Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pirates Win!

This is going to be all over the place. I went to Post-Gazette website to link the article about the Pirates ending a 13-game losing streak. Here's the link. While on the website, there is a headline to say that Penguins announcer Mike Lange was fired as the team's TV announcer. According to the article, Lange will be replaced by Paul Steigerwald, who is currently the team's radio announcer and Lange has been offered Steigerwald's job as radio announcer. I'm really confused.

Going back to the Pirates, I'll be heading to the Burgh this weekend and (weather permitting) will attend my first Pirates game of the season. I'm excited about it. I know the team is lousy but I always enjoy going to baseball games, especially at PNC Park. Plus I can always root for Cheese Chester in the pierogi race.

Finally, I want to give a "Best Week Ever" award to Mondesi's House. After having a blog for only one week, this guy was referenced on Deadspin and in a Post-Gazette article. Way to go Mondesi's House (nice site too)!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vote Early & Vote Often

Dan has already mentioned this, but Pittsburgh and the Pirates have had a campaign for Jason Bay to start in baseball's All-Star game in Pittsburgh. Bay is currently leading the voting for National League outfielders. The online all-star balloting ends tomorrow (June 29) at 11:59pm. You can vote a maximum of 25 times, so click here to vote for Bay and write-in Freddy Sanchez as your National League third-baseman.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Changing Subjects

As you have probably noticed, I've been writing a lot about the World Cup lately. I apologize for people out there who don't really follow soccer. Anyway, here's something new: J.K. Rowling has revealed that at least two characters will die in the seventh and final installment of Harry Potter. Personally, I hope they kill off Doby. I'll actually make a prediction...a Weasley family member will die.

While any news on the last Harry Potter book is good, I really want to know when the book will be released. Does anyone know?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

World Cup Thoughts

* It hasn't happened yet, but over the next few weeks, several World Cup matches will be decided by penalty kicks. If the game is tied at the end of the second half, there are two, fifteen-minute overtime sessions (it is not sudden death/golden goal). If the game is still tied, it goes to a shoot-out. I am here to say that this is garbage. This is the equivalent of a basketball game ending with a free throw contest or a baseball game ending with a home run derby. I think soccer games should go until someone scores a goal just like the NHL playoffs. I don't care if players are tired. The game should be decided on the field; 11 vs. 11. Maybe FIFA can incorporate a rule change to add an additional substitution at the end of each overtime if there's really a concern about players being tired (of course, these are professional athletes playing in the sport's greatest event...they should be fine).

* I watched the Portugal-Netherlands match today. I believe that there were 16 yellow cards and four red cards for players receiving a second yellow! I don't want to say that the ref lost control of the match, but he lost control of the match. Portugal's reward for winning 1-0: they get to play England without Deco (of Barcelona) and Costinha who will be suspended.

* The name of Argentina's coach is Jose Pekerman. Pekerman! I feel like I should have known this before yesterday's Argentina-Mexico match.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


One of my favorite songs of all time is "Crazy" by Seal. One of my favorite current songs is "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. That's, like, crazy!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Metro Question

I like Metro. I take it to and from work everyday and rarely have complaints (my few complaints generally have to do with people riding Metro more than the system itself). I do have a question...According to this Metro press release, Metrorail ridership had over 783,000 trips last Friday, the seventh highest weekday ridership in the system’s 30-year history. In fact, last Tuesday (6/13), Wednesday, Thursday and Friday rank in the top 10 weekday ridership in Metro's history. So why after noticing the increase in ridership, is Metro running 4-car trains on the Orange line during rush hour? It happened during the AM rush (8:45am) this morning and during the PM rush yesterday (6:00pm).

I apologize for the readers outside the DC area who have no idea what I'm talking about.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Quick Notes

* Over the past few days, there have been visitors to this site from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Finland, Italy and the U.K. That's so cool (although I'm guessing that none of these folks will be visiting here again)!

* Congratulations to my new favorite soccer player Fred (who I wrote about last week) for scoring a goal in his World Cup debut in Brazil's victory over the Socceroos.

