Monday, March 19, 2007

Peaks and gutters from the weekend

Some ups and downs from the recently-passed weekend…

Peak: Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day and thousands of Pittsburghers celebrated with drunken revelry.

Gutter: I made the poor decision to celebrate in the Southside, where every single one of those Pittsburghers jammed themselves into every single bar on Carson Street.

Peak: Marc-Andre Fleury had another superb shootout performance on Sunday, turning away three straight Senators. The Penguins won the shootout and the game, giving them two-straight wins over Eastern Conference foe Ottawa.

Gutter: The Pens watched as yet another regulation lead slipped away. Since the beginning of February, the Penguins have won 15 games against Eastern Conference opponents, and 11 of those have come in overtime or in a shootout. Sunday’s shootout against Ottawa especially stung, since the Pens could have taken sole possession of fourth place in the East with a clean regulation win.

Peak: The NHL likes everybody to feel good about themselves; hence, the “you-get-a-point-even-though-you-lost” system of scoring. Perhaps they will institute a birdhouse-building competition for the teams that don’t make the playoffs and everybody will get a ribbon and a merit badge, even if the Avian Housing Authority rules said domicile unfit.

Gutter: The ridiculousness of rewarding a team for losing. No other professional sports league in America gives you anything just for making it to overtime. Perhaps that’s because no other professional sports league operates under an antiquated system of scoring that relies on points rather than, oh, I don’t know, WINS AND LOSSES. How about the NHL adopts the seemingly obvious convention of organizing the standings by a team's actual record? With the inception of shootouts there are no longer ties, so why bother with the point system anymore?

Peak: Kevin Durant scored the 30 points I predicted he would need for Texas to win the NCAA Tournament. I picked the Longhorns to cut down the nets, and I felt confident that, if Durant put up 30 a night, they could do it. Against USC (apparently they play basketball there too), Durant scored 30 and A.J. Abrams added 20 more for good measure.

Gutter: The rest of the Longhorns scored 18 points combined. 18. One. Eight. 18. Six players not named Durant or Abrams played at least 13 minutes each, and the sum total of their contributions was 18 points. So long, 2007 NCAA bracket. It was nice to know you.

Peak: Durant now has a chance to make a lot of money in the NBA. I’d like to see him stay in college for another season, but I can’t fault an exceptional player like him for taking the money.

Gutter: I’d leave too if I had six teammates combine for 18 points. Six players = 18 points. In a Division I basketball game. Unbelievable.

Peak: Pitt advanced to the Sweet 16 after beating Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday night in overtime. It’s the Panthers first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2004, when they bowed out against Oklahoma State. Pitt hasn’t made it past the Sweet 16 in the program’s recent resurgence; this time around, they’ll face former Pitt coach Ben Howland and UCLA.

Gutter: With UCLA and Pitt playing under Howland and Jamie Dixon, this game might have a final score of 45-44. College basketball may never recover. In fact, this game might set offensive college basketball back so far that Dixon may have to go walking in the snow-covered woods of Indiana looking for Dennis Hopper, hoping that Hopper will sober up and join the coaching staff as an assistant.

Peak: The Pitt women’s team won its first round NCAA Tournament game on Sunday night, the first time the Lady Panthers have ever played in a Tournament game. It was a landmark achievement for Pitt and one that should be celebrated.

Gutter: But get all that celebrating in now, because Pitt plays Tennessee on Tuesday night. So, yeah…

Peak: On a non-sports note, the LAPD is moving forward with a plan to install video cameras in all 1,600 police cars citywide (LA Times), thus providing visual evidence of what acutally happens and improving accountability for cops and criminals, which is good for everyone.

Gutter: Perhaps a video camera in the unmarked NYPD police vehicle could have captured the reason why cops unloaded 50 shots at three guys in November (Yahoo). One particularly trigger-happy member of New York’s Finest popped a SkyBlast-esque 31 caps, asserting that the three “suspects” (a loosely-used term considering that the three guys were suspected of nothing) were talking about getting a gun from their car. The cops also said that someone was reaching for a gun. Those vagaries were cleared up, at least somewhat, when no gun was ever found at the scene. Wouldn’t mind seeing some dashboard videotape of that night. (I know this happened in November, but the cops were indicted over the weekend and surrendered on Monday.)

Peak: On a sports/police note, everyone’s favorite former linebacker Joey Porter took a full 17 days after being cut by the Steelers before he pulled a Pac-Man: on Sunday night Porter was arrested in Las Vegas for misdemeanor battery after getting into a fight with Bengals offensive tackle Levi Jones (Las Vegas Review-Journal).

Gutter: Really, there’s nothing bad about this story.

Peak: I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for ten years, but I couldn’t name one graduate of Charleroi High School. That is, I couldn’t name one graduate of Charleroi High School before today. Now, I can tell you that in the early 1970’s the halls of Charleroi High School were graced with the presence of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who has risen to a level of notoriety thus far unknown to graduates of Charleroi High School. As written in the Post-Gazette, Palfrey was arrested in Washington, D.C., last fall after operating a prostitution ring in our nation’s capital for 13 years. Palfrey’s service, which operated under the name of “Pamela Martin and Associates,” reportedly made $2 million and employed 132 prostitutes since 1993.

Gutter: Again, I’m having trouble finding anything bad in this story. If you would like to support Charleroi’s Finest, Ms. Palfrey has a website at


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