Monday, February 4, 2008

They judge everyone. They rail on the ownerships.
They run down the GM's. They criticize the players. They criticize the fans.

Who judges them? Who holds them to any type of standard?

Well, who better to judge them and hold them to a standard than people who run a blog, something that is the thorn in traditional journalism's side?

We have tons of time on our hands.
This blog is our hobby, just like some people tend to a garden or collect sports collectibles.

As part of a series of posts, we are going to pick apart Pittsburgh media.
Piece by piece. Newspaper by Newspaper. TV station by TV station.

What do we hope to accomplish? Nothing really.

People aren't buying your paper?
Think about changing your writers to people who just aren't going through the motions anymore.


Our first stop is the Post-Gazette.

It is no secret the Post-Gazette is struggling.

In a 2006 article, the paper said it was thinking about opening the business for sale. [PG]

In 2007, it reached a deal with its labor union to cut jobs.

But still, everyone knows the PG needs to be revamped.

And being that we could care less about any other section,
this is what we would do with the sports section.



His columns, if you can keep your eyes open during them, are boring at best.
It almost like he writes the same column every other month.
He has the charisma of your 11th-grade chemistry teacher.
When he appears on shows like "The Nightly Sports Call" or the "Sunday Sports Show" on KDKA, he comes across as a whiner.

According to his [archives] on the Post-Gazette, he has 58 pages of columns since 2000, which is roughly in the neighborhood of 1,200.
His bio states he has written for the PG since 1990, so it is safe to say he has about 3,000 or so columns under his belt.

In the past eight years, roughly 20% of his columns have been about the Penguins.
And in 50% of that 20%, he finds a way to mention the Steelers.

And you can't say, "the Steelers sell, man," because, well, looking at your newspaper sales...they, in fact, don't.


Cook is past his prime. His pen has slowed.

Everyone knows there are some big-time free agents in the newspaper world coming out this summer.
Why not go after a big-name writer in his prime?

The Post-Gazette needs to start focusing on readers under the age of 40.
Being that Cook only appeals to 80-year-old men, it is time to go.


Not a bad writer. His humor is a little off-the-wall.
If anything, Collier brings a different perspective.


Collier is a role-writer. He cannot carry the columnist lead.
Given some support, he can no question be a valuable part of the team.
We would extend Collier to a 3-year contract with an option for a fourth.


The only time a Bob Smizik column comes in handy is when someone is house-breaking their dog.
He has been a sore sport in the Pittsburgh sports scene for a long time.
He always runs a sports-entertainment column where he tracks local media.
His feud with Mark Madden is about the only thing he has got going for him.


It is time for the Post-Gazette to cut ties.
But instead of hiring another writer, they should take a chance.
Maybe be the first to hire a "blogger."
There are tons of talented writers in the Pittsburgh internet scene. Why not try to take a chance?
The immediate buzz would change things. Big-time.

Are we talking about hiring us? Not a chance in hell.
We don't even know why we run this blog, but it isn't for notoriety, money, or ego boosts.
A spot in a newspaper would be the one of the worst things to happen in our lives.

Instead of turning to a blogger, what else could the Post-Gazette do?

How about turning to a former columnist?
Good ol' Mark Madden.

Everyone has their own opinion on Mark Madden.
We'll say this: When he wrote for the PG, it was a breath of fresh air to read his stuff.
It was different. It was worth it.

Are we biased because Mark Madden cares more about the Penguins than any other journalist in Pittsburgh?
Probably, but we keep turning to him even after all the jobbings he throws on you when you call in with a question or possible solution to the Penguins problems.

To drive the point home, we couldn't help but go back and see how Mark Madden (a.k.a. "Mr. 8.7") has fared.
[PG's archives]

"Alexei Kovalev has to score more. You know what? I bet he will.
I bet this is the year he nets at least 35." ( 09.09.2000 )

-- Kovalev scored 42 goals that season.

" The owner needs to come out of retirement. Maybe he will. Lemieux will skate in a Penguins alumni game late in the season, no doubt as a tuneup before playing in the playoffs. Start the rumor now." ( 09.09.2000 )

-- Uh...

"Plum native R.J. Umberger was named Rookie of the Year in the Division I Central Collegiate Hockey Association last week. The Ohio State freshman center is projected as a first-round pick in the next NHL draft. He's big, he's fast, and he can shoot a quarter into a soda machine. It would be nice to see the Penguins draft him. But he's exactly the kind of player that never gets a chance in Pittsburgh." ( 03.17.2001 )

-- Madden has said numerous times that if it weren't for Umberger on the Flyers, a fiery crash of the Flyers bus would go over just fine with him.

