Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Dirt Bag

Regular readers of this blog know my feelings on the whole sordid Ben Roethlisberger saga and how I just wish it would go away... permanently. But, alas, it's not going to go away any time soon. In fact, it's going to continue well into this coming season. We'll hear about it at mini-camp this weekend and then at training camp in August and then during the exhibition games and then during the 4 to 6 games that Ben has to sit out and then for the games he can play in and so on. If you aren't sick of the whole thing by now, then wait'll August rolls around.

The whole Ben mess has got me thinking. Some would say that's a dangerous thing, but you'll have that. Anyway, I think most of us can agree on this - Ben Roethlisberger is a dirt bag. A lot of people thought that long before the incident in Georgia happened, and this just reinforced it for them. Others who were on the fence (like me) are now firmly in the "Oh, yeah, he's a total dirt bag" camp. Will I still cheer for him when he does something good for the Steelers? Yes, I will. I am willing to give him one final chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the team, the league and the fans. But that doesn't change how I feel about him and dirt bags in general.

Stop me if you've heard this of this guy before - a lunkhead who's a jock or is popular for no other reason than he's good looking or is part of the in crowd who thinks he's god's gift to women and the football field and the world in general. Rules? Eff rules. He has his own rules. He'll hit on anything with a skirt and won't take "Ew, no!" for an answer. He'll want to be the center of attention, and god forbid you either ignore him or don't give a crap about him. He'll go out of his way to torture you by any means necessary. And forget growing up and acting like a responsible person. That's lame!

Boys and girls, I've just described half of the guys I went to my formative years of school with. For those of you who don't know, I went to Sto-Rox High up through 9th grade, and I knew a great many dirt bags. I sometimes see them in and around town and just shake my head because, by and large, none of them have changed. In fact, I try to avoid a certain local watering hole because many of them congregate there. To them, it's still 1989, and they're the BMOCs they were back in high school. I just want to give them a good smack upside their heads and say, "Grow the eff up already!".

What Ben did with that girl in the bathroom of the club is still rather sketchy, but what happened in the bar itself isn't. He bought shots and hit on pretty much every girl in the place and called them all "bitches." I don't know how he could have made a bigger ass of himself. Ben turned 28 this year, making him plenty old enough to have put partying with girls barely old enough to drink behind, but being the dirt bag he is, he doesn't wanna grow up! He wants to be the center of attention, and god forbid you ignore his advances. He'll take you into a bathroom and do... whatever he did to that girl.

Anyone with half a brain has to know that behavior like that is going to bite you in the ass eventually. And it did. But dirt bags just don't get it. Do you really think this is the first time something like this happened to Ben? He just happened to get caught this time. And even though I think that chick in Reno is a total whack-a-doodle (that's a technical term, folks), he shouldn't have put himself in that situation to begin with, and he's paying the price for that, too.

Here's some free advice to ya, Benny: find yourself a nice girl who will overlook the fact that you're a total dirt bag and actually have an actual relationship that doesn't involve sex in a bathroom. I've seen some of the women he's dated in the past - athletes (Natalie Gulbis), models, actresses (Missy Peregrym), but not one of them has made it past a few months, to my knowledge. Despite the fact that Ben is the Duke of Fug and Earl of Gross (h/t Ginny over at That's Church), he still gets women because he's a two time Super Bowl champion QB. So then why the hell does he have the need to go after a 20 year old drunk girl? Because he's a dirt bag. No is not a word in the dirt bag's vocabulary.

Lemme share a little story... I was a paperboy during my teen years, and my neighborhood had it's fair share of bullies (remember, kids, today's bullies become tomorrow's dirt bags). One day, I was minding my own business while delivering my papers when I ran into a dirt bag who shall remain nameless. I'm not sure why he laid into me, but when I ignored him, the conversation went something like this:

Dirt Bag - Wanna fight?

Me - Why, so you can just kick my ass?

Dirt Bag - ...

I just walked away. I really think I fried his brain and caused a massive meltdown. He wasn't a problem after that. Using common sense on dirt bags is a great tactic I've found. At least it shuts them up... for a little while, anyway.

And why is it that "Wanna fight?" is one of the dirt bag's mantra? Well, for one thing, they hate smart people and feel the need to demonstrate just how physically superior they are. It's crap like this that causes drunken 35 year olds to get into bar fights arguing over something completely nonsensical. Oh yeah, dirt bags just love to get hammered with their other dirt bag buddies and reminisce about all the cool things they did back in high school.

The worst kinds of dirt bags are your athletes and actors who think because they can do awesome things on the field or make movies that they're entitled to act however the hell they see fit, society be damned. Boy, that sure sounds like Hall of Fame dirt bag Adam "Pac Man" Jones, he of "make it rain" fame. I swear, you give some people a little bit of money and fame, and it just magnifies their dirt bag tendencies tenfold. I really don't know what Ben was like back in college, but I can't imagine he was this bad.

Why is it that at almost 38 years old, I can go to a bar with friends, have a few beers, watch the game and stay out of trouble yet some people my age still have a problem with that? Look, I get that my generation is struggling with the pushing 40 thing. I get that, but that's not a reason to continually act like you're still 18. I consider myself very much a grown up, yet I still read comic books and watch pro wrestling and like cartoons and other things that aren't considered "adult," yet I still manage to avoid getting arrested for DUI or getting into a bar fight or knocking up a woman or many other things that dirt bags excel at.

Now, if you're thinking I'm jealous of dirt bags for the attention and other things they get, then you don't know me at all. I'm the guy who is happiest when he's not the center of attention. I'm happiest when I'm left alone to my own devices. I'm content to sit in a bar with a cold beer, watching the game and ignoring pretty much everything else going on around me. Honestly, I could not care less about everyone else. I'm thankful every day of my life that I'm not a dirt bag, and I hope that Ben (and others like him) will suddenly wake up one day and decide to stop being a dirt bag.

Oh yeah, one more thing... being a dirt bag is a choice, not a mental illness. People out there have been trying to use Ben's many concussions as a reason for his behavior, but that's just a cop out. Remember, this is the guy who got onto a motorcycle sans helmet (after being told not to, of course) before his concussion problems started. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of athletes over the years who have had concussions, some of them have had to retire because of them (Steve Young and Troy Aikman come to mind), but very, very few of them have been accused of raping a 20 year old girl in the bathroom of a night club in Hickville, GA. So, I don't want to hear any talk of Ben being a victim of concussions or having some sort of mental illness. There is no excuse for how he has acted. Period.

Do I think he's capable of changing? Yes, I do, but he's going to have to actually make an effort and try to change his behavior. It's just not going to happen by osmosis. Now, do I think he actually will change? No, I don't, but I'm predisposed to think that way.

Anyway, rant over.

I'll be back Sunday night hopefully reveling in the Pens being up 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Montreal Canadiens who did the whole NHL a big favor by ousting the Washington Capitals last night. The Pens are now the highest remaining seed in the East, and another run at the Cup is looking more and more likely. At least I hope it is.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Draft Thoughts

No, not that draft. I'm done dissecting the NFL Draft until after mini-camp happens. Besides, today is a Big Ben free blog. I will not discuss his rather underwhelming written statement from yesterday nor will I discuss if I think his words mean anything. Nope. Not today. Tomorrow, on the other hand, is another story as I delve into what's being asked of Ben by the commish and how I think some people are just missing the point.

Anyway, onto last night's annual WWE Draft. Eight WWE Superstars changed brands from RAW to Smackdown and vice versa last night with 12 more shifting brands via the supplemental draft this afternoon.

I've always been a big fan of the draft and like how it can very often shake things up on both of WWE's shows, and with no ECW this year, I think that the affects of this year's draft will be even more evident.

So, let's start with the wrestlers who changed brands last night.

Smackdown to RAW

1. John Morrison - This move didn't surprise me at all. Morrison is an A-list talent who's been relegated to WWE's B-show since being drafted there last year. His in-ring abilities are among the best in WWE, and he certainly has the look of a future heavyweight champion. However, with the other moves made on Monday, there's a good chance he could get lost in the shuffle. At first, I think he may be moved into a program with his old partner The Miz over the U.S. Championship. After that, I really hope he gets moved into the WWE Title picture because he's definitely one of the young guns that WWE should be building around.

2. R-Truth - I haven't seen much of R-Truth since I don't regularly watch Smackdown, but he's definitely seemed to have gotten somewhat over. I'm sure he's been moved to RAW to help with the urban demographic, but I doubt he'll be anything more than a mid-carder. I'd advocate a heel turn, but he'd probably be stuck in the mid-card as a heel, too.

3. Edge - The first of two former world champs who was moved to RAW last night, Edge will undoubtedly be a part of the main event mix along with Cena, Orton, Sheamus, Triple H, Batista, and Chris Jericho. Last night, Edge speared his old Rated-RKO partner, causing Orton to lose a number one contender's match to Batista. I don't know if this signals an Edge heel turn or not. Frankly, I'd make both Edge and Orton tweeners and have them only be out for themselves. Let the crowd cheer or boo them as it sees fit. Besides, I just like Edge on RAW better.

4. Chris Jericho - As Jericho himself Tweeted after the draft yesterday, "I've spent most of the year on Smackdown, Raw and NXT, so what's the difference?" And he's exactly right. Jericho is probably the hardest working guy on the whole WWE roster, and he just belongs on RAW. Yeah, I know he's wrestled Cena a ton of times, but I really look forward to a feud between Jericho and Orton and a continuation of Jericho's feud with Edge. And there's always the possibility, however sleight, for a Jericho face turn. That would be interesting.

RAW to Smackdown

1. Kelly Kelly - Eh, I'm not sure what to make of this. Kelly has improved leaps and bounds as a wrestler over the past 12-18 months, but she's still on the low rung of Divas with actual in-ring talent. On the other hand, she may be the prettiest Diva. It's obvious that Eve Torres passed her up big time, so maybe Kelly will get a chance to compete for the Women's Title on Smackdown. If anything, it's a fresh start for her as she's been on RAW for several years now.

