Monday, May 29, 2017

Penguins-Predators Stanley Cup Final Preview

If you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, (or Anaheim Ducks or Ottawa Senators; sorry), or professional hockey, you know that the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals begin on Monday. The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to be the first team to earn back-to-back titles since 1997-1998. Meanwhile, this is the Nashville Predators first trip to the finals in franchise history.

I should probably mention that if you're looking for a thorough preview breaking down puck possession, goalie tendencies, and basically, anything hockey related, you should probably go somewhere else. Think of this as the preview that you didn't know that you needed.

James Neal (now of Nashville) and Patric Hornqvist (now of Pittsburgh) were once traded for each other. Really. This is going to blow your mind. Neal played for the Penguins from 2011-2014 including during the 2011-2012 season where he scored 40 goals and had 81 points. Hornqvist started his career in Nashville and played for the Predators for six seasons. You may hear about this trade once or twice during the finals.

The National Anthem debate. Jeff Jimerson will sing the national anthem for every Penguins home game, but the big question is who will perform the anthem in Nashville. The "regular" anthem singer, Dennis K. Morgan, has been replaced during this playoff run by Nashville residents Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, the "captain's wife," better known as Carrie Underwood, and others. Morgan is not happy about this. Anyway, it will be interesting to see who will perform during the Stanley Cup Finals. Underwood? Garth Brooks? A Johnny Cash hologram?

Nashville is a hockey town (now). This is something else you may hear once or 7,000 times! I went to a Nashville and a Preds game in December (I really may write a blog post about it some day) and had an awesome time. The crowd was totally into the game, and it was an amazing atmosphere. If I wasn't a Penguins fan, I would definitely be rooting for Nashville.

Nashville and Pittsburgh have a rich playoff history against each other. And by rich, I mean one game where the Steelers lost to the Titans on January 11, 2003. Stupid Joe Nedney. (The Predators should have Nedney appear at every home game, though this would really only troll Pittsburgh sports fans since no players on the Pens or Preds would care about this.)

Olli Maatta of the Pens is from Finland and played on his country's Olympic hockey team. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is also from Finland and played on the Olympic hockey team. The finals should be a ratings bonanza in Finland!

At the beginning of the 2008 NFL season, the Titans defeated the Steelers and Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck stomped on the Terrible Towel. Naturally, karma kicked in and the Titans lost in the playoffs and the Steelers ended up winning the Super Bowl. Therefore, let's hope that Mike Fisher, Carrie Underwood's husband, does something as disrespectful (like maybe punching Marc-Andre Fleury?) to give the Penguins a little more motivation and championship.

Nashville has P.K. Subban and P.A. Parenteau. According to unnamed sources, the team is also big fans of P.B. & J sandwiches.

The University of Pittsburgh's men's basketball coach is Kevin Stallings. Before taking the job in Pittsburgh last year, he coached at Vanderbilt University for more than 15 years. The Stanley Cup Finals is essentially the Stallings Bowl! The losing team should be forced to keep Stallings.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan were both born in Massachusetts making this the first NHL final featuring two American-born coaches. USA! USA!

Finally, the Washington Capitals traded Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat. That was a really good trade for the Preds and a really bad trade for the Caps.

Let's Go Pens!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Congrats Lou Bega

Lou Bega is the epitome of a one-hit wonder. Mambo No. 5 was one of the biggest hits of 1999, not only in the United States but around the world. It was so big that I used it as a haunted house catchphrase. While Bega had one other song that barely entered the Billboard 100 in the US, Mambo No. 5 is clearly his calling card.

Now, almost 20 years after the release of Mambo No. 5, Lou Bega is cashing in by appearing in this New York Life Insurance commercial.

Good for him! By the way, how does Bega look exactly the same today? Plus, is Bega required to wear this style hat at all times? Could he have asked New York Life Insurance if he could wear a fishing hat or no hat at all?

And here's the actual video of Mambo No. 5 if you want this song in your head all day. I still like this song!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Video

As everyone knows by now, Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple of the Dog, passed away a few days ago. To me, when I think of the grunge era of the 90s, I think of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots. While Soundgarden comes after these groups, Cornell had the most distinctive voice of any singer of this era. Actually, I don't think any male rock/pop singer had a better voice than Cornell. Maybe as good, but not better. Today, here's a special Sunday video post featuring Soundgarden. While the video for Black Hole Sun always freaked me out, here's Fell On Black Days, a song I like better any way.

I also recommend reading Josh's post about Cornell.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Chris Rock Wearing a Pirates Hat

Chris Rock and I have a lot in common. We both think that we're funny (though in Rock's case, he actually is funny). We both appeared on television, though again, Rock's stint on Saturday Night Live is a bit more notable than my appearances in the Price Is Right audience and calling into Rizzo Sports Week. We also both have Pittsburgh Pirates hats as evidenced by his appearance at Thursday's Pirates-Nationals game.

Let's Go Bucs!

This photo is courtesy of Stephanie Springer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Random Ramblings

* I discovered that Paw Patrol and popsicle sound exactly the same when being said by my three year old (Pedro Tulo), leading to much confusion.

* I'm glad that my kids (and I) don't watch Barney and especially Teletubbies. 20 years ago, I feel like this would have been unavoidable.

* After working as a soccer referee for a few games over the weekend, Ziggy decided that he had a much better use for my bag.

* When my six year old (The Moose) plays soccer, he winds up on the ground a lot. Either he gets knocked over or just manages to fall on his own. I mention this because I've watched Jake Guentzel of the Penguins be on the ice a lot during the Stanley Cup playoffs. If my son is trying to pattern his soccer game after Guentzel's hockey game, I'm fine with that based on the results. By the way, this is a cool article written by Guentzel about being an 11 year-old and seeing Phil Kessel play in college and now playing with him a decade later. He also seems to have made a new friend with Nick Bonino's daughter.