"My advice to the Penguins for the first round of the NHL draft today is simple:
Take the goalie.
" ( 06.21.2003 )

-- Marc-Andre Fleury

"One thing the Penguins still need to do is employ a full-time goaltending coach. Gilles Meloche, the team's part-time goalie coach, would be an ideal hire. Eliminate his scouting duties and put him with Fleury full time as soon as Fleury leaves junior hockey to join the Penguins' organization. Like Fleury, Meloche speaks French. That would put Fleury at ease and accelerate his learning process." ( 06.25.2003 )

-- Yep.


"Kraft should never wear a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton uniform again. After his performances in Games 5, 6 and 7 [ of Buffalo series ], he deserves to be in the big time based on cool alone."
( 05.12.2001 )

-- Ouch.

"Maybe he's [ Tomas Surovy ] just a flash in the pan, a guy who will start great, then disappear, like Michal Sivek. But I don't think so. I know a goal-scorer when I see one. Surovy is a goal-scorer.
So kids, get those No. 43 jerseys."
( 02.22.2003 )

-- Woooo

"Write it down: Mario will get 130-plus points and win the scoring title." ( 09.01.2001 )

-- Lemieux played 24 games that season. Was on pace for 106 points.
He was marred by injuries, so whatever.

"The Penguins' rookie head coach seems extremely organized. Better an inexperienced coach with a plan than an experienced coach who wings it, and Olczyk strikes me as a man with a plan." ( 08.02.2003 )

-- Whoops.

Love him or hate him,
that would sell some papers.


Beat Writers


Dejan Kovacevic

We have always liked Dejan. He was a solid Penguins beat writer back in the day.
Writing 162 game recaps of Pirate baseball is beyond tough. But he does it well.


Give Dejan a max contract and hope a bigger market doesn't offer him the same.



If you needed an example about what is wrong with media, look no further than Ed Bouchette.
Some Pittsburgh media personalities seem to have this thought that just because they cover sports stars, they are stars themselves.

Bouchette is the classic case.


Why even have Steelers coverage?
Everyone knows everything about football anyway.


Dave Molinari / Shelley Anderson

Being a beat writer is a tough thing to do.
You don't have the advantages of simply not feeling like writing a recap.
However, if you get to the position of being a beat writer, you should embrace it.

Molinari is the chief example of someone just going through the motions.

We have had a huge problem with Molinari since he penned a column about why he voted for Chris Pronger instead of Jagr for the Hart Trophy back in 1999.
Jagr lost by one vote.

Anderson is a fill in at best. She tries.
But she's writing AT you, not TO you.


Simply put, it is time for a change.
And there is only one man we recommend for the beat writer job.
And that's Seth over at Empty Netters.

Everyone would agree the fan base of the Penguins is a younger following.
With how hard Seth works on Empty Netters, he would appeal to Pens fans.

Now, no one is ever happy..
and sure, there would be people complaining.
But why not give someone a chance?

If the Post Gazette did that, it would immediately bring itself to another level.


And that's it. No fancy ending.
We aren't pressured to bring articles to a nice, round ending.

Go Pens.


canaanregulatesblog said...

ed bouchette is the jack wilson of pittsburgh sports: everyone thinks he is vital to the team, but as soon as he would leave, no one would give a good god damn.

p.s. apologies to jack wilson for the poor analogy.

seriously, seth over at empty netters knows WTF is going on. quit holding him down, dickfaces.

Adrienne said...

Probably one of the best reads off the Pensblog. Brilliant work guys++

While I can't be all thumbs up for Mark Madden, he made things interesting to read.

Yay football season is over, it only took 15 minutes to get through the last 50 seconds. Now back to hockey.

Face In The Crowd said...

I think you guys are right about bloggers being the thorn in journalism's side. Unfortunately, that's all blogging will be: a petty nuisance. I say that with the utmost regard to this blog; a blog that I've been checking in on daily since the Winter Classic recap. Needless to say, your blog definitely would not go over well with the mainstream public. You guys drive your humor home, which is something people like to come to on their own, as opposed to being forced to read it every day in their local newspaper.

As a professional journalist myself out here on the West Coast (with an NHL team), I definitely wish newspapers and media would begin to embrace bloggers more in the upcoming year or so. I was the beneficiary of my current employer newspaper deciding to go towards a youth movement, albeit a small one. With all that being said, maybe I see blogging and the advancement of technology different than many of my colleagues in the journalism industry, given that I have that younger-generation perspective.

