Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Pittsburgh Pirates

After trading Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros, I decided to ask several friends, who have been Pittsburgh Pirates fans for many years, their thoughts on the trade and the state of the Pirates. In the middle of this conversation, the Pirates traded former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants.

Nick: I think it will take a few years before we can accurately assess the trade-- that's how long it took for Robbie Grossman to become a semi-useful player. I mean, who would have predicted that Wade Davis would be the most valuable piece in the James Shields-Wil Myers trade? Ultimately, it's a decent haul, even without a headliner. I don't see Musgrove's future as a starter, but both arms are nice bullpen pieces and can be flipped in a year or two to reload further. 7th and 8th inning guys have never been more valuable. Moran could be OK, he has some pop. The Pirates have no pop and no ability to score runs. I love that his most direct comp is... David Freese.

Gobo: I think, without the context of who runs the Pirates (including Nutting and Huntington), the trade makes sense. Cole was never going to sign with the Pirates once he became a free agent, and frankly, he never quite lived up to the hype after Game 2 against the Cardinals in 2013. So I don't have a problem with trading him now. I don't have a problem with the return in theory. I think an important thing about Moran specifically is that he bats lefty, and the Pirates, even in their good years, have had a righty-heavy lineup. Even now, assuming Moran is the starting 3B, there are only 2 lefties plus one switch in the lineup.

The real problem is that nobody in the fan base trusts this management group. They had chances, particularly in 2014 and 2015, to go all-in, and they refused. This trade, even if the correct move, appears as just another emblem of that, and it pisses people off. If Theo Epstein made this trade, people would be singing its praises, or at least evaluating it from a balanced perspective. But with Nutting/Huntington, the default view is that winning a championship isn't goal #1, and this reinforces that view.

Sean: Gobo and Nick - How dare you have reasonable responses that make sense!

And then news started coming out of an Andrew McCutchen trade.

Nick: I’m sure I’ll say something nasty about the Cutch Trade when they announce the return.

Marc: Looks like we won’t have to wait long to find out...


Jamie: Looks like Cutch was traded for a relief pitcher.

Gobo nailed it. Management lost the fan base's trust. And it's well deserved. Until we can go into an offseason confident that they'll add $30 million in free agents and any salary dump will be of the Mark Melancon variety, we shouldn't trust these guys. There's no stud prospects on the horizon and no reason to assume 2018 won't be a flirtation with 500. Cole wasn't the ace we needed, so instead of getting the ace we've needed since Doug Drabek left town, they just dumped $21 million in salary and have zero intention to spend it on anyone who could help. This team doesn't need a Musgrove, Moran or Crick to get them to October. It doesn't need another bullpen arm to reach the playoffs. It's not a few pieces away. The offense has evolved into Josh Bell and 7 guys who hit 10-15 HR and a rotation of #3 and #4 starters. We're looking at a $70+ million payroll I'm 2018, which I believe places us last in the division by a lot. The only upside to all this is at least we're not the Marlins.

Sean: Did the Pirates really just trade Cutch for Burt Reynolds and a guy we can call Crick? Good for Cutch. Sad day for Pirates fans.

Nick: Kyle Crick throws gas and was touted as the next starter in line to ascend after Cain, Lincecum, Mad Bum. The other guy they got was the #4 prospect in a heinous farm season. They got more than they would get from a sandwich pick if they extended a QO. Sadly, this is Cutch’s value right now, he’s not exactly cheap and the Giants took the whole contract.

I only feel bad for Cutch in that there’s a very real chance the Pirates win more games than the Giants this year?

Harrison to the Mets?

Sean: (slightly out of order but in response to Nick) I know Longoria isn't what he was from a few years ago on the Rays, but I'll take the Giants having more wins than the Pirates in 2018.

Jamie: Reynolds is another 4th of on a good team, 15 hr guy. Ugh. Giants aren't even covering all of Cutch, we're eating 2.5 million. Total cost savings between Cole and Cutch is around 19 million with 500,000 in international bonus money. A sad day. Ya, I'd say JHay is out the door next.

Gobo: Yeah, the only thing that matters at this point is that everyone in greater Pittsburgh immediately start calling Kyle Crick "Turtle."

Dan: I'm not a Nutting apologist, exactly, but......here's my take.

Despite some fan delusions to the contrary, this team was not going to be very good. Better than last year if everything went right, but that's about all you can say. It's time for the next "window," much as people don't like to hear that term. It's just the reality.

The only question was whether they could get more now or at the deadline, and I'm not privy to that sort of info.

