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Wakeup Call: Somebody slap Brandon Phillips, already

.

CINCINNATI — Brief and to the Point …

>> The Wednesday column looks at A.J. Burnett, who is very much the guy in this fold.

>> One extra thing that didn’t fit into the column, from my talk with Burnett: I’d mentioned to him that the clubhouse seemed really quiet and calm for such a big win, certainly as compared to last year.

“Must have been almost like a shock for them last year, huh?” Burnett said.

Not “like” a shock, I clarified.

“Well, now it’s just fun,” he continued. “It’s even better like this.”

>> Awesome pregame exchange about the Pirates last night between legendary Reds beat man Hal McCoy and Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips:

Hal tells Phillips the Pirates are in second place. Phillips says, “Pittsburgh is what? You’re lying. Slap me in the face right now. Man, we already knew you can’t take them lightly because they are a major league team and they are where they are for a reason. They’re playing good. You have to go out there and beat them, sink their battleship, make them walk the plank.”

>> One important thing to note about the Pirates’ upcoming talks with Mark Appel and Scott Boras: You’re going to hear a lot about how much Boras and Frank Coonelly are heated rivals. It’s true, probably more than most think. But the FACT is that Pedro Alvarez’s entire negotiations — and I covered them start to finish — were conducted between Boras and Neal Huntington.

Huntington is the sole voice on the Pirates’ end with talks at this level. Coonelly is apprised, but not actually negotiating.

>> For everything I’ve covered in a quarter-century of sports, I’ve never seen the Cup going up in the air. Would love to be in L.A. tonight.

>> Some might recall I predicted — mostly playfull — Anze Kopitar for Conn Smythe. He’s had eight goals, including two back-breakers in these Finals already, but there’s no chance it won’t be Jonathan Quick. And richly deserved.

I also wrote right here in this space before the playoffs that Quick was the NHL’s best goaltender, to the strong scorn of some. Not hearing from those folks anymore.

>> Golf question, and I’m totally serious: Do you ever find yourself getting interested in a tournament in which Tiger Woods is not challenging? If so, is it just the majors?

Count me among the latter.

You could tell the networks and PGA were trying to shove Rory McIlroy down our throats as Tiger II. No way, no how. Certainly not yet.

>> More Pirates in the Friday column. I’m like Depeche Mode. Just can’t get enough.

Comments

  1. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    “I’m like Depeche Mode. Just can’t get enough.”

    LOVE IT!!!

  2. Naje says:

    The good on this PBC team is very good.

    The bad on this team is slowly but surely getting better.

    They’re a good team… warts and all, a good team.

  3. Naje says:

    June 10, 1988… 22nd birthday… Palumbo Center…

    I know where you were, DK…

  4. Evan says:

    I think Hanrahan’s K of Phillips in the 9th was a pretty nice slap. But he really needs a slap with a broom.

  5. Kevin Leary says:

    Phil is my boy. The only intrigue for me if Tiger is in the hunt on Sunday is it gives me someone to actively root against.

  6. CWalton_67 says:

    Just can’t get enough of the Pirates, but they are Death or Glory…just another story. Until they are 2 back in September, I Wanna Be Sedated on all they hype. Which is all real punk rock as opposed to that techno pop vomited by Depeche Mode. Miss this place, hope all are well.

  7. Naje says:

    Great read, DK… not much of a better night-cap than that story.

  8. Naje says:

    That’s some kind of leadership from Burnett. Never heard that from ______ (insert any PBC player name from the past 12+ years). Sometimes leadership is hard to see, but the actions in St. Louis and all season long, the words that support those actions… that’s something the Bucs haven’t had in a long, long time.

  9. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    @Naje

    Agreed. Great read DK, great article. Tides changing in this club….that’s for sure.

  10. Boise Bucco says:

    I like the third pic of Burnett on the main article; with the necklace-thing and all the tat’s he really looks like a Pirate!

  11. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    In case anyone still cares…….Mark Trumbo hit another 2 dingers tonight. He has 12 home runs and 31 RBI on the year and a .634 slugging percentage. Pretty darn impressive. Somehow I don’t see the Angels moving him anytime soon.

  12. Mike C. says:

    I loved the AJ signing when it happened
    Even if he turned out to be the AJ of NY i didn’t see the downside.
    Never imagined it turn out great like this.
    AJ the ace, professional, mentor, leader
    AJ the philosopher it seems sometimes HA
    Other than Cutch, Seems like the best addition to the Buccos in a very long time

  13. NYRinChina says:

    Hey, I’m a Lundqvist guy and you’re hearing from me, pal! No doubt, Quick has had a terrific season and he’s about to win the Conn Smythe. Well deserved. That said, Lundqvist (.930, 1.97) and Quick (.929, 1.95) were both great this season. Lundqvist didn’t face as many shots, but the Rangers were a sub-par offensive team. Many, many nights he was their rock. That’s why I said he was the team MVP. Lundqvist also has a greater body of work in the NHL than Quick. So, I can’t agree that Quick is the NHL’s best goalie. As this very moment? Yes. But I also remember a lot of Philly folks declaring Claude Giroux the best player in the world after Game 6 of the Penguins series. Uh, that didn’t last too long.

  14. Dan1283 says:

    Burnett, more than anyone on the team, has become rejuvenation personified. His starts are can’t-miss for me. For all the crap we put up with for years with from veterans here not by choice – guys who hated the town, hated the team, played for themselves only, or played for their numbers – we deserve this from a player. A guy who embraces the opportunity to play baseball for a living, no matter where it is or who he plays with, and leads by example. And Burnett deserves this too, all of it. The admiration from his teammates and the fans, the trust from the coaching staff, the great numbers he’s earned, even the best buddy catcher the team went out and got to work with him. He’s never had the reputation as a fantastic teammate in the clubhouse either, so he deserves a world of credit for erasing that notion.

    He’s worth every penny and then some. Attitude isn’t everything in sports but when it comes to the ultra-talented it almost is. This is as good as Gary Roberts and Bill Guerin, maybe better. Teams could be pounding on the Pirates’ door for this guy later on this summer. If it continues like this, the front office owes it to this group of players to keep him.

    He fixed James McDonald. Now if only he could rub off on Charlie Morton, who could stick in the rotation for good if he could just stop doubting himself between every inning.

  15. PgherinLev says:

    A.J. jersey sales about to skyrocket :-)

  16. Dan1283 says:

    Great job on the column itself too, DK. You really captured the impact of Burnett well and it sounds like you found the perfect source in Banister to relay it to the reader. Can’t wait to see what Friday’s piece is going to be about.

    I could get used to this whole “wanting to talk/read about the Buccos in June” thing!

  17. Mike C. says:

    Ill admit i’m one of the many who were dreaming of the prospects AJ, Hannrahan and Bedard would bring at the trade deadline.
    Now im not so sure.
    Im also not a big fan of stuff like “intangibles” but this AJ seems to really have it
    Can’t put into numbers what he’s meant to the team so far, especially the young pitching staff.
    We bash the FO for bad signings but gotta give props on one of if not best FA pickup in the majors this year

  18. Skip says:

    My answer to your golf question: Yes, and it’s not just the majors. It’s anytime Phil Mickelson is playing.

  19. Jandy says:

    “I think Hanrahan’s K of Phillips in the 9th was a pretty nice slap. But he really needs a slap with a broom.”
    Love it, Evan!

    Talked hubby into watching some of the game last night…saw some of the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Presley really impressed. Nice to see Barmes homer. Best thing was, hubby asked me this morning what the final score was lol.

    DK, loved the Burnett column. He’s definitely a class act.