* Unlike many NFL teams, the Steelers have had success over the years in having quality players (i.e. players that do not get arrested). Which leads me to the Steelers first round draft pick, Santonio Holmes, who was arrested and charged with domestic violence and simple assault. A few weeks ago, Holmes was arrested for disorderly conduct. Not a good start to his pro career. If he doesn't turn his life around soon, I don't want him as a Steeler.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Question of the Day

Why is the national anthem played or performed before sporting events but not before concerts, plays or musicals?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

U.S vs. Italy Journal

I'm here sitting on my couch waiting for the game to start, so I figured I would post notes from today's U.S./Italy World Cup match periodically. I may include notes from the four soccer games I refereed earlier today as well. Please feel free to write comments throughout and after the match.

2:35pm (Eastern Time) Why is Taylor Hicks doing Ford commercials? Did he sell out already? Is it possible for him to ever sell in?

I missed the Czech Republic-Ghana game. Was Ghana really good, the Czechs bad or a combination of both?
2:41 Commercial for the new Superman movie. I’m not sure I really want to see it, but I like the bald look for Kevin Spacey plus he’ll probably make a good bad guy.

2:47 ABC just showed three U.S. fans wearing Harlem Globetrotter jerseys. The Globetrotters are great, but what do they have to do with soccer?

2:50 More commercials. Please start the game.

2:52 Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa are calling the game. Balboa looks a little scary. A haircut would be nice.

2:53 Let me state for the record that I hate the red and gray referee jerseys. I’m sure they will start requiring all referees to wear them. I really don’t want to buy a new referee jersey.

2:56 The Italian national anthem is nice. However, why did they show at Italian guy in the stands wearing no shirt and a Speedo? Call security and get him out of the stadium!

2:57 For the U.S. national anthem, ABC showed several Americans with U-S-A written on their chests. At least they weren’t wearing Speedos.

2:59 Bocanegra and Dempsey get the start for the Americans today. I’m surprised the Johnson isn’t starting in place of McBride up front as well.
3rd minute: The U.S. already has 4 fouls. Fortunately, none of them have really hurt the U.S. Another foul; 2nd on Onyewu. He needs to be careful or he’ll get a card soon.

4th minute: Yellow card for Totti of Italy. He deserved it for a cheap tackle. He’s also the one player on the Italian team that I know which means he’s really good.

7th minute: Good no call. Donovan was trying to draw a foul in Italy’s box.

9 minutes in: Besides all of the fouls (7 overall), the U.S. has played well. They’re not intimidated and seem much more aggressive today.

11th minute: Nice play by Onyewu stopping an Italian 1-on-1. I don't know any of the players names on Italy, so if you are looking for extremely thorough analysis, this is probably not the place.
13th minute: I’m getting into the game. I just yelled at the TV when McBride was taken out just outside the penalty box. Great opportunity for the U.S.

14th minute: The kick went directly into Italy’s wall. U.S. corner kick.

15th minute: Clint Dempsey is making things happen. Great cross which Convey kicked all the way to Poland. Dempsey then missed just wide on a shot from about 20 yards out.

This game is being played in Kaiserslautern. I’ve never heard of this city. Is it near Keyser Soze? (Speaking of Kevin Spacey...)

20th minute: Yellow card for Eddie Pope.

21st minute: Goal for Italy. There was a foul by Donovan (I think). On the free kick Alberto Gilardino had a diving header for the goal.

23rd minute: There’s an injured Italian player. Bathroom break!

26th minute: GOAL FOR THE U.S! I don't care it it's an own goal (meaning the Italian player knocked it in). It's a goal

27th minute: RED CARD on De Rossi (not Portia from Ally McBeal and Arrested Development). He elbowed McBride in the face. McBride's bleeding nicely. It's 11 on 10 now. This game has got really exciting. I think the Italians are losing their composure. Get a T.O. baby!
I’m so inspired by the red card that I just went outside, saw a squirrel and gave it a red card. The squirrel responded by running up a tree.

35th minute: Substitution; Totti is out. That is really early for a sub.

39th minute: Carlos Zambrano was just offsides for Italy. I didn’t realize he played for the Italians and the Cubs.

41st minute: Great shot by Mastroeni (of the U.S. not Italy) from about 40 yards out. Just high…didn’t miss by much.

45th minute: Red card on Mastroeni. Bad call. He slid for the ball and got the man. It should have been a yellow, but not a red. Balboa says it’s a make-up call from the earlier red card given to De Rossi.
Welcome back (or just welcome) for the Second Half! The score is tied at 1.

