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 Post subject: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:36 pm 
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It is Monday morning, August 26, 2013, and your favorite "heavyweight" (thanks for that, IA Pirate) UPPMB poster J_C_Steel has returned with a vengeance for Part V of his CCCXIII-part series: Off-Day Musings. You may remember my IV prior forays into off-day posting, all of them considered "classics" by myself and the three other posters who actually read them. Here are links to those threads:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10940

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11168

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11200

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11245

* Not to get all "No. 9" on you, but I believe I should start by noting that, as of right now, the Pirates are 76-54 and tied for first place in the National League Central Division. Interestingly, the Pirates are tied with two other National League teams -- the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers -- for the second-best record in the senior circuit. The best record belongs to those delightful (*vomit*) Atlanta Braves at 78-52, only two games better than the Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers. The Cincinnati Reds sit 2.5 games back of that formidable trio at 74-57. The only other teams lurking in the Wild Card distance are the Arizona Diamondbacks, 66-63 and 7 games back of current second Wild Card holder Cincy, and the Washington Nationals, 65-65 and 8.5 games back.

* So my sister-in-law visited this weekend and, once the kids were off to bed, we started watching a NetFlix show called "Orange Is the New Black." Wow. I don't watch a lot of non-sports television -- Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Mad Men are my must-watch trio -- but this is definitely one of the best shows I've seen. It revolves around a yuppie white woman who ends up going to prison because of something she did a decade in the past. The acting is excellent and the stories are engrossing. I highly recommend it. Here's the trailer (NSFW):



* As you can tell from my standings note above, the National League Central is "where it's at" for the stretch run this year. Not only does the division boast three likely playoff teams, but those teams play each other a LOT over the next 32 games. It's fair to say that the head-to-head meetings between these clubs will decide the division and likely the destination and participants in the National League's Wild Card game. I have no idea how it's going to play out, but I really hope that the Pirates get to see Matt Holliday create his own personal blooper reel in left field at PNC Park this coming weekend...

* Speaking of left field, you may have heard that Starling Marte is on the disabled list. This concerns me (though I agree with those who said that he could use the rest). Without Marte, the Pirates lose their significant edge in outfield defense at home. Jose Tabata has hit quite well in August, but he doesn't use his leather like our favorite Dominican. Pirate pitchers won't have a #6 safety net out there for the coming homestand, and that could come back to bite us.

* I'm a big fantasy football guy, and I've now had both of my drafts. If you're into that sort of thing and you don't mind receiving unsolicited advice, here you go: (a) Jamaal Charles and C.J. Spiller are incredible values at their current draft position of 6 and 7, respectively, and I'd draft them as early as 4 or 5; (b) don't draft Arian Foster in the first round, as his back issues are likely to become an issue during the season, (c) LeSean McCoy is going to have a huge season, (d) so is Maurice Jones-Drew, who is finally healthy, (e) the only non-running backs you should consider drafting in rounds 1 or 2 of your draft are Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham, and (f) wait on a quarterback and draft a couple with upside; I like putting Tony Romo and E.J. Manuel together.

* Getting away from injuries and fantasy sports, does anyone want to have the MVP discussion again? No? With an absolutely ridiculous August line of .423/.531/.577 (with 7 extra base hits and 19 walks), Andrew McCutchen has surged to the front of the National League Most Valuable Player race. He continues to play stellar defense and anchor this ball club, and his post-All Star break OPS of 1.058 is the primary reason the Pirates have had decent offensive numbers since the mid-summer classic. He leads the NL with a 6.8 WAR and remains the heart and soul of this Pittsburgh Pirates team.

* Staying with my favorite athlete, if Cutch brings home the NL MVP in 2013, he would be the 7th Pittsburgh Pirate in history to do so, joining Paul Waner (1927), Dick Groat (1960), Roberto Clemente (1966), Dave Parker (1978), Willie Stargell (1979, shared with St. Louis Cardinal Keith Hernandez), and Barry Bonds (1990, 1992). Cutch already has three All Star appearances, a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, a top-four Rookie of the Year finish (2009), and a top-three MVP finish (2012). If #22 brings home the MVP and another Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in 2013, and continues to play well for the Pirates through 2018, he'll end up as one of the most decorated Pittsburgh athletes of all-time, across all sports. RESPECT.