    Golf? Uhhhh….when is that soccer column coming out???? ;)

  20. Jandy says:

    Uhh..brain fart…make that McGeehee homer. But Barmes did a nice job of pulling up his average. :)

  21. Juan Pizarro says:

    Boy, talk about not judging a book by it’s cover. I will freely admit when the Burnett trade was being considered I was hesitant about it because of what I “thought” he was like, given the persona he projected when he was getting his beat-downs with the Yankees. I’m happy to say “boy was I wrong”, and thanks to DK for opening up my eyes to the real AJ.

    Juan

  22. Jandy says:

    Oh and I think I’m gonna go buy a Burnett tee. I haven’t owned a baseball tee…ever…

  23. Drew71 says:

    I also wrote right here in this space.

    There. I said it.

  24. Thundercrack says:

    Very nice article today DK. I always wondered how Burnett felt about that outing in St. Louis. Now I finally know. Good stuff from Bannister too.

    Did I miss it last night or did they stop doing the goofy-Dude Where’s My Car- hand signals on the bases?

  25. bdubb says:

    Brandon Phillips is a character. Plays the game the right way with the right attitude. Funny comment.

    It is a nice luxury (finally) to have veteran leadership on this team when the veteran is still a contributor. One thing to be a bench guy, but to go out and get it done adds to whatever talk they do.

    If the reports are true that Appel (and Boras) have turned down $6m from the Astros than this will be no easy negotiation. Of course I wouldn’t care if the Pirates didn’t sign him and had 2 picks next year. I realize Boras is considered the best at what he does but at what point, and especially with this new draft cap, is $6m something to turn down? I have always wondered if he really has his clients best interests in mind. Of course does any agent?

    DK, I do watch a lot of golf and will watch many tournaments when Tiger isn’t involved but when Tiger is there I make sure I am in front of the TV. Whether it is to watch him to see what he does or treat him like Duke basketball and root against him he makes great tv. He still has many years left and their are many great young players but someone needs to step up.

  26. Drew71 says:

    who you calling a goofy dude?

    oh. wait. them.

    nevermind.

  27. Jandy says:

    Drew and TC are making my morning. Dudes, keep up the good work ;)

  28. Drew71 says:

    And do you ever find yourself getting interested in a World Series without the Yankees or Red Sox?

    YOU may not (re Tiger), and ratings may be lower without Tiger in one venue or the Yankees in the other. ESPN may fly flags at half mast without the Biggies in contention. But millions of people still watch. And especially with golf, without the home team draw accounting for some of the audience.

    Now. You asked a very specific set of questions with fairly narrow parameters. By the way you wrote the the Qs, you seemed to be, you know, asking and not just raising rhetorical Qs. So in that light. Direct questions deserve a direct answer:

    Q: “Do you ever (ever??) find yourself getting interested in a tournament in which Tiger Woods is not challenging? If so, is it just the majors?”

    A1: Yes.

    A2: No.

  29. Drew71 says:

    Jandy, who’s TC?

  30. JAL says:

    JAL’s Stardust 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/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Struggling Bats Come Alive

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/pirates-notebook-struggling-bats-come-alive.html

    Draft Day Two Recap: Pirates Still Find Talented Players on Day Two

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/draft-day-two-recap-pirates-still-find-talented-players-on-day-two.html

    Prospect Watch: Strong Pitching by Strickland, Von Rosenberg

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/06/prospect-watch-strong-pitching-by-strickland-von-rosenberg.html

  31. JAL says:

    7 McEffect

    6/5 Recap | Pirates 8 Reds 4

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/06/65-recap-pirates-8-reds-4.html

    8 Green Weenie

    Barmes Drives In Four, Bucs Hit Three Homers In 8-4 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/06/barmes-drives-in-four-bucs-hit-three.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Homer happy

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/06/homer-happy/

    10 Why Gavs

    Day 2 of the 2012 draft reveals the Pirates’ Mark Appel strategy: hardball

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/may-2012/day-2-of-the-2012-draft-reveals-the-pirates-mark-appel-strategy-hardball.html

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Reds Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120606_PIT@CIN/piratesreds-preview

    12 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Reds fall to Pirates in series opener, 8-4

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120605/SPT04/306050091/Reds-fall-Pirates-series-opener-8-4?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp

  32. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Talks Between NFL and NFL Referees Association Stall, Replacement Officials Being Trained

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/5/3064999/talks-between-nfl-and-nfl-referees-association-stall-replacement

    List of ‘Not My Favorite Steelers’ Includes Limas Sweed, Bruce Arians

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/5/3065036/least-favorite-steelers-limas-sweed-bruce-arians-neil-odonnell-kris-brown

    Ravens DE Terrell Suggs Misses Two Championship Opportunities in Three Months

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/5/3066451/terrell-suggs-injured-achilles-basketball

    21 Steelers Depot

    - David DeCastro, Mike Adams & Alameda Ta’amu Will All Be At Mini-camp Next Week

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/06/david-decastro-mike-adams-alameda-taamu-will-all-be-at-mini-camp-next-week/

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Black & Gold Alert: Thief Steals ‘Steeler Country’ Banner

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/06/04/black-gold-alert-thief-steals-steeler-country-banner/

  33. JAL says:

    Stardust, Hoagy Carmichael 1931. Carmichael wrote a number of hits, wrote songs for motion picture, and had parts in TV shows and movies. This version is by Nat King Cole and seems appropriate for the draft as the players are stardust the teams hope will develop into stars.

  34. Jandy says:

    Thundercrack, please stand up and wave at Drew, please?

  35. Stuart says:

    DK, Your AJ column was your best ever. Really got a feel for the guy. What a Pro! If there ever was a poster boy for “Don’t sweat the small stuff” it’s him. You could really tell that last night watching the game. Hope guys like Rudy Owens, and some of the others still in minors, get to experience how this guy does his work.

    Stuart

  36. Thundercrack says:

    I am waving to Drew. I am using my own goofy hand signals to him.

  37. Jandy says:

    Drew, Dude, read the hand signals!

  38. NMR says:

    Incredibly well crafted column, Dejan. I don’t know how you could do a better job conveying the sense of emotion and passion.

    No chearleading. No rose colored lenses. But flat-out inspiring.

    Truly, well done.

    Oh yeah, and that Burnett guy seems pretty good, too.

  39. Arriba Wilver says:

    I also thought it was an excellent column.

    On the golf thing, Tiger doing well definitely makes things more interesting and “must see,” whether it’s a major or not. But there are other reasons I watch, like a Bubba Watson, and not just majors. I never have understood the fascination with “Lefty” Phil Mickelson. My theory is it’s the man boobs, in the sense that he seems more like a normal schlub, but I’ve always thought he was a bit of a phony (yes, I know Tiger was exposed as one, too, in a big way). Just never floated my boat.

  40. bob apjok says:

    Can anyone tell me where I can find the standings on this site? I know I can find them other places, but I have never been able to find them here. I see statistics, schedules, overviews, etc. but i cannot ever find actual standings. Am I missing it?

  41. bob apjok says:

    * Sorry, for MLB, I mean.

  42. NMR says:

    MLB Trade Rumors has some interesting stuff on Appel and the draft.

    They claim that the ‘stros are close to signing the top pick for around $5m. Considering that Boras surely wanted at least the slotted $7.2m, thats a huge savings considering the cap restrictions.

    They also say that some teams had Appel ranked right about where he fell. Goes to show that there truly weren’t any prospects that were above and beyong this year.

    Boras is gonna have to eat his slice of humble(or is it Appel?-couldn’t resist) pie on this one. Finally.

  43. Arriba Wilver says:

    bob apjok—I think both papers in town quit publishing the MLB standings about 10 years ago on the theory they were irrelevant. :-)

  44. JohninOshkosh says:

    I Love it. CWalton bringing the early morning punk disdain for Depeche Mode-using the Clash and Ramones to support him, no less.

