Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 40 (2/25) A Preview of the Combine

In Part 1 of Episode 40 we start by discussing the state of negotiations between the NFLPA and management. Let's just say things don't look good. We then discuss the return of Bruce Arians, the various Steelers who have gone under the knife and the history of cornerbacks drafted by the Steelers in the past ten years.

In Part 2 we discuss Kevin Colbert's comments from the combine in Indianapolis and his thoughts on Willie Colon and Ike Taylor among others. We then take an in-depth look at what goes on at the combine which started today. We close by answering three great questions from listeners.

Hope you enjoy it and thanks for listening.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smorgasbord: A Tiger, A Baron, Some Cardinals and Penguins

*Tiger Woods lost yesterday in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship continuing his string of disappointing play. The Masters is only seven weeks away. I'll bet the public will still make Tiger the betting favorite and while I'm not sure I would take him against the field, I would take him head-to-head against any other player. Even Phil.

*Baron Davis is making about $13 million this year and the next two. He had a pretty good thing going at Golden St. in 2008, but opted out to sign with his hometown team, the LA Clippers who were horrible. Now he's been traded to the purgatory that is the Cavs because the Clips don't want him ruining the Blake Griffin-Eric Gordon Era. I honestly wonder if Baron could have a do-over if he would make the same choice. How many guys have chased a few extra million dollars/year (not an insignificant amount, I recognize), left a good situation and flushed their career down the toilet? Baron Davis was relevant in the League a few years ago. But, about to turn 32, he won't ever be relevant again. He is still going to get paid about $30 million, so maybe the money makes it all worthwhile.

*Pitcher Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and miss the entire 2011 season. Wainwright was a 20-game winner and second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year. In this Sept. 28 story from last season it was reported that Wainwright might miss his last start of the season because of stiffness in his elbow. It also says he was hurting during his previous two outings. Five months have passed. The Cards are going to pay him $6.5 million this year and $9.0 million next year. I cannot believe the first time the guy throws batting practice in spring training he tears up his elbow. What were the Cards doctors doing in the five months since the end of last season? Can they not stress test his elbow? The 12-15 month rehab that is now going to start this week would have started a long time ago. Tough news for Adam and Cards fans.

*While pitchers obviously face greater injury risk than position players the idea of paying Albert Pujols $30 million/season is, in the words of Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams, asinine. Baseball players won their battle with the owners with guaranteed contracts. Pujols is already 31. A ten-year, $300 million contract would be the worst in the history of any sport. If the Cards go down that road they will be done as a franchise for a decade.

*Penguins GM Ray Shero continues to build on his reputation as one of the best dealmakers in sports. Shero's offseason signings of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek and decision to let Segei Gonchar walk have played out beautifully. This week he was able to acquire James Neal and Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars for Alex Goligoski. Most people in the NHL feel the trade would have been a good one for the Penguins if it was Neal for Gogo straight up. Neal is the young, high-scoring winger the team has sought to pair with Sidney Crosby. He is also under contract for more than just this season. The fact that Shero was also able to get Niskanen and add to a stable of young defensemen shows how good he is. With of plethora of defensive talent in their minor league system I would expect the Penguins to look to make another deal of this kind in the next 12 months.

*The Penguins have just re-acquired Alex Kovalev for a seventh round pick. We are sharing today as a birthday. I've got a few years on Kovi, but we are both looking to bring the magic back.

Consol Energy Center: Not Great for Highest-Paying Fans

I attended my eighth Penguins game of the season last night. I have a lot of good things to say about the Penguins organization, the product they put on the ice and many of the seating locations in the new Consol Energy Center. But, the Penguins are really screwing the fans who are paying the most for tickets and premium seating. Here are some thoughts from my experience last night.

*The face value of my ticket (I was a guest) was $152, one of the most expensive in the arena. It was located about eight rows up from the ice on one of the blue lines. These are not good seats. Seriously. I don't blame this totally on the design of the arena. The dimensions of the ice surface and the glass are virtually identical at every rink. But from these seats, you can't see one end of the ice because you have to look through the glass four different times because of the location of the penalty boxes. That means you are looking at the scoreboard to see the action for almost half the game. It's a great scoreboard, but I have a similar contraption that works equally well in my house. There is no way the Penguins should be charging anywhere close to that price for those seats which are actually some of the worst in the entire building. Seats in the upper bowl and behind each goal are much better for viewing the game and are much cheaper.

