Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forbes Field

One hundred years ago today, Forbes Field opened in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Credited as the first modern ballpark, the field was home to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 until 1971. It also was the first home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, hosted University of Pittsburgh football games, and Negro League games. The stadium was named after British general John Forbes who fought in the French and Indian War, and named the city in 1758.

Built by Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, construction was completed in about 6 months at a cost of $1 million (roughly $24m in today's money). All that remains these days are the left and center field brick walls, the flagpole, and home plate (which is inside one of the buildings of Pitt). A ceremony is still held every year on October 13th by the remaining walls to commemorate Bill Mazeroski's Game 7, World Series clinching, bottom of the 9th walk-off home run (the only one in Major League history).

There are going to be some commemoration events on Tuesday, as well as a program at Pittsburgh's Senator John Heinz History Center (running through November 8th). There's a short video here that talks briefly about Forbes Field and the Heinz exhibit (I tried to embed it, but couldn't).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Incognito

Imagine you are a supervillian. Blessed with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. You and your brother (similarly superpowered), have held cities for ransom, destroyed multiple downtown blocks, and have caused people to quake at the sound of your very names. Now imagine that your brother is killed, you give up you villainous ways, and you live the life of a common office drone.

That's exactly the scenario Zach Overkill finds himself in the Marvel Comics series Incognito by geniuses Ed Brubaker and Scott Phillips. Inspired by the old pulp comics, Brubaker and Phillips take what we know about superheros and turn it on its ear.

I've been reading this series since it started, and it's outstanding. I haven't read anything by Brubaker before (though everyone is talking about his Criminal), but I'd really like to check out his back catalog. Incognito #4 came out on Wednesday, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

I highly recommend seeing if your local comics shop has it in stock, because it's worth it - even for non-comics fans. Check out this interview with the creators (including some preview art) here at Comic Book Resources.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alan Wake

I first heard about the game Alan Wake a while back. It's from the creators of the first Max Payne video game. Production has been long delayed, so the game kind of fell off my radar. It was a great surprise to me when I heard the game mentioned in one of the recaps of E3.

From the videos I saw, let me tell you, the game is going to rock. The setup is this, Alan Wake is a writer who hasn't published anything in about two years. He and his wife go on vacation to an idyllic lake town, and the wife disappears. Strange things start happening in the town; things that echo his latest thriller.

The game looks very atmospheric and it's magnified by the fact that most of the enemies are vulnerable to light. So one of Alan's greatest weapons is his flashlight.

As of now, the scheduled release is in Spring of 2010 for PC and Xbox 360.

Here's the trailer:


Here's the E3 demo:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stanley Cup Recap

What a year! What a series! What a weekend! The Pittsburgh Penguins won their third Stanley Cup Championship on Friday night. They previously won in 1991 (6 games over Minnesota North Stars) and 1992 (4 game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks). All three titles were clinched on the road. Evgeni Malkin became the youngest ever Conn Smythe winner as the playoff MVP and the first player to win the Art Ross (regular season scoring) and Conn Smyth in the same year since Penguins great Mario Lemieux did it in 1992.

On a personal note, I went 13-2 on my post season predictions. This is the best I can remember ever doing. If you asked me during the later part of the season or early on in the playoffs, I didn't think there would be any way Pittsburgh would even make the Finals. But as the playoffs progressed it be came "they can beat Philly...they can beat Washington...they can beat Carolina...oh wait, they're in the Finals!"

Here are some articles from the Pittsburgh papers and some nice pictures:
Post-Gazette recap.
Recap and reactions.
More recap and reactions.
Cup stories.
The Penguins even showed off The Cup at Sunday's Pirates/Detroit Tigers interleague game.

Jordan Staal:


Crosby and Team:


Team portrait:


Penguins and Cup at PNC (love the skyline in the background)

Friday, June 12, 2009

2009 Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins



Max Talbot scored two second-period goals, and the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame the loss of captain Sidney Crosby and a whole lot of history to beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday night in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup for the third time.

The home team is generally favored in Game 7s. The last time a road team won a Game 7 for any major championship was the Pittsburgh Pirates over Baltimore in 1979.

My wrap-up of the series to come later, but for now: WOO HOO!!!!!!

MST3K Friday: Body Care and Grooming

Tackling her from behind is the first step.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals: It All Comes Down to This

What an amazing series so far! Except for Game 5, every game this series has featured horn-to-horn fantastic hockey by both clubs. With their backs against the wall, the Pittsburgh Penguins found a way to win Game 6 and force a seventh and deciding game Friday night in Detroit.

After a miserable showing in a 5-0 defeat Saturday night, Pittsburgh came out with a strong push to start the game last night. Through the first 20 minutes of play, Pittsburgh had many great chances and held Detroit to only 3 shots on goal (they average in the upper 30's per game this playoff). Every Pittsburgh player played their hearts out last night. Everyone from the defensemen, to the grinders, to the likes of Petr Sykora was blocking shots and laying heavy hits. Chris Osgood continued his stellar play, keeping his team in the game. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury matched him save for save and came up with the big stops at key times to secure the win.

Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik had one of his best games of the entire playoffs last night. And what can be said about Rob Scuderi? He continued his solid play and actually made three saves in the last 30 seconds of play when Fleury was caught out of position by the surging Red Wings.

Ratings for this years Finals are up, so that means lots of people are watching some of the best hockey in a while. One of my coworkers just said that last night's game was "probably in the top 5 of games I've ever seen".

Game 7. Friday night. Anything can happen.

Friday, June 5, 2009

MST3K Friday: Truck Farmer

The quality of this one is a little iffy, but it's a good short.

Easter Bunny Films Presents:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stanley Cup Finals: After Three

I thought of posting something on Monday after Detroit took a 2-0 series lead. Full of doom and gloom, revoking my prediction. Both teams played well over the weekend, but Detroit got the better of the bounces and their defense held both Malkin and Crosby in check.

But I feel a little better after last night's 4-2 Penguins win. Pittsburgh got goals from spark plug Maxime Talbot and defensemen Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar. The first period was a stalemate. Both teams controlled play for periods of time and they came out tied 2-2. The second period seemed a little flat. Neither team got too much going, and Detroit outshot the Penguins 14-4. The Penguins, though, took control in the third. Almost from the first shift, you could see them asserting themselves. When the Penguins went on the powerplay, they had the puck Red Wings's zone for almost a minute and a half without a break. I could sense a goal was coming and Gonchar delivered.

Let's look at what I pointed to as the keys to the series. The special teams have gone pretty much as I predicted. Pittsburgh's power play has produced, and Detroit's penalty kill has been the one hole in their otherwise solid game. The injuries haven't been as much a factor as I thought. Lidstrom and Ericsson have played. The only players still out of the lineup are Draper and Datsyuk.

It would be ideal if the Penguins win Game 4 tomorrow and return to Detroit tied 2-2. If not, 3-1 is a bad place to be against the best team in the league.