    From the Vapors to the Dead Kennedys to Depeche Mode-Dejan you must have quite the collection of 1980′s music.

    Music lovers from all the spectrum of music on this blog-just another reason it is the best.

  45. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Great column and video. I, for one, was not in favor of picking up A.J. and was not at Forbes Field for Game 7 in 1960. But I am glad to be wrong now. As the season goes on, I will be even gladder to be wrong on this one.

  46. NMR says:

    The Reds are one of my favorite teams to watch, and Brandon Phillips is a big reason for that.

    Dude looks like he truly enjoys the game, and his excellent defense is a sign that he respects it as well.

    That said, I’d enjoy the winning while it lasts if I was a Reds fan. The team owes Phillips almost $40m and Votto $125m AFTER they turn 35. The Twins are finding out right now what happens when you try to play in the big boy sandbox.

    Speaking of Cards, anybody wonder why the Reds signed Votto but St Louis didn’t sign Pujols? Because they’re the best organization in baseball.

  47. Vav800 says:

    Great article, DK. I’ve been a Burnett fan for his entire career, so to see him not only get out of the prison in the Bronx, but come to Pittsburgh as well was amazing. Whoever compared him to Billy Guerin or Gary Roberts was spot on, the Pirates needed a vet who not only “talked the talk” in the clubhouse but lead by example on the field as well.

    I’m sure this is something he is tired of talking about so maybe you can provide some insight, but how big has the change in atmosphere from the Yankees to the Pirates been for AJ’s turnaround? A lot is made of the NL, specifically the NL Central, being weak and PNC Park being a pitchers park, but I tend to the think it has been the change of scenary that has been the catalyst for his success.

  48. Jandy says:

    Godsmack, anyone?

  49. RobertoForever says:

    DK,

    I prefer to watch golf in person. But even then, I don’t follow Tiger, or Phil, or one golfer like many of the sheep. I like to find a good spot on the 1st hole and watch thru the leaders. Then uproot, move to #5, and watch thru the leaders again. Continue to repeat. You see waaay more shots from great spots doing that.

    I will watch tournaments even if Tiger is not in them, especially ones I have attended before, like the Memorial. I sure do miss the tour stop at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. Fantastic course. But not enough room in the rural area to host corporate parties so it got dropped as a tour stop.

    Playing golf, on the other hand, can be maddening, much like being a Pirates Fan. But it all takes the right perspective. Can’t sweat the small stuff. And some days (or years), your game just eludes you, despite your best prep and effort. That’s when you pick up gardening for the summer, lol.

  50. tmp444 says:

    NMR — if Phillips looks like he enjoys, the game — then Votto looks like he hates it. I’m sure it’s just him being serious and focused, but wow…..I would not want to be on his other end just from the looks of him.

  51. RobertoForever says:

    @Thunder

    They haven’t stopped doing the Zoltan thing yet. Saw Barmes do it when he drove in 2 runs with a single. As long as they keep putting distance between them and .500, they can make the sign for the Crips or Bloods if they want.

  52. Drew71 says:

    Nice hand signals, Thunder. Nice.

    Remember. This is a family blog.

    (But at least he waved his hand.)

    Oops. Maybe THAT comment crossed the line.

    Ok. I take it back. Don’t read it (as usual).

  53. tmp444 says:

    NMR — if Phillips looks like he enjoys the game — then Votto looks like he hates it. I’m sure it’s just him being serious and focused, but wow…..I would not want to be on his other end just from the looks of him.

  54. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Drew,

    If you think this is a family blog, you haven’t read Uncle Bob’s jokes and ape bucket renderings. Or Mother Teresa’s musings. (Sorry, Jandy). Let him make any hand jestures he wants.

  55. Jandy says:

    Baaa-aa!!!

  56. Jandy says:

    Loved TC’s hand signals and your interpretation of them ;)

    Lucky, I believe I said once before on this blog…I can cuss with the best of them. After working years in the construction field on the job site, it’s a must for survival!!!!

  57. LuckyNKentucky says:

    J.

    You go right ahead. I’ve heard preachers cuss with the best of them, too, so Mother T. can certainly get away with it! Hold your own! Personally, I don’t cuss, smoke, dip, chew nor play cards for money, but I DO make snide remarks on a sports blog. Stand your ground, young lady.

  58. 21sthebest says:

    I’m not sure why it’s important as to who is doing the negotiating. I know that Huntington, Coonelly and Kyle Stark all usually speak to the agent during negotiations. The dollars are controlled by ownership. If Huntington is the one playing chess, whatever.

  59. mayhay22 says:

    On the golf question, I’m with DK. It’s usually just the majors unless my man Zach Johnson is in contention (full disclosure – my company sponsors him and we’ve met – really good guy).

    But what I absolutely hate is when espn shows the leaderboard and includes Tiger’s score when he’s ten strokes back. I don’t need to know that he’s tied for 48th.

  60. Jandy says:

    Lucky, thanks for the support! ;)

  61. RobertoForever says:

    Glad to see that all of the negative hype on AJ was wrong. I know there were a lot of Yankees fans who had nothing good to say about him. And not just about his performance, but about his personality, way he acted after losses, etc.

    I think that between Burnett, Barajas, Barmes and Grilli, the team has a great veteran nucleus that has affected the locker room. I love Clutch, but there is no substitute for bringing in guys like Gary Roberts or Billy Guerin. Guys that know there craft and can bring stability to a club thru its ups and downs.

    DK,
    I didn’t realize until now that Banny was the one who had to make that decision. Wow, what a sickening feeling he must have had for those 2 innings. And Burnett helped him as well as the team get thru that shellacking (and terribly inconsistent calls from the ump). Might have been a key moment for the team.

    ps – would love to see some discussion/questions with the pitchers about Barajas and what their thoughts on him are? Usually when there is a great pitching team, there is alot of effort and skill behind the mask as well.

  62. mayhay22 says:

    By the way…heading home this weekend to celebrate my old man’s 70th. I’ll be flashing my personal DK blog hand signal from beneath the Pirates Charities sign on Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait to see my Buccos in person for the first time since Spring Training.

  63. Jandy says:

    mayhay22, just keep it clean ;)

  64. NMR says:

    Golf is good on a Sunday when you had a few too many sodas Saturday night and the Pirates have their AAA lineup on the field.

    I can respect the incredible skill that goes into the shots and the sporting drama of a close match, but you gotta reeaallyyy like golf to sit through an entire day of coverage.

  65. RobertoForever says:

    @Dan1283

    Was responding to DK’s column and mentioned the 2 best veterans I could remember in recent Pittsburgh history (Roberts and Guerin). Now I am reading the other comments and saw that you mentioned the same guys. Too bad the Pens didn’t have a veteran like that on the team this year.

  66. Thundercrack says:

    I like Brandon Phillips a lot too. But I though Bob Walk did an excellent job of pointing out that Phillips didn’t turn the double play when he should of. And it lead to some runs for the Bucs.

    If my memory serves me correctly I think Walk has been tough on Phillips in the past.
    He did make some kind of remark last night, like ” If this a gold glove winner…..”

  67. NMR says:

    One of my favorite “excuses” for why Burnett is pitching better here than in New York is because of the “weak” NL Central compared to the AL East.

    That tells me that people either don’t realize AJ Burnetts most dominant years were with the Blue Jays or that people don’t realize the Blue Jays are in the AL East.

    The guy is legit. There is no fluke.

  68. 21sthebest says:

    That half inning Thundercrack, the bobble of the ball allowing Barajas to score, Phillips not turning the double play, and I thought Bailey made a horrible 2-2 pitch to Barmes (I think it was 2-2).

    All I could think of was that it reminded me of us, hopefully the us of the past.