*But these "premium seats," two large blocks on both sides of the ice between the two blue lines, give the ticketholder access to the Igloo Club, right? This is reserved for the team's best fans, right? Yes and yes. It does and the Igloo Club (Now actually called the Captain Morgan and First Niagara Clubs) is a disaster. The line for the men's restroom takes fifteen minutes at every intermission. Either you leave early before the end of a period or you stand in line the whole break. It gets an F- grade for design because it has fans entering and exiting from the same spot. Top that off with a paucity of urinals and you have some angry fans. To complete the picture add a couple of hundred square feet of unused space on either side of the restroom and a few hundred more dedicated to a totally unnecessary coat room and you have your most important and highest-paying fans completely blistered. At least half of the fans that I interacted with complained about the situation.

*In addition to that design flaw, the Igloo Club also offers fewer food selections and none of the premium brand choices available to fans who are seated in the rest of the arena. How is it possible that the highest-paying ticket holders are the ones most-restricted in their options? Also, alcohol is not allowed to be taken in or out of the Club. If you want to try any of the better food options outside the Club and have a beer with your food, well, you get the picture. Either you can't or you are going to watch some of the game on a food court monitor. God forbid you have an acquaintance who is seated in a different area. You might as well write off getting a beverage together. If the Penguins are kowtowing to private contractors who operate the Club facility, they need to change that policy ASAP. The one thing the Igloo Club does offer is space, but with long restroom lines and poor food options it isn't utilized.

*For the second consecutive game operations couldn't get the lights back up after turning them off during the first intermission. This time it lasted twenty minutes. If it happened on Monday, you can't let it happen again on Wednesday. And both games were nationally televised. Not exactly putting your best foot forward. I assume that won't happen again, but I also assumed that last time.

*There is no question the Penguins have put a fantastic product on the ice the past few years and they deserve great credit for that. They have paid to keep their best players, they have made savvy trades and they have drafted well. Even with all the injuries, the team gives a great effort virtually every game. Overall the organization is perceived to be fan-friendly, holding events like Student Rush that benefit many who might not be able to afford tickets to see a game in person. However, they currently risk alienating their best-paying customers buy milking every dollar out of them with incredibly expensive ticket prices while offering an experience that doesn't measure up to that which other customers, paying far less, are having. Time to upgrade that experience because I know plenty of fans who are already trying to relocate to cheaper and often better seats.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Cheating Coaches Still Have Jobs at UConn & Tennessee

In October I wrote this post on UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun and Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. I argued that these two coaches haven't been held accountable by their own schools for the violations they have committed. This week the NCAA finally announced findings against both universities.

Calhoun, one of the biggest bullies and cheats in all of sports, was suspended by the NCAA for three Big East games next season for recruiting violations and cited by the NCAA for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within his program. He has vowed to fight the charges, having said mistakes were made but that he is not a cheater. This is so far from the truth it is laughable. As Pat Forde has written it is largely the Cult of the Head Coach that has allowed him to escape punishment to this point. Now is the time for UConn to move on and get rid of a man who thinks he is bigger than all around him. Calhoun's success at Connecticut is inarguable, but these charges should finally give the University the necessary ammunition to take action.

In the Tennessee findings, Pearl was cited for unethical conduct, misleading investigators and failing to conduct himself with high standards of honesty and sportsmanship. He was already suspended by the SEC for the first eight conference games this season and docked $1.5 million over five years by the University. Because of a clause in Pearl's contract Tennessee was unable to dismiss him with cause until the NCAA findings were announced. The NCAA Committee on Infractions has yet to complete its findings so more could be coming, but Pearl has suggested that he is doesn't fear for his job because no new findings were announced and that the two sides are working on a new deal.

If these are not fireable offenses for a college coach, what are? It is so easy for fans and universities to criticize the NCAA for its bureaucracy, ridiculously complicated rule book and inconsistency in meting out discipline that they no longer take any infractions seriously. But these are real infractions. They strike at the core of what is trying to be instilled in the student-athletes and paint the coaches involved in the worst possible light. It is time for the University of Connecticut and the University of Tennessee to step up and fire these two coaches. One is an arrogant jerk and the other a seemingly likable guy, but both have histories of rules infractions and have tarnished their universities.

