Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stuff That Should Stay Where It Is -- the Pro Sports Edition

A couple of weeks ago, during their Stanley Cup run, the Boston Bruins media crew co-opted Wiz Khalifa's 'Black and Yellow.' Mmmmmmm, I'm gonna say that's just the kind of thing that's not done, or that you shouldn't do, or that you should be banished if you do it. I believe when it happened, I suggested that those guys be taken out and tazed, then shot in the face repeatedly. That's a bit harsh. This sort of filching is not quite a death penalty transgression, but it is the kind of thing that should make you a pariah.

It's like dating your friend's ex. Is it technically, letter of the law wrong? Probably not. But it's gross, it indicates a lack of feeling, a lack of ethics, perhaps even a lack of a soul.

It also bespeaks a revolting lack of originality.

But it got me to thinking, what traditions, songs and other sports ephemera are off limits, the province of one specific team or specific city?

1. The Detroit Red Wings pretty much own the entire Journey catalog. You know, if you want to play 'Faithfully' or 'Wheels in the Sky' or 'Any Way You Want It,' I suppose I won't take you to task too hard. But there is no budging on this: 'Don't Stop Believin'' is the Red Wings thing. It just is. (Yes, I'm looking at you Bruins staff. Again. Creativity. Look it up. Then get some.)

2. It's not all bad in Boston. 'Sweet Caroline' and 'Dirty Water' are the exclusive properties of the Boston Red Sox. Also, any and all Boston teams should feel free to use the Dropkick Murphy's, 'I'm Shipping Up to Boston,' at any time. For everybody else -- verboten.

3. The Rally Monkey? Always an Anaheim thing, even though they call themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim these days. This is perhaps the most inspired, just plain goofy thing I can think of. The Angels are losing, and the stadium media crew just put this little guy on the jumbotron. A Rally Monkey is born. Genius.

4. If you catch a home run ball and you're not a Cubs fan at Wrigley Field? Hold on to it. You look like an all-world jackass throwing it back. Unlike this guy, who is clearly not a jackass. I don't know why it's kinda cool when Cubs fans do it, but it is. It's just pathetic everywhere else.

5. Let's do away with the annoying singing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch of all Sunday MLB games, and give that song back to the Philadelphia Flyers.

6. No player ever, from now until the end of the world (or a Newt Gingrich presidency, whichever comes first), is ever, ever permitted to use Metallica's 'Enter Sandman.' And if you do, Mariano Rivera is well within his rights to zip a cut-fastball right into your eye-socket.

7. As we're in Yankee Stadium, the chanting out the names of each of the starting position players until they tip the cap, stays right where it is. Even in that circumstance, it is annoying, but it's original at least. If you want your own thing? Get one. It can be annoying, too.

8. Note to NFL players -- if you're not a Packer and the game's not at Lambeau, don't leap into the stands. You just look stupid.

9. Wiz Khalifa's 'Black & Yellow' is a Pittsburgh song. It is, specifically, a Steelers song, but it's cool with me if the Penguins and Pirates and the Pittsburgh Passion use it. Point is, it's written by a Pittsburgher about Pittsburgh. It stays.

10. So does towel waving. Yeah, it's such a simple idea -- a towel in your team's colors. But Pittsburgh's guy thought of it first. If you don't like it, yinz can take it up with the ghost of the dear departed Myron.

[Photos: Joe Louis Arena from; Flyers/Stanley Cup from; Lambeau Leap from; Wiz Khalifa from]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Recipe: Biscuits and Mushroom Gravy

I'm often tempted to get biscuits and gravy. I love biscuits, I love gravy, I love sausage; and yet, it always makes me queasy, I always pay for it in the end. I don't know if it's a grease factor or what, but it's always a mistake when I get it, so for the last decade or so, I've just avoided it altogether. And that makes me sad. Terribly, Terriblly sad.