47th minute: Bad foul by Pope. He got a second yellow, which means he’s gone. Balboa (who is a big time homer) thinks it’s an awful call. I think it’s actually a good call but my brother (who refs many more games than me) agrees with Balboa. The U.S. is now playing 9 against Italy’s 10. That’s not good.

52nd minute: Substitution. Conrad in for Convey. I’m a U.S. soccer fan but I have no idea who Conrad is. Italy almost converts on the free kick. The ball is deflected by a U.S. player off the crossbar. Italy is killing the Americans on these set plays.

If the U.S. has any chance of winning, Donovan and Dempsey have to make something happen.
62nd minute: DeMarcus Beasley is in for Dempsey. Like I said, if the U.S. has any chance of winning, Donovan and Beasley have to make something happen. I expect big things from Beasley today.

63rd minute: Donovan sets up McBride for a shot. McBride misses badly with his left foot.

65th minute: GOAL U.S!!!! Wait no goal. McBride was offsides and obstructed the keeper. Great shot by Beasley; McBride was in the wrong place. Arena is going nuts. If this was basketball, he’d get a technical. My brother just called and was laughing at Arena. Completely unrelated, but I wonder if there is a “Bruce Arena” somewhere in the world. Same with a “Chan Ho Park.”

68th minute: Carlos Zambrano just misses a shot wide from 20 yards away. I don’t care if his name really is Zambrotta. Calling him the Cubs pitcher is more fun.

70th minute: Yellow card for Zambrano/Zambrotta for pushing. A yellow card wasn't deserved.
73rd minute: Great diving save by Keller. Italy is really putting on the pressure. If they are able to stay onsides (they have been off about 10 times this half), it could be trouble.

Is Italy known for their sideburns? It seems like all of their players have unique sideburns.

77th minute: Del Piero (who will also be known as Del Monte) had a shot from about 30 yards out that Keller deflected away.

The game is playing slow now. I think both teams are really tired. I say suck it up! I was a referee and assistant referee for four games today (4+ hours). It is 95 and humid here in DC. It’s only 68 in Germany.

Balboa is still complaining about the refs. Just shut-up and get a haircut!
I’m like Brian McBride, but I think it’s time to put in Eddie Johnson or Josh Wolff or even Brian Ching. Why not put in someone with fresh legs to stretch the Italian D?

Balboa just said exactly what I wrote regarding Johnson or Wolff.

90th minute: 3 minutes of stoppage time. It looks like it will be a draw.

Game over. It basically comes down to this. If the U.S. defeats Ghana AND Italy defeats the Czech Republic on June 22nd, the U.S. will advance to the 2nd round.

Thanks for joining me today. Nap time!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Virginia Senate Election

I'll admit it. I was one of the approximately 3% of registered Virginia voters to actually vote in this past Tuesday's primary. Here's something else...I voted for James Webb because I saw him on Comedy Central's Colbert Report in March. Is it bad to primarily vote for a candidate because he came across well on a TV show?

World Cup Fantasy Update

Now that each team has played at least one game, I wanted to provide one quick note about the World Cup Fantasy League standings. The team tied for last place is that of my brother, who follows international soccer more than anyone I know. I just find it funny that he's in last place.

It's not too late to sign up for the league as there are still many matches to be played. If you are interested or want to see the complete standings, click here. For the folks currently in the league, you can make or change your pick up until kick-off.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Best Name Ever!

Last month, I wrote that D'Brickashaw, as in D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the recently drafted offensive lineman for the New York Jets, is one of the coolest names ever. Today, I found a better name.

Many of Brazil's great soccer players are known only by one name. You probably know Pele and current superstars Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Kaka (hehe...I just wrote Kaka). However, you may not know a reserve on the Brazilian national team: Fred. Just plain Fred. According to this description from the World Cup homepage, Fred is a forward with a prolific goal-scoring record in his short club career. He can shoot with both feet, is reliable in the air, and is tactically sound, with the knack of putting himself in the right place to score goals. Fred also holds the record for the fastest goal in Brazilian history, timed at 3.17 seconds. How do you score a goal that quickly? Did he shoot directly on the kick-off while the goalie was busy stretching? Way to go Fred!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Big Sports Monday Afternoon

How often can you say that? How about never. First, as every Steelers and football fan knows by now, Ben Roethlisberger was in an accident while riding his motorcycle. From the reports I have seen, Ben has a broken jaw, a broken nose and is missing some teeth. He was not wearing a helmet. It sounds like it could have been a lot worse. Obviously, I am hoping that Ben is OK and is able to make a full recovery. There are a lot of people thinking of and praying for him. With all that said (actually written), why is he riding a motorcycle without a helmet? I'm sure the answer is that he's in his mid-20s and feels invisible. You would think he would learn after Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a motorcycle accident last year.