Unfortunately neither school will take such a measure. They don't practice what they purport to teach. Ethics and rule violations be damned. Winning games is the only thing that matters until someone else lays the punishment out for them or suspends them from postseason play. In this case the NCAA took unprecedented action to suspend Calhoun and the same could becoming for Pearl, but it appears their schools will do nothing more. Just keep the wins coming.

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 39

In Part 1 we take a look at some offseason issues facing the Steelers including the franchising of LaMarr Woodley and the hiring of a new secondary coach.

In Part 2 we interview former Steelers running back Verron Haynes and talk about his Super Bowl experience, the combine, the draft and the current situation with the collective bargaining agreement. Follow Verron on twitter @VerronHaynes. Thanks for the time Verron.

Thanks for listening.

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Knicks Lose and Lose Big. A Look at the Two NBA Blockbusters

It's been a bad 48 hours for the New York Knickerbockers. Don't believe what you may have read yesterday, the trade for Caremelo Anthony was not a good one for New York. On its merits alone the deal does not make sense. Throw in the fact Melo probably signs with the Knicks as a free agent in the offseason and that the New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams in a trade with the Utah Jazz this morning and the Knicks trade is a flat-out disaster.

First, and most importantly, Carmelo Anthony is exactly the type of player the Knicks do not need. He isn't one of the best 20 players in the Association and at 26 doesn't exactly look like a guy who is going to age well. As far as max players go there are better alternatives for $22 million/year starting this offseason. Melo does one thing exceptionally well. He is as good as anyone in the league at creating his own shot in the low post. But that's the rub. The Knicks already have Amare Stoudemire dominating the paint. Having both stationed down low is going to make each much easier to defend. To make matters worse New York traded away their best outside shooter in Danilo Gallinari and another serviceable shooter in Winston Chandler leaving nobody to stretch the floor and keep defenses from sagging on New York's dynamic duo.

The Knicks also swapped point guards in the deal, but Chancey Billups best days are behind him and he won't play the 38 minutes a game Ray Felton was averaging, so even more minutes will go to guys who shouldn't be on the floor. But no matter the troubles offensively, defensively it is going to be worse. The Carmelo-Amare duo is going to get torched and Billups can't guard any of the today's quick point guards. With no depth left on the bench the Knicks won't have anywhere to turn. Keeping opposing teams under 100 points is going to be a rare feat the rest of the season.

The second problem with the deal is that the Knicks gutted their roster to acquire a player who they very likely could have had for almost nothing other than salary this offseason. New York would have had to renounce the rights to Winston Chandler to sign Anthony. That's it. Pay Melo the same dollars they are going to pay now and he's bouncing on Broadway. Denver had virtually no leverage in the trade talks, yet the Knicks kept upping the ante and bidding against themselves just as the Mets did with Jason Bay last offseason. Denver got all they could and while the Knicks didn't give up a ton of talent in the deal, they traded all their available assets and gave themselves zero financial flexibility going forward.

Sound familiar? It should.

Reports are suggesting the Isiah Thomas fingerprints are all over the deal. You'll remember Thomas as the Knicks' cagey President of Basketball Operations who in five seasons from 2004-2008 virtually abolished the Knicks from the NBA landscape with one incredibly bad deal and free agent signing after another. Apparently Knicks owner James Dolan and Thomas, the basketball coach at Florida International, still speak almost daily and it was Isiah driving this trade rather than General Manager Donnie Walsh. If this is true Walsh has to resign today and Dolan, already a three-time winner, gets the award for Dumbest Owner in Sports permanently named in his honor.

Utah's trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets this morning is the third and final nail in the coffin for the Knicks. Williams would have been a perfect compliment to Stoudemire in Coach Mike D'Antoni's system. And the Nets got him relatively cheaply. Williams is one of the ten best players in the league and is under contract through next season although a new CBA could impact his situation. Either way someone in the Knicks front office completely missed the boat on this one in not making a stronger pitch to acquire their franchise point guard.

