hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’

A Review of The Ones Who Hit The Hardest

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 4, 2016

The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's SoulThe Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the ’70s, and the Fight for America’s Soul by Chad Millman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What a dud! What a waste of time and money. What a bitter disappointment. And how about that subtitle — “The Steelers, The Cowboys, The ’70s, and the Fight for America’s Soul?” What a load of crap! What horseshit is that?

I’m a lifelong Steelers fan with a healthy memory and respect for the Pittsburgh/Dallas rivalry and that’s what I expected this book to be about. It wasn’t. It was a book about the Steelers, yes. It was mostly about the Rooney family, about Chuck Noll, Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Jack Ham, with mentions of Mel Blount, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Rocky Blier, Terry Hanratty, LC Greenwood, Dwight White, Fats Holmes, etc. Some decent stuff on the players and team. Almost all of it well known already. Virtually nothing new. How about the Cowboys? Equal treatment? Hardly! You get Tom Landry, Duane Thomas for a couple of years, for some unknown reason — literally makes no sense — and then, Tony Dorsett, who’s from Pittsburgh and who’s portrayed as a mega-asshole. That’s it. Okay, I guess we don’t need to know anything else about the Cowboys.

Well, if we don’t learn anything new about the Steelers and if we don’t learn much at all about the Cowboys, what is in the book at all? Um, the steel industry and labor unions. Literally. At least one third of the book, perhaps a great deal more, is a history of the steel industry and labor unions dating from the late nineteenth century centering in the greater Pittsburgh area. If you’re into Pittsburgh manufacturing history or even US manufacturing history, I guess that’s pretty damn great for you. Since it’s virtually not even remotely tied into the the alleged “true” topic of the book — the Steelers and the Cowboys — I don’t really give a flying fuck about it. That’s not why I bought the book. There’s more info in this book on labor union bosses, even on people who ran for labor union president and FAILED — like that fucking matters about anything!!! — than there is about fucking football in this stupid fucking book!

Oh, and the rivalry? There’s infinitely more spent on the “true” rivalry between the Steelers and the Raiders than there is on the Steelers and the Cowboys.That’s obviously the true rivalry. There’s a little bit about the first Super Bowl the Steelers win and then the book ends abruptly with the second Steeler Super Bowl win over the Cowboys. That’s it. There’s been this huge steel industry self destruction buildup and the battle of labor union bosses and the war of words between the two teams and then the game is over and there’s a paragraph or two following the game and that’s fucking it. No conclusions, no epilogue, nothing. It’s a stupid waste of a book, a stupid waste of time and money. I can’t believe these idiots wrote something like this. I hope they took a huge loss on this. I hope they didn’t make a dime on this. I hope I make something decent when I sell it to the used bookstore. This is easily the worst Steelers book I’ve ever read. The worst. Even though there’s interesting stuff about the history of the city and the ethnicities making up the city, that’s not why I bought the book. If you’re a Steelers fan and want to learn about the team and its rivalries, just skip this book, because you won’t learn a damn thing and you’ll feel screwed after reading it. Most definitely NOT recommended. Poor excuse to talk about steel labor unions using the Pittsburgh Steelers as cover. Bullshit. Biggest piece of shit ever!

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A Review of Andy Russell: A Steeler Odyssey

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 17, 2015

Andy Russell: A Steeler OdysseyAndy Russell: A Steeler Odyssey by Andy Russell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This much wanted book was a HUGE disappointment! I feel really upset about it. I’ve been wanting to get this book for two years, but it’s been out of print. I saw I could get a used copy via Amazon and put in on my Wish List some time ago, but recently decided to just go ahead and buy it for myself. It was only a penny, plus shipping. I waited eagerly.