On free agency and ownership: If there are Russell Martins to be had, let's get one. Although it's the same problem of the last few years -- they had solid, if unspectacular guys at every position. There was never a blatant upgrade area.

Jamie, If you mean really *big* free agents, I can't fault an owner for not going that route in a horribly broken system. Most big signings you can name were wastes of money overall, and the teams signing them simply don't care. They get a crack or two at a World Series before they flush the remaining $50-$100 down the toilet.

Do I wish we had someone who was willing to flush huge amounts of money down the toilet because he really wants a title? Sure. Mark Cuban would be nice. But I'm not going to sit here and torch Nutting because he's not willing to give up a vast personal fortune so a bunch of yinzers he doesn't know can celebrate a championship they had nothing to do with.

Also, for what it's worth, I assume Crick will be a starter again. Post-hype top prospect + Searage = why not? And I like the look of Reynolds. He's exactly the kind of guy I target in the farm draft.

"Also Also": It's easy to say the Pirates didn't go "all in" in those good years. But neither did many other teams. It's not like that actually *works* most of the time. The math is always overwhelmingly against you. If they go all in, they have, what, maybe an 8% chance at a WS instead of 6%? And a far, far higher probability of making it the only shot they have.

Most teams simply aren't doing that anymore, are they?

Jamie:I don't disagree with you at all about the team's upside. That's the problem. The only free agent I want is a #1 starter. I've always maintained that guys like Cole will never reach their potential until they're a #2 or #3 starter behind a great veteran who knows what they're doing. Is that veteran always "worth" their contract on the back end? Probably not, but it's a cost of doing business and not my problem. Cole was immediately pushed into the #1 role and only thrived when Liriano was briefly pitching like a #1. Had we added a #1 starter to the roster we had, we'd have a $110 million payroll and a good shot at the postseason. Now we have a $70 million dollar payroll and zero shot. Crick as a starter has the upside of 15 good starts before he blows out his arm.

Sorry, just not feeling it now. I liked Cutch. Turtle Crick is a damn good nickname, but I'm just not feeling it for this team. My boys were starting to become big Pirates fans, so it's really a double whammy for me.

Why play the season at all?

It's sports. Going all in is kind of the point.

Dan: Regarding pitchers: it's not a smart -- or winning -- strategy.


And no, it's certainly not our problem. But Nutting's what we're stuck with, and his strategy is reasonably sound based on current statistical and financial realities. No matter how much fans bang their heads against a wall, it's not going to make him spend $100 million on an arm destined for someone's operating table or a 4.00 ERA. I wouldn't do it, either. I'd keep trying until I developed one myself.

Now if you want to torch this organization, you torch them for the unreal Cleveland Browns-like track record of putrid player selection and development for 20+ years. The jury is still out on whether they really know what they're doing now, or if the McCutchen/Cole/Marte era is just the proverbial blind squirrel getting the nut.

Sean: I agree with the idea of starting over. If you're not going to make the playoffs, why not trade your best players instead of simply treading water and being mediocre? The problem, as mentioned before, is the scouting and development. When was the last time the Pirates drafted an elite player? (The answer is Cutch and that was before the NH era.) The Rivero trade was great, but how many other trades have worked out well over the last few years?

I guess we have to hope that some of the players acquired for Cole and Cutch (and maybe Harrison and/or Freese) turn into all-star caliber players and that the Pirates, with likely a top-5 draft pick, get someone on the level of Cutch. That's a long wait though, and again, there's not a great track record from the current front office.

Nick: The Pirates always win when Melancon is in a trade.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 State of the Ramblings (L'Chaim!)

Sean's Ramblings turned 13 on Monday and as customary in Jewish tradition, I'm considering this to be the blog's Bar Mitzvah. Yes, today is the day that this blog became a man! Feel free to send fountain pens as gifts!

Looking back over the past year, 2017 contained the fewest posts I've written since this blog's inception in 2005. 90 posts still seems like a lot of writing, but I used to crank out 250-300 posts per year. I guess it's quality over quantity now. Anyway, the biggest reason for my decreased amount of writing was something that wasn't on my radar when I wrote the 2017 State of the Ramblings: Luigi.

Luigi arrived in early September approximately five weeks early and spent a week in the NICU. I wrote all about my fears and concerns about being a new dad again in October, and three months later, Luigi is by far the easiest of the three boys right now. I'm sure that I'm jinxing this, but he has slept through the night the past five nights. He has a wonderful smile (particularly when getting his diaper changed) and is generally happy unless he's really hungry or really tired. Actually, this describes most people I know.