On to the other sports news...The U.S. was destroyed by the Czech Republic 3-0 in their first 2006 World Cup match. Tomas Rosicky scored two goals and Petr Nedved had his best game since scoring in the fourth overtime of the 1996 Penguins-Capitals series. Oh, that was not the same Nedved. Even if Petr Nedved had played, it probably wouldn't have made a difference. Next for the U.S. is Italy on Saturday.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Celebrate Fairfax! 2006

This weekend (June 9-11) marks the 25th anniversary of the Celebrate Fairfax! festival. The headliners include Collective Soul, Sugar Ray, Sister Hazel and .38 Special. There are also nearly 80 bands such as local favorites Welbilt and JunkFood, hundreds of exhibitors and activities and (of course) fair food (Mmmmm...funnel cake).

If you live in Northern Virginia or the DC area, it is definitely worth attending. Tickets are only $10 at the gate (there are also coupons on the Celebrate Fairfax website).

I'll be at the festival all weekend and I hope to see you there!

Last Call

Even if you are not a soccer fan, it should be fun to try and pick the winners of the World Cup through ESPN's Pick'em contest. It's free and it looks like you can make your picks up until kickoff. There are two ways to enter, click either this link or click here and use the following group and password:

Group: Sean's Ramblings
Password: ramblings

Plus you have a great chance to win since there are only two people currently in this group.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Omaha - Somewhere in the Middle of America

I am writing this from Omaha, Nebraska continuing my tour of random U.S. cities. I did not know this until I landed but President Bush is also in town. He is actually staying only a few blocks from where I am. I just hope that traffic isn't bad tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and my flight isn't delayed.

A few notes from here:

- Here's what I had for dinner the past two nights: chicken & salmon. That's right, I'm in Omaha and have not had a steak. I really wanted one tonight but it was a little too much (especially since everyone else was ordering entrees that cost less than the steak).

- I can now add Iowa to states that I have been in. Omaha is on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River, which borders Iowa. I need to do a little more research about this but apparently, the Corps of Engineers moved the Missouri River years ago. A town in Iowa that was to the east of the river became west of the river. However, the town decided to stay as Iowa. Therefore, this one town of several thousand people is considered Iowa even though it is completely surrounded by Nebraska.

- Did you know that President Ford was born in Omaha? Me neither. I always thought he was from Michigan.

- I think that's it. I have no other Omaha knowledge to share except that the College World Series will be here next week.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Fantasy World Cup League

I've set up a fantasy World Cup league through and invite everyone to join. This is just for fun since most people who read this (including me) really have no insight on who to pick. To join, click here. Please feel free to invite friends, family or other random strangers.

Update: I don't think you need the password if you click on the link. Just in case...the group name is "Sean's Ramblings" and the password in ramblings.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Real Name or Nickname?

During a soccer game I was a referee for today, there was a 13 or 14 year old girl named Salty. I don't know if Salty is her real name, short for something or a nickname but her coaches and teammates didn't call her anything else. Is it mean to say that the name Salty makes me smile?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mr. Cowher (& Mr. Rooney, Mr. Bettis, etc.) Goes to Washington

Tomorrow (Friday, June 2nd) the Steelers are being honoredat the White House for their Super Bowl victory. The ceremony is scheduled at exactly 1:45 pm (according to the White House Press Office schedule) where the "President participates in a Photo Opportunity and Remarks to the Pittsburgh Steelers." Is it possible for just a regular person (like me) to go and join the Steelers for the celebration? I guess I could call the White House Press Office (the number was on the press release), but it's probably too late at this point. I would love to be there to see if Bush Jr. has a "Who Are You" moment like Bush Sr. did with Mario Lemieux.