It’s halftime, and at last, there is some life in the Los Angeles Galaxy camp. Mike Magee has pulled LA within one goal in the 29th minute thanks to poor defending by Richard Eckersley.
A 32nd minute free kick from David Beckham was saved by Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei. A speculative long-distance kick from Torsten Frings in the 33rd minute was well out of reach of anyone in red. Robbie Keane was offsides in the 35th minute, but he was close to forcing the deadlock. A chance for Edson Buddle was saved by Frei in the 36th minute.
Frei has had a solid first half for the Galaxy, and he has contributed to what is a dream start to the season for TFC. There was chaos in Toronto’s defensive third in the 38th minute after another Beckham delivery, but Toronto’s defense was able to hold.
For Bruce Arena’s men, there is much work to be done. Adjustments will have to be made if the Galaxy are to turn the tide in their favor.
I don’t know how we did in previous years of this tournament, aside from the obvious – we did not win.
I don’t know if our collective interest was lacking in tournaments past, or if we were not efficient and/or effective in our efforts to promote it. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. The past is the past.
What I do know, is that BTSC’s virtual trophy cabinet is bare.
What I do know is that we have all taken great interest in rectifying that this year.
So let’s win this one – for Michael Bean!
As you know, BTSC’s esteemed founder and editor has moved onward and upward to exciting adventures with SBN’s new YouTube channel and hasn’t had as much time to devote to BTSC recently. But it’s been his tireless work since February 3, 2006 that has built BTSC up into the best Steelers blog and community that you can find anywhere.
That we are the best Steelers blog and community around is just an opinion. A notion. An assertion.
But I think we all share it.
Here in the finals of the Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament, we have an arena in which we can try to back up that statement.
We can do it!
We have a fine roster of contributors that have admirably come together to hold down the fort. But perhaps more importantly, we have an incredible, active community of readers – all of YOU – that is what truly sets BTSC apart from the rest of the field.
At the moment, we are winning this championship matchup with Pitt Script. It’s actually not even close right now. We could possibly sit back and coast to a victory. Or we could see how close we can come to matching our 933-vote performance back in Round 2, and put a proper exclamation point on our tournament run!
To me, this tournament has never been about asserting some “internet superiority” over any given opponent. This thing began with a field of 32 great Pittsburgh blogs – we have plenty in common with them (some of us are readers of a few of them as well) and we shouldn’t necessarily have anything against them, even if one happens to be our opponent in a given round.
To me, this tournament has been about seeing how well BTSC can come together as group. To me, this tournament has been about seeing what we can do when we’re all pulling in the same direction towards an attainable goal. How many of us are going to vote in a simple poll, round after round, week after week?
Let’s find out if we peaked in Round 2, or if the best is yet to come.
This tournament is dedicated to Michael Bean, so let’s show him exactly what his years of effort have made here!
Let’s bring this thing home for him!
The Steelers have released 37-year old inside linebacker James Farrior. Farrior played in 14 games for the Steelers last year and he had 78 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 passes defensed. Farrior played in 154 games in his 10 years with the Steelers and he had 1,080 tackles, 30 sacks, 53 tackles for a loss, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 8 interception (1 returned for a TD) and 54 passes defensed. The bloodletting continues in Pittsburgh as the Steelers struggle to get into good salary cap position.
Sometime in the next week, Peyton Manning’s future will be determined. He will either remain with a horseshoe adorning his helmet or start looking elsewhere to resume his illustrious career, all of this with the caveat of health.
If Jim Irsay decides not to saddle up and spend million, Manning will hit the road and become the most accomplished free agent in NFL history.It’s easy to narrow down the teams that will have interest in Manning, but none of them make as much sense as Kansas City. We’ve all heard the scuttlebutt. Washington needs a quarterback (among 52 other players), Miami has a billboard and great weather, Seattle has a gaping hole behind center, and New York only has a beleaguered Mark Sanchez.
The Chiefs not only are a better fit than all of them, but Manning and Kansas City need each other. The same can’t be said for the other suitors.
Washington is in a rebuilding phase. The Redskins can add Manning and are still arguably the worst team in their own division. It’s a hard sell that Manning will go to a team likely to never win while he’s there. At his age, it’s all about having a chance to win another Super Bowl now.
The Dolphins have a solid defense and a few playmakers but lack a real foundation on offense. Brandon Marshall is the definition of mercurial and while Reggie Bush is certainly a respectable back, he’s far from a star. It also stands to reason Manning won’t want to share a division with Tom Brady.
Seattle has already come out and said they’re not interested in a short-term answer at quarterback. It’s possible to make an argument for the Seahawks with Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller on the team. However, the rest of the team is remarkably average and again, it’s tough to see Seattle making a serious run at the Super Bowl in the next few years.
New York is nothing more than a pipe dream. The Jets have major cap issues and would Manning really want to deal with that soap opera all season? No more needs to be said, this isn’t happening.
