Posted on: August 26, 2012 7:35 am
Early Sunday end-of-summer mornings are meant for sitting on the lanai with a cup of Kona, listening to the birds singing as one watches the sun rise on the horizon. Especially when the morning temps are in the mid sixties, something that's not the norm in late August in the South. Crazy summer that we've been having. It was as if May and August got together over drinks and decided to trade places, ala Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd. I'm not complaining though. My lawn is still green, something that's not normal this time of year.
As I said, mornings like this is meant to be spent watching Mother Nature in all her glory come to life. Sad to say, I'm not doing that. Too much to be done today that will keep me chained to the computer. In the upcoming election, I'd really like to see discussions about lifting the ban on cloning. I really need a mini-me, an exact replica who can help me get the things done that need to be done with little to no instructions. It would be my luck that my mini-me would be reliving my twenty-something years.
I'm really not going to say much about the elections. Of course, we're seeing the normal absurdities in statements coming from both sides of the aisles. If anything positive has come out of the debates and the pleas to "vote for me", it's that we've identified who fell asleep during those boring black and white films that were shown in health classes.
With everyone else talking about Andrew Luck, RG III, Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson, I'll pass on discussing them. Instead, I'd like to talk about the Sunday Ticket commercials for DirecTv. I have to admit, I love them. It really takes a man secure in his own image to be portrayed as the NFL fairies bringing all the games to your home, iphone, etc. And have to give Eli Manning credit for not taking himself so seriously to be portrayed as the goof. "You're mom's calling."
Ten days till kick-off and one more week of pre-season games. I'm beginning to wonder if the Steelers are going to make it with their starters intact. Another game, another member down with a major injury as the auditions continue. The thing that I'm really concerned about are the procedural penalties that the Steelers are having. Two twelve-men on the field during the Indy game and the illegal-substitution penalty in the Buffalo game. Idiotic penalties that was caused by players not being aware of what's going on, on the field. It's bad enough that the substitute refs are making bad calls in every game being played through out the league, why shoot yourself in the foot with avoidable penalties?
On an up note, it's good to see the Steelers defense focusing early on getting the takeaways. While I'd like to see them come away with twenty take away per games, its looks more promising then it did last season. The one kid I'm anxious to see on how he continues to develop is rookie safety Robert Golden.
Another person I'm looking forward to seeing develop is quarterback Jerrod Johnson. I know that he's the Steelers project quarterback, the fourth string that will probably never see play time during the regular season, barring an injury to the three quarterbacks in front of him. However, having seen the Steelers having to go down to their fourth string quarterback two years ago, there is that possibility. And I know in the Indy game, it was against the backup defense, but you could see the fundamentals and maturity are there. That he managed to keep the winning drive alive while eating up the clock to keep the Colts from getting the ball back with enough time to score shows a lot of promise.
I would see if there's one thing "fun" about preseason is seeing the rookies and backups potential. Seeing those diamonds in the rough who might not have an impact immediately but end up being solid players as their careers go on.
This weekend, wide receiver Mike Wallace is suppose to return and sign his tender. I've heard a lot of grumbling about his hold out and how the Steelers should sit him since he did. Yeah, I wasn't happy about him holding out either, but since he's back, I say play him until he shows he's not willing to go out and make the plays.
I'll let you in on a little secret. The story that I'm currently working on involves a curse and one woman's (yes woman) battle against an evil curse laid upon her family. Not that I'm pimping my story since it's not even in the edit stage yet. Just that I find it out that curses seem to prove relevant in the MLB. After all, to have gone twenty some years without a winning season would have had the superstitious thinking that someone laid a curse on the Pittsburgh Pirates. But if their overcoming the 19 inning game to win it is any indication, then I feel good in saying that if nothing else, it's at least been exciting. When was the last time Pirates fans could say that about them?
And as the boys of summer make that last thirty some odd game stretch to the playoffs and we gear up for the start of NCAA and NFL football, I have one small piece of advice. Slow down in the school zones. The wide eye faces of our future have started heading back to school and it's up to those of us who drive to be law abiding citizens and be aware of our speed as we're passing through those school zones.
Posted on: April 22, 2009 12:42 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2009 12:44 pm
Well if you’re like me, you’ve probably looked over the potential draft picks, watched as many replays and NFL Films as you could, just to try to sedate your hunger for professional football. Yep, there were some things that we could sink our teeth into and chew over a bit, like Jay Cutlers trade to the Chicago Bears, or the new rules instituted by the NFL for player safety.
