Thursday, June 11, 2009

IRRESISTIBLE FORCE VS IMMOVABLE OBJECT; SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE





ABOVE: "P.B.& G.photographer, Dave Navis, was able to sneak in to snap these top-secret photos of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. This massive machine uses 14 trillion electron volts of power to collide protons and hopefully (?) replicate the "Big Bang". Coincidentally, that is almost as much energy as the t.v.'s in Pittsburgh will use on Friday night for the Stanley Cup final.


A couple months ago
, right after Pitt lost to Villanova in the NCAA basketball tournament, I wrote a column that delved into the combined championship records for all Pittsburgh teams. Since we are on the verge of a very significant game in the history of Pittsburgh sports, I thought it would be apropos to reprise the portion of that story that dealt with the actual championship game records....
....During my lifetime, Pittsburgh's sports teams have had an astoundingly great record when it comes to championships, a record any city would envy. Let's take a look at those records since 1954.

The Pirates played in the World Series in 1960 W, 1971 W and 1979 W. Total Record 3-0 1.000%

The Penguins played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991 W, 1992 W and 2008 L. Total Record 2-1 .666%

The Steelers played in the SuperBowl seven times; In the years 1974 W, 1975 W, 1978 W, 1979 W (man they were good), 1995 L 2005 W and 2008 W. Their Total Record 6-1 .857%.

Pittsburgh's all-time record over the past 55 years in championship games is an amazing 13-2 for a combined winning percentage of.866%!.... Pittsburgh teams have played in nine games total in which a championship would be determined during that contest, seven for the Steelers and two for the Pirates. This would be the Penguins first game seven in a final series. Even more impressively, Pittsburgh's record in championship games is 8-1 or .888%!

Clearly, in Pittsburgh we're not satisfied just getting to the big game, we want to win it and we want to win it bad.

About a month ago, I wrote another column about how Pittsburghers are addicted to the joy of winning, how the whole town has become a bunch of crack addicts who can only get a fix when our team wins. The bigger the win, the bigger the fix. After losing in six games last year and now being in a historic game seven, I'd say there's a major-sized hit that's there for the taking. It's going to be one of the most gut-wrenching games ever, but can you imagine the adrenaline rush a victory would provide the entire city?

First the SuperBowl, then the Stanley Cup and for good measure, throw in the G-20 International Monetary Summit for good measure. Yeah, I'd qualify that as a city that's on a big-time roll.

My phone has been ringing off the hook with friends and family members asking me when my next Nostradamus column is going to come out. Since the headache I always get when I make a sports prophecy finally subsided today, I'm finally ready to put the" Carnack" hat back on and let you know what's going to happen in game seven.


ABOVE: Winning is a powerful narcotic that is extremely habit-forming for the fans who partake of it. My first prediction tonight: Pittsburgh is going to overdose on adrenaline tonight

.

As I fall deep into my trance, my headache is now coming back. Hello old friend! The crystal ball is now clearing and I see 20,000 very nervous people in an archaic building. This has to be the Joe Louis Arena I'm looking at because everyone's wearing red and besides, Mellon Arena only holds 17,000. The Penguin players are loose, very excited and anxious to begin play. The Detroit players are somber, quiet, almost workmanlike in appearance. I sense that the Pittsburgh team seems a lot hungrier than the Detroit team. The Penguin players were talking in the locker room before the game about Petr Sykora breaking a foot in game six to block a shot for the team. "We can't let Petr down," says Sidney Crosby. "We can't let ourselves down either."

As the team waits for the national anthem to end, the pressure continues to build to unbearable levels. "Please God, don't let me allow a weak goal," thinks Marc-Andre Fleury. "Please God, all I've ever wanted was to win the Stanley Cup," thinks Sidney Crosby. "and, I've been good."

Sid takes the opening faceoff and wins it. Let the organized mayhem begin!

Just as in game six, the early pace is frenetic with very little room to maneuver. But the players have started off a lot more deliberately. Conscious or not, no one on the ice wants to make the first mistake. The intensity level continues to build.

Both teams finish with about seven shots each with only two or three total good chances in the period. It ends at 0-0 with no penalties. The tension in the building is mounting. The home crowd, seeing the steely resolve of the Penguins is starting to worry.
In the second, Detroit gets an interference call, but shuts down the Pens' power play. Then a second penalty is called against Detroit for dragging down a breaking Gino Malkin. Unbelievably, the Penguins have 25 seconds of a two man advantage! They get two great chances but don't score on the two man. Then with about ten seconds left on the second penalty, Sid chips a rebound past Osgood putting the Pens up 1-0 with four minutes left in the second.

The Pens, now dominating play almost score again, but the period ends. Detroit looks like a tired fighter on the ropes.

In the third, Detroit comes out playing with desperation. They can feel the trophy beginning to slip away as the noose gradually keeps tightening around their throat. Marc-Andre survives a flurry of shots from Zetterberg and Datsyuk. He keeps Detroit at bay, but the Penguin players realize that their second goal could be all that it takes to win the cup so they dial up the offensive intensity in an effort to also take pressure off Fleury. While in the process of bleeding down the clock, Detroit begins taking chances. Malkin and Fedotenko break through center ice and manage to get the puck to an open Max Talbot who scores a massive goal with three plus minutes left.