  69. SeanAY says:

    Great column, DK. I really enjoyed the way you explained the Bannister situation; I could feel the emotions on the mound that night just through your writing.

    I was among those that thought Burnett might bring some negative juju to the clubhouse, a la Eric Hinske and the like. Very, very glad I was wrong. The guy seems like a real pro.

  70. NMR says:

    @TC

    I do remember Walk saying something along those lines, which I thought was awfully petty.

    Please, Bob, tell me who is more deserving in the National League? Infante? Barney?

  71. scapper says:

    Jandy, wh…wha…what are you doing bringing up the soccer column?! I think most of us want DK to be the Cal Ripken of soccer-free column writing, and there you go bringing it up again.

    (However, you did redeem yourself a bit with the Godsmack reference.)

    And with perhaps the season’s last hockey game being played tonight, can we all just agree that Doc Emrick is the greatest American sports announcer ever? (Can’t give him the world title because Phil Liggett is from planet Earth.)

  72. Jandy says:

    scapper, the problem is GOLF. UGH! I’d much rather have a soccer column!!! just sayin…

    Godsmack is my fav band at the moment. I’m getting hooked on Five Finger Death Punch lately too. I hope I get to see them in concert one of these summers.

    Doc Emrick IS the best…don’t know who Phil Liggitt is, sorry…but I will research him.

  73. Jandy says:

    Cycling! No way is he better than Doc! :p

  74. Leefoo says:

    I am glad that my opinion of AJ has turned 360 degrees. Sounds like a complete class act.

    ========
    If Tiger OR Phil ain’t in the hunt, I ain’t watching it. I have to add Bubba to that list, too. I love that guy. Plus, he (like Phil) are lefthanded. Gotta be great guys if they’re lefties. :)

    =======
    Brandon’s blowing of that DP (or was it Casey’s slide?) was huge, imho. Kept it alive. Plus Stubbs’ bobble helped, too.

    ======

  75. Naterosboro says:

    Everyone go ahead and say it….

    “I’m excited about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh” ;)

  76. Jandy says:

    I’m excited about the future of baseball in Pittsburgh!

  77. TDB1977 says:

    It is absolutely killing me right now being in CT and not being back home in Pittsburgh to not watch this team. To miss seeing them take 2 out of 3 from the Brewers and taking the first game from the Reds. At least when I get home this weekend, I will have the pleasure of going to PNC Park Sunday afternoon and see the Royals game. I am thrilled beyond belief that they are 2 games out of first place and 2 games over .500. Mr Phillips, I hope the Pirates slap you in the face a couple more times this week, so when the series ends Thursday night, they will be tied with your Reds for first place.

  78. NMR says:

    Can I have a refill, Nate? This sugary red drink is delicious! :)

    Milo, can you please break up this love fest?

  79. CDBrewer says:

    Quickies:

    AJ could be a huge catalyst and contributor…love what I read and hear. Also, this team reminds me more of the Giants recent WS team because when we crose 4 it feels like 6, and 6 feels like 10.

    Love Emrick. Love Marv Albert. Love Vin Scully. I get the Extra Innings for the Bucs and Vin. Who gets faces on Rushmore of announcers? Those are 3 of mine.

    Want soccer before anymore golf. I watch the Majors hoping to catch a Van de Velde. Sorry, played it about 10 times both with intent of learning and for fun, and like RUNNING more as a sport. It wasn’t even like I was terrible (except at putting – YIKES).

    Won’t argue best goalie, but will argue Lundquist is top 3. Even then, not sure who is 2 and 4, but to not put the ONLY reason the Rangers won the division and 2 rounds in the playoffs in the top 3, seems odd. Unless Torts gets coach of the year credit – and I would buy that.

    Appel signs, has to, too much for him to lose. Hope some team rubs it in Boras’ face after signing a guy cheap this year. Or he gets hit by a bus. Really, either way.

    REALLY excited about the Pirates. Last year I expected reversion to mean. Not this year. I think we contend through August this year.

  80. Milo Hamilton says:

    Phil Liggett is the Ian Darke of cycling.

  81. Jandy says:

    This is the kind of thing that makes me heartsick.:
    http://www.freep.com/article/20120606/SPORTS05/120606018/bryan-rufenach-death-dies-dead
    23 years old, how sad :(

  82. CDBrewer says:

    Crose was supposed to be 4…wow, my dyslexia kicking up before work out here. Wow. Sorry. lol

  83. CDBrewer says:

    “Ian Darke of cycling” !!!!

    We can all stop, that is the greatest line ever…lol. All day I will have that in my head.

  84. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    You mean the KY jelly & rubber gloves over a team that is 2 games over .500 with a -22 run differential ?

    Glad I could help.

  85. Jandy says:

    Brewer, you want some sugar with that? ;)

  86. Jandy says:

    Milo~ LOL!

  87. RobertoForever says:

    Yesterday we were discussing whether Barajas was ever ‘benched’ to correct his hitting.

    I have scoured articles, googled it, yahoo’ed it, ixquick’ed using terms like Barajas bench, Barajas slump. Nada, zip, zero.

    I also reviewed the gamelogs for McKenry and Barajas, and from the start of the season, McKenry was starting once every 3 days. Lately it has gone to once every 4 days. If Barajas was benched, or had his AB’s reduced, I can’t find it referenced or see it in the data.

    I did find this article from 24/7 about Barmes struggles and mentions that Barajas received some hitting instruction from Hurdle.

    http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/1885128-85/barmes-hurdle-ball-batting-hitting-past-pirates-barajas-brewers-clint

    “Barmes already has been putting in long hours with hitting coach Gregg Ritchie. Now, manager Clint Hurdle will become more hands-on.

    “Gregg’s probably sick of me at this point,” Barmes said, smiling. “But, it’s just another way of hearing the same thing. There’s not a whole lot different, other than it’s coming from your manager.”

    Hurdle said Barmes will be on the same type of program that Rod Barajas began about three weeks ago. Barajas has gone 17 for 44 (.386) over his past 13 games.”

  88. Milo Hamilton says:

    @NMR

    You mean the team that by scoring 23 runs in the last 4 games moved them all the way up to last in runs scored ?

    I’ll stop now ’cause I really enjoyed the last couple games.

  89. RobertoForever says:

    Speaking of Brandon Phillips, he can pull his Golden Sombrero down over his eyes and take a nap, after being slapped silly by the Bucs pitchers.

  90. CDBrewer says:

    Jandy,
    Great line…yup. I need some, and probably in the coffee…

  91. RobertoForever says:

    The Cincinnati Reds (and Great American Ballpark) are known for their HR hitting.

    In the 7 game homestand prior to coming to PNC Park, the Reds hit 17 HR’s in 7 games. In the 3 games in Houston over the weekend, the Reds hit 6 HR’s in 3 games.

    In the 3 games at PNC Park last week, and the 1 game at GABP so far, the Reds have as many HR’s as Snidely does…….zero.

  92. Thundercrack says:

    I think Walk may be of the opinion that some Gold Gloves are awarded based upon more what the player does with the bat instead of the glove.

    I can’t speak for Walk. I shouldn’t speak for any other member of the media.
    I’m not in the media……………… go look at my old articles. Where is the link to it?!

  93. Milo Hamilton says:

    The self-proclaimed “Great American Ballpark”.

  94. Jandy says:

    CDBrewer, what did you think of the Pens signing Vokoun?

    I use sweet /n low or something like that instead of sugar, since I’m already sweet enough ;)

  95. Jandy says:

    Snidely, is he related to Dudley Do-Right?