For those of you who don’t know, Andy Russell, two-time Super Bowl Champion and seven-time Pro Bowler, was one of the all time great Steeler linebackers. Maybe the first in a long line of great Steeler linebackers. Drafted in 1963 out of Missouri, he played his rookie year, served in the army for two years, came back and was able to rejoin the team, played on some terrible teams in the 1960s and then on some incredible 1970s teams before retiring midway through the decade. He was a ten time team captain. He was a great player, a great leader, and a great person. And it just so happens that as I moved to the Pittsburgh area as a very young child in 1971, I grew up loving the Steelers and I remember hearing about him, but I really don’t remember seeing him play that much. I don’t remember many of those great early ’70s teams. I guess I didn’t really start watching until the mid-70s. So I pretty much missed out on his career, even though I had heard so much about him. And therefore I’ve always wanted to learn something about him. Thus, when I found he had written a book (actually two books), I had to get it. And here it is and I just finished it.

Let me tell you what I was expecting. I was expecting to hear about his great college career at Missouri, his rookie year with the Steelers, the army years, trying to make the team again when he returned from the military, becoming a starter, playing on all those losing teams and then playing on all of those amazing winning teams and the differences between them, stuff about the players from both decades, the coaches, opposing players, maybe the fans, the city of Pittsburgh, the media, what it was like to be selected for playing in the Pro Bowl, and even year by year details on important games. That’s what I expected. That’s not what I got.

What I got was a chapter about him that touched on his college career, where he got a lot of interceptions for a very successful coach and team, where he was drafted low but made the team, went to Germany, came back and made the team again, negotiated his own contracts, terribly, suddenly fast forwarded to winning a Super Bowl and then retirement. That was pretty much his life. He kind of left a shitload of stuff out. I have no idea why.

The next chapter came as a shock. It was about a 1968 USO tour to Vietnam with four other NFL players where they arrived in Saigon on the eve of Tet and everything got blown to hell and they got shot at and they got flown around to bases surrounded by Viet Cong and had to run from helicopters into the bases, where they got mortared, where they were driven around by maniacs intent upon not being killed by VC snipers, etc. When he went, he was a conservative hawk. When he left, after seeing all the senseless carnage and deaths, he was a dove and thought maybe all of those disgusting long haired hippies were right after all. It was an interesting chapter. It would have made an excellent chapter in another book. But not this one.

The next chapter began a series of player profile chapters with his best friend, center Ray Mansfield. It was interesting and I enjoyed it, like I enjoyed all of the player profile chapters. Those were the best chapters in the book. The players profiled in the book included Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Rocky Bleier, Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, and coach Chuck Noll. The best one may have been on Noll, whom he respected more than just about anyone else he ever met.

After the Mansfield chapter comes another USO chapter, from the same tour, this time in Thailand with a group of American pilots. One night. A whole chapter about one night. He gets really introspective and thinks that instead of these men worshiping him and his NFL colleagues, they should be bowing down to the pilots and their colleagues, who are giving their lives daily. An interesting chapter, again, but for another book.

And then begins the most disappointing aspect to the book. Aside from the few player profile chapters, each chapter is basically about Russell and his post-retirement business partner traveling to mostly Asian and third world countries looking for investment opportunities. They hit the Middle East, where they’re basically laughed out of town by the super rich Arabs, and they finally strike it rich in Germany at the end of the book, but each chapter is about trying to do business in Japan, Singapore, Calcutta, and so on and so on. Like I give a holy shit about that! Honestly, does anyone buying this book, virtually all of whom are undoubtedly Steeler fans, give a shit about Russell’s post-retirement investment business opportunities?

There’s NOTHING about the teams and players from the 1960s, almost nothing about the teams and players from the 1970s, a little bit — just a little — about the first Super Bowl, nothing about his second Super Bowl, nothing about the fans or media, nothing about the city of Pittsburgh, virtually nothing at all about the Pro Bowls, practically nothing about opposing players, virtually nothing at all about specific seasons or even big games in his career!!! I mean, WHAT THE HELL???!!! What kind of football biography is this? What the hell does he think he is writing? How dare he? Why does he think people are even buying this damn book? What an asshole.