Besides Luigi, the biggest thing to happen on Sean's Ramblings this year was my two-part (part 1; part 2) interview with Chris Wright, former General Manager of the Pittsburgh Spirit and now former President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. He's now the CEO of Minnesota United. Did his interview with me lead to the new job? Can you prove it didn't?

While I keep some things private, I probably share too much information sometimes like when I got a vasectomy and took Pedro Tulo to the ER. I also posted videos of me from high school where I performed in Lil' Abner.

I saw U2,I saw the eclipse (sort of) with my kids, and said goodbye to my car.

I called out Jerry Falwell Jr. and actually used much of the post in a letter to the editor of a local Northern Virginia newspaper. Really I did.

So what will 2018 bring on Sean's Ramblings? I have no idea. I'd like to write more, but three little boys may prevent that. There are many talented people who used to write blogs that don't anymore. Perhaps they might want to write a guest post here. Maybe I'll continue with my campaign to bring back Press Your Luck. Or start a campaign. I'd like to do more interviews. I'd also still like to cover a sporting event or awards show.

Thanks to all of you who have read any or all of my posts over the last 13 years. I truly appreciate the support!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Random Ramblings 2018

Happy New Year! Even though we're now into the second week of 2018, since this is my first post of the year, I find it completely appropriate to include a Happy New Year message. Here are some things that have occurred recently:

* The Moose is 6 years old, and I was really excited to show him Star Wars. Unfortunately, he wasn't really into the movie, and we only made it through about 35 minutes. I probably didn't sell the movie enough to him, but I'm putting some of the blame on TNT. The station had the film available for free via On Demand, which was great, but you're not able to fast-forward during the broadcast. Every 15 minutes or so, TNT interrupted the movie to show commercials of TNT shows. Every single TNT show, with the exception of the NBA on TNT, features characters with guns. While I know there are lightsabers and phasers in Star Wars, the TNT shows/commercials are definitely not geared for 6 year olds.

* Recently, as I was changing the diaper of three month old Luigi, he had a major spit up when I started to pick him up. Based on the position of his face, the spit up started going right towards one of his eyes. My natural reaction was to warn Luigi to close his eyes. Of course, since he is still an infant, he had no concept of what I was frantically screaming about and was completely unfazed by any of this as I had to go into clean up mode.

* I've written about my love of Wegmans many times over the years. For some dumb reason, I decided to go grocery shopping on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Although I had trouble finding parking on both occasions and the store was as crowded as I've seen it, all 23 check out lines were open and moved very quickly.

* Meanwhile, I went to Safeway recently since they had several great deals. On a weekend morning, the store had 1 register open. One!?!!? Unless I'm in a hurry or only have one item, I try to avoid the self-checkout lines. I find that I often have trouble scanning items or am buying items (medicine or alcohol) that require assistance. Plus, I want to go to aisles with cashiers to help preserve these jobs. So at Safeway, with one aisle open, the staff actually told me to go to self-checkout because there was a line. I don't understand how that store operates.

* I've also started to go to Aldi (or Aldi's in my mind) on occasion since they have ridiculous prices on their brand items. Recently, I purchased dishwasher detergent that said "compare to Cascade" on the packaging. It went poorly. All of the glasses, plates, silverware, etc. had a filmy finish. I ran the dishwasher again with the same detergent with the same result. Then, I ran the dishwasher on a rinse cycle. Then, I bought our normal detergent, but the filmy finish remained.

Finally, I got vinegar and that seemed to solve the problem. I compared Aldi's dishwasher detergent to Cascade and learned that there really is no comparison. Oh, I've also discovered that one of the ways that Aldi's has inexpensive products is because they don't seem to use heat in their stores. It was single digit temperatures over the weekend in Northern Virginia, and the store couldn't have been much warmer than that.

* I'll end with this. Pedro Tulo (age 3) has a catchphrase. He says "Everybody knows that" several times per day with no context and with nothing to do with any type of conversation. I have no idea where he got this.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sean's Ramblings 2017 Year In Review

Welcome to my 13th (yes, 13th!) annual year in review, where I take the first few lines of the first entry of each month in order to produce a random and (hopefully) interesting summary of 2017. Please note that this is not my picks for best of/worst of 2017 since I posted that last week. This is simply a summary of 2017.

January: Happy New Year! Today, you're going to get three rants for the price of one (assuming that you're paying for this blog...which you're not, so you're just getting three rants).

