Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Just Sox & Steelers

Even after the season is over Kevin Millar is still finding ways to be singled out as "the goofy redneck" on a Sox team that many would readily concede is a band of misfits. Last week on the "Best Damn Sports Show Period" Millar revealed that "that Sox players sipped whiskey before Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to fight the chill and continued the practice before each succeeding game until they won the World Series."

"I'm glad we won in Game 4," Millar said of the World Series, "because these shots are about to kill me."
Personally, I have no problem with these guys taking shots before games. In fact, if I knew it was going to be this successful, they should've been doing it all season. But Millar, ever the court jester, apparently was spinning tales. Here's what Johnny Damon said later on Letterman:

That did not happen...Kevin Millar, we know how he likes to talk and he keeps trying to make a better story than what we really had, so it's just one of those things that the story that's being told is nice, but we're professionals. Before the biggest game of our lives, we wouldn't do that."
Maybe Millar and Schilling can go on the "Because We Can't Stand to Have Our Face Not in Front of a Camera" tour and they travel across the country spreading their message of ridiculousness. Just a thought.

Seriously though, I think Millar's fib is pretty funny. Now if he was a bus driver or an airline pilot, it'd be different, but this is a guy who works the second shift, wears a costume while at work -- that includes a helmet -- and is allowed to spit and grab his crotch as much as he wants. Hearing this description, you'd half expect him to already be drunk by the time he got to work. I guess it's just Millar being Millar.

It would take a discussion on the merits of T.O.'s Solid Gold Ray-Ray Lewis performance to make Joey Porter look like he knows what he talking about, but that's exactly what happened yesterday.

In a story by Jerry DiPaola, Porter makes the following point when asked why T.O. is so often at the center of media firestorms:

"It's fine for this guy to celebrate, but it's not fine for this guy," said Porter, who has publicly feuded with Lewis in the past. "It's good for this guy to be creative, but it's not good for this guy. Why isn't it funny when Terrell does the pom-poms? You guys (the media) can make who the good guys are. The media has total control over that.

"Because you guys like Ray Lewis so much, you love it when he dances. But Terrell dances or does something, just because you guys don't like him, you say, 'Ah, I don't think he should do that.'

"But this guy (Lewis) just comes off a murder case and he comes back dancing and goes to the Super Bowl and you love every minute about it. He gets a four-minute introduction when he comes out. They absolutely go crazy for it. He makes a tackle, he dances every play and you guys love it.

"Terrell scores a touchdown and he does his celebration and, for some reason, you guys just choose, 'We don't like you. You aren't one of the guys we pick.'

"I never thought it was fair."
Porter's point is actually a pretty good one, although I'm not to sure I'd be running around mentioning Ray-Ray's murder trial with one game left to play between the two teams. Porter goes on to say:

"Guess what? If Ray would have beat him to the punch and hit him and made him fumble, Ray was going to do the dance."
Again, I think he's exactly right. If Lewis had leveled T.O. coming across the middle, he'd still be dancing and rubbing grass all over himself. In the article Porter also mentions that he won't be offended if T.O. steals his "boot" after a big play. If it happened, other than fans in Pittsburgh, I don't think anyone else on the planet would have any idea what T.O. was doing. And speaking of signature moves, I'm a much bigger fan of the Larry Foote, "putting out the cigarette" than I am of the Porter "boot" (I don't really know if Foote is putting out a cigarette or not, I just cleverly came up with that one on my own). I'm eagerly waiting to see what Alan Fanceca comes up with.
On Monday, I asked this question with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek: Is Tommy Maddox the only guy on the planet who thinks he deserves his job back? Apparently there are people out there who actually believe Tommy should get his job back when he returns from injury.

Unfortunately for Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has been burdened with the responsibility of having to answer this, and other inane questions (Bouchette does a daily Q & A with fans and here are two of my favorites from recent days):

Q: Ed, I seem to remember the unwritten rule regarding a starter not losing his position due to injury. So is it safe to assume we'll see Tommy Gun back under center for either the Cleveland or Cincinnati game?

