Saturday, December 31, 2011

Free Tank Carter's 100th Post-of-the-Year Spectacular

It's been a dizzying year for us here at FTC. We've never before posted 100 times in a calendar year, and we haven't experienced this much traffic since Jeff Pearlman discovered us while Googling himself two years ago.

A few end-of-the-year shout outs to:
Aaron Tarnow of Play Petr Prucha, our friend, colleague and the world's greatest hockey fan.
Geoff Detweiler of SB Nation, the only Flyers fan we like.
Jesse Wood for his refreshing and independent football insight.
FTC Writer Emeritus Dan Richey for really stepping it up with the FTC Twitter account on game days.
Greg Gillotti, for poking us when we need it.
Scott Steckel, for his love of all things Pitt.
Akshar Abbott, who pimps this site like it's nobody's effing business.
Blogger, for making it infinitely to place images posts with its new format.
Whoever runs the Parking Authority garages Downtown, and felt that our art was worthy of spots on its public bulletin boards. (You can visit the ongoing exhibition of FTC's work in the lobbies of garages at Sixth Avenue & Fort Duquesne Boulevard, and Penn Avenue between Sixth and Seventh.

Special thanks to Todd Graham, Penn State administration, Mayor Dudeface, Bruce Arians and all the others who inspire our creative disdain. It's going to be tough to top you guys next year.

Finally and most importantly, thank you. We appreciate your reading, your kind words and your sharing our stuff when you think it's worthwhile. We mainly do it because we're angry and sometimes feel the need to yell at the internet, but after us, we totally do it for the dozen or so of you who make a point of annoying us to write more often. As always, you can reach us at freetankcarter@gmail.com, or on Twitter @FreeTankCarter.

We leave you with our FTC Moment of the Year

The 2011 FTC End of Season Awards

I don't know why we do this for football and not any other sport, and I don't know why we haven't come up with a better name for them. Either way, here they are, as voted on by your favorite team of third-rate sports bloggers.

The Randall Cunningham Comeback Player of the Year - Marshawn Lynch
Overall, it was a pretty weak field this year, but Lynch took Beast Mode to an entirely new level. Also receiving votes: Steve Smith.

The Mitch Berger "How-Do-I-Still-Have-a-Job-In-This-Economy?" Award - Norv Turner
Our first repeat winner! Surely Norv gets canned this off-season, right? Right?

The Jamain Stephens Ongoing Disappointment Award - Chris Kemoeatu
A strong contender in years past, Kemo sealed it up this year when his penchant for tripping over his own feet and falling into his quarterback got him sent to the bench in favor of the revolving door of Trai Essex/Ramon Foster/Doug Legursky.

The Daniel Sepulveda (nee Paul Posluszny) Glass Skeleton Trophy - Byron Leftwich
It's impossible to ignore these two gentlemen, so in accordance with a great suggestion by Franco, we're renaming the PPGST in honor of the Steelers' future former punter and giving it to their future former backup quarterback. 

The Rex Grossman Award - Josh Freeman
It would be very tempting to give this to Rex Grossman, as he actually played significant time this year, but Freeman's 14 TDs, 19 INTs and 74.9 QB rating are going to get Raheem Morris fired.



The Brett Favre Golden Boy of the Year - Tim Tebow
Michael Wilbon calls him the league's first "white black quarterback." That's all I have to say.

The Antonio Freeman Play of the Year - Marshawn Lynch goes Beast Mode


There was some clamor for Jerome Simpson's flip into the end zone, but I don't buy for a second that he actually needed to make that move in order to score on that play. Jerome Simpson is a showboater who is afraid of contact. I don't think I saw anyone obnoxiously celebrate every little catch this season as much as Simpson. Lynch just does absurd shit like this, then goes to the bench for his handful of Skittles.

The Jim Zorn Play of the Year - Jason Garrett ices his own kicker, loses game

Around week 12, we started getting worried that we hadn't seen anything to warrant the Jim Zorn tag this year. Then, Jason Garrett came up big time.

The Woody Hayes Punch of the Year - Ndamokong Suh kicks a guy in the head
Not technically a punch, but the spirit of the award is sportsmanship more than punching. Suh gets bonus points for denying it later.

The Joe Theisman Award for Horrific Primetime Injury - Adrian Peterson
All Day ripped everything that wasn't bone completely out of his leg against the Redskins. I'm not even going to post the video.

The Clinton Portis Medal for Fantasy Genocide - Chris Johnson
Copspeed really screwed everyone who owned him this year, and his whopping 56 yards in Week 16 sealed the deal. Johnson beats out Jamaal Charles because you had the luxury of being able to cut the latter, while the former was totally unmovable and necessitated a start every week.

The LaDanian Tomlinson "Who Stole My Relevance?" Award - Michael Vick
Giving $100 million to a fragile, 30-plus-year-old quarterback who won't play more than 12 games doesn't seem like such a great idea anymore, does it?