Many in New York have been signing the praises of the Knicks and their ability to finally put two max-salary superstars on the floor together. The problem is they got the wrong two. They missed on LeBron this summer and then they gave up more than they needed for a player who doesn't fit what they already have. The next day their cross-river rival got the superstar who would have been the perfect fit. For a much cheaper price. Tomorrow's headlines should read The re-emergence of Isiah Thomas Sends the Knicks Wandering in the Wilderness--Again. The Knicks are no closer to success than they were eight years ago. They will probably have a playoff berth to show for this year's efforts, but another monstrously bad deal has turned their fortunes again. Tough times still ahead for the Knicks and their fans.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Brief Thoughts on the Swimsuit Issue, Being a Dictator, Tobacco Road and the NFL

* I'm not saying the SI Swimsuit issue is ready for the scrap heap, but when I'm wondering if they picked the cover model because she is Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend and not the other way around, cracks are appearing in the facade.

* Sticking with that theme, when I'm looking at the bodypainting and thinking the artists have done some fantastically detailed and intricate work, it's time to find some less-accomplished artists.

* If I am an authoritarian ruler pretty much anywhere in the world right now, I've got my advance scouts checking out various destinations. Back home I have suitcases packed, my Swiss banker on speed dial and pilots at the ready. Uncomfortable times.

* Stan Musial and Bill Russell were both awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday. (Here is the complete list of the 15 recipients.) They are two of their generation's greatest sporting figures. Though they are incredibly different, you will have trouble finding two men who are equally and more universally respected.

* The NFL's television ratings took another quantum leap this year. Football now so completely dominates the American sporting landscape that we should no longer refer to "the big four sports" with some kind of sporting equality. It is football above all others. With fewer and fewer kids participating for a variety of reasons and the effect of head injuries becoming better understood, it really is becoming our culture's gladiatorial spectacle.

* With the college basketball season more meaningless than ever, it still amazes me that media outlets spend hours debating who is ranked #1 in the polls.

* Is every kid in the south now playing soccer? The south is still the go to spot for the best high school football players, but it isn't producing great basketball talent. What are those kids playing?

* The ACC and SEC just flat out stink in hoops. Woe Tobacco Road...

* Lance Armstrong retired again. Officially. I still would put it at even money that Lance goes down in one of these drug investigations. So much smoke. I just don't believe that many people are carrying an unsubstantiated vendetta against the guy. But cycling does have a good, clean track record, so there's that. Waaaaaaait a second...

* The Daytona 500 is this weekend. NASCAR's golden era is over. I think we are going to look back back at 1995-2005 and wonder what the fascination was. But in Europe they still watch Formula 1 which is basically a grid race to the first turn and then 60 laps of cars running in a line with one pit stop, so who knows.

* The Pirates announced today that Joel Hanrahan will open the season as their closer. Surprisingly this story is not yet overshadowing the Pujols negotiations.

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 38, Defensive Roster Review (2/14)

In Episode 38 and Part 2 of our roster review we take a look at the defensive side of the ball. In our "exit analysis" we go player-by-player through the roster and give our view as to whether each guy will be re-signed (if a FA), in camp and/or on the roster. We include the cash charge and cap charge information in our analysis and provide a grade on this year's performance.

Take a listen and leave some comments letting us know if you agree or disagree. You can catch the offensive "exit analysis" in our previously recorded Episode 37.

Thanks for listening.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Big Numbers, Franchise Faces and Albert Pujols

It's a week of big numbers. Monday President Barack Obama submitted his $3.7 trillion budget proposal to Congress. 3.7 trillion is almost incomprehensibly big. It is hard to give it context in a way to make it familiar. It is estimated that five trillion text messages were sent in 2010. I'm not sure if that puts more or less context around it, but it's as close as I could come in a quick search.

This week the St. Louis Cardinals are also making a budget proposal. They are trying to negotiate a new contract with superstar Albert Pujols. They aren't offering $3.7 trillion, but that may closely approximate the number of words written on the matter both in St. Louis and around the country over the last couple months. Pujols is said to be seeking a deal in the neighborhood of 10 years/$300 million and he has set Wednesday as the deadline for negotiations. If no agreement is reached The Machine will play out the last year of his current contract and become a free agent at the end of the year.

