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Wakeup Call: Fatal flaw, funny Flyer, flustered Fleury

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VOORHEES, N.J. — Brief and to the Point …

>> My Tuesday mini-column, part of the Trib’s playoff Insider feature, looks at the Penguins’ fatal flaw. And who exactly might have figured it out.

>> Scott Hartnell, the self-confessed most unpopular man in Pittsburgh these days, is pretty funny for a Flyer, as our reports all week have shown.

But Hartnell and everyone else in the Philadelphia organization would be foolish to go too far in rubbing the Penguins’ faces in anything. For one thing, the Penguins have been plenty capable of embarrassing themselves. For another, the Flyers have everything to gain from a clean, quiet, healthy victory in Game 4.

>> Just for fun, complete the following sentence: If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also …

>> I obviously haven’t been able to watch the Pirates out here, but reading our coverage, checking the boxes and going over video highlights … wow, how are you people watching this?

Look at these Elias numbers our Rob Biertempfel got. They’re astounding.

Here’s one of my own: That lineup card Clint Hurdle carried out to the umps Monday in Phoenix finished the night with seven of the Pirates’ nine starters having averages below .200. And four of them have lower averages than Erik Bedard, who singled to raise his figure to .167.

That’s not Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee out there anymore.

>> I’ll be hanging with Flyers today, probably coming up with a column there. Not sure.

155 Comments

  1. The Pirates’ hitting is soooo bad that Ryan Doumit (whose 2-year option they declined in the off-season) has a higher career OPS than anyone on the current Pirates roster other than Andrew McCutchen.

  2. D.K. , Why is anyone surprised by the pathetic performance of this band of misfits? Who actually thougth Barmes, Barajas, etc.. were going to do something wonderful? And what has Huntington done to make you believe you would see an improvement? Crosby, Church, Aki, Vasquez, (take your pick), I could name the clowns he brought in all day. This is not an aberration, this is Pirates baseball under Nuttig. This year is going to be a certified disaster and it is year 5, can’t blame Littlefield any longer. By the way I know you k now more than anyone how I got drilled by predicting on the day of the Bay trade that Andy LaRoche would be out of the majors by 2012 and out of baseball in 2013. How is that one looking?

  3. The link for the Scott Hartnell reference leads to a Rossi article. And yeah, I just thought it was *hilarious* to hear Captain Hypocrisy’s interview after the game Sunday. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Or ginger. Or whatever. (I actually like the guy and will probably go back to that after this series. If he gets under *my* skin like this, lord god almighty how much does he drive the guys he plays against *crazy*?)

  4. How do I watch the Pirates? Painfully. 20th losing season baby, it’s ON!

  5. JAL’s Ghost Riders in the Sky Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

  6. 5 Bucs Dugout

    Location Different, Storyline The Same. Pirates Fall To Diamondbacks 5-1

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/17/2954017/location-different-storyline-the-same-pirates-fall-to-diamondbacks-5-1

    6 Rumbunter

    Success of Diamondbacks Coaching Staff Makes Me Wonder What If

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/16/success-of-diamondbacks-coaching-staff-makes-me-wonder-what-if/

    Talking Baseball: The CBA and Other Topics

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/16/talking-baseball-the-cba-and-other-topics/

    7 McEffect

    Recap 4/16 | Diamondbacks 5 Pirates 1

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/04/recap-416-diamondbacks-5-pirates-1.html

    8 WHYGAVS

    It’s never too early to start worrying

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2012/its-never-too-early-to-start-worrying.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Line Up, Notes for Arizona

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/04/line-up-notes-for-arizona.html

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Another step back

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/04/another-step-back/

  7. I’m done with our Penguins, they have embarrassed me enough to all my friends outside our city –

    I Digress, I know its really early… But might we be in a legitimate position of strength early on for the first time – in ever as long as I can think? Now I know A.J. Burnett hasn’t pitched an inning yet, but at the same time, is there Anyway we might capitalize on a team without pitching depth, and Infield help? Because while I know this is a great problem to have, I don’t think there is a single starter that deserves to go to the Bullpen… thus said if A.J. is good enough to be a 5 at best, doesn’t it make sense- if ever there was a time- to test the waters now…. Maybe J-Mac for an infielder… SD is having pitching problems I believe…. Just throwing this out there…

  8. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Strength of Schedule Suggests AFC North Will Be Competitive in 2012

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/16/2951718/nfl-2012-schedule-afc-north-opponents-steelers-ravens-bengals-browns

    Limas Sweed Working Out for Cincinnati Bengals

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/16/2951707/limas-sweed-working-out-for-cincinnati-bengals

    BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 21 — Cincinnati Bengals Select Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/16/2952529/2012-nfl-mock-draft-cincinnati-bengals-michael-brockers

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Pre Draft Visitor List Shows Outside Linebacker & Tight End As Positions To Be Addressed

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/04/steelers-pre-draft-visitor-list-shows-outside-linebacker-tight-end-as-positions-to-be-addressed/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Steelers 2009 Draft Revisited – Getting Ziggy With It

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/04/16/steelers-2009-draft-revisited-getting-ziggy-with-it/

  9. Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Spring Game Review

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/16/spring-game-review/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    J.J. Moore Fractures Right Foot, Out Three Months

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/16/2952191/j-j-moore-fractures-right-foot-out-three-months

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Quiet Spring: Good News For WVU

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52170

    26 WV Illustrated

    Tavon Austin Makes WVU Defense Better

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17459895/tavon-austin-makes-wvu-defense-better

  10. PENGUIN BLOGS

    27 Pensburgh

    Pens in 7? Crazy? Not According to Mathematical Law.