The Adrian Peterson "I Stole Your Relevance" Award - Cam Newton
I will be the first to admit I was completely, totally 100 percent wrong on this guy's ability to play professional ball.

The Brett Favre Disingenuous Asshole Award - Jim Harbaugh
Handshakegate with Jim Schwartz notched this one. Special recognition to Donovan McNabb for saying he wants to help mentor Christian Ponder and Joe Webb by asking for his release from the Vikings.

The Larry Johnson Trophy for Worst Breakout Performance - Felix Jones
Jones was handed the starting job from the get-go, and took advantage of it by rushing for 2.8 yards per carry or some shit, then getting hurt, again, before ceding the job to DeMarco Murray. Shonn Greene put in another terrible effort to contend for this one again, but Jones skips away with this on his tantalizing upside.

The Eddie George Medal for Valor in Hitting a Wall - Hines Ward
12.4.11
Bruce Arians calls bubble screen to Hines Ward.

Franco: HINES WARD! THEY'RE RUNNING HIS ONE PLAY FOR THE WEEK!
Matt: Is it the bubble screen?
Franco: IT'S THE BUBBLE SCREEN! GO HINES! GO!

/Ward gets tacked

Franco: THANKS FOR THE PLAY, HINES! WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

The Jerome Bettis Trade of the Year - Cincinnati Bengals unload Carson Palmer
Davis the Younger honors the memory of his father by trading away infinity first-round draft picks for Carson Palmer. Cincy now has all of the first-round picks forever and Andy Dalton looks pretty good. Mike Brown will probably still find a way to fuck this up.

The Brian Billick Feel-Good Firing of the Year - Todd Haley
When Romeo Crennel, who doesn't appear to have movement in his arms or legs, does more to inspire your shit team in four games than you could in two years, there's nothing more to be learned than that you're an asshole.

The Butch Davis Mid-Season Firing of the Year - Joe Paterno
It's a dubious awards post, and he has to get something.

The Tamarick Vanover Work Release Player of the Year - Plaxico Burress
Spotty, but effective this season.

The LIRA (Least-Impact Rookie Award) - Gabe Carimi
You did it, Gabe. You killed Jay Cutler.

The Kevin Greene Award for Best Hair by a Pass Rusher - Kevin Greene
Jared Allen's mullet is long gone, and we hate Clay Matthews so much that we're just going to give it to Kevin Greene this year.

FTC Mike Tomlin Man of the Year - Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees (tie)
We hate to do this, but we love both of these guy so goddamn much. Rodgers is currently playing quarterback better than anyone else ever has, and Brees should be walking away from this year as the single-season record holder for passing yards. They also gave us the best game of the entire season -- it just so happened to be the first game of the season -- and we're hoping for a repeat at some point in the playoffs. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pittsburgh "In" for 2012?

When I see Pittsburgh get recognition, I almost instantly devolve into a small child who's been given an entire roll of aluminium foil. I couldn't watch Pens-Caps 24/7 last year without wearing adult diapers. That's how much I love this town. So whenever I see something linked or posted that contains the promise of some Steel Town love, I jump in it. When National Geographic, Forbes and The Economist all declare Pittsburgh special for its various awesome qualities, I always read that stuff. So too was the case with this gem.

I heard earlier today that the Washington Post had declared Pittsburgh to be "hot" or "in" or "good," so I went searching for the story. Until today, I was under the impression that the Washington Post was still a newspaper. After reviewing the list, I'm still not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Here's a brief summary of what else the Washington Post says is "Out" with 2011 and "In" with 2012.
Out: Apps
In: Naps
You heard it here first, people. The Washington Post says that apps are out! Sell all your apps and then delete the ones you can't sell! Apps are done! Over! In fact, just throw away your phone. You won't need it, as 2012 is to be the year of the napture.

Out: Ryan Gosling
In: Michael Fassbender
Pack it in, Gosling! "Ides of March" underwhelmed! Someone take this guy out back and shoot him -- we found someone more German.

Out: Organic vodka
In: White whiskey
Why the continued fascination with clear alcohol? Do people think it's healthier or something? Are we going to start just drinking it right out of the still?

Out: Hyperbole
In: Pragmatism
I didn't realize these were mutually exclusive. Isn't the very suggestion that they are hyperbolic in and of itself? Didn't we just agree to slaughter Ryan Gosling?

Out: Tebowing
In: Hunting the God particle
Ordinary people of Earth: Where once you planked and then, several weeks later, you Tebowed, return to that location, only with a particle accelerator larger than Switzerland, and take photos of yourself and your friends learning about the nature of matter. THIS IS 2012!

Out: Lobbyists
In: Paid historians
I was a history major in college, and I still have no idea what this means, but I'm sure the lobbyists find it hilarious that someone thinks they're "so last year."

Out: Civil War reenactors
In: Titanic revivalists
I'll actually be thrilled if this turns out to be true because it will mean a lot of obnoxious people will be drowning themselves on purpose in the coming year.