The only thing that saves this book from getting a one star review are the last two chapters. The next to last chapter is simply a chapter detailing information about other players he played with who he didn’t profile, including Hall of Famers like Mike Webster and John Stallworth, as well as lesser known players like JT Thomas and Mike Wagner. It was interesting to read the synopsis on each of the players and that was the type of stuff I had been waiting for throughout the whole book. The last chapter was his outlook on “today’s,” game, bearing in mind that this book was published in 1998. First, Russell states that current players, with their larger size and faster speed, could undoubtedly beat the better teams of the old days. But then he goes on to say what I’ve been saying for years. Despite their talent, they’re basically glory seeking, asshole fuckups. He doesn’t use those exact words, of course, but he bemoans the players who have to celebrate like idiots every time they make a damn tackle, saying — like me — isn’t that their job? Why are they celebrating for doing what they’re paid to do? Maybe if it was a big touchdown or something, okay, but just a simply tackle or a simple first down run? Seriously? Idiots. And they don’t know how to tackle anymore. They’ve lost their technique. They go for the big time tackle and simply miss half the time, and my wife knows I’m always screaming at players on TV to “wrap up.” For the life of me, I don’t understand why players don’t realize that the easiest way to make a sure tackle is to wrap up, but instead, these dolts, going for the big shots, lead with their heads or even their shoulders and the runners or receivers evade them or bounce off of them and keep going … because the stupid defender didn’t WRAP UP! It’s called tackling technique. And today’s players don’t have it. Russell also gets annoyed with the attention seeking players who get “injured,” lying on the field for five minutes, having to be helped or carried to the sideline, only to be back in the game three plays later. Frauds. He states that Mean Joe or Lambert would have never put up with that shit. When he was a rookie, Hall of Fame defensive lineman Earnie Stautner got a fractured hand where his the bone was sticking out through the skin of his hand and he just went to the sideline, after making two more tackles, wrapped some tape around the fracture, and went back in and played. A real man. It’s different now. Russell admits that every generation says the previous generation was better and he sounds like an old fogie, but that’s just the way he feels and I can’t help but agree with virtually everything he writes in this chapter. I despise most of today’s players and I hate the way they go nutso when they make a play or taunt their opponent after a play, etc. It’s pathetic. It’s not football. The 1970s Steelers played football. And so did Andy Russell. It’s just a shame he didn’t write about it in his book. One more thing. The publisher sucks. This is the worst excuse for a professionally edited and published book I’ve ever seen. There are so many grammatical mistakes and typos, it’s unbelievable. I can’t believe they apparently decided not to hire an editor. One example from a late chapter. Something should have “seemed” apparent, but in the book, it “seamed” apparent. Stupid mistakes like that are all over this book. And the few photos in this book are a joke! All black and white, the photos and text accompanying them bleed over each other on back to back pages, so when you’re looking at a page of two photos, you’re actually seeing four from two pages, with four paragraphs sitting on top of each other. It’s beyond unprofessional. It’s an embarrassment. As a former editing and publishing professional, I’m appalled. I’ve deleted his other book from my Amazon Wish List. If you’re a Steeler fan, don’t waste your time and money on this book. It’ll be a major disappointment. Definitely, definitely not recommended.

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A Review of Lost Sundays

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 3, 2015

Lost Sundays: A Season in the Life of Pittsburgh and the SteelersLost Sundays: A Season in the Life of Pittsburgh and the Steelers by Sam Toperoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting experiment of a book about the 1988 season of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a disaster of a season if there ever was one. The author, a New Yorker who is a former professor and now a free lance writer, set out to write a book about an NFL team starting out from the bottom and working its way to the top and he both liked the city and people of Pittsburgh and the team had been pretty mediocre the past three or four years, and by all accounts, they were poised for a resurrection in 1988, so he landed with the Steelers. And that’s where it begins.

First, he introduces some interesting local Pittsburghers, including a Japanese immigrant who stands out in the city and an ethnic blue collar worker, the exact type of man the city is known for. He becomes friends with the latter, enjoying his company over that of his grown son’s because the older man loves football while the younger man simply loves watching “winning” football. Right there, you know Toperoff isn’t a football fan, never has been. He’s a journalist, plain and simple. He likes the game but could care less about the outcome.

He then goes to the Steelers’ headquarters and admires the beautiful and intimidating presentation of four Super Bowl trophies, evidence of ghosts of the recent past, of Hall of Famers, of having to live up to that tradition. It’s imposing.

