*I'm going to the Pirates' home-opener next month with my girlfriend. She talked me into it. She always gets me to do the cool things. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I haven't been to a home-opener in 13 seasons. I had another girlfriend then and we made out in a parking garage afterwards. My current girlfriend and I are a little more established so I'll probably have a tougher time making out with her in a parking garage after the game. However, it usually does take a lot of time to get out of those garages after big games so we probably will have some time to kill.
*As usual, I'm allowing myself to be optimistic about the Pirates this season. And unlike recent seasons, the lineup is actually filled with some young players who might do something. Andrew McCutchen is heading into his 2nd full season and Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez will each be heading into their first full season. I'm surprised there isn't more hype involving these guys. They look like legit major league everyday players with tons of upside. And on the pitching side of things, Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan could make for a very tough back end of the bullpen. As for the rest of the pitching staff? Well, that's another story. Although, James Mcdonald, who was acquired late last year, did show some promise as a starter with the ability to make people swing and miss. Imagine that. Not to mention Brad Lincoln, who will almost surely win a spot in the starting rotation. And it will be hard for Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf to pitch worse than they did last year, so maybe the starting pitching will finally look somewhat respectable. If there is ever a time for the team to show improvement from one season to the next, it's this year. Sure, that shouldn't be too hard to improve over last year because they lost over 100 games, but I would be very surprised if they don't improve by at least 15 games this season.
*I'm not as excited for March Madness as I normally am this time of year. I'm sure some of it has to do with a Super Bowl hangover. It might seem hard to believe to some, but it takes a lot of energy and emotion to follow a team on a championship run. And when the team comes up short in the end, it sort of takes the wind out of your sails. Yeah, it could be a Super Bowl hangover, but I think a more accurate reason is basic cable. I'm coming up on my one year anniversary of switching from expanded basic to just plain basic and it's made for a "lost" college basketball season for me. I just can't follow any of the games. There are games on on the weekends on the major networks, but I'm normally pretty busy then. Weeknights, when you can watch a college basketball game just about every night, is a much better way to follow the game and get a feel for not only PITT but the other teams around the country. I just can't get a feel for the Panthers this year. I know they are very deep, as in most years, but that's about all I know about them. I will be rooting for them like crazy come tournament time because the games will be on CBS, but I don't know if I'll be as emotionally invested in a group of players I don't know much about.
*Having only basic cable made for a "lost" college football season, too. It's amazing how much ESPN has taken over the sports landscape. Especially college athletics. I didn't get to see much PITT football last year, and save for the occasional Notre Dame game on NBC or a game on ABC, I didn't get to watch much college football at all in 2010. I remember being all excited on New Year's day because I thought there would be games on all over the tube, but the only game that I got to see was the Citrus Bowl. Everything else was on ESPN. Boy, times sure have changed. Even 10 years ago, the thought of a major bowl game being played on ESPN was pretty abstract. Now, it's the norm. For some reason, the Cotton Bowl Classic was on FOX and you better believe I watched the hell out of that game. Didn't miss a play.
*I must rethink my decision to switch to just basic cable because there just aren't very many channels to choose from. When I first got basic cable three years ago, I had TBS, the Golf Network (don't like golf, but at least it was something), BET, Trutv and a few other pretty decent channels. But then I switched over to expanded for a couple of years before deciding to switch back to basic a year ago. The landscape really has changed. No more TBS, no more Golf channel, no more BET or Trutv. Nothing. The closest thing to a premium channel would be WGN out of Chicago and it's probably a matter of time before I lose that one, too. And it's a nightmare during the day. I get to choose from "America's Funniest Videos," Jerry Springer and similar trashy shows, the many incarnations of "The People's Court" and, of course, infomercials. It's just crap. Basic cable is so bad that for a time last year, I found myself looking forward to finding the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" dvd infomercial on one of the channels at various times of the day and night. Primetime isn't so bad because of network television but I'm not that much into network tv. I'm more of an ESPN/Comedy Central/TVLand kind of guy. I can't believe the cable companies have never offered an ala carte sort of deal. You go from basic cable at about $12 a month, to expanded at about $65. Nothing in-between. I believe if you have basic cable, you should be able to pick three channels that you could add to your package for a few bucks per channel. For me, it would be ESPN, FSN, and TVLand. There are other channels I'd like, but I could live with basic if I had those three.
Like I said, the choices for basic cable have become more narrow in only a year's time. I'll bet that in about five years, a basic cable package will consist of the home shopping networks and infomercials, and maybe Jerry Springer.
*I'm obviously a huge NFL fan, one of the biggest you'll ever find, but I'm having a hard time being overly-concerned with the NFL's labor dispute. It's not because I don't care, I do, it's just that there are six months until the 2011 season starts. If the NFL owners locked out the players at this very moment, how would that really hurt your entertainment options? Heck, work-stoppage or not, there will even be an NFL draft next month. For me, the NFL draft is just about the only thing that I really care about between the end of the season and the start of training camp. I don't even pay that much attention to OTA's or mini-camp. I only start to get excited about the NFL again around mid-July. That's when I start dreaming of the pigskins flying in the air. If they haven't reached an agreement by then, maybe I'll start to worry. But an NFL work-stoppage in March is like a typhoon in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It can't really harm anyone.
*Since I obviously haven't watched much television since the Super Bowl, the public library has become one of my frequent destinations and much to my delight, I've taken up reading as a hobby. What a relaxing hobby reading a book is. I've finished two books: Myron Cope's "Double Yo!" and Terry Bradshaw's "It's only a game." Both excellent reads with countless anecdotes from two very good storytellers. I'm currently reading "Here's Johnny!" by Ed Mcmahon. Another great book.
*That's about all I have for now regarding the day-to-day activities of yours truly. I haven't written one of these journal-type posts in a while. I don't even care if I spelled stuff right. Ah, freedom. Okay, I did go back and proof read, but only a little.