Out: New Girl
In: Girls
As someone who has been trying in semi-earnest to flirt with Lena Dunham on Twitter since February, I'm glad the rest of the world seems to be coming around. On the other hand, I'm dismayed that the rest of the world seems to be coming around.




Out: Bryce Dallas Howard
In: Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain had made about nine movies that were all on the shelf until last year, and two or three of them -- including Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" -- came out last year. Don't call it a comeback, she's been here for years. Also, who the FUCK is Bryce Dallas Howard?

Out: Michael Caine
In: Christopher Plummer
Wait, is this 1968? I thought I was reading the Internet. Is this the year we finally lose Helen Mirren and get a heavy dose of that sexpot Maggie Smith? In: push-button telephones! Money-grams! AM radio!

Out: Rothian ennui
In: Didionesque despair
The Washington Post is already working on mounting a campaign to get Joan Didion to host SNL. They're also going to feel so bad when Philip Roth dies in two weeks.

Out: Natalee Holloway
In: Natalie Wood
Old British actors weren't enough? We've taken to actually making an argument out of which dead people are hotter right now? How about something people actually care about, like "In: Randy Fichtner, out: Bruce Arians"?

Out: Reagan
In: Thatcher
Will this finally be the year Maggs catches up to Ron? The Washington Post, newspaper of Ben Bradlee, Katherine Graham and Bob Woodward says yes!

Out: Drama
In: Obama
Presidential legislation outlawing drama forces TNT to learn something else, possibly with the help of Bo Jackson.

So you can understand the trepidation I might have when I see this list contains:

Out: Portland
In: Pittsburgh

In the context of the piece, this feels like it might be the Madden Curse.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FTC asks the tough questions


Mayor Dudeface Rises

When we last left Mayor Dudeface, he had weaseled his way into the U.S. Open, the Steelers' victory parade, the Penguins' victory parade, a veritable cornucopia of fine dinners, awful concerts and other excesses in abuse of the throne. So it should come as no shock that when Christopher Nolan took over Pittsburgh during the summer to shoot The Dark Knight Rises, Mayor Dudeface just had to get in on the action. So not only did he get to apply his valuable football skills from his experience as a Division III kicker at Washington & Jefferson, he actually made it into the film's first trailer at the 1:08 mark.

That's not just a guy in a "Ravenstahl" jersey, that's actually him.

Scene: Pittsburgh City-County Building. Mayor Dudeface sits comfortably, hands folded, in a swivel throne of black leather with opulent gold trim. He faces the window, his back to his desk. The mahogany walls are lined with poster-sized photos of Mayor Dudeface posing with Pittsburgh sports greats, including Lynn Swann, Mario Lemieux, Ben Roethlisberger, Sidney Crosby and Andy Van Slyke. Many of them are autographed by the athletes. All of them are autographed by the mayor. A curvy blond aide in a thigh-high skirt and a low-cut blouse enters the room.

Aide: Mr. Mayor, there's a movie man here to see you.

/makes pouty face toward camera that does not exist

Mayor: Send him in.

Christopher Nolan: Mr. Mayor? Chris Nolan. Pleased to finally meet you, sir. As we discussed on the phone, I'll be directing the new Batman film, and I'd very much like to use Pittsburgh as my Gotham City.

/Mayor Dudeface remains in his chair, still facing the window

Mayor: Have a seat, Mr. Nolan.

/Nolan sits

Mayor: As you know, Mr. Nolan, I'd be thrilled to let you make your little movie here. I've always thought of Pittsburgh as the Gotham City of the Americas, so it's high-time our town gets the recognition it so richly deserves.

Nolan: I couldn't agree more, Mr. Mayor. 

Mayor: Call me Luke, Mr. Nolan.

Nolan: Yes, right. Well, Luke, The architecture here is so lovely and diverse, and after scouting it for a few months, I feel like it's exactly what we're looking for. Now we're looking to start shooting this summer, and we'd be in town for about three months. I've had my production team draw up a shooting schedule that not only allows us to get all of the shots we need, but at minimal inconvenience to the normal goings on in the city. I believe our sides have agreed to the appropriate compensation for this, and all that remains are the street closure and filming permits, and I have those here for your signature. Now if we're able to start the first week of...

Mayor: Mr. Nolan.

Nolan: Yes, Luke?

Mayor: Call me Mayor Luke.

Nolan: Um...right. Well, Mayor Luke, if we get started in the first week of...

Mayor: Chris, how would you like total access to the city? I'll close every street and every bridge on your command. Multiple police helicopters. More fireworks than you've ever seen in your goddamn life. I can make this whole city your stage on location. Wouldn't that be great, Chris?

Nolan: You'd just shut down the entire city for three months?

Mayor: Yes.

Nolan: I don't understand. What's the catch?

/Mayor finally swivels his black and gold throne around to face Nolan. He leans in and whispers.

Mayor: I'm Batman.

Nolan: What?

Mayor: I AM THE BATMAN! I SHALL BE YOUR BATMAN!