February: Welcome to a brand new edition of Sean analyzing current song lyrics. The songs below are all near the top of the charts and all used lyrics that are inspired by 80s movies.

March: Over the weekend, President Trump sent out the following tweet.

April: We've established that I'm often out of touch, one of the last people to adjust to new technology, and basically, unhip. (Unless it's hip to be square, and then I think I'm okay. If you don't understand this reference, go to Google and search for Huey Lewis and The News greatest hits.)

May: Although my sports focus right now is on the Penguins-Capitals series, the NFL draft took place last week, so I thought I would share my thoughts about the Steelers draft picks. Please note that this isn't exactly an in-depth, analytic blog post. It's slightly different.

June: Twenty years ago last month, the Spice Girls were proclaiming Girl Power (while also telling us what they want, what they really, really want) and Hanson's MMMBop was about to take over the country. Meanwhile, I graduated from college. I nearly missed this anniversary except for a former mentor/supervisor posting something on Facebook about Ithaca College's Senior Splash.

July: In the early 90s, it was impossible to avoid Boyz II Men. They performed ballads such as "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," "End of the Road," and "I'll Make Love To You" that was played at every wedding, graduation ceremony, and prom.

August: This is Halsey. (It sounds cooler if you say it like "This is Jeopardy.")

September: In the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry rivalry, I'm Team Katy. Despite the fact that she was awful hosting Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards (we can blame the writers, right?), I think we can all agree that it would be much more fun to hang out with Perry over Swift

October: These are depressing times. In the past month, hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida respectively. Then, Hurricane Maria absolutely destroyed much of Puerto Rico.

November: When you write over 2,800 blog posts in nearly 13 years, you tend to have some overlapping topics. Therefore, some of this post expands on previous posts though I have some thoughts/notes on fatherhood, Pittsburgh sports media, and Ithaca College too.

December: Woodland Hills High School, just outside the Pittsburgh's city limits, is probably best known for two things: football where the team has been to the WPIAL playoffs for 22 consecutive years and produced nearly a dozen NFL players including Jason Taylor, Rob Gronkowski, and Steve Breaston and musical theater where the school has won countless Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater.

And that's basically my blog for 2017. Well, except for the part about having a new son. That was pretty significant.

Have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Caps For Sale Comes to Life

Caps For Sale is a well known children's book by Esphyr Slobodkina. If you're not familiar with the story, a peddler wanders around a town unsuccessfully attempting to sell caps. During a break, the peddler takes a nap and wakes up to discover the monkeys took all of his caps. Hilarity ensues!

Meanwhile, hilarity did not ensue when one monkey took a Pittsburgh Steelers cap.

From WPXI:

A former Erie man now living in Bali who fell from a roof while chasing a monkey that had stolen his favorite Pittsburgh Steelers cap will have surgery.

Jeff "Swede" Swedenhjelm, who moved to Florida 17 years ago before relocating to Bali, fell 33 feet on Monday.

"He's like, 'That's my hat, I need it,'" his daughter, Lyric, told Channel 11 in an interview. "And you know Steelers Nation is everywhere, but in Bali, it's a lot harder to come by, to buy a new hat, so he wasn't going to let it go very easily.

Villagers took him to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe damage to his spinal cord. He currently is paralyzed from the chest down.

I really don't want to make light of this situation, but it seems like a bad idea to have caps around monkeys.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Video: Rudolph

Have you always enjoyed the holiday classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer but thought that it was missing more words, questions, and exclamations between the lines of the song? Well, rapper DMX is here for you, and he's gonna give it to ya up in here (up in here). Enjoy!

(The songs and videos are safe for work. It's Rudolph. You can't add bad words to a Rudolph song.)

And here's DMX performing this song live.

For those who celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sean's Best and Worst of 2017

Welcome to my annual list of the best and worst of 2017! Actually, it's not my annual list of 2017 since there's no way I would have known in 2014 what my favorite song or book of 2017 would have been. You know what I mean. Anyway, feel free to enjoy my thoughts on some of the biggest pop culture (and more) things that occurred in 2017.

