Blogging the City Of Champions.  Burgh Sports and other randomness.  You never know. I certainly don't.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baa Baa Red Sheep

Do I need to tell you whose Olympic skates these are? I thought not.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you, that is indeed a SHEEP painted on the back of the right blade. "Ovechkin" means "little sheep". Seriously. (Think of the sheepy root word, ovine.) Tell me that that face doesn't look like this one:

I've been calling him The 8pe, but I may have to rethink that, and do a little more fooling around in Photoshop. Although when you think about it, it's the brainless baa-ing flock of red-rockin' Ovie-munchers who are the sheep.

Rinkotology: Olympic Fantasy Hockey, And Icons

Last night I finally lost my fantasy-sports virginity. It was time.

Rinkotology. Better move fast, because rosters are nailed down at 3PM eastern today (Tuesday 2/16/10). They don't change during the Olympics, so once you've finalized your picks, that's it, you just watch the standings and see how things go. Very nice and simple and well-designed website, once you get past the show-us-the-money-first $10 signup fee. The site certificate from the credit processor wasn't verifying properly when I signed up, but one of the site's owners told me they were aware of the situation and it was not an actual security issue. Okay, I'll take his word on it.

So, how does it work? Basically, you're filling out a 12-man roster. 8 forwards, 3 defensemen, 1 goalie. Here's the rub: you can only choose one player per country. There are 12 teams in the tournament, thus you pick one player from each participating nation. There's a point-scoring system, multipliers for captains and alternates, and several tie-breakers. It's pretty well thought out.

Want Crosby? No Brodeur. Want Malkin? No Ovechkin. And who the hell do you pick from Latvia? It's a lot harder than you might think to nail all 12 slots down and be happy with the picks. Feels like doing a 9th-grade algebra problem solving 12 simultaneous equations, when you only know maybe 4 of them well, another 4 a little bit, and the last 4 you don't have the foggiest clue. But the entry cost is pretty low, the amusement value should be high, and it will definitely liven up the Olympic Hockey Spectatin' for the next two weeks.

Oh yes: cash prices for the top five finishers. Winner gets $500 and a custom-engraved championship belt. And an unbelievable amount of prestige over at The Pensblog.

The only thing I noticed that they forgot to take care of in their somewhat hurried rollout was the shortcut icon ("favicon") for the website. So, having some time on my hands last evening, I made them one. If you're playing Rinko yourself and want the icon for your browser bookmark, here you go.

Windows ICO (includes 16x16 and 32x32 pixel sizes, transparent background):
16x16 pixel PNG (transparent background)
32x32 pixel PNG (ditto)

You're welcome.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hungry For Borscht

An annoying loss tonight in OT to the Rangers, 3-2. I wanted TWO points, boys, not ONE. This is no way to run a railroad. It's like the last week of school when the teacher has the nerve to give a test, and nobody wants to PAY ATTENTION. Hey, you have WORK to do here still, before you can go on vacation. Sharpen your pencils and buckle down, dammit!

I'm guessing that Vladi and Natalia Malkin will be in Vancouver to see their boy play for РОССИЯ. I'm still having Big Taste Dilemmas over the whole hockey thing. Wanting Geno and Noodles to do well, but not wanting the Gra8pe to come away from Vancouver with anything but a souvenir lapel pin. Not wanting to root against Free Candy (oh go look it up, geez, do I have to do all your work for you?) and the Yoo-Ess-Of-Ay, but also wanting Sidney to take the Olympic puck and run with it right to the tippy-top of the medal podium, so that all the Crosby Suxers will have to STFU from now until forever and ever. (Dream on, Leeeny. Sid could get a personal gold medal from God Almighty Himself and that wouldn't shut those douchebags up.) What to do, what to do.

So as I try not to overlook the Pens-Predators game on Sunday, and while I wait for Tuesday when the men's hockey and all the curling begins (oh I think you'll see a Curling Post or three before we reach the end of the month, just a guess). . . what I REALLY want to know is, will Мать и Отец Малкина be coming to the Burgh after the Olympics are over? PLEASE COME VISIT YOUR OTHER STEEL CITY HOMETOWN! Your son could use some of Dad's Words Of Wisdom and Mama's TLC, and heaven knows hot soup is always welcome, especially with the weather we've been having.

Changing the subject: How did I miss this song last year, when I was posting all sorts of music for the football and hockey playoffs? What a maroon. Well, here it is now, better late than never, as a shout-out to Natalia. We miss you, we love you, we love your boy too, and we want you back on our TV screens as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pens Win, Caps Lose, Vintage Whine Flows

Life can be good, even in the middle of an unending, paralyzing blizzard.

Pens beat the Isles, 3-1 at the appropriately-named Igloo. Empty Netters gameblog for the details. Two points earned. Philly beat the Devils although it took OT to do it, so the Great Satans get a point. That's a +1 net for us. NJ now has 75, we have 74. They have one less GP. They have the Preds and Canes before the break, we have the Rags and Preds.

