Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"OUR BASEBALL YATRA" ---Rinku Singh, Dinesh Kumar Patel

2008 "Blackened Gold" award winning story

Yātrā (Sanskrit: यात्रा, 'journey', 'procession'), in Hinduism and other Indian religions,
generally means pilgrimage to holy places such as confluences of sacred rivers, places associated
with Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and other sacred pilgrimage sites.

In one of the most unusual developments in the entire fabled history of the Pittsburgh Pirates, few events, if any, have been as completely out of "left field" than the announcement this week that the team had signed the two finalists in the "Million Dollar Arm" competition that took place over the last several months in India.
In one of the most unusual developments in the entire fabled history of the Pittsburgh Pirates, few events, if any, have been so completely out of "left field" than the announcement this week that the team had signed two finalists in the "Million Dollar Arm" competition that took place over the last several months in India.

The contest, sponsored by a U.S. based sports management company, was designed to find the strongest arm(s) in the nation of India, a country of 1.1 billion people. The logic was that surely, with that many possibilities, that the law of averages would produce a major league arm and the first representative from this Hindu nation into Major League Baseball. You must admit, it is an intriguing idea.

Amazingly, in a land where baseball is largely unknown, over 30,000 contestants applied and competed to land the $1 million prize AND the coveted major league contract.


"We are thanking the Pittsburgh Pirates and will work very hard to make them proud of our results" ---Singh & Patel


Could this be one of the most memorable "early photos" in team history? Lefty 20-year-old Rinku Singh goes into his windup along with 19-year-old righthander, Dinesh Kumar Patel. We can expect to see both in the rotation before you know it. They couldn't do any worse than last year's staff did, that's for sure (except for Paul Maholm, of course).

In researching this story, I discovered that these two have started a blog together! and to read this, and hear their words spoken in uncommon English phraseology, is to immediately begin pulling for these two guys like no two prospects we've ever had. When you hear two young men talking about someday going back home to their villages but only if it doesn't interfere with baseball...well how can't you root for that kind of enthusiasm?

Posing with their newly signed Bucco minor league contracts.

"We hope to pitch for you soon and we not let you down" --Singh & Patel

Wearing their new Pirate hats for the first time, the two have become a "cause celebre" both here in the U.S. and in their native India.

Righthander Patel works out for Bucco brass. Well at least he looks like a pitcher (so, unfortunately, have a host of other Pirate prospects).

As you sit and analyze this situation, you have to admire the Pirates' moxie for making such a radical move. Surely they knew that they would be the butt of many Harold & Kumar jokes. But so determined to leave no stone unturned is this current regime that they would even go so far as India to sign a couple live arms.

To those naysayers conjuring up a new batch of Pirate jokes, I say, "This is great" and also "Gutsy move Neil". Unfortunately, I must also say, "God help us, they must have absolutely nothing in the minor leagues".

But admit it, who will you be pulling more for, these two guys from poor Indian villages or Pedro Alvarez whose sleazy agent wouldn't let him sign a $6 million contract? I predict that given Pittsburgh's appreciation for a great work ethic and humility (see Crosby, Sidney) Singh and Patel could become a sensation here if they were to one day make it to the "Burgh and don the Black & Gold. They already have one big big fan who'll be pulling for them here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold". We promise to keep you posted.

ABOVE:Pedro Alvarez: Number one draft pick has some much-needed p.r. work to get started on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

James Harrison: 2007 Steelers MVP, 2008 NFL Defensive MVP?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have two "Lightning Bolt" outside linebackers, James Harrison, their 2007 team MVP and rookie LaMarr Woodley. Both players are having outstanding seasons, but Harrison seems to have elevated hinself to that special level reserved for League Defensive MVPs.

Carson Palmer sacked during happier times for him.

(Above Left) James Harrison mugshot. (Above) Popular shirt worn by Steeler fans.

What makes James Harrison, like Fast Willie Parker, so popular is that amazingly both men joined the Steelers as undrafted free agents. Harrison is recognized as the strongest Steeler and one of the strongest in the entire league. Harrison can bench 465 pounds and squat an unbelievable 700 pounds! Little wonder how with his relatively short (6'0 inch) frame that he can routinely run over, under and around much larger offensive linemen.