Now look at Kansas City. Matt Cassel has a large contract, but with the amount of cap space the Chiefs have it can be absorbed. Kansas City also has the talent to make a Super Bowl run without any major improvements.
Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Tony Moeaki are more than any of the teams above can offer…by a mile. If the Chiefs solidify the right tackle position, Manning is playing behind a good line and on the most loaded offense in the AFC. Who else can compete with that type of ability? Jonathan Baldwin and Dexter McCluster weren’t even mentioned above, and they would definitely be a top target on any of the other suitors.
Defensively, Kansas City has freakish athletes dotting the landscape. Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and the entire secondary are elite (sans Stanford Routt, who’s no bum). For once in his career, Manning wouldn’t have to score 27 points per game to secure a win.
The biggest question mark is how Manning feels about Romeo Crennel as a coach. Then again, is Crennel really a lesser coach than Pete Carroll, Joe Philbin, Mike Shanahan and Rex Ryan?
Shanahan did win two Super Bowls, but has done nil since John Elway. Ryan has made it to AFC Championship games in back-to-back years, but he’s a loose cannon and seemingly on a sinking ship. Considering how well Crennel has game-planned Manning, maybe No. 18 feels like Crennel can get the job done.
The pieces are in place for Manning to come in and put the Chiefs over the top. If he ends up signing on the dotted line to play at One Arrowhead Drive, the AFC West goes through Kansas City without a shadow of a doubt. Heck, Manning’s presence makes the Chiefs odds-on-favorites to see the Big Easy in February.
The last time Kansas City saw the Super Bowl was the 1969-70 season. Wasn’t that game also played in a place named New Orleans?
I don’t know about you guys but I’m actually watching the final laps of the Daytona 500 right now and really enjoying it. I’ve never really been a NASCAR fan but I’m into this race.
Anybody else watching?
This is your open thread for the night. Use it to talk about whatever you want.
The Combine continues plowing away (see what I did there?), and today’s participants in the Underwear Olympics are the linebackers and the defensive linemen.
If the combination of offensive linemen and tight ends (Saturday) and the wide receivers and running backs (Sunday) was interesting, today will be downright riveting.
Lots of potential impact players will be identified today, and both figure to be priority positions for the Steelers in the upcoming draft.
We get to set our sights on a duo of inside/middle linebackers, Dont’a Hightower and Vontaze Burfict, as well as one hulking nose tackle from Memphis, Dontari Poe.
The Steelers are likely to speak with all three of these players, if they have not yet already done so. But more than anything, this is really the time to identify middle and later round picks.
You know the drill by now; if you see a guy you like, mention it in the comments, keep the discussion going. If there are some of interest to you, we’ve got our own Seton Hall and Steelers working to line up interviews to run in the very near future, so throw out some names, see if he can track them down.
The final day of the NFL Combine is here and now over (I suppose) and with that we now have one more bit of information to add to our sketchy knowledge of our favorite (or non-favorite) draft picks. Use this to talk about what you’ve seen, read, heard, thought or pretended to have a clue about anything and everything related to the Combine … or the Chiefs … or anything else you’d care to dive into.
Let’s try this again…I didn’t publish it right. My bad – nc
These may not be the positions of immediate need for the Steelers in terms of the draft, but the fact WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace was taken in the third rounds in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and WR Antonio Brown was taken in the sixth round, it may be interesting to watch some of the projected middle round guys work out at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III already made the news of the day, running an unofficial 4.41 and a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. Assuming those are legit, they’re absolutely sick numbers for a quarterback who made a Heisman-worthy impression this past season with his deep ball.Considering QB Byron Leftwich’s recent string of injuries, and QB Charlie Batch’s age, along with the imminent departure of QB Dennis Dixon, it’s not a stretch to suggest the Steelers look to bring in a back-up QB presence for the next few years.
Watching a few of those prospects could be a glimpse into the next Brian St. Pierre clone. And that’s always a good time. Plus, you can get caught up after the offensive linemen and tight ends from yesterday. I thought Iowa’s Reilly Reiff looked pretty decent, but I was savagely shot down in the comments. That’s what I’m hoping to read though, take a look at a few guys and share your opinions.
Seeing anyone you like? Chat with other Steelers fans on this (soon-to-be really snowy Sunday for many in my area) Sunday morning and afternoon, let us know your thoughts.
A month ago, Don Banks of SI.com put out a 2012 NFL mock draft that had the Kansas City Chiefs selecting DT Devon Still. Today, Banks’ latest mock draft has the Chiefs selecting OT Jonathan Martin out of Stanford.
The Chiefs have to upgrade at right offensive tackle, and Martin is the most obvious direction to head with both Kalil and Reiff already gone. An inside linebacker like Boston College’s Luke Kuechly or a defensive tackle like Memphis’ Dontari Poe would fill other areas of need with players who will wind up with grades in the top 15-20 range.
In this scenario, both Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff are off the board, which leaves Martin (and Mike Adams out of Ohio State) as the next best offensive tackle.