* I bore witness to the following exchange between my four-year-old son Jack and his two-year-old sister Arianna in the car yesterday:

Jack: "That's my ball."
Arianna: "Mine!"
Jack: "But that's my ball."
Arianna: "Mine!"
Jack: "Fine. I'll ignore you."
Arianna: "You can't!"
Jack: "I'm gonna ignore you!"
Arianna: "You can't ignore me!"
Jack: "Yes I can!"
Arianna: "No you can't!"
Jack: "YES I CAN!"
Arianna: "NO YOU CAN'T!"

I'm giving that round to Arianna...

* Although I had a wonderful time with friends and family, the Pirates put a sh*t candle atop my birthday cake yesterday by impersonating a little league club against Ryan f*&#ng Vogelsong, master of the 88-mph fastball. Pirates hitters smacked seven line drives, but only two fell for hits. More importantly, the club continued its futility against pitchers who can locate their changeups. It happened against Cole Hamels and the Phillies (granted, Hamels has one of the best changeups in the game), and it happened yesterday by the bay. I'm hoping Jay Bell spends some time with the boys on better approaches to that pitch.

* So, the MTV Video Music Awards, huh? Great. At least now I know that being in a boy band doesn't stop you from getting fat:



Also, being a Disney star doesn't mean you'll grow up wholesome and sweet. Who knew?

Image

Now, I didn't watch the VMAs, but apparently the above-captured performance by ex-Disney girl Miley Cyrus prompted the following reaction from Will Smith's family:

Image

That's gold, Jerry, gold!

* I believe the Pirates' upcoming series with the Brewers will hinge largely on the skills of the team's advance scouts. Two of the Brewers' hottest hitters are little-known rookies Khris Davis (a left fielder sporting a .333/.409/.716 line with 8 home runs in 81 at-bats) and Scooter Gennet (a second baseman who sounds adorable, but is hitting an intimidating .317/.357/.538 in 104 at-bats). The Pirates will need to figure out how to get these fearless newcomers out, and that's what the advance scouts are paid to do -- find weaknesses. Here's hoping they find 'em and Bucco pitchers exploit 'em.

* Finally, I believe in this team and its ability to make the playoffs as constituted, but I also believe that Neal Huntington can add to the roster in an attempt to boost the Pirates' chances of winning the division and prevailing in the tournament. If I were in his shoes, I'd find a way to bring Justin Morneau to the team, and I'd put in a waiver claim on (or just sign, if he cleared waivers) Edinson Volquez. The former is simply a better option than Garrett Jones at 1B (and he plays better defense and has playoff experience), and the latter has a terrible ERA but decent peripherals (and could give the rotation a boost if necessary).

* May you all have great Mondays filled with productive work, fun friends, supportive family, and great beer... like this:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:10 pm 
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What? Khris Davis is going off right now?

My fantasy year just continues to get worse!

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AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:43 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
It is
* So my sister-in-law visited this weekend and, once the kids were off to bed, we started watching a NetFlix show called "Orange Is the New Black." Wow. I don't watch a lot of non-sports television -- Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Mad Men are my must-watch trio -- but this is definitely one of the best shows I've seen. It revolves around a yuppie white woman who ends up going to prison because of something she did a decade in the past. The acting is excellent and the stories are engrossing. I highly recommend it. Here's the trailer (NSFW):


As always, read the book. The acting is fine, but the shit is made up. None of what you see in the series happened to Piper. She actually became one of Red's girls.