He meets the coaches, Chuck Noll, who came to Pittsburgh in 1969 and led the team to four Super Bowl wins, now in a down cycle. He meets Mean Joe Greene, a defensive line coach now, and defensive coordinator Tony Dungy, future Colts head coach. They have big plans for the season.

He then starts writing about the players, about how they’re the youngest team in the league, have a lot of unproven players, no real leaders, hope people will step up. How Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Merriweather is doing the unthinkable and holding out for a new, better contract and how that’s impacting the team. How Merriweather held out the whole season and was traded the next year to the Vikings. How Pittsburgh’s top defensive lineman got injured in the first preseason practice, out for the year. How last year’s top rookie and a hot shot defensive back broke his wrist, but has to play the season anyway due to lack of players and is totally ineffective. How one of the better offensive linemen is sidelined by bad ulcers. How their top draft pick is inexplicably some no name defensive end from some small school in Kentucky who predicts he’ll get 18-20 sacks that year — and gets one and a half. How their starting quarterback is a loudmouth, splashy, overconfident braggart with a big arm from Louisiana, reminding everyone of Terry Bradshaw of course, but he’s had only two NFL starts and has a lot to prove. And on and on it goes.

Toperoff also introduces us to the local media, the local TV analysts, who he doesn’t spend much time with, and the two dozen or so newspaper reporters who go to each game, travel with the team, yet remain objective and, when necessary, quite critical. He spends a lot of time with them and writing about them in this book. Sometimes a bit too much.

The Steelers go 3-1 in the preseason and everybody feels pretty good, even with all of the injuries. Then they play their first game of the season and win it, so things remain good. Their second game is with defending Super Bowl champion Washington, whom they beat in the preseason, but this time, they make all sorts of mistakes and essentially give the game away, losing just barely. It’s a hard pill to swallow. They do the same thing in the third game, getting something like seven offsides penalties and two blocked punts. In fact, they set an NFL record in blocked punts that year. It was unbelievable how many of their punts got blocked, how their players couldn’t block the opposing players at all, how many blocked punts got turning into winning touchdowns. And then things really fell apart. They started getting their asses kicked. It was brutal. All sorts of stupid penalties, turnovers, mistakes, special teams screw ups, missed tackles. You name it, they did it. They got killed. They started their season 1-6, something not seen in Pittsburgh since the 1960s and it was shocking. People were shell shocked and were trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Were the players that bad? Was it the injuries? Had the “game passed by” Coach Noll? A lot of people thought it had and as a life time Steeler fan who remembers those awful years, I recall thinking exactly that as Noll led his last few teams to awful records by not changing with the times, by not adapting, by rigidly sticking with his 70s-era football that no longer worked in the new pass-happy NFL. He was the only coach in the NFL who didn’t use the shotgun with his quarterback. He refused to. Absolutely refused to. And he ran the ball. That’s all he did. With poor runners and a poor offensive line, that’s hard to do. When your quarterback is getting beat up because he can’t play out of the shotgun, it’s time to make some changes. So, for the eighth game, Noll shook some things up, threw in some trick plays, loosened the reigns, if you will, and they won. So, in the first half of their season, they went 2-6. Pretty bad.

After getting that second win, they went back to losing. The mistakes reappeared. The penalties mounted. The turnovers occurred, the punts were blocked, the stupid fights occurred, resulting in unsportsmanlike penalties, etc. And it became apparent to most that these football players had no leadership and were uncoachable. They didn’t learn what their coaches taught them, or tried to teach them. They kept making the same stupid mistakes. It was unreal. Speaking of uncoachable, the author got some things wrong and some things right. This book was published right after that season, so hind sight is 20/20, but he wrote repeatedly about how recent first round draft pick, Rod Woodson, a super fast and mega-talented defensive back from Purdue was talented, yes, but made mistake after mistake and couldn’t adapt to the NFL-caliber competition, how he was most likely going to wind up a bust. Of course, Woodson went on to snag a Super Bowl ring and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. So too, he raved about then-guard, soon to be center, Dermonti Dawson, a recent draft pick from Kentucky who started the season injured, but then came on and learned a lot as the season progressed and showed a lot of promise. He predicted a long NFL future for him. Like Woodson, Dawson has a Super Bowl ring and is in the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Steelers went on to lose four straight games, so that their record stood at 2-10. People started whispering that they should throw their remaining four games so they could get the number one draft pick, rumored to be UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Chuck Noll would have none of it. The Steelers came back and won three of their last four to finish with a 5-11 record. The season nearly broke Noll’s spirit. Three of his assistant coaches were fired, two defensive coaches and the special teams coach. The new owner, Dan Rooney, was most unpleased.

