Monday, May 30, 2016

Stanley Cup Final Predictions

Although I don't write about Pittsburgh sports much these days, I still follow the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins, particularly the past few months, very closely. With the Penguins reaching the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks, I thought I would ask some folks their thoughts and predictions about the series. Please note that if you're looking for detailed predictions based on puck possession, Corsi, and other stats, you'll have to go somewhere else. Instead you get this. Before we begin, let me introduce this esteemed panel:

Ron of PGH Sports Daily (@PittsburghSport on Twitter)

Josh of Josh's World (@ngewo)

John of Ya Jagoff! (@YaJagoff)

Nicholas aka PSAMP (@psmap)

Jeff (@hockeyfan1377)

Sean of Sean's Ramblings (@seansramblings)

Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH)

Sarah of Sarah Sprague (@sarah_sprague)

1. Better beard: Nick Bonino or Brent Burns?

Ron: Bonino - he wears it likes he not trying to make a statement. You see the clothes Burns wears? He wants the attention a little too much.

Josh: Brent Burns, it just looks like something you would see on Game of Thrones.

John: Burns for sure but we have to give that to him since he won't have a Stanley Cup to hold

Nicholas: Well Nick Bonino has the best first name in the league, and he's about to win a Cup, and he can't win I'll also say Nick Bonino.

Jeff: Burns (I hate saying it, but it has to be said).

Sean: Burns. It's really an amazing beard. Not quite the level of Brett Keisel but really, really good.

Alan: Going off the board with Jumbo Joe.

Sarah: Nick Bonino

2. How many times will the announcers (including the studio show folks) mention that Paul Martin, currently on the Sharks, is a former member of the Pens?

Ron: 12, Half of which will occur when the Sharks score and they berate the Penguins for letting him go.

Josh: Is this per game? At least once a game.

John: 15 times over a 6 game series.

Nicholas: Seven jillion. I will be exhausted after the first, as it'll merely remind me of the string of disappointing playoff defenses led by Paul Martin that heaped scorn on Marc-Andre Fleury.

Jeff: At least 7 times per game (How many times will the announcers mention that Nick Spaling was traded for Phil Kessel and is now the Sharks 4th line center? :))

Sean: The first time Martin touches the puck each game and at least twice during each pre-game and post-game show.

Alan: Three times and then once for every goal. So I'll say four.

Sarah: Low, they'll all forget. Eight times max for the entire series.

3. How many times will the same announcers mention that Tyler Kennedy and Douglas Murray played for both the Sharks and Pens?

Ron: Once - because neither player will have cause to be mentioned come game time.

Josh: More importantly, how many times will they mention that Kennedy was on the Stanley Cup winning Pens team and scored 9 points? Each time he gets the puck.

John: Under 5 in a 6 game series.

Nicholas: Far too few. Douglas Murray should be included in at least 70% of all hockey discussions. Even if we're talking about goal scorers or whatever, you gotta shoehorn Doug Murray in there at a two in three clip.

Jeff: Once per game (I forgot Douglas Murray even existed)

Sean: Negative one.

Alan: Probably not that many. Maybe once.

Sarah: 10,289 times.

4. Better mascot: Iceburgh or Left Shark (from last year's Super Bowl)?

Ron: Shark....let's be real...Sharks are badass

Josh: I have to say Iceburgh. What is a Left Shark?

John: No doubt Iceburgh because he knows more dance moves than Left Shark.

Nicholas: Iceburgh was in a Van Damme film. Left Shark was in a halftime show that wasn't the Prince one. Iceburgh in a landslide.

Jeff: Iceburgh (The one from Sudden Death)

Sean: I really, really, really like Left Shark. However, Left Shark's 15 minutes of fame are over. Iceburgh still lives on in Sudden Death two decades later.

Alan: Iceburgh. He has a SAG credit.

Sarah: Iceburgh

5. Do you know the way to San Jose?

Ron: I've been away for so long....

Josh: Not sure, but I hear you can really breathe in San Jose and they've got a lot of space.

