Monday, August 16, 2010

Tidbits from the Week that Was

Yeah, I know it’s been over a week since my last entry, but I have a good excuse. Okay, maybe not a good excuse, but an excuse nonetheless. I was busy last week preparing for the Jimmy Buffett concert. Hey, a lot of preparation goes into Buffett – food has to be prepared, alcohol has to be purchased, leis have to be found, etc. I told you it wasn’t a good excuse. If you are interested, I’ll eventually have concert pics up over at Facebook (all suitable for workplace viewing – if you wanna see the good ones, you’ll have to email me). Anyway, on to the week that was…

- SummerSlam has come and gone and featured the return of Bryan Danielson (a/k/a Daniel Bryan) to the RAW roster as the surprise 7th member of Team WWE. Bryan made it all the way to the final two before being eliminated thanks to a briefcase upside the head courtesy of The Miz. John Cena (of course) was the last man standing for a victorious Team WWE. So where does the Nexus angle go from here? I don’t really know. None of the other predicted surprises (Cena or Bret Hart goes heel, Triple H is revealed as the brains behind the Nexus) happened. I doubt the angle has come to an end, so I’ll be very curious to see what happens tonight RAW

I’m extremely happy that Bryan is back in the good graces of WWE, though I’ll go on record as saying that his “firing” after the initial Nexus attack on RAW was nothing but a swerve on the internet wrestling community. If it was, then kudos to WWE and Bryan for selling it as well as they did. I’m not going to bitch about it because it did allow me to see Bryan on a CHIKARA show. I do wonder, however, if Bryan will be allowed to complete his indy bookings since all indications are that he’s going to be on the RAW roster full time going forward and will eventually challenge The Miz for the U.S. Title (though from all indications, he will be allowed). I have no doubt that Bryan is going to be getting a good push out of all of this which furthers my belief that WWE might actually be heading in the right direction with its pushes and booking style. Let’s hope I’m not proven wrong.

- The Steelers began their exhibition season Saturday night with a semi-interesting 23-7 victory over the Detroit Lions. Big Ben was a DNP but is expected to play some in the last three exhibition games. The first stringers on offense (led by the ever-immobile Bryon Leftwich) didn’t do a whole lot, and it wasn’t until the back-ups (led by QB Dennis Dixon and RB Isaac “Red Zone” Redman) came into the game that business started to pick up.

Dixon was very effective, completing 6 of 7 passes for 128 yards (including a nifty pass out of a bootleg that Arnaz Battle turned into a long gainer) and rushing six times for 31 yards (though on some of the plays, I think he would have been better served to look for a received downfield, but it is only the first exhibition game). His QB rating as a perfect 158.3 (though that really means zilch, especially in a exhibition game). Redman had an especially good game that featured a run that looked like it came out of a Madden game, complete with no less than three spin moves. He also scored a touchdown at the end of the first half during a torrential downpour that eventually caused the came to be delayed.

The respective performances of Dixon and Redman create some questions as camp continues. Leftwich has been assumed to be the starter for the first four games of the season while Ben is on suspension, but I wonder if his glaring lack of mobility and elongated wind-up combined with a suspect offensive line will cause Mike Tomlin to think twice and install Dixon as starter for the first four games. Local radio personality Stan Savran is always fond of saying that you don’t win championships on broken plays, but we’re only asking Dixon to play in four games, not the whole season. Yes, I know it was against the JVs of the Lions (who some have called the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL), but consider me in the camp of those who doesn’t think it’s set in stone that Leftwich is going to be the starter at the beginning of the season. At the very least, I’m betting the Steelers will have some packages ready for Dixon.

As for Redman, I really think the job of short yardage back and back-up to Rashard Mendenhall is his to lose. Frankly, he should have made the team out of camp last year, and I think the Steelers ended up regretting not having him on the team. Redman has a nose for the end zone and always seems to run hard when he has the ball. If Mewelde Moore remains the third down back and Frank “The Tank” Summers is going to be the starting fullback, then much-ballyhooed sixth round pick Jonathan Dwyer might find himself cut or on the practice squad.