Popular photo of James Harrison doing household chores ( in this case taking out the trash in Cleveland)

One of the most famous plays that Harrison has been involved in occured against the San Diego Chargers in 2005. He intercepted a pass from Drew Brees and then leaped over LaDanian Tomlinson as he attempted to make a tackle.
Last week was the second time that he was named "Defensive Player of the Week" by the NFL as he had a sack that led to a safety, an interception that led to a field goal and stopped a serious San Diego scoring threat and also came up with a fumble recovery.
Harrison has some colorful nicknames. Among them are "Silverback" for his resemblance to the powerful and ferocious mountain gorilla, "Mr. Monday Night" for his incredible performances on that stage and his teammates also refer to him as "Deebo" from the Friday movies.
On Monday, November 5, 2007, Harrison piled up 10 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 1 interception against the Ravens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Clearing My Desk"

During the course of my checkered career that has taken me through such diverse avenues of commerce as the newspaper business, supermarketing and brand creation and marketing, I've encountered my share of corporate bullies along the way. You know the type: "We will mold you to conform to our way of thinking". With this as a backdrop, I've come to truly appreciate seeing a corporate bully get a black eye every once in a while as the NFL has this week.

The NFL has become such a heavy-handed organization over the years that I swear everybody connected with it drags their knuckles along the ground as they walk. Whether it be their "uniform police" or the unbelievable penchant for leveling fines for daring to touch a quarterback, the NFL reeks of "controlism" as in "We will eventually control every night of the week someday, not just the present Monday night, Thursday night, Saturdays (after the college season) Sundays and Sunday nights. "You vill watch football always. You vill enjoy it."

(above) Zebras converge Sunday night at Heinz Field to discuss Polamalu touchdown. Zebras enjoy natural turf , thus the explanation for the Steelers keeping an all-naturale surface, (they WANT the zebras to like it here and to subconsciously LIKE US) ! Unfortunately for Steeler fans, they got it wrong this time.

In that vein it was delightful to see these control freaks look totally out of control on Sunday evening at around 7:10 p.m... It was at that moment when the NFL's vaunted part-time officials, aided by their tool of infallibility, instant replay, still managed to botch a call involving Troy Polamalu that ended up with the Steelers scoring a touchdown that wasn't (but really was) on the last play of the game. Your Steelers didn't need said touchdown to win, but their fans in the betting public did because they were laying five points. So Steeler fans lost a collective $33,000,000 to their local bookie because the NFL couldn't get it right...even when going under "the hood".

Call me jaded, but a big part of me says that these people actually got what they had coming to them. Not that they deserved to lose, but that the very act of betting is reliant on so many unforeseen circumstances that luck, much more than skill, usually determines the winner. If you want to entrust your money to the NFL refs who called 13 penalties on the Steelers to the Chargers two, then you have a lot more faith in the integrity of mankind than I do.

It's easy to see how people would be upset losing their hard-earned cash because the dozen and a half refs who worked the game can't understand the rule book, but do you think the league would offer to cover the losses of those who were robbed by their incompetence? Don't hold your breath on that! Think about how many loyal NFL fans are going around today muttering about the "no good refs". Does the NFL worry that this could be a very bad situation for the league's image? Of course not, because the NFL has always acted as though betting doesn't even exist.

Yes it seems inconceivable that with all the safeguards already in place; a gaggle of zebras, trucks full of instant replay equipment, even the vaunted hood itself, that the "No F'__ing Luck League" would make the following pronouncement: We're going to look into possibly adding another safeguard into the instant replay system to prevent this kind of mistake from ever happening again."

Hey that's great. I know I feel better already. But then again, I don't bet, and after last week's fiasco, don't expect me to start anytime soon. If you watch a football game without worrying about the point spread or how your fantasy team is doing, you'll be able to enjoy the game a whole lot more. At the very least, you'll have a lot less anxiety.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Done Only Once In 12,838 Games

Yes that was some football game that your Steelers played on Sunday afternoon against the San Diego Chargers. When the snow flurries finally cleared and we were able to view the scoreboard, we learned that the Steelers and Chargers did something that had NEVER been done before in the prior 12,838 regular and post season games ever played in history! It was the final score, 11-10. Amazingly, that score had never been recorded before Sunday's contest. It almost didn't happen in this game too, because on thte last play of the game, Troy Polamalu picked up a ball that looked like a backwards pass and ran it into the end zone. The zebras conferred with the oracle and determined it an "illegal forward pass". Well to everyone not betting on this game it didn't matter, the Steelers still won. However, there was reportedly much weeping and gnashing of teeth in sports books across the country. But that's another story.

