Monthly Archives: April 2009

Weekly Beer Recommendation 4-30-09

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

So after going to Cleveland (shudder) for last week’s recommendation, I’ll go for a nice Pennsylvania brewery this time around.  Troegs is a terrific microbrewery in Harrisburg with a ton of great stuff.  They’re masters at adding spices to their beers to make them interesting and flavorful.  They’re most famous for their Troegenator Double Bock which is not only a really solid beer, but a killer name to boot.  The Mad Elf Holiday Ale they make around Christmas is also a really good choice.  But be warned: it’s got 11% alcohol to help you get through the holidays.  This week, however, I’m taking a look at the Nugget Nectar.  Now, the first thing you notice on the bottle is a gigantic fist with a hop in it, and the beer doesn’t disappoint.  It’s got enough hops to grow hair on your chest (Actually, that’s a lie.  Hops actually have estrogen-like substances in it, so hair on the chest is probably not going to happen.  And in case you’re wondering, it’s only trace amounts.  You’d have to drink at least a six-pack a night to see any effects).  Anyway, Troegs uses so really nice floral hops which are kind of light and not as harsh as some other types.  There’s a strong citrus scent to the beer that shows up in the taste, but not as much as you’d think.  There’s some fruit flavors thrown in as well, but I can’t tell quite what they are.  Maybe apricot or pineapple or both.  Overall, it’s pretty smooth and drinkable.  Although it’s strong in the hops, it’s fairly well balanced so it’s not overly bitter.  A really good summer beer.  Enjoy.

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So, We’re Playing The Caps

image from postgazette.com

image from postgazette.com

So, thanks to some last minute (literally) heroics by the Carolina Hurricanes, we draw the Russian National Team Caps for round two.  Now, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not all that afraid of the Caps.  They still have a first year goalie in Simeon Varlamov, and although he played well against the Rangers, he didn’t face all that much adversity.  When they get behind in a game, and he still steps up and doesn’t get down on himself, I’ll be worried.  The only problem is that there was a reason he didn’t face much adversity: the Caps ability to keep pressure in the offensive end.  They did an excellent job of turning the Rangers over in the neutral zone consistently, and that frustrated them after a while.  Washington’s forecheck hasn’t been outstanding this year, but they might not have to do much against the Pens.  Philly was very effective by trying to put an extra man on the blue line and forcing us to dump and chase.  You better believe that the Caps were watching that.  More bad news is the special teams.  The Caps have been great in both aspects over the tail and of the season/first round.  The Pens have been struggling with the power play all year.  There’s no time like the present to get that squared away.  Despite all of that bad news, I’m still predicting a Pens win (and not just because I’m a homer….alright, mainly because I’m a homer) because of their scoring ability and (get this) physical play.  I really think we’ll have an advantage going after pucks in the corners.  So, here are some other key numbers that make me believe the Pens can pull this one out.

7 : Number of points Sidney Crosby has in the 4 games against Washington this year.  Malkin has 5.  Satan surprisingly has 4.

49 : Total number of penalty minutes by the Pens in 4 games against the Caps this year.  The Caps have 56.  These games are generally fast paced and clean.  Lets see if that holds true in the playoffs.  It would be favorable to Bylsma’s new system.

528 : Number of shots on goal Ovechkin has taken this year.  He may lead the league in goals, but he’s doing it by taking 20% of his teams shots.  No wonder.  Everyone marvels at the Caps depth, but I disagree.  You just need to stop Ovechkin.

6-1 : Pens playoff record vs. Washington.

0 : Stanley Cups won by the Capitals.

1998: Last year the Caps made it out of the first round of the playoffs.

This all kicks off on Saturday at 1:00 with game 1.  It’ll be on NBC, and if there’s overtime it will move to VS.  Gatta make way for the Kentucky Derby pre-race show.  Not the actual race, just the pre-race show.  I hate NBC.

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Mega Pirate Recap

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Well, I’ve been a bit busy lately, and I completely missed the Padres series recap.  Now that we’re done with the Brewers series, I guess I’ll just do them both in one big post.  It started out well enough, getting a solid win in San Diego 2 games to 1.  Then we had to go to what is fast becoming a house of horrors for the Bucs: Miller Park.  That was one of the more painful series sweeps I’ve seen.  But that’s good.  Makes me feel like baseball is almost relevant again.  I like it.