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/16/2952366/pens-in-7-crazy-not-according-to-mathematical-law

    Past time for a gut-check, the Pens just need to win a game

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/16/2951921/past-time-for-a-gut-check-the-pens-just-need-to-win-a-game

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Wigan stun Gunners

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19764,11065_3498973,00.html

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 16th 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/uncategorized/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-16th-april-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Wigan Athletic add Arsenal’s scalp to Manchester United’s with 2-1 win over Gunners in English Premier League upset

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/wigan-athletic-add-arsenals-scalp-to-manchester-uniteds-with-2-1-win-over-gunners-in-english-premier-league-upset/story-e6frey4r-1226329616267

  11. Ghost Riders in the Sky,1949. The first recording of this Stan Jones song was by Burl Ives but the biggest hit was this one by Vaughn Monroe. Monroe’s recording went to number 1 and spent 22 weeks on the charts. Though some see it a C&W song, it been recorded across genres, from Bing Crosby to Peggy lee to Concrete Blonde. Robby Krieger says this song inspired The Doors song Rider on the Storm

  12. To finish your ‘just for fun’:
    I also blame Cutch for the Pirates’ hitting woes.

    The optimism of spring training has been crushed by the 1st ten games of the season. Bedard was trying to be so fine last night that he couldn’t find the plate. When you know that if you give up two runs your in line for a loss it must just eat at you.

  13. After watching some of the Pirates games I’m just hoping they lose and lose and lose so that it costs Huntington and Coonley their jobs. That guy is so over matched at being a GM it’s almost hilarious. They’ve spent many millions of dollars on a draft and thus far the only thing to produce is Kdro Alvarez who is on pace to strike out 316 times over the course of a 500 atbat season, and Chase D’nohit. All of the trades have been basically a bust with the exception of 2. His great contract negotiations have cost us Sano. Also he still brings in the washed up rent a vet every year instead of concentrating that 10 or so million on an actual good player.

    Finally I read that Nutting is one of the top 10 richest owners in baseball and yet we still only have a 50 million payroll max.

  14. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, then I also am the person who blames Big Ben for every bad play the Steelers run.

    There is no question Fleury could have been better but the defense has been atrocious. And I don’t see a lot of hustle out of the defense. It really looks like 1980 out there. And i don’t mean a crappy Pens team. I mean NHL defense. So if you want to blame Fleury alone then I would only assume that when Big Ben gets sacked 1 second after the snap instead of blaming the line you blame the QB. Nature of the positions. In the spotlight for good and bad even when you don’t always deserve it

  15. @Dave–
    Don’t believe everything you read. Nutting is in no way even close to being one of the top 10 richest owners in baseball. Ask DK…

    @DK–
    Great insider piece on the Pens. Simple, clear and informative. That strategy exposes the weakest link on the team (the defense) and forces those bad defensemen into making bad decisions.

    Some day, I’d like to read or hear an explanation of how the Miracle on Ice guys beat the Russians… the details, not the team spirit/USA! USA! USA! stuff, but the strategies behind the win. If I recall, Mark Johnson picked up that goal late in the 1st period on a “stretch”-type pass.

  16. Sorry, addendum to above note… Johnson’s was a long rebound off of a long shot… same type of result though.

  17. Does anyone know why the Pirates didn’t start Pedro last night? Was it because they were facing a tough lefty? OK. Then why did they pinch hit him against the same lefty early in the game?
    As for Fleury, if he is responsible for whats wrong with the Pens, then McDonalds is the reason peoples kids are fat.

  18. meglasdad…….I am excited to watch tonight’s game in anticipation of the Great El Whiffo’s appearance in the lineup.

    He is erasing ALL memories of the greatest strikeout artist in Pirate history, Mr Brian Bixler!!!

    I’m usually in bed by 1000, but I am staying up for this. After a hard day at the office, it warms my heart to watch his futile ABs.

    El Studdo the K Master…

    .

  19. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also … had better openly admit that I don’t understand the finer points of the game.

    I don’t blame Marc-Andre Fleury. The only way the Penguins system can be effective is through exceptional goaltending or the Penguins exploiting of an overwhelming offensive advantage. We’ve seen proof of that in last post-season against Tampa Bay and we’re seeing it again now against Philly. Unfortunately, the only answer I’ve seen from the coaching staff is to up the tempo on offense. Dejan, I agree with your conclusion from the mini-column this morning: it’s not an easy fix.

  20. DK, good points on the stretch pass burning the pens lately, but the big fat juicy rebounds don’t help either.

  21. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also blast Ahrn Maiden in my Camaro on the way to Luhtrobe fer trainin’ camp.

  22. While watching the Yankees last night, they were discussing who would come out of the rotation when Andy Pettitte came up. Michael Kay made this observation, “that’s the great thing about baseball, it’s a results based business.” Maybe it is in New York. Results are merely an distraction here from what really counts, the process.

    When talking about Pedro Alvarez, Neal Huntington said that they can’t worry about results – it’s the process that matters. The process ? Just ignore the utter failure ? More Moneyball garbage I suppose.

    And speaking of Huntington. The Pirates record since he took over is 261-396 (.397). That got him a 3 year extension. It’s the process, you see.

    Dave Littlefield’s record was 421-549 (.434). And he’s ridiculed. Not to dwell on results of course. It’s all about the process, you know.

  23. Thoughts:

    1. Wieters last night hit 2 HRs, 4 overall, Moskos in AAA.

    2. I live in Braves country, the locals here complain that the Braves can’t hit or score enough runs. I laugh, then cry for my Buccos.

    3. I don’t think it’s time to fire HCDB. He just needs to tweak the system for next year, and our talent will win out. Sad part is this is the first time since the Cup runs, we’ve had all 3 centers healthy and playing well. With their injury history, how many more Cup runs will these 3 get in the next decade? 3 or 4 tops?

    4. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also blame Bartmann for jinxing the Cubs.

  24. Loved the stretch pass article! Thanks for helping us understand the issue! Let’s hope they can adjust and pull this off. Thanks DK!

    Forget about Pedro. Play him! We have no one else. Put him out there. Now is the time to put him out there.

  25. If I blame MAF for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, then I also blame [INSERT STEELERS' OFFENSE COORDINATOR HERE] for every time the Steelers lose.