Still you have to admit, even with free agency, there’s that “dead” period between the end of the season and the NFL draft. And yes, come Saturday, you’ll find me watching the draft. No, I didn’t make up a mock draft, I leave that up to my husband. He’s pretty good at spotting talent, but he usually does so only for trying to address the Indianapolis’s Colts needs. Me, I groaned when the Steelers picked up a quarterback in the first round in the 2004 draft. Then again when they picked up a punter in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. So, hint, never listen to me about draft choices.
So we’re now three days away from the draft and not only are they gearing up for their picks, teams are starting to hold their voluntary training camps, including the Pittsburgh Steelers. We now actually have activities that we can actually start watching and contemplating for next season.
So there’s still a lot of the year to go before kickoff of the regular season, but hey, it’s promising. Last years first round draft pick for the Steelers worked out with the team this week. Running back Rashard Mendenhall had missed most of the season with a broken shoulder, so we really weren’t able to tell if the Steelers picking him up in the first round was a bust or not. His ability is still promising…now if he remembers to lower his shoulder when he runs into Ray Lewis this season, which he will.
With the departure of Nate Washington, this could be Wide Receiver Limas Sweed’s year to shine. If he doesn’t try to watch himself on the jumbotron, he should be fine and could have a year like WR Santonio Holmes had in his sophomore year.
The veterans who remained after the 2005 Superbowl win are looking to avoid the hangover that they experienced in 2006. Okay, so it’s still the same old, same old, but hey, at least I get to see current pictures of players working out and don’t have to resort to watching repeat of cold weather games.
It hasn’t been that bad though. I did manage to plant a butterfly bush which will probably bloom right about the time pre-season hits. Sports wise, it’s exciting to see the Penguins in the hunt for the Stanley Cup and leading the current series 3-1. Ya know, if the Pen’s do win the cup…wonder if there’s hope for the Pirates this season.
Okay…just three more days to go…can it get here soon enough?
Posted on: December 31, 2008 4:42 am
Edited on: December 31, 2008 6:20 am
When CBS Sports had their “Sports Appreciation Day”, CBS member Pittcontact had talked about getting his first baseball cards and how it grew into a passion, I was able to relate. As kids, we would cart the empty pop bottles (soda bottles for those who aren’t familiar with the terminology of pop bottles) down to the local store and with the money we received, bought comic bottles, candy and the packs of Topps bubble gum with the baseball cards. Pittcontact took me back to a time, in my mind where cards were either coveted, or used as attachments for bicycle spokes to make pretty cool clacking sounds as we road up and down the road. The day that blog took me back to many fond memories and I had determined to recreate my card collection.
On my last trip home, I had in hand two of the same baseball cards for my nephews. They were 1976 Topps Willie Stargell cards. My nephews, 16 and 11 are avid baseball fans and like I did when I was their age, collect baseball cards. They thought it was cool. As Josh would say, it was their first “old” card they had for their collection. They were impressed with Stargell’s career averages that were printed on the back of the card. If they were impressed with what he did in 76, wait until they get the one from 79 and 82 that I’m planning on picking up for them. Even more so, wait until they get the card of another player that I’m planning on picking up for them.
One wonders if the ARods and Jeeters of today will have the same lasting impact that the players of my day had, not just to their fans but also to baseball. Will their contributions inspire others from another generation to wear their number? Will they go on to be remembered twenty, thirty, even 50 years later as one of the greats, like Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson? Will a young boy who idolizes Sammy Sosa, take the mound years from now wearing a 21 in honor of Sosa and understand why Sosa wore that number in the first place? While the MLB teams make there acquisitions and prepare for spring training, will there be one from this batch that will end up living forever in sports lore?
Thirty six years ago, I was a tom-boy of 11. That summer I would be in bicycle races with the neighbor boys, build forts, get in trouble for handing out my dad’s collection of Playboys to the same boys I rode bikes with and played “kick the can”. My life would begin to change a bit. I would have to become a little more mature to help my mother out after her surgery, I shared my first kiss with a boy that was actually a little memorable, I would get my first training bra, and it would be the last time I got to see my hero play in Three Rivers Stadium and somehow hoping to see the Pittsburgh Pirates repeat for pennant.