Nolan: That's very generous for you to offer, Mayor Luke, but we have Christian Bale already lined up for the role.

Mayor: I'll replace him.

Nolan: He's rather firmly entrenched at this point, sir. 

Mayor: I see how it is, Chris. Well, you can forget about those filming permits!

Nolan: You can play the kicker on the opposing football team, and I'll see to it that you appear in the trailer.

Mayor: OH HOLY SHIT THAT'S AWESOME! Where do I sign?


From 1:23 through 1:30, Hines Ward has a cameo during which he returns the mayor's kickoff and the field collapses into a sinkhole behind him as he runs. This prompts even more important questions about the film. What the hell is Hines Ward doing returning kickoffs? If Ward is the fastest guy on the field and the only one able to outrun the sinking terrain, what does that say about the quality of talent in whatever league the Gotham Rogues and Rapid City Monuments are playing in? Is Bruce Arians a head coach in this league? Do they run bubble screens on every play? Why would such a presumably shitty team have such a nice stadium?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

He looks so sad walking off the field

Bruce Arians calls bubble screen to Hines Ward.

Franco: HINES WARD! THEY'RE RUNNING HIS ONE PLAY FOR THE WEEK!
Matt: Is it the bubble screen?
Franco: IT'S THE BUBBLE SCREEN! GO HINES! GO!

/Hines Ward gets tacked

Franco: THANKS FOR THE PLAY, HINES! WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fuck the Harbaughs; Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else

That's really all I have to say.

Oh what the heck, I'll say more. Dan Dierdorf closed his interview of Jack Harbaugh by telling him how no one envies him, being the father of two rival NFL coaches.

FTC's opinion: no one envies the father of two sons without jobs. Jack Harbaugh has the best Thanksgiving possible. One of his sons will win a football game, the other will be an angry, ugly, hyper competitive, employed and still successful mess.

Seriously, enjoy the day. We're thankful you keep reading.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A great day for hockey

I'm not sure if I buy the V-shaped logo as an "O" but I'll take it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Luke's town, we just happen to live in it.

There's been something of a minor blowup this week regarding Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's apparent need to pick a fight with Franco Harris regarding the Penn State scandal. And I thought, "wow, this is SO stupid, I have to write something about it." The first thing that occurred to me was to go back through the FTC Archives and pull up our previous items on the Boy Mayor for recapping purposes. Lo and behold, it appears we've never written about Pittsburgh's wonder boy chief executive, whom if you're unfamiliar, oscillates between acting like a 4-year-old girl and a 20-year-old boy. Before we get into his latest dust-up, here's a quick glance back at the highlights of the Ravenstahl administration:

  • In June of 2007, Luke crashed an event at Oakmont Country Club -- which is outside the city limits -- during the week of the U.S. Open to try and meet Tiger Woods. His vehement denials -- one of which involved him calling the WDVE Morning Show -- strain credulity.
  • A few months earlier, he flew to New York with Penguins owner Ron Burkle on Burkle's private jet, where the two had dinner and drinks. It wouldn't have been a huge deal had he not initially lied about it to, well, everyone.
  • Later that year, he borrowed a police SUV to drive to a Toby Keith concert. The police officer who reported the incident was initially reprimanded for doing so, and Luke defended himself by saying, "I understand I'm being held to a higher standard but at the same time I'm going to continue to be who I am, because that's the only way I know to be...But at the end of the day, I'm still going to continue to be who I'm going to be, and go to concerts like I always have, and go to have a drink with my wife in bars. That's what 27-year-olds do and I shouldn't be any different."
  • In 2008, he openly stated that he was seeking advice from the city's legal department on how he could go to the Stanley Cup Finals in Detroit without having to pay for it. He ultimately went in a city-owned car with a security attache that the city paid for.
  • Also that year, he "changed his name" the week the Steelers faced Baltimore in the AFC Championship, because he just couldn't bear the dishonor of having "Ravens" in his name. That week, he chose to go by Luke Steelerstahl. Those of you translating at home know that "stahl" is German for "steel," so he was, that week, our nation's most redundant mayor, Luke Steelersteel.
  • In 2009, as he was gearing up to seek re-election, he spent $252,000 of city money to replace 250 public trash cans with new ones that had his name on them. So if you're thinking about a monogrammed trash can for Christmas this year, you're looking at $1,010 -- that is, if you don't seek out any lower bids.
  • In February of 2010, when a massive shitstorm of snow was about to hit the city and everyone knew about it because it had been widely forecast as the giant fucking red cloud on the radar, Luke escaped into the mountains, presumably for some Caligula-style orgy, and left Pittsburgh to fend for itself. He lashed out at the press for daring to ask where he was when the city was buried under two feet of snow.
  • The rest of it is summed up pretty well, if not conservatively, in this recent PG editorial. If you'd like stories of Boy Mayor's security detail being the only line of defense between him and keg stands at W&J's Homecoming, or of the mayor being asked by restaurant management to "please stop dancing on the bar," just ask around; you don't have to look too far.
Now that you're caught up, onto the meaty goodness of the day. The Pittsburgh Promise is a foundation that provides college scholarships to graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools. Franco Harris, who we generally regard quite highly around here, serves as the chairman of the board for this foundation. At least, he did until today, when he announced he would step aside at the request of our dear mayor, who had some concerns about some of Franco's concerns. From the PG:

Franco Harris stepped aside temporarily as chairman of the Pittsburgh Promise board Thursday while expressing sadness that defending his former coach and mentor at Penn State University, Joe Paterno, was seen by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as disregard for child sex abuse victims.