The book ends with the next NFL draft. The Steelers were drafting seventh. They were guaranteed to get a good pick. The Steelers chose Georgia running back Tim Worley, a super college running back with size and speed, sure to be their featured back for the next decade. That was a long time ago, but as I recall, he was largely a bust and lasted just a few short years, accomplishing next to nothing. Like most of the other draft picks of that era. If I remember right, Noll went on to coach three more unmemorable years before retiring with most Pittsburgh fans breathing a sigh of relief. Bill Cowher took over as coach and had the team back in the Super Bowl within a few years, barely losing to Dallas, before several years later, winning the team’s fifth of six Super Bowl titles.

The book is interesting, but it’s kind of unfocused and all over the place. It’s obviously a “human interest” piece and somewhat scattered, neither a true football book, nor a coaching book, nor a journalism book, nor a real social studies book, perhaps a study on the people and mindset of Pittsburgh football fans, but it rambles and doesn’t spend much time on the actual games themselves. Which I found a bit disappointing. A lot of time is spent shooting the breeze with the other reporters. I guess that’s where the info is, certainly not with the players, right? It’s not a bad book, but it’s not a great book at all. It’s written with an interesting premise, but I’m not sure what it actually accomplishes. What did it set out to do? Did it succeed? Did it even deserve to be written and published? I’m not sure. If you’re a longtime Steelers fan, you might find this interesting. If not, then simply don’t read it. Not recommended.

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A Sports Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 10, 2014

Here’s another sports update.

Well, the regular college football season is over. Tennessee finished strong to finish with a 6-6 record, good enough to make a bowl. This is big, because we haven’t been to a bowl in four years. This year we’re going to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly the Gator Bowl, against Iowa, a tough opponent. I can remember playing them in previous bowls and going 1-1 against them, I think. We’ve been bad for too long. We used to be great. We used to have 10 win seasons consistently and in 1998, we won the national championship against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. I was there for that game. It was awesome. Those were our glory days. We’ve won six national championships and have had some other great seasons, but for some reason we’ve fallen on hard times. However, we have a new second year coach — Butch Jones — who seems good, has gotten some excellent recruits, and seems on the right path. We’ve played 23 freshmen this year, more than any other team, so we’ll have experience in coming years. Next year, I expect us to win 8-9 games and challenge for the SEC East.

UT is now also in the middle of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. The men’s team lost most of its players from last year and has only one decent player and a bunch of new ones. So far, we’re 3-3. The Lady Vols have been decent, but not great, and are ranked 11th in the country so far.

Meanwhile, my Steelers have had a schizophrenic year. They’re 8-5 and in the middle of the wild card race for the playoffs. They just had a great win against division leading Cincy. The problem is, we play great against the best teams and have gotten beat by some of the worst teams in the league, teams we should easily pound, like Tampa Bay. It’s been really frustrating. Still, some of our players are having outstanding years. Career years. Ben Roethlisberger has passed for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. He became the second player in league history to have two 500 yard passing games in the same season. Second year running back Le’Veon Bell has rushed for over 1,200 yards and five touchdowns and with his receiving totals, has nearly 2,000 yards, which is outstanding. Last week, he became the second player in league history, joining Walter Payton, to have three consecutive 200 yard games. And wide receiver Antonio Brown has 105 catches for 1,375 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which lead the league. In fact, Brown is the leading receiver, Bell is the second leading rusher and Big Ben is the fourth ranked quarterback. All of this is really exciting and I hope they all make the Pro Bowl, because they really deserve it.