2. The Big Show - I think Show has the distinction for having wrestled for RAW and Smackdown the most combined times. I would have to guess that Show will immediately be thrown into the World Title picture with Jack Swagger and, um, I guess CM Punk and Ray Misterio and, um, Kofi Kingston and maybe Christian. Or there could be yet another revival of the long standing program between Big Show and Kane/Undertaker. Whatever happens, Show will continue to be the rock of WWE - he goes about his business and doesn't have any agendas backstage.

3. Kofi Kingston - Kofi had pretty much done all he could on RAW outside of winning the WWE Title. Going to Smackdown may finally get him in the World Title mix what with the lack of legitimate contenders. Heck, there's even a chance for Kofi to become the top face on Smackdown who's not named The Undertaker. I like Kofi a lot, and I really hope he isn't relegated to a program with Drew McIntyre over the I-C Championship.

4. Christian - Captain Charisma now has the distinction of being on RAW, Smackdown, ECW and NXT all in the space of a few months. Christian is always going to be a solid mid-carder who will put on a good match and be effective as either a face or a heel. If Kofi does get involved in the main event mix, then I definitely think Christian will be vying for the Intercontinental Title before long. McIntyre could learn a few things from taking on a seasoned veteran like Christian.

Supplemental Draft

Smackdown to RAW

1. Hart Dynasty (Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya) - This really isn't a surprise since the tag champs are usually on RAW even though they can defend the titles on either show. They'll get better exposure on RAW, though I'm already wondering where their competition is going to come from. Memo to WWE: Please find a tag team or two for them to wrestle. And Natalya will take Kelly Kelly's place as a mid-card Diva face.

2. Goldust - It'll be good to have Goldust back on RAW, if only for nostalgic value since his time in the upper card has long since passed. I wonder if he'll be involved with Ted Dibiase's Fortunate Sons stable in some way?

3. The Great Khali - Not sure if this is even remotely significant since Khali is supposedly taking some time off. I have no use for Khali and pray to God he's kept far away from anything more than being a side show act.

4. Ezekiel Jackson - Big Zeke is currently on IR and out for probably 4-6 months. I think he was being groomed to take the next step to the upper mid-card before his injury. I'll let you know what I think about this pick when he is finally wrestling on RAW.

RAW to Smackdown

1. Cody Rhodes - This was the biggest non-surprise of the Supplemental Draft. Cody was definitely the odd man out in Legacy, so off to Smackdown with him. I can't see him being anything more than a mid-carder. Maybe he does a quiet face turn or maybe he finds himself a tag team partner. Honestly, I have no clue, and I'm going to guess neither does the WWE brass. We'll see.

2. Chavo Guerrero - Who cares? No really, who cares?

3. Hornswoggle - See above. Repeat as needed.

4. Chris Masters - See numbers 2 and 3.

5. Rosa Mendes - Turn her face, and then we'll talk about whether she's anything more than a Diva jobber.

6. MVP - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Last year, MVP was the U.S. Champion and one of the crown jewels of RAW's draft. This year, he returns to Smackdown in the Supplemental Draft. Maybe going back to Smackdown will revive his career (a heel turn might help, too), but I fear he'll be lost in the shuffle instead of being in the title picture (I-C or World).

It's pretty obvious that RAW definitely got the best of the draft getting 2 former World/WWE champions and the current tag team champions. Yes, Smackdown did get the Big Show, but let's face it - Show doesn't carry nearly the kind of cache he did 5 years ago. Kofi and Christian are nice additions but only if they're allowed to be part of the World Title picture. Lord knows Jack Swagger needs someone to wrestle.

We'll all find out in the coming months just how much the draft really does mean. For some, it will mean fresh starts and elevated profiles. For others, it's a one way trip to jabronieville.

Anyway, check back here tomorrow or Thursday for my riveting take on whether being a dirt bag can be classified as a mental deficiency. Here's a hint: NO!



Saturday, April 24, 2010

What is Underwhelming?

1. The answer - Describe the Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 Draft in one word.

Okay, look, I'll admit that I'm not a college football geek, and I didn't pore over draft books examining each and every player. That all said, I still reserve the right to be underwhelmed by the picks the Steelers have made in the first four rounds of the draft.

For those of you who haven't been diligently watching the draft, here are the Steelers picks so far:

1st Round - Maurkice Pouncey - C/RG - Florida
2nd Round - Jason Worilds - DE/LB - Virginia Tech
3rd Round - Emmanuel Sanders - WR - SMU
4th Round - Thad Gibson - LB - Ohio State

I'm not going to complain about the Pouncey pick. The Steelers need an heir apparent at center, and Pouncey is that guy. But as for the rest of the picks... damned if I've heard of any of them, even the Ohio State guy.

I look at some of the players the Steelers could have drafted - like Terrence "Mount" Cody, a prototypical nose tackle who could have been a replacement for Casey Hampton down the line. The Steelers still need to make over their D-line, and just drafting Ziggy Hood last year isn't enough. The D-line is still O-L-D. Cody, of course, went to the Baltimore Ravens not too long after the Steelers picked in round 2. Great, just what the Steelers needed, another big dude in the middle for a team that's very difficult to run against as it is.

I do realize that the Steelers do need some depth and linebacker and some guys who will actually run down on special teams and make some tackles. Maybe Worilds and Gibson are those guys. They couldn't be any worse than Arnold Harrison and Bruce Davis, could they?

And maybe Emmanuel Sanders will turn out to be a good slot receiver, but I would have rather had Jordan Shipley out of Texas who ended up going to the Bengals right after the Steelers picked in the 3rd round. You guys seeing a trend here? I really hope this is not a case of the Steelers thinking they're smarter than everybody else by taking these guys ahead of slot.

The Steelers have four 5th round draft picks, so they really need to start addressing D-line depth, defensive back and maybe pick up a tight end to replace the horrifyingly nondescript Matt Spaeth. If Dorin Dickerson is still there at pick 151, I highly suggest the Steelers take him. I can't believe Dickerson has lasted this long. He's been the top guy on Mel Kiper's board since the middle of the third round. I guess everything Dickerson showed at the Combine didn't amount to much. I've seen Dickerson play, and whoever gets him in the 5th round is getting a steal. Trust me on this one.

2. The answer - Describe how the Penguins game five performance in one word.

I'll admit it - I really thought the Pens were going to put the Senators away handily Thursday night, but I should have known better. Last year, the Pens had two chances to finish off series at home (against Philly and Washington) and lost both times.

The Pens came out flat and were down 2-0 before got comfortable in their seats at the Mellon Arena. Oh, they eventually did wake up and even took the lead... for about a minute before the Senators tied the game. The second the game went to OT, I knew the Pens were toast. Of course, they had to stretch it to a 3rd OT before finally losing.

Game Six is tonight back in Ottawa, and it wouldn't shock me at all if the Senators win and force a game seven Monday night back in the Burgh. I sincerely hope that's not the case, but the Penguins have proven often this year that as good as they can be at times they can also be godawful at times, too.

For god's sake, just finish them already! Sheesh. Stay out of the penalty box, play with passion and don't look past the team on the opposite bench. You are better than that team. There's no debate about that, but that doesn't mean that the other team can't beat you. The Pens would do well to remember that.

I could go on and on about how underwhelming the Pirates pitching, hitting and defense has been lately. I could rant and rave about the 20-0 loss to the Brewers on Thursday. But I won't. The Pirates just aren't worth it.

Anyway, let's hope the Steelers find some diamonds in the rough over the next three rounds and that the Pens win game six tonight.

Let's Go Pens!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

2010 NFL Draft - LIVE

Welcome to the first (annual?) Blog the Walls Down live coverage of the first round of the NFL Draft. I'm your humble host, JD.

The actual start of the draft is about 10 minutes away, so check back in for the first pick.

The St. Louis Rams are on the clock, and boy, do they need help.

1. St. Louis Rams - Sam Bradford - QB - Oklahoma - An obvious first pick, even though taking a QB number one overall is a gamble, but it's a good pick. I like Sam, and I think that given time, he'll be a star.

The Detroit Lions are on the clock, and it's their second draft without Matt Millen. That can only be a good thing.

2. Detroit Lions - Ndamukong Suh - DT - Nebraska - If you've seen this guy play, then you know that this is a great pick for the Lions. He dominated the Big 12 Championship game and was one of the best players in all of college football last year. Suh is a difference maker and can only help the woeful Lions. He was number one on Mel's board. Not sure where Mel's Hair had him.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock. I'd expect Gerald McCoy to go here.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Gerald McCoy - DT - Oklahoma - This makes 2 OU players taken in the first three picks. Somewhere, Jim Ross is smiling. You could have flip flopped Suh and McCoy and either team would be happy with who they've drafted. He'll make Bucs fans not groan every time their defense takes the field. Wow... McCoy just gave the commish a huge hug. That's a good sign, Bucs fans.

The Washington Redskins are on the clock. The Skins had better make a good pick here since they don't have another pick until the fourth round.

4. Washington Redskins - Trent Williams - OT - Oklahoma - Wow... a safe pick by the Skins. They got someone to help protect newly acquired Donnie McNabb and a replacement for Chris Samuels. Good, safe pick.

The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock. Expect another OT here, probably Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State. Man, what a good year for Big 12 players. Bzzt! Wrongo fongo.

5. Kansas City Chiefs - Eric Berry - S - Tennessee - Per Berman, he's the most NFL ready player in the draft. USA Today compares him to Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed which is good company to be included with. Gruden calls him a "force" and thinks he could play corner. Another good, safe pick.

The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock. They could sure use a big time running back, maybe C.J. Spiller? Not so fast, my friend. Adam Schefter says Okung is going here.

