Monday, January 26, 2009

Steelers VS Cardinals In SuperBowl XLIII, Nostradamus Helps Us To "Pick-em"

Above: The great pronosticator, Nostradamus, was consulted for this post. It is, after all, about the SuperBowl and "Nothing but the best for the readers of "PB&G", that's our motto, no matter the cost!

By Angelo Spagnolo, Editor and M. Michel Nostradamus, Special Paid Consultant to "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold".

Editor's Note: "It's not often that you get a chance to work with a pure professional like M.Michel Nostradamus. It took quite a bit of effort to pull him away from his end-of-the- world prognosticating (12-21-12 by the way) but we also learned that he never, ever, would have done this, under any circumstances, if he wasn't a HUGE Steeler fan first and foremost. So sit back and enjoy... In just a few moments you're going to know exactly what's going to happen in SuperBowl XLIII. Of course you can use this valuable information wisely and earn a ton of money: Think of it as a gift from Nostradamus and another service to our loyal readers from "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold"' -ed.

One thing about the SuperBowl: Every analyst in the country is going to be giving you their opinion about how the game will play out this Sunday. Only one difference, we're the only one that has the stright dope from none other than Nostradamus himself, a BIG Steeler fan we learned. The difference is that "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold" is going to give you the simplified version. One sidebar was unearthed during this process: We learned that this game has everything to do with "The Boogeyman" of all people!

Left: NFL Defensive MVP James Harrison, Below, his bookend, second-year man LaMarr Woodley.

First of all, football is a game where teams seek to impose their will on their opponent. The Steelers have just gone through one of the most difficult schedules in 40 years and went 12-4 in the process. Do you think they know a little bit about this "imposing their will" thing? "You betcha" as Myron would say.

The Steelers have one of their most physical football teams on the defensive side of the ball that they've ever had. These guys know all about "imposing their will" on opponents. They're also a very confident bunch too. When Phillip Rivers burned them for a touchdown early in the San Diego game, there was no panic on the sidelines. "Settle down and do your job," said Dick LeBeau calmly...and they certainly did. But don't forget that they practically didn't have to play the third quarter since their offense kept the Chargers off the field for all but 17 seconds! When they did finally get the ball after a long kick return, a tipped ball became an interception, completely demoralizing the Chargers.
Above: Defensive mastermind, Dick LeBeau.
Against the Ravens, a team that has a defense that's almost as tough as the Steelers', the offense couldn't run the ball as they had done the week before against the Chargers, so as a result, the score was much tighter and the defense was called upon for some well-chronicled heroics by Troy Polamalu. The Steelers prevailed, but it was a different kind of win. The SuperBowl game will follow along the lines of the San Diego game, definitely not the Baltimore game.

Above: Larry Fitzgerald preparing to leave the locker room...or so some Steeler fans would have you think.

Toughness wins football games, just ask Baltimore. It's easy to worry about Larry Fitzgerald going up for a big catch then winding his way through our secondary for a touchdown, and this nightmare very well may happen. It's also possible to see Larry layed out a'la Willis McGahee around the 30 yard line. Make no mistake about it, the Cardinal receivers will be thinking about Clark, Polamalu et al tuning them up everytime they go up for a catch. The Steelers will be in their heads, that's a guarantee.

Above: Here's a more accurate description of "The Boogeyman". Just ask Willis McGahee, he'd love to have the license plate number of the truck that hit him!

I don't see the Cardinals scoring more than 17 points in this game and here's where the crux of the matter lies: Do you really see this Arizona defense holding Big Ben and Co. to less than 17 points? Coming on the heels of another Ravens game, the Steelers offense is going to feel like they have 12 men on the field for this one. While they have played much better of late, this defense has been shredded several times this season.

So how will it play out?
I expect a very close first half with the Steelers kicking off and deferring to the second half. They will have Arizona bottled up offensively as well as possessing the ball for long stretches. It will be 13-7 at halftime on a Heath Miller touchdown and two Jeff Reed field goals.