Mr. Harris, who played football under Mr. Paterno decades ago, said university trustees were wrong to fire the famed coach last week because Mr. Paterno did what he was legally required to do in 2002 by informing a superior about allegations that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a campus shower.

So a guy who played for Joe Paterno 40 years ago likes him and wants to stick up for him. We shouldn't have a problem with that. Is it a great idea given where we are with this whole Penn State thing now? No. In fact, it's a terrible idea, and Franco should have kept his mouth shut. But to someone like Franco, who since he graduated has been busy winning chamionships and selling mineral-enriched donuts, we might do well to extend the courtesy of something between "you're just a dumb ex-football player" and "you probably have less an idea of what's going on than the 84-year-old Paterno."

How far down does the blame need to go? We can agree that raping children is wrong. We can agree that covering up child rape is wrong, I think. And while I count myself among the plurality who think that Joe Paterno knew, is complicit and needed to lose his job, he hasn't been charged with anything yet, and we don't know with any certainty what he knew or when he knew it. I might think Franco Harris is wrong, but to his credit, he's defending the friend and mentor he's known nearly his whole life.

Mr. Ravenstahl apparently chafed at that opinion.
"I had to re-read it several times to fully comprehend the callous disregard and indifference for the victims of sexual abuse at Penn State," he stated in the email sent Wednesday evening to the Promise board.

To be clear, here's what Franco said:
“I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go,” Harris said in a published report. “I’m very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They really wouldn’t give a reason. They’re linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover-up. That’s very disturbing to me. I think there should be no more connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach. I’m still trying to find out who gave him access to the building, who signed that contract.”

For as blatantly naive and ignorant as that seems, there might be some merit to it. We've drawn a lot of conclusions about who is at fault for what over the last two weeks, and this story barely begun to unfurl. Right now, we actually know very little. Additionally, Franco's tone and invocation of courage here are indicative that this really does seem like a question of honor to him, and that we shouldn't all shit on Paterno until we know what's up. I'm okay making presumptions because I've never cared for the guy, but that doesn't make Franco any less right.

The question, however, of whether or not he needed to lose his job is not up for debate. He had to lose his job. Back to Mayor Dudeface and his righteous indignation:

"When I personally asked you to join the Board of the Pittsburgh Promise,"

It was ME! I asked you! Personally! I didn't send one of the twentysomething models who work in my office because I wanted to meet you personally! And have you sign my football, PERSONALLY!

"I had every confidence that you would exercise sound judgment in your public life. Sadly, these statements show no regard whatsoever for the well-being of the young victims of sexual abuse and have led me to question your position of trust with the Pittsburgh Promise as Board Chairman.

AND NO, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU REFUSING TO COME PLAY MADDEN WITH ME IN MY SECRET MAYOR CAVE. This is all about the victims or something, and we are totally not sharing a limo to homecoming now!

"It is my ethical and moral responsibility to recognize that you are no longer a suitable representative for any organization, let alone ours."





My favorite is the last one because he looks like a kid lost in the department store clothing racks while Dan Onorato does businessy, adult things.

Here's Dante's Inferno, according to Mayor Dudeface:
1st circle: Philadelphia Flyers
2nd circle: Philadelphia Flyers fans
3rd circle: al-Qaeda
4th circle: Cleveland Browns
5th circle: District 8 City Councilman Bill Peduto
6th circle: Child rapists
7th circle: People who probably covered up child rape
8th circle: Hitler/local news media
9th circle: People who are friends with people who probably covered up child rape

Mr. Harris said neither the mayor nor his staff contacted him before sending the email.
Mr. Harris said he has attempted to "place the victims and their families at the forefront of my concerns while questioning the seeming rush to judgment in the treatment of Joe, who I know is deeply pained and distraught by events now under investigation at Penn State."

The mayor said he e-mailed Franco, but that "it must not have gone through."

Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, which provides college scholarships to graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools, said Mr. Harris will remain on the board as a full voting member. The Promise board, meeting for several hours Thursday night, will meet again in the next few days to further discuss the matter.

"However, we did affirm without hesitation Franco's integrity, Franco's character and his clear and evident lifetime of service to children," Mr. Ghubril said.

You have to love that PG did manage to find one reasonable person to quote in this story, which is bordering on metastupid.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yu Darvish's face shouldn't matter


This is Yu Darvish.