As I write this, I cannot help but tear up, remembering. Thirty six years is a long time, but even for my failing memory, it seems like yesterday. The Pirates team of the 60s and 70s would produce some names that would live on in the annals of baseball history, no doubt, and live even longer in the hearts of those who lived close to the Steel City and followed Pirate baseball. Yet there will be one who will never be forgotten, the City of Pittsburgh won’t let that happen (after all, not only is there a statue of this player but also a bridge and schools named after him) and the MLB won’t allow us to forget by presenting annual awards in his name.
It was New Years eve in 1972, on a trip to a country devastated by an earthquake that the fate of Pittsburgh Pirates Roberto Clemente Walker, would go from being a hero to a legend. In baseball, he was known as “The Great One”. He would see his first World Series one year before I was born and his second one year before his death. 1972 would see the Pirates just falling short in the National League Championship Series due to a wild pitch by Pirates Pitcher Bob Moose.
Clemente would receive the Gold Glove Award from 1961 through 72, have a career .317 batting average, hit for 3000, with 240 homeruns. His career cemented his spot in the Baseball HOF and would put him up there with other greats of the game. Yet his legend doesn’t end on the field. Roberto Clemente, having been born in poverty, had a genuine desire to help people, especially children. It was this desire to help that led him to get on a relief flight to Nicaragua that would take his life, when his plane went down.
Roberto Clemente once said, "I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give." That wish and his memory was kept alive. He was inducted posthumously into the Baseball HOF one year after his death, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1973 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Each year, teams recognizes a player from each team for their achievements both on and off the field with the Roberto Clemente Award and at the end of the season, the MLB presents one player with this honor.
Clemente will always be remembered, for those of us who saw him play, for those of us who pass on his achievements to the next generation. For those who saw his statue in front of Three Rivers Stadium and then moved to PNC Park. For those young men, like Sammy Sosa. For the future generation of players coming out of Puerto Rico. His will be a legacy that will not be marred in scandal or with accusations of greed, only what was best in the game and best in humanity.
So thirty six years after, as I raise my glass to welcome in the new year, I will also remember one of the greatest, not only in baseball, but in humanity. Today, I will remember the legend.
Posted on: August 13, 2008 4:45 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2008 4:50 pm
Please forgive the "theft" of the opening words to "Maniac", but to explain how or why I've became a fan is best summed up in these words, because, in my heart, I'm "just a steel town girl".
How anyone can grow up in Western Pennsylvania and not have embraced one sport is beyond me. Whether it was at high school level, college level or professional, sports ruled. Society seemed to have rotated around the Friday night high school football games. We embraced a college, whether it was University of Pittsburgh or, if your father attended Penn State, then you automatically seemed to become a Nittany Lion fan.
To try to remember when I began to love sports, would be like searching through the archives of some ancient library where there was no catalog system, so for the most part, I will say, as long as I can remember. Perhaps it was because the men in my family always had either the Pirate baseball game on the radio or the Pittsburgh Steelers games on the tv. Bob Prince and Myron Cope had seemed to be as much members of our family as favorite uncles were. Perhaps it was because I was nothing more then a tom boy, that exchanged baseball cards with the neighbor boys, coveting my beloved Roberto Clemente cards, and using opposing team cards in the spokes of my bicycle.
One thing I can say is that I was a fan of both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Steelers at that time. Perhaps more so of the Pirates when I was younger, because, the time I was coming of age was in the mid-60s and 70’s. How can you not love a team that had Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargel, Roberto Clemente and Dock Ellis on it? Indeed, even though I had yet to be born for the 60’s World Series, Mazeroski’s homerun had just seemed like it was done yesterday.
I had never attended a game at Forbes Field before they tore it down, but had gained fond memories of attending Pirates games when Roberto Clemente had played. Later in life I would get to see Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla and other “great” Pirates play, but it was that era that I recall the best. Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the cheap seats of Three Rivers Stadium, throwing peanuts at the boys in front of us, watching the game. The day it imploded, my husband had to console me.
It was in the mid 70’s when the shift-evened out. Perhaps like the balance of a seesaw. The Steelers had finally had a team that was actually winning and there was excitement to watch the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and so many more playing. Seeing the infamous Jack Lambert smile. What a time it was to be a sports fan in Pittsburgh.
Somehow the stars aligned in 79. The Steelers had gone on to win their 3d Superbowl ring, the Pirates would take the pennant, my high school football team made it to the State Championship and I was graduating from high school. Our graduating class had taken on as our class song Sister Sledges, “We Are Family” and we were relishing in the fact of not only the end of one era for us but also the excitement associated in the area with sports.