Good luck on all of your future endeavors.

canaanregulatesblog said...

*e.mirchich said* from last post.

dexter is starting on CBS in like 2 weeks. i hope the world gets hooked--some of my favorite books.

p.s. jericho is re-starting as well.


stokes said...

Interesting post, staff. Like getting out the jobber tour bus. sweet.

I used to hate Madden, but since Stan isn't around on the radio, TIm Benz(or whoever is over at 970) is a joke most of the time, and The X is only good for Pens games and fixing local rock competitions, I listen to Madden. (Really, local radio blows ass.)

Madden is the only alternative. Plus he knows Penguins hockey. Abrasive, yes, but knowledgeable.

I don't know how old Seth is, but that dude has forgotten more about hockey than i ever knew. That's a great idea to put him in the driver's seat over at the PG.

Flyer Hater said...

The main problem with the PG sports writers is that they're all 1,000 years old. There's noone there that is apart of the under 50demographic.

geezer said...

To be honest most sports "journalists" are not that entertaining. However one thing not being metioned is the medium itself. Radio by far is the most fun. There is lots of time so you really get a feel for the personality of the person. TV is limiting due to time constraints. Newspaper is also very limited in the sense of getting a feel for the person.

Most sports writers are cookie cutter clones who cliche us to freakin death. He is a team player, Mr clutch, blah, blah, blah. Why read it, you ALREADY KNOW what is going to say.

Bloging can allow for greater creativity due to the medium and lack of time and space constraints. It also allows mixing of graphic and written arts.

Money is why things aren't changing. Managers don't want to rock the boat for fear of losing existing readers. However with a creative approach and a targeted ad campain it could easily. However it would require something the administration in traditional media outlets sorely lack, BALLS.

DeathByEmu said...

Great write-up. Some days I hate Madden, some days I love him, but thats the point. People listen (or read) his blowhard babble. No matter if he's right or wrong, guy gets attention, and that's why he gets the ratings.
And hey, face it, abrasive yea, but he's right more often than not.
Go Pens!!
Duck the Fevils!

geezer said...

Wow Pens Blog Charlie on the celebration podium. Go Charlie! WAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Pens fans lets have our own party celebration tonight and kick it off with a bonfire!
Yes and then we will push that flaming bus full of the devils off a cliff so they can all go stright to hell where they belong. Waaaaahooooooooo!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was funny not one of the Pittsburgh papers mentioned the "feud" between Baby Ben and Smiley McGee. Madden was right, the Steelers do control the media.

Lady Jaye said...

How sad, I didn't even notice Pensblog Charlie on the podium. He just fits in so well, and I'm so used to seeing him pop up everywhere.

Good read, guys. Again, I am impressed with the topics you come up with on non-game days. The PG used to be a daily read for me because of the Pens section, but once Dejan left, my reading slowly declined and now it is just boring to me. Of course, I go read some headlines... but I almost always skip the Pens section anymore.

As far as Madden goes, love him or hate him... he is an interesting read. I love to read his articles in the books they give out at the games. They have a different feel to them and I like that he doesn't always ask the same old boring questions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what everyone said. Pittsburgh media is just too old, too stale. I'm sure Bouchette and Cook and Molinari were good enough at one point, but you need a change.

It would be nice for the paper to get some new perspective and a new voice in there. When I go out of town it is always interesting to read local paper columnists because it is so much of a different vibe.

I'm just tired of every Molinari article being:
1.) Start attempt at witty sentence.
2.) Give quick recap of game, minus most important details.
3.) Quote Whitney or Christensen saying something simple and unprofound. (No knock on the players, they are just being polite.)
4.) End with another poor attempt of witty catch phrase.

There is no analysis. There is no opinion. There seems to be no passion anymore. His Q&A are just brutal. "The moderator of this forum doesn't pretend to have a beating heart, but..."

Anonymous said...

“Anytime you can skate in this league you can find a niche on a team whether it’s on the power play, playing on a third line, penalty kill or just being a veteran presence.” -- Mark Recchi

Isn't this a contradictory statement, considering Recchi had a fit playing on lower lines in Pittsburgh?

Full article --
I don't know how to link, such a noob.

Brother Anthony said...

Great article. I look forward to the rest of the series.

"Why have Steelers coverage? Everyone knows everything about football anyway."


Ryan said...

anon @ 8:47...

You must have missed the PG...the only reason we know about that feud is because Bouchette penned the article with the quotes from Ben and the response by, as Madden likes to say, Whines Hard.


Molinari sucks. All the PG writers are too old. The main problem with Pittsburgh media is that they are owned by, and scared of, the Rooneys.