Interesting aspect to Piper's case, though. She was convicted of drug running, once, for a major international cartel fully six years after she broke up with her girlfriend. Then, while she was waiting for sentencing, the African kingpin was arrested by the UK and the US spent 6 years trying to extradite the gentleman. Because the US didn't want Piper to be a felon or wearing an orange jumpsuit for the presumptive trial of said kingpin, she had to wait 6 years, (6 years!) to be sentenced. That seems to be infringing on cruel and unusual punishment territory.


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:22 pm 
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val wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
It is
* So my sister-in-law visited this weekend and, once the kids were off to bed, we started watching a NetFlix show called "Orange Is the New Black." Wow. I don't watch a lot of non-sports television -- Game of Thrones, Modern Family, and Mad Men are my must-watch trio -- but this is definitely one of the best shows I've seen. It revolves around a yuppie white woman who ends up going to prison because of something she did a decade in the past. The acting is excellent and the stories are engrossing. I highly recommend it. Here's the trailer (NSFW):


As always, read the book. The acting is fine, but the shit is made up. None of what you see in the series happened to Piper. She actually became one of Red's girls.

Interesting aspect to Piper's case, though. She was convicted of drug running, once, for a major international cartel fully six years after she broke up with her girlfriend. Then, while she was waiting for sentencing, the African kingpin was arrested by the UK and the US spent 6 years trying to extradite the gentleman. Because the US didn't want Piper to be a felon or wearing an orange jumpsuit for the presumptive trial of said kingpin, she had to wait 6 years, (6 years!) to be sentenced. That seems to be infringing on cruel and unusual punishment territory.


We just finished the first season and enjoyed it very much. Was not under the impression that it was based (loosely or not) on a real-world story. I took it to be fiction and . . . at least IMO . . . very entertaining fiction. For personal reasons, I find Tiffany (a.k.a. Pennsyltucky) to be the most entertaining.

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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:44 pm 
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Fantastic read as usual. Just a heads up for some off-day Bucco television watching. Fox Sports 1 has a new show debuting tonight at 7:30 called "Mission October". The Bucs are the subject tonight so it might be good.


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:03 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:

We just finished the first season and enjoyed it very much. Was not under the impression that it was based (loosely or not) on a real-world story. I took it to be fiction and . . . at least IMO . . . very entertaining fiction. For personal reasons, I find Tiffany (a.k.a. Pennsyltucky) to be the most entertaining.

I hate prison movies/TV shows. It's the dramatic equivalent of a cage death match: a confined set of characters with no place to escape to. So the drama is real even if prison ain't nothing like what we see. Prison is soul-sucking. And if you go in bent, you're going to come out broken. But I guess I was hoping for more, umm, verisimilitude in the show, since it was an ex-con who created the show. The problem is that prison is boring. Hours and hours and hours of your day, every day, just sitting around with nothing to do and low-quality individuals to do it with. And if the inmates are lucky, the food will only be poor. Only boredom and poor food do not make for very engaging TV.

It was only after I read the book that I found out that the show's creator is also the producer, I believe, of Weeds. If I knew that before my friend shanghaied me into watching the show, I'd have 13 hours of my life back.


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:41 pm 
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Prison and cop reality shows are not on my agenda. We live in a police state which has been advanced with the arrival of the for profit prison system. The system is set up for you to fail. Just as any business wants return customers, the prison system is set up to provide just that. And police reality shows are anything but that. You only see what they want you to see..............JMHO :roll: :roll: :roll:


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:11 pm 
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The fact that "Orange Is the New Black" is a prison-based show is really incidental to me. I don't really care if it's realistic or not; to me, the important aspects of good television are good characters and good stories. In my view, this show has both. That's all.


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 Post subject: Re: Off-Day Musings, Part V
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:48 am 
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Getting back to baseball and Cutch, embedded in David Schoenfield's ten predictions for the stretch run is this gem:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/ ... tretch-run

6. Andrew McCutchen locks up the NL MVP Award with a big September.

My vote would still go to Clayton Kershaw, but with just 13 wins, he's probably a long-shot MVP candidate for the voters. Look for McCutchen to finish strong and lead the Pirates to their first playoff trip since 1992, a storyline MVP voters will fall in love with.


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