    I don’t even know what to say about the Pirates at this point — dead last in every statistical category offensively except … wait for it … triples. Almost 75 points behind the next worst team in baseball in OPS (Oakland). 1.9 runs per game? Even Cincy, which is about 28th in every statistical category, has managed to work itself into 2nd place in this putrid NL Central by scoring 3 runs per game.

    I place almost no blame on Hurdle. Sure, he trotted out a lineup last night with 7 players batting less than .200. Here’s one better — 4 of the starters last night have BAs less than .150! Who else is he to put out there? K-dro? Navaro?

  26. meglasdad,

    I wondered the same thing but then figured out something. Since Pirates sent down Hague for the extra arm and they were facing a lefty, almost everyone on their bench was left-handed. The only right-handed options were McHenry (can’t use your 2nd catcher in the 6th inning as a PH) and Navarro, who they were likely saving for later innings. Other than that, the bench was McLouth, Garrett and Pedro. I would rather save the other two for later innings too, so run Pedro out there and hope he somehow runs into one.

    (Hold on, let me finish my Kool-Aid)

    If not, at least he had a good at-bat. Down 0-2 to start, works count back to 3-2 and manages to make contact by “stinging” a grounder to second. It’s all about the process and maybe when he brings his average up to .205 in August and is only whiffing once every 3 at-bats, we’ll all look back at last night’s quality at-bat against Cliff Lee, I mean, Clayton Kershaw, er … Joe Saunders as the turning point.

  27. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also better put on his gear and take his place.

    If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also need to admit I don’t what I’m talking about.

    If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also should blame myself, for not being a good enough fan.

    Need I go on?

  28. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also think that Pedro Alvarez is the only reason the Pirates can’t score runs.

    Given all of the talk about the way that the stretch pass has been the pens’ Kryptonite over the past few weeks, I still haven’t really been able to figure out why their system is so much more susceptible to it than other systems. It’s not like this is the first time a team has ever used the tactic, so why does it destroy the Pens but teams like the Flyers and Rangers are able to handle it? I know that the Pens defensive players are more active on offense than some teams… but wow.

  29. “Given all of the talk about the way that the stretch pass has been the pens’ Kryptonite over the past few weeks, I still haven’t really been able to figure out why their system is so much more susceptible to it than other systems. It’s not like this is the first time a team has ever used the tactic, so why does it destroy the Pens but teams like the Flyers and Rangers are able to handle it?”

    Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees…

    Either Bylsma’s unique, one-of-a-kind “system” has an imperceptible fatal flaw on one specific play orrrrr the players just aren’t stopping the d*mn pass!

    Through all the “system” and “adjustments” lingo, not one person has actually said what’s wrong with the friggin’ strategy.

    It’s not rocket science out there. They don’t have set plays on every down. At some point, the players have to step up and play hockey like they always have. The level at which the defense is failing is far, far beyond a “system”.

  30. @DK (+ Rossi & Yohe):

    Are the Pens really as broken a team as you suggest, or is the Trib’s recent defeatism (see Rossi) and fascination with the Flyers just a ploy to get the Pens going?

    There are at least a few reasons, the last 3 weeks notwithstanding, to believe that the Pens could get a win on Wednesday and slowly claw their way back into this series. The Flyers have been weak defensively — 12 goals in 3 games is nothing to be proud of — and mediocre in goal. When the Pens have managed to slow the pace of the game down, and cycle down low in the offensive zone, it has paid off.

    The Pens have also looked at times like they were either going to run away with games early, or jump back into games after falling behind, only to give up terrible goals/take stupid penalties — as Melrose puts it, “they could have won Game 3″. If they can just avoid making egregious mistakes, they dramatically improve their chances of winning

    The Pens also have a core of Stanley Cup winners that came back to beat Detroit — a much more balanced, disciplined team than the Flyers — who you have to believe will not fold easily.

    Also, how have the Pens tried to address the stretch pass, and why haven’t they been successful?

    DK: Tim, your initial assertion up there is the stretch to end all stretches, on this day of discussing the stretch pass.

    Your last Q is addressed at least briefly in my piece today with the mention of a center hanging back.

  31. tmp144…” place almost no blame on Hurdle”

    Why not? When has he proven he could manage a winning ball club? That one outlier month in Colorado? If not for that, the man would not have ONE winning season under his tenure.

    Clint is a great guy, but a lousy manager. Results speak for themselves.

    .

  32. @NMR

    I guess that is my question. Is there something about Bysma’s system that puts his defense men in a unique position where they can’t stop the d*mn pass? Or are they just not doing it?

    It isn’t like the other 29 teams in the league put d-men back at the other blue line to protect again the stretch pass. Every team has their D-men helping on offense to some degree, and if an opposing forward goes to the other blue line looking for a stretch pass, someone on defense has to follow. I’ve never actually played hockey in any organized fashion, so I realize that I don’t understand all the nuances of the game like I do is some of the sports that I’ve actually played, but I just don’t understand why this “breaks” Bylsma’s system the way it does.

  33. Hard Line Foo,

    What has Hurdle had to manage? Like Russell, Lamont, McClendon before him, the talent level isn’t there. I agree with DK in the fact that the Pirates need to assess their hitting coach(es), maybe at every level until some real adjustments are made.

    There are some bad managers (Russell the glaring example), but if the team is bad, how can the manager be totally at fault? There are no Heltons, Tulowitski’s or Matt Holidays on this team other than Cutch and to some extreme, Walker. Results are speaking, like you said, but how can they be any different?

    I say, Ray Searage for President and hire a proven hitting coach.

  34. Haven’t read all of the comments yet, but I just read this from ThePensBlog: Alan Robinson tweeted “Have heard from multiple people Staal not content to remain in role much longer. He could be no 1 center in a lot of cities”.