Madden is the only interesting voice in the city, because he could care less about what the Rooneys and the steeler players think of him.

malkinian said...

Brilliant post guys. Couldn't agree w/ you more on just about everything. Definitely wish Dejan would come back to Pens writing, but I give him bigtime respect for following the Buccos all-season. Big game tonite.

Go Pens!

Brett said...

the papers don't target anyone under 30 because all of those people get their daily read from the internet. If you're under 30, answer this: when was the last time you bought a paper? conversely, when as the last time you hit up,,,, or Exactly.

chris said...

just because YOU dont visit news websites doesnt mean other people dont. PPG is a bookmark on my computer as is CNN.

go pens

Jason said...

Wasn't Seth the dumbass who went to Norwin High School? If he is the same joke he steals most of his material.

IF it is, Seth = Joke

Johnny Wrath said...

People ask. I tell them where I’m from. They want to know when Tomlin is changing the 4-3 alignment. My answer always is that Gretzky, Campbell Conference Captain, was on the ice for all four goals scored by Mario, Wales Conference Captain, during the much-heralded 1990 ASG. I mute my scathe based on the reaction I get. People’s favorite comparison is that of Gretzky to Carson Kressley, but left-handed.

Everyone does, indeed, know everything about the NFL. They own Sundays, a day that really nothing else is going on. Its mainly a captive audience, and an audience that is fond of excusing ones’ self from drunkenness from 8:17 Sunday morning, presumably, until half-past 11 Monday night. Go Pens.

I wonder if the Media didn’t paint a vivid picture of Hockey Players from former Communist Bloc countries and Canada, the oft-ignored until its convenient to become frustrated with HMO’s neighbor, in people’s minds, and coupled that with not working so damn hard to find Versus in their channel guide if they did second-guess the validity of Football-rabid pundits, if the simple appeal of the greatest game would cause the fan, used to 17 minutes elapsing after the 2:00 warning, to indeed shit their minds.

Is it me, or are NFL enthusiasts into Man flesh a bit too much? Is it significantly on either side of ambiguous to suggest the sheer enjoyment of a big, big pile of steaming Men ending each play ignites the proverbial light bulb overhead? You know damn well what I’m writing between these lines, and if the NFL enthusiast wasn’t such an ignorant slob, they would indeed shit their minds if faced with the contrast between extroverted macho dick-swinging, and introverted curious self-loathing. The role of alcohol remains clear.

Doc Nagel said...

When Kovacevic wrote the Pens Q&A column online, it was excellent stuff. He answered questions thoughtfully and with good humor. He was direct about his opinions, and when the need arose he didn't pull punches, either. Molinari has ruined it. He frequently insults the people writing questions. I can't read it any more, and it used to be one of the wonderful little joys in my life.

J.S. said...

doc, you're right. I used to look forward when Dejan did the Pens Q&A. After reading two weeks of Bore-inari's responses, I have yet to even bother unless somebody on another board mentions it in a post.

Molinari = joke

Lady Jaye said...

Doc > Fully agree. The Q&A was a staple for me every week... I couldn't tell you the last time I've read it.

And whoever above mentioned that younger folk don't buy papers, I agree to that. I read all my news online, but if the PG's writing was better online, I would gladly go to their site for the news everyday... not just when I'm absolutely bored to tears and want another web page to meander to.

justincredibleh said...

Trenni Kusnierek, who worked for five years at FSN Pittsburgh as an anchor/reporter before returning to her native Wisconsin in the fall, will be part of the Milwaukee Brewers 2008 television coverage. Kusnierek has joined FSN Wisconsin as a host and sideline reporter.

i have no reason to live...

vezonex said...

everything anyone can say about Molinari can be summed up in his recap of Geno's amazing goal against Carolina the other night.

Evgeni Malkin added an insurance goal by throwing a backhander past Ward from the inner edge of the right circle at 9:42 for his 28th.

"I just got out there on a change and I had lots of energy," Malkin said through an interpreter. "Petr Sykora gave a great pass, and I ended up between two defensemen."

He did not do that goal justice at all. If Game 2 against Minnesota happened the other night, Molinari would say this about Mario's "signature" goal from that game.

Mario Lemieux made it 3-1 when he beat Jon Casey from just inside the crease for his 13th of the playoffs.

I'm all for Seth.

Jazzhall said...