John: No but I hope my NHL Uber driver does.

Nicholas: No. I've never been to the West Coast. It is unnecessary.

Jeff: Yes (Very nice city)

Sean: Go West. Though that might just be me being the king of wishful thinking.

Alan: West on 80, stop before you get to San Francisco.

Sarah: Go to San Francisco, then go south through the rich parts of Silicon Valley. When you've reached the armpit, you're in San Jose.

6. Do you think any of the characters on Silicon Valley care about the San Jose Sharks?

Ron: Unless a shark is a term for a circuit board or some such computer gadgetry, they won't have a clue what the Sharks are.

Josh: Obviously Gilfoyle since he is an illegal Canadian immigrant!

John: No. They only care about how to grow hipster beards on the real sharks that swim near the San Jose area.

Nicholas: Kumail and every character Kumail plays has a pretty good grip on what's going on, so I'd imagine he knows to hate the Sharks.

Jeff: Probably don't even know they have an ice hockey team.

Sean: I don't think sports have ever been discussed on this show, so I'll go with no.

Alan: I've never heard of Silicon Valley.

Sarah: No.

7. Who will win the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP?

Ron: Crosby unless Kessel just goes off this series.

Josh: Kessel

John: Murray!!!!

Nicholas: Phil Kessel. Then he will show up to next season's camp with the body of a Greek god. Because things just keep getting better all the way once you leave Toronto.

Jeff: Sidney Crosby (after he takes over the Final and makes everyone forget their sudden love affair with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau)

Sean: Kessel. And Toronto will riot outside the CN Tower.

Alan: Phil Kessel

Sarah: Kuntiz

8. Finally, who do you think will win the series and in how many games?

Ron: Pens in 6. SJ plays a Pens-Style game but less effectively, in my opinion. As long as Pens refrain from foolish penalties they should take this.

Josh: THE PENS IN 7!

John: Pens in 6

Nicholas: Pens. 6. Because they just refuse to win one at home. Party hard.

Jeff: Pens in 5 (Yeah, I'm going there)

Sean: Pens in 6. I'm clearly a homer here, and like Nicholas wrote, they never win at home.

Alan: Pens in 6

Sarah: Pens in seven.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Adam Ellick's Ithaca College Commencement Address

There's a very good chance you don't recognize the name Adam Ellick but you definitely know his work. Ellick is a New York Times correspondent whose reporting first brought Malala Yousafzai, now a Nobel Prize laureate, to the attention of the world. Ellick has spent significant time in Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and, well, pretty much everywhere and gave the commencement address to Ithaca College on Sunday. Spoiler alert: This is a really, really good speech.

Not mentioned in Adam's address is that he met me nearly 21 years ago. Adam was a freshman at Ithaca College, and I was his Resident Assistant (RA). Adam was (and probably still is) a huge Philadelphia sports fan, and it really seemed like he was going to be a sports journalist. I will be forever grateful to Adam for letting me watch the 4-overtime Petr Nedved Penguins-Capitals playoff game in his room since he had ESPN2 while I did not.

Anyway, I realize that it was a lifetime ago, but it's incredible to see where Adam is now. It's well earned and deserved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Even White Boys Got To Shout

We occasionally have dance parties in our house where we play fun songs and our five year old and two year old boys dance and jump around. Fortunately, there are no cameras to document this (particularly of their father dancing). Anyway, Dynamite by Taio Cruz and Taylor Swift's Shake It Off are popular songs, but I like going back to "classic" songs like It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock and Groove Is In The Heart by Dee-Lite. Over the weekend, we added Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back to the playlist. Now, perhaps the lyrics aren't appropriate for pre-kindergarten kids though we skipped over the "I like big butts and I can not lie" line. It's not like they understand what "But Fonda ain't got a motor in the back of her Honda" means.

Anyway, the point of the post is The Moose's reaction to hearing the song. My five year old said, "That's not even music."

I grounded him for a week.

Friday, May 13, 2016

All I Want For My Birthday Is...

A Penguins victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in game one of the Eastern conference finals.