Habs let the Caps come back to tie 5-5 at the very end of regulation (nearly a rerun of our Sunday game, minus the 4.5-hour overnight dogsled bus ride), but then Tomas Plekanec prevented the need for a shootout, scoring with 7.5 seconds remaining in the OT.  The Caps' winning streak is thereby stopped at 14, three games short of the Pens' still-NHL-best-ever 17-game streak in 92-93.

After the loss in Montreal, copious amounts of Vintage Red Whine flowed in the snowbound streets of the nation's capital. (Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water. I'm just reminding you.) Here's some from a real premier-cru whinery. The fumes will make you woozy, but this rockin' sommelier has two varietals of gripe whine rouge to pour for us tonight. The first bottle, its cork dessicated and its bouquet long gone to vinegar, concerns a missed offsides call, offered with many many diagrammatic photos. Jay's Telestrator, it ain't. Then please cleanse your palates with a nice OTL Whine Cracker, as the Reserve Cry Cru comes to the table:

(That GhostWalker, he's so the bomb. Don't skip this video! You won't be sorry.)

Wowzer, that's some mighty fine whine! Don't forget, because Teddy said it was so, that the Capitals have arrived! Savor it. Enjoy it. Roll it around on your tongue. Suck some air in to release the volatile esters, the sublime flavor of everything it means to be a Red Rocker, a Capital.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snow Jobbing Washington

But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

So what made me finally decide to pop out of my Pennsylvania hidey-hole, à la Punxsutawney Phil? (ref. the previous post, and the posting gap prior to that)

This picture did. It's from the Snowpocalypse Now Pens-Caps game in DC over the past weekend. Which I'm not going to start in on, except to ask:

What the hell is going on here with the Red Rocker in the seats behind Staalsy and Cooke? The man is halfway to China with that index finger. Is this what Washington means when they say they're plowing a lot of snow? Click on the image to see a larger version, if your stomach can take it.

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Despite Jordan's lovely first goal which was the occasion for the tumult behind the net, this is COMPLETELY DISTURBING. But hold your gorge and don't miss the two baguettes to the clamdigger's right (that's your left), with the oh-so-original and oh-so-over crib poster. Don't all you fellas just wanna bang those hotties right now because they're so goddamn FUNNY?

Screw these gasbag red people, the Cupless Capitools. Go raise another banner at the Verizon Center, you jokes.

Not Dead Yet, 2010

Ummm, I've been busy.

Well, that, plus the general motivational dilemma when the blogger (me) spends way more time typing than the total number of readers (you) spends reading. I had some fun and some eyeball action last year with the Super Bowl run-up, but things fell out a little differently this time.

Back to the present: I'm going to lose my Haloscan (now Echo) commenting setup at the beginning of March unless I pay them, so I am mulling over whether to move the whole blog and start over with a new layout for 2010. (Yes, I know the template stinks in IE. I just dislike IE too much to do anything about it.) Or should I go back to Blogger's comments, and stay put. Or pay Echo. Or bag the whole business. I've always been able to say "My blogging is a nearly-complete waste of time, but at least it's free, and it's 100% optional". But when you can read The Pensblog and Empty Netters and Puck Huffers and the Pens' website, what the hell do you need to come here for? I can occasionally throw some amusing snark, but there's nothing compellingly original here. I'm in an existential blog crisis, because unlike 98% of the rest of the blogosphere, I don't see the point of typing only to myself. I don't have any answers. Look through my archives and tell me whether this is worthwhile to continue.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chris Benson's Penguins Stanley Cup Tribute Video

Video wizard Chris has finished re-working his playoff tribute video, to include The Cup.

My only quibble is the obtrusiveness of the 'Benstonium' logo. I know it's useful to tag one's creations against misattribution or swipery, but geez, why not make it blinky neon orange and put it right in the middle of the picture, while you're at it? I've hated these things ever since they first started showing up on television, and their increasing size, animation and un-ignorability really annoys me. Sorry to peeve at you Chris, but other than that the video is perfect.

(a few minutes later)... Okay, to remedy my own gripe a little: I've increased the display size of the video, from Chris's default setting of 320x240 pixels, up to 480x360. Luckily his source file is a nice high-quality .mp4, so it can take being blown up. The logo image doesn't scale up with the screen, so it's now smaller relative to the screen. Here's a screen-cap of the default size, so you can see what I'm yammering about. It would be better if the logo was semi-transparent like the ones you see on TV (watermark style), but at least this is an improvement.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Disco Still Sucks

Thirty years ago today, this happened.