Albert Pujols is 31 years old. His numbers through the first ten years of his career are as good as the game has ever seen. He is a three-time MVP and has finished second an additional four times. He's finished below fourth in the voting one time during his career. He hits for power, for average, runs the bases well and is an excellent fielder. In today's era that type of performance is worth $30 million/year. But, because of the indentured servitude-nature of baseball Albert has made "only" $89.5 million thus far in his career. 

And that is the problem. That, and the fact that he is The Face of the Franchise.

No other phrase in sports has ever become so widespread just a quickly as it lost its context. In times past the superstar was the "star of the team" or the "leader of the clubhouse." The face of the franchise was the head coach or the owner and the players were the players. 

But in a world of 24/7 media with teams looking to label, brand and market their product, iconic figures are the rage and superstar athletes are the salesmen. Now these superstars have become The Face that the fan associates with the team--or at least that is what their agents and Madison Avenue would lead us to believe. Albert Pujols has been The Face of the Cardinals almost since his arrival.

Now the Cardinals appear to be held hostage by their Face. How can they possibly let the best player in the game leave via free agency--potentially even to the hated Chicago Cubs? The general consensus is they must reach an agreement and keep Albert around so that he can "retire a Cardinal" as he has said he wishes to do. If they don't, the backlash will be immense, the franchise will suffer for years and the team will lose its identity.

Ridiculous. Rare is the franchise that is crippled by the departure of any one player. Bad personnel decisions by management and mishandling of a team's finances can certainly lead to seasons of failure. But much more often, it is the allocation of too many of a team's resources to one player that leads to problems. The Cardinals identity is incredibly woven into the fabric of the midwest. Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGuire come and go and the team is as popular as it's ever been.

Albert Pujols is at an age that is universally recognized as being the down phase of a baseball player's career. Of course every player is different and Pujols won't likely follow the linear average performance of the age curve, but it isn't unreasonable to expect his numbers to begin to drop off, particularly 3-5 years from now. Ten years from now? I'm guessing Albert will be closer to his induction ceremony than to a top ten in the MVP voting.

The Cards should offer Albert $200 million/7 years. It will be the highest contract in terms of average annual value in the history of the game. It will pay him through the age of 38 and inherently includes a "this is for all you've done so far" component. It won't cripple the team financially and if Pujols gives five solid years of production with an even moderate decline in performance the Cards will benefit.

Historically the monster contracts rarely work out. Most recently A-Rod's $275 million/10 year contract with the Yankees looked like a bad decision about the time the ink started to dry. Too often, teams pay players for what they have done rather than for the performance that can be expected in the future. Goodwill and public relations are always overestimated. Cardinal fans are generally going to support their team. If nine "faceless" guys go out and win 106 games, attendance and revenues will be better than ever and the mantle of Face will be taken up by someone new. At the same time, losing 90 games with an unproductive Pujols being the centerpiece won't stem the criticism.

Pay Albert Pujols an amount of money over a period of time that allows the organization to maximize the benefit to the team. If Pujols walks (I'm betting he won't) $28 million per season can bring a lot of useful assets into an organization. In this case, don't spite The Face, but don't overpay him either. If he walks the Cardinal franchise will still be just fine.

[Note: Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated posted an article about Pujols and the Cardinals minutes after I did. Here is the link.]

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 37 (2/12) Offensive Roster Review

In Episode 37 we take a look at the offensive side of the Steelers roster. In our "exit analysis" we go player-by-player through the roster and give our view as to whether each guy will be re-signed (if a FA), in camp and/or on the roster. We include the cash charge and cap charge information in our analysis and provide a grade on this year's performance.

Take a listen and leave some comments letting us know if you agree or disagree. We'll bring you the defensive "exit analysis" in Episode 38 on Monday.

Thanks for listening.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 36, The Offseason Commences (2/9)

My Super Bowl experience in Dallas and game thoughts are coming....soon. Here is the lastest Podcast. Also, here is an email from a Packers fan whose tickets were in the section declared unsafe. Brutal. I would have been apoplectic.

In Part 1 of Episode 36 we wrap-up our analysis of Super Bowl XLV. We discuss Troy's reaction to the loss and acceptance for some of the blame and talk about whether it is justified. We look at the Steelers' nickel and dime packages and whether they made the right adjustments and we recap a few other issues from the game.