Last week, I was kicking around in Oregon. At the Wandering Goat coffeehouse in Eugene, they have biscuits and mushroom gravy. A'ha! I thought. It hits all the notes that you want from biscuits and gravy -- the bite of the pepper, the creaminess of the gravy and, of course, the sublime fluffy, chewy goodness of the biscuits.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Return of the Jagr-Bomb?

Don't look now, but the Jaromir Jagr hockey sweepstakes are on.

Hey wait. What year is this? Did I wake up in 1990 again?

Damn. I hate when that happens.

Nope, it is 2011. I checked.

And it looks like, after three years playing for the Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, Jagr wants to come back to the NHL. Currently, the Pittsburgh Penguins are in pursuit, as are the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers (although, with all the craziness in Philadelphia, I'm not sure they can get it together to properly woo the scoring Czech.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adventures in Coffee, Pacific Northwest-style

Just back from a short visit in Oregon. I miss the coast and I miss the beer. I do not miss the seasonal allergies.

Above all, I miss the coffee.

Read the post from Open Salon, Adventures in Coffee.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Night Train, Cool Papa and Sweetness: My Favorite Sports Nicknames

This week, I was teasing my favorite center in the sport of women's full-contact football and have conferred upon Sarah Young of the Pittsburgh Passion the nickname "Egregious.” She will henceforth be known as Egregious Young. But it made me think of my favorite sports nicknames of all time. I only included guys (and yes, it's all men) who were big time athletes, not random guys who were mediocre players, but had cool nicknames, like Manny Legace ("Legs" or, even better, "The Ferret'"). These are the guys who simply are their nicknames, the ones that everybody knows, the kind that need no explanation.


These guys had nicknames that were so perfect that the nickname actually replaced their given names altogether.
Who even knows Cool Papa Bell's given name? Anybody? Anybody? Cool Papa is so descriptive and it says to me, 'I'm so fast that I make it look effortless to turn a double into a triple, I cruise the basepaths with such confidence and ease that I'm a cool papa.' (Oh, and it's James Thomas, by the way.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pittsburgh Passion Defeats Cleveland Fusion, Secures Playoff Spot

Krystal Cozzo (right) with Michele Brevard
"Wow! Was that great? How great was that?!"

I turned and there was Franco Harris just behind me on the sidelines, thoroughly enthused and grinning like the Cheshire Cat after Krystal Cozzo jumped a little sideline route and took the INT to the house for the first score of the game, to put the Passion up 7-0.

As of January, 2011, Franco is part-owner of the Pittsburgh Passion and a long-time supporter of the team. And, I think we can safely say, an expert on football. This being Pittsburgh and all, it's like having a rock star on the sidelines. At halftime, Franco remained on the field and had security open the gate, so that the kids who wanted to meet him could hang out on the sidelines with him for a bit. (Frankly, I think the parents were just as excited, if not more so, to get the chance to meet Franco and get a picture of him.) The guy is good with kids. He was like the Pied Piper out there, talking to the kids, signing anything that people thrust at him, posing for picture after picture. It was good stuff.

Sunday Recipe: Spicy Tomato & Lime Soup with Cheese Quesadilla

When I was a kid, my favorite lunch was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, the most comforting of comfort foods. Of course, it being the 1970's and all, it was Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup and grilled cheese made with Velveeta or Kraft singles on Town Talk Bread (and if you're not from Pittsburgh, you are, right now, scratching your head.) If I was home from school, this is the lunch I always asked my mother to make. Always. Just the thought of tomato soup and grilled cheese makes me want to curl up on the sofa and watch reruns of Green Acres.

But I'm all grown up now and I can't remember the last time I had Campbell's soup, so this is my grown up version of tomato soup and grilled cheese -- my Tex Mex riff on that staple. It hits many of the same flavor notes, but bumps it up. It's simple, fast and delicious. And way better than any canned tomato soup you can find out there -- no matter how swanky the packaging or the pricetag.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Here's What .500 Looks Like, the June Edition

I don't think we're going to see that same, ugly implosion we saw last June. No sireee.