Also, unrelated to the video: I've skipped posting a lot of noteworthy and/or funny stuff in the last week or two. It's hard to keep spending the time that frequent posting requires, when there just aren't many eyeballs here. I wish it were otherwise, but my SiteMeter reports don't let me delude myself. Especially in the summer when I have lots of other things to do that are far more constructive than typing. So please understand, it's not that I don't enjoy doing this, it's just that most of the time it feels like the tree falling in the forest with nobody here to hear it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Penguins FA Followups: Scuderi Leaves, Fedotenko Stays

I didn't post yesterday, because I was absorbing my disappointment over the loss of Rob Scuderi to the LA Kings. Scuderi agreed to a four-year deal worth an average of $3.4 million per year. The Penguins are thought to have offered a five year deal at a $2 million annual average, though the club doesn't release nor confirm this sort of detail.

I expected Scuds to leave, and I don't blame him for doing so, but it's still a bummer. He was such a crucial part of our success. We're really going to miss him. A lot.

But some good news today: Ruslan Fedotenko has been re-signed to a one-year contract, at $1.8 mil. That sure looks like a discount to me. So the Tank stays in town, and Geno keeps his linemate, just as Sid keeps Guerin. Shero sure knows his Care And Feeding Of Two-Headed Monsters.

I'm guessing that what we have left under our 09-10 cap will go for a defenseman to replace Gill, if Ray can come up with one. Rob Rossi (the Trib's beat reporter) tweets that we've now got $2.957 million remaining.

And here's a great Q&A with Shero covering all of the latest goings-on, just posted at the Penguins' website.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

NHL Free Agent Frenzy Day

I'm listening to a TSN feed at, as they track the free agent signings on the first day of the NHL signing season. Seems appropriate to listen to Canadians today, since it's Canada Day, their version of July 4th. Here's what stands out to me as the afternoon progresses (I'm updating this post as things occur).

Twitterumors abound that we're trying hard to keep Scuderi by matching whatever anyone else offers, reputedly in the $1.8-$2.25 mil/yr for 2-3 years. I really need to see how things play out here, because I want him back.

Well, at least this beats listening to PIrate Fans vent their spleens over yet another further different player-dump, not to be confused with the previous player-dump, or last year's player-dump. While we're digressing, please let me indulge in a moment of self-defense: I am absolutely still a Pirate fan. I have been since I was a kid, and that won't ever change. What I am most definitely NOT is a supporter of the current management/ownership of the team.  If this was spousal abuse, I'd be in the shelter with a restraining order.  If this was the British Parliament, I'd be a member of the Loyal Opposition.  The Nuttings have long ago seen the last of my money, which is the only possible way to vote No Confidence in these incompetent bastards.

City Of Champions Videos, Two Flavors

The first of these two videos is longer, but it has for its soundtrack a rather overblown power ballad (aren't they all?) by the big-hair metal band Jaded Heart, which features a lead singer who sounds like Bryan Adams after a bender. The second video is a shorter version containing fewer clips, but the soundtrack is a more palatable tune - a recycled 9/11 tribute - by Oleander.

I defy any Yinzer watching either one of these not to get all choked up!

Longer version:

Shorter version:

Not-Stupid Bat Tricks

I've got a ton of videos to post today, and some other stuff too, but this has to top the list. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Josh Womack, from the independent Golden League's Long Beach Armada:

And an encore performance too:

Physics, and practice.  Pretty freaking impressive.

Put Billy Mays On The Wall At Primanti's

Two deejays at KISS96 radio in the Burgh are spearheading an online petition to get Billy Mays's likeness added to the Wall Of Legends at the Primanti's restaurant in the Strip District. (Where the fries and coleslaw come inside the sandwiches, not alongside.) He'd join such Yinzer luminaries as Mister Rogers, Andy Warhol, and Myron Cope.

I say let's waive the five-year waiting rule, like Cooperstown did when Clemente died. Well, okay, I don't think Primanti's actually has a five-year waiting rule, but if this petition helps them decide to put Billy on the wall right away, then go for it. The deejays want 5000 signatures. As of late Tuesday night, I was #405, so go on over to

and add your name. Then take a minute to blog or tweet or wall-post or share the link, to pass the word around to anyone who reads your feed. Or just link back here to this post, that will work too. I can always use eyeballs. Right-click here on [Permanent Link], or on the Permalink button below, to copy the URL. Alternatively, I've just added handy-dandy little Tweet and Share buttons to the bottom of each of my posts, so if you're on Twitter or one of the other social-networking sites (Facebook, Digg, etc), you have no excuse.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guerin-Teed For $2 Million

It was too late to post this last night when I read it.

Pittsburgh Penguins Agree to Terms with Bill Guerin on One-Year Contract

Jun 29, 2009, 8:00 PM EDT

The Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with right wing Bill Guerin on a one-year contract, it was announced tonight by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

Guerin, 38, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

A veteran of 17 NHL seasons, Guerin played a major role in the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run, contributing seven goals and 15 points in 24 playoff games and providing exceptional leadership on and off the ice.

The 6-2, 220-pound native of Worcester, MA was acquired from the New York Islanders at the March 4 trading deadline in exchange for a third-round draft pick and immediately was installed as the right wing on Sidney Crosby’s line. He recorded five goals and 12 points in 17 regular season games with the Penguins.