  96. CDBrewer says:

    Jandy,

    Really, the starter in the NHL has to play no more than about 2/3′s of the time if you want a fresh run at the Cup.
    Vokoun should let them do that. That said, I am a believer that the Pens undoing was wanting to play a certain tempo without realizing they are the best team, just play decent defense. I think the Pens problem was mental (coaching and players), not talent.
    Defense and goaltending wins Cups. Crosby and Malkin are good enough to make good in those stand up, eliminating the need for fantastic.

    Off to work.

  97. AJS says:

    Taking Emerick’s entire career into consideration, i’ll give him at the very least the best american hockey announcer of all time. But at this very moment in his career he isn’t at the top. Look, the dude can be fun to listen to. But there are times when Ic an’t figure out what game he is watching. He forgets names, gives you the wrong score when it is right there on the monitor. I heard him on more than one occasion tell me that a player had a multi point night when that team only had one goal. Do not confuse excitment and passion for the game with being a good announcer.

  98. RobertoForever says:

    I guess that the Pirates aren’t the only team with bitter, snide fans.

    I just pulled up the great Hal McCoy’s chat from Monday about the Reds, expecting to see some questions about the upcoming Pirates-Reds series. Instead its a bunch of comments calling for Latos and Leake to be demoted to Triple-A. The Reds are in first place, but the commenters are wild and there are some beauts on there. My favorite listed below the link. Hal McCoy is a one-of-a-kind.

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/dayton-sports/live-reds-chat-with-hal-mccoy-1368726.html

    “Comment From Redsfan1970Redsfan1970: ]
    Hal: What do you make of Reds fans insistence on ripping Dusty at every turn?

    Monday June 4, 2012 12:23 Redsfan1970
    12:24 Hal McCoy: It’s the new social media. Most of them do it anonymously. They do it constantly on my DDN blog and I check their e-mail addresses and most of them are phony. They aren’t brave enough to give their real names and real e-mail addresses. It makes some people feel big, I guess, even though most of them wouldn’t know a rosin bag from a pine tar rag. “

  99. Milo Hamilton says:

    Jonathan Quick played 69 games in the regular season, that’s 84%. Does he look tired to anyone ?

  100. Chuck Snow says:

    Well people will say what they want about Tiger Woods, but if you were sitting at the 15th hole Sunday(I was) when Tiger birdied with three to go it was not hard to feel that Tiger smelled blood. Then at the moment when Rory Sabbatini was about to putt on the 15th..Tiger makes the birdie on 16. Not only did the crowd explode on 16 but also on the 15th. Rory stepped off and then missed the putt. Game over.

  101. RobertoForever says:

    Close. Snidely is the arch-nemesis of Dudley.

    Love the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Underdog as well. Those were the days of good cartoons (not counting Simpsons, Family Guy or South Park)

  102. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jandy

    Where do I find that ignore button again ?

  103. RobertoForever says:

    More from the Hal McCoy chat

    Hal believes that trades are also not made this early in the season.

    “12:26
    Comment From Freddie
    Will the Reds acquire a left-handed bat to bring off the bench??

    Monday June 4, 2012

    12:26
    Hal McCoy:
    I’m sure they will and are trying. As I said, where do you find one that is any good? Teams aren’t trading good players right now so early in the season. “

  104. Jandy says:

    Milo, it’s up there by the Reality Button. Some people never can find either ;)

  105. Thundercrack says:

    Thanks Roberto…good stuff.

    Does Hal comment on other members of the media? :-)

    I love to read blogs and Q&A chats from other markets. McCoy is good.

  106. Jandy says:

    Milo, regarding Quick, that guy is unbelievable. I was watching him stop everything Monday night, and I was just shaking my head. Talk about being in a zone!

  107. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy and Milo,

    With you on that one. “Snide” seems to be the word of the day.

  108. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jandy

    I’ve never seen anything like this.That guy from the British Open is already engraving Quick’s name on the Conn Smythe (yes, I watch golf). A #8 seed going 16-2 & undefeated on the road ? I also find it funny that if Richards was a healthy scratch tonight, nobody would notice.

  109. NMR says:

    @Milo – Ahh, thats much better…

    @TC – I’m sure thats exactly what Walk meant, which made his comment all the more petty. I highly doubt he would make that excuse if Phillips was a .250 hitter with little pop. Phillips is far and away the best 2nd baseman, on both sides of the ball, in the NL. To cherry pick one play and indict an entire award is laughable.

    I know it’s not you making the comment, but it was just something that irked me.

  110. Jandy says:

    Lucky I was wondering where you were!

    Milo, I *DETEST* Mike Richards. For that reason alone, I would notice if he were a scratch LOL.

    This run of the Kings’ is truly phenominal. Something to remember for a long time.
    Right, DK?

    NMR, glad you feel better ;)

  111. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Even though I don’t know hockey, it seems to me that what that Kings have done is similar, in comparison, to what the Steelers did in their march to Super Bowl XL champs, whipping teams that made them look bad in the regular season and peaking at the right time. Good for any sport and its competitive balance. Similar to St. Louis last season and San Fran a couple years ago in baseball.

  112. Jandy says:

    Lucky, good comparisons.

  113. JAL says:

    Not sports but Ray Bradbury passed on at age 91. Bet most of us have read something he wrote.

  114. LuckyNKentucky says:

    To have to win 16 games for a championship is phenomenal. With the effort needed in hockey to accomplish it, it is even more phenomenal. Even though they haven’t been challenged in any series yet, it’s still something to behold, especially from an 8-seed. The human factor is what makes sports IMHO. Just like the A.J. thing. Who could have imagined his effect on the clubhouse after all the negative preached about the guy? Turns out he’s a team guy and top-notch person.

  115. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JAL,

    I’ll have to tell my oldest son. One of his favorites.

  116. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JAL,

    I can’t honestly say I’ve read any of Ray’s work, as I don’t read much except the Bible, Bible study tools, this blog and DK’s writings, but I have heard his work on X minus one old-time radio and seen some of his old Twilight Zone stuff. Excellent.

  117. Evan says:

    @JAL

    The Martian Chronicles was the first thing I read for school (6th grade) that I really loved. Changed how I thought about reading. Havent stopped since.

  118. buggee says:

    @Bizrow & Jandy: Originally from the North Side of Pittsburgh (the “North Side Notch” is named after a dent in my head). I now live in Cranberry, after decades of roaming around the world. And despite the BMTIB, I still dig Buccos baseball.

    Cheers Mr. Coonelly! This Mojito is for you

  119. Jandy says:

    Hi buggee…Biz will get you registered :)

  120. Dejan,

    Great column! One of your best ever!!

  121. Justin says:

    Too Much Talent?!

    I have an interesting thought about the Penguins end of season and playoff collapse. It all began with the return of Sidney Crosby. I don’t hold him personally responsible and I am a big fan of his approach to the game of hockey but I believe it has to do with how he was re-integrated into the team. The Penguins were playing their best hockey before his return… They were forced to in order to win. They had to be at their sharpest. We’ll never know of course, and I mean no disrespect by suggesting this, but they may have done better had Crosby not returned this past season at all.

    When Crosby returned they had so much talent up front that they lost their focus. They got caught up in the event of his return. They didn’t put enough focus on doing the small things to prepare for the playoffs. They started playing run-and-gun style and had outrageous high scoring games. This is obviously not the mentality necessary to
    win playoff games.

    It is an unique “problem” the Penguins have with so much talent down the center and two of the best players in the game. They have so much talent that they were able to win a bunch of games playing very sloppy hockey. But in their quest to achieve milestones and bang pucks home they hung their very talented goalie out to dry and they began to allow an insidious mentality into their otherwise highly trained and focused approach. They were saying all the right things to the media but the scoreboards suggested otherwise. Witness the horrific game against Winnipeg which they won 8-4 followed 2 games later by an 8-4 loss to Ottawa. In times of adversity we can easily go back to our worst habits… In the last 20 games of the regular season the Penguins developed some very bad habits.