He's this pretty good Japanese-Iranian pitcher. At 25 years of age, with several years of success in the Japanese Nippon circuit, he's making waves by wanting to come over here and pitch in MLB. Cool. Fine. Whatever.

Here's the thing: you're going to read a lot of crap about how marketable he is for being multi-ethnic and handsome. You may also read that he's nothing like Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hidiki Irabu or some other Japanese superstar who flamed out in America. Statements in this vein will not be followed by explanations; only claims that he's marketable because he's got a neat face.

Don't believe me? Here's the generally-decent Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:

The 6-foot-5 right-hander doesn’t look like a normal player, with his rock-star haircut and emotional mound presence.

Italics are mine.

And MLB won’t have one of the most intriguing players alive, a hard-throwing, good-looking, multi-ethnic slice of pitchability and marketability ready to take over the baseball world.


I hate Derek Jeter for being a good-looking, multi-ethnic slice of marketability, but let's give credit where credit's due: the dude has chops and really accomplished some shit before the sports world drank his special brand of koolaid. Yu Darvish on the other hand, is going to command a record breaking contract before ever pitching in the big leagues. Why? Because he's got a pretty, exotic face and cool name, and maybe he throws hard.

Take note sports world: we're putting you on a Yu Darvish watch. You give us stupid shit about his looks and likeability, and we're putting it up here for our reader to scorn!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why pitchers deserve MVP consideration

Justin Verlander won the American League Cy Young award today. On Friday, the BBWAA will announce their winner of the AL MVP award. In that 72 hour period, you're going to read a lot of bullcrap columns about why pitchers don't deserve MVP votes.

Here's the thing, I would be sympathetic to the idea that because the Cy Young is exclusively for hurlers there should be an award just for hitters. And there kind of is; it's the Hank Aaron award for being good at hitting a baseball or something. If you've never heard of it that's because it's not very well publicized and not thought of in the pantheon of ROY, MVP, Cy Young and Gold Glove. It's a neat idea though.

But how about that Most Valuable Player?

You're going to read arguments that because a pitcher only plays every fifth day, he isn't as valuable as a non-pitcher. Indeed, it's a unique position in sports, and it would seem that a pitcher functions as something of an infrequent contractor, and not a constant presence on the field. Whatever. That's a hunk of crap and you know it.

Jose Bautista had 655 plate appearances and 252 fielding chances. That's 907 opportunities to influence the game.

Justin Verlander faced 969 batters and had 50 fielding chances. That's 1,019 opportunities to influence the game.

Conclusion: Even though they only play every fifth game, elite pitchers earn themselves as many, if not more opportunities to get in on plays as anyone else.

Of course, I'm not saying that this should simply be a contest of workload. But when you have a dude who hit a lot of home runs versus a dude who won the pitching triple crown, it's ridiculous to say there's no debate because one isn't a full time player.

Get it right, a-holes!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

MSM: 11/13/2011 Sunday Night Football

Al Michaels gives us something to smile about tonight. After a safety that made the Pats-Jets score 6-2, Michaels says, "This is Red Sox-Yankees score."

It's been a long week. Thanks, Al.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday roundup: allow your blood to go from boil to simmer

Notes on the scandal:
  • Deadspin obtained tax filings showing that Jerry Sandusky made nearly $500,000 from his work with the Second Mile Foundation, AFTER admitting that to showering with a little boy in 1998.
  • The PG's Jon Schmitz reported on Wednesday that the foundation knew of Sandusky's conduct.
  • Sandusky faces up to 460 years in prison if found guilty on all current charges, and that doesn't even include any charges yet to be filed. BOLD PREDICTION: Jerry Sandusky will not serve the entirety of his prison sentence, and will be dead within the next five years.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Sandusky was a candidate to replace current Steelers offensive coordinator and FTC favorite Bruce Arians as the head coach of the Temple football program after Arians was fired in 1988.
  • Credit the Harrisburg Patriot News for being the first ones to this story, when they filed this piece back in March. There's an excellent "We told you so" recap here
  • Local sports talk wretch Mark Madden ran a column in the Beaver County Times on this back in April. As irascible and obnoxious as he is, he hasn't been wrong yet on this. If that continues, the allegations are going to get miles worse. On that page, you'll find a link to audio of Madden appearing on a sports talk show on WEEI in Boston. He manages to come off as an informed and reasonable human being, so you know shit's critical.
  • Penn State has lost its first football recruit in the wake of this mess. Some behemoth of a kid from Colorado will have to find another geographical formation on or in which to be happy.
  • One former Penn State player has donated money to Sandusky's defense fund, because apparently, he's all for child rape.
Notes on other things:
  • The Pirates inked catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year deal worth about $4 million, with a 2013 club option at $3.5. The best part of that is there's no buyout on the option, so expect Barajas, 35, to play solid defense and hit .235/.284/.412. in a starting role. If Tony Sanchez isn't ready to play in the big leagues by the end of next year, the Pirates can keep Barajas and he'll take a built-in pay cut.
  • Mark Letestu traded to Columbus Blue Jackets for 4th-round draft pick. NEXT!
  • Free Tank Carter would like to congratulate Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda on successfully defeating modern medicine.
Totally unrelated, but worth a link: Deadspin ran a great piece on the insufferable media panic over Tebowing.
"Dangerous territory"? Seriously? Let's start at the beginning. Whenever Tim Tebow takes a knee on the field and thanks God, he is engaging in a very conscious act of moral grandstanding. I write that with no judgment whatsoever. Tebow is saying, "Look at me," just as surely as Deion Sanders doing the pigeon wing in the end zone was saying, "Look at me." He is saying, "Look at me and gaze upon my prayerfulness," and he is saying that because he is an evangelical Christian, and evangelical Christianity is a religion built on conspicuous faith. He is bearing witness, right there on the hashmarks. He is spiking the Gospel.
And if you're in the mood for something lighter, the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes has a full report on HLN's coverage of the Conrad Murray verdict, which might be in the running for the most hilariously snarky thing ever to run in an actual newspaper.
“We’re so happy about the handcuffs,” chimed in a Pasadena blonde dressed in large designer sunglasses and houndstooth-check car coat.
 “I don’t even know what to say, I’m so thankful. It’s such a release of emotion. The man needed to go to jail and he’s on his way! Yes! Yes! Yes!” shouted someone named Patty. 
Check back later to see what happens when I spend my Friday night drinking wine and wrecking Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's getting uglier