In Part 2 we talk about Hines Ward's dissatisfaction with not getting the ball on the last drive. Is there still a lingering issue between Ben and Hines? And we wonder why Antonio Brown didn't try to get to the sideline on the last Packers' kick-off (I was wrong on the podcast, it was not Antonio Brown who returned the final KO, it was Isaac Redman). Finally we get to some issues taking place off the field--who is and will have surgery. And, will the Steelers defensive philosophy continue to hold up or do changes need to be made? News comes out that defensive backs coach Ray Horton is leaving to be defensive coordinator in Arizona.

In Part 3 we talk about the suggestion that the Steelers move Maurkice Pouncey from center to guard and put Doug Legursky at center. We close with a look at the seating fiasco in Dallas and what the NFL is going to do about it.

Make sure you also listen to Friday's Episode 37 when we go through all 60+ guys on the Steelers roster and analyze whether they will be back and what the cap ramifications will be.

Thanks for listening!

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The Terrible Podcast - Episode 35, Super Bowl Recap (2/7)

I'll have my Dallas experience and Super Bowl thoughts up in the next 24 hours. Episode 35 recaps Super Bowl XLV from start to finish. Thanks for listening.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Terrible Podcast - Super Bowl Preivew Episode 34 & Episode 3 of Super Bowl Week (2/2)

The Super Bowl Preview. Episode 34/Episdode 3 of Super Bowl Week is all about Sunday's big game. We give our hardcore, in-depth analysis in a 45 minute podcast discussing all aspects of Steelers-Packers.

In Part 1 we look at the matchup between the Steelers defense and the Packers offense.

In Part 2 Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders joins us for a second time and fills us in on what he expects to happen on Sunday.

In Part 3 we go to the other side of the ball and look at the Steelers offense against the Packers defense.

We close with our predictions which turn out to be exactly the same, right down to the final score.  Thanks for listening!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 33 & Episode 2 of Super Bowl Week (2/2)

In Part 1 of Episode 33 we interview Chad Milliman who writes for, ESPN the magazine and is the author of "The Odds" and "The Ones Who Hit the Hardest" which takes a look at the blood feud between the Steelers and Cowboys and the battle for the heart of America in the 1970s. Chad talks about how he got his dream job writing about sports and gambling and discusses how that world has changed during the 11 years he's been in the business. He talks about some of his own experiences and then we get into the game and where the "sharps" are putting their money and how the sportsbooks in Vegas see the rest of the week playing out. We discuss prop bets, which have become a huge part of the handle during Super Bowl week and then Chad tells us how he thinks things are going to play out on Sunday.

In Part 2 we talk with Shawn Kennedy Co-Founder of Steel City Mafia which you can find on the web at Shawn tells us how this Steelers Fan Club, which now has over 9,000 members located across the U.S., was founded and how you can become a member. Shawn also talks about the big weekend Steel City Mafia has planned in Dallas. They will be involved with Trib Live Radio at Malarkey's Tavern ( on both Friday and Saturday. You can find all the details on their website. Steelers attending Saturday include Louis Lipps, Eric Green, Yancey Thigpen and Ernie Mills. Be sure to stop by if you are in town.

In Part 3 we chat with Brian Blessing of This one is for the hardcore gamblers. Brian works with ESPN Las Vegas and has a show on Sirius 98 called Hardcore Sports Radio. Brian gives all the inside info of what goes on in Vegas this weekend and where the money is going. These guys aren't just throwing darts, Brian gives some great analysis of the game. Listen and find out what is really happening with Super Bowl 45 and who he likes.

Thanks for listening.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It Continues, ESPN and Others Trot Out Their "Don't Forget Ben is a Bad Guy" Pieces

I guess at the end of the day I shouldn't be surprised. If the goal of a media outlet is to get eyeballs on the site and people buzzing about the content, bloggers like me are seen as low hanging fruit--easy to rile up, further the conversation and generate interest. I generally don't care what "the media" says or writes about teams or players I root for. I certainly try not to get worked up about it. I play on the fringes of being part of that media. I can come up with my own opinions, and I try to share some of those here with the few of you that care to stop by. Like most bloggers, I try not to post entries that you might also read in the daily paper or easily find on the web. I hope to, on occasion, bring a unique angle or insight that is, if not eloquently expressed, at least readable. But, when I think someone has really missed the boat, I feel I have to enter the fray. "Have to" probably is not phrase. When I feel someone has really missed the boat I can generally work myself into a mild frenzy. Then, it is probably less "have to" and more "probably shouldn't." This week I have.