Soon I’d see the transition in players on “my” teams. Pop Stargell and Terry Bradshaw would eventually go on to retire. Yet my love for Pittsburgh sports teams stayed intact, but it shifted as I moved on also.
I found myself more then passionate about Steeler football right after I joined the Air Force in 1980. Not only did Steeler football become something I enjoyed but it was a link I had to home. When I watched the game or when I met other Steeler fans, we had this bond, and for just a time, the home sickness went away. And I looked forward to any time I could catch a Steeler game on tv.
It wasn’t just Steeler football that I came to love, but the game as a whole. This I give credit to some “hometown boys”. Watching Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Tony Dorsett play was what attracted me to watch other teams and soon I developed a true love of the game as a whole. There was still that hometown pride, when I’d point to any player that had come out of Pittsburgh, regardless of what team he was on.
Yet it’s Steeler football that is my most passionate love in sports. Perhaps for their history and tradition. Perhaps for their style of play. Perhaps for the ties to home. Perhaps for what and who they represent. It is this team that I will scream myself hoarse over in my livingroom every Sunday during the season. It will be the retirement of these players and the induction into the HOF that I will cry the hardest on.
What can I say...where ever I go...I'm still "just a steel town girl".
Posted on: February 17, 2008 8:57 pm
It’s that time of the year again, the time when major league baseball gears up. Talks of team acquisitions, spring training and, of course, the Mitchell Report have begun to dominate the media. I’ve admitted before, that I don’t follow professional baseball as closely as I follow the NFL. No, I couldn’t tell you who’s the top pitcher, catcher or shortstop in the league today. Nor can I tell you the stats of every Pirate’s player, now.
Yet I do remember, summer trips to Three Rivers Stadium, sitting in peanut heaven, throwing peanuts down on people below us (who got pissed off and looked around to see who was showering them with nuts, as we looked innocent). I remember trading coke bottles for bubble gum with baseball cards, taking the players we didn’t like and pinning them to the spokes of our bicycle tires. Listening to the baseball games during family picnics, halting play when I heard the name of my favorite players.
I remember the names of some, the more prominent, Willie Stargell, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Bill Mazeroski and one in particular. I remember the pride I felt when I found out that my uncle was trying out for the Pirate’s when he returned from Vietnam and the disappointment when he didn’t make the cut.
It would be later that I tried to give my daughter the same experience I had when I was little. We went to a game, she was bored. I took her to another, she was bored. Yet, even as an adult, though I didn’t follow the games, I did enjoy going to them. They were still fun (yes, I even threw peanuts the few times, just to recreate that old feeling again – unfortunately, it wasn’t the same.)
As nostalgia takes over, there’s a sense of sadness. With the recent information about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, players who sought to cement their legacy, by what seems to be any means possible, I remember another player who’s legacy was cemented, not only because of the type of player he was on the field but also his selflessness as a human being, a selflessness that would eventually cost him his life.
He will always be known as “The Great One”. His will be a legacy that would surpass that of Sammy Sosa, Bonds and Clemens combined. He has been the inspiration for many players in the major league today. He will also be remembered as a great humanitarian. He is Roberto Clemente.
For those too young to remember Clemente, he was considered one of the best for his times. He led the league in scoring, during four different seasons and was the recipient of twelve Golden Glove Awards. Yet it wasn’t his feats on the field that endeared me to him. It was his compassion. Clemente gave his time, his money and himself to help the underprivileged in Latin American countries, to include those in his home of Puerto Rico. It was this that cemented his legacy in baseball and his homeland. I still remember the shock and sadness I felt when I heard of the plane crash that would take his life in 1972, when he flew down to Nicaragua, after a devastating earthquake to deliver food.
On my last visit to Three Rivers, I stood before the statue that had been erected there, touching it tentatively, remembering the man and tried to describe him to my daughter, she was young, she didn’t get it. At least the major league got it. Not only was Clemente voted into the Hall of Fame in 1973, but now yearly presents the National Roberto Clemente Award to one player on each team who embodies the characteristics that made Roberto Clemente revered: sportsmanship, community service and positive contributions to his team.
Unfortunately, players like Bonds and Clemens seemed to have missed the mark in their quest to achieve greatness. Someone should have told them long ago that it’s not what you can do but who you are that makes you great. To me, Roberto Clemente will always be my hero.