I do think it would be nice to at least add some youth to PG's sports coverage. The Washington Post (let's not think of the difference in resources) has a great, younger, writer on the Redskins, Jason La Canfora, who was solid this year, and even in his coverage of the most recent World Cup in Germany. His work in blog or article form was great, informative, and balanced. Gene Collier's solid, and the others have their moments, but too often they're buried under vague efforts at sarcastic remarks and trite analysis.

Where is Stan Savern these days?

Pittsburgh Girl Forever said...

Hey, there was not a fight between Hinesy and Big Ben. They had a minor disagreement, and they solved it.

Don't say I am one of those fans who only watch after football season because I watch the Pens more than Pensblog Charlie loves men!

Oh no! The people who now have no football to watch are going to start talking to me again about hockey. It is really annoying when they don't realize that people like Flower and Eaton are out ... Someone asked me why Kovi isn't on our team anymore. First, I didn't want to relive that moment and that was the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time. Well, my friend didn't know where Washington DC was ...

Pittsburgh Girl Forever said...

Oh please do the Trib next!! Rob Rossi is annoying the hell out of me!!

Eric K said...

keeping the tradition alive (with some slight modifications due to last game)

(To the tune of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band)

Well the Pens went over to Jersey
They were lookin' for some points to steal
They were in a bind, Devils 1 point behind
And willin' to make a deal
They came upon this old man
Playin' goalie, and playin' it hot
So Geno jumped up on a hickory stump
Said, Matry lemme tell you what
"I'm sure you already knew it
'Cause I'm a hockey player too
And if you care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you
Now you play pretty good hockey, boy
But give the Penguins their due
I'll bet a Mike Rupp goal
Against your soul
Just to think we're better than you"
Then a boy said, "my name's Parise
And it might be a sin
But I'll take your bet
Though I'm gonna regret
'Cause tonight, the Pens will win"

So Mikey rousin' up your bench
And change those 4 lines hard
'Cause hell's broke loose in Jersey
And Jarkko's killin' retards
And if you win, you're closer to that banner in black and gold
But if you lose, the Devils have control

The Devils opened up the gate and said "We'll start this show"
Then Elias flew in on a breakaway, but yeah, he still blows
He pulled the puck across the ice and it made an evil hiss
Then all 12 fans joined in and it sounded somethin' like this
(Silence overtakes the microphone)
When the Devils finished, Georges said "well you're pretty good 'ol sons"
"But if you drop the gloves with me, you'd be better off to run"

Fire at The Rock, run boys, run
Look, it's Marty's illegitimate son
Chickens in the locker room, pickin' their toes
Hey we got a powerplay, Go Sarge Go

The Devils bowed their heads because they knew that they'd been beat
Then they layed that division lead on the ground at Mike Yeo's feet
Conk said "Devils just come on back if you ever wanna try again"
"I told you once, you sons of a bitch, the Conkblockin' never ends"

Fire at The Rock, run boys, run
Look, it's Marty's illegitimate son
Chickens in the locker room, pickin' their toes
Like they say in Canada, "GO PENS GO"

stokes said...

Some thoughts:

I think that Rossi is weird, but i still like his read because he is at least fresh. Plus i got used to reading his weird style in high school.

I get the PPG at home, and while i agree with Staff's assessement, i still read the recap and the Pens notebook. There's just something about reading the paper that i enjoy and i am almost 27. plus i love the comics.

Johnny Wrath, i felt like i was reading Plato or something. I am astounded and completely confused by you sir, the EN, GoL.

Pittsburgh Girl Forever said...

I don't think the style annoys me that much ... I think that he just says stupid things. I hate when he predicts who he thinks is going to be gone before the end of the season when preseason just ended. Recchi was a good pick, but I wasn't feeling Recchi either. He said Gary Roberts was gonna be gone as well as Malone. Then he jumped on the Roberts bandwagon, and Gary got injured.

matt k said...


u need to find someone to lay down the music for that....

Seth Rorabaugh said...

Thanks for the props guys. I appreciate it.

Let me just say as someone who's a fairly regular reader of other newspapers online, Dave's as fine of a beat writer as anyone in any city covering any team in any sport.

Short of Gary Roberts deciding he wants to become a beat writer (and he could too if he wanted to) if Dave were to ever give up that beat, we are a lesser paper.

I know that sounds like blurting out the company line, but please trust me when I say I'm not. It's how I honest feel.

Dave's 10x the journalist I could ever hope to be.

(That said, I wouldn't mind the pay raise.)

Thanks again.

Seth Rorabaugh said...

See, I can't even use proper grammar.

Should be, "That's how I *honestLY* feel."

cragger said...

we just shit in our own dog house. fuck.

cragger said...

somebody call mario.

tell him to sharpen up his tacks.

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