Sunday, June 13, 2010

Laugh It Up: The Bucs Play the Nyuk-Yuck Stooges for NFL Head Coach

As if we needed any more evidence that the Pirates are a laughingstock and fodder as everybody's comedic foil, an NFL head coach joined the fun last week after he threw the ceremonial first pitch at a New York Mets game.

New York Jets coach
Rex Ryan used video of Pirates' batters Lastings Milledge and Delwynn Young for comedic material. Ryan arranged for video juxtaposing himself with video of Washington Nationals' rookie phenom Steven Strasburg's 14-strikeout debut against the Pirates last week.

As reported on Taragana's Sports News blog
, Ryan opened his news conference the other day by evaluating his ceremonial first pitch, and comparing himself to Strasburg ...

“Two stars, very similar,” Ryan said as the video played. “Two outstanding pitchers. Look at the movement here. Yep, two great ones.”
Just to further show how unhittable he could be, Ryan had Pittsburgh’s Lastings Milledge superimposed into the video of his pitch. ... Milledge, as he did against Strasburg on Tuesday night, swung through the pitch.

“Yep, it’s still a strikeout,” Ryan said. “Swings, misses and it’s a strikeout.”


Oh, go ahead, just pile on. Pirates fans should be used to it by now.

It was pretty funny. But still.

It just shows to go you -- the Pirates are a laughingstock.

And so it continues ...

On this, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, the Decline of Western Civilization continues ... well, okay, maybe not the decline of western civilization, but the long, dark decline of the Pittsburgh Pirates certainly continues.

With their loss in Detroit last night, the last-place Bucs have lost seven in a row and are a full 16 games under .500. It's only June 13, for crying out loud.

The Pittsburgh Crawfords uniforms the Pirates donned last night are cool, though. Now, if only the actual Pittsburgh Crawfords from the 1930s were wearing those uniforms, we'd be okay. With five future Hall of Famers, that was a great team.

This Pirates' roster is a joke, and the lineup insults baseball fans everywhere.

Never mind the point that Pedro Alvarez should be with the club already. What's the thinking behind Ryan Doumit getting work at first base? It seems pointless, unless they're showcasing his versatility and "position flexibility" for a possible trade? Steve Pearce will return soon, so what's the point of playing Doumit at first base? Doumit has looked uncomfortable and out of place there.

Doumit's error last night led to Detroit scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. The Tribune-Review reports today that Doumit feels bad about the whole thing ...

"Ryan Doumit sat in his stall in the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park and stared at the floor. True, first base isn't his usual position. but the Pirates' regular catcher wasn't going to use that as an excuse for his error that led to two runs in the seventh inning, giving the Detroit Tigers a one-run lead. And even though the winning run came on a Carlos Guillen homer in the 10th inning off Brendan Donnelly for a 4-3 victory, that didn't matter to Doumit.

"When you first start playing baseball, the first thing your dad and your coach tell you is, 'Keep your eye on the ball,' " Doumit said after the loss, the Pirates' seventh in a row to match a season low. "I just didn't keep my eye on the ball. Does this one (stink)? Yeah. Am I going to lose sleep over this? Yeah."

And so it goes.

This is no great surprise, but it's official -- Neal Huntington says Andy LaRoche will be a utility infielder when Pedro Alvarez is promoted next week (presumably).

How many futility infielders can one team have? The Pirates now have LaRoche, Bobby Crosby, Aki Iwamura and Delwynn Young. Perhaps they brought Neil Walker up with the expectation that he would be a utility player, but he's put a stranglehold on the second base job, thank heavens.

Bob Smizik writes that this is the worst Pirates team in 50 years, which probably is giving it too much credit (especially considering that 50 years ago, the Pirates fielded a world championship team that beat the Yankees -- which makes this year's club look all the worse by comparison).

In any case, the mid-1980s teams have to be in the discussion, but you might have go back much further: The 1953 team was worse, and one for the ages. This year's edition might be the worst since then.

Smizik makes some good points, including the following about the lineup in Friday night's game in Detroit:

"By the time Detroit closer Jose Valverde had struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth, Ryan Church, the DH and No. 5 hitter, was batting .190. No. 7 hitter Aki Iwamura was at .178 and No. 9 hitter Jason Jaramillo .190. Add to that mix No. 6 hitter Lastings Milledge, who does not have a home run in 192 at bats this season, and it’s easy to see why the Pirates offense is the worst in MLB with 198 runs in 61 games."

The Pirates truly are a laughingstock. Oh, and by the way, the Pirates are a major league-worst 71-112 in interleague play.
Jeff Karstens vs. Armando "Almost Perfect" Gallaraga today. What could possibly go wrong?

Just a few words ...

As far as Ben Roethlisberger is concerned, the less said the better at this point.

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls
are so disgusted with Roethlisberger, we don't have much to say about him. We'd just as soon hear even less from him.

Roethlisberger has returned to team activities and, last week, conducted his first interviews in his first fledgling PR attempts to refresh his image. Talk about trying to polish a turd.

The NFL Network showed brief excerpts from Roethlisberger's sit-down with KDKA-TV's
Bob Pompeani.

In the brief clip, Roethlisberger ...

  • Talks about himself in the third person -- which admittedly is not the worst thing in the world -- not like being a serial rapist or anything like that -- but it's irritating all the same. It indicates an elevated sense of self-importance and an exaggerated sense of self-entitlement. That's the kind of attitude that has gotten Roethlisberger despised, with a horrible reputation among bartenders, restaurant servers and "little people" all across Pittsburgh, as was detailed in the Sports Illustrated cover story, among other places. More significantly, it's the kind of attitude that got him into trouble in the first place -- into real trouble with the law and in the court of public opinion.
  • Roethlisberger said, "Nobody can question my commitment to being the best player I can be on the field." The counterpoint is that several of his own teammates and coaches have questioned his commitment to on-field performance and self-improvement as a player ever since Roethlisberger came into the NFL. This has been documented in print and broadcast media, including the recent "Beyond the Lines" segment on ESPN. For him to make such a statement indicates a level of denial that shows he just doesn't get "it" -- and isn't willing to see it.
  • Denies he's ever had a problem with alcohol. This is serious denial. In response to a question from Bob Pompeani, Roethlisberger said verbatim, "I have never had a problem with alcohol." When he said that, the alarm bells went off: "Ding-ding-ding!!!"
  • The counterpoint here is that, "Ben, uh, dude, apparently you do have or the least have had a problem with alcohol. You drank like a champion, just like the tee-shirt in that photo says. You got into trouble when you were drinking. You put yourself in bad situations when you were drinking. You acted reprehensibly when you were drinking. And you created problems for yourself and others when you were drinking. So, yeah, you have had a problem with alcohol, and for you to deny you ever did indicates that you probably still do have a problem with alcohol."
  • So, in point of fact, for Roethlisberger to say he's "never had a problem with alcohol" indicates a fairly serious level of denial on a whole 'nother level than talking about himself in the third person or claiming nobody can question his level of commitment on the football field.
All this doesn't really amount to much. These statements of his raise red flags, however, that indicate Roethlisberger still doesn't "get it."

If the light fails to go on, Roethlisberger will get in trouble again. And then it'll
all be over.

As far as we're concerned, he's still a douchebag. If he thinks this little PR campaign will be accomplished by giving a couple of softball interview with local friendlies, well ... he just doesn't get it. Still.

There may be darker days ahead.