The Steelers will get the second half kickoff and once again go into their "sleeper hold" mode. After Willie Parker scores following an eight minute possession, the score will now be 20-7 and everyone will sense that the contest is starting to slip away for the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals do have big strike capabilities and they will score the final ten points in this game making Steeler fans sweat the fourth quarter just like they did in SuperBowl XIII against the Cowboys. An interception by Troy Polamalu in the last few minutes will seal the deal with Polamalu being named the MVP.

This game will be a doozy, no doubt about it. But as I see it, if our offense can do its' job, I'm certain that our defense can be counted on to hold the Cardinals to 17 points. If they do, we'll win the six pack trophy.

OTHER GAME PROGNOSTICATIONS: Take the Cardinals and the seven points. The Steelers will win, but will not cover. Also, bet the under. Nostradamus is pedicting a 20-17 final (37 points). The over/under is 46.5! Take the Steelers calling heads, winning the coin toss and deferring...You're going to see the Steelers running the ball much more effectively. Fast Willie will get his 100 yards. The Cardinals are not the Ravens, not by a long shot. I believe that the Steeler offense is going to be able to put together several long possessions culminating in field goals and scores .The Cardinals will learn that their vaunted offense can't score at will when it's watching the game from the sidelines.

The Cardinals also will learn once they get on the field that this defense isn't the St.Louis Rams defense that they're playing either!...They are going to find out that the Steelers are going to quickly force them into playing from behind, not a good thing to have to do against this defense. They will also find their receivers being hit like they haven't been hit all year. I like Larry Fitzgerald a lot, he's a real star in this league. However, he's going to have a very tough game come Sunday. I do believe though that he will indeed score in the second half making it a ballgame....

The Cardinals are going to have a real difficult time trying to run the ball against the Steelers. They'll "join the club" with the rest of the NFL teams that haven't been able to do it. Being one-dimensional is not going to help their cause at all...

Big Ben will have a much better SuperBowl than last time throwing for 180 yards, one touchdown and most importantly, no interceptions. He will throw the ball away instead of taking needless risks. He will be much calmer than last SuperBowl when he admitted to being, "Nervous the whole game."... The Steelers will have one interception off Kurt Warner and will not turn over the ball themselves in a very cleanly-played game. Penalties, thankfully, will also not be a major factor...

In limited duty, Hines Ward will have three catches for 35 yards with all three coming on key third down possession plays. Limas Sweed will make two catches as well as he starts to shake off the rookie jitters. Heath Miller will have the biggest game of all the Steeler receivers, seven catches, 119 yards and a touchdown.


Above: Your SuperBowl MVP, Troy Polamalu, will have an interception, break up two other passes, have a sack and four tackles. His interception will be returned for 35 yards and will ice the game for the Black & Gold.



The Money Pit(t)...The North Shore Connector

2009 "Blackened Gold" Award Winning Story


By Angelo Spagnolo
Editor, "PB&G"

When I first set about planning the rebirth of “Pittsburgh’s Black and Gold”, I stated in my first post that I would occasionally do editorial posts on things other than sports. You know, for variety and all. Sometimes when something really rings my bell, a column will practically write itself, like, say, right now. So since the Steelers are on furlough this week and the Pens are on all star break and the Pirates are … well the Pirates , now seems like a great time to blow off some steam, so let’s get down to important stuff, like that gigantic "sewer line" we’re building under the Allegheny River.

"The North Shore Connector"

Above: The connector plan looked like a good idea until it turned into a real-life "Money Pit(t)".

It amazes me how lacking in dynamic government leadership the Pittsburgh area has always been and yet how great of a city we still have in spite of it. Take the North Shore Connector as an example. This little tidbit was in the news the other day amidst all of the Steelers hooplah: The Connector is going to cost $118 million dollars over the original $435 million cost! Is it just me or is this kind of an “overrun” beyond human comprehension?