Best TV Show: The Good Place

I watch a lot of television. With young kids and especially a new addition to the family in September, I rarely get to the movies (more on that below). I also find that I don't have time to sit down and watch a 90-minute or 2-hour plus movie as I fall asleep too easily and just don't have the time to watch a movie in one sitting. Therefore, I load up on TV shows on the DVR and started a Netflix subscription. There are so many great shows out there. Just on Netflix alone, I really enjoyed Ozark, Glow, Master of None, American Vandal, and Stranger Things this year. ABC's Speechless may be the funniest show on TV, and I love Better Call Saul. FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine is still fantastic and I found USA's Search Party very interesting. The most clever and fascinating show, and also my favorite from the past year, is NBC's The Good Place. The premise behind the show is that Kristen Bell dies and goes to The Good Place, which is basically heaven. However, Bell's character is actually a terrible person who really shouldn't be there. Ted Danson is perfectly cast as the architect of The Good Place neighborhood and the rest of the cast is amazing. There was a huge twist at the end of season one that made most people (or at least me) wonder where the show would go from there, but season two has been just as good if not better than season one.

Please note that I have not seen Game of Thrones yet this year, so that didn't make the list. I also need to see Mindhunter.

Worst TV Show: Nashville

I've watched this show from the beginning. I guess it's a guilty pleasure, and I really don't know why I still watch it. At the beginning, it was Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere being country music stars. The show was definitely soap-opery but the music was good (even from someone who isn't a big country music fan), and I enjoyed most of the characters. ABC cancelled the show a few years ago, but it got a second life on CMT. Then, this season, they killed off Connie Britton, only the best person on the show. Panettiere's character keeps doing dumb things and never learns from anything in her past. Then, they had a "is Gunnar the father of Scarlett's baby" thing. Plus once Will came out as gay and most people were okay with it, the show didn't know what to do with him, so he rarely gets screen time. Meanwhile, Deacon can never be happy, and the show wasted Rachel Bilson having her be an accountant or something. The one redeeming quality of this show right now is that I can watch it and do something else. I need to have my full attention on the shows listed above, but I can write a blog post watching Nashville and know I'm not going to miss anything. Anyway, I really should stop watching this show especially when I have season three of Fargo, the last season of Orphan Black, and the current season of This Is Us all sitting on my DVR.

Best Song: Feel It Still by Portugal The Man

I wrote about this song back in August, and since that time, it exploded. I'm not saying that I was the reason for the song becoming one of the most played songs of 2017, but I guess I'm not not saying that either. Plus, the band's Twitter account liked and responded to my tweet when I wrote my August post. That gets bonus points in my book!

Worst Song: Paris by The Chainsmokers

I considered writing a blog post analyzing the lyrics of this song but decided against it...until now.

We were staying in Paris
To get away from your parents

All the way to Paris just to get away? The Chainsmokers were formed in New York City. I'm sure they could have just gone to Jersey.

And I thought, "Wow
If I could take this in a shot right now
I don't think that we could work this out”

You went all the way to Paris to realize that you're going to break up. What an awful person. You could have done that in Atlantic City or even better at home without traveling thousands of miles. Think about it. You take your significant other all the way to Paris which is a really big deal, and then you get there and realize that you can't work it out. Jerk.

Out on the terrace

Nice job finding another word that rhymes with Paris.

I don't know if it's fair but I thought "How
Could I let you fall by yourself
While I'm wasted with someone else”

Wait, not only did you realize that you couldn't work it out but you're with someone else? And again, you took this person to Paris. Super jerk!

If we go down then we go down together
They'll say you could do anything
They'll say that I was clever

You're not going down together, Chainsmokers. You're dumping this person. There's no together here. And no one will say you were clever.

If we go down then we go down together
We'll get away with everything
Let's show them we are better

You are definitely not better. Again, you are an a**hole.

Best Movie I Saw in the Theater: Wild Kratts

You're probably thinking to yourself, I've never heard of this movie. If you have young kids, you may know the PBS television show but are still confused by this entry. PBS partnered with movie theaters across the country to show episodes of some of its television shows on the big screen. The cost of tickets serve as donations to local PBS stations. It's a neat idea where young kids can go to the theaters in a comfortable environment (meaning that it's okay if the audience isn't completely quiet during the show). For Wild Kratts, I took both The Moose and Pedro Tulo with me, and we bought a bottomless tub of popcorn. The popcorn was delicious!

Worst Movie I Saw In the Theater: Ready, Jet, Go

This was another PBS show, and I took only Pedro Tulo for his first ever trip to a movie theater. He could not keep still. We went to the restroom at least three times, and he wondered all over the mostly empty theater. I also didn't get popcorn.

Best Blog: The Mrs. Fisher

My friend Nichole blogged regularly throughout 2017 sharing everyone from wedding plans and her honeymoon to the building of her new house. While some of her posts about fashion and style certainly are not geared for me, it's been really fun reading about Nichole's busy 2017!