Detroit now pulls Osgood and puts incredible pressure on Fleury for two minutes. Finally, after an incredible number of saves, Datsyuk manages to will a shot past a prone Fleury. With Osgood still pulled, the Red Wings pick up where they left off and begin another assault on Fleury. Will this clock ever tick down to zeros?

With under 30 seconds left, Jordan Staal sweep checks Zetterberg and gets the puck to center ice. The speedy Pascal Dupuis will track it down and ice the game with an open net goal with 24 seconds left.


RIGHT: Evgeni Malkin smiles to mom and dad as the Conn Smythe Trophy LEFT is presented to him.


As the players mob Dupuis, the grim reality will hit the 20,000 assembled fans in "Hockeytown". They 're going to have to watch Sidney Crosby parade around "The Joe" with THEIR Stanley Cup. For Marian Hossa, he will have completed a thoroughly-miserable playoff finals with no goals. He will also go down in the hockey annals as the guy who missed out on two consecutive Stanley Cups with two different teams.

In Pittsburgh an immense adrenaline high will be released measuring up to February's SuperBowl win by the Steelers. The Penguins will be only the third road team in the last 15 game sevens to win in enemy territory. It will come to pass in this 87th game of the playoffs and the last time in ANY sport that this happened was in 1979 as the "We Are Fam-A-Lee" Bucs defeated the Baltimore Orioles.
Evgeni Malkin will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs and Marc-Andre Fleury will now cement his reputation as one of the game's best goaltenders. This team is now set to go on a "70's Steelers-like" run on NHL Championships. If you think a lot of NHL fans around the country say "Sidney sucks" now, just wait until he has four or five rings and we're going for thumb hardware a la the Steelers... The hell with them. Go for 'em Sid!

RIGHT: We'll once again hear that memorable ditty composed by Mike Lange: "Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, GIVE ME YOUR BRANDY" (and Iron City, Coors Light, Jaeger Bombs, etc.

Oh, one last thing. The parade is going to rival the most recent Steeler parade in attendance. Fans will close the Parkway trying to get to the airport tonight. Brace yourselves Pittsburgh, this is going to be a championship we won't soon forget. Oh, and you Pitt students, no couch-burnings! This is Pittsburgh. We don't have to have a riot to celebrate another championship!!!


ABOVE: This is a WVU vintage couch-burning, however, Pitt couches seem to burn the same way. Let's keep those couches stashed in those frat houses!

Pittsburgh Pirates Mathematical Luck Equation: "P" x 1 = 0

Let's go back to school shall we? To a class I always hated (among many others in high school) Algebra. I have for you an opportunity to put all of those boring Algebra classes to use for the first time in your life!

Here is your quiz for today: If the letter "P" represents the amount of luck that the Pittsburgh Pirates have in general and you multiply that number times one, what number does "P" represent if the final answer is zero?




LEFT:(Final Jeopardy theme music plays here)




Of course for the answer, "P" must equal zero since this is the Pirates we're talking about after all.

This time it was the one inning debut of newly acquired rookie pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton looked as awesome as I expected him to be: tall and rangy with just enough build to look like a power pitcher. As he took the mound he looked very confident, but he had been having several discussions with his coaches prior to going out on the field. There seemed to be some concern.

As Morton began pitching he started showing off his heater: 93, 95, then his nasty curve. He allowed a soft liner over the outstretched glove of Jack Wilson, but he got Chipper Jones to end the inning. Then came the major confab.

ABOVE: Charlie Morton last year in a Braves uni. Damaged goods?

After meeting with pitching coach, Joe Kerrigan, who did NOT have a happy look on his face, Morton went down the tunnel to the clubhouse. His work on this night was finished. About an inning later we learned that Morton had experienced a "tightness" in his hamstring while warming up. As broadcaster Bob Walk observed, "It couldn't have been a problem with his arm or his shoulder, because I can't imagine throwing a ball much better than he was doing."

Hopefully Morton will be able to quickly rehab this hamstring tweak because he certainly has the look of a "real deal" for the Pirates, their overall luck notwithstanding. Morton's next scheduled start would be next Tuesday in Minnesota. The Pirates expect Morton to be able to start.

Above: GM Neal Huntington had to be gobbling Rolaids by the gross last night.

GAME NOTES: To make room on the roster, the Pirates sent Tom Gorzelanny down to Triple-A Indianapolis. "Gorzo" had a good stint as a reliever, but the Pirates are committed to returning him to being a starter. He will join the rotation in Indy. In nine appearances he was 3-1 with five earned runs, seven strikeouts and four walks...Jeff Karstens made a decent showing in relief of Morton going 4 2/3 innings. The Buccos hung on for a 3-2 win, their first of the series after two other tough one run losses including a 15 inning heart breaker... Andrew McCutchen had a rough night at the plate and saw his batting average drop from .400 to .320.However, McCutchen made a great over-the-shoulder catch in dead center field at the base of the wall. With McCutchen and Nyjer Morgan, the Pirates have two of the fastest players in baseball and more than likely the fastest one-two combination in team history.