Kevin’s Blog: The Pittsburgh Pirates Get To .500 (At Least)

Pirates Hats

’97, ’06 and ’11

My beloved Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since I got my driver’s license in 1992. I have suffered through the majority of the twenty consecutive seasons of a losing record. I will admit to being so ticked off at baseball for striking in 1994 that I stopped watching until 1999. During that time period though, I still sported a Pirates hat that I bought in the summer of 1997. It was an easy time period to keep the team out of my life since it was during my college years. I’d be home for the summer, mow lawns for twelve hours a day then go spend some of my money on some really cheap beer. Few of my friends liked sports and if they did, it was football. I had also convinced myself that it was a boring sport. Of all things that drug me back in, it was fantasy baseball. I hate losing, even if there isn’t money involved. But when my friend Jason invited me into that league in 1999, it changed the way I looked at the sport.

I have been a Pirates since I can remember. My mother was the big baseball supporter in the household while my dad was more of a Steelers guy. Both of them grew up in Pittsburgh. Three of my four grandparents were born in Pittsburgh. The fourth moved there from Penne, Italy when she was fourteen. All of them were invested in the sports products of the ‘Burgh so it was easy to become a fan. We went to Pirates games in the summer when we went to visit the grandparents. We never went to Steelers games as a family. I also went to a lot of games with a friend’s family because they were from Lancaster, PA and were huge Philadelphia Phillies fans. Our present for a good job in little league or for a job well done as an altar boy was of course a trip to a Pirates game.

But as already mentioned, my fandom was derailed by a bunch of idiots in 1994. When I got back into the swing of things in ’99 though, I went all in. I understand better why this sport wasn’t boring. I had acknowledged when I was a kid that pitching was important but I never thought about the cat and mouse game that pitchers and hitters play with each other. I remember arguing with fellow fans in grade school the day after I went to see the Atlanta Braves at the Pirates in the NLCS in 1991, Game 2. Zane Smith was out dueled by Steve Avery. Everyone thought I saw a boring game but I knew I saw two pitchers at their peak shutting down two great offenses. Now though, I understand more of the ideas behind scouting reports, good pitch location and mixing up pitch types. I didn’t realize how much space you needed to cover in the outfield, despite having been to Three Rivers Stadium more times than I can remember. The ability of the current Pirates outfield to cover that much space is incredible and requires more athleticism than I thought as a kid. The outfielders aren’t the only ones devouring tons of space to make plays. I thought it was easy to play infield since there was less space to cover. Even though it may be the case for first and third base, second base and shortstop have gobs of space to cover. Even though a third basemen might not have as much territory, they have the toughest throw to make in very little time to make an out and that’s just on a routine ground ball.

It was time to read the minor league scouting reports, check out the draft and international signings. I knew that the Buffalo Bisons were the Pirates AAA farm team when I was a kid but I couldn’t have told you anyone who was there. These days, I go to Indianapolis Indians to see the next set of prospects. I had a friend move to Indianapolis. Since I was strapped for cash at the time, I crashed at his place to go see the Indians play the Pawtucket Red Sox. I got to see Andrew McCutchen, now an MVP candidate, in his next to last minor league start. I was bummed earlier this year when I thought Gerrit Cole, their No. 1 pick in 2011, was going to pitch the day before they came to Columbus. An extra day of rest helped me out and I got to see Cole in his next to last start in the minors. I was bummed that the Pirates next big time prospect, pitcher Jameson Taillon, didn’t come here to Columbus after he got a bump up from the AA Altoona Curve. Which is another fun part of the process, my hometown now has the Pirates AA team. Much more exciting for me than some other small city in the state or another state. It was a blast last year going to a game with my family when we were all back in Altoona. As for the international signings, I had no idea where the Pirates looked for talent. Now I know that they have the third best facility in the Dominican Republic behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Pirates signed Luis Heredia in 2010 as a sixteen year old. I would never had worried about that in high school.