Overall in 2008-09, Guerin had 21 goals and 48 points in 78 regular-season games with the Penguins and Islanders.

“We are excited to agree to terms with Billy on this one-year deal,” Shero said. “He made a tremendous impact on this team with his scoring ability, physical play and outstanding leadership and was a key factor in our drive to the Cup. I know our players, coaches and fans will be happy to have him back in Pittsburgh.”

Guerin has played 1,185 career NHL games with New Jersey, Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, San Jose, the Islanders and the Penguins, recording 408 goals, 403 assists, 811 points and 1,585 penalty minutes. He represented the U.S. in the Olympics in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

The other signing yesterday was equally good news: Craig Adams for two years, reportedly $1.1 million total. Ray Shero, you are a credit to your job title. Sidney and I wanna buy you a beer.

Now we wait to see whether Scuderi, Gill, and/or Fedotenko like what they will see in free agency (which starts tomorrow), or whether we can get them back and re-signed inside of our remaining cap allowance. As Rob Rossi does the math, we have 17 players signed for next season, with a commitment of $51,218,000. The salary cap figure is $56,800,000, which leaves only $5,582,000 to work with. It won't be easy. I'd settle for one out of the three, and two would be beyond expectation. My order of preference: Scuds, then Tank, then Hal. But if anyone can do the nigh-on-impossible, Ray Shero's your man.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Best Billy Mays Pitch

This has to be my all-time favorite, and it isn't even for a household cleaning product. The first time I saw the little sports balls traveling down the cat5 wire, I nearly peed myself. The multiple levels of satire going on in this spot are just phenomenal, not the least of which is Billy's cheerful willingness to parody his own persona. Gotta love whoever made this for

Here are links directly to the four spots he did (all that are on YouTube, at least), each of them funny as hell. - Office (the one posted directly above, my favorite) - Intro (ALMOST as good) - On The Run (sick) - College

I'd give these people awards just for all the times the word "CRICKET" appears in the list of sports. Sooo droll.

I'm going to have to some cataloguing of Billy videos, and post more links. I gotta say, I think Billy's death has made me more upset than Michael Jackson's. MJ was clearly a troubled (albeit talented) freak from another planet... but Billy was One Of My Peeps.

Another 50-Year-Old Bites The Dust

This is starting to get extremely creepy.

Billy Mays, OxiClean pitchman, found dead

(CNN) -- Infomercial pitchman Billy Mays died at his Tampa, Florida, home Sunday morning, authorities told CNN. The 50-year-old known for his shouting OxiClean ads was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. The Hillsborough County medical examiner will perform an autopsy, Tampa police Lt. Brian Dugan said.
Mays was on the US Airways flight from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Tampa on Saturday that had a hard landing at Tampa International Airport when the plane's front tire blew out. There were no reported injuries on Flight 1241, US Airways told CNN. According to a local Tampa TV station, Mays said: "All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head." Airline spokesman Jim Olson told CNN Sunday there were no reported passenger injuries from flight 1241. The airline vowed to "cooperate fully" with authorities in the investigation.
"We were very sad to learn of Billy Mays' passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," Olson said. Tampa officials say the Medical Examiner's Office expects to complete an autopsy by Monday afternoon. In a statement, Deborah Mays said that although "Billy lived a public life," the family does not plan immediate public statements about his death.
Mays was a spokesman for Orange Glo and detergent OxiClean and appeared in commercials for other products. He is featured on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which follows pitch people in their jobs. "It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night," said a statement from the Discovery Channel. "Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss."

Billy Mays OxiClean drawingBilly was (like Michael Jackson) another contemporary of mine, a few months older but in the same school year. A fellow Yinzer. Sto-Rox HS, Class of 1977. One of the best things about listening to his commercials was how clearly his Burgh accent came through, loud and clear. Here's his Wikipedia biography, and here's a profile done last fall by the New York Times. RIP, Billy - cable television will never be the same without you.

And now you'll have to excuse me, while I go crawl under the bed for the next few days, to avoid the supernatural scrutiny of guys with scythes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two Obituaries

A song about a rat, from a movie about the rat, sung by a young boy who grew up to have a very ...complicated... life. Which is now over, prematurely. We were the same age.

The other death today was a different flavor of pop-culture icon. Can't say that I was a fan, but she endured a very unpleasant mortal illness (anal cancer), voluntarily in the public eye, with incredible dignity.

famous Farrah Fawcett poster

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stanley Cup Champs: Very Spiffy Drawing

Jimmy Shearer is a multi-talented individual. He could get a job doing caricatures at Kennywood, if he ever wanted to punt his VH1 gig and come back home to the Burgh. Look what he just sent around in email:

CHAMPS drawing by Jim Shearer

Can you name 'em all?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yanni Sends His Congrats

Quoted from ThePensBlog: "Yanni is the Max Talbot of Crappy New Age Music."