Steeler safety, Troy Polamalu (above) had one of the most amazing interceptions ever.

The story of this game was how the Steelers managed to roll up 410 yards of offense with nary a touchdown to show for it. For that matter, when was the last time you saw a quarterback throw for 308 yards and no interceptions, have a running back rake in 115 yards and yet not put a touchdown on the board? It's partically an impossible feat when you think about it.

Actually, the score that really made the difference was James Harrison's safety during a sack of Phillip Rivers in the second quarter. The Steelers were already trailing 7-0 at this point after LaDanian Tomlinson had punched in a score in the first period. That score was aided by a very questionable interference call on Ike Taylor who on replays was run into by a San Diego receiver. The only highlight for the Steelers in the first period was a phenomenal fingertip interception off the grass by Troy Polamalu. This interception, however, did not reap any points for the Steelers as Jeff Reed missed badly on a 51 yard kick that probably shouldn't have been attempted in the first place.

Later in that quarter on their next possession, the Steelers drove down to the 7 of San Diego. On third down from the eight, Nate Washington took the ball to the half yard line only to see Mewelde Moore stuffed on fourth down.

James Harrison had a safety, a sack and an interception, a rare NFL hat trick

San Diego's first possession of the second quarter led to Harrison's safety. However the Steelers were becoming frustrated by bad starting field position of their own. As an example of this, following the safety, San Diego's subsequent free kick from the 20 wound up after another Steelers penalty with the ball on the Pittsburgh five yard line and another long field.

Late in the second quarter with the score 7-2, San Diego's offense was really beginning to click. It was beginning to look as though the Chargers might race out to a 14-2 lead. However, all-pro outside linebacker James Harrison had other ideas as he intercepted Rivers on the ten and returned the ball to the 43. A few plays later and out of timeouts, Santonio Holmes made a key play by fighting to get out of bounds with only three seconds left on the clock. Jeff Reed would add the field goal that further tightened the score to 7-5.

The Steelers received the opening kickoff of the second half as the had deferred to start the game. They proceeded to march up field but a major play to Matt Spaeth was negated by a Hines Ward holding penalty, one of three penalties Ward would receive on this day. After the drive stalled, Jeff Reed kicked his second successful field goal, a 41 yarder, giving the Steelers their first lead at 8-7.

At this point in the game, the Steelers had 50 offensive plays to 25 for the Chargers. Their time of possession was 24:55 to 11:22.

On the Chargers next drive kicker Nate Kaeding missed right on a 43 yard field goal, so the Steelers carried an 8-7 lead into the fourth quarter. As you can imagine, the situation was very tense as it always is when one team has rolled up impressive yardage yet doesn't have much of a lead to show for it.

Sure enough, on their next drive the Chargers finally managed to threaten a score. However on a big third and goal play, Antonio Gates, San Diego's big tight end, couldn't come up with a catch in the end zone which led to Kaeding kicking a 22 yard field goal, which gave San Diego a late lead in this one.

However in a masterful drive over the final six minutes of the game, Ben Roethlisberger engineered a beautiful drive punctuated by crisp short passing routes run from the Steelers famous "bunch formation".

The Steelers actually scored on a Willie Parker run, however it was negated on a hold by Pittsburgh tight end Sean McHugh. But the Steelers had already done the damage, because they had already run the clock down to 15 seconds. They brought out Jeff Reed on third down (in case of a botched snap) but it wasn't necessary as Reed gave it a center-cut kick into the open end of the stadium.

Following the Polamalu fumble recovery highjinks, the game was ruled over by the beleagured zebras and to the relief of millions of Steelers fans. Immediately afterwards, thousands of fans could be seen coming in from window ledges around the Pittsburgh area. To their great relief and to the relief of Coach Mike Tomlin, Big Ben looked a lot better and didn't have to endure many life-threatening hits.