Best Podcast: The Poscast / The YaJagoff! Podcast (tie)

Michael Schur is the official winner of 2017. He created the best TV show in The Good Place and is partially responsible for other quality shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Master of None. In his off time, he and Joe Posnanski, a writer for MLB.com, do a podcast called The Poscast. While baseball is a central topic to The Poscast, they also regularly conduct drafts on various topics such as "We Are the World" singers, autumn things, salty snacks, and road signs. Highly entertaining and the podcast I listen to immediately when they are available.

Meanwhile, I've listened to John Chamberlin's The YaJagoff! podcast since the beginning, and it really found it's footing this year with co-host Rachael Rennebeck. The podcast seems to go to a different Pittsburgh event or venue every week, and it makes me a little jealous about all the cool stuff happening in Pittsburgh that I'm missing. Plus, the podcast was responsible for this awesome Christmas ornament.

My Best Blog Post: Life as a New Father

This was quite the personal post about my fears of being a new father to a third child. A close second is my two-part interview with Chris Wright, the former GM of the Pittsburgh Spirit and President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. He recently (after the interview) started a new job where he's responsible for the day to day business and sporting operations of the Minnesota United. (This is part one; this is part two. I'm still extremely grateful to Chris for his graciousness in talking with me.

My Worst Blog Post: J.D. Vance Comes to Washington

I pointed out that the National Book Festival listed the same author twice on its advertisement.

Best Sports Moment: Penguins Repeat As Stanley Cup Champs

Marc-Andre Fleury was the hero in the opening rounds, and Phil Kessel is a two-time Stanley Cup champion! It wasn't always pretty (see the end of the Capitals series and much of the Ottawa series), but Crosby, Malkin, and company won back-to-back titles!

Worst Sports Moment: The Pittsburgh Pirates (again)

The Pirates were one of the best teams in baseball just a few years ago, and after a 75-87 season, there's discussion about the team trading its best players Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. If trades are made, I have little confidence in the team's front office to get solid returns for these players to allow the Pirates to contend again in the near future. So frustrating.

Best Movie I Saw At Home: Deadpool

What a fun movie. I mean it definitely deserves it's R rating but highly entertaining.

Worst Move I Saw (well, didn't see) At Home: Get Out and Hell Or High Water

Why would my DVR show that I recorded 2 hours of Get Out, and when I played the movie, it said it wasn't available? I'm blaming Showtime. For Hell Or High Water, the first 25 minutes were all messed up, and I wasn't going to start after missing this. I'm blaming the DVR on this one.

Best Book: The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport by Rafi Kohan

Unfortunately, I didn't read as many books as I would have liked in 2017. This book was right up my alley as I've been to dozens of stadiums and arenas across the country, and this deals with everything besides the on-the-field/court activity. As the title indicates, the book broaches subjects like stadium financing, in-game entertainment, security, and much more. Very interesting stuff that you probably don't consider going to a game.

Feel free to share your best and worst of 2017 in the comments below. Happy Holidays, and have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Video: Wish I Knew You

We're getting close to the end of 2017, and you know what that means, right? I'll have my best and worst of 2017 post sometime soon! (And you need to go out any buy those ridiculous 2018 glasses that you can only use once for New Year's Eve.) For the best song of any given year, my rule is that the video of the song must be posted on my blog at some point during the year. Although I'm (probably) not going to award my best song of 2017 to The Revivalists for Wish I Knew You, it's definitely a contender.

The song has only received widespread attention over the past few months, but it's actually from February 2016. Who knew? (Well, besides The Revivalists.)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Merry T-Rex-Mas

Do you see two Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs fighting over a table saw or is it just me?

(This picture is courtesy of Displaced Yinzer‏.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

JuJu Claus Is Coming To Town (Assuming Your Town Is Pittsburgh)

JuJu Smith-Schuster may be one of the most fun people in sports. He is the youngest player in the NFL and has been part of some epic touchdown celebrations.

JuJu only recently got his driver's license, so prior to this, he rode a bike quite frequently. It was national news when his bike got stolen, but after it was recovered, he made sure everyone knew that his bike would not be stolen again.

JuJu is also helping to give back to the community.