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The Walking Hines Ward

hineswardzombie

Picture from Getty & AMC

Hines Ward was forced into retirement by the Pittsburgh Steelers before this past season. Well, not officially really but seriously? Come on. (Should I put a Super Bowl reference in here just to get some extra hits?) That hasn’t kept him from getting his Cheshire Cat grin more TV time. First it was NBC to do football commentary and then it was on to Rachel vs Guy: Celebrity Cook Off. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he’s going to be a zombie on the second half of season three of The Walking Dead. How did he get this part? Let’s use Ward’s own words?

A former Georgia teammate of mine is one of the stars of the show, and my agent thought it would be something fun and different for me to do

Who is this star you might ask? It’s T-Dog who is famous for, um, well, being a black man and making it to season three of a show that kills off regular characters at a high frequency. They won’t get to act together since The Walking Dead has an unofficial rule where you can only have one black guy at a time so T-Dog got killed off in the first half of season 3. Tyresse will be taking over the reigns in the black character department. I wonder if Hines will get to eat his brains for taking over his friend’s spot? -Kevin

TNA Audio #6 – The Ghost Of Big Dick Dudley

Silly babyface, champagne is for heels.

This week, Dusty and Matt focus on the February 16 edition of TNA Impact Wrestling. This is a very special Impact, because it just so happened to fall on Dusty’s birthday. Did TNA celebrate Dusty’s birthday properly? Well, you can find out by listening to this audio as our intrepid heroes delve into such topics as:

-Why do fat ECW alums have such great calves?

-So Cal Val must have used her stroke backstage with the powers to be because she appeared on this episode no fewer than two times!

-Who exactly was that MMA announcer jabroni and why was he being interviewed by Christy Hemme?

-Why is it that Brandon Jacobs is tougher than any wrestler in the locker room?

And a whole lot more stuff about a show that they both enjoyed, in an audio replete with Under Siege and Daria references for your entertainment, and it’s only going to cost you about an hour of your time, so if you have a heart at all, you’ll wish Dusty a happy happy birthday by downloading this bad boy immediately.

Stunt Granny TNA Audio Show #6

Kevin’s Blog: Almost Live, Definitely Half Assed Review of Raw

TNA doesn't deserve the picture of a real train wreck.

I haven’t had hope that TNA would take over the WWE for prominence, probably ever. I had traveled to Altoona and barely had my wits about me when I got back. Despite doing an Impact Wrestling review, I had forgotten about Bound For Glory. It seems that TNA forgot they had a pay per view too. What a truly horrific way to finish your “Super Bowl”. Those guys don’t deserve anyone’s money. The results also make me know for sure that despite the WWE’s major slump and veering off course after giving me hope recently that they’re still easily the best wrestling product on TV. I love PWO, but they are still training people on the job who graduate up to both of these organizations. I enjoy seeing that development. Of note, for some reason or another my Twitter froze up last night (on my computer and phone) while trying to do a near delusional review of Smackdown. I hope that doesn’t happen tonight. 9:15, Let’s roll.

I get to FF to start the show. They’re trying to make it worse than TNA. Johnny Wooden GM starts us off. John, we don’t find anything you do humorous or entertaining at all despite trying to get the “irony” boos. I’m shocked that JR really shows up. When’s the punch line coming? The main event is set and I’m completely uninspired. Shouldn’t there be a stipulation that the loser leaves Raw? How does that settle their differences? Orton is introed as we hit the first commercial break. Just wow.

John Morrison gets a good pop from the Mexicans. Sheamus doesn’t do much better. The heels (Christian, Cody Rhodes & Mark Henry) come out in short order. I can’t believe that Cole had to explain to us that Lawler was put thru a table by Henry to explain why Lawler was happy Henry went thru a table. Memories are for losers. Orton assaults Rhodes so that they can make some real animosity before their match on Sunday.

We are informed that it’s now a tag team match. I’d imagine since Morrison is the only one without a PPV match, he’s taking the pin. Sheamus & Christian fight thru the crowd to take it down to one on one match. Morrison looked good in defeat. The toss into the World’s Strongest Slam was cool and most guys couldn’t pull that off.