    If we look back to before Crosby’s concussion when he was playing the best hockey of his career part of the reason he was so successful is because he was doing all of this amazing stuff within the system of his team. Bylsma made a comment about this at the time expressing the unusually high level of accomplishment (and the hard to discern but profound difference from other elite players like Ovechkin) Crosby had achieved through elevating his game and putting up those numbers within the system of his team’s game. He played selflessly and put his talent to the service of the team and that payed of huge rewards.

    I don’t think any of the members of the organization would have predicted the return of Crosby (which coincided with the return of Letang) as being a potential liability. And because it’s such an unusual problem I don’t blame anyone for failing to deal with this
    more head on. If anyone can shoulder some of the responsibility it would be Bylsma as he is counted on to think outside the box and prevent mental slippage through his leadership. And Crosby and Malkin could also demand greater responsibility of their team-mates by demanding a sharper approach of them themselves. Perhaps they are
    lacking the qualities of a Bill Guerin type veteran in the locker room. Someone who has the respect, ease and earthy wisdom to keep these top talents in check.

    It’s counter-intuitive to believe that adding the best player in the game to your team could cause you to falter. But hockey is as much about mental approach and focus as it is about talent. And having great talent doesn’t give a team much leeway, (witness the success of the Blues and Coyotes who have half the talent of the Penguins and the continual shortcomings of the Capitals who talent-wise give the Penguins a run for their money)especially in the tight hockey of the playoffs. Having great talent
    actually demands more discipline and deeper focus because it is tooeasy to rely on it in times of adversity and to flaunt it in times ofsuccess and that is where I believe the Penguins unintentionally lost their way. (Funny enough I think the Flyers suffered from much of the same problem in their second round loss to the Devils – perhaps the
    play of the Penguins rubbed off on them and they were convinced they’d accomplished a great feat by beating the most talented team in the game in the first round).

    I think the Penguins will be an excellent team next year and have high hopes that this
    very issue will be addressed.

  122. Jandy says:

    Groat!

  123. JaxBuc says:

    I think the AJ column is getting such great reviews (aside from DK’s good writing skills) and many are saying things like “I’ve changed my opinion of AJ…” because of one thing: We feel a camraderie with him because he is HAPPY TO BE HERE (Pittsburgh). That’s we all are HERE (on DK’s blog), right? We are happy when we are here. We could spend our discretionary web time in any of a billion sites, but we want to be HERE. So either we are all crazy, or we feel a sense of belonging with a common goal, and that is to see our beloved buccos compete for a championship. It may take a while, but we sense a similar sentiment from AJ. When a fan can identify with players on his (or her) favorite team, that provides for a connection like no other.

  124. Slick says:

    Any truth to the rumor that they’ll put a C (er, K) on his jersey? :)

  125. National Mart of Records,

    I was listening to the game when Phillips made his ‘boner’ on the double-play grounder by Barajas. John Wehner commented on the radio that it was a play that should be made by a Major League 2nd baseman and could end up costing Bailey an earned run that was not his fault if Barajas scored. 2 pitches later, Barmes scored Barajas.

    It became a longer topic, as Wehner discussed Phillips not giving his best effort at times, and Gold Glovers shouldn’t do that.

    I was just listening on the radio——not knowing this would be a topic today——but I watched the ROOT replay of the game at midnight, making sure to watch for that play in the 2nd inning.

    I have to agree with both Walk and Wehner . . . . . that was a less than professional play by Phillips on the double play. Actually, it was a chicken excrement play! If Neil Walker or Josh Harrison had made that play, I would be screaming about their cowardice. Phillips is a Gold Glover: he should play like one.

    Philips could have made that play by just stepping through the bag. The Reds may be your favorite team and Phillips one of your favs to watch . . . . . . but he showed me the exact opposite of what Dejan’s column expresses about AJ Burnett today. Gold Glovers especially should turn the game defensively is his team’s favor; not give the other an extra out, that allowed the Pirates to change the momentum and climb back into the ballgame that eventually the Bucs took over and won.

  126. Mattygabe says:

    Ha! I finally know your middle name, Dejan!

    “I also wrote right here in this space before the playoffs that Quick was the NHL’s best goaltender, to the strong scorn of some. Not hearing from those folks anymore.”

    Dejan “I Told You So” Kovacevic :)

  127. Jandy says:

    Jax & Groat, well stated…

    Matty LOL!

  128. Hey, JandyGirl!!

    I confess . . . . . . I was one who disagreed with Dejan and said that Lunquist was the best. I also said that Marc Andre Fleury was the Pens MVP this year over Malkin (I think Ray Shero expressed similar sentiments).

    Fleury at least proved in the all-to-short playoffs that the Pens can’t win without him playing his best!

    I am now willing to admit that Quick is pretty good . . . . .

  129. Arriba Wilver says:

    I thought I was Snidely? :-)

  130. GlassHalfFull says:

    @buggee

    Welcome. Be sure to visit the daily game thread that is put up about 4 hrs before first pitch.

    @all

    On this anniversary of D-Day I would like to thank all who have served in the military and helped to make this the great country it is today.

  131. RobertoForever says:

    @Thunder

    Haha, I didn’t see anything on McCoy commenting or not commenting on other members of the media.

    But he did say he has seen three FIGHTS in the pressbox between media members. No confirmation on whether it was about a Pirates Charity sign, :D

  132. Jandy says:

    AW, we’ll let you be Snidely if ya wanna be ;)

  133. LuckyNKentucky says:

    AW,

    Roberto designates who is Snidely and who ain’t.

  134. Jandy says:

    Lucky, lol. I just over-ruled him. If AW wants to be Snidely, then he shall be Snidely….Mother Teresa has spoken!

  135. RobertoForever says:

    JAL

    Loved reading his short story collections . Couldn’t get enough of Alfred and Ray.

  136. Jandy says:

    Justin, a good read. Don’t know how I feel about it, but still, good material for thinking.

  137. Justin,

    It’s obvious you have put a lot of thought into your analysis above. I do not mean to blithely dismiss it.

    However:
    1/ I always have room on my team for the best player in the world.
    2/ Crosby was only on the ice 20 minutes a game, and a majority of Philly’s goals came with him on the bench.
    3/ Crosby had NO effect on how poorly Pens’ penalty kill played. Take away those Phyler power play goals and who wins the series?
    4/ Crosby’s presence certainly had no effect on Fleury forgetting to show up in the series.
    5/ I shouldn’t put all of it on Fleury, when a majority of Pen defensemen also “went on walkabout” for the series.
    6/ And, so I make myself perfectly clear, I always have room on my team for the best player in the world.

  138. RobertoForever says:

    @NMR

    For a different perspective, the Reds TV announcers thought that Phillips did the right thing holding onto the ball. They commented that many middle infielders try to do it while falling down, and end up throwing wide or in the dirt past the first baseman. They also commented about his great athleticism for even being able to land on his feet after McGehee slide sitting upright.

  139. Kentuck Knob,

    Made me laugh!!

  140. JRay3 says:

    Great piece on AJ Burnett today. His signing was so big on many different levels. Firstly, the fact he would even place the Pirates as one of the teams he was willing to go to was big. How many players have turned down money to play in Pittsburgh – Edwin Jackson and Derrick Lee just this year come to mind. His willingness to teach and instruct coupled with the Pirates having a group willing to learn and listen, I believe aids in making this a truly great clubhouse environment. Burnett comes across as soaking up his role. Add to that the veteran presence of a guy who has been in many pressure environments, big games and playing on the main stage and he certainly can provide a calming voice.

    Was very happy when we pulled the trigger to get him and even more elated to see all the other intangibles he has brought besides his power arm.