The jolly and giving man in the traditional red suit has been replaced! This Tuesday, December 12 at 6 p.m. at the Mall at Robinson expect a wide receiver in a chic, tailored red suit for a photo opportunity in the spirit of the season of giving. Yep, JuJu Claus is coming and all proceeds of the photo opportunity benefit the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

The center court of the Mall at Robinson will be the headquarters for JuJu Smith-Schuster to be JuJu Claus in his David Alan custom-designed suit. Total Sports Enterprises will present the photos only opportunity for $19 per photo, which benefits the Homeless Children's Education Fund, along with the sale of #Team JuJu laces. Total Sports Enterprises will sell the laces in-store at the Mall at Robinson and online at tseshop.com for $7.99 youth, and $9.99 adult. To further support the cause, each purchaser of #TeamJUJU laces receives a ticket for a drawing to win a pair of authentic Adidas JuJu cleats.

For more information concerning JuJu Claus coming to the Mall at Robinson tonight, visit www.tseshop.com.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Potato Pancakes For Breakfast?

Potatoes can be a big part of any breakfast. You regularly see hash browns or home fries on any breakfast menu. At Waffle House alone, you can get hash browns covered, smothered, chunked, diced, capped, topped, and/or peppered or some type of combination of any or all of these.

With Hanukkah starting next week, Safeway is selling potato pancakes at these discounted prices:

The only problem is that the potato pancakes are in the "Breakfast & Cereal" portion category on the Safeway app. Despite the fact that potato and pancake are in the food's name, I've never seen or heard of people eating potato pancakes for breakfast. Have you?

(Please don't mind my terrible attempt at crossing off the address of my local Safeway.)

Monday, December 04, 2017

Actual Video of Sean on Stage

Woodland Hills High School, just outside the Pittsburgh's city limits, is probably best known for two things: football where the team has been to the WPIAL playoffs for 22 consecutive years and produced nearly a dozen NFL players including Jason Taylor, Rob Gronkowski, and Steve Breaston and musical theater where the school has won countless Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater. About 7 years ago, someone who graduated from Montour High School started working at my organization. Upon learning that I went to Woodland Hills, he bitterly conceded that Woodland Hills always won at the Gene Kelly Awards.

Anyway, during my sophomore year of high school, I was on the stage crew for the production of Guys and Dolls. The fact that I actually helped build a set is funny since I have no building or repair skills whatsoever. (As a tangent, I really need to replace the fluorescent light bulb in the laundry room. I'm going to have to make a Home Depot trip, aren't I? Ugh.) During my junior year, I decided that I wanted to be on stage and not be behind the scenes. Although my singing audition probably went poorly since I have an awful voice, I killed in my dancing audition. Probably more importantly, the show needed a few more male cast members, so I earned the role of Government Man and part of the chorus in the production of Lil' Abner.

Recently, videos of the (gulp) 1992 production of Lil' Abner were posted on YouTube. While it's interesting (at least to me) to check out the videos, I wanted to share a few today.

The first is a scene before, during, and after the song Unnecessary Town. I'm wearing a suit and hat seated at the U.S. Army table. The last 30 seconds or so of the video shows my true acting range.

Oh, feel free to enjoy a Pittsburgh Steelers joke around the 1:10 mark. (The Steelers were coming off of a 7-9 season.)

There are/were some really, really talented people involved in this musical. Fortunately, they carried me!

The second video shows the cast dancing/singing to Rag Offen The Bush. Again, I'm wearing a hat and tie, and you can find me at the front right (scene left).

You can see all of the videos here. 25 years later, seeing the Confederate flag displayed so prominently is a little creepy. I guess that's part of the art of the show. Overall, though, this brought back some fun memories, and I think The Moose enjoyed watching me perform.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Vasectomy

Let me preface this post by writing that this is TV-14 or TV-MA for content that may be unsuitable for children under 14, 17, or even 35. Viewer discretion is advised.

Nearly three months ago, we welcomed Luigi to our family. We also decided that Luigi would not be an older brother, in part due to some of my concerns already being a father of three. So on Wednesday, I did my part to take one for the team. And by my part, I mean I put on a hospital gown and went to sleep, but more on that later.

I asked multiple people for recommendations for a urologist. When two people, a friend and my wife's OB-GYN, both suggested the same doctor, we had a winner. While the doctor clearly explained the procedure, what I remember most from my consultation was a picture of him with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana from probably 20 years ago hanging in the lobby. Although I didn't ask the doctor, I wondered if Montana was a previous patient. We'll get back to Montana momentarily.

Prior to the surgery, I needed to complete an online registration. Everything was fine except for the question about the reason for the procedure. I initially skipped this question, but since it was required, this is what I entered:

I mean are there any other answers?