One thing is becoming very obvious as this most difficult schedule in over 40 years plays itself out: The Steelers have been playing good teams for so long now that's it's almost like they've been in the playoffs all year.

Next Thursday, the Steelers get what one would think should be an "easy" game against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, as everyone knows (just ask the Philadelphia Eagles) in the NFL anything can happen if you let it. Apparently the Eagles thought they had an easy win before they finished with a 13-13 tie (the first tie since the Steelers and Falcons did it six years ago). But if you're a Steeler fan, this is a good thing because if for no other reason it shows your team that their next opponent can indeed be dangerous and shouldn't be taken lightly. After the Bengals game the schedule reverts back to its' "murderers row" status for the duration. After Baltimore's loss to the Giants today, the Steelers have a one game lead on the Baltimorons. Yes it was a great game today, but in the crazy world of the NFL this one very easily could have finshed up in the "L" column.

GAME NOTES: The Steelers were penalized 115 yards on 13 penalties....The Steelers finished with 36:31 in timne of possession...Wille Parker, looking sharp, averaged 4.6 yards per carry...Hines Ward had his second big game in a row, pulling in 11 catches for 124 yards. However he had three costly penalties negating some big gains...River hit on 15 of 26 throws for 159 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions...LaDanian Tomlinson was kept under control as he had 18 carries for 57 yards (3.16 per carry) as well as 40 receiving yards on three catches. His 97 all purpose yards on 21 plays averaged 4.6 yards per attempt.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Harvey Haddix: Portrait of a Pittsburgh Legend

2008 "Blackened Gold" award winning story

"My main aim was to win. I was more tired than nervous. All I know is that we lost. What's so historic about that? Didn't anyone else ever lose a thirteen inning shutout?" - Harvey Haddix after losing perfect game.

For a team that has never been known for its’ great pitching, it is truly one of the great ironies of the game that what is generally regarded as the greatest pitching performance in history came from a player wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

Harvey Haddix, Jr. (sept. 18, 1925- January 8, 1994) was a left-hander who played with the Cardinals (1952-1956), Phillies(1956-1957), Reds (1958), Pirates (1959-1963) and Baltimore Orioles (1964-1965). He was nicknamed " The Kitten" in St. Louis for his resemblance to Harry “The Cat” Brecheen, a left-hander on the Cardinals during Haddix' rookie campaign.

Haddix enjoyed his best season in 1953 while pitching for St. Louis. He compiled a 20-9 record with 163 strikeouts, a 3.06 ERA, 19 complete games and six shutouts…a remarkable achievement in any season.

Haddix, however, will always be remembered for taking a perfect game into the 13th inning of a game against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959. He retired a record 36 consecutive batters in 12 innings, but ironically his Pittsburgh teammates didn't score either, as Braves pitcher Lew Burdette was also pitching a shutout.

After a fielding error by third baseman, Don Hoak, ended the perfect game in the bottom of the 13th, the runner was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, which was followed by an intentional walk to one Henry Aaron. Joe Adcock then hit a home run, ending the no hitter and
the game. However, in the confusion, Aaron left the base paths and was passed by Adcock for the second out. Eventually the hit was changed from a home run to a double by a ruling from National League President Warren Giles. So instead of three runs on a home run, only the first Braves run counted. But the game ended there, with the Pirates and Haddix losing 1-0.