The bats really came alive in San Diego.  Ian Snell didn’t have a great outing in game one, and it really taxed the bullpen.  However, Zach Duke gave a great performance in game two which put us back on track.  Game two also saw 4 doubles and 10 runs for the Buccos.  Freddy had a nice 3-5 outing which continued his pretty good yet quiet start.   Adam LaRoche had 2 dingers in game three, with 4 RBI’s which helped us to an 8-3 win and the 2-1 series win.  All in all, a good series out on the left coast.

The pitching just fell apart in Milwaukee.  Jeff Karstens gave up 3 homers in game one (which still didn’t earn him the loss due to some more good hitting).  The front end of the bullpen threw up on itself in game two.  Maholm pitched a pretty good 4 innings to start off, and died.  Which was pretty surprising.  We had a 5-1 lead going into that 5th inning, and after some mistakes but escaping, we were still up 5-3.  After a homer in the 6th, we were up 5-4 when Maholm got the yank.  Then Jesse Chavez proptly gives up another 2-run dinger to the very next batter and all of a sudden we’re down one.  We never recovered.  Ian Snell had a great game in game 3, but Yovani Gallardo, an up-and-comer for the Brewers, had a better one and the Brew Crew wins 1-0.  I hate those games because you’re just waiting for a couple of key hits to get the ball rolling, and it never happens.  The pitching problems in the first two games were all the same: not being able to find the strike zone.  I’m not sure if it was being afraid of the Brewer hitting or what, but we couldn’t pitch strikes.  We gave up 8 walks in game one, 9 in game two and 4 in game  three.  That just can’t happen.  9 walks in a game for a major league pitching staff is embarrassing.  Especially when you’re hitters are giving you 5 runs of support.  For those counting at home, that’s 15 straight losses to Milwaukee.  We’ve got another weekend series against the Reds coming up.  Lets keep this to just a bump in a road and not the beginnings of something more.

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Pens 5 Flyers 3

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Apologies for the late post.  It’s been a busy weekend.  But I did grab a few hours to watch the game, however (many thanks to my terrific girlfriend for allowing that to happen).  I guess it’s schadenfreude, but I enjoy seeing Philadelphia loose in the most painful way possible…..and having a 3 goal lead and thinking you’re on to a game 7 with all the momentum in the world and then loosing it is pretty painful.  The main story line was Max Talbot and the fight that swung the momentum.  I guess the theory is that he got the Flyers back into their physical mindset and they stopped playing hockey again.  I think the momentum shift had more to do with the third goal shortly before that fight than the fight itself.  The desperation factor finally went back to our court.  Philly had their backs against the wall for a game and a half, and that’s a big advantage.  I think it finally dawned on the Pens that if they lost this one, they’d be coming back the underdogs.  The Pens played like a desperate team for the last two periods.  The forecheck was working and people were constantly going to the net.  We may have lost Hossa and Malone and all the rest, but we’re still an extremely dangerous team offensively if we want to be.  We just have to be in a position where we want it more.  Also, as a general rap-up thought from the series, hats off to Martin Biron.  Going into the series, he was pointed to as the weak link for the Flyers.  However, he played a great series.  If it wasn’t for an outstanding series by Fleury, the Flyers would have had a definite goaltending edge regardless of the four goals he gave up in game 6.

As for the next opponent, it’s still up in the air.  New York choked away another one this afternoon, and Carolina/Jersey are playing as I type this.  Basically it comes down to this: if Washington and Carolina win, we play Washington.  If Washington and Jersey win we play Boston.  If New York wins, we play New Jersey/Carolina winner regardless.  I’m not as scared of Washington as a lot of people seem to be.  It’ll be another rivalry series, but goaltending is a serious serious weak spot for them right now.  Jersey/Carolina would both be an alright match-up.  Jersey isn’t clicking on all cylinders offensively right now, and Carolina goes as Cam Ward goes.  I’m most scared of Boston right now, however.  They’re hot, they have a terrific defense, and Tim Thomas has constantly given us fits.  We’re best when we can play a puck possession game, and Boston won’t let that happen.  I’d say right now I’d list the teams I’d like to see in this order: 1) New Jersey 2) Washington 3) Carolina 4) Boston.  All I can do for now, though, is just sit back and see who we draw.  Not a bad problem, to tell you the truth.