6. Seattle Seahawks - Russell Okung - OT - Oklahoma State - The ESPN crew says that when the Hawks were good, they had big time o-linemen, and Mel says Okung is the best offensive lineman in the draft. It's hard to pass up a potential franchise left tackle.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock. Will they take Spiller or go for Derrick Morgan out of Georgia Tech? What will the Big Show do? Per Michael Smith, it will be either Joe Haden or Kyle Wilson, both CBs. The Steelers were targeting Joe Haden. Steve Young wonders if the Browns will trade down. It's Joe Haden, who is in tears.

7. Cleveland Browns - Joe Haden - CB - Florida - The top cornerback in the draft goes to a team in great need of help on the perimeter. The AFC North is a very pass happy division, so the Big Show goes defense in his first draft as Browns head honcho. I was hoping Haden would fall to the Steelers. Guess not.

Now the fun begins. The Oakland Raiders are on the clock. Somewhere Al Davis is getting ready to make what is sure to be a pick that will make the ESPN guys go "What?". An aside - do Al and Bob Huggins buy their track suits at the same place?

8. Oakland Raiders - Rolando McClain - LB - Alabama - Mel says he's surprised and says McClain is the 15th best player on his board. The Raiders have reached again! Guess the JaMarcus Russell experiment isn't over since Jimmy Clausen is still out there. Either that or the Raiders are sold on Bruce Gradkowski. McClain is a good football player who will step into the Raiders already good D immediately.

Bills are on the clock and the pick is already in!

9. Buffalo Bills - C.J. Spiller - RB - Clemson - Somewhat of a surprise pick per Berman, but he's the best player on the board per Mel and Gruden. Spiller is a home run hitter who can catch the ball in space and return kicks. The Bills need some excitement on offense, and this is a great pick, but the Bills had better address their O-Line in later rounds.

The Jacksonville Jags are on the clock. Could they actually take Tim Tebow here or play it safe with Derrick Morgan?

Man, Jon Gruden is a scary looking dude at times.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tyson Alualu - DT - California - Mel says this is a stretch at 10 and that while he's not surprised that Alualu made into the first round, he is surprised he went this high. Even I think this is a big reach.

The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock as they have just swapped picks with the Broncos. I wonder who my second favorite team is targeting and what they had to give up to move up. It's a 4th round pick this year - not too much.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Anthony Davis - OT - The Niners get the player they wanted, and it only cost them a 4th round pick to move up. It looks like Miami really wanted this guy because the Dolphins have just traded their pick to San Diego who move up from the 28th pick. Interesting...

12. San Diego Chargers - Ryan Matthews - RB - Fresno State - This is the guy Mort said the Bolts were targeting and thought he wouldn't be there at 28. Matthews led the nation in rushing and his blazing speed (a 4.37 40) makes him a good fit for the Chargers who have been looking for a RB since LaDanian Tomlinson lost a step.

13. Philadelphia Eagles - Brandon Graham - DE - Michigan - Consensus was that the Eagles had moved up from 24th (giving the Broncos two 3rd round picks to do so) to take S Earl Thomas, but instead they go for a pass rusher who is in the Dwight Freeney mode.

Man... trades are fast and furious tonight. The Seahawks are back on the clock for their second first round pick. Jimmy Clausen, maybe or Earl Thomas?

14. Seattle Seahawks - Earl Thomas - S - Texas - The Seahawks use their second first round pick on a guy who played in an NFL style defense at Texas. Gruden says he can play corner in the pros. Fast and great instincts for the ball. Pete Carroll's first two picks as the new head man in Seattle are pretty strong.

The New York Giants are on the clock. Still no receivers taken. Would the Giants take a flyer on Dez Bryant here?

Where does Jimmy Clausen go? Mort says that if the Niners don't take him at 17, Clausen could fall all the way to the bottom of the first round.

15. New York Giants - Jason Pierre-Paul - DE - South Florida - Well, the Giants had an epically bad defense last year, so going with Pierre-Paul is a safe pick. I saw him play against Pitt and wasn't all that impressed, but Gruden loves him. He's very raw, so the Giants will need to give him some time to develop. Mort says this could signal the end of Osi Umeniyora's tenure in New York.

The Tennessee Titans are on the clock, and Mel says Derrick Morgan should go here to be a replacement for the departed Kyle Vanden Bosch.

16. Tennessee Titans - Derrick Morgan - DE - Georgia Tech - The ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the heir apparent to Vanden Bosch in Tennessee. I think the Titans should be thrilled to get a possible top ten talent in the middle of the first round.

The Niners are back on the board for their second pick of the first round.

17. San Francisco 49ers - Mike Iupati - OL - Idaho - This guy is just huge and should help keep Ol' Small Hands Alex Smith off the turf and open some holes for Frank Gore. Steve compares him to Jesse Sapolu.

The Steelers are on the clock. Will Maurkice Pouncey go here?

18. Pittsburgh Steelers - Maurkice Pouncey - OL - Florida - Pouncey can play guard and will probably move to center eventually. Justin Hartwig is the encumbent, but I expect Pouncey will have a chance to become the Steelers' next All-Pro center before long.

The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock.

19. Atlanta Falcons - Sean Witherspoon - LB - Missouri - Well, there goes yet another Big 12 player taken in the first round. Witherspoon had a huge combine and will help fill one of the Falcons big needs - outside linebacker. He slipped a bit last year, but a lot of that was attributed to the departure of players like Ziggy Hood to the pros.

The Houston Texans are on the clock. It's 9:35 and we've had 19 picks in two hours. Not too bad.

20. Houston Texas - Kareem Jackson - CB - Alabama - Gruden says that Jackson is a "Nick Saban cornerback" with good coverage skills. The Texans finally had a winning season last year, so maybe they've finally made the turn toward being a possible playoff contender.

The Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock. I see Jermaine Gresham going here.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Jermaine Gresham - TE - Oklahoma - The Bengals get a big time receiving tight end, something Carson Palmer has never had. Now, the Bengals usually take a step back after having a good season, so maybe this is a sign that they're drafting for need and the future at the same time.

The New England Patriots are on the clock. I wonder if Mrs. Belichick picked out a special draft day hoodie for Bill. Nevermind... the Pats have traded the pick to the Broncos.

22. Denver Broncos - Demaryius Thomas - WR - Georgia Tech - The first receiver goes off the board to a team that just traded All-Pro receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami. Mel says he's talented but needs a lot of work. Still no Dez Bryant, by the way. Steve and Tommy are perplexed by this pick.

The Green Bay Packers are on the clock. Do they go after Dez Bryant to give Aaron Rodgers another big time receiving threat or does Bryant continue to fall like a rock? Schefter says Bryant will probably go to the Ravens at #25.

23. Green Bay Packers - Bryan Bulaga - OT - Iowa - Berman says Bulaga looks like an old school Packer with his buzzcut. USA Today had him going in the top ten, so I think the Pack got a steal here, especially considering the serious problems they had protecting the QB last season. Aaron Rodgers should be thrilled.

Now the Pats are on the clock. See above for my Bill Belichick hoodie joke. Nevermind, take two. The Cowboys have traded up to take Dez Bryant.

24. Dallas Cowboys - Dez Bryant - WR - Oklahoma State - Character and injury issues aside, Bryant is a talented receiver and he gives the Cowboys something they've been lacking - a playmaker on receiver. He'll fit in well in Dallas, but I hope he keeps his nose clean. Jerry Jones always has regretted not taking Randy Moss and hopes this will make up for it.

The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock, probably stinging from losing out on Bryant.

Tim Tebow is on the phone! Who's on the clock? The Broncos? Another trade? Wow!

25. Denver Broncos - Tim Tebow - QB - Florida - Well, if the Broncos are drafting for character and potential, then they couldn't have made a better pick than Tebow. Yes, his delivery is a work in progress. Yes, he doesn't have a great arm. But he's a winner. Period. No matter where he plays, he's going to help your team. Will he be a QB? Time will tell, but I think he'll get that time in Denver.

Man, did the Broncos wheel and deal tonight. And Jimmy Clausen waits.

The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock. Will they take Clausen? I doubt it, especially considering what a bust Matt Leinart has been.

26. Arizona Cardinals - Dan Williams - DT - Tennessee - Mel says he dropped because of where he plays - nose tackle in a 3-4 defense - and he didn't fit anywhere else except for Arizona. He's a true nose tackle and a big upgrade on the D-line.

The Pats are on the clock for the third time in the first round. Maybe they'll actually, y'know, make a pick this time.

I'll say one thing about tonight - it sure hasn't been boring. Could the Pats take Clausen as Tom Brady's heir apparent or could Clausen possibly slip all the way to the Vikings at #30?

27. New England Patriots - Devin McCourty - DB - Rutgers - Wow... 2 Rutgers players in the first round. That's gotta be a first. Mel says McCourty is a good special teams player and will help the Pats there. A bit of a stretch, per Mel, but there were other guys on the board who would have been a better value here.

The Miami Dolphins are back on the clock after trading down earlier in the evening. No Jimmy Clausen here, that's for sure.

28. Miami Dolphins - Jared Odrick - DT - Penn State - Could this be the replacement for Jason Taylor? Gruden says he's the perfect Bill Parcells player, and you know that he's got a good pedigree coming from PSU. I like this pick for the Dolphins because they need someone to rush the passer with the departures of Taylor and Joey Porter.

The J-E-T-S are on the clock, and they sure as hell aren't taking Jimmy Clausen.

29. New York Jets - Kyle Wilson - CB - Boise State - Called an "agitator" by the ESPN guys, had great ball skills and is very confident. Mel isn't as sold on him as Gruden is, but man, put him opposite Darelle Revis and you might have a good set of shutdown corners.