Right now, all signs in the Twitterverse point to the Sandusky allegations getting infinitely worse in the next few days, and the it appears that Mark Madden of all people may be dead on about all of this. Right now, this is rumor. Digest this information with caution.

Jerry Sandusky pimped out young boys to rich donors, via Business Insider

Mark Madden appears on a sports talk show in Boston, sounding more knowledgeable and professional that he has in years on his own show. This is a must-hear.

Here's Mark's original column on the Sandusky allegations, written and published back in April. Madden might be a polarizing figure here in Pittsburgh, but he appears to have been right out front on this story.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Goodbye, State College

Where the hell do you even start with a mess this big? I mean, seriously -- I don't know.


They need to raze this campus. They need to burn it to the ground and completely start over. Everyone is guilty and nothing is clean.


It's not just that the allegations of child rape and molestation that touched this whole thing off are incredibly disturbing. I read the grand jury report on Saturday. I don't recall a legal document ever making my skin crawl. It's some really grotesque shit. The allegations are plenty disturbing.


But it's not just the allegations. 


Everything we've learned so far points pretty clearly toward a deliberate institutional cover-up that goes back to at least 1998. Since Saturday, we've learned about several specific incidents that have occurred over the last 13 or so years, and they're all equally stomach turning. The people involved all appear equally revolting in the light of a grand jury report, and none of this is going to get any prettier as the legal process advances itself.


In 2002, a graduate assistant named Mike McQueary walked in on a sixty-something year-old man raping a little boy in a locker room shower, and instead of making any attempt to pull the kid out of there, instead of calling the police or 911, instead of taking any real action at all, he went home and called his dad.


And then he and his dad, instead of reporting anything to the police or any other authority, went to Joe Paterno and told him about it. So naturally, Joe took this horrifying eyewitness testimony and took it straight to...the athletic director, Tim Curley, and some finance administration stooge named Gary Schultz. And then Curley and Schultz, being the fine, upstanding citizens they are, took it directly to, well, nobody. Except maybe Penn State University President Graham Spanier, but he claims to have no idea that any of this happened.


Why didn't McQueary go to police? Why didn't Paterno follow up with Curley or Schultz? Why didn't he just call the cops? Why didn't the administration, which very clearly knew Jerry Sandusky had a thing for little boys, do anything beyond telling him he wasn't allowed to bring said boys to campus? And it's not like this started in 2002.


Evidence of wrongdoing on Jerry Sandusky's part goes back, at the moment, to 1998, when Sandusky was accused of having an inappropriate interaction with a young boy, and Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar chose not to prosecute the case. Why didn't Gricar move forward with the case? That should be the first question anyone asks Gricar as soon as they find him. He disappeared in 2005 and was declared legally dead in July of this year. Not that these two are connected, but that's just how weird this story is.


There's been a lot of talk in the last few days about Penn State as a sort of Camelot. Michael Weinreb's piece on Grantland about growing up in State College made its way around the internet yesterday. It's a fair characterization of the culture of that place. My family is full of Penn State people, I've spent a significant amount of time in State College, and I think he's pretty spot-on. 


Look at the fanatical devotion people have to this school. Look at how fiercely these monsters are defending their sainted football coach, yet calling for Spanier's head on a pike.



But this isn't a Camelot situation. It's not like everything came crashing down when some people got together and decided to shoot the President. The fervency with which Penn Staters speak of their proud football tradition, the reverence they have for their school, and the undying admiration they have for their first citizen, Joe Paterno, is closer to cult-like than anything else. State College isn't Camelot so much as it is Jonestown. 