I was also instructed to wear loose fitting clothes. It seems like I had no other options than to wear this:

The MC Hammer shirt was actually somewhat tight, so I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt instead.

Even though I didn't have a chance to start reading, I brought the book Emily Alone by Stewart O'Nan with me. I received this book recommendation by listening to Rick Sebak on a Ya Jagoff! podcast. How Pittsburgh is that last sentence?

To the procedure itself, I've had anesthetic only 2 or 3 times in my life when I got my tonsils out at age 4 or 5, possibly when my wisdom teeth were removed in high school, and now for this vasectomy. I was given an IV and then had a mask put over my mouth. I was out in seconds after the mask was put on. Though I planned on writing everything that happened during the vasectomy, all that I remember is that a Flo Rida song was being played in the operating room. Why Flo Rida? Other than that, I have no idea what happened and how I woke up wearing a jock strap. (On a completely different subject, how did former Pittsburgh Penguin Jock Callander never do endorsement for a jock strap company?)

As expected, when I woke up from the anesthetic, I was a little loopy. My wife dropped me off for the procedure to be home with Luigi. The surgical center called her to pick me up, and over the course of the next few hours, I asked her on three separate occasions what time they called her. Otherwise, I enjoyed the Teddy Grahams the surgical center had for me. Then, I went home and spent much of the day in bed and placing an ice pack on the, um, operated area.

I'm supposed to be sore for several days and must refrain from physical activity. My doctor said that I shouldn't be in a rodeo and do any alligator wrestling. Fortunately, I did both last weekend. (What, that's not part of your Thanksgiving tradition?)

I almost forgot that I received these socks for getting the vasectomy. This really should be a selling point. Have surgery and get a free pair of socks!

I'll try to be delicate here, but this is where the mature audience piece comes in. Despite getting a vasectomy, there are still some, um, rounds in the chamber. The doctor said that I need to be the master of my domain 20 times over the next 10 weeks before I'm sterile. He said that it's both 20 times and 10 weeks, so 20 times in less that 10 weeks isn't enough, apparently. So now, I wonder if Joe Montana had a vasectomy and, like the Saturday Night Live skit, told his family that he needed to go upstairs to be master of his domain.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Post-Thanksgiving Random Ramblings

More and more, I'm finding that I have interesting things that I'd like to share, but they alone are not enough for a blog post. That's going to change in the near future, but in the meantime, here are some random thoughts from the Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Luigi (now almost 3 months) has started to smile and it's a game changer. Previously, he basically cried, stared blankly, or slept, but his smile more than makes up for the countless diaper changes and over two months of limited sleep.

2. During Thanksgiving, my brother showed me a knife he was using to cut the turkey. When I replied, "That's not a knife. This is a knife," he had no idea what I was talking about. My wife and sister-in-law were equally confused. I always thought this was a classic movie line, but it seems like it's not. Do you know where this line is from? This picture should help.

3. One of the cool things about Pedro Tulo's preschool is that they have animals. The kids have weekly pony rides (Pedro Tulo isn't interested in this), they have chickens (the kids eat eggs produced by the chickens), and there is a horse and donkey. I have certainly taken the kids to visit the animals during pick up. Last night, I received the following email:

On Thanksgiving night and the next night, something got into the chicken coop somehow and killed all of our chickens, most likely a raccoon. Despite hours of re-enforcing the enclosure on Thanksgiving Day, something still got in and killed the remaining 4 the next night.

Now, we as parents and/or the teachers are going to have to explain to kids ages 2-5 why there are no more chickens.

Raccoons are the absolute worst.

4. I was recently introduced to HQ, the daily trivia app, which I've started to play in the futile attempt to answer 12 questions correctly and win money. The Daily Beast recently published this story, and the app's founder seems like quite a jerk. I still don't understand how this app makes any money. (h/t @Captain Easychord)

5. There's still a chance to get a $5 MasterCard gift card when you upload receipts for participating SC Johnson products. Plus, five winners each day up until November 30th will be selected to win a year’s worth of SC Johnson products. Please register at Daily Break by clicking on this link.

6. While watching the Steelers-Packers game last night, I wondered when the NBC broadcast would mention that Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy was from Pittsburgh. It took about two minutes. A little later, NBC showed the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Greenfield and McCarthy's picture when he played on a youth basketball team. NBC missed out on a perfect opportunity to also show my aunt's house and the Greenfield Bridge explosion.

7. I don't want to get my hopes up, but there's a decent chance that I'm going to be able to share a very special video here soon. It will definitely get its own post!