If you are one of the 86 invited to Steeler training camp, you're late, but if you've still got time to plan, this Steeler training camp guide will tell you what you need to know to have a good day in Latrobe.
(It's a little bit sad that the Steelers return coincides with the last bottles of Rolling Rock rolling off the line at the Latrobe Brewing Company. Maybe someone will have to re-write the 33 words in eulogy.)
Floyd Landis apparently has a little extra testosterone in the tank for Stage 17 last Thursday. If Stage 17 doesn't ring a bell, it is the stage to Morzine where Landis moved from being more than 8 minutes behind in 11th place and ended up 2nd, just 30 seconds behind, positioning him for the win.
Perhaps even more surprising is that it seems logical that he got caught only because whoever gave it to him, gave him just a little too much. The post-race test looks at the ratio of testosterone testosterone to epitestosterone in the body. Normally, its 1:1, and anything greater than 4:1 fails the test. Landis was 6:1.
Maybe that gives a little extra meaning to the "It was my only chance and we had no other options." comment in this post-stage interview:
I'm officially looking forward to reading the Floyd Landis book detailing his inner drive to win the Tour De France as much as I was looking forward to reading about Lance Armstrong after he won 1st won the Tour in 1999.
I find myself intrigued and curious about the Landis story. Landis was raised a Mennonite tradition that deemphasizes personal acheivment and glory and told by his father that his cycling would not amount to anything. Inside he found the drive and courage to sneak away in the middle of the night to practice and then to move from Lancaster County, PA to San Diego to pursue his dream. As if that weren't enough, Landis battled through an arthritic hip condition that will require surgery now that the tour is over and needed to overcome an 8 minute deficit in the final 3 days of the race in order to win.
Where Armstrong's moment of truth was pretty easy to identify, his battle with testicular cancer, Landis' is enigmatic. To win the Tour requires a love of the bicycle, an obsessive discipline to practice the mundane and technical details, a team of support on the road and off it, and a self-absorbed, deep seated competitive desire to believe in the possibility and commit to the task.
It is this last detail that intrigues me given his upbringing. This deep seated belief that he could have such success in an individual sport, to compete in pursuit of individual glory and to acheive it by winning, seems most inconsistent with his Menonite origins. Ironically, it could also be the source of the great discipline and hard work required to be successful.
The reaction of his parents and home town certainly revealed the complexity at the intersection of his triumph and his heritage. In the AP story by Michael Rubinkam we see that his mother Arlene had to go to a neighbor's house to see her son race on television each morning. Yesterday, at her son's moment of triumph, she was in church at her normal Sunday services, where his name was not even mentioned, and parishoners had words of encouragement like this, "We are disappointed with the lifestyle he lives, but I love him as a friendand care about him." Frankly, it sounds like my family and friends were more supportive of my adventure in the Harrisburg Marathon last fall.
I hope that Floyd Landis is able to take the full measure of joy and fulfilment from his win yesterday, and like I said I can't wait to read the book.
Being out of our house this summer has forced us to broaden our horizons. Our family's affinity for music picnics began with the wine and cheese crowd on the manicured grounds of the Frick with the occasional journey to Point State Park. This summer, we've yet to venture to a 1st Friday concert but have been to the Point for Roseanne Cash and out to Pittsburgh's North Hills for a Bluegrass Festival at Hartwood Acres. Last night, hotdogs, nachos and snow cones replaced wine and cheese as the music picnic adventure expanded to Westmoreland County for the Corbin Hanner show at the Irwin Municipal Park.
Overcoming a torrential downpour that caused some electrical problems. Corbin Hanner proved that you can't keep a good band down. The band is one of Pittsburgh's hidden powerhouses, quietly delivering country/rock in the shadow of the attention given to The Clarks and Rusted Root.
The 3 Amigos, joined by their cousin we're in full dance mode for the 2 hour plus show played in support of the Norwin Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society. Today at Noon, 36 relay teams will begin circling the track at Norwin High School Stadium for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research.
Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner have been playing together since highschool, and enjoyed some national success as performers in the late 1980's. Bob Corbin especially has written noteworthy songs including "Can't Keep A Good Man Down" by Alabama and is currently working with The Poverty Neck Hillbillies.
Staying in touch with friends and groups is obvioulsy easier than ever with the internet, but an e-mail exchange on my CMU fraternity chapter really sparked my imagination for some reason.
The first e-mail said "I'm in London on business, is anybody else." The replies caused us to learn:
1. Another guy is in Pune, India after Thursday. 2. Another guy is Jerusalem until Monday. 3. There are more people in London who might be able to get together. 4. The guy in Jerusalem feels safe, despite world events. 5. Another guy was actually in Beirut, being evacuated to Cyprus and then going on to Jordan to study Arabic. 6. Our fraternity's return to our house on the CMU campus is not going as smoothly as planned.
That's 2 guys in London, 1 in Jerusalem, 1 in Pune, 1 in Cyprus on his way to Jordan, enabled by 3 more guys in Pittsburgh.
Me, I'm basically where I've been all summer: My Cubicle.