This represents a 27.12% increase over the original project cost. 27%!!! Have construction costs really gone up 27%? If so, why? Construction projects have got to be at a record low right now, right? Projects are being cancelled everywhere. Are we to believe that building materials alone are to blame for this? What kind of a contract was this in the first place where the project could be bid out and still have this type of situation occur on the back end for the Port Authority?

Above: Inside the connector tunnel. Right now it's just an overgrown sewer pipe.

Think back to when you may have built a house. When your contractor bid to build your home, did he have the ability to overrun the cost by 27%? Hardly. Your bank would never go for it either. So why was this contract written with an open end? Probably because the people involved are somehow, someway benefiting from it themselves, that’s why. The only other explanation would be because of add-ons and with a project of this magnitude, it's hard to imagine that the army of architects and engineers who designed this could have missed this many things. What we need here are some answers. This whole mess smells to high heaven!

Above: A light rail system helps eliminate many of these diesel burners.

While I am certainly not a transportation expert, I was able to dig up a few interesting facts for this article. For example, once the money to complete this boondoggle is "found", this project will have cost $553 million dollars just to have the novelty of going under the river. That's over half a billion dollars! I wonder what it would have cost to go over the river? What's one more bridge when you're already called the "City of Bridges"? This cost is so exorbitant, that I was able to calculate that at the present cost per hour of operating a PAT bus (about $59 per hour by my best estimate) that the Port Authority could have put two buses on a continuous loop, 24 hours per day, at a cost of $2,832 per day. Of course there would be passenger income to go against that figure, but for the moment, let’s pretend that nobody ever rode these buses. The cost of this project is so high, that we could fund having these empty buses driving around for 188,206 days or 515 years!!! When you factor in paying customers, it stretches it out even further! How long of an amount of time is this? Well, 517 years ago, Christopher Columbus was just discovering America!

Above: Christopher Columbus' home ship, the "Santa Maria". We could have purchased two of these to shuttle patrons across the mighty Allegheny River! Imagine the tourist traffic and wouldn't it be great to ride in a "pirate ship" to or from a Pirate game?

Am I alone on this or has everyone at PAT and the county lost their collective minds at one time? Dan Onorato’s office said the other day that there would be no additional funding coming from there. That’s great Dan, but here’s a good question, where were you when this contract was first being approved? Isn’t it called “The Port Authority of Allegheny County”? Wasn't this project big enough that you would have reviewed the contract?

The next step is that the county is going to appeal to President Obama for help in finishing the project…as if he doesn’t have enough problems already. Then there’s this final nugget, if you aren’t already in the state of near shock over the enormity of this whole situation: If the project shuts down, it will reportedly cost another $21 million just to seal off the four ends of the two tunnels! Which leads me to ask this question: WHY??? What are they planning on using, platinum and trimming it in gold?

Above: This outside view gives you an idea as to the size of the tunnels. Covering four ends of two tunnels would cost $5,250,000 per end! I'm sure that we could accomplish this for much less here at "PB&G". A few two by fours, some plywood...heck we could even put barbed wire around it to keep out the vagrants! I say that we could do it for $10 million, thus saving the county $11 million!!!

I realize that if our area is to continue to grow and develop that we need to improve our transportation. Of course, these two tunnels were dug so that people could be transported from areas to the north of Pittsburgh, not just from the stadiums or the Rivers Casino to the city. So a lot a peoples’ future transportation needs are at stake here. I’m not saying that I’m against this project, only that I’m infuriated with people who are in a position to safeguard the taxpayer’s interests and who demonstrate“oversight” that is as poor as this. This smacks of, "It's not my money, why should I care?" Where's the responsibility Port Authority?

Do you have an opinion on the Connector? Have I missed the mark with this commentary? I'd really like to hear your opinions. Please leave your comments below. I'd particularly welcome opinions from anyone at PAT or the county. Of course it goes without saying that if you're just a plain old outraged citizen, I'll be glad to hear from you too!