Haddix's 12 and 2/3-inning, one-hit complete game, against the team that had just represented the NL in the previous two World Series, is considered by many to be the best pitching performance in major league history..
After the game, Haddix received many letters of congratulations and support, as well as one from a fraternity which read, in its entirety, "Dear Harv, tough s____." "It made me mad," recounted Haddix, "until I realized they were right. That's exactly what it was.".
Amazingly, In 1993, Milwaukee's Bob Buhl revealed that the Braves pitchers had been stealing the signs from Pittsburgh catcher Smoky Burgess who was exposing his hand signals due to a high crouch. From their bullpen, Braves pitchers continually repositioned a towel on the bullpen fence to signal for a fastball or a breaking ball, the only two pitches Haddix used in the game. Despite this major advantage, the usually solid Milwaukee offense managed just the one hit.
Over his 14-year career, Haddix had a 136-113 record with 1575 strikeouts, a 3.63 ERA, 99 complete games, 21 shutouts, 21 saves and 2235 innings pitched in 453 games (285 as a starter).. He was in the spotlight in the 1960 World Series against the Yankees.. After winning Game Five as a starter, Haddix relieved in Game Seven and won when Bill Mazeroski hit his famous home run.
Harvey Haddix later followed his namesake Brecheen into the ranks of major league pitching coaches, working with the Mets, Reds, Rex Sox, Indians and Pirates. He died in Springfield, Ohio in 1994 at the age of 68.
Certainly every Pirates fan wishes we had a pitcher of his caliber on the major league roster today!
Special thanks to Wikipedia for biographical assistance
(Above left, Joe Adcock, above right Ohio Memorial marker)
Harvey Haddix
Born: September 18, 1925, Medway, Ohio
Died: January 8, 1994 (aged 68) Springfield, Ohio
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut August 20, 1952 for thte St. Louis CardinalsFinal game August 28, 1965 for the Baltimore Orioles.
Career statistics
Won-loss record: 136-113
Earned Run Average: 3.63
Strikeouts: 1,575
Career highlights and awards
3x All Star selection (1953, 1954, 1955)
World Series Champion, 1960
3x Gold Glove Award winner (1958, 1959, 1960)
"He (Haddix) pitched the greatest game that's ever been pitched in the history of baseball. It was a damned shame he had to lose": Lew Burdette, Haddix' mound opponent during the "perfect game".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quite Simply, "The Greatest Baseball Ever"

2008 "Blackened Gold" award winning story

I’ve had many opportunities over the years to meet some very interesting people and one of the most interesting ones ever was fellow bad golfer Kelly Ireland from Tyler, Texas. Kelly was one of four finalists in the 1985 “Worst Avid Golfers” Tournament that was sponsored by “Golf Digest Magazine.” The four of us subsequently became lifelong friends.
I had a chance in the 80's to visit Tyler along with the rest of the original WAGs, Jack Pulford of Moline, Illinois and Joel Mosser of Aurora, Colorado. We were in town to play in the “Eisenhower Invitational Golf Tournament” at Kelly’s hometown club, Hollytree Country Club. Of course we "left our mark" on Hollytree that day as we were wont to do.

(Above Right) The world famous "Tyler Rose"
We stopped at Kelly’s law office (he had been a former prosecuting attorney in Texas) and it was there that our story began. Kelly said that, “He had to show me something very special,” so my interested was immediately piqued.

After a couple minutes he came back with a baseball, a very old baseball. It was loaded with autographs, but they weren’t just any old autographs, these were the autographs of the people who made baseball what it is today…all on one ball.

I was floored as I began reading the names…”Ruth, Gherig, Cobb, Mantle, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Musial, Aaron and on and on. “How did you get all these?” I asked him excitedly. He then began to explain that his father, a rabid baseball fan, had actually gotten most of the autographs as he traveled around the country on business.

The next part of the story though really sparked my imagination. In his folksy, Texas drawl, Kelly began to explain how he had obtained his first autograph on the ball and the trouble he had encountered doing that.

“I was in Chicago on a case and they were playing the Braves. I had made arrangements with Aaron’s agent to have him sign the ball after the game. When I got to the locker room, I told the security people that Henry Aaron was expecting me so that he could sign my baseball. After a few minutes, he came back and said, ‘Henry Aaron don't want to sign yer ball.’ I was very disappointed and most dejected and when I was getting ready to leave, a tall, good-looking black man who had overheard everything said, ‘Let me see that ball’. I recognized him as Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub" and most likely the greatest Cub ever.

Ernie was most impressed with my ball and he turned to the security guard and asked, ‘Why wouldn’t he sign this?’ The security guard said that Aaron, ‘Didn’t want to sign some white man’s baseball’. Banks, his anger rising further said, “Well we’ll see about that, come on.”

"I followed him into the training room," Kelly continued, and there lay Henry Aaron, face down getting a rubdown.

