Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stupid Casino Tricks

This would fall under the category of "you have got to be kidding me". The City of Pittsburgh has released a report that rates Harrahs / Forest City as the best plan for the city. Read the article from the Post-Gazette here.

So, you might think to yourself, why would the City of Pittsburgh release a report when Mayor O'Connor has said several times that he isn't endorsing any casino proposal, and that the report "is in no way to be a recommendation" to the gaming board. So why did they write it? The author, City Planning Director Pat Ford, said it was because the law required it. Okay - it's a legal requirement - I can go for that. Except that it's not a legal requirement. The spokesman for the Gaming Control Board, Nick Hays, said that it's not a requirement at all. Here's a passage from the article

Mr. Ford said he produced the report because state law required it.

The section of the slots law on municipalities' powers and duties, though, stopped short of requiring any such report, saying only that they "may make recommendations" to the board. That section of the law was struck down by the courts, Mr. Hays said.

Mayoral spokesman Dick Skrinjar said that even if the report wasn't required, it "provides a clinical, professional analysis on behalf of the citizens of Pittsburgh on ... issues that have tremendous impact on the quality of life of the city. ... If we don't do that, who would do it?"

So, it's not a requirement, and the local municipalities can "make recommendations". But this report "is in no way to be a recommendation". So, either the report was a total waste of taxpayer dollars, or it's meant to influence the decision of the Gaming Control Board. I think it's pretty clear that both of those are true.

To go further with this (and things will now get REALLY inflamatory, in case you haven't had your intelligence insulted enough yet), here's another quote from the article
Supporters of the Isle of Capri plan hissed when Mr. Ford told council that he did not consider that applicant's pledge to pay $290 million toward a new arena to be "guaranteed."
So, they don't believe Isle of Capri when they say they'll give $290 million upon receipt of the slots license. That's bad enough, but it gets better when combined with the following:

He also criticized the report's reliance on claims by the applicants, and its lack of "objective analysis" of the data. Isle of Capri has said that Harrah's has overstated the revenue from its proposed casino and understated traffic.

Mr. Ford said he did not second-guess the traffic projections, financial data, employment projections and building plans the three bidders provided.

So, Mr. Ford isn't second-guessing financial data, but he's SECOND GUESSING THE VERACITY of $290 million?!?!?!?!?! How do these guys say this with a straight face?

On top of that, why the heck would you take the numbers provided by the casinos at face value? If you're going to do that, then don't base findings in your report on the numbers provided. The incentive to inflate numbers becomes quite large when everyone just believes them and keeps reiterating them, especially when Harrahs has a history of inflating numbers (like in New Orleans).

The last part, more for humor after the exasperation of the previous few paragraphs, is this:

The most hotly contested estimate was the contention by Harrah's and Forest City that their casino would not cause a dramatic worsening of traffic on Carson Street. Councilman William Peduto said the companies must be assuming that slots players will come in kayaks.

Mr. Naparstek said Forest City plans to add new entrances to Station Square, build a pedestrian bridge from the Mon Incline, and better coordinate traffic lights.

So, for anyone who has been to Station Square when it's fairly crowded, or been to a concert at the Chevy Amphitheatre, what would a new entrance and pedestrian bridge do? I can tell you that from experience - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I'm not even going to acknowledge the "better coordinate traffic lights" because it's laughable.

In short, my opinion on this report from what I've read about it is that it's laughable. It's insulting to our intelligence, and a blatant attempt by Mr. O'Connor to make sure the fix is still in for Harrahs.

Any opinions?

Penguins to name Ray Shero as general manager

According to KDKA Radio, the Penguins will name Ray Shero as the new GM at a news conference this afternoon at 2:00.

The Post-Gazette has an article about Shero being one of the top two candidates in today's paper - it gives a bit of his background. He is currently the assistant GM in Nashville. He is considered one of the best young GM candidates in the league. His experience with small market teams bodes well for the Penguins.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Online survey for the Pens

There's an online survey put out by the Penguins. Go here to take it. It's some good feedback for them, and will put you into a drawing to win season tickets.