I predict that this video will come out at every Pens-Caps game from now until Eternity.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cities Of Champions

I found a list of the cities that have had multiple-major-sport championships over the last few generations. We're the only one who has done it more than once within my lifetime. Pretty nice.

2009: Pittsburgh — Steelers, Penguins
Boston — Red Sox, Patriots
Los Angeles — Dodgers, Lakers
Pittsburgh — Steelers, Pirates
New York — Jets, Mets
New York — Yankees, Giants (NFL)
Detroit — Lions, Red Wings
New York — Yankees, Giants (NFL)
Detroit — Tigers, Lions
New York — Giants (MLB), Rangers
New York — Yankees, Rangers

Show This To Your Kids

The monkeyboys are going to see this one for sure. It's by
Randy Bish at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a right-wing-nut-job newspaper that I normally don't touch with a barge pole (even though it has good Pens coverage).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Maxime And My Almost BMW

If Max had gotten a hat trick, a fellow poster on the game-day thread at was going to buy me a BMW. Really, he was. Read it for yourself. I had witnesses.

Towards the end of the game, marek asked me if I was hoping that Max would get the empty-netter. Yes, I replied, I certainly was. I even had the model picked out (535i xDrive sedan). Oh well.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stanley Cup Champion Penguins: Gallery

I don't know how many photos I'll end up posting, but here's one of my faves so far. Sid's got the Cup, and the only red in the shot is the CARPET. Sweeeeet.

Friday, June 12, 2009


(that's the way speechlessness looks in type)

I will write later, like tomorrow maybe, when my heart rate has returned to something approaching normal. I am SO HAPPY! FOR ALL OF US!

SCF Game 7: No More Tomorrows


It has all boiled down to a final 60 minutes, starting a little after 8PM tonight when the puck drops at Joe Louis.

As you can see below from my lack of posting between Game 1 and now, I've had some trouble keeping up with the blog in the last week and a half. Partly because of the mood-swings induced by the games themselves, but also due to some real-life priorities that kept me away from the computer. But after I recover from tonight's outcome, I'll do a little retroactive back-filling, so that my Blog Of Record doesn't have a gaping hole in the finals. And there will be lots to add as Post-Game Summations, no matter what happens.

I am anxious only in that I hate having to play the game in that gawdawful arena up there (I wonder if there will be as many empty seats as before - those people ought to be ashamed of themselves), but otherwise I have complete faith in our boys to Accomplish The Goal. If we'd have lost game 6 at home on Tuesday (re-running 2008), that's the one that would have hurt. Now, tonight, we can really, really, do this.

I'm even missing my monkeyboys' final little-league ballgame in order to be home to watch the hockey game. The monkeys understand completely, and I think they'd rather be here watching too, but they don't have the option. I'll be recording the game for them.

And what is on the dinner menu tonight at Casa Leeeny? Need you ask? Click on Mama to go to the recipe.

Actually I used
this recipe instead, since the Post-Gazette finally did their homework and obtained Mrs. Malkin's actual recipe and posted it. Which was a full week after I did my version (I had to fake it since I didn't have any inside sources at the Penguins). My recipe takes longer to prepare, so I went with Natalia's tonight since I'm pressed for time. If it's good enough for Geno, it's good enough for me.

Also: Chris Benson has just made a nice little pre-game motivational 'commercial' ... as if you need anything else to get you psyched up. He says he took the photos from Game 5 of last year's finals (the triple-OT game).


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yinz Luv Da Guins: Attitude Adjustment

If you're still feeling bad about last night, try the latest episode of Jimmy's Little No-Budget Web Show. It'll get you thinking straight in time for 8:00's faceoff.

SCF Game 1 Final Score: Wings 3, Pens 1

It's going to be tough for me to blog these finals in any sort of real time. I can hardly stand to watch them live — frequently I have to turn the sound off. (What happened to Eddie Olczyk in Pittsburgh to make him hate the Penguins so much? How long can you carry that much of a grudge after getting fired for doing a lousy job? And NBC hires this man to cover Penguin games?) And sometimes I just have to walk away from the television, and watch later off the tape. (It was like this last year too, although I wasn't blogging about it.) Times like these I am reminded of why I have traditionally been more of a baseball fan: it's way easier on your nerves. Especially if you're a Pirates fan, where watching their games is usually better than 10 milligrams of Ambien.

I'm certainly not happy after last night's loss, but I'm not in panic mode, either.

So here's all the stuff I'd put up if I were doing a big post-game post. Seth gets paid for his time, so just go on over to Empty Netters and read it there. Here's his in-game report (he was at JLA for the game). Sometimes I think I should just quit doing this, and post a daily link to Seth's blog instead. But then I'd get bored.

So we've all had a night's sleep, and get back at 'em tonight. As much as everyone (at least everyone in Detroit) has whined and moaned about opening with two back-to-back games, this is one area where baseball has an advantage: after a loss, you don't have much time to dwell on it. Put it behind you, do better the next night. And if it hurts the gimpy geezers in the red shirts to play hard two night in a row, well, tough noogies.