    Going back to the “C” article that had credible sources, it appears as though the Pens locker room might be/is broken. If Staal in fact does want out, the Pens will be a weaker team without him. For the sake of keeping him around, the Pens must try DK’s line of Staal centering Crosby and Duper whenever next season rolls around. Staal is and always has been underrated & overshadowed on this team.

  35. LNK “What has Hurdle had to manage”….do you mean counting his Colo days, too??

  36. LNK…until that last month when they won like 70 kajillion in a row, he was losing with Tulo, Helton, et al.

    Nuff Said.

  37. If I blame Marc Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs – I’d be at least partially right. Game 3 was there for him to win, and he failed miserably.

  38. @Corey

    Trust me, I’m with you. I don’t claim to be a hockey genius what-so-ever.

    Until somebody actually points out what it is about Bylsma’s “system” that is turning a standard hockey play into an a-b-d-a-right-left-right super Nintendo move that beats the computer every time, I’m inclined to believe that the problem might just be elsewhere.

    It’s just not logical to me to throw out a blanket cause for a problem.

    If you get lung cancer and part of your lifestyle is smoking cigarettes, then it’s logical to assume your lifestyle caused the cancer.

    If you never smoked a cig in your life, would you blame your lifestyle choices on the cancer?

  39. Foo,

    I meant with the Pirates. He did under-achieve with the Rockies, similar to Jim Tracy over-achieving there for a while, now under-achieving as he did with a couple somewhat decent teams he had in the Burgh.

    If we could hit, like everyone thought we would last season, myself included, we would be leading the division right now. No offense to Greg Ritchie. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in here right now and applied for Food Stamps, but something needs to be done there. Too many guys not near the Mendoza line. The “team-wide slump” excuse only goes so far. We would be 8-2 or 7-3 rather than 3-7 if we could hit.

  40. LNK….you’re making no sense. You say ” He did under-achieve with the Rockies”

    So what about that led you and others to believe he could lead us to the .500-land?

    I didn’t get it then and still don’t.

    .

  41. My questioning Hurdle and Ritchie bandwagon seemes to be gaining a few passengers…

    “But, but, but, Josh Harrison and Navarro and Hague and Pressley hit in the low .300′s in Spring Training!”

    How’s that workin’ out?

  42. If I blame MAF for what’s wrong with the Pens in these playoffs, I would also agree with Foo that Neal is god and the Pirates’ problem is Clint Hurdle.

    I’m still trying to figure out how Huntington can be your favorite Pirate, Foo, Alvarez and Hurdle your least favorites. Scratching my head on that one.
    :-)

  43. Is it just me or does it seem like the Pirates have been out west forever?

    Lucky MLB has its outrageous national and local media contracts for revenue because I was flipping through the package channels last night (see I’m part of the problem, not the solution), and there were scant crowds in Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix-just to name a few. Reminded me of the old joke about small crowds in Carolina in the years prior to their Stanley Cup: “Plenty of good sections still available.”

    Thanks for the links, JAL. Big UEFA semi this afternoon.

  44. Foo,

    I didn’t say anything about Hurdle leading us to the .500-land. I don’t know who could right now. Danny Murtaugh is dead. I just said he hasn’t had anything to manage. He is a great guy, like you said, but so are you and so am I, but we can’t manage or we’d be doing it. (My record was under .500 with the church softball team when I was running it).

    I just said he can’t be shouldering the entire blame. He doesn’t have a lot to work with and no margin for error–no pun intended. He has less to under-achieve with than he had with the Rockies.

  45. AW…for the life of me *I* can’t figure out why I dislike a K machine like Pedro or a losing manager like Clint. Head scratching indeed. :)

    As for Neal, check out the farm system compared to the Littlefield regime. Yeh, the ML team still sucks, but the pitching appears to have gotten better. If some of the hitters would’ve developed (esp Pedro) we’d be a lot better. And you know, as well as I, weren’t no big hitters coming here in a trade OR Free Agency.

    I can’t blame NH for Pedro. Posey, PA and Hosmer were extremely close calls when it came time to pick. Just the Bucco’s curse that we got the one outta 3 who sucked.

    .

  46. LNK…so you’re saying that if Hurdle HAD the talent he’d lead us to the .500-land?

    Why? What in his past led you to believe that?

    I agree that he doesn’t get the whole blame, but what I am saying is that he shouldn’t have gotten the credit he got for our miracle 4 months last year.

    .

  47. Foo,

    I look at all the minor league boxes every night and you’re right. The system has improved, but still not “championship caliber” yet. I still say the jury remains out on Pedro. The talent is (was) there and he needs some counselling, either from someone in the field or spiritual or something to get his head straight.

  48. Still fairly new to using the blog as my anecdotal therapy to get though a Pirates season. But Dejan pointed out with the lateness of my last post on the Bucs game last night that I should repost under the wakeup call. So here are some random musings from the game I attended last night.

    The good – Andrew McCutchen came over during bp and signed my baseball which started the day on a great note, really classy guy. The friend I was with noticed my hand even shaking a little. That further reminded me of the little kid still in me, especially, when you see someone you watch, appreciate and become a huge fan of. A couple of other guys came over and chatted up some fans including Barmes and McGehee, with McGehee talking lots about his little boy. All of them very nice but I was lucky to get the one guy I wanted to sign the baseball I brought to add to the sports room. The Pirates are a great hitting club in bp hitting off Leyva and Silverio,and yes , Alvarez hit one to center about 460 high off the scoreboard, how he lacks squaring the ball up in games is a wonder. Clint Hurdle watched everybody take cuts and was providing instruction under a very watchful eye.

    The bad – Bedard zero command which was maddening to sit through, Meek getting roughed up again is it me or has he lost it (speed down, movement on pitches lacking)? Outside of two foul ball shots by Cutch and Barajas the bats pretty lifeless and a wasted opportunity in the first with Saunders struggling, poor AB by JHay in my opinion. considering Saunders had just walked the bases loaded and it could of broken the game open a little early.