    Have to admit, really enjoying how Clint is not afraid of late to sit down players, work to get them back on track and earn their time, this can not go unnoticed by the team and it truly appears they are out to win each night and playing with a confidence not seen here in quite some time.

    Let’s Go Bucs.

  141. JAL says:

    The AJ article is excellent .

    Back in February I wrote an article for Rumbunter and pointed out AJ pitched more innings and had more strikeouts in 2011 than any pitcher the pirates had last season so not surprised he doing well.

  142. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, Jandy. Although only one of too many to count as being accused of making a snide comment I DID sign mine “Snidely Wilver.” :-) :-) :-)

  143. JohninOshkosh says:

    TS

    Thanks, love that Bleacher Report. Those snide devils.

    I know Appel gets his marching orders from Lord Boras, but years of negotiating has taught me that a little sugar goes a long way. Pirate fans are human and they need to be loved, just like everyone else does (nod to 80′s music). His draft response won’t have much long term effect once the love fest starts when (if) he signs, but the kid got poor advice from his counsel on this one. These sort of things are remembered, for better or worse. Thus, the cliches about first impressions.

  144. Tough ‘S’

    Good article on Appel (did you notice the photo credit was from the Post-Gazette?).

    I read it at another site, but thanks for posting it here! Food for “out-loud-thought.”

  145. Evan says:

    @ T.S.

    The tweet that started that rumor has since been retracted and the author apologized.. http://ht.ly/boTJh

  146. Jandy says:

    Groat, is that “S” for Sugar? ;P

    And yes I noticed the credit…cool.

    TS, the Appel link just makes me want to slap the Snide out of that kid! (had to)

  147. buggee says:

    Thanks to all for your warm welcome. I do appreciate that.

    @DK: I’ve been following your work for years and have enjoyed the quality of your writing. As a long-time professional scribbler, I can say this with alacrity; your writing skills are getting better and better. Beautiful work on the Burnett story, Dejan. A true work of craftsmanship, and a fine read. Thank you.

    Regarding the Pens (please excuse me getting off-topic): a few issues are readily apparent.
    1) That contract with Paul Martin has got to go, as does Paul Martin. He is a somewhat soft, relatively mobile blue-liner with moderate passing skills. The turnovers he made in his own end–time after time–evoked some pretty colorful language from me. Bylsma should have parked Martin in splinter-land after that first fiasco against Filth-a-delphia. Despres and Morrow need to be in the Bigs. Stamp it.

    2) The Pens have had a penchant for securing the services of smaller, highly-skilled mobile wingers (excluding Ponikerovsky) who were expected to go shoulder-to-hip with bigger, more physically imposing blue-liners from other teams; which would be fine if the dimunitive Pens’ wingers were significantly faster/quicker that opposing defensemen. Even so, there is still the matter of digging pucks out along the boards and corners, and that turned out to be a huge deficiency in the Flyer’s series. It’s unfair to say Pens’ wingers were outworked. They were out-muscled by bigger men. Like the offensive deficiencies the Pirates are facing, there is no quick and easy fix.

    3) Geno wasn’t the same Geno when Sid returned. Sure, he scored some goals and put up numbers while Sid was playing, but he no longer seemed to be the “force” that he was earlier in the season when he (and linemate Neal) were the primary offense. (I still remember that goal–can’t remember against who–where Geno wove his way end-to-end through an entire team and pocketed the puck in the back of the net. Shades of Mario going end-to-end! THAT’s what I’m talking about). Is Malkin a “head case”?

    4) Since this IS a baseball thread… Interesting to observe that Hurdle takes a position player who is struggling offensively, coaches him up for a few days, and then he returns to the line-up and almost immediately improves offensively. He did it with Barajas, who is turning in slightly better-than-career plate performances, and then Barmas, and on his first game back belts a game-winning bomb. Now Hurdle is focused on Pedro. Hmmmm (I wonder what will happen if I stick my finger in this socket…?)

    5) I still contend that the Allie fiasco–and that may be too strong of a word–is as a result of a failure in the checks-and-balances that lie administratively between Coonelly and Huntington. Guys became enamored with that triple-digit flat fastball I suppose. Let’s hope Stetson really is a great athlete, for the sake of his baseball career.

    6) Jeff Clement for president. He can run on an Independent party platform.

    Thanks for reading

  148. Evan,

    I think “they” have to say that——since, if specific $ and contract terms were discussed, even by Appel’s non-agent “adviser”, then he would lose his amateur status and not be able to use the leverage of returning to Stanford for his senior year in contract negotiations with Pirates.

    That whole “adviser” vs. agent thing is bogus.

  149. RobertoForever says:

    @TS

    Kristy Robinson of Pirates Prospects deflated that “bad appel” rumors floating around as well on draft night.

    Several other players who were drafted in the 1st round, but are playing for college teams still in the CWS, rejected the normal conference calls as well, uncluding Zunino.

  150. nate83 says:

    Roberto

    I watched the Reds telecast as well and heard them say that. I actually watch a lot of Reds games being in Ohio and really like Phillips. He seems to usually make the correct play and McGehee was right on top of him. Maybe we should be giving credit to Casey for the hustle. Although he has been dissappointing he seems to be professional and working hard.

    Announcers also called Barajas running from first to home more of a brisk walk then then running.

  151. JHadar says:

    What with meetings and all it took all morning just to catch up… lots of hope here (both personal and on the blog) over the juggernaut the Buccos are starting to be. As long as I’ve been a fan (1957) I’ve always believed at the beginning of each game that we’ve got a chance, and in the glory years I usually expected to win. There’s a difference. Last night with Burnett pitching the expectation came back. The eight runs were a pleasant surprise. So the regular season is (exactly) 1/3 over and so is the worst part of the schedule.

    Over the history of this franchise you can name all time greats at every starting position except pitcher (Sanguillen, Stargell, Mazeroski, Traynor, Wagner, Clemente, Kiner, Waner would be my starting eight) But who are our greatest pitchers? Drabek? Law? Friend? Wilbur Cooper? Blyleven? Face? All were good, but no Satchel Paige, Lefty Grove, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale — all time greats among them.

    To actually have a pitching staff is new territory for this old fan

  152. Jandy says:

    buggee, welcome! And always remember, there is never ONE topic here. Anything goes!

  153. RobertoForever says:

    @JRay

    Agree that Burnett was a great ‘get’ by this FO. Has really returned to his hey-day, back with the BlueJays (with Barajas as his catcher. coincidence???)

    But Burnett was netted in a trade, and not as a free agent signing. He really had no choice but to play for the Pirates or retire. His contract only allowed to veto 10 teams, and the Pirates were not one of them.

    That said, he has been the consummate professional and has invested himself personally and professionally in the Pirates. I see him finishing both this year and next year with the Bucs.

  154. RobertoForever says:

    @nate83

    Agreed – I was shoked that Casey was right on top of Phillips, considering that it was a hard grounder to left of the 3B.

    And the Reds announcers also placed all the blame on Barajas scoring from first on Drew Stubbs fumbling the ball in CF. Their replay clearly showed the 3B coach holding up the stop sign until Stubbs drops the ball and then waving Rod home wildly. Without that bobble in CF, inning over without the Phillips play even being a factor.

  155. Jandy says:

    JHadar, welcome back to the Asylum ;)

  156. NMR says:

    @Groat/Roberto

    I think you guys are missing my point about Phillips. It was one play! Last time I checked, even Gold Glovers make errors.

    For Walk, King of Homerism, to question an opposing players award because of one play is completely unprofessional.

    Analyze the play to death, by all means. It would be a welcome repreive from the useless garbage they usually discuss on air. But spare me the undeserving speach as a result of it.

    Cinci’s owner broke the bank to sign Phillips and Votto because the fans wanted them. Fans want players who play hard and win. Phillips unquestionably does both.