Additionally, my Pittsburgh Penguins are having an excellent year. They’re 18-6-3 and leading their division. Sidney Crosby is second in the league in scoring, after leading the league last year. Evgeni Malkin is fourth in the league in scoring. And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is fourth in the league in wins and is having perhaps his best season with a great goals against average of about 2.07. That’s  awesome for him because he’s taken a lot of criticism over the past few years for fading in the playoffs, even after helping the team win the Stanley Cup a few years ago. Even though we make the playoffs every year, we haven’t been to the Stanley Cup in five years, so I’m hoping this year we can do it. One of the problems, however, is we have tons of injuries. We’ve lost so many players to injuries that it seems these three great players are playing with all minor league players surrounding them. It’s amazing we can win any games at all. Hopefully we’ll get some players back soon because this has been ridiculous.

I guess that’s about it. I’m happy UT has made a bowl and hope we win. I’m hoping the Steelers make the playoffs and then anything can happen. A Super Bowl would be awesome. And the Penguins will go all the way to the Stanley Cup again, barring continuing injury problems. A good fall. Here’s to a good winter.

 

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Random Stuff

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 6, 2014

Hi. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote here! I just feel like I have nothing of value to say. I’ve also been feeling very unmotivated lately too and I’m not sure why.

Well, what’s going on in my life? I’m having another minor neurological  surgery a week from Monday. Hopefully it will help my pain. After my last one in July, it helped on one side of my head, but pain exploded on the other side of my head, so here’s hoping this will clear things up, at least for awhile. TN sucks. I also have a birthday coming up soon. I’m going to be OLD! I’m trying not to be too depressed about it. My youngest step-son is celebrating his 21st birthday this Monday, so that’s cool. Additionally, you know how we’ve had our old house on the market for months? And we’ve had to keep coming down in price? Well, we’re finally selling it — at a loss, which irritates the hell out of me — and the closing is next Thursday. And we’re going to use part of the proceeds of that to pay of all of my student loans, which will be a real load off my mind. Seems like I’ve been paying on those things forever and I still had about 15 more years to go! It’ll be good to get rid of them.

Do you remember our beloved cat, Toby? The one we had to have put to sleep the week we moved in February due to kidney failure? Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I really miss him so very, very much. I never thought I’d miss him this much. I find myself crying at the most insipid thing, thinking about him. We’ve talked about getting another cat, but the remaining cat, Henry, is very territorial and barely put up with Toby and we’re not certain he’d do well with another cat. We think he likes being an only cat. My wife also wants us to get a dog, perhaps a beagle. That’s something else altogether. That’s a lot of responsibility. Sure, they bring a lot of joy to the house, but we take trips up to Knoxville to visit Mom and what would we do then? We don’t know anyone who could come care for the dog. I just don’t know….

I’m all excited about sports these days. My Pirates are tanking, of late, but are still in position to get into the playoffs if they could just go on a winning streak. My UT Vols just won their second game of the year today and have looked pretty good so far. Much better than the past few years. So far, we’re 2-0, but next up we travel to #4 Oklahoma, so that will be a real test of how good or not good we are. The Steelers finally start their regular season against the Browns this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this season for months, thinking we had drastically improved the team, but our preseason was so damn dismal, that I’m already depressed thinking about the upcoming season. Finally, hockey season starts in a little over 30 days and I’m anxious to see how the new look Penguins do this year. It’s all very exciting!

I’m still poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, but I haven’t been motivated lately and I’ve been completely overwhelmed by submissions. They come in all the time. I always seem to have dozens and dozens of them and I’m always behind in reading them. Most of them aren’t very good, but some are fairly decent and those are hard to make decisions about. It’s rare that you get one where you know immediately it’s good enough for publication.