Brodus Clay gets more hype. He needs to be on Smackdown with the other giants. Man, they expanded that. Clay delivered well. Johnny Wooden GM gets the hoochies because he’s an evil GM. Del Rio comes in. Winner gets to chose stips for the PPV. Um, don’t we need another stipulation for the match? Eve is taking on Beth Phoenix at Vengeance. She gets to beat Natalya who has been the jobber. Eve busted out some reverse Cross Rhodes reverse then a top rope moonsault to try and make herself look like a worthy in one match. The WWE even realizes it’s throwing that match together with a quickness.

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Stunt Granny Big 11 Week Ending 8/20/11

1. Kevin Nash – A week and a day after Nash joked about becoming HHH’s body guard against CM Punk at the meet and greet for PWO’s Wrestlelution 4, he did just that at Summerslam. Well, maybe. The WWE decided to thicken the plot by having John Laurinaitis talk to Nash and Stephanie McMahon talk to CM Punk. They both gave reasons why they could have sent the text message to Nash to attack the winner of the match. Since we know it was Nash in the ring with the (Jack) Knife, finding out the sender of the text message is the only part of this  “Who Done It?” that remains unresolved. – Kevin

2. Mike Chioda – Not only did we already know that Chioda was “The Man” amongst referees, now we allegedly know that he must be “The Man” for partying after his Wellness Policy violation. I wonder if he counts to three or ten before exhaling. – Kevin

3. Sting, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair – Sting cut another ridiculously awful promo which is no surprise. The highlight of which was him asking the crowd if they wanted to see Hogan in another match against him. Even the Impact Zone crowd, who will cheer for just about anything, had a tepid response. Adding to the old age home amusement, Ric Flair complimented Sting on how in shape he was. Later, Flair showed off his tuned up physique to Hogan in his office. Any combination of these three in the ring will produce more sag than Joan Rivers’ botox could prevent. – Kevin

4. Jeremy & Eric – Where are they this week? Good question. I hope when they come back, if they ever come back, they apologize to you, the loyal reader, for going MIA here. – Dusty

5. The Young Bucks – Boy did I start a mini-bleepstorm with my Young Bucks post. Let me break it down for you: If you are too stupid to go into a WWE lockerroom and not shake everyone’s hand, go into a corner and wait your goddamn turn for a match, you don’t deserve to be in professional wrestling. And if you are so ball-less you post passive aggressive nonsense on Twitter and send your no talent brother in to do the dirty work, you are a horrible human being. This is not arguable. If you disagree with me, please go away. The Young Bucks should go away, too. – Dusty

6. Terri Runnels – My crack research team was able to locate a recent picture of Terri, which I will post here for your edification:

A gruesome visage, I know. – Dusty

7. Evolve – The next step for Evolve is in full effect:

Fat, ugly, badly recorded Jew guy wants YOU! – Dusty

8. Dave Meltzer – What on earth is causing “I” to be replaced with “In” every single time he writes it? This has happened for several weeks in a row now, and is quite frankly very disturbing. Is it a legit typo, every single time? A glitch in his voice-to-text software? The world may never know. – Dusty

9. Joey Abs – I guarantee you you want to know what’s been going on with Joey Abs lately:

What kind of a man hunts with a cellaphone? Real men don’t even own them. – Dusty

10. Sin Cara – The dude playing the fake Sin Cara character (Hunico) was Mystico before Sin Cara was Mistico. He then changed his name to Incognito and started to sell merchandise with his face on it. We’re talking about Incognito soap, candy bars, lighters, napkins, you name it. He sucks, as does real Sin Cara. However, I just gave you a face full of knowledge. Knowledge, right in your maw! Eat the knowledge! Eat it! – Dusty

11. Football – Speaking of Incognito, let’s talk about Richie Incognito and the 2-0 Miami Dolphins. Or, as I like to refer to them, the 2-0 Miami Super Bowl Dolphins. What’s that? These games don’t count? These are fake games? Well… uh… Henne Henne Henne Henne Henne Henne… – Dusty

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