I had trouble choosing who my favorite Penguin was... had to choose between Armstrong and Talbot (didn't really consider Crosby, though he could probably qualify as well - maybe it's because of the last paragraph of this article)

Anyway, give the Pens some valuable feedback and go take the survey!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

WHC Update - Quarters

So Russia and the US lost in the Quarterfinals. The US lost 6-0 to Sweden. Russia lost a shocker, 4-3 to the Czechs.

Canada is still going strong, and Crosby is tied for the overall points lead in the tournament, along with leading in goals scored. He has 7 goals and 6 assists in 7 games.

Malkin finished with 9 points (3 G, 6 A) and tied with teammate Ovechkin in point production. He was named one of the top three players for Russia.

For the Americans, Hilbert finished with three points (all assists) and was a -3, Malone with 4 points (2+2) and was -1. Hilbert and Malone were second and third in shots on the team. Orpik was pointless, but was also not a minus (he finished even in +/-).

For Slovakia, Tomas Surovy finished with four points (2+2) and led the team in shots. This is a great sign, in my opinion, for Surovy. He could use the boost in confidence. Let's hope that carries over to next season with the Pens.

So, I guess we should be cheering for Canada for gold. It would be great for Sid.

Friday, May 12, 2006

WHC update

Both Sid and Evgeni had good games in their team's respective games in the qualifying round.

Malkin had an assist as the Russians beat Ukraine, 6-0. This was a 1-0 game until the third period.

Crosby had a goal and an assist in the first period, as Canada destroyed Latvia 11-0.

The US is playing right now against Finland, and it is scoreless after one period.

The cream of the crop continues to be Canada and Russia, by far. That's really nice for the Pens, because the best Canadien player and one of the best Russian players are both in the organization.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

World Championships update

The two most important Penguins in the World Championships are both playing quite well.

Sidney Crosby has 7 points (4 G, 3 A) in three games, leading Canada to a 3-0 record in their preliminary pool play. Both Canada and the US will get through to the second round. As of this morning, Crosby was leading all players in the tournament in scoring. How do the happy Canadiens feel about leaving him off the Olympic team now?

Evgeni Malkin is also playing quite well - he has 5 points (2 G, 3 A) in three games, helping Russia to a 3-0 record in pool play. He also has what may be the most spectacular goal of the tournament, leaping over the goalie and diving to put the puck in the net (reminding me, personally, of Jagr).

Team USA, featuring Hilbert, Malone and Orpik, has played well, going 2-1. Their only loss was to Canada, in a meaningless game once both teams knew they'd advance to the second round. Hilbert has two assists, and is tied for the tournament lead in taking 5 minor penalties in three games. Malone has an assist, and Orpik hasn't scored (though he has 6 PIM).

Tomas Surovy has a great tournament going, with 3 points in three games (2 G, 1 A). What would a good WHC do for his confidence? He certainly seems to have the talent - just not the consistency.

There's a nice article about Malkin and Surovy at the WHC here. It's discussing the matchup between the two in the game between Russia and Slovakia, a game Russia won today 4-3 (with both Malkin and Surovy scoring).

Overall, I'd say there is some good reason for optimism here, with both Crosby and Malkin playing extremely well.

Monday, May 08, 2006

No news is... no news?

I subscribe to the Sunday Post-Gazette. It's a ritual for me to wake up early on Sunday morning and read the paper. The last few weeks have been pretty disappointing as far as news about the Penguins. This week, there was an AP article about the world hockey championships, and not much else. You'd think that there might be some local write-up or commentary, given that Crosby and Malkin are, by most accounts, playing extremely well. You'd also think that such analysis might be well placed in the Sunday Post-Gazette. You'd be wrong, unfortunately.

There have been a few articles by Dave Molinari about some players in Wilkes-Barre. One was about Ryan Stone, and the other about Erik Christensen. Let's hope they continue - they are welcome offseason coverage of the Pens.

Unfortunately, there have also been no articles about the Baby Pens progress in the playoffs (they're now losing 3-0 in the second round series with Hershey - not looking good). Even the Pirates minor league affiliates get their relevant information in the paper... pretty depressing. We did, of course, get a great big article about how the lives of the Steelers have changed since 2-5-06 - the Super Bowl win, in case you weren't aware.... not that I'm bitter (previous disclaimer about being a big Steelers fan still holds).