The Steelers next game is Saturday night against the Giants at the new Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Big Ben is expected to play, and I’ll be curious to see the kind of reaction he gets from the New York/New Jersey crowd.

- In a brief side note that is semi-related to the game, am I the only one that just can’t stand how KDKA-TV2 covers the Steelers exhibition games? Since I have the NFL Network, I get to see all the out of town exhibition games, and nearly all of them feature announcers who have network gigs during the regular season. The Dolphins, for example, have veteran play-by-play man Dick Stockton. The Patriots have Don Criqui. The Seahawks have FOX pre-game host Curt Menifee. Who do the Steelers have? Longtime sportscaster Bob Pompeani who might be one of the worst football announcers ever. It’s painful to listen to him do a game. Even more comical is the sideline reporter, Jeff Verszyla, who just happens to be KDKA’s chief meteorologist. That’s right – he’s the weatherman. Former Steeler Edmund Nelson is a competent (if snooze inducing) color man, but I’d much rather have someone like former Steelers Merrill Hoge or Jack Ham on the games.

The coverage itself leaves something to be desired, with the incessant promos for the new fall shows on CBS and the CW along with no pre-taped packages (which would have been especially helpful during the nearly 90 minute weather delay when Pomp and Edmund droned on incessantly). There was also a glaring mistake early in the game when Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz was shown to be in his first year as a head coach (it’s his second). KDKA is well known in the area for being exceedingly cheap, and I suspect that the people who run the game behind the scenes are probably all current KDKA employees who probably know very little about the product they’re presenting. How else can you explain how bad the camerawork is and how Pompeani is the PxP announcer and so on?

- Next, we come to the hapless, helpless and downright godawful Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve been a baseball fan for most of my life, and this year’s incarnation of the Pirates is quite possibly the worst baseball team I’ve ever seen. I’m not kidding about that, either. Watching a Pirates game is the equivalent to having your fingernails pulled out be a pair of pliers, only more painful. The hitting is non-existent (any more than two runs a game is considered an outburst), and the pitching just can’t maintain a lead or get a key out when it needs it. Yes, I realize that there will be growing pains with such a young team, but show me something for goodness sake!

The starting pitching is horrendous. There is not one pitcher among the starting five that strikes fear in the heart of any player on any team, and even when the Pirates do manage a decent start (like Ross Ohlendorf turned in on Friday), the offense only manages a single run. I’m sorry, but you can’t expect to win games 1-0. Score some runs, stop acting like you’ve never played the game before, and look like you care.

The Pirates are on pace to have one of the worst records in franchise history, yet I don’t get any sense that John Russell and Neal Huntington are in danger of losing their jobs. What?!? This team could lose 110 games, and those two jabronies will still have their jobs. What a disgrace. I would think that Frank Coonelly and Bob Nutting would be ashamed by they product they’re putting on the field on a daily basis, but they’re too busy counting the beans and worrying about Pirates Charities and spending more on the draft than any other team. BFD. Spend some money on the big league club, huh? Get some pitchers – real pitchers that aren’t one step away from being washed up (see Morris, Matt), and please, oh please, stop trying to tell us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

As Beano Cook would say, the Pirates are an absolute disgrace!

- Oh yeah, one more thing – our great and glorious President (I like to call him Chairman O) has come out kinda, sorta in favor of the proposed mosque just blocks away from Ground Zero in NYC. He really didn’t endorse it, but he sure as hell didn’t not endorse it, either, thereby earning the wrath of a majority of Americans who really, really don’t think it’s such a good idea. But you know what? That’s just fine. Let Obama and the Democratic Party continue to shoot themselves in the foot. It just makes the path for the Republicans to regain control of the House and/or the Senate in November smoother. Yes, I am a Conservative, and I’m proud of it. You’ll never hear me calling myself a Progressive or endorsing the views of left wing whackos like Rosie O’Donnell, Sean Penn and Danny Glover. Socialism doesn’t work. Period. And neither does trying to placate radical Muslims who will always hate infidel Americans no matter what we do. Political rant over.

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow with my post-SummerSlam RAW recap.



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