My mom is doing kind of okay on her own. She’s going to her doctor practically every week, with what I think are imagined problems. She’s scared of everything, has severe anxiety problems, and depression as well. She wants to see us every weekend, but that’s not possible. We went up a week or two ago and went to the Knoxville Zoo with her, where we all had fun. It was hot though. She wants us to take a vacation with her, but we don’t know about that. She can be a very trying person and the notion of spending a whole week with her is daunting, to say the least. But I’m proud of her for doing so much on her own with Dad gone now. She’s holding up, so that’s good.

Last weekend, I went to a local gun show. I took my S&W Bodyguard to sell and sold it in less than five minutes after my arrival. And I went looking for a specific gun — a Sig Sauer P938 subcompact 9 mm. And found a few. And got one. But because of arm problems, for which I’ve been undergoing physical therapy for the past few months, I have yet to fire it. It’s killing me too! I’m going to fire it at the shooting range next weekend if it kills me!  Or my arm, I guess. It looks and feels very good. I hope it’ll be everything it promises to be.

I guess that’s it for now. Thanks for putting up with my rambling. More book reviews are on the way. Cheers!

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Sports Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 2, 2014

I grew up a huge baseball fan. Specifically a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as I lived there during the 1970s. I enjoyed seeing the team win two World Series during that decade. I followed the team religiously until the early 1990s, when they broke up a great team led by MVP Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy Van Slyke. They stopped winning circa 1992 and went into a 20 year losing streak unseen in any sport. They gave away all of their best players every year and didn’t even try to win. It was disgusting and it really turned me off to the team and the sport. However, last year, the Pirates fielded a competitive team and had their first winning season in over 20 years and made the playoffs — and I suddenly discovered my enjoyment of watching baseball. And I’ve been watching a lot of baseball this year. Currently the Pirates are 57-51 and three and a half games out of first, behind Milwaukee. However, I also enjoy watching the Orioles play, mainly because that’s my wife’s team. When we were in Baltimore in April, we went to a home game there and it was very enjoyable. The stadium’s nice and the fans are great. So I’ve now been to baseball games in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, St Louis, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. And I’ve been to minor league games in Knoxville and Chattanooga. Baseball, for me, is still kind of boring, especially compared to hockey and football, but it’s still nice to be getting back to liking it.

Meanwhile, football season is coming up and I’m excited! I’m actually probably more excited about the NFL season than I am college football, which never happens to me. But I’m a Steelers fan and we’ve made a lot of personnel moves during the offseason and had a good draft, so I’m hoping we can improve on last year’s 8-8 record and I think we will. I think we’ll make the playoffs again, which is where the Steelers belong. My college team is the Tennessee Volunteers, as I’m a UT alum. We’ve been down the past few years, which has been tough, especially after seeing a spectacular 1990s decade with Peyton Manning and a national championship. However, second year coach Butch Jones had a good recruiting class and I’m hoping we will be better. Actually, I think we’ll be better, but we won’t have a better record because our schedule’s so brutal. We have to go to #3 Oklahoma for the second game and we’ll get creamed. We have to play Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, etc., etc., and we’ll be lucky to win one or two of those games. So even though we should be better, I think we’ll still have a pretty rough record…. It doesn’t help that we don’t have any decent quarterbacks.

And of course I’m really excited about the upcoming hockey season. I love hockey. I think hockey players are the best athletes there are. They have to be strong, tough, fast, graceful, durable — they’re amazing. And they often play into their 40s. I don’t know how they do it. My team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. We’ve been making the playoffs every year, but ever since we won our last Stanely Cup in 2009, we’ve had great regular seasons and have tanked in the playoffs, so the team fired the general manager and coach and hired new ones. Hopefully this will help. We also got rid of 11 players, including several very good ones I had hoped we would hold on to, and have imported a number of new players, although none that are great, like I had been hoping for. We need a top line goalie, as our goalie is good, but not great. However, we signed a backup goalie, which really ticks me off. We need someone better than that. You can only go as far as your goalie takes you and I’m not convinced with can win with Fleury in the playoffs anymore. Oh well. Still, I’m stoked about hockey season and can’t wait for it to start. Even my wife has gotten into watching it with me, which is very cool.

I guess that’s it for today’s post. Just thought I’d share my excitement with the world. Cheers!

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