One For the Igloo

Thursday, 08 April 2010 09:00 AM Written by

(and the game. and the fans.)

There’s more than enough nostalgia to go around this week, and especially this evening, as the Pens play their last-ever regular season home game at Mellon the Civic Arena. So I’ll spare you — at least for now — a post about my favorite games or moments or memories from the old barn and, here on the cusp of what we hope is another long playoff run and a whole new crop of remembrance to go along with it, offer instead a post from two years ago, after the Pens had taken a 2-0 lead against the Rangers in the second round.

They’d won their first playoff series in seven years, were getting on a roll that would carry them all the way to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in sixteen years, and were still four months away from breaking ground on their first new home in thirty-three years. That’s the context, anyway. And it’s good for you to have it. But it’s not nearly as important as the tone or the mood or the great, collective uplift that moments like these have long given, and will still long give, no matter where they occur, to hockey fans in Pittsburgh

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Blame It On the Birds

Thursday, 08 April 2010 02:22 AM Written by

Nothing dulls the creative spirit like sleep deprivation. Don't get me wrong, I love nature as much as the next John Muir, but between the daily, 4:30 a.m. bird symphonies and the wee-hour thunder and lightning, it's been a rough week. Grant you, not as rough as it's been for this motley crew -- but you know what I'm saying.

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The PSSA Expatriates

Wednesday, 07 April 2010 08:25 AM Written by

(or, banished from 11th grade nation)

Regular TRM readers will remember that last August, in a move that further advanced the creeping (and creepy) infantilization of our school children, Pittsburgh Public schools announced that all sophomores, juniors, and seniors would have a four-hour delay on the first day of school, to ensure that 9th grade students receive a special welcome and the full attention of the high school staff, and also, apparently, to ensure that they could find their lockers and their first few classrooms without wetting themselves before nap time.

This week, Allderdice High School takes that absurdity one step, two days, and five hours further by decreeing that all 9th, 10th, and 12th grade students will have three hour delays today, tomorrow, and Friday, so that 11th graders can take their state-mandated PSSA tests without the pressure — apparently considerable — that comes from knowing there are other students learning elsewhere in the building, and without the distraction — potentially debilitating — that comes from hearing, in three five minute intervals, those same students passing classes in the halls.

Because we all know that high school students can’t possibly do their best on a test unless they’re taking it in the academic equivalent of a sensory deprivation tank. And because we also know that if there’s one thing the members of this internet, iPod, always-on-the-cell-phone generation can’t possibly abide, it’s a minor sensory distraction from their otherwise laser-like intellectual focus.

I’m trying to imagine how I — and, no doubt, many of you — managed to take standardized tests, and state-mandated tests, and multiple AP tests, and at least a half-dozen two-period nuclear science mind-benders while other students were allowed in the building, on the property, or anywhere close enough that I might hear their footsteps or feel their disturbance in the Force.

For that matter, I’m trying to figure out how I took any test ever without those optimal conditions. I have half a mind right now to demand a recall, or at least a recount, on my SATs, my GREs, and that damned double-period organic chemistry test for which I earned an 88 back in the spring of senior year of high school. (I guarantee that at least one of those polymer chain errors I made was caused by someone’s flip-flops flip-flopping too loudly toward the library.)

And I’m definitely going to demand that Adam, for any test he ever takes these next two years at ‘Dice, be afforded this same peace and quiet and all-abiding Zen calm henceforth. How can he possibly maximize his potential, or his GPA, or his prospects of getting into a really good journalism program, if he’s forced to take his English final while twenty-three kids are breathing in the room next door and at least three or four toilets are flushing somewhere overhead?

My God, Allderdice administrators, think of his future!

Except, of course, that they’re not.

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Ron, Garrett, Albert, & Ryan

Tuesday, 06 April 2010 06:35 AM Written by

(go east, young men)

Yeah, okay, so I’m a homer. And, in this case, I’m a homer homer.

I grew up outside of Philadelphia, watching and listening as the great Harry Kalas called looooong fly balls to deeeeep left-center field until they were outta here and into the distant, ugly outfield seats at Veteran’s Stadium, most often and obviously off the bat of Mike Schmidt, arguably the greatest third baseman of all-time, and inarguably — at least for a few more years — the greatest power hitter in the history of the Phillies franchise.

But long-standing fandom and (homer) homerism aside, my objection to Ron Cook’s PG column this morning, in which he lauds the Pirates’ Garrett Jones by holding him up to the standard set by Albert Pujols — and, really, that’s enough to object to right there — lies firmly in the land of objective facts and stats, and also in the dirt of the left-handed batter’s box at Citizen’s Bank Park...