Tim Riley of Winchester, Va.

BOUCHETTE: I assume, Tim, you ask your question with your tongue stuck in your cheek. Right? I mean, you expect them to bench one of the hottest quarterbacks in the National Football League, a guy who is 5-0, someone who has resurrected this team and has taken the NFL by storm, a rookie quarterback who is the best thing to happen to them since Jerome Bettis came here in 1995, and you expect them to sit him on the bench? With all due respect to Tommy Maddox and what he has accomplished here, he will return as Ben Roethlisberger's backup. Even Tommy Maddox understands that.

For those of you not willing to fork over your hard-earned money to read Black & Gold Insider, Bouchette answers fan email daily. I suspect that sometime in late November or early December he'll snap. The idiocy of some of the questions simply takes your breath away, and they seem to get worse by the week. Here's another of my favorites:

Q: Is Bill Cowher a poor to average judge of talent? I remember hearing stories of how he really, badly, wanted the following players on his team: Philip Rivers, Jamain Stephens, Alonzo Jackson, Dexter Jackson, Jeremy Staat, Rich Tylski, and even Todd Fordham. Other than Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward, who are some notable players that Cowher has fallen in love with and has done a respectable job with the Steelers?

Sam Sinclair of Edgewood, Md.

BOUCHETTE: Where did you come up with this information? Rich Tylski? First off, he was a low-level free agent who did a good job for the Steelers at guard for a few years. I would hardly say Cowher fell in love with Fordham and I can't vouch for the others, perhaps Alonzo Jackson he was too enamored with. Hines Ward was drafted in the third round in 1998. I also don't know what falling in love means. Contrary to popular belief, they have had success in the draft and in free agency. What about Ben Roethlisberger? Troy Polamalu looks like a good pick. Kendall Simmons, Chris Hope, Larry Foote, Casey Hampton, Kendrell Bell, Plaxico Burress, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Marvel Smith, Aaron Smith, Alan Faneca and more. How about some free agents: James Farrior, Jeff Hartings, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Duce Staley. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has hits in the draft and free agency. The Steelers have hit more than they've missed in both.
Breathe Ed, just breathe.

Update: Apparently, Cowher agrees with everyone else but Tim Riley of Winchester, because he's named Roethlisberger the starter for the rest of the season -- even though Tommy will either be the 2nd or 3rd QB going into the Eagles game.

Here's some good advice for those Pittsburgh fans who seem to only get enjoyment when the Steelers are doing poorly (courtesy of 'BurgSportsGuys):

More props to Plaxico Burress, the man has really taken his game up a notch over the past month. Not only in numbers, but in blocking and more importantly, effort. I’ll say it again, if he continues to play like this, the Steelers have to make a serious push to ink him to a long-term deal after the season. I’d think that playing with Ben for the rest of his career could be pretty enticing (especially to a guy that suffered through a few years of Kordell).

And I’ve got to give some love to the Short Bus as well… if Cowher is going to insist on using him in non-Duce situations, all I can do is root for the best, and the Bus played as well as could be expected yesterday and his game-capping 20+ yard run was a thing of beauty.
After reading some of Plax's comments this season, and becoming more involved in the offense after a slow start, you get the impression that he (1) is starting to buy into what the Steelers are trying to do -- especially with Roethlisberger under center, and (2) would be hard-pressed to go anywhere else in the league and be on a competitive team that also utilizes big-play WRs (and before you even think about citing the Vikings, just wait; this is the same team who couldn't be Arizona in week 17 last year to secure a playoff spot).

And anytime anyone other than me gives some love to the Bus, I think it's worth mentioning. Given that Jerome took a pay cut this season (which I think was right) and that he's done so much for the organization and the city, I wouldn't bat an eye if they rolled him out there in a wheelchair to run the ball. I may be overstating it a bit here, but you get the point.