Earlier in the week I responded to an article by Ann Killion from I like Sports Illustrated. I like the magazine and the website and I know people who work there. But Ann wrote a bad piece. It was an opinion piece that lacked insight. From where I sit, she had a well-formed opinion, didn't like what she was reading in the media and wanted to add a voice of reason to the hysteria surrounding the "redemption" of Ben Roethlisberger. Problem is that hysteria doesn't exist and Ann didn't do any background research on what has happened in the 11 months since events in Georgia. If what she wrote reflects her opinion that is fine, but the article ignores the facts surrounding the story she chose to write about. Turns out Ann isn't alone. She was just first horse out of the gate.

Yesterday published this piece which, today, is featured and linked to on the front page of their website. Wins don't give Ben Roethlisberger a free pass. Clever title, better than Ann Killion's. But rather than "nauseous" like Ann, Jane McManus of ESPN is "a little wary" of stories about the Pittsburgh quarterback. Good. Don't want anyone else getting sick. First question, do people at ignore Did her editors not say, "Hey Jane, a woman at just wrote the exact same piece. You probably won't get nailed for plagiarism, but this isn't exactly unique?" Or, did someone notice that that article at SI.comwas generating a lot of traffic and decide they had to have one of own? Just wondering.

Generally my response to Jane is: Please refer to my "Open Letter to Ann Killion." I'd like to leave it at that, but Jane makes a few points I can't ignore. That's where the mild frenzy part kicks in. She writes, "Roethlisberger has had a number of interactions with women that have involved courts or police to one degree or another." This is disingenuous at best, factually wrong at worst. I and the population at large know of two occasions. I am not in any way dismissive of these two events, but suggesting their have been a number of interactions when there have been two is misleading. But maybe that is splitting hairs.

This is where Jane really gets off the rails:
Now the Steelers are in the Super Bowl. What that means is that reporters will want to write about what happened [in Georgia], but will have a hard time using phrases like "alleged rape." Instead, you might hear a lot of references to "off-the-field distractions."
So weak. You cannot lump DWIs, drug use, alleged rape and assualt charges into the same phrase you'd use for trying to talk and text at the same time.
You're right Ann, I mean Jane, you can't. The reason is the word "alleged." Alleged is defined as: stated, doubtful, suspect or supposed. If you said alleged DWIs, alleged drug use, alleged rape and alleged assault charges you could lump them all in the same phrase. But, if rape is the only one that is alleged you should probably exclude it. Otherwise it would not only be weak, it would be slanderous to lump them together.

You later lump Antonio Cromartie, Big Ben (your term, not mine), Mike Vick, Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant together as "antiheroes." One is a convicted felon, the other four are not. Careful not to be hoisted by your own "lumping" petard.

There are lots of other points to make. Santonio Holmes is Charles Barkley 2.0. Charles is the original "I am not a role model." But that isn't particularly germane to your point, that's just me showing off that I actually read your whole article, painful as it was.

Jane, like Ann you didn't add to the conversation or the dialogue about Ben Roethlisberger and you didn't bother to research your topic or include anything that didn't fit your story line. Again, I ask, how did this get past the editors at But, I've written this all before. Please see In Defense of Ben Roethlisberger: An Open Letter to Ann Killion of Sports Illustrated. Insert your name and ESPN where appropriate and you'll get the idea.

(Too read similar pieces go to and among others.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Goodell-King Fiasco: A Disaster for the Commissioner, Apology Required

Wow does Roger Goodell owe Ben Roethlisberger and every other NFL player a big apology. For those not familiar with the story, yesterday Peter King published excerpts of interviews gathered from a season spent following the NFL Commissioner in his Monday Morning Quarterback article on A larger article is to be featured in the print edition of Sports Illustrated that hits newsstands today, but King teased that piece with five items that didn't make the print issue in his on-line column.