This Detroit team reminds me of nothing so much as the Soviet Olympic teams I watched every four years when I was growing up. Old, cold, impersonal, mercenary, machine-like. The Borg of hockey. Red jerseys, too.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals Game 1: It Begins, Again

Time to turn the tables, boys. Sidney, you know what to do.

One More Flat Tire In Detroit

Friday, May 29, 2009

They Call Me Geno

Here's the latest entry in WDVE's "Evgeni Malkin's Diary", from Jim Krenn and Randy Baumann's morning show.

Evgeni Malkin's Diary (Name Song - Stanley Cup Finals edition)

They've been updating the song for every stage of the playoffs. The one they did for the Capitals series was used as the audio for this slideshow by someone over at YouTube:

All of the "Evgeni Malkin's Diary" entries for this past season (going back to the opening games in Sweden), as well as lots more Pens stuff, and even more non-Pens stuff too, are archived at
WDVE's AM Show podcast library. Warning: you'll spend all day there, listening to files. This stuff is funny.

Good Shirt: MalkinMania

available for $13.00 each ("Free Shippings!") at

Jim Shearer (VH1 jockey, creator/host of Yinz Luv Da 'Guins, and fellow Shaler Titan I might add) appears to have an exclusive on this one. Go over to YouTube and post a comment on this video, or write him an email, and add your voice to the cry of the Yinzers who want one of these for themselves. The cartoon drawing is taken from this picture, by the way.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mama Malkin's Lucky Soup

"I love Russian food, and my mom cooks Russian food. It's helped me. My favorite food is beef, and before every game I have soup."

-- Evgeni Malkin 5/21/09

Hot Beef Borscht with Sour Cream
serves 10


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
1 large onion, sliced
3 1/2 quarts water
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
12 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves

10 medium beets (about 2 inches in diameter), rinsed, tops trimmed
1 cup water
3 cups (about) canned beef broth
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped onions
6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 small head)
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 large russet potato, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons (or more) red wine vinegar
Sour cream and chopped green onions, for garnish


Heat vegetable oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of beef ribs and sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining ribs; transfer to plate. Add sliced onion to pot. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Return ribs and any juices to pot. Add 3 1/2 quarts water and remaining stock ingredients. Bring to boil, skimming any foam from surface. Reduce heat and simmer until ribs are very tender, skimming foam occasionally, about 2 1/2 hours.

Using tongs, transfer ribs to plate. Strain stock into large bowl. Chill stock until fat solidifies on top, at least 3 hours. Remove meat from bones; cut away excess fat. Shred meat finely. (Stock can be made 1 day ahead. Cover meat and chill. Keep stock chilled.)


Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange beets in single layer in 13x9x2-inch baking dish; add 1 cup water. Cover; bake beets until tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Cool beets. Peel and cut into 1/3-inch dice.

Remove fat from surface of stock. Add enough canned beef broth to stock to measure 10 cups.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add diced carrots and chopped onions and sauté 10 minutes. Add cabbage and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Add 10 cups beef stock, beets, potato and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Simmer until cabbage and potato are tender, about 20 minutes. Add shredded meat; simmer 5 minutes. Season with additional red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Ladle borscht into bowls. Top each with dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped green onions, and serve.

Наслаждайтесь этим в хорошем здоровье!

A Tale Of Two (Steel) Cities

This is goose-bump material. Convincing evidence that the Hockey Gods are clearly at work. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme.) I already knew bits and pieces of this story, but here it is all pulled nicely together by Robert Dvorchak at the Post-Gazette. The article dates from late April, but I'm in a very Geno mood today. (It must have been the borscht.) For once I'm even posting the entire article instead of just snippets, so that you don't have to go jumping around. Since it has been up at the P-G for a month already, I'll assume that nobody who sees it here now will mind enough to bust me over it.

Vladimir and Natalia MalkinThose Russians Cheering No. 71 Are Mom, Dad

Monday, April 27, 2009

by Robert Dvorchak
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Imagine a man who provides for his wife and family by working in a gritty, sprawling steel and iron works along a river. He passes along his love of sports to his son. The son embraces working-class values and excels to the point that he plays professionally for a team called the Steelers, and one day captures the fancy of the city of Pittsburgh.

This tale is not set in a mill town of Southwestern Pennsylvania, but in the Ural Mountains of the Chelyabinsk Oblast region of Russia. It's not a work of fiction by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but it's the real story of hockey prodigy Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins.

Fans appreciate Evgeni Malkin for winning the National Hockey League scoring title this year and earning consideration as the league's most valuable player, plus for being the leading scorer in the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Penguins eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday and moved on to round two.

But to have legions of the citizenry, including a healthy portion of the female population, walking around with Malkin's name and number on their jerseys -- plus on their banners and posters -- takes some getting used to for a couple visiting the city to cheer on their son.