The Minnesota Favres are on the clock. Do they take Jimmy Clausen? Nope. The Lions have traded up to take... beats me.

30. Detroit Lions - Jahvid Best - RB - California - The Lions need a running back, and Best is a good pick at 30. They get Suh early in the first round and Best at the end. Not a bad first day for the woeful Lions.

I hope Jimmy Clausen hasn't spent his first round signing bonus, because all indications are that he's not going to be drafted tonight. I think Colt McCoy is a much better fit for the Colts or the Saints, but we'll see.

The Indy Colts are on the clock. Did Gruden just say "dumb ass"?

31. Indianapolis Colts - Jerry Hughes - LB - TCU - Hughes has a huge motor and was a first team All-American on a very good team. The Colts could use another pass rusher, and he'll be tutored by Dwight Freeney, one of the best in the league. Good late first round pick.

The Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, are on the clock with the last pick of the first round, and Drew Brees will be announcing the pick.

32. New Orleans Saints - Patrick Robinson - CB - Florida State - A great cover guy, but not much of a hitter. He was good but not great, per Mel. He has prototypical NFL size and is a good run supporter. He was the last of the corners with a first round grade, per Mel.

That concludes the first round, and it only took 3.5 hours. I meant to predict that the first round of the draft would finish before the Penguins/Senators game, but I forgot.

And that's all for me, gang. I'll be back tomorrow with a look back at the first round and Penguins post-mortem.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Y'know, I really didn't intend for this blog to be so sports intensive, but considering everything that's going on in and around the three local pro sports teams (and considering my high interest in all three), it's hard not to talk about what's going on with the Pens, Pirates and Steelers.

So, today's blog will be devoted to the good, the bad and the ugly of Pittsburgh sports. See if you can guess which team is which...


This one should be pretty obvious. It's hard to imagine that after the Penguins lost the first game of the playoffs (at home, no less) to the Senators one week ago today that I'd be putting them in the good category. It's amazing the difference a week makes. After a 7-4 throttling of the Senators last night, the Pens now own a commanding 3-1 lead in the series with a chance to clinch right back at the Igloo tomorrow night.

The fact that the Pens put up 7 against the Senators shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. When the Pens are clicking, it's hard to stop them from scoring. And if not for a bunch of really dumb penalties that allowed the Senators to score two 5-on-3 goals, the Pens could have put 10 goals up on the board. Like I said last week, the Senators cannot play with the Pens 5-on-5, and if Fleury continues to be just slightly above average, the series should come to a conclusion tomorrow night.

And what else is there to say about Sid? Another two goals last night and another two assists, giving him 11 points in four games. That's just shy of three points per game, kids. I guess that vaunted switch that the Pens were hoping to turn on does exist because after the game one debacle, they've completely dominated this series. Ottawa doesn't have the firepower, goaltending or experience to match the Pens. Oh, I don't expect the Senators to roll over and give up tomorrow night, but I think that if the Pens keep playing like they have, they'll win comfortably tomorrow and move onto the second round.

Also, has anyone else noticed how Max Talbot's game has picked up significantly since the playoffs started? He was all-but invisible during the regular season, but since the playoffs have started, he's reminded us all just how valuable he is.

And finally, kudos to Jordan Staal for being nominated for the Selke Award which is given to the best defensive forward. This was definitely Staal's best season since his rookie year, and anyone who watches how he kills penalties, throws his body around and back checks knows how deserving this nomination is.


I try not to pay too much attention to the Pirates, but I'll admit to feeling pretty good after they swept the Reds over the weekend (including consecutive walk-off wins Friday and Saturday). Then reality reared its ugly head in the form of Charlie Morton.

Look, I think Charlie is a nice guy who has a live arm and a fastball that can touch 96 on the gun. But having a live arm doesn't mean you can throw strikes, and that's been his problem all season. Early on in games, he looks like a Cy Young Award winner, but as the game goes on, he pitches more like Mae Young (wrestling reference). Case in point - last night's "masterpiece" against the hated Milwaukee Brewers in which he gave up 6 runs in two innings (though I can barely count it as two innings since he didn't record any outs in the second).

Charlie has joined the pantheon of Pirates pitchers with good stuff who just feel the need to not trust their stuff and nibble around the strike zone (see: Wells, Kip and Benson, Kris). Charlie does this and gets deep into counts and has to throw his fastball over the plate, ofter getting pummeled. Dude, trust your stuff. I don't know what I and everyone else in the organization has to do to get this through your thick skull. And Ryan Doumit? This is your fault, too, since you obviously can't call a good game when Charlie is on the mound since he gets pounded every single time he takes the mound. I know you can't stop Charlie from nibbling, but you had better try (and while you're at it, start hitting, too).

I find it hilarious that the Pirates' two best pitchers never hit 90 on the gun. But that's okay because Zach Duke and Paul Maholm know how to pitch and can (gasp!) get guys out. With Morton stinking up the joint, Ross Ohlendorf on the DL until the end of the month and Daniel McCutchen unable to pitch more than 4 innings, the Pirates rotation sucks. And in spite of only having 3 quality starts all year, the Buccos are somehow 7-6.

If Neal Huntington had just signed a bargain basement veteran starting pitcher who would be able to eat up innings and help out the younger starters, the Pirates might actually have the makings of a team just below mediocre, but no, he had to show off the guys he got in his lousy ass trades (Morton and Kevin "Wild Thing" Hart). I think Neal has proven he is a lousy talent evaluator, and I think there's a damned good chance he'll be fired this year. At least I hope he will. Yes, I said that, and yes, I mean it. It's a gots to go situation, and Neal has gots to go.


Well, word came down from Roger Goodell today that Big Ben will be suspended for 4-6 games at the start of the 2010 season. If Ben's a good boy and does whatever the commish tells him, then the suspension will only be 4 games.

I'm torn on this in some regards. On the one hand, Ben did not get charged for his actions of total douchebaggery that night in Milledgeville, and I don't see how he warrants such a severe suspension for basically being an idiot and not carding the girls he was buying shots for (which, by the way, isn't his job). On the other hand, maybe this is the only way he'll learn.

There's a pattern of behavior here that stretches all the way back to Ben's bike accident the summer after Super Bowl XL. He is notorious for not using his head (or thinking with the wrong head, if you know what I mean). After being warned about riding his motorcycle, he does so and does so without wearing a helmet and nearly dies when he wrecks it. But that wasn't enough. Then he goes and gets into that big ol' mess with the whackadoodle out in Nevada in which he admitted that he did have sex with her but denies raping her. And the icing on the cake is whatever happened in Georgia (which most likely was him banging a girl so drunk she probably didn't know what planet she was on yet still managed to say no, god love her). I mean, just how big of a douche bag is this guy? And how many things don't we even know about? Yet, I still can't help but feel the commish went overboard with the suspension. I think 2 games would have been plenty.

Whatever the case, I think the Steelers are damned close to cutting their losses and getting rid of Ben. And you know what? I'm totally in favor of it. As Mr. Tony always says, it's a gots to go situation. I've had enough of his act. Let some other team/city deal with him and let's move on with a high draft pick and some combination of Leftwich/Batch/Dixon at QB. Yes, I realize that this would probably doom any chances the Steelers have of making the playoffs next year (unless, of course, they get back to Steelers football and, y'know, run the ball), but if the Steelers are really all about zero tolerance and having a good image, then Ben has to go. Now.

That all said, I'll still be relatively surprised if Ben is dealt. But this is his last chance. If he effs up one more time, then I think he's done. Not just with the Steelers, but done done. As in no more NFL. I just wonder if he has the maturity to clean up his act. Kobe Bryant did, and he was accused of something quite heinous, so maybe there is hope for Ben yet. I guess time will tell.

For those of you interested, I will be live blogging during tomorrow night's first round of the 2010 NFL Draft offering ongoing updates on the picks, little tidbits I've gleaned about the picks, discussion about any trades that happen (involving the Steelers and otherwise) and, of course, constantly making fun of Mel Kiper's hair.

Be there, aloha.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

See... I told you not to panic

Okay, so it took until the last few minutes of the game before the Pens managed to take a lead against the Senators in game 2 of their first round series, but a win is a win, folks. And despite the fact that the margin was only one goal, the Pens pretty much dominated last night's game. They haven't played a defensive game like that since... well, since last year's playoffs I think. If the boys in black and gold continue to play with the kind of intensity they did last night, they're going to win this series. Tomorrow's game at Ottawa is pivotal.

The Senators are still feeling pretty good after gaining a split in Pittsburgh, but one goal isn't going to cut it at home. More pressure on Fleury is what they need, but if the Pens keep up the pressure and keep the puck out of their own end, this could end up being a shorter series that any of us expected.

Yes, as I said the other day, one game does not make a series, but the Penguins showed last night just how good they can be when they try. Would I have been happy if they'd scored more than 2 goals? Absolutely, but I'm a one step at a time kinda guy. I expect another solid to spectacular defensive effort tomorrow at Ottawa and a few more goals, hopefully.

And Sid. What else can you say about Sid that hasn't already been said before? Well, not only did he set up the game winning goal last night, he also did this:

When's the last time Ovechkin did something like that?

Lost in the euphoria of the Penguins' victory last night was the Pirates walk-off ninth inning win last night perpetrated by the duo of Cutch and Clutch (Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge). With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cutch singled, stole second and scampered home on Milledge's single up the middle. Of course, this never would have happened if Octavio Dotel hadn't given up the tying run in the top of the ninth, but when it comes to the Pirates, you take what you can get. Somehow the Pirates are 5-5 after 10 games despite some really below average starting pitching. Maybe there is hope... nah!

Anyway, have a good weekend, kids. Looks like it's gonna be a cool one.

Let's Go Pens!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Panic - Yet

I'm sure there are Penguins fans across the tri-state area who are ready to take the gas pipe after yesterday's 5-4 loss to Ottawa in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury played one of those games that make you wonder how he ever managed to win a playoff series let alone a Stanley Cup.

