Laraque. And now with a huge bullseye on Colby Armstrong (that was a legitimate hit, though), Big Georges needs to be in uniform for game 4.


The game starts at 7. My predicted score for game 3 was right, but the Pens scored the 2 rather than the 4. Tonight, I think the Pens will (must) win, by a score of 3-2. I know, I'm boring. I always pick the Pens to win. However, tonight can be (needs to be) the Penguins night, because a 3-1 hole might be impossible to climb out of. Plus, LBS will have to shave his playoff beard, which is just starting to come in nicely.

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Blogger Post Counter = Weak

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Apparently my post counter isn't correct, because although this post claims to be the 100th post by its count (59 March, 41 April), it is actually the 99th post. The real 100th post will be up shortly (you don't care, but I already clarified it as a personal milestone).

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-16-07

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This MPOTD loves to play so much. Dude keeps running around his pen, or as the youtube post puts it, the mini pony is at liberty (whatever that means).

I know there was a shortage of posts today, but I'm kinda saving up for tomorrow. It may not mean much to you, the reader, but PSaMP is hitting a personal milestone. The first post of the day tomorrow will officially be PSaMP's 100th post! Look for some more great domination, as PSaMP crosses the century threshold, and gets ready for the next 100. Hold on to your hats (or if you're not wearing a hat, hold some piece of clothing that can easily be blown off in a light breeze), because PSaMP is ready for the next 100!

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New Logo

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PSaMP is upgraded! I think the new logo kicks ass, but that's my personal opinion. It was done by my sister, who happens to be a whiz on photoshop (I am not, as evident by my ms paint manipulations). Keep a lookout for some quality posts by my sister (not the one who gave me the mini pony shirt, but a mini pony/Pittsburgh sports enthusiast nonetheless), who is the newest addition to PSaMP and is a displaced Pittsburgh fan living in New York City.

That is all. For Now. Till Later. MPOTD soon

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-15-07

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In honor (its not really an honor, but you get the point) of the Pens losing, I give you something to brighten your day/night. Its the mini pony of the day, and it might be the only thing that can make a man smile after seeing his team get outplayed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This one is so cool, and could probably play better defense than #55 did tonight (Still bitter. Sorry).

-

UPDATE: Sorry about the lack of an image. Blogger just dominated the picture that was coupled with this post for some reason. I will have it fixed and back up asap.

UPDATE #2: The mini pony of the day is back in commission.

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Pens Forget To Play 2nd Period, Lose Game 3

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Remember yesterday's game? Despite taking place merely a day ago, the Pens forgot everything they learned in game 2, and instead played like it was game 1 all over again. The Senators won 4-2, and take a 2 to 1 lead in the series.
Sergei Gonchar struggled mightily, and his -1 rating told only half of the story. He couldn't take any passes, couldn't hold the puck in the zone and was taking shots that were easily blocked by Ottawa. I think I pulled out a great deal of my hair watching Gonchar play like it was the 2005 season (yeah, despite having a great past season, it is easy to forget how big of a bust Sergei was in his first year with the Pens after signing a 5 year/$25 million contract).
The Power Play, which the Pens have lived on all season, has been rather shaky. It takes the Pens at least a minute to gain the zone, and finally set up some sort of cycle. In comparison, the Senators have had no trouble gaining the offensive zone, their passes are crisper and their Power Play cycle starts almost immediately. That spells disaster and a possible series loss for Pittsburgh.
However, Crosby added his 3rd goal in as many playoff games in his young career, and his tally reminded me of the fantastic goal he scored against Tampa Bay earlier in the season. After game 1 got out of hand, the Pens were able to score a few goals in the 3rd, which might have helped in game 2. After the game got out of hand tonight, Crosby was able to score, which could end up helping the Pens in game 4.
All in all, the Pens picked the wrong game to emulate tonight. Rather than building on the successes in game 2, the Pens reverted to game 1 status, which is something that doesn't bode well for the remainder of the series. Before game 4 on Tuesday, Coach Therrien better fix the "Jekyll and Hyde" Pens, before the team is unfortunately eliminated from Cup-contention.

