Friday, July 13, 2012

Gone Fishing

I'll be back just as soon as I've ingested my body weight in Wellfleet oysters.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The MLB All-Idiot Team

From the same addled mind that brought you the All-Fat Guy Team and the All-Fro Team, I bring you the All-Idiot Team. And people, this is meant to be light, just a list of guys who have done truly idiotic, embarrassing, mind-boggling things, both on and off the field.

14.  Fred Merkle.  My historical choice because, when you have a dumbass play named after you, you've really done something special. "Merkle's Boner" occurred in game in September, 1908 as the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants were battling in a tight pennant race. In the bottom of the 9th, Merkle singled and his teammate, Moose McCormick, moved to 3rd. The next hitter singled to center and McCormick scored what seemed to be the winning run for the Giants. Merkle ran toward the dugout without touching 2nd base. The Cubs threw the ball to second and Merkle was scored a force-out for the final out of the inning. After that, the game was called -- either due to darkness or because the Giants fans had swarmed the field believing they had won -- depending on what reports you read. The Giants and Cubs finished the season tied for first and the Cubs won the pennant in a one-game playoff. The Sporting News reported the incident as "the stupidity of Fred Merkle." Nuff said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Five Most Pivotal Moments for the Pirates

Back at Bucco Central at the All-Star Break, with your 48-37 Pittsburgh Pirates sitting atop the NL Central, I have a moment to reflect on the things that got us here. Obviously the main cogs driving the magical Pirates have been A.J. Burnett's determination and veteran leadership, Pedro Alvarez contributing regularly, Clint Hurdle's genuine affection for his players and light touch, Ray Searage's tutelage of the pitching corps, the amazing bullpen and the even more amazing Andrew McCutchen. Really, I've started to run out of superlatives regarding that guy -- he is nothing short of breath-taking. Still, in the afterglow of Sunday afternoon's beatdown of the San Francisco Giants, I spent a bit of time thinking about very specific moments, five (okay, six) key situations that have made these Buccos so bewitching.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fishing, Fantasy and Pirates Baseball

Meanwhile, back at Bucco Central,

On Monday night, I headed down to PNC Park to take in the game with my good buddy Captain Bucco and my other good buddy UConn fan (who, it should be noted, is also a Buccos fan, but that gets complicated.) At any rate, UConn Fan, Captain Bucco and I walked out to the bleachers on a perfect evening, and we watched the game and it was as if we had dipped ourselves in magic water, to paraphrase W.P. Kinsella.

Captain Bucco shared a story, a fantasy really, of what the team might be like away from prying eyes. "Sometimes," he said, "when I'm at the gym and I'm bored on the treadmill, I allow myself to fantasize and I fantasize that A.J. Burnett and J-Mac take the entire pitching staff on a fishing trip during the All-Star Break."

"Entirely possible," I said, knowing what avid anglers Burnett and McDonald are.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday Recipe: Grilled Veggies, a/k/a, Eat Like the Italians Eat

This is not a recipe, so much as a guide-post, a half-map, half-reflection on the bounty of summer. One of my favorite things to make for dinner in the summer is a mash up of grilled veggies, with grilled bread and some cheese. If you get the chance to travel in Italy, most restaurants have a sort of 'bar' of grilled veggies -- eggplants, roasted peppers, zucchini, etc. -- all available as side dishes. But this time of year, with farmer's markets booming in Western Pa., I like to serve the grilled veggies as the main course.

There are lots and lots of options for grilled vegetables and I've tried to grill everything but a cauliflower (although, now that I mention that ...) That said, certain veggies just scream to be grilled.  Exhibit A:  zucchini. And Exhibit B:  eggplant.

Maybe it's something about the squash family of vegetables, but I never eat eggplant unless it is grilled. Eggplants can get a little mushy and/or slimey, but toss them over a flame and they turn into silky, smokey goodness. The same is true for the humble zucchini and it's cousin, the yellow squash. I believe they are at their absolute best when cooked on a grill, nary a sautee pan in sight.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pirates GM Neal Huntington -- #winning

Meanwhile, back at Bucco Central ...

Facebook was not even a glimmer in the eye of Mark Zuckerberg the last time the Pirates won and blogs like this one were unheard of, all of which is to say that my Pirates, if you didn't know, have been terrible for a very long time. And yet, the team seems to be rounding a corner around due in large part to three people:  Andrew McCutchen, Clint Hurdle and Neal Huntington. Whether or not you are on the Bucco Bandwagon or remain skeptical of the team's heretofore success, today seems like a good day to take a stroll through the biggest moves that Neal Huntington has made and evaluate them -- WIN, LOSE or PUSH.