Last week as millions of sports fans tuned into the Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities, they were introduced to PNC Park and the Pittsburgh sky-line for the first time. Monday night as the left-handed "Davids" (Big Papi Ortiz and the Champ Howard) launched baseball's at the Goliath skyscrapers, viewers were continually introduced to the red boomerangs of Ariba, Inc.
Front Row Marketing Services estimated that PNC Bank received $11.7 million in free advertising during the All-Star Game, which included 13 minutes and 25 seconds of on bank logo shots, 17 seconds of on-screen PNC graphics and 12 "verbal mentions."
Now Ariba didn't take away the same type of value, but there it was on-screen anyway, which I'm sure caused some people to go to Google and find out about the world-wide leader in Spend-Management solutions.
Ariba, and it's predecessor company FreeMarkets have been a fixture patrolling Center Field in PNC Park since it opened in 2001. The sign was first "turned-on" on September 21, 2000 when the building was re-christened "FreeMarkets Center" from One Oliver Plaza in a dedication ceremony attended by then Mayor Tom Murphy. It also happens to be the day my son was born.
3-11 5.64 ERA 10-12 4.28 ERA 9-11 3.16 ERA 14-11 3.85 ERA 15-15 3.46 ERA
Who's starting rotation is this? It is not the 2005 or 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates, or any other Pirates team over the past 14 years of losing. It is the records of the 1990 Atlanta Braves, plus Greg Maddux. The ace of the staff, the one with the 3.16 ERA is none other than the immortal Charlie Liebrandt. John Smoltz, in his 2nd full season in the majors was the sole pitcher with a winning record. Tom Glavine, in his 3rd full season, was still not quite over the hump. Even Greg Maddux, then with the Cubs, wasn't Greg Maddux in the won-lost column.
There's starting to be a the rumble, the tremor of a theory here in the 'Burgh that the Bucs are the '90 Braves. (Brian O'Neill even mentions it in his column today.)
This is what we're reduced to, hoping that the 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates are the 1990 Atlanta Braves. The 1990 Atlanta Braves won 65 games, the 1991 Atlanta Braves won 94 games, finished 1st in the NL West and lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins. Glavine was suddenly 20-11, Avery 18-8, Smoltz 14-13 and good time Charlie Liebrandt 15-13.
For this to be true, Duke, Maholm, Snell, et al would actually have to mature as pitchers faster than Smoltz, Glavine, and Avery. (Remember, Maddux didn't join the Braves as a free agent until 1993, 2 seasons after a pattern of winning was established.) On the other hand, the 2006 Pirates may already be better than the 1991 Braves offensively.
Look up the middle, '06 Pirates vs. '91 Braves
C: Paulino (.303 avg. .745 OPS) vs. Olson (.241/.661) 2B: Castillo (.272/.756 OPS) vs. Lemke (.234/.617) SS: Wilson (.268/.682 OPS) vs. Belliard (.249/.582) CF: Bautista (.275/.875 OPS) vs. Nixon (.297/.698)
The 2006 Bucs are clearly better offensively at all 4 positions.
Well, surely the Braves were better at the power positions right? 1B: Casey (.306/.820 OPS) vs. Bream (.253/.736) 3B: Sanchez (.363/.930 OPS) vs. Pendleton (.319/.880) LF: Bay (.290/.936 OPS) vs. Gant (.251/.834) RF: Burnitz (.227/.689 OPS) vs. Justice (.275/.880) (Yeah, we've got no place for Craig Wilson and his .270/.833 in this outfield.)
The 2006 Bucs are clearly better offensively at every position except right field.
I would feel better about this if it weren't largely an accident. A big part of the difference offensively for the 2006 Pirates is the fact that Paulino, Bautista, and Sanchez accidentally became starters when the Duffy, Doumit/Cota, and Randa went in the tank. Inexcusably, we continue to trot the horrible Burnitz over Craig Wilson, who has to be one of the least appreciated players ever to wear a Pirate uniform. Bautista and Paulino also still have a pretty small sample size to see if they will be long-term answers. At this point though, I'm willing to take happy accidents over atrocious decisions.
So as Pittsburgh prepares to stop paying attention to baseball in 2006 when the Steelers head to Latrobe, I will continue to scan the box scores and tell myself that the rotation is getting experience and maturing. Even is they lose 100 games, it will all be worth it when the pitching gets it together in 2007 and begins 14 years of dominance over the NL Central.
That'll get me through this year, but if the '06 Pirates turn out to be the '89 Braves and I still have to sit through the '90 Braves in '07, things will get difficult.
When you go to your mailbox to pick up your July issue of Government Executive (you know you subscibe), turn to the article titled "Bidding Wars" by Kimberly Palmer, and take in the 2nd to last paragraph:
"Researching suppliers ahead of time and specifying exactly what an agency wants are essential, says Justin Sullivan, a manager at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Ariba Inc., provider of reverse auction hosting services."
Aaaah to be paraphrased in print. I may not have given them the quote that they needed, but I was good enough to get the paraphrased second-to-last word.