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Pens Win, Even Series Up At 1

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What a game! After scoring on their first shot of the game, the Penguins lost the lead on 2 separate occasions, and won it on a thrilling goal by Sid the Kid. The 4-3 win knots the series up at 1-1, with game 3 starting today at 6 P.M., a mere 24 hours after game 2 concluded. Gary "Senators-Killer" Roberts exerted his influence on the game, much like Ottawa did in game 1. With a goal and an assist, Roberts kept up his stellar success in Ottawa. Crosby's goal midway through the 3rd period put the Pens up for good, and the passing was much crisper than game 1. Recchi took a great pass from Malkin (I don't think Recchi took one pass cleanly in game 1), and fed Crosby a midair pass, which the Kid redirected off of the shaft of his stick and past Emery.
Yeah, my predicted score of 3-1 Pens was wrong, but the ultimate outcome was right. Fleury seemed sharper than he was in game 1, and the team was able to get the crowd out of the flow early on with a power play goal by Ryan Whitney (After a -2 rating in game 1, he needed a big game). I was trying to take a picture of the tv while the Pens were on the PP, and Whitney scored right as I took the picture. Perfect timing!
This is a short analysis of the game, because its always easier to overanalyze a bad loss rather than comment on a well-played game. Also, with game 3 starting in a mere 4 hours (less, actually), I'm preparing myself for the first playoff game at the Igloo since 2001, when the Pens lost to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The win was a huge confidence booster. After the debacle that was game 1, there was a cloud of despair over Pittsburgh regarding the rest of Sid and Company's playoff-opening round. The win, coupled with a charged up Igloo crowd only 24 hours later, can lead to good things. If the Pens can ride this momentum swing in Pittsburgh, then there is no way the Pens go to sleep tonight down 2-1 in the series. I'm not big on predictions, because anything can happen in a game to change the outcome (see Daniel Alfredsson's breaking stick leading to Crosby's go-ahead goal). However, I gave a half-assed prediction before the game yesterday, so I'll pick the Pens to win 4-2 today (in honor of Jack Robinson Day in the MLB. Honestly, its going to be weird to hear "playing infield for the Dodgers, wearing number 42, its...Jeff Kent!).
The crowd's involvement was huge in games 1 and 2, so if the Pens score early, I'll be looking for the Igloo crowd to play a significant role as well. Here we go Pens, and despite the shoddy weather (its currently cold and raining...again), "It's a great day for hockey! (Hope you're proud, Badger Bob!)

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

1-0. Sweet!

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The Pens just scored! I took this picture right as Ryan Whitney was shooting on the power play! 1-0 Pens. Way to get the crowd out of it!

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-14-07

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This lady is the luckiest. She is not only surrounded by mini ponies, but she is also surrounded by the mini ponies of the day. This looks like so much fun...

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Barry Bonds Shows No Respect For Ruth's Records

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Several important happenings from last night's Pirate's travesty. The Giants, who many experts picked to finish last in the NL West, beat the Pirates 8-5 behind the longball(s) of a former hometown hero. First off, the Pirates wore their new sleeveless red unis.




Also memorable, was Barry Bonds. In what could be his final professional trip to the city where he started his career, Bonds hit career home runs number 736 and 737. it was the 70th multiple homer game for BB, moving him within 2 of Babe Ruth's record of 72 such games (pretty good for a pitcher). Bonds also moved into 5th place on the all-time total bases list with 5,802, passing Ruth yet again.
Zach Duke, who matched the shortest outing of his career, became the 436th different pitcher to allow Bonds to go yard. By comparison, only 35 players have ever hit 436 home runs in a career. For all the Bonds-haters in the world, read that last sentence again. That could be one of the most impressive stats of Bonds' career.
The Buccos dropped their 4th game in a row, and now sit at 4-6. Oh, and Russ Ortiz (remember him?) won his first game since 2005, after going a combined 0-8 last year with the Diamondbacks and the Orioles.
Enough Bonds-banter, its time to look at tonight's playoff game between the Pens and the Sens. After game 1, I agree with Coach Therrien that the Pens can't possibly play any worse than they did in the series opener. Honestly, while watching game 1, I was having flashbacks of Kris Beech, Aleksey Morozov, Hans Jonsson, and any other former Penguins underachiever. Today's game 2 starts at 3 P.M., and the Pens need to come out with way more energy than they did in game 1. This is no longer the playoff debut for the bulk of the team, and Pittsburgh cannot afford to let the Senators set the tone during the opening shifts again, or the team will be back at the igloo staring up at a 0-2 deficit.
I've been impressed with Ottawa's first line all year, but it was their role players who did the most damage against the Pens in game 1. Pittsburgh's defense needs to play a lot more physical against the Ottawa role players before anything can be done against their superstars. I think the Pens will come out with more energy and life in game 2, and will even up the series with a 3-1 win. (However, if the Pens are backpedaling like they did in the opening moments of game 1, this could easily be another Ottawa blowout.) I'm going to stay positive, and expect the Pens to take a tied series back to the igloo.

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Mini Pony of the Day 4-13-07

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Yes! The Mini Pony of the Day is in honor of warm weather and springtime. Pittsburgh is struggling to leave winter and warm up (At least we don't have the Milwaukee Indians, though). As soon as a warm spell comes through, everyone is out in shorts, t-shirts, etc. Then, it will be 35 DEGREES FOR 2 WEEKS! Sorry for yelling, but March/April in the Steel-City always does this to me. Maybe this cool picture of a mini pony in some flowers will help turn this weather around.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Hey Steelers, You Paying Attention?