Yes, the vaunted Staal/Kennedy/Cooke line was not good.

Yes, Kris Letang still can't hit the net with any of his shots.

Yes, Alex Ponikarovsky did his best Claude Rains impression.

All of these things are true, but it's still only one game. For those of you in need of a history lesson, the year the Pens won their first Cup, they lost the first game of every series. Am I saying that this team will do that? No, but I am saying that now is not the time to panic. The Pens can come back and still win this series. One game does not make a series.


Yet I have this sneaking suspicion that last night was not an anomaly. The Pens have not been playing consistent hockey for quite awhile, so what happened last night did not come as any surprise to me.

Sid and Geno still played good games, even with Anton Volchenkov breathing down Sid's neck at any and all opportunities. A quick aside... wouldn't Anton Volchenkov been a great name for a Bond villain back during the Cold War era?

Of course, the biggest shock of the night was not the Pens losing. It was Craig Adams of all people scoring a goal. Yes, the same Craig Adams who didn't score a goal during the entire regular season. That might have been part of the problem since the vaunted third line accounted for not much at all. I hope that Disco Dan yanks Ruslan Fedotenko out of the lineup and gets Mike Rupp in. The Pens need Rupp's grit, and I can't believe he was scratched for the first game. I'd also dress Jay McKee, but that's just me.

For those of you who thought that the Pens would just turn on that mythical switch once the playoffs started, I hope they're able to do it before they're heading to Ottawa down 0-2.

I honestly don't know what they need to do other than play a tighter game defensively and get more pucks on net. The first three minutes of yesterday's game was a sight to behold - early pressure on rookie goalie Brian Elliot and a great power play goal from Geno with lots of traffic in front of the net. After that? One more shot the rest of the period. Sorry, but that's gonna work. Say what you will about the Pens' defensive effort toward the end of the season, but at least they were still getting lots of shots. If they'd gotten their usual 30-35 shots last night, they might have been in the game and even won.

So, as I said... now is not the time to panic, but if the Pens lose tomorrow? Well, let's just say my finger will be inching toward the panic button.

Of course, while the Pens are playing the Sens, I'll be at the movies, seeing Kick-Ass. What? I'll follow the game on my phone. I'm not a fair weather fan, but I've been waiting to see this movie since it was first announced. Geekdom wins out... this time.

Let's Go Pens!


P.S. The Capitals just lost their opening round game to the Canadiens at home. I'm sure there's panic in the streets of our nation's capital already. See? It can happen to any team, even the team with by far the most points in the NHL with one of the league's best players. Of course, the Caps' goalie is still Jose Three-or-more, so I hope you Caps fans out there aren't planning your Stanley Cup victory parade.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Black Monday - The Aftermath

Y'know, I hate devoting blog entries to the sordid goings-on of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but what's news is news, so here we go...

I wake up yesterday morning and see on the Bottom Line on ESPN2 that Santonio Holmes has been traded to the Jets for a fifth round pick. My response went pretty much like this - "WTF?!" I knew that Tone was probably going to be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy (read: waking and baking), but this was still a shock to me - especially when I saw the Steelers only got a fifth for him. I guess the edict came down from on high - "Get rid of him. I don't care if you have to release him, but get rid of him."

I went into this in depth on Friday, but it bears repeating again: Santonio, you're an idiot. I don't care if you claim your Twitter account was hacked or some such nonsense. If you would have a) quit the dope and b) kept your johnson in your pants (in more ways than one), then maybe you wouldn't have been dumped by the six time Super Bowl champs for little more than a used pair of cleats. Sure, you get to go to that "big market" you wanted to go to, but you're on thin ice now. Next time you get caught smoking dope, you'll be out for more than just 4 games. And seriously, who among us out there really thinks you won't get caught again?

So, enjoy life in the big city, Tone, where the media scrutiny will be 10 times what it is around here. You have no idea how good you had it. No idea. And the fans? Oh sure, they'll welcome you with open arms, especially as an alternative to "Hands of Stone" Braylon Edwards, but they'll turn on you in a New York Minute the first time you eff up. Take care now. Buh-bye.

And that brings us to Ben. You all know that my opinion of Ben had taken a major nose dive even before the DA decided not to press charges against him. Last Friday, I'd surmised that the alleged assault was the result of Ben getting a hummer in the ladies room. BZZZT! If you listened to what the DA said, it's pretty clear that Ben did have intercourse with the drunk out of her mind 20 year old girl, but there wasn't enough evidence to make a case against him. So, even though Ben won't be going to have to go to court (this time, anyway), he comes off looking like a bigger jackass than I ever thought possible.

And then! And then he has this staged "apology" that was so insincere that it was comical. Does anyone really think he's sorry or that he won't do it again? There's even rumors floating that more women might be coming out of the woodwork in a Tiger Woods like situation. Jeez, Ben... are you really that hard up for sex or is it really all about having power? God, you sicken me. And you know what else sickens me? How you look. Stop eating so many effing donuts! Get a haircut! Shave! And lose some weight! You look like an effing slob.

If, for sake of argument, the St. Louis Rams come to the Steelers and offer them the first pick in this year's draft for Ben (ostensibly to take Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford), then I'd jump at it. Get him out of here. I'm tired of his act. I'm sure the Steelers are, too. And I can't wait to hear the outcome of Ben's meeting today with Roger Goodell. I'm guessing a two-game or more suspension, either from the league or the Steelers under the fabled "morals clause" or as I like to call it "Stop being such an effing ass clown and grow up" clause. I'm so tired of these pro athletes who continue to act like they're above the law and don't have to show any morals because of who they are. Grow up and stop acting like a 15 year old with the keys to the liquor cabinet.

Rant over.

Oh yeah... the Pens start the Stanley Cup Playoffs tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators in what's probably going to be a very difficult match-up. Lemme put it you this way - unless the Pens start to plug some of the defensive deficiencies they've been showing lately, it's going to be one and out for the defending Stanley Cup champs, especially because the Sens always play them tough (especially Sid). I say Pens in 6, but it wouldn't shock me at all if the Sens beat them.

Anyway, enough of dwelling on the foibles of Ben and Tone. I honestly don't know where the Steelers go from here, but I think the days leading up to next week's draft are going to be very interesting.



Friday, April 9, 2010

Random sports thoughts

Well, I had planned on doing a similar entry last night, but a power outage put the kibosh on that. So, I ended up at Angelia's Pizza over in Kennedy (best pizza in town by far) watching the first period of the Pens game while having a few adult beverages.

So, without further ado...

- It was amazingly cool to see all of the players who came back for the last regular season game at Mellon Arena. It's hard to imagine that once upon a time, the Pens couldn't draw files, and now they sell out every game. Pittsburgh has truly become a hockey town, and I really think the Pens have surpassed the Pirates to become the number two team in town in terms of popularity. The Steelers are clearly number one, but a large portion of the 30 and under crowd all but worship the Pens.

Though the Pens pretty much romped over the Islanders last night, there were still way too many defensive breakdowns for my liking. Crap like that has got to stop once the playoffs get underway next week. It just kills me that if the Pens had been able to beat the Devils twice (or even once), they'd be in the driver's seat for the number two seed in the East. As it is, if the Pens and Devils tie, the Devils will win the tiebreaker based on head-to-head games. So, the Pens need the Devils to lose one or both of their next two games while the Pens win both. It can happen, but losing is not really an option if the Pens want to finish second and avoid the Caps until the conference finals. Oh yeah, they also have to make sure Sid gets his 50th goal, too.

- As many of you probably know by now, the D.A. in the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault case will be having a press conference on Monday to announce what's going to happen. What's going to happen is one of three things: 1) Ben will be charged with sexual assault or something similar; 2) Ben will be cleared of any wrongdoing or 3) the case will go before a grand jury. If Ben gets charged, then I think he'll surely be suspended by the NFL for probably 2-4 games depending on how severe the charges are. And you know what? Ben's got no one to blame but himself.

I mean, come on! You're Ben Freakin' Roethisberger. You can have any woman you want (despite the fact that you're not the least bit good looking). Why in god's name do you have to go to some night club in Hickville, Georgia, and invite a bunch of underage girls to party with you in the VIP area, (allegedly) getting one of them drunk and then (allegedly) taking her into the girls' bathroom so she can (allegedly) give you a hummer? Seriously, Ben, WTF? Would it have been so hard to not do that or have a private party somewhere or just not leave your house at all?

There are hundreds and hundreds of pro athletes who manage to enjoy their lives without getting in a lick of trouble. Sidney Crosby is one of the two biggest names in hockey, and I'd be flabbergasted if he ever got in an ounce of trouble. Of course, that's probably because Mario would crosscheck him upside the head if he did, but that's beside the point.

Ben already had a lawsuit hanging over him, so common sense should have told him that what he was (or was not) doing with that girl (that underage girl) was stupid. Raise your hand if you wanted to smack him when you heard about all of this when it broke. Yeah, that's what I thought.

And then recently, Santonio Holmes goes and gets himself in an (alleged) altercation with some (allegedly) crazy chick in a bar. Tone may or may not have thrown a glass at this woman. Y'know what? Even if he didn't do it, he still put himself in a situation like it, and that's just dumb. Of course, this is the same guy who got pulled over for smoking a joint in his car during the season and the same guy who recently Tweeted it was "time to wake n bake."

Confession time: I have never smoked a joint in my life, and I never plan to if I can help it. Yet, even I know what it means when Tone says it's time to wake and bake. I don't care if he was kidding. You just don't put stuff like that on your Twitter page. God! How stupid are these athletes, anyway? Oh, just you wait... I plan on doing a big blog on this subject soon, but for now, I'm just gonna shake my head and roll my eyes at Ben and Tone for being colossal idiots.