"I never in my life thought that so many people would be wearing No. 71 or getting their faces painted. I never thought I would see that," Natalia Malkin said before a recent playoff game at Mellon Arena.

Natalia and Vladimir Malkin have been swept along in their son's stardom. When they come to towns for games, the cameras find them and flash their pictures on the arena scoreboard. Fans migrate to their section and take their snapshots.

"Everybody must like us. We have our pictures taken so much," Mrs. Malkin said, laughing.

If sports has a way of making the world a smaller place, consider the story of a hockey player who could be called The Iron City Kid in two cities. One place is on the far side of what used to be the Iron Curtain, and people in his adopted hometown, while no longer a steel center, drink a local beer called Iron City.

The Malkins hail from Magnitogorsk, which roughly means Iron City. It's named for Magnitnaya Mountain, which was almost pure iron ore until it was mined out to feed steelmaking. The city is the home of the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, which came into existence along with the city in 1929 under a five-year plan of Josef Stalin.

During World War II, the steel for half of the T-34 battle tanks that turned back the German army was made in Magnitogorsk. At the same time, Pittsburgh became known as the Arsenal of Democracy for churning out the armor and shells that defeated the Germans on the Western Front.

Just about everybody in Magnitogorsk, which has a population of about 420,000, either works in steel production or an industry that supports it. That includes Vladimir Malkin, a machine inspector at the factory.

The Malkins don't speak English and most Pittsburghers don't speak Russian, which sets up something of a Berlitz Wall. But George Birman, an employee of the Penguins, translated during a recent interview.

Driven by a love of sport, the elder Mr. Malkin skated as a defenseman for the city's hockey team before he served a mandatory stint in the Red Army. Over time, he passed along the fundamentals of skating and hockey to his son.

"I put Evgeni on skates when he was 3 years old," he recalled. "Those skates are completely different from what kids wear today. The blades were much longer, and the boot was rougher in workmanship."
Mr. Malkin sees a connection between the lessons learned on those rudimentary skates and how graceful and forceful his son is in professional hockey.

"I think he's such a good skater because of that," his father said. "If I knew he would one day play in the National Hockey League and do what he's doing, I definitely would have saved them."

Those who evaluate hockey talent in Russia -- and later scouts from all over the world -- saw greatness in the angular teen. In addition to representing his country on the international stage, Evgeni -- known by his Pittsburgh-given nickname of Geno -- was a mainstay on his hometown's professional hockey team. He played for the Magnitogorsk Metallurg, which translates into the Magnitogorsk Steelers.

After being drafted by the Penguins, and after clearing up a tangle by jumping from his home team to come to the United States three seasons ago, Geno has become one of the world's elite players.

He beat out countryman Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals to win the NHL scoring title this season. And he combines with Sidney Crosby, himself a scoring champion and MVP, to give the Penguins two of the very best players in the world.

It is no coincidence that the Penguins had never defeated the Flyers in a playoff series until last year. But led by a core of young talent, the Penguins accepted handshakes from the Flyers on home ice last season and were on the receiving end of congratulations on Saturday on Philadelphia ice, which is one of the most hostile environments for a visiting team.

The Malkins, however, don't get swept away by all the adulation. In fact, it makes them a bit uncomfortable when so much attention is directed at their son.

"I raised my son not as a star but as a regular person. For me, he's the same as everybody else," Vladimir Malkin said. "People come up to us and tell us how great he is. I don't like to hear all of that. I want him to be himself."

The Malkins are elated that their son, who recently bought a home in this area, landed in Pittsburgh.

"It's one of the great cities we've been to," Mrs. Malkin said. "It's so pretty, and everybody is friendly and helpful. The fans are amazing. I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Magnitogorsk is 10 time zones ahead of Pittsburgh, so a game that would start at 7 p.m. at Mellon Arena would begin at 5 a.m. there.

"When we watched from home, we'd get up at 4 in the morning to make sure we saw the games when they were on TV," Vladimir Malkin said. "Now that the Penguins are in the playoffs, they are watching as much as they can back home. The entire city is behind him."

Magnitogorsk Metallurg played some big games in the Continental Hockey League, and the Russian national teams are fierce competitors on the international stage.

But there is something special about the NHL playoffs.

"We have been to games in the regular season, but it's a completely different time right now. Nothing compares to what's going on right now," Vladimir Malkin said. "Of course, we are very excited and very happy for Evgeni. Hopefully, he can continue doing the same things deeper into the playoffs."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals Schedule: Penguins vs Red Wings

This appears to be bankable, finally. I hope the situation improves next year so that we don't have to have our championship held hostage by an indecisive and reluctant television network.