Since July 1, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals has hit 19 home runs. That includes the two he smoked Monday in an 11-6 opening-day win at Cincinnati.

Since July 1, Garrett Jones of the Pirates has hit 23 home runs. He also had two Monday in an 11-5 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on a spectacular afternoon of baseball at PNC Park.

Since July 1, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies has hit 30 home runs. That includes the one he hit Monday in an 11-1 win against the Washington Nationals.

[Pujols] led the big leagues with 47 home runs last season.

Ryan Howard hit 45 home runs last season. He led the big leagues with 48 home runs two seasons ago. He led the big leagues with 58 four seasons ago. Three seasons ago, when Pujols hit 32, Howard hit 47, which was only three off Prince Fielder’s National-League-leading total.

In the past four seasons combined, Albert Pujols hit 165 home runs. Ryan Howard hit 198.

[Pujols] drove in 135 runs.

Ryan Howard drove in 141, which tied him for the major league lead. Two seasons ago, he drove in 146, which was the major league lead. Three seasons ago, he drove in 136, which was one fewer than National League leader Matt Holliday. Four seasons ago, he drove in 149, which led the big leagues.

In the past four seasons, Albert Pujols drove in 491 runs and never once led the National League. Ryan Howard led the majors three times and drove in 572.

[Pujols] won the National League Most Valuable Player award for the second consecutive season.

That he did, and he most surely deserved it. At least last year — when, despite driving in 6 fewer runs than Howard, Pujols hit two more home runs and hit for a much better average.

But the first of those two consecutive MVPs, well... That was something else entirely. Pujols was likely more valuable to his team, which was not as strong nor as balanced as the Phillies, but his power numbers were not nearly as good as those of Howard, who hit 11 more long balls and drove in 30 more runs.

If Jones averages 41 home runs and 124 RBIs for nine consecutive seasons — as Pujols has done — we’ll revisit that comparison.

As well you should. But you should also measure Mr. Jones against Mr. Howard, who’s already almost halfway there. In fact, he’s almost halfway to even better numbers:

For four consecutive seasons, Howard has averaged 49 home runs and 143 RBI.

But is it really so wild to think that Jones could challenge the great Pujols for the home run title this season?

The way Pujols can hit? Of course not. But if the last four years are any indication, there’s at least a 75% chance that if he manages to beat Pujols, Jones will have to pick up his game even more to challenge Howard.

Such as Jones making the majors to stay in July at the very old age of 28, hitting 21 home runs in 82 games and averaging a home run every 15 at-bats.

There's only way to describe that production.


That is true — if only because Jones would have to average a home run every 11 at bats before we could describe his production as Howard-like.

Albert Pujols is an unbelievably great player — a guy who’s set the gold standard for National League power hitters for almost a decade now, and who still has plenty of great years left ahead of him. You’ll get no argument from me on any of those points.

But the numbers prove, beyond any reasonable argument, that over the past four years, Ryan Howard has set the ultimate standard for National League power hitters. With 34 more homers and 81 more RBI than even the great Albert Pujols, it’s pretty clear that if you want to compare Garrett Jones’s numbers to the best of the National League, Pirates fans and PG columnists need to look not 600 miles to the West, but about half that far to the East. 

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Just Perfect for a Tuesday

Tuesday, 06 April 2010 03:47 AM Written by

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Blah blah blah

Tuesday, 06 April 2010 03:38 AM Written by

blah balh balh.

Blah blah blah balh balh

Blah blah more

blah blah blah blah stinkin' blah

blah blah


blah blah

blah blah blah

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A Second Chance to Make a False Impression

Monday, 05 April 2010 10:44 AM Written by

(on lies, deceptions, and prudent labor relations)

These are the kinds of blog posts I wish would write themselves.

It’s not that I’m lazy, of course, or that I don’t enjoy the process. It’s just that, sometimes, the been-there, done-that, some-damned-things-never-do-change vibe is enough to make me weep. If the sun weren’t out today, I might not be able to face this one. 

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On the two-month anniversary of the big storm's start, a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing on emergency preparedness and snow removal drew just seven speakers this morning, most of whom were concerned about non-enforcement of the sidewalk-shoveling ordinance. Their complaints prompted a proposal by a councilman to stiffen the fine for leaving sidewalks untended.

 "Frankly I'm disappointed that more of the outraged people from after the storm aren't here today," said Marilyn Brown, of Beechview.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10095/1048067-100.stm#ixzz0kFNjcUG8 

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