‘Henry’, said Banks addressing the slugger. ‘What’s wrong with you? Why wouldn’t you want to sign this ball? Look at it! All the greats of the game are on it. Now this man wants you to join them. This is something you’ve earned as a great black ballplayer’.

Aaron sat up, and begrudgingly said, ‘Aww Gimme it, I’ll sign it.’ But the story doesn’t end there. Kelly, in gratitude and out of profound respect for the great Ernie Banks said, “Mr. Banks I would be honored if you too would sign my baseball,” to which Ernie Banks replied, “That would be one of the greatest thrills of my entire career to have my name on this ball with these baseball immortals."

And so that’s how Kelly Ireland came to get Henry Aaron and Ernie Banks’ signatures of his Hall of Fame caliber baseball. But wait, the story’s still not over yet!

A few weeks ago attached to an email from Kelly's lovely wife, Nancy, were these two pictures.

Somehow or other Kelly had contacted the great Nolan Ryan to also affix his name on this greatest of baseballs. You see Kelly’s still at it, MS or not. Still out there adding names to one of the greatest baseballs ever. He's been approached many times by the Hall of Fame to include his ball in that great collection, but so far, he's resisted the temptation. Any why not? Heck, he's still busy getting autographs on it, that's why!!!

Nolan Ryan (left) and his catcher Jim Sundberg ponder signing this greatest of baseballs at a recent Tyler Rose Festival. Kelly Ireland (right in wheelchair) soaks in the scene. Today, Ryan is the Texas Ranger's President while Sundberg is their Executive Vice-President of Public Relations.

Nolan Ryan (left) poses with Kelly Ireland (center) and Kelly's good friend, Tom Deal (right).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Big Ben: The Saga of a Battered Quarterback


Is Big Ben ready to strike midnight?

Does anybody remember when Big Ben used to roll outside of the pocket and throw on the run, even running for an occasional gain? Keep that mental image in your mind because you’re not likely to see it again anytime soon.

In a performance that only seemed to magnify the differences that have crept into Ben Roethlisberger’s game during a punishing first half of the season, the Steeler quarterback fired a costly interception just before halftime that allowed the Indianapolis Colts to cut their deficit to just three points. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Big Ben, who’s plethora of injuries have finally seemed to catch up with him, continued with his penchant for forcing balls and making bad decisions. This loss to the Colts, which ended with an unsuccessful hail mary pass in the end zone and a 24-20 score, is the second loss in three weeks to a top quality opponent that could have, some would say should have gone the other way.

This was a game where the Steelers appeared to be gaining control of the contest during the second quarter when the first interception occurred. It was a game where once again the Steelers defense was more than holding its’ own against a top-rated opponent. But it turned out to be another big one that got away. Speaking of one getting away, Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu let two interceptions slip through their hands and in the case of the Taylor missed ball, the opportunistic Colts converted that one into a 65 yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Polamalu would still be running had he been able to hang onto his ball.

While the Steelers continue through this most difficult of schedules in over 40 years, things won’t get any easier when they take on the San Diego Chargers in another 4:00 national broadcast. Can you remember when the Steelers had this many big games and so many nationally televised in one year? But they're still 6-3 so things could be a lot worse.

While there were certainly many positives to take from this game, I for one, had been much in favor of sitting Big Ben last week and allowing a healthy Byron Leftwich to work with the receivers during the week. This didn’t happen as a lethal combination of macho-bravado and pig-headedness on Ben’s part kept him in as the starter. The result is that now if Coach Mike Tomlin sits Ben after a loss, it looks like a benching and not an injury “timeout” for the battered quarterback.

While no one in the Burgh doubts Ben’s desire to win or his dedication to his teammates, there comes a time where common sense has to prevail. Are the Steelers more likely to win with Ben’s physical ailments getting the best of him or should he have had enough common sense to defer to his backup in this type of a situation? Or should Tomlin have intervened? Isn't he supposed to be the voice of logic in the locker room? In my mind I see this as a resounding "yes" as in, "Yes, Ben should have sat that one out yesterday."

While the short passing game for the most part worked pretty well, it was painfully obvious that Ben can’t throw a deep ball (at least more than once or twice) in a game and that he is guarding against taking another major shot to his body.