Game 1 Sat. 5/30 Det 8PM NBC, CBC, RDS
Game 2 Sun. 5/31 Det 8PM NBC, CBC, RDS
Game 3 Tue. 6/2 Pgh 8PM VS, CBC, RDS
Game 4 Thu. 6/4 Pgh 8PM VS, CBC, RDS
Game 5* Sat. 6/6 Det 8PM NBC, CBC, RDS
Game 6* Tue. 6/9 Pgh 8PM NBC, CBC, RDS
Game 7* Fri. 6/12 Det 8PM NBC, CBC, RDS

*if necessary

all times Eastern

Game 2 was either going to be at 7 PM or 8 PM, depending on whether or not the NBA series between the Lakers and the Nuggets went far enough to cause an overlap. Since a seventh game in LA was not necessary (the Lakers took the series on Fri. 5/29), Game 2 from Detroit will start at 8 PM Eastern, just like all the others. (Confirmation here.)

NBC will not allow the Pens to put up the outdoor screen for games they broadcast. Versus has been allowing it up till now, so if past history holds true, the only games where you will be able to watch from outside the Igloo are Games 3 and 4, which are home games. Sounds like a bit of a parking mess. If I hear anything that changes this, I'll edit this paragraph.

Teams that the Red Wings have beaten to win their most recent Stanley Cups:
96/97 - Philadelphia Flyers
97/98 - Washington Capitals

01/02 - Carolina Hurricanes

07/08 - Pittsburgh Penguins
Substitute Them for Us in the above list, and you have this year's chronological run of our opposing teams through the postseason. Portentous, or Pointless? We report, you decide.

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

Now it's official. Rematch City, bay-bee.

This was put out by the Post-Gazette a year ago, when the Pens were about to face off against the Redwings, in Detroit, for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Quest For The Holy Grail, Redux

Expect a different outcome this year.

Sidney Crosby Derangement Syndrome

Captain Sid handles the new hardware

Todd Fleming, at The Bleacher Report, has a clue:

Sidney Crosby Derangement Syndrome: Despising Greatness

by Todd Fleming 5/26/09

They call him “Cindy.” They call him a “crybaby” and a “diver.” They call him every name in the book. They shout obscenities at him not fit for print.

All the while, Sidney Crosby continues to be the greatest player in hockey. A one-man highlight machine on both ends of the ice.

No player in the NHL generates the kind of animosity that Sidney Crosby incites. Fans in nearly every NHL city except Pittsburgh love to hate him. The irony is the fans that hate him the most would likely be his biggest fans if he played for their team.

The more obvious symptoms of Sidney Crosby Derangement Syndrome (SCDS) are the name-calling and delusional statements that you see on Washington, Philadelphia, and New York fan message boards.

SCDS reaches its fevered pitch during the Stanley Cup Playoffs each year as Crosby torches team after team. The more subtle form of SCDS is the unwillingness of many to acknowledge Sidney Crosby as one of the greatest in the game or even of his own team. There are constant calls for Crosby to prove if leading his team to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals while frequently looking like a man among boys isn’t enough.

And it extends beyond the fans. He also doesn’t get the respect he deserves from of his peers. In a recent Sports Illustrated survey that asked 324 NHL players who the best player in hockey was, Crosby tied for eighth place with a whopping 1.9 percent of the vote. Three members of the Detroit Red Wings finished ahead of Crosby, as did teammate Evgeni Malkin, who received seven percent of the votes. While I’m a huge fan of Geno and can understand why some would favor him, the fact that he got more than three times as many votes is absurd. When he is at the top of his game, it could at least be argued that he is a more talented player. But it does not happen nearly enough for him to be placed ahead of Sid.

Quite simply, nobody in hockey is as consistently great as Crosby.
He never takes a second off, bringing his fire and fierce work ethic to every shift. Nor does anyone work as hard to excel in every facet of the game—from grinding it out in the defensive zone to winning face-offs to setting up teammates with picture-perfect passes. Every second he spends on the ice becomes must-see television during the playoffs. He is that good.

So, what generates the lack of respect and visceral hatred heaped on Crosby? What causes Flyers and Capitals fans to foam at the mouth and start twitching at the mere mention of his name?

One reason is that greatness will always be hated by some.

Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game, but plenty of NFL fans rabidly hate him. What did he do to generate that hate? He has been consistently great...that’s it. All the rest of the reasons given are just background noise to justify the hatred.

The same is true of Sidney Crosby.

He helped send the Flyers packing in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons while knocking out Washington’s own superstar this year. While plenty of fans of those teams respect what Crosby does on the ice, they hate him for it. Others let their SCDS get the best of them, and they refuse to even acknowledge that Crosby is a good hockey player.

But that is only one reason, and it isn’t the main reason for SCDS.

(article continues at link)

There's so much on the Internets today about the win, the sweep, the celebration, the finals. It's all great. I doubt you need my help to find any of it. I'm taking the rest of today off, and will watch the Wings and Hawks tonight to see what's up with our opponent, and with the scheduling for Game 1 of the Finals. Once there's a nailed-down schedule, I'll re-post it to update or verify my previous finals-schedule post.