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Check it out! (Whoa, I capitalized a letter to start a paragraph, what's up with that? Get used to it.) PSaMP has been officially asked to participate in Awful Announcing's Complete Sports Blogger's NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0! Your's truly gets to handle the Steelers' 2nd round pick, so if you have an idea, drop me a line. Simply put, bloggers from around the nation will be taking control of their favorite teams during a mock draft at AA, and our picks will be criticized, analyzed and made fun of by anyone who so chooses. For a complete rundown of what's going on, check out the link i provided up above, and AA will fill you in with the rest. The 14th pick of the round, aka the 46th overall pick in the draft, is completely up to PSaMP's choosing, so the Steelers better be watching.
Now its all in good fun, so I could pick, I don't know, Tyler Palko if I wanted, or maybe even some sweet mini pony. I'm hoping Ted Ginn Jr. is still around, that way TGjr and Santonio Holmes can use that tOSU foundation to seriously help our receiving corps (tongue-in-cheek, for those who can't take a joke).
Either way, it should be a great experience (well...an experience nonetheless). So any recommendations are welcomed.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mini Pony of the Day 4-12-07

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cute. this is a guide horse in training. its also the mpotd. cool multitasking

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Fleury, Rest Of Pens, Have Rough Playoff Debut

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wow. that was a tough game to watch. the pens got dominated in every aspect of the game, and fell to ottawa 6-3. that score doesnt even do the senators any justice. ottawa did lead 6-1, before gonchar and crosby added "confidence-booster" goals in the waning moments. therrien and the team had been quick to brush off the teams youth and inexperience, but had to face the music after this one was over. therrien accepted that his team was tight, and crosby felt the team was watching rather than setting the early tone. both were understatements. the senators clearly came out with more passion, and were able to leave their mark on the game from the drop of the puck. andrej meszaros scored 1:37 into the game, and chris kelly added a goal only 5 minutes later.
despite giving up 6 goals, i cant place the blame solely on maf. mark eaton tipped a shot that was easily picked up by ottawa for an easy goal. laraque's intended drop pass to ruutu lead to a senators breakaway that resulted in an easy goal. the defense couldnt get the puck out of their own zone. the ottawa forwards were more physical than the pittsburgh defense. the pens couldnt handle simple passes and stick-handling maneuvers. daniel alfredsson was allowed to take hack after hack at the net, and the score would have been 10-3 if the ottawa captain quit missing the cage. ryan whitney struggled to a -2 rating. in case you dont get the point, i can keep going on about why the pens lost. maf looked nervous at the beginning, settled down for a bit, then imploded upon himself. as frustrated as i was, though, there were plenty more reasons for this loss rather than just the poor play of maf.
"apparent kicking motion." remember those words. any chance of the penguins swinging game momentum last night was crushed by the "war room" in toronto, who disallowed sidney crosby's goal in the opening moments of the 2nd period, which would have closed the ottawa lead to 4-2, after dany heatley scored only 15 seconds prior. colby armstrong crashed the net, and sid put the rebound past emery, thus revitalizing the pittsburgh bench. after talking to the "war room," the refs disallowed the goal, because crosby's sliding foot touched the puck before it scooted past emery. crosby took a legitimate shot with his stick, and was falling to his knees like he has done in the past. however, last night, crosby was right in front of emery, and wasnt trying to break his body in half as he crashed the net. he went from his knee to his butt, and the puck tipped the heel of his stick, hit his sliding foot, and went in. the thing that gets me, is we dont know if the "war room" has any bias against the kid. sid is legendary in the league for his lower body strength, and has been known to use his skates like 2 additional sticks. ive never seen a player protect a puck like crosby can, by passing the puck between his skates and his stick with such ease. if anyone in the "war room" (i cant stand that they call it that) has watched any of crosby in his first 2 seasons, they would know the kid's abilities. i seriously hope that the geniuses in toronto didnt hold this against crosby while making their decision to disallow the goal. i understand "apparent kicking motion," but sid actually took the shot with his stick, and as he was falling into the cage, his eyes were still focused on where the shot from his stick was supposed to go. "apparent kicking motion" is supposed to deter players from kicking pucks into the goal, not for overanalyzing a guy falling down while trying to make a legitimate shot. the pens beat the sens back in march after falling down 4-1, and crosby's goal could have sparked the turnaround in this 4-1 game. instead, any momentum was gone once the ref waved the goal off (to steigy and errey's surprise), and maf allowed 2 more goals before being benched for t-bo.
this is, in no way, critical of ottawa. they clearly won the game. they exerted their influence, and flat-out beat sid and company. hopefully the team can build off of the failures in game 1, and come out with more purpose on saturday.

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