    I saw Neal Huntington during bp by the cages chatting it up with the coaching staff and so wanted to scream at him to do something to add to this lineup as he was all smiles before the game. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on view point I bit my tongue as I would not have had the nicest of words in the moment for a portion of the “Greatest Management Team in Baseball”.

    Lastly, a little surprised by the small crowd. It was announced at 17,000 and Phoenix has a team coming off of a division title and is probably a contender. Witnessing the excitement last year in Pittsburgh at PNC just reminds me how ready the Bucco fan base is aching for a winner.

    Hopefully a better outcome tonight as I truly hope I can witness a win in person. We really need to just survive this brutal April schedule.

  49. @Foo

    So you can’t blame Neal for picking Pedro instead of Hosmer or Posey. Then who exactly would you blame ? I thought the GM’s job was to pick the right guy. There’s no curse here, just incompetent management.

  50. Foo,

    Did he get the credit for those 4 months? I’d give it to Searage and the pitchers themselves who got the job done, as opposed to the final swoon. I’m saying that Hurdle may be able to lead us to .500 or better if he had anything to work with. Ultimately, he’s the manager, so he gets the blame if they suck on the field, but he can only do so much. God, look at all the different lineups last season and so far this season. What else can a manager do but shuffle, teach and make decisions during the game? At some point, the players have to perform. I know that’s the understatement of the decade and worn out and all, but it’s still true.

  51. JRay,

    Thanks for that report. Brings it on a personal level. Much appreciated.

  52. Also I know it is still very early in the season, but is there concern for the Minor League system, which Pirates Management boasts as much improved in terms of depth and talent, being a combined three games below .500. Not one team in the system is above .500 through the first 11-12 games. I mention, because looking at the early season stats of the DBacks top 20 prospects versus the Pirates they have far more arms and bats with better statistical lines than the Pirates top prospects.

    Tallion a 3.12 ERA, Cole a 5.14 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, Allie 4 BB’s in first appearance, Locke a 7.00 ERA in 2 starts, McPherson, a ZVR not pitching, DIckerson hitting .214. But when you look at team like the DBacks, both Bauer and Bradley pitching lights out and Matt Davidson a 3B top five prospect hitting .455 with a .682 slugging and 1.253 OPS. And a lot of people say Bauer is ready to join the rotation now, and Cole still seems a little ways away.

    I just want to be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

  53. So much head scratching here, somone check the blog for head lice!! ;)

  54. JRay,

    A lot of guys hitting early in WV and Bradenton.

  55. Jandy,

    Contrary to the thinking of some, you aren’t in KY. (I know, there are head lice in PA, too, just no bed bugs).

  56. Lucky, are you saying KY has no head lice? Well, PA most assuredly has bed bugs….

  57. Milo:

    I can forgive the FO for passing on Hosmer in favor of Alvarez-given the reports on Alvarez at the time. I will never understand why they passed on Posey. He was a collegiate player of the year, Johnny Bench Award winner as well as the Golden Spikes winner . AND a catcher to boot. Good grief.

  58. @pensfans

    Stretch pass is miniscul part of problem. Defense allowing forwards to turn the corner on them with ease is HUGE problem. Defense refusing and not willing to pick up bodies and lift sticks by the net is a HUGE problem. 2 man forecheck that is getting picked apart like its practice is HUGE problem. This is gonna sound crazy but this is what you do….put Letang and Orpik back together(hold your breathes now) put 7 and 4 together BUT play a trap in front of them so they’re insulated and have more time and space to move the puck. 2 man forecheck that is “bylsma game” is getting used like its a practice drill because our defense makes routine rushes up ice by philly look like a jailbreak every stinkin time. Blaming MAF is a waste of time.

  59. JohnInOshkosh….they didn’t pick Posey because they thought they had Weiters in the farm system….they were in denial that DL picked Moskos over him….they thought someone was pulling their leg. :)

    =========

    Milo….You’d have had to been prescience to forsee Pedro’s magnitude of bustitude. :)

    =======

    Jandy/LNK – Are there Bed Lice?

  60. Foo, of course you know I was not criticizing your stance on Pedro. But Hurdle is starting his second year as manager, Neal is starting his 5th as GM. And while JR may have been a collaboration between FC and Neal, Hurdle was clearly his guy. So how does godlike Neal get a pass when he picked your two least favorite guys? It’s not logical. I guess all GM’s pick the wrong manager, too. Talk about sticking one’s head in the sand. (And I say this with all respect). And whose idea is it to not send Pedro down? I don’t think Clint is overruling Neal.

  61. Jandy,

    Quite the opposite, plus bed bugs in KY. Didn’t know bed bugs were in PA, too. Next, you’ll have race horses and manufacture bourbon and tobacco. The state’s gone to the dogs!

  62. JohnInOshkosh–you forget they had Joggin’ Ronnie and Ryan (yes I’m injured again) Nomit. They were set. Just ask Foo. :-)

  63. @Foo

    You’re right about the bustitude factor. But Bobby Beathard still took the fall in San Diego when Ryan Leaf busted out. But there I go with that results thing again. I need to focus more on the process.

  64. Buggy Foo ~ bed lice is the same as bed bugs. Yuck! Now my skin is crawling!

    Lucky, horses and bourbon are ok…detest tobacco in any form UGH!

  65. AW,

    Now we have Rod “I have to hit the ball through the wall to get to 2nd” Barajas. Free McKenry and Eric Fryer!

  66. AW….You make a godlike point. I had never looked at it that way.

    Thanks for cheering me up. :) :) :)

  67. Also, rather dubious about NH’s “sample size” saw the other day. Alvarez has 602 career MLB at at bats including 235 last year. Plus he is now 25 years old. Plenty of sample size.

  68. LNK….don’t mention bourbon and Tobacco (or that other stuff you smoke). They were almost the kryptonite to a Young Fooman.