And like cult leaders, Penn State brass seem to have an enduring belief in their own invincibility. The university knew about the allegations against Sandusky in 1998. They knew about them in 2002. And they knew about the latest grand jury investigation. And yet, on Saturday, when the grand jury report came out, PSU leadership responded by issuing a statement saying it was standing by Curley and Schultz, and would even pay for Curley's legal costs. On Tuesday, Spanier canceled Paterno's weekly press conference 40 minutes before it was supposed to start, and after State College had become flooded media. Then, Paterno tried to go rogue and host a press conference off-campus, only that never materialized. And over a 12-hour period, things came unraveled. These guys made every PR gaffe possible. When you put that in context with their prior statements and their total failure to get out in front of a story they knew was coming after trying to cover it up for 13 years, what possible explanation could there be other than that they thought they were going to get away with it? Who would hold them responsible? Nobody had before, so why would they start now?


How is this unlike a cult?



Earlier today, I posted an item from Huffington Post to a social networking site, showing footage of students marching in the street in support of Paterno last night, and I wrote that to support Paterno and condemn Spanier in the same breath was the worst kind of hypocrisy. Someone wrote the following back to me:



Joe did the best he could with the information he had at the time. He reported it up the chain of command just as he should. He left it to the University officials to do their job and take the appropraite steps- just as he had done. Joe is now taking the brunt of this for being such a figure-head of PSU, and taking knocks from the media so they can sell a story. Let's not forget who the true monster is in all of this. JoePa has done a LOT of great things for Penn State and is beyond generous to that community- much of what he does goes unreported. As someone who I'm sure at least has a few friends if not family that are Penn State alums, now is when they need support, as they are all feeling the sheer embarassment of this whole situation. This does not define who Penn State, or what they stand for, and I only think it would be appropriate for them to rally together out of pride in a school that has given them so much and for a man who has given his life to the Penn State name. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and I have no doubt that Joe wishes he had done more. But reporting what you know to your superior is certainly not covering anything up. Above him? Absolutley, they were more concerned with the business of football over the lives of these young children- and that is despicable. But the easy way out is to blame Joe, which is unfair. It's a shame that this will likely be his legacy.

Free Tank Carter's writer emeritus Dan Richey responded swiftly and decisively
You know when you don't need hindsight? When you know your former colleague has had unfettered access to all campus facilities, an office and a parking spot on campus, and is constantly surrounded by little boys, and you know he's been caught in your facilities engaging in sexually abusive behavior with more than one. And you know he's never been criminally investigated. It doesn't take hindsight to know someone needs to alert the authorities in that situation - it takes knowing what Paterno, McQueary, Curley and Spanier all knew in 1998 and decided to ignore the whole time. Instead, what they did for 13 years was know Sandusky personally and professionally, allow him all access to the team and its facilities, and see him over and over and over with dozens of at-risk boys, knowing exactly what he'd been caught doing more than once, and every day, they made the decision not to say anything to anyone about it. That's in Paterno's and McQueary's cases, at least. Curley and Schultz took the extra step of actively covering it up and committing perjury.

I agree with Dan in all senses but one, in that I think Paterno and McQueary are just as complicit as Schultz and Curley. What kind of sick fuck do you have to be to give someone a pass just because he's been coaching football well for 46 years? How many child rapists would Penn State football have to knowingly employ for it not to be okay that he let this slide for 13 years?

In 2004, Curley, Spanier and some other administrators went to Paterno's house and tried to fire him. Yet he kept his job. How do you think he managed that? Cory Giger touched on this briefly during his radio show yesterday [you can find it beginning around the 1:09:30 mark]. How does a football coach accrue so much power at a university that even the president and athletic director can't fire him? You can't do that without digging your own grave in the process. It's simply not possible. This guy isn't your grandfather unless your grandfather happens to be Vito Corleone. That's the kind of moral compass we're dealing with here. It's easily the largest scandal in the history of college sports, and on a moral scale, it's worse than most of the iconic ones we instantly think of. It's worse than Tonya Harding. It's worse than the fixing of the 1919 World Series. It's worse than the point-shaving debacle at Michigan. It's worse than steroids in baseball, and it's worse than a freak accident, like an entire team dying in a plane crash. Furthermore, we've never seen such a precipitous fall like this. The next closest thing would probably be the year-long decline of Tiger Woods, and that's got nothing on this.

There's moral and legal culpability here. There are perpetrators, there are conspirators, and there are victims. Anyone who sees Paterno as a victim here is a brainwashed drone who has totally lost the ability to determine right from wrong.

Everyone must go. Penn State has put itself in a position wherein nobody from the administration must go. Everyone from the football team must go. There is no alternative. They must tear this whole thing down before they can even think about starting over. Penn State can not rebuild its image or its football program on 45 years of Joe Paterno. Penn Staters, you're about to find out what it's like to be Pirates fans, only more embarrassing. 

I'm off to watch TV. The students are about to make Vancouver look like Pleasantville.