- Well, the Buccos came back to earth yesterday after being routed by the Dodgers 10-2. These are the Pirates I expected - lousy pitching, no hitting, bad defense. Yeah, I know 2 out of 3 ain't bad (as Meatloaf so eloquently put it), but the starting pitching has to be better, otherwise the bullpen is going to be completely wiped out by May. Memo to Andy Laroche - you are not your brother, so it's okay to get a hit in the first month of the season. Memo to John Russell - please stop hitting the pitcher 8th.

- Not much to say about this past Monday's RAW. It was pretty much a filler show with the biggest development being the setting up of the main event for the next PPV - Cena vs. Batista - Last Man Standing. Since Big Dave is supposed to be taking some time off soon, I'd have to guess Cena will win.

- One other piece of wrestling news to share - the last Monday Night RAW at Mellon Arena will be held on May 10th. Now, the Arena has had more than its fair share of great wrestling moments. Probably the best known moment is the Mankind/Undertaker Hell in a Cell match during King of the Ring back in 1998 when Mankind got tossed off the top of the cell by Taker and then later fell through the roof of the cage to the mat below. Pittsburgh native Bruno Sammartino (who still looks like a million bucks) wrestled in front of packed houses at the Arena many, many times. I attended my first ever wrestling event at the Arena, back when I still thought it was real.

So, that all said, I hope WWE does something to pay tribute to one of its best venues in one of its best cities on that night. Of course, if I were running WWE, I would have moved heaven and earth to get Bruno to be guest host that night, but since he and Vince don't really see eye to eye, we're stuck with... Flavor Flav. Yes, you read that right - Flavor Flav. I'll have to make sure I have my closed captioning on that night because I can't understand a word Flav says.

Anyway, that's all for tonight. Have a good weekend, folks. See yinz Sunday!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Am, I Said

I'm not sure why I titled today's blog after a Neil Diamond song, but I think it'll make sense by the end of this thing.

Apropos of Neil Diamond... did anyone see him sing (and I use that term loosely) "Sweet Caroline" during the Yankees/Red Sox game Sunday night on ESPN? It was horrible, and I think that's being kind. If you don't believe me, see for yourself.

I wonder how much the Sox had to pay him for that, and I wonder if Pitt would pay him to sing "Sweet Caroline" after the third quarter during a home football game this fall. If anyone out there has pull with the Pitt athletic department, say something to Steve Pedersen and make sure you tell him it was my idea.

Anyway, a comment from a follower (shout out to Bigg) about yesterday's blog got me thinking. I addressed a lot of issues in yesterday's blog, but there were some things I either didn't get to or flat out forgot about. I really hadn't planned to do a sequel of sorts to yesterday's blog, so think of this more as a further explanation of why I am the way I am.

I'm going to be turning 38 in a little over three weeks, and as such, it's really easy to not only get set in your ways but also to not want to change said ways. Now, I will admit to having changed quite a bit over the past 2 years or so. I'm much more accepting of who I am, much more open-minded and not as hard as I used to be on myself, among other things.

Bigg had wondered if maybe I was putting conditions on love, and I thought about that. I thought about it a lot. As it turns out, I don't think I am, but the thing is, I'm not sure I've ever been put in a position to do so.

Let me explain - I don't date much. Never have. Most of my relationships never make it past date two for some reason or another. This is the second time I've tried eharmony. The first time, I met someone I really liked, and she totally blew me off. We went out once, and after that, she would never even return my phone calls or emails. And so began the pattern of my eharmony relationships: get to the open communication stage, find out about one another, exchange emails and phone calls, decide to go out, have a pleasant to really good time and then... Well, I'm not sure what happens, but something always does because my track record is godawful.

Here's a recent example: around the time of the big blizzard we had in Pittsburgh back in February, I met a woman on eharmony that I really liked. We had a ton in common - we liked sci-fi, cult TV shows, books, and lots of other things. The week after the blizzard, we met at a Starbucks and talked for two hours. It was a great first date, so I suggested we meet up again for dinner. She agreed. I thought there was chemistry, and I got the impression she did, too. So, fast forward to date number two, a scant four days later. Not ten minutes into the date, she tells me that she didn't want me to get the wrong impression, but she really didn't feel any chemistry. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off, but I kept it to myself. What I wanted to say was, "Well, thanks for wasting my night when I could have been somewhere else watching the Pens game. Why the hell didn't you say something before?" The rest of the night was just awkward as hell. We exchanged one more email afterward, and she hasn't written to me since which is fine considering what happened that night.

After awhile, you start to wonder if something's wrong with you. Was it my breath? Did I forget to put on deodorant? Did I have a piece of lettuce in my teeth? And from there, it can spiral into worse things than that. I used to let it really depress me. Now it just pisses me off. A lot.

I try not to get discouraged - really I do. But it's hard. You see all of those eharmony commercials that all but promise you'll meet someone special, and when you don't, you really start to think that maybe it's just not in the cards for you. And it's not like I've been uber-picky when choosing to communicate with my matches. I haven't, but the vast majority of the women I'm matched with don't even go past the first step with me.

Am I picky? Yes, I am, but I really don't want to settle. I have lots of deal breakers - non-smoker, intelligent, kind, sense of humor, and a tangible amount of physical attraction, to name several. Yes, I do realize that the physical aspect can be overrated, but it's something that's important to me. Always has been, probably always will be.

What I have a problem with is that the things I think I bring to a relationship aren't necessarily valued, despite protests to the contrary. I'm quiet, a bit shy, intelligent, a bit geeky, polite, respectful, a purveyor of common sense, a romantic and above all, not a douche bag. I have always considered myself a nice guy, and I have a major problem with douche bags because I think they always seem to get the girls and then treat them like crap. Story of my life, but you'll have that. It is what it is as Coach Cowher always used to say.

Please don't take this as me complaining about not having a girlfriend and so on. I'm not. I don't feel like I'm entitled to one or anything like that. I just... I just hoped it would have happened for me by now, and every now and then, it bums me out that it hasn't. I'll probably be slightly bummed for the rest of the night, but by the time tomorrow rolls around, I won't be.

So, what does this all mean? I'll be honest... I'm not sure, but I did want to get it out there. This is therapeutic for me, and I think that by getting my feelings into the open, I'll be better able to deal with them going forward.

But rest assured, I'm not giving up on meeting women, but there are times, when I do feel like just chucking it in and consigning myself to a bachelor's life.

Anyway, that's all for tonight. Tomorrow I'll be back with something much less serious, I hope, because this blog is supposed to be a lot of things and fun is one of them.

Thanks again for letting me share, and thanks for reading everyone.

See yinz tomorrow!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happiness is...

Lately, I've been devoting my blog to less thought provoking subjects like pro wrestling and the Pirates. Today, however, I want to do an entry that hearkens back to the main reason I wanted to do this blog.

I've not only needed an outlet for my writing, but I've also needed a place to express some of the thoughts going through my mind at a given time, good or bad. As topics have come and gone, one has remained at the forefront - my current mental state.

Those who know me now or in the past have known that I can be rather... morose at times or even downright miserable. In short, I just wasn't a very happy person for some reason or another. But lately... lately something has happened. I don't know if there's any one specific reason I can point to, but I just seem to be much happier lately.

I've always taken great pleasure from the simple things in life that I enjoy the most - a cold beer and a piece of pizza, my Sunday afternoon nap, cooking out, watching one of my obscure DVDs and other things that I won't go into. But it seemed like life in general wasn't bringing much joy to my life. Sure, I could enjoy the things that I enjoyed, but the basics of life just left me rather unhappy.

For a long time, it was my financial situation or lack thereof. Other times, it was my love life or lack thereof. And there was also my mom and dad's respective sicknesses which both contributed to me being pretty darned miserable at times.

I didn't like myself when I was this way, but I often felt that the fates of the world had conspired against me again and again (I think I stole that line from an episode of Pinky and the Brain). In short, I was blaming everyone and everything else but myself, and I was also unwilling (or as I thought, unable) to do anything about it.

So what's changed? What's made me wake up not dreading the day so much, even when it was 20 degrees with 2 feet of snow on the ground? What's made me not get so frustrated so much with my lot in life? What's made me appreciate the hand I was dealt in life?

The answer? No, it's not God or Jesus Christ. Sorry, if you were expecting that, then you don't me very well at all.

So what is the answer then? It's pretty simple - I just decided that my life is pretty good, and I shouldn't waste my time or energy on being so miserable when I could actually be enjoying my life.

Now, does that mean I think my life is perfect? Of course not. I'm still about 25 pounds overweight. I like my job, but it's not my dream job by any stretch of the imagination. I still don't have a girlfriend and the prospects (despite daily visits to aren't very encouraging. But that's okay. No, really... it is.

I know I can get back into shape if I get off my lazy ass and actually, y'know, try. My job? Well, one of these days, I'm going to get serious about opening my own sports bar & restaurant and leaving the world of title insurance behind. As for my lack of a love life... well, I know that I don't do enough to "get out there" as a former friend used to tell me ad nauseum, but I've also come to the conclusion that not every person out there is going to find the love of his/her life. It's kinda sad, but it's true. I sure as hell hope I'm not one of those people, but I've prepared myself for the possibility that I might be. I've also decided that it's just not worth getting all worked up about like I used to when I would lie awake at night wondering what was wrong with me and why I couldn't meet someone special. I'm not the most patient of people, but I've learned that these things take time, even if I wonder what taking so damned long from time to time.

And there are other, more tangible reasons why I'm a lot happier these days. When my mom passed away at the end of last November, it was like a huge burden was lifted from my life. Gone were the thrice weekly trips to the nursing home. Gone were the dreaded phone calls from the nursing home asking for money. And gone was having to worry about her continued suffering. My mother is at peace now, and I feel a lot better because of it.