  157. JHadar says:

    Jandy

    Was only gone for a morning . . .

  158. Hadar,

    Please don’t ever mention, even in passing, that Blyleven might be one of Pirate’s greatest pitchers.

    He was a stiff and a “me-first” player when here, who does NOT belong in the Hall of Fame.

    He was never even considered an All Star during his career. (2 All Star teams in 21 years!) Ring one up for the Number Freaks!

  159. Jandy says:

    BOOM!

  160. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Groat

    I completely agree with your disdain for Blyleven. You don’t quit the team. Terribly selfish.

  161. JohninOshkosh says:

    Groat:

    Could not agree more about Blyleven. The HOF has got it wrong two years in a row by simply rewarding longevity over relative talent. Last year with Rik Aalbert, and this year with the awful Tim McCarver. over so many more deserving broadcasters or journalists.

  162. nate83 says:

    I just saw that Lereoux is starting his rehab. With Karstan and Morton eventually coming back what a great problem this management staff will have. Releivers like Meek, Danial McCutcheon and Moskos already in the minors and a AAA starting staff that has done nothing but impress. Not to mention the high end arms in the lower minors.

    I don’t see any reason why in another month or so they shouldn’t be looking to move a Locke or Owens type players to get something in return to help the offense even if it takes adding Hanny to the deal to get a player they really want.

  163. Milo Hamilton says:

    Chris Leroux begins his 30 day rehab stint today. I predict that 30 days from now, the Pirates place someone on the disabled list. But I could be wrong.

  164. I hear that the Pirates have petitioned Bud Selig to have the Disabled List renamed the Convenience List.

    I hear that Charlie Morton’s disability/convenience is coming along nicely.

  165. Naje says:

    All…
    RE: Brandon Phillips

    For every bonehead play like last night’s failed double play, Phillips makes 10 plays that Neil Walker and other 2B only WISH they could make.

    For yinzer Wehner and Bob Walk to trash him for that one play, well, ok… but my God the guy makes really difficult plays night-in and night-out.

  166. Jandy says:

    You guys hear a lot.,..who you hearing it from? The voices in your head???? :p

  167. JohninOshkosh says:

    Naje:

    Is June 10 your birthday or Dejan’s. Cuz, if its Dejan’s birthday on Sunday….well it would be negligent for the asylum to let that go unnoticed.

  168. Milo Hamilton says:

    Same starting 8 tonight.

  169. Naje,

    I have trashed our own players frequently for “plays that should have been made but weren’t.” I was incessant about Ronny Cedeno not making plays that were ruled hits (like McGeheeheehee’s in the 1st inning last night) or getting only one out on a doubleplay. Botched doubleplays are KILLERS!! Those plays that GOOD Major Leaguers make end up in giving extra outs and leaving extra baserunners for the pitcher to deal with. Plus all that “pitch count” crap.

    If Megeheeheehee makes that possible play in the 1st inning last night, Burnett gives up no runs in the 1st. I don’t expect as much from MeGeheeheehee because he has played less than 5 games at 3rd this year.

    I expect more of Brandon Phillips——he’s a Gold Glover!! I am willing to forgive him because he is human (that’s why they play the game) but that does not absolve him from criticism for making a bonehead play. Hiding behind “Phillips makes 10 plays that Neil Walker and other 2B only WISH they could make” does not absolve him from the truth.

    If Phillips makes that relatively easy “step through the bag and throw” to first, the Pirates score no runs, they start off the 3rd inning with the #8 & #9 batters, behind 2-0, and maybe the Reds maintain control of the game and win.

    When Phillips makes outstanding plays, I give him props. However, when he makes lazy plays like he did last night, he deserves the trash. Don’t hide the truth ( I almost used the word obfuscate!) behind shots at “yinzer Wehner and Bob Walk” or “Neil Walker and other 2B.”

    Last night . . . . in the 2nd inning . . . . Brandon Phillips was lazy and helped contribute to a change of momentum in the game that the Reds lost to the Pirates.

  170. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree with you guys on Blyleven. It made it especially bad, to me, since it was the year after they won the Series. Looking back, he still started over 30 games and pitched over 200 innings that year, but he still quit on the team for selfish reasons.

  171. JHadar says:

    G-Maz-StGlove

    RE: Blyleven … You did see the question mark, right?

    Actually as I was trying to think of Pirate pitchers of the past I remembered that we had a guy in hall of fame who was pretty good with the Twins many many years agon had a brain cramp to the point I had to go to baseball reference to recall his name. Then I looked up the wrong year … oh, well.

    Back when the weenies were green
    We had Alvin O’Neal McBean
    Who stayed in the game
    Frame after frame
    Backed by a hitting machine

    In the lumber company years when the Gibsons and Drysdales of the league were putting together 1-0 and 2-1 games, we were winning (and losing) 9-6.

  172. Hadar,

    I’d rather you list Alvin O’Neal McBean (who belongs in the Colorful Hall of Fame) or Diomedes Olivo or Luke “the Juke” Walker instead of Cryleven.

    I agree with Wilver Dornel and Oshkosh b’gosh and Milo——he was a quitter.
    The only hall of fame he belongs in is the Selfish Hall of Fame!

  173. JHadar says:

    ooo< ooo< ooo< ooo< ooo<

    Ants marching

  174. MrB says:

    DK – Nice column on AJ…guess that answers my question last week as to whether he deserves some credit for McDonalds success this year.

    As for your golf question, I’ve been playing for over 40 years, currently sport a 6 handicap and watch the tours (Not just PGA) nearly every week. There are a lot of great stories not named Tiger Woods. But you can keep your head buried in the sand trap if you want. After all, it’s not like you make your living from sports…oh wait.

  175. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JH,

    Make my vote #5 on Cryleven.

  176. Jandy says:

    Groat…isn’t that called the Hall of Shame???

    JHadar, or someone, please fill me in on the ants marching thing??? is that the cue to go to the game blog??? :;scratchin muh head::

  177. Jandy says:

    Cute lookin ants, tho

  178. JHadar says:

    Jandy it means that DK has started a new thread and all the ants can go marching on over there and take up where they left off.

  179. GlassHalfFull says:

    @Jandy

    Ants marching means there is another thread up and we should march like ants to get to it.

  180. Hall of Shame.

    Good one, JandyGirl!!

  181. JHadar says:

    re: Blyleven — no disagreement here, other than Groat ripped it out of context. I was talking about the general lack of great pitching throughout Pirate history, not endorsing Blyleven.

  182. Jandy says:

    JHadar, love the ants anyway lol.
    Regarding Blyleven, I think you just set Groat off, it wasn’t YOU or YOUR post he was taking issue with. Just the whole Blyleven memories overcame him ;)

  183. It was a visceral reaction.

    Thank you, JandyGirl, for explaining!

    By the way, Mr. Hadar, I agreed strongly with the intent and message of your post.

    And I loved the Bahamian McBean reference.

  184. Jandy says:

    G2M2S, I have a habit of REacting that way as well. Then I slow down and THINK, and reasoning returns.

  185. Jandy says:

    OK I gotta get some paperwork done, then home. Hope I can talk hubby into an inning or three….Go Bucs!

  186. JHadar says:

    Groat,

    I probably wouldn’t have taken such pains to defend myself if the rest of ‘em hadn’t started picking up pitchforks.

    I was a poor newlywed at the time and just following the club with the occasional WGN and WTBS broadcasts and the box scores in the local paper — it didn’t get much coverage out Ioway. I only became aware of it a couple years ago through another blog.

    Nobody likes a quitter.

  187. Gave says:

    Where was dk when detroit raised the cup at the arena?

    DK: I think I was covering a Pirates game, if memory serves.

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