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Pens 0 Flyers 3

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

That sucked.  We threw a lot of pressure at them in the first period and Biron finally answered the call at the exact wrong moment.  The second period saw a much more even puck possession battle, but the Pens still had their chances.  Asham got a goal that you can’t do much about: Fleury was in position and square to the shooter, and he hit the post at just enough of an angle to go in.  A few inches higher and it’s no good.  A few inches lower and it’s off Fleury.  That was big, but you could still feel we had a bit of an edge.  That was until Malkin’s goal was disallowed (which was a good call, by the way.  I guess the refs forgot to give us that one).  That’s when we started getting a little lax.  I hate to think it, but it seemed like they resigned themselves to it being Biron’s night and packed it in.  FSN even went off its game and lost most of the second period feed (both audio and video).  I had to turn on a radio and watch a black screen for half an hour waiting for the signal.  Overall, I hated the third period.  I didn’t see the continued effort through the final whistle.  Biron stood on his head and won this game for Philly (payback for Tuesday, I guess).  I would have liked to see more traffic in front of the net (there’s that complaint creeping back again).  But we still had our chances.  Philly dodged a bullet tonight, and if they can do it twice more, they deserve to move on.

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Weekly Beer Recommendation 4/23/09

image from thegazz.com

image from thegazz.com

So since the Pens are playing Philly, and I’ve been thinking about terrible cities lately, I decided to go with one from Cleveland.  Besides the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes brewery is the only good thing in Cleveland.  They’ve got a very wide variety of beers, and are usually pretty inventive with good results.  I’ll suggest their Holy Moses White Ale, Eliot Ness Lager, Burning River Pale Ale and their traditional Christmas Ale for anyone who wants to take a broader look.  For this review, I’ll go with my favorite, the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.  It’s very dark for a porter, and the first thing you notice is the hops/malts balance.  It’s a little heavy on the hops for a porter, but it’s still not excessive.  It gives just a hint of a sour taste at the end instead of the usual hoppy bitterness.  There’s also a hint of a smoked taste to this, but once again, Great Lakes appreciates subtlety.  After two reviews of crisp, clean beer hall beers, this one is goes in the complete opposite direction.  There are tons of spices and little tastes that would take me quite some time to find/write about.  So I’ll leave that to you as a little treasure hunt.  Enjoy!

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Pirates/Marlins Series Recap

image from wikimedia.com

image from wikimedia.com

Pirates 8 Marlins 0

Pirates 3 Marlins 2

Pirates 7 Marlins 4

The Marlins came in as division leaders in the National League East, and left as the victims of the Pirates first sweep of the year. Who saw that one coming? Wow. I’m going to make the confession that this is another series I didn’t get to watch much of. 3 straight weekday day games is harsh. What’s up with that? I think the ownership is sabotaging the team (I know, I know. They’ve been doing that for years). So here goes another seat of my pants review off of mostly box scores.

Game one saw a very quality start by Ross Ohlendorf backed up by a solid hitting effort. No one had an outstanding day with the bat, but no one (besides the pitcher) put up a goose egg. That consistent hitting throughout the lineup was what got in the runs. Classic small ball. There were also 3 stolen bases in this one, which is very unusual for Pirate baseball. We’re not generally that aggressive. I noticed the steal totals starting to climb a week or so ago, but I don’t have any numbers to back it up yet. I’m not sure that this isn’t just John Russell letting his team know that they won’t sit back and let the loosing come to them.

Jeff Karstens had a decent outing in game 2, but the back end of the bullpen (Grabow and Capps) slammed the door again. Those two have had a terrific start to the season. That’s Capps’ 4th save this year (he got his 5th in game 3), and neither of them has yet to give up a run this year (that’s a definite jinx. sorry). Freddy Sanchez went 3-4 with a homer. He’s had a good start to the year, too. The Pirate pitching did give 4 free passes to the Marlins, but that’s the only big downside I saw to this one.
Maholm tailed off at the end of his outing in game 3 (he made it through 6 innings), but he still got the win. That made 3 straight tolerable starts from the Bucco pitching staff this series. That’s a major reason why we swept, a lot of credit has to go to pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. He’s the only thing that changed this year, and he must have the magic touch. Everyone says that the difference is how we pitch much better inside this year than ever before. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it sure sounds plausible. We’ll go with it. The bad news from the series was the loss of Ryan Doumit. Losing our cleanup hitter for 8-10 weeks is going to hurt. A lot. It’s a shame on all ends. The Pirates are starting to look like a winning baseball team, and this is not what they needed. Doumit has been dogged by injuries his entire career, and this is another blemish on the bio he didn’t need. Buccos are back on the left coast tomorrow playing San Diego. Lets keep this gravy train rolling.

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