Ben’s not the first quarterback who refused to hand over the reins when he was injured. It seems that for these guys it’s a sign of their true manhood that they would fearlessly go out onto the field when imperiled by serious injuries. What’s sad about it is seeing a good team lose games that maybe it shouldn’t be because the q.b. should be off recuperating somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of #7. If we didn’t have a competent backup (a la Dallas), I couldn’t blame his courage in the face of adversity. But we have a more than competent #2 man. It’s time for the coach to start earning his salary and playing a man on Sunday who’s well enough to practice with the team during the week. It’s ridiculous to think that Big Ben or any man could continually get away with that lack of preparation in this most competitive of leagues, the National Football League.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fate Of Free World Rests On Outcome Of Steelers-Redskins Game

"Clearing My Desk"

Yes you probably weren't aware of just how important tonight's Steelers-Redskins game is on Monday Night Football.

Lost among the avalanche of meaningless campaign drivel came this savory nugget of information a few days ago: Over the last 60 years, the outcome of the Washington Redskins final home game before the national election has correctly determined who the winner will be when the voters head to the polls.

Here's how it works: If the Redskins win their last game before the elections, the incumbent party will remain in control. If the Redskins lose, the challenger or non incumbent (Obama) wins.

So basically, if you like Obama and the Steelers both, you're due to be in for a big time and you no doubt will be pulling extra hard for the Black & Gold. If, on the other hand, you're a Steelers fan and a McCain lover, you too are also in for a disappointment as well, one way or the other.

Basically it comes down to this: What's more important to you? This?

Or this?

While a Steelers victory would be "love-a-ly" as Myron used to say, I dare say that I would gladly, even willingly accept a Steelers defeat if I knew that it was going to put the right man in the oval office for four years. While in my case that right man is John McCain, I must admit that after each election I endure during my lifetime, that I dislike politicians, ALL POLITICIANS, much more than the race four years prior.

The commercials are to the point where they are now laughable. If even one fourth of the stuff that both parties are spouting is true, then all that I can say is "God Help All of Us."

Why is it that politicians invariably are out greasing their own palms? Are there so few honest people left in this country? No! But here's the real problem: Honest, decent people who would work to help their country are AFRAID TO RUN! The reason they're afraid to run is because they're afraid they''ll be viewed as a crook if they do. Who wants to become known as a crook?

So tomorrow your choices are a man who realistically should have made his last run at the Presidency ten years ago or a guy who's one of the best orators ever...if being an orator gives you the proper credentials to be President.

We can go either for the guy who doesn't quite have a handle on the economics part of the job or vote for the one who wants us all to become socialists.

After hundreds of millions of words and hundreds of millions of dollars in campaigning, it seems kind of sad that the two best people that our system of government could produce are these two.

One's too old, the other's too young. One doesn't know how many houses he has while the other can't produce a birth certificate and he's running for President!

On the under card, one v.p. hopeful boasts about having years and years of foreign affairs experience yet he can't stop making boneheaded remarks. The other, a decent, intelligent woman gets abused by the liberal press because the g.o.p. outfitted her and her family to the tune of $150,000.

Meanwhile, banks, Wall Street investors and tycoons are getting bailed out to the tune of billions.

It's little wonder that so many would opt for the Steelers regardless of the political implications!

Game Notes..Look for the Steelers to pound the ball inside the tackles in an attempt to keep the Redskins offense and league-leading-rusher, Clinton Portis off the field. Several Steelers, including Willie Parker, should be back tonight, if even in a reduced capacity. Amazing Statistics Department: Going into yesterday's action, undefeated Tennessee had given up only two sacks all year, then allowed two in one series! Game prediction: Steelers lose a heart breaker in the last seconds, thus allowing Obama to win as expected tomorrow and keeping the Redskins predictor intact for another political campaign. McCain and Obama, as though we haven't already seen enough of them, are going to be interviewed by "Boomer", ESPN's Chris Berman, at halftime in a taped segment. Break out your hammers and sickles tomorrow night! Now if you're a Steeler fan who's also a McCain supporter, it's going to be a long 24 hours!