In that column, King quoted Goodell as having interviewed two dozen Steelers in the process of gathering information to determine the length of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension and reportedly said not one of them "had his back." Don't bother looking for King's original quote because he has already retracted it and apologized, writing that he assumed when Goodell was talking about "players" he meant "Steelers." The Commissioner apparently called to clarify that was not the case, but why would Goodell be seeking opposing players' comments on Roethlisberger and why would they "have his back?" It makes little sense.

While King is responsible for making a significant and thoughtless error in reporting, it is Goodell who has violated the trust of players across the league--something that surely isn't going to serve him well as he tries to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. The Commissioner, in his singular role as judge and jury (a role Ann Killion would like to play as I wrote yesterday after her attack on Roethlisberger), has a responsibility to gather as much information as possible before meting out fines and suspensions. To share that information with the media demonstrates a startling lack of judgment and an inexcusable breach of trust, undermining his credibility with players and fans alike. The thought that any player would agree to speak "confidentially" going forward in regard to any investigation is a stretch.

Peter King and Sports Illustrated held on to this story (King attributes the quotes to a January 7 interview with Goodell) to have maximum impact during Super Bowl week. But what point did it serve Goodell to bring any of this up, particularly with the Steelers participating in the playoffs? His role as Commissioner is to enhance and support the image of the league. Talking on record to a journalist about private meetings that took place at least four months prior serves little discernible purpose. Further, the reasons cited that players' didn't have Roethlisberger's back were "stories like, 'He won't sign my jersey.'" That is as laughable as it is insignificant.

In the same piece Goodell is also on record as saying he "doesn't feel any connection with Ben Roethlisberger"--a statement not retracted by King. The Commissioner's personal feelings about any player should be his and his alone, less he show an appearance of not being impartial in his oversight of the league. With many on the Steelers feeling the league office has inappropriately targeted them for aggressive hits, this only adds fuel to the fire.

Goodell isn't the only one taking a hit. Peter King's reputation is also damaged. Local beat writer Ed Bouchette was all over King's story and immediately squashed the credibility of Goodell's statement even before King retracted it. Bouchette spells out how ludicrous King's details are here saying what a low blow the Commissioner dealt to Roethlisberger. For King to take Goodell's word that two dozen Steelers did not have Ben's back suggests a) King is just a mouthpiece for others' thoughts and does very little analytical thinking about what he is told, b) he is completely out of touch with a team like the Steelers and what goes on in their locker room, or c) both. Regardless, this significantly damages his credibility as an "NFL Insider."

This article has blown up in ways King and Goodell never imagined and it is not going to go away quickly. King has apologized for his mistake. If Goodell thinks King's misinterpretation and apology somehow also gets him off the hook he is making another huge error in judgment. Goodell now doesn't just owe Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers an apology, he owes the entire league an apology.

The Terrible Podcast - Episode 32 (1/31)

Episode 32 is Episode 1 of Super Bowl Week and we have a lot to talk about.

In Part 1 we talk about the different schedules that the two teams followed last week. The Steelers practiced early in the week, the Packers later. We'll find out Sunday if it has any effect. Both teams arrived Monday. We discuss the press conferences of Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger and how they handled the expected and the unexpected. We also have a good time with the Steelers offensive line's decision to wear Flozell Adams' Michigan St. jersey to honor him. Flozell has been an under-recognized part of the Steelers success and it was a great gesture.

In Part 2 we lead off by highlighting our scheduled guests later in the week and then get into the four players who are, at best, questionable for the game Sunday. Pouncey, McFadden, Smith and Allen are all uncertain to play and we look at the situation surrounding each and the odds that they will be on the field. We then get into the beating that Ben and the Steelers seem to be taking in the media. We discuss Roger Goodell's asinine comments relayed by Peter King in his MMQB and David's continued-bashing of Ann Killion in his blog after his rant on last Friday's podcast.

In Part 3 we look at dysfunction all over the league, particularly in the AFC North. Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland all have issues that we note. Then, we can't resist but get into Photogate surrounding the Packers. Finally we get to the game and look at some of the analysis Kurt Warner shared early Monday and generally talk about the matchups that intrigue us.

Thanks for listening.

The Terrible Podcast - Steelers Podcast

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