Is everybody else having fun with this? Because I sure as hell am.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Speed Kills, the MLB Version: The 2011 All-Fast Guy Team

Bud Selig used to love to say, 'chicks did the long ball,' which was kinda creepy coming from a guy who looks like he has Paris Hilton's dog perched on his head, not to mention wrong-headed, as steroid use finally exploded all over MLB and likely tainted Selig's run as commish permanently -- he will be known as "the Performance Enhancing Drug Commissioner," always linked to Mark McGwire's pathetic obfuscations and Barry Bond's giant coconut head.

At any rate, I'm not a huge fan of the home run. I'll take it, mind you. You'll never hear me gripe when one of my Buccos drills one to left field, but this chick? This chick digs speed. Nothing is more exciting than watching players who turn slow infield rollers into singles, guys who can go from 1st to home on doubles, guys who steal bases and make pitchers uncomfortable, speedy outfielders who get to balls in the gap. Speed, brother. That's what I'm after. And if I were a GM, I'd try to build a ball club with speed at every position.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday Recipe: Polenta with Cremini Mushrooms

My Italian great-grandmother used to tell me funny folk tales, light, cautionary tales, mostly about the dangers of braggadocio and not keeping a clean house. Yup, these were the values passed on to me -- don't be a big mouth (or, as Gram used to say, 'a big bull-a-sheet,' her phrase for a big bull-shitter.) And also to always make the bed and do the dishes. In a funny way, that about sums up my entire world view -- if you have a clean kitchen and you aren't a big blowhard, you're probably a fine person.

What, you are by now asking yourself, does this have to do with food?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The 2011 Fat Guy Team

After making a gratuitous (some might say fatuous) Fat Jimmy Anderson reference earlier, I started to think about who are some of the fattest lard asses in MLB today? Needing no introduction, the 2011 All-Fat-Ass Team. [Look for MLB Fattest Asses of All-Time at a later date.]

Yankees reliever, Joba Chamberlain.
Dude was probably one of those 'husky' kids in grade school, but now he's just fat. And I know that muscle weighs more than fat and all that, and he's not Orca fat, but seriously? Joba? Seriously?

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Paul Maholm, Balks and Missed Opportunities

I like the unusual occurrences, the kinds of screwball plays that don't happen all that often -- like a great run down, the use of the infield fly rule or the triple play. This is why I love balks. Love. Them. You don't see them very often. They're tricky, slippery little suckers, nebulous movements that happen in a blink of an eye. So I usually revel in the rare balk.

But I was not at all happy yesterday to see my friend the balk arrive at Citifield in the bottom of the 8th inning. Jose Veras' balk moved pinch-runner Willie Harris over from 1st base to 2nd base, which then allowed Mets Skipper Terry Collins to insert Josh Thole mid-at-bat for Chris Capuano. It was like dominos falling. Capuano was there to bunt Harris to second, but with Harris already at second, Collins was freed up to put a real hitter in there. With Thole at the plate, and after having committed a balk, Veras went temporarily insane, threw a wild pitch that put Harris at 3rd and then walked Thole. Instead of a man on 2nd and one out, the Pirates were up against men on 1st and 3rd and no outs.

The Deadliest Balk.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Up and Down, and In and Out, with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Last night, in front of a sparse New York crowd (just about 25,000, of which 24,000 must have been in the upper decks, because it was mostly empty behind home plate and along the baselines), your Pittsburgh Pirates won their 17th road victory over the Mucking Fets -- as many road wins on June 1st, 2011 as they had throughout the entirety of the 2010 season. Per this morning's Post-Gazette story, the players are downplaying it, but I think that 2010 road trips must have felt like extended funeral corteges. Scratch that, I actually have been to funerals that were more fun than watching the Pirates on the road last year.