    For some reason, I still sometimes miss those wild and carefree days….at least those I can remember.
    :)

  69. John….I ‘sampled’ sushi once. Didn’t need to ‘sample’ more than that to know I hated it. And I LOVE seafood.

    I wonder if they’re giving that great KC GM (Dayton Moore, Moore, Moore) a free pass and he has an extra year on Neal.

    Remember all the accolades HE got? He can’t develop pitching. Perhaps he and Neal should trade ideas?

    Processing Foo

    .

  70. When does the NFL season start?
    :) :) :) :)

    .

  71. Good stuff from you today, Foo. As always.

  72. Foo? You’re going to AGREE with me? Now what am I going to do? Where are those guys that like to tell us what true and real Pirates fans think? They never agree with anything they don’t post. :-)

  73. Foo,

    Meth is the problem here. Even elderly supplement their income making it. Labs found and destroyed all the time. That and pills some unscrupulous doctors hand out like candy. Shame. All the honorable stuff like bourbon and ‘backey take a back seat to that junk. Or mint juleps (sp.?) you can get at the KY Derby.

  74. Jandy

    Yuck indeed

  75. I couldn’t agree more, John. That guy cracks me up.

    Keep on keepin on, FooManShoe.

  76. Arriba

    I don’t agree with anything anyone posts, not even my own posts except for the morning links but I don’t agree with all them though I did agree with my article on the CBA and other things. :)

  77. “You’re going to AGREE with me?”

    My bad.
    :)

    ===========

    John In Oshkosh…thx…I try. :)

    .

  78. I like it over here….it’s a Love Foofest.


    =====

    JAL the Linkman….I don’t agree with anything you post
    either. :) :) :)

    Disagreeable Foo

    .

  79. @Roland

    Agreed. I believe it was mentioned yesterday, but down 3-1 to Washington in the 1996(?) playoffs, the Pens trapped it up and won the series. They need to play better; that is obvious. But Disco Dan must change his game plan or else they are just smashing their collective into an ice wall again. This style is not working against Philly; time for plan B, C, D, E…I don’t care if they go to plan Z, just make an adjustment.

    I acknowledge that adjustments could have already been made and the Pens are just playing that poorly, but I do not see many adjustments.

    Pens lost 6 in a row, then won 8 in a row. Game 7 is NOT impossible, just HIGHLY improbable.

  80. JAL,

    I think we’re in consensus about bugs, but you didn’t weigh in on bourbon and race horses.

  81. LNK…that is a sad ‘state’ of affairs. My old hometown (Midland) had gone downhill because of drugs. Before then, you could walk around at 3 AM (seriously).

    I hear they’ve really cleaned it up.

    ..

  82. Foo,

    I’ve been in Midland at 3 AM (not recently) and you’re right. Hope they did clean it up.

  83. This from a small town girl: Pittsburgh scares me!

    JAL ~ lol got your skin crawling too.

    Foo, Lucky, OshKoshB’Gosh, NMR, Milo, AW ~ you guys all kill me, but that’s good. I am learning much from all your rants and musings. for instance: some days Hurdle sucks, other days he doesn’t ;)

    To all the newcomers, let Bizrow know what town you’re from so he can add you to the list of DK’s Lunatics =)

  84. Jandy…I DEMAND to know which days Hurdle doesn’t suck….

    oh wait….foogot about the off days.
    :) :)

  85. When do we get the new blog software?

    .

  86. Foo, I dunno, the offdays, or the days when Lucky says he doesn’t ;)

    I was wondering the same thing about the blog upgrade… DK????

  87. If I blame Marc-Andre Fleury for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, I also …blame DK for jinxing the Boys of Winter by predicting they would win it all.

    How else can you explain MAF allowing what seems like 96 goals in three games, Sid acting like a 12 year old who had his ice cream stolen, the sudden goon mentality, the lack of solid defense, horrid special teams, Staal possibly wanting out, Disco Dan not having some kind of counter punch, etc.

    Sorry DK, you lobbed up the softball. I had to swing.

    @Biz…born, raised, live in, work in Scott Twp, PA.

    Back to lurking….

  88. Jandy,

    You have to ask the Suckmeter for that. Haven’t seen him around for a while. Must be confused by the Pens’ play of late. Hurdle is only as good as his team makes him, example the 20-game winning streak and World Series appearance for the Rockies, then the firing in favor of Jim Tracy not long after.

  89. GlassHalfFull, don’t lurk all the time, that was a great post! It’s about time someone threw that back at DK ;)
    is that Scott Township close to East Carnegie? Just curious.

  90. Lucky, you’re right…wonder what happened to the Suckmeter???

  91. Jandy

    I think a spring broke in it and it is in a repair shop :)

  92. JAL ~ lol…nuttin like a leaky suckmeter!

  93. Foo, if don’t agree with anything i post then you foolish, or foodless, or foolproof, or in footfall, or foozled :)

  94. Foozled…that’s what’s wrong with the Pens, they’re foozled…

  95. Jandy….thank God I am not a hockey fan. I can maybe name 3 current Penguins….Larouche, Mario and Barasso.

    Seriously….Sidney, Evgeni and Marc Andre. Other than that….

    .

  96. JAL…I’m one of the Hardy boys….that’s right, Foo Hardy.
    :)

  97. Lee, I’m tellin ya, it’s tough bein a Pens Puckhead these days!

  98. So Neal had his hearing with Shamaham…expects to hear by the end of the day what the verdict is. Asham meets in person with Shamaham this evening. No doubt in my mind he’s getting 5+ games.
    UGH this stinks.

  99. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Don’t do it.

  100. Milo,

    I didn’t know you moonlighted as McGruff the Crime Dog. Learn something every day if you’re not careful.

  101. Foo

    I think of you as more like Andy Hardy :)

  102. Jandy

    Pens foozled? maybe, or maybe bamboozled

  103. JAL,

    Didn’t Mickey Rooney play Andy Hardy? That would make Foo small and Foo-ish.

  104. I see some have nothing better to do today!

    Here’s my shot…and somebody already stole mine, 3 of them.