* On the topic of soccer, I'm the coach of my son's team and despite the season starting on April 1st, there have only been two games because of rain and spring break. So frustrating.

* Finally, I received this trophy for winning my fantasy/rotisserie baseball league.

I think CBS patterned the bobblehead guy after Adrian Gonzalez of the LA Dodgers.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Had a Bad Day

On Monday, the Penguins got crushed in game six of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, perhaps inspired by the Pens' performance, the Pirates lost 12-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That wasn't even the worse news for the Pirates as pitcher Jameson Taillon had surgery for suspected testicular cancer. (Best wishes to Taillon on a speedy and full recovery.) The only way things could have been worse for Pittsburgh sports fans on Monday would have been if Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger were all suspended for drug use.

Away from the sports world, it's never good when my high school makes national news. That's what happened last week when an extremely disturbing video was released showing a police officer and the principal assault a student. Oh, the principal was also recently hired to be the team's football coach. Even if he was the perfect principal, how can he do both jobs effectively?

Let's move to my current home of Fairfax County. I was a resident of Reston, Virginia for 5 years. There's never any national news from Reston, right? Oh, just some crazy lady at Trader Joe's telling a Muslim woman that she shouldn't be in this country. Lovely.

There's got to be some positives, right? My friend Aaron Brame had this very cool poem "Watching Hockey with My Son" published in Sandy River Review.

Celebrate Fairfax is quickly approaching too. In exactly one month from today, Bush will perform Machinehead, Everything Zen, Comedown, and the underrated The Chemicals Between Us in Northern Virginia.

(Was this video always this odd?)

Here's to a better day today and a Penguins win on Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

2017 Steelers Draft Recap

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.

1st round: T.J. Watt, Linebacker, University of Wisconsin

Watt is probably best known for being the little brother of J.J. Watt, the all-pro linebacker for the Houston Texans. Little known fact...there is also an A.J., B.J., C.J., D.J., E.J., and a U.J. in the Watt family. If T.J. has any success in the NFL this season (let's say 10 sacks), you can guarantee that there will be some JJ/TJ commercials in our future. The Watts could be the new Mannings.

2nd round: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver, University of Southern California

I could go the easy route and write that JuJu is the first Jew(Jew) on the Steelers since Randy Grossman and Josh Miller, but Antonio Brown already represented the Jewish community proudly. Instead, I'd like to think that the Steelers drafted JuJu to keep one of the team's biggest fans, Snoop Dogg, happy. JuJu played in the Snoop Youth Football League and attended his favorite college, USC. Snoop definitely approved!

3rd round: Cam Sutton, Cornerback, University of Tennessee

Last season, the team's best defensive player, Cam Heyward, was lost for the season in early November due to a pectoral injury. For some Cam insurance, the Steelers decided to draft another Cam to make sure there is always a Cam on the field. (Alternatively, perhaps the Steelers staff has been spending a lot of time watching Modern Family reruns and decided they wanted another Cam on the team based on Eric Stonestreet's character who is also a football coach.)

3rd round: James Conner, Running Back, University of Pittsburgh

No attempts at jokes here. James Conner is a cancer survivor and probably the second best running back in University of Pittsburgh history (after Tony Dorsett) which says a lot since Curtis Martin, LeSean McCoy, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, and Dion Lewis all played at Pitt. Plus, from everything that I've read and heard, Conner is a great person. To paraphrase, Silver Linings Playbook, James Conner is the man.

4th round: Joshua Dobbs, Quarterback, University of Tennessee

Dobbs is an aerospace engineering graduate and is smarter than all of us, particularly the unrelated Lou Dobbs. He also knows pi to at least 48 digits.

My favorite parts of this video are the host wanting no part of being involved in the bet (but being told that she has to do it) and the guy executing the pie smashing. I wonder what is going through his mind during with his stone cold expression.

5th round: Brian Allen, Cornerback, University of Utah

Just to be clear, the Steelers did not draft Byron Allen, the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the U.S. television production company Entertainment Studios. This is Brian Allen...or is it?

6th round: Colin Holba, Long Snapper, University of Louisville

From the

“Being a specialist, very rarely do guys get drafted,” said Holba. “Just for this to happen, it’s beyond my wildest imagination. I can’t wait to get to Pittsburgh and start working. I know (the Steelers) have Greg Warren. He has been there a while. He is one of the best in the business. I can’t wait to soak up all of the information he has to offer and do all that the coaches tell me to do and work my butt off.

“The Steelers have some of the best special teams in the NFL. I can’t wait to learn and soak up all the information (special teams coordinator Danny Smith) has to offer.”

Holba also wants to be around Sheryl Crow so that he can soak up the sun. Meanwhile, he's going to steal your girlfriend (in this scenario, "girlfriend" means Greg Warren's job).

There's a scene from Cheers where this character Henri says to Woody, "I'm going to steal your girlfriend" repeatedly. Sadly, I can't find the video, making this joke not nearly as good as it could have been. Ted Danson is the man though.

7th round: Keion Adams, Defensive End, Western Michigan University

Did you know that Western Michigan University, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is only approximately 30 miles away from Three Rivers, Michigan? Based on its proximity to Three Rivers, you would think that the Steelers, who play near the confluence of the Alleghany, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers, would draft players from Western Michigan University more often!

For more of my amazing draft recaps of Pittsburgh sports teams, feel free to click here for the archives.