This jives with Adam Teicher’s suggestion this morning that the Chiefs should draft an offensive tackle. You’d get a right tackle for next season and some insurance for the season after that depending on how Branden Albert’s contract situation plays out.
One interesting situation that presents itself in this mock draft is Texas A&M’ QB Ryan Tannehill being available at the 11th pick. I’m not saying the Chiefs should take him but, in this scenario, the Seattle Seahawks are right behind the Chiefs. They very well could take a quarterback, which makes the Chiefs position one spot ahead of them potentially desirable for a trade down. Something to remember is that teams will trade up for a quarterback. Maybe not many other positions, but a quarterback they will.
Any strong feelings one way or the other on the Chiefs trading down?
When Philadelphia Phillies slugging first baseman Ryan Howard grounded weakly to second to shockingly finish off the 2011 season against the eventual World Champions St. Louis Cardinals, an immediate impact on the 2012 opening day lineup was born.
Howard not only made the final out of the Phillies’ most successful season (regular season record-wise) but he also blew out his left achilles tendon in the process. Affectionately known as “The Big Piece” by Phils skipper Charlie Manuel, Howard was undergoing surgery five days later and the prognosis was quickly released as being out for five-to-six months. Manuel will have to start the season with a big missing piece right in the heart of the lineup.
Also gone from 2011 will be left fielder Raul Ibanez. Ibanez finished second on the team behind Howard in games played. Howard played in 152 games while Ibanez participated in 144. Most would be surprised to know that Ibanez, not Victorino, Utley or Rollins, was also second on the team in home runs and RBI.
Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. went out and found plenty of options for Manuel to work with to replace Ibanez and hold down the fort until Howard is due back, which can be anywhere from early May to the All-Star break.
First, Amaro signed former Phillie and future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome. Thome will turn 41 in September and hasn’t played first base in the field since the 2007 season, just four games since being traded from the Phillies after the 2005 season. So it still remains to be seen how many games Thome can play at first. He might be more of a replacement for the departed left-handed pinch-hitting specialist Ross Gload.
A little after the Thome signing, Amaro swung a deal with the Colorado Rockies to bring in versatile slugger Ty Wiggington. Wiggington was a 2010 All Star for the Baltimore Orioles and played 98 games at 1B that season. Last year, Wiggington played 3B primarily but still saw 36 games at 1B and 21 in left field. Without a doubt, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to play all three of those positions this season while hopefully still knocking the ball out of the park on occasion.
Next, the Phillies surprisingly gave 1B/OF Laynce Nix a two-year contract. Nix set career-highs in games played in 2011, playing in 124 for the Washington Nationals. 85 of those games were in the outfield (73 in left) and he also chipped in nine games at 1B without making an error. Nix also slugged 16 home runs in 2011 and could possibly surpass that in the much more HR-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
The trio of Thome/Wiggington/Nix have one more teammate that should assist in making up for the Howard injury and Ibanez departure. John Mayberry was one of the bigger Phillies surprises in 2011. In just 267 at bats, Mayberry hit .273 with 15 Home Runs and 49 RBI.
Big John played primarily CF in 2011 but he also played 21 in LF and 18 at 1B. So again, Manuel has four options for LF and 1B come opening day: two left-handed sluggers in Thome and Nix and two righties in Mayberry and Wiggington.
The rest of the every-day players will look very familiar. Two of them, 2B Chase Utley and 3B Placido Polanco have been given clean bills of health after injury riddled seasons in 2011. SS Jimmy Rollins will return after signing a three-year contract in the offseason.
CF Shane Victorino is coming off one of his better seasons while RF belongs to Hunter Pence, who will make his first Phillies opening day lineup. Lastly, Carlos Ruiz returns to handle the pitching staff while providing the Phils with one of their more clutch bats.
So how does this all shake out? I really don’t think Jim Thome can just dust off his first baseman’s mitt and go out there and not be a liability. The Phillies bats aren’t what they used to be and they tend to play a lot of close games.
Due to Thome’s age and lack of defense to back up their fine pitching rotation, he’ll be resigned to late inning pinch-hitting duties. That leaves Laynce Nix to play either 1B or LF vs. right-handed pitching and Ty Wiggington will play 1B vs. left-handed pitching, leaving LF for John Mayberry. Mayberry might also get the opportunity to play full-time if he has a strong spring, no matter who is pitching. Here’s how it all shakes out for opening day:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Placido Polanco,3B
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Shane Victorino, CF
6. John Mayberry, LF
7. Laynce Nix, 1B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Shane Victorino, CF
6. John Mayberry, LF
7. Ty Wigginton, 1B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
Couple of notes. If Polanco shows signs of not being 100 percent this spring, look for him to drop down to seventh in the lineup like late 2011. Victorino would then move to second with Mayberry protecting Pence at fifth. That scenario is much more likely versus lefties, as I don’t think Manuel wants two RH hitters back-to-back at the fourth and fifth hole vs. right-handed pitching. Nix would probably move to fifth vs. righties.