    If I blame M-AF for for what’s wrong with the Penguins in these playoffs, then I blame DK for my lack of hockey knowledge.

    I buy the MLB Extra Innings package every year so I can watch the Pirates play. Why? I don’t know what it is, no matter how bad they are, they are still my team. I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh since I was 12 years old. I still it my home. And the Pirates are my hometown team. Maybe it would be different if I were to still be around there as I know a lot of my friends have given up on them. I have said many times over that I was not going to follow them, but I can’t help it.

    So why do I watch them? They are like family. You love them and hate them at the same time, but you always come back to them….

  105. And to be honest, I never thought about why I always watch them and stick with them until you asked the question….THANKS ALOT!! Freakin Bums better start hitting.

  106. @Foo- I’m right there with you on the Penguins players names…..wait, I think I know more former pens on the Flyers than I do regular….Ha Ha…Jagr, Talbot, who I know despise.

  107. Milo:

    Your link led me to check out the Foster Brooks/Dean Martin toasts on the side suggestions. Ah, the era before political correctness.

    Bloody genius.

  108. “Ah, the era before political correctness.

    Bloody genius.”

    Amen brother….

  109. Luchy

    Yes, Mickey Rooney played Andy Hardy in the movies.

  110. LNK….Mickey was taller than he looked. He was actually 6’1″ just like me….can’t believe you didn’t know that.

    Plus, like me, he had LOTS of beautiful girlfriends.

    I think JAL was spot on!

    Andy the Foo

    .

  111. “You love them and hate them at the same time, but you always come back to them….”

    Ryan…you speak the truth.

    And yes, today was an interminably slow day. Sent the analysis out and I’ve been waiting for their analysis of my analysis. Hurry up and wait.

    As a consultant, I am not allowed to do anything else (altho I try). When my customer calls, I drop everything and run.

    I think I’m going home…I am only part time any way. :)
    Besides, I’m RETIRED! :)
    .

  112. Foo,

    You can say that again. He’s been married more times than Lis Taylor was. I think he was more like 5’1″ though.

  113. Mickey Rooney has had more wives than the Pirates have homeruns. And you can look it up.

  114. LNK…IMDB says he is 5’2″. You were close.

    From Wiki – Rooney’s oldest child (of 9 kids) Mickey Rooney, Jr. is a born-again Christian.

    Thought you’d enjoy that little tidbit.

  115. Milo LOLOL! Still got it goin on…and on….and on…

    Foo & Lucky ~~
    106.LuckyNKentucky
    JAL,
    Didn’t Mickey Rooney play Andy Hardy? That would make Foo small and Foo-ish.

    No, that would make him Foo-hardy! Nyuk nyuk nyuk…had to :p

  116. Milo….Mickey has more wives than Fleury has saves in the playoffs? :)
    Don’t look it up tho.

    Puckish Foo

  117. Ryan ~ “And to be honest, I never thought about why I always watch them and stick with them until you asked the question….THANKS ALOT!! Freakin Bums better start hitting.”

    Isn’t that the freakin truth!!!!

  118. LMAO @ Foo! You guys are cheering me up…thanks!

  119. Mickey Rooney day continues…

    He’s been married to his current wife for 34 years, she’s #8. The Pirates have 4 homers.

  120. Jandy…

    “that would make him Foo-hardy! Nyuk nyuk nyuk…had to ”

    Sorry…already used that joke. Look it up.
    :)

  121. Foo ~ Boooooooooooooooooo!
    But you guys are still making my day =)

    Now I got news a State Corrections bus hit a car head on a half mile away from my house and the highway is closed down. Hope I can get thru and get home….
    ::sigh::

  122. @Jandy

    Oh no, the fugitive.

    Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble.

  123. Milo, lol…more than ONE fugitive…the ones that weren’t killed :/

  124. Lucky, send up a few prayers.

  125. @ Ryan – I am glad to hear your story as I wonder each year why I buy the MLB Package to watch the Pirates as well. Adding insult to injury my five year old reminds me daily your team never wins. Funny thing I grew up in Buffalo and did not become one of the many Yankee or Mets fans in that area and head scratch on how the Pirates gained my affinity and loyalty.

    On a side note for any of the Bucs fans I was thinking this last night after arriving home from the game…what is my best Pirates memory? Problem was it was somewhat a chore to round the oh so many of them and come up with the “one” since 90-92 would be my Pirate glory years. So I ask of you, yours? Trying to keep it a positive Tuesday with hopes of a win versus Dback ace Kennedy tonight.

  126. Just talk to Inspector Gerard and he will let you though :)

  127. @Ray- It doesn’t help that my wife is a Giants fan and is trying to steal my kids to the dark side of baseball. (that actually should be the PBC) She said I can at least have them for football!!

    I have a hard time coming up with a favorites Pirates moment. I moved from the Burgh to SW Florida. My favorite moments were going to the ST games and meeting the players and getting autographs. From all except Barry Bonds of course…douche.

    So that’s my favorite Pirates memories, going to ST games and talking with the guys.

    Here’s one, Doug Drabek’s wife complaining to him about signing autographs, while signing autographs…that was funny.

    Or getting Jeff King and John Smiley’s autograph, while they sat in Smiley’s Porsche.

  128. JAL, I’ll tell them you sent me ;)

  129. JRay, my favorite memories go back to the Stargell/Sanguillen/Richie Henbner days. While a Girl Scout, we took a bus trip to Cincinnati for a weekend trip. Took in Cedar Point, and a Pirates/Reds game. We sat on the third base line…and all us “tweeners” were cheering at Henber. He waved up at us and had this HUGE smile on his face. Left a deep impression on me. Those were the days.

  130. Great one, Milo. Your fugitive is the AHL President, Jandy.

  131. Jandy,

    You must mean Kings Island. Isn’t Cedar Point in Sandusky? Tommy Boy would know.