For my part, I'm going to have to start with the player reviews from this season. Time to get off of my lazy butt...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Crosby named finalist for Calder Trophy

In case you hadn't heard, Sidney Crosby was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy. I think he's the better player between he and Ovechkin, especially with the way that Sid makes everyone around him better, while still possessing a scoring touch of his own. However, I don't think he'll win the Calder. I think that honor will go to Ovechkin, and probably should, given that Alexander topped the 50 goal plateau in his rookie year.

What will be interesting will be to see if Malkin can take a run at the trophy next year.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ruff says Flyers played like "idiots"

Oh happy day. The Flyers were elminated in their playoff series against the Sabres.

In game 2, the Sabres kicked the stuffing out of the Flyers, 8-2. The Flyers seemed preoccupied with getting revenge on Brian Campbell for his great open ice hit on RJ Umberger. Never mind that the hit was completely legal and clean - the Flyers had it on their minds they were going to retaliate.

The money quote from Ruff:
"Use a different word if you want, but I thought they did," Ruff said. "The more they acted like idiots, the more we wanted to play."
What did the wonderfully classy Ken Hitchcock have to say? (for the obtuse, or any Flyers fans reading this, please note my dripping sarcasm)
"That's Lindy's opinion," Hitchcock said. "I've seen his teams do the same thing. So he ought not to talk about that."
He took just one more question and then stomped off like a little baby, swearing and crying that Ruff should mind his own business. See the article from for the complete write-up.

So Coach Hitchcock basically admitted to the thuggery - "I've seen his teams do the same thing". This is exactly what the NHL needs to avoid, in my opinion. In the playoffs, you want to see speed, skill, hustle and grit - not guys delivering forearm shivers like Hatcher did (if you want that, go watch Ultimate Fighting Championships).

Of course, the best part, from the Pittsburgh perspective, is that the Flyers are getting beat up and Hitchcock is crying. Great that they didn't make it through to the second round!!

World Championships start Friday

The Penguins website has an article about the players going to the World Championship. It breaks down this way:
Crosby - Canada
Koltsov - Belarus
Surovy - Slovakia
Malkin - Russia
Malone, Hilbert and Orpik - USA

This will only be good for these guys. I'm hoping for superb individual performances for Crosby and Malkin, and a first place finish for Team USA (that's really dreaming big...)

Follow the schedule and scores on

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pens in the news...

A few odds and ends -

The article that Will was nice enough to post in the comments of the prior entry has been basically rewritten for the Post-Gazette. I'm not saying plagerized - just that the information is pretty much the same, and the Post-Gazette's article appeared today and the Reuters article appeared yesterday... wonder why the Post-Gazette didn't simply pick up and publish the Reuters article?

Anyway, this is probably just a GM in Russia trying to get extra money since he can see as plainly as everyone else that there will likely be a transfer agreement in place in the near future. His demands don't really deserve any attention, in my opinion.

In other news, Ken Sawyer speaks up to remind everyone that the only guarentee for the team staying in Pittsburgh is if the Isle of Capri is granted the slots license. This is a direct response to Dan Onorato saying on the radio that he's confident the team will remain here, no matter who wins the slots license. The team can start talking to other cities this summer, just as they are also up for sale. If IOC doesn't get the slots license, I'd say just about anything could happen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Baby Pens survive!

The Baby Pens won their first round series against Bridgeport, coming back from 2-0 and 3-2 defecits. This is actually a double bonus for the big club, as those young guys will again get a longer taste of playoff hockey, and perhaps more importantly, Marc Andre Fleury was the winning goaltender in both elimination games. Take a look at their website for more.

Of course, in the fine tradition of our local Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there was absolutely no news I could find on the Penguins or Baby Pens in the Sunday paper. The seventh game of the series was Saturday night. Of course, I'm not being fair - Saturday was the NFL Draft, and your beloved Steelers traded up to pick Santonio Holmes. There was no bigger news than that in Pittsburgh over the weekend. How sad. (disclaimer - I am a huge Steeler fan as well - I just get tired of the single-minded yinzers thinking that the Steelers have to dominate everything to do with sports around here)