A Pirates victory over the Chicago Cubs.

A Sheffield Wednesday victory in game one of a two-game playoff against Brighton in the British Championship division. The Owls have a chance of getting promoted to the Premier League.

Cookies or cake.

This Cake is fine but I was thinking of something more like this:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hotter Ticket: Hamilton or Paw Patrol Live?

Earlier this week, there was a big announcement that Hamilton is coming to Washington's Kennedy Center during the 2017-2018 season. You may know Hamilton as the popular musical that just received a record 16 Tony nominations and is on its way to becoming one of the most successful musicals of all time. In addition, the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, received a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. According to The Washington Post, "if you want a guaranteed shot at securing tickets for “Hamilton,” you’ll have to buy an expensive season subscription — for both the 2016-2017 and the 2017-2018 seasons."

Meanwhile, Paw Patrol, a Nickelodeon cartoon that is huge among my 5 year-old's preschool class, is beginning a live tour. You may know Paw Patrol if you have a child in the 3-6 range. To my knowledge, the show's creator did not win a "genius grant," but has probably done very well thanks to merchandise sales. Anyway, my friend forwarded me presale information for Paw Patrol Live at The Theater at Madison Square Garden from March 23-26, 2017.

So you read this correctly. You can buy tickets now (May 2016) to see Hamilton in DC sometime in 2017 or 2018. You can also buy tickets now (May 2016) to see Paw Patrol Live in New York in 10+ months. Both of these dates seem like a really long time from now.

Completely unrelated to these shows, I have no idea what I'm having for dinner tonight.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Guess Who's Back?

After suffering a gruesome knee injury, in which Chris Coghlan should have been charged with a hate crime, Jung Ho Kang returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday and did this.

And then this...

The Korean broadcasters are outstanding. Let's Go Bucs!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday Video: Glass Tiger

Glass Tiger is by far more powerful than a paper tiger. They proved it making sure that you Don't Forget, um, Them When They're Gone. Sadly, I think people forgot them as their biggest song doesn't have 1 million views on YouTube. Nevertheless, this song popped into my head earlier this week, so now you get to enjoy it too (and help this song get 1 million views)!.

A few thoughts about the song/video:

- It's very clever that the lead singer takes off his sunglasses in the middle of the line, "If you could see what I have seen"

- Are there any men in the audience?

- I've always wondering if Bryan Adams sings back-up vocals in this song. It sounds like him. Both Bryan Adams and Glass Tiger are Canadian. Of course, I've never actually gone far enough to look this up.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Donald Trump & Celebrity Indiana Endorsements

I promise that this post isn't too political. I went out on Monday night to play trivia and to watch game three of the Pens-Caps series. The restaurant also showed several baseball games, and there was one small TV airing Fox News. At one point, I glanced over and saw a headline about Trump and Cruz arguing over Mike Tyson's endorsement. I admit that I was intrigued by this storyline but not enough to watch it or even to try to find out more about this later.

Earlier in the day, though, I saw this video of East Liverpool, Ohio native and former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz endorsing Donald Trump:

I'm not sure how operating hotels and golf courses helps you be President (maybe North Korea will stop trying to make nuclear weapons in exchange for a Trump golf course and resort in Pyongyang?), but that's not the point of this post. Former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight and former Purdue University basketball coach Gene Keady also endorsed Trump. I'm not sure if this was devised by the Trump campaign or if Holtz, Knight, and Keady are all really enthusiastic supporters of Trump, but the leading Republican candidate now has the endorsements of three of the most popular people in Indiana. (Apparently, Knute Rockne is a John Kasich guy, but hasn't come out publicly to endorse him.)

It seems to me that Trump is close to locking down Indiana in part due to these endorsements. However, to really clinch a victory, Trump should make sure to gain endorsements from a popular Indy car driver (is there still a Rahal or Andretti around?), Andrew Luck, Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Antwaan Randle El, and most importantly, Larry Bird.

Of course, Trump probably shouldn't mention on the campaign trail that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady supports him. That won't go over well in Indiana.