  132. My favorite Pirate moment ever is the Ortiz at bat as the rain started to come down last year. Knowing that if he got a hit there the game could be called and the Bucs would lose was so suspensful. And then when he meekly grounded out and the rain stopped by the end of the commercial break it all seemed surreal.

    Kind of lame to take someting so recent i know. But not many single moments stand out to me through the years. Not ones i actually got to watch. I missed the combined no hitter, i missed the Rob Macowiak game, I missed the J-Bay game. The Freak Show was more a memorable season than a memorable moment, and going back to 90-92 I was all of 10-12 years old and had only network TV so I couldn’t watch many of the games. I only have a couple memories from those. Merced hit a lead off homer in one game that the Bucs went on to drop and well, the ongoing nightmare…

  133. Cedar Point is in Sandusky.

  134. Easy one for me. 1960 World Series, Game 2, a 16-3 trouncing at the hands of the Yanks. My dad took me out of school to go and he passed away two years later, so it was and it the greatest Pirates’ memory possible for me. They lost that battle, but of course won the war in Game 7.

  135. favorite pirate memory the night of the combined no hitter. I saw 3 things that night
    that I’d never think I’d ever see. 1. The game was a sellout!!! WOW. 2. I got to watch the game from a corporate box, (never before, never since) and finally a no hitter.
    combined no less. how cool was that.

  136. I have lots of fond Pirates memories, the first of which was listening with my father and older brother to the Gunner call Roberto Clemente’s walk-off inside-the-park grand slam.

    And the time I was at Forbes Field and watched Hank Aaron hit a line shot that shortstop Dick Groat jumped for, and barely missed, and it carried over the left center wall. Like a good golf drive. wow, was that ball hit!

    Or those lazy summer days when I would hitchhike from New Castle to go to Bucco games with my brother (he was attending Pitt medical school), sitting in the bleachers at Forbes Field. Tickets were $1.00.

    However, if you notice, I don’t have any fond memories to mention since 1992.

  137. @ Ryan, Jandy, AJS, Cosmo, Dave J, Lucky – Thanks for sharing such wonderful moments and memories. Some great ones shared!

    You know last night the combined no hitter came into my head but I only was able to watch the end on a cable jump in. In the stands last night there were quite a few Pirates fans and I mentioned to my friend when I saw a Stargell jersey how I wished I could have watched him play but it was just a little before my time. I was a kid watching a team of Madlock, Ray, Thompson, Lacy, Wynne, Rhoden, Robinson, DeLeon, Guante and they seem to be the first Pirates I remember getting to see or follow.

    So for me although it may not have been one particular game my favorite memory are the times I would go out to my parents car while living in Virginia to get a weak static filled signal of KDKA 1020 when darkness crept in and be able to listen to the end of a Pirate game and hear Lanny Frattare belt out there was “nooooooo doubt about it”, signaling a Pirates win.

  138. Stryper is suing the Rooney’s for copyright infringement.

  139. I got another to add to the list of memories and cannot explain why I didn’t say it earlier. This one goes back to when I was about 6 years old, visiting my grandparents in FLA.

    We went and saw a ST game against the Pirates and Red Sox in Winter Haven, before Sox moved to Ft. Myers. My older brother and I were down on the side waiting to get autographs and Tony Pena came around. I had a Pirates hat on and he looked at me and asked if I was a Pirates fan. I shook my head yes and he tapped me on the head. Can you beat that as a 6 year old?

    I can, when I was in Bradenton for a Pirates game in the early 90′s. I was down on the edge again seeking autographs. A little kid, maybe 3 was in line as well and Chico walked by, handed him is batting gloves and then asked the parents if he could lift hiim up over the railing. He did and took the little kid back to the locker roomm and gave him all kinds of stuff.

    Where is that in today’s game??

  140. Wow the Pena story is really cool and I can’t believe I didn’t mention him in the first team I recollect as I was mesmerized by his catching stance! And your right Ryan wish there was a little more of that today.

    During high school for a couple of years the JV Baseball coach of my high school would alternate taking me every summer to a Phillies / Pirates series. We would we see all three games one year at the Vet the next year at Three Rivers as he was a Phillies fan. During one of the games we sat just above the left field wall at the Vet and Darren Daulton hits a blast that comes right at me…Mr. Kotulka who was a bigger guy gets up gives me a slight elbow to nudge me out of the way and has the ball hit him square in the hands only to plop back out onto the field. Bonds picks up the ball and tosses it to a fan a few seats down. All the Phillies fans start heckling my coach telling him “next time let your son catch it”.

    The best part was at the hotel that night on Sportscenter they show the clip and you can see clearly him nudging me to attempt to catch the ball. Not 30 seconds later his wife calls our room to state please tell me that wasn’t you pushing Michael out of the way on the highlight. Certainly a lasting memory of an isolated moment in a game I attended.

  141. I get it. The Steelers felt bad that the Pens & Pirates are in the crapper and they wanted to take some of the heat off. Yea, that’s it.

  142. Ha Ha…coach busted.

    Stupid Bonds

  143. @Milo- At least they aren’t those Bronco throwbacks with the cool socks.

  144. @Ryan

    Look at the pictures. These socks are almost as bad.

  145. Tonight’s Pirate Lineup: Presley 7 McLouth 9 McCutchen 8 Walker 4 Jones 3 Barajas 2 Alvarez 5 Barmes 6 Karstens 1. And so it is the left handed bats back in the lineup this evening.

  146. The Steelers should wear the Stryper uniforms in the opener. Manning will be blinded and throw 3 picks.

  147. Keep Pedro in the lineup, sink or swim time…The PBC committed to him, leave him in there, even against lefties.

  148. As long as everybody else as the Stryper hair, beside Troy.

  149. Pedro should be playing every single day…in Altoona.

  150. That may be true, but since they’ve committed to him, put his butt in there.

  151. Somebody tell Rossi that was a Jackassian thing to ask Staal given the time and circumstances.

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