Now, as for money... well, money may or may not be able to buy happiness, but not having to worry about it so much is very good for one's frame of mind. I don't have a mortgage. My car payment isn't ridiculous. Yeah, I have bills (like a school loan that won't be paid off until I'm 60 at this rate), but I also have money to buy things I want (like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on DVD, for instance) and not have to worry about every nickel I spend.

I also have been a regular user of the anti-depressant Lexapro which has been a great help to keeping me on more of an even keel.

And one more thing, something rather strange has added to my current happy state - the end of a relationship. Now, this will be addressed at length in a future blog, but before the end of last year, a long time friendship finally ended, and that was a good thing because we were driving each other up the wall every time we spoke. Any common ground or interests we had was constantly usurped by arguments or apologies or other crap. So, when my friend and I finally said goodbye, I did a little Dance of Joy because I didn't have to put up with dealing with them anymore. It needed to end, and I'm glad it did. And while this wasn't the first time it had ended, it will be the last. I'll never go down that road again.

So, what is happiness to me? Happiness is my life, a life which, upon further reflection, is pretty darned good.

Thanks for letting me share. Be back tomorrow. Go Pens!


Monday, April 5, 2010

1 down, 161 to go...

Well, despite my prediction of gloom and doom and not-so-subtle suggestion that the Pirates not even bother playing this season, the Buccos went out and thumped the Dodgers in front of the 5th largest crowd in PNC Park history by the score of 11-5.

"The Legend" Garrett Jones spanked a two run homer into the Allegheny River on one bounce and one inning later hit a postage stamp homer down the left field line. Ryan Doumit (favorite whipping boy of mine) also hit a three run shot in the eighth to put a bow on the win. Ryan Church also came up big with a pinch hit, bases clearing double. The pitching was okay. Zach Duke got the win, going 5 innings and giving up 2 first inning runs. The bullpen did its job for the most part, despite a shaky showing by DJ Carrasco and Evan Meek.

The atmosphere at PNC Park was tremendous, as was the weather - easily the nicest weather for a home opener that I can remember. Of course, yours truly didn't put on any sunscreen and got singed pretty badly because of it. Oh well... I'd much rather have gotten a little sunburn as opposed to freezing my ass off.

Anyway, despite the Pirates resounding victory today, I'm still convinced that this is going to be a long season for our Buccos. That said, a game like today shows you what can happen when things actually go right for the Pirates. There is some potential there, that much is evident, but can potential carry the Pirates to .500 or better? That remains to be seen. I guess we'll find out over the course of the next 161 games.

Anyway, time for RAW. See yinz tomorrow.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pirates Preview 2010

Well, I've been promising (or threatening, as the case may be) to do this for the past few days, so what better to do with a Saturday night at home then preview what is sure to be another stellar season for your Pittsburgh Pirates. Okay, maybe there's like, several dozens other things I'd rather be doing, but it's better than watching the Final Four.

If you've come here looking for optimism, you've come to the wrong place. I'll save my official win-loss prediction for the end, but suffice to say, it ain't gonna be pretty. So, let's get it on!

Disclaimer: If you're expecting to see lots of regurgitated stats and such, then you're in the wrong place. This is strictly my opinion and that comes from what I've seen with my own two eyes. Stats are useful, but if you want them, I suggest or some other sports site.

First Base

The cornerstone of the Jack Wilson trade to Seattle last year was a AAA catcher named Jeff Clement. If you haven't heard of him, you're not alone. He supposedly has a good bat and is ready for the majors in that regard (or so the Pirates' brass claims). The problem? He hasn't ever played first base in the majors and barely in the minors. So, instead of just sticking with Garrett Jones at first and putting Ryan Church in right field, the Buccos are throwing Clement to the wolves by just giving him the first base job with no seasoning in AAA. Say what you will about ex-Pirate Adam Laroche, but he was a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. Clement? Well, there was a foul pop in last night's game against the Phillies that I've seen little leaguers play better. Translation? The errant throws that Laroche saved from going into the stands last year will more than likely end up as throwing errors because Clement can't scoop them. I sure hope he can hit because he's going to be a serious liability on defense.

Second Base

The Pirates acquired Aki Iwamura from the Tampa Rays in the offseason for reliever Jesse Chavez. Iwamura was part of the Rays' improbable run to the World Series two seasons ago and is, by all accounts, a solid Major League player. For some reason, Pirates manager John Russell (aka Ambien JR - h/t Mike Pavlik) has him leading off, even though he's probably better suited to the two spot and strikes out a lot. I'm sure he'll be adequate defensively, with a similar range to Freddy Sanchez (which is to say, not much range at all). I expect Aki will be dealt to a contended at the trade deadline with Andy Laroche moving to second (more on that in a bit).


Ronny Cedeno (also part of the Jack Wilson trade) and Bobby Crosby (former A.L. Rookie of the Year with Oakland) will probably split time, with whoever sucks less getting the bulk of the playing time. If (and it's a big if) Crosby can magically regain his former Rookie of the Year form, then with his power, he could be a serious upgrade at shortstop. Not really sure about his defense, but it can't be as good as Jack Wilson's was. As for Cedeno, his bat has a bit of a pop, and he'll make some spectacular plays in the field. The problem? He'll occasionally boot a groundball right at him. Needless to say, the Pirates' defense will be no where near as good as it was last year, when it was near the top in the N.L. Honestly, I think the Pirates would be better off if they could get Sidney Crosby at short. At least he's been known to score now and then.

Third Base

Andy Laroche is the incumbent at the hot corner but is only keeping it warm until 2008 first round pick Pedro Alvarez is ready to take over. Laroche came on slightly at the end of last season and has had a decent spring. Honestly, he's the least of the Pirates' myriad problems. I expect he'll hit about .260 with 12-15 homers and play average (if unspectacular) defense. He'll be much better suited to second base once Alvarez arrives.


The oft-injured Ryan Doumit returns for another season, one of the few players not traded last season. Last season, Doumit broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist and missed more than 2 months. It's a very important bone and, per Wikipedia "it is relatively difficult to break." Unless you're Ryan Doumit, that is. After he came back from injury, he was a big time malcontent and was just awful, both offensively and defensively. I expect Doumit and his burdensome contract will be traded some time this year, opening the door for... Oh wait, the Pirates don't have anybody waiting in the wings.

Well, there is 2009 first round draft pick Tony Sanchez who, by all accounts, had a great first year in pro ball, but Sanchez (who played college ball, so it's not like he was drafted right out of high school) is starting the year in Single A Bradenton and probably won't get a sniff of the majors until 2012... at the earliest. Y'see, the Pirates love to baby their big time prospects to the point of hilarity. If Pens winger Jordan Staal were playing for the Pirates, he'd be stuck in ECHL Wheeling. At the very least, Sanchez should be the starting catcher for Double A Altoona.

Left Field

Lastings Milledge, another former first round pick who washed out with the Mets and Nats is your started. He did okay after being acquired by the Pirates last year, but I was a big fan of the man he was traded for, Nyjer Morgan. I never really got the trade, but I will agree that Milledge does have a ton of potential. He's good friends with Andrew McCutchen, so maybe that'll be a help. Milledge had better show a bit more power than he did last year and a bit more speed. Otherwise, the lack of power and speed in left is going to be a glaring weakness for a team that's going to struggle to score runs.

Center Field

Andrew McCutchen is entering his first full season in the big leagues and is already the Pirates' best player. He had a great rookie season, and I expect big things from him this year. He has slightly above average power, plays a great centerfield and can legitimately steal 30 bases (if Ambien JR lets him, that is). Cutch also doesn't come off like a primadonna, so I expect him to develop into a leader before long, too. Keep an eye on Cutch - I suspect he'll have his fair share of Web Gems on Baseball Tonight this year.

Right Field

Rookie phenom Garrett Jones (aka The Legend) will get the bulk of the playing time in right with Ryan Church and Delwyn Young spelling him. Jones hit 20 homers in half a season last year, but most of them were solo homers. On the one hand, you can blame the team for not getting on base before he came up. On the other hand, you can blame Jones for not hitting well with runners on base. Whatever the case, if Jones hits 20 homers for the entire season, I'll be shocked. I also don't expect much of him defensively, but right field is the easiest outfield position to play at PNC Park, so hopefully he won't be exposed too much. I think he'd be better off at first, but what do I know?

The Bench

Delwyn Young provides a good stick off the bench and can play second or right field. He's a good pinch hitter, but when he had to play every day last season, he really broke down. Jason Jaramillo figures to be the back-up catcher and will probably play lots on Sundays. Ryan Church provides a veteran bat off the bench and will undoubtedly end up as a starter if the Jeff Clement experiment fails (as I expect it to). As of this writing, Steve Pearce and Rule 5 pick John Raynor were battling it out for the final bench spot and for the right to pinch hit twice a week. The bench doesn't stink, but there's really no one I think is all that reliable except maybe Young.

Starting Pitching

Your five starters: Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton and Daniel McCutchen. Not exactly the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, is it?

When Duke is on, he's a very good pitcher, but the Pirates gave him some of the worst run support in the majors last year and Duke's record suffered because of it. Maholm has proven to be a very solid Major League pitcher. He battled through injuries last year and had a down season because of it. A bounce-back season would be nice. Ohlendorf had a great second half last year, with an ERA in the top 10 after the All-Star Break. He was pitching coach Joe Kerrigan's pet project last year and has a ton of upside. The problem? Almost every year after a Pirates pitcher shows some promise, he takes a step or two back the next year. So, don't be shocked if Ohlendorf does the same this year. Morton has great stuff (one of the best curveballs I've seen in years). His problem is between the ears. If he can get the mental part of his game down, he could win 12-15 games. If not, look for an ERA in the 5s. McCutchen won the fifth starters job by default after the favorite to win the job, Kevin Hart, had quite possibly the worst spring imaginable. He couldn't find the plate with a GPS and will start the season in Triple A.

I've seen worse rotations, but outside of career years from every starters, I can't see double digit wins from any more than 2/5 of the rotation. The potential is there, but I reserve the right to remain skeptical.

The Bullpen

The key word for the bullpen is "journeyman." There is not one homegrown reliever in the pen. Octavio Dotel was signed to be the closer and should be better than Matt Capps who gave many Pirates fans ulcers with his "closing" last season. Brendan Donnelly and Joel Hanrahan (insert Slapshot joke here) will be the primary setup men with DJ Carrasco, Evan Meek and Hayden Penn as your righties and Javier Lopez and Jack Taschner as your lefties.

It's not a great bullpen, but it's not a terrible one, either. Expect to see a lot of them this year if the starters struggle as I expect they will.

The Bottom Line

I look up and down this lineup and wonder where the runs are going to come from. This team will struggle to score 4 runs a game, and for a team that is often losing before it even comes to bat, that's a problem. The pitchers have to be better. The starters have to keep the team within striking distance, and the bullpen has to hold leads when given them.

The Pirates are going to have to play small ball and manufacture some runs (tm Joe Morgan). They will not hit a lot of home runs, even if The Legend has a season like he did last year. They're going to have to do the little things - get runners over with productive outs, be smart on the bases and not get thrown out so much (I'm looking at you third base coach Tony Beasley), and most of all, not strike out so damned much.

If they do those things, then maybe 70-72 wins isn't out of the question, but as I said at the beginning, if you came here looking for optimism, you've come to the wrong place.

John Russell is just not a good manager and barely shows he has a pulse most of the time. GM Neal Huntington has made so very questionable trades over the past two seasons. I expect one if not both to be fired if the Pirates stink up America's Best Ballpark like pretty much everyone thinks they will.

Until the Pirates actually start to spend some money and stop whining about being a small market team, they're going to suck - period. Bob Nutting will continue to make money even before the Pirates set foot on the field and ignore any and all attempts entreaties to sell the team to someone who might actually, y'know, spend some money and not just throw it all into the minor leagues and facilities in the Dominican Republic. And until that happens (if it ever does), the Pirates will continue to be the laughingstock of the Major Leagues.

Prediction: 61-101 - last in the National League Central.

Well, there you have it. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I somehow doubt I am. Anyway, Opening Day is Monday. For all of you baseball fans out there, hope springs eternal, unless you live in Pittsburgh, that is.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Friday!

Not much to say tonight. I'm too busy enjoying this beautiful Friday evening. I'm going to grab a cold Yuengling, head out to my back porch and enjoy the rest of the night. I hope you and yours do the same. I'll be back tomorrow with my 2010 Pirates Preview... god help us all.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Weather, NXT and other ramblings

Welcome to the Thursday edition of Blogs the Walls Down. In today's blog, we'll discuss the weather (always a fun topic), WWE NXT (Vince McMahon's latest attempt at being "different") and any other nonsense that occurs to me. So, think of this as a notes column... sort of.

- Those of you who know me well know that I absolutely hate the cold weather. I hate snow. I hate ice. I hate having to have the heat turned on in my house constantly because it's so frickin' cold outside. And when you live in Western PA as I do, the number of really nice days prior to May can usually be counted on one hand.

I remember Easter a few years ago when my mom was in the hospital. It was Masters weekend, and not only was it cold and snowy here, it was also frigid in Augusta. This was April, kids. April should not be frigid. The day after the Masters was the Pirates opener (also known as the day the Buccos are officially eliminate from the playoffs). Temps, I think, were in the 30s, and I was dressed like I was going to a Steelers game, not Opening Day. Sorry, but that's just not baseball weather to me.

This year, however, the weather gods are finally smiling on my part of the country. After what was probably one of the worst winters I can ever remember (and certainly the snowiest), the past few weeks have been, dare I say it, nice. Take today for example - I can't remember the last April Fool's Day when the temps went into the 80s. I'll be cooking out at least twice over the next three days, and I usually don't fire up my grill until well into May. If this is God's way of paying us back for the craptacular winter he put us through, then kudos to the big guy upstairs. And in case you were wondering, the early forecast for Monday's Pirates home opener against the Dodgers is partly cloudy with a high of 70. Now that's Opening Day weather... even if it's for the Pirates. Tune in tomorrow or Saturday for my fearless 2010 Pirates Preview. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wanna read it again and again...

- Is anyone out there watching WWE NXT (Thursdays at 10 on Syfy)? Judging by the paltry ratings, probably not, but I have been, if only to see some of the potential new blood waiting in the wings to be brought up from Florida Championship Wrestling to the big leagues.

Here's the basic premise: 8 NXT "rookies" are paired up with 8 WWE "pros" who are supposed to take the rookies under their wings, show them the ropes, be mentors, etc. It was pitched as being more of a reality show and less of a wrestling show, but it's really not.

While I like seeing some of the newer guys I'd been reading about on the net, the whole show sort of feels flat to me, and here's why: of the 8 rookies, only 3-4 actually have the look of a WWE Superstar. The rest should move on with their life's work (to quote the great Chuck Noll).

The Bad

- Michael Tarver (paired with Carlito) - This was doomed from the start as Carlito is always in and out of the doghouse. Tarver calls himself Mr. 1.9, boasting he can knock someone out in 1.9 seconds. Well, if this was The Ultimate Fighter, that'd be fine, but it doesn't work in pro wrestling. The fact that he has zero in-ring ability and zero charisma doesn't help. After NXT is over, I expect he'll be released as he's been exposed badly.

- Darren Young (paired with CM Punk) - While Young actually has a bit of a personality, his ring skills are just godawful. No wonder Punk always looks bored when they go to reaction shots of him while Young is wrestling. Yeah, I know it's part of the storyline, but I can't help but think that's exactly what Punk thinks of Young. I have a better chance of being a WWE Superstar than this guy.

- Skip Sheffield (paired with William Regal) - I actually had high hopes for this guy based on his size and because he's actually been a wrestler for several years now, but his "Cornfed Meathead" gimmick is terrible. That might've worked 15 years ago, but not today. He's not a very good wrestler, either, and even though I know Vince loves his big men, I can't see Sheffield ever being anything more than a low to mid-card jobber, at least until he's repackaged. Then we'll talk.

The Mediocre

- David Otunga (paired with R-Truth) - This dude is Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's fiancee and baby daddy. He does have the look, I'll grant him that, but he just leaves me flat for some reason. I think he's too busy already living his gimmick as being an A-lister, even though he hasn't done a thing. He also has little actual wrestling experience, so that's not helping. He'll probably stick around because Vince will wanna have some sort of connection to Hudson, for all the good that does.

- Heath Slater (paired with Christian) - Stater is a decent wrestler, has good enough size, and isn't too bad in the ring. The problem? Guys like him are a dime-a-dozen on the WWE roster, and there's nothing about him that screams "star." He's about the same size as Christian but only has about 25% of Captain Charisma's charisma. He'll probably make it eventually as a mid-carder, but I can't ever see him holding a big belt.

The Good

- Wade Barrett (paired with Chris Jericho) - First of all, he's getting the rub from one of the top 5 guys in all of WWE. That's a big help. Second, he's got the size that McMahon just loves. Third, he's British. Fourth, he already looks like he belongs with the big boys. Win or lose, he's going to get a huge push eventually. I already like him better than Sheamus.

- Justin Gabriel (paired with Matt Hardy) - He can actually wrestle. He's good looking. He has charisma in and out of the ring. He's foreign (from South Africa). And he's not a midget like, say, Evan Bourne. Trust me on this one - he's going to be a huge star down the line. His 450 Splash is awesome. You could put him in a regular tag team with Hardy, and they'd already be the best team in WWE.

- Daniel Bryan (paired with The Miz) - I'll admit to being biased on this one, because Bryan (a/k/a indy wrestling god Bryan Danielson) is already one of the five best wrestlers in the whole WWE. If you don't believe me, head over to YouTube and watch some of his matches. No, he doesn't have the size, but neither did Chris Benoit. This guy is the new Benoit, with much more charisma (more than I ever thought he had). Pairing him with The Miz was genius because compared to Bryan (who's been wrestling professionally for over a decade and was trained by Shawn Michaels), the Miz is a jabronie. The Miz has been putting him down at every opportunity, and it's only going to lead to a big time feud down the line (I hope). Bryan is the real deal, and I'm glad to see he's getting the rub already as he was ranked first in the Pro's Poll on this past Tuesday's show.

The worst part of the show is the announcing duo of Josh Matthews and Michael Cole (who just sucks... oh, it's true, it's damned true). Cole is playing a heel announcer of sorts on NXT, especially when it comes to Bryan, who he belittles by saying his indy background means nothing and so on and so on. Hey Cole... CM Punk is Daniel Bryan. They've had the same career path to WWE. Of course, you'll never hear that, so I guess Cole will keep right on being even more annoying than usual.

- Tomorrow is Good Friday, which is a very solemn day for Catholics and Christians. I'm very much a lapsed Catholic, but I still respect those of you out there who worship this very holy day. It seems to me that religion is not as valued as it used to be in our country. Perhaps that's just my perspective or perhaps it is that way. I'm not judging one way or the other. As a certain ex-Steelers coach used to say, "It is what it is."

- Someone wake up the Penguins. Please?

- Someone tell Santonio Holmes (and Big Ben, for that matter) to avoid any and all crazy chicks.

- Someone please tell me why suddenly Fidel Castro and socialism are viewed as good things. When I was a kid, Castro and socialism were (gasp!) evil. Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave, folks...

- Someone please tell Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Bill Maher, Danny Glover, and Rosie O'Donnell (among others) to shut the hell up. It doesn't matter what you think!

And with that mini-rant, I'm outta here. Later, kids.