The Guy Next To Me…..

The Guy Next To Me Who’s Looking Forward to Watching the First 10 Minutes of Tonight’s Game Actually Did Ask Me:

Let’s Start With Some Trivia: What was the last year that the Pirates attendance was higher than the NL Average attendance? How many times has that happened in the last 50 years?


Bonus: What was the first year where the average NL attendance topped 1 million? 2 Million?

Double Word Bonus: What year saw the highest NL average attendance, which was 2.756 million?

–The Pirates are currently outdrawing only the Reds and Miami in the NL and are off 3k per game from last year. This despite rigging the numbers by introducing the monthly standing room only tickets. Barring a pennant fever surge, it will be their lowest attendance since 2011.


–It’s looking more and more likely that 2018 will be Ben’s last year. In recent interviews, he’s said his wife wants him to quit. One good injury this year and he could hang them up sooner.

–The Pirates have tied attendance numbers to payroll, since the infamous “we’ll spend more if more people show up” comments. I am admittedly math challenged, but attendance is trending off 11% from last year. If we assume a $100 million payroll this year (and the numbers vary depending on the site), then the target for next year would be $89 million. To get there and still be able to add some dumpster dives to plug holes, they’d have to trade Cutch and Jhay, which would trim $21 million or so.

–A strong September by Ty Terrific would allow the Pirates to seriously shop Cole in the off season. He would have the most value this off season, with 2 years of control left. I think San Francisco is a likely partner.

–ESPN’s pre-season football rankings show 4 Big Ten (sic) teams in the top 10, a nice rebound for a conference that has been living off it’s reputation for several years.


–Hats off to NH, bringing back SROD was a brilliant move.

–The winner of this weekend’s PGA Championship will take home $1,890,000, up slightly from last year. Jack Nicklaus earned $13,000 when he first won in 1963 and $60,000 when he won his fifth and last in 1980. The top prize topped $1 million for the first time in 2003, thanks to Tiger.


–The only pre-season games I usually watch are the first quarter of the first game, because I’m desperate for football, and the first half of the 3rd game, because the starters usually play. Friday will be the Joshua Dobbs show, as the rookie will see extensive action because they really don’t have anyone else. I don’t expect much, so the stage is set for him to impress against low expectations.

–Unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, there’s only one SEC team in the pre-season top 10. Of course, it’s Alabama, so the other 9 teams probably don’t matter.


–The Martavis Bryant saga continues to befuddle. Either he’s cleared or he’s not, why the games by the NFL?

–With Jones, Connor and Bryant out, the players to watch are first round pick TJ Watt and second round pick JuJu Smith Shuster. You should be able to tell that they are high draft picks.

–I’m planning to travel to Tibet and seek out the Dalai Llama in the hopes of understanding why John (.210) Jaso started at first base against the Tigers.

–No Notre Dame in the top 20 and no Pitt (no shock), but WVU gets some love at 20. Why aren’t they in the ACC? That travel just kills them.

–Even if they cheat and play for a coach that cheats, 40 year olds do not fair well in the NFL. Brady took a beating in the playoffs last year.

–Big Ben has 3 years left on his contract, but there is an out after 2018. In 2018 his Cap hit is $23 million. Source:

–The Pitt game is going to be a good indicator of how Penn State will fare this year. After the shock of last year, they better demolish Pitt at home. If not, they have big leadership and maturity issues—and maybe talent issues.


Fearless Prediction 1: Jay Cutler will lead the Miami Dolphins to the NFC East title this year.

Fearless Prediction 2: Tom Brady will have played one year too long and will miss significant time to injury as the Patriots miss the playoffs.



Please join me in congratulating Adam and Emily Haberman on the birth of Brandon Phillip Haberman, who came into the world July 26th.  

Mom, Dad and baby goalie in training are doing great and already tussling over the disproportionate amount of baby Penguins apparel versus Blackhawks gear.  

Congrats to the Habermans.  


168 thoughts on “The Guy Next To Me…..

  1. Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
    The #Cubs announce catcher Willson Contreras will be out 4 to 6 weeks with strained hamstring, expect him back before end of regular season


      1. And what’s with the “at least” in quotes? I don’t even know what that means?

        What’s probably even better is that Daquido is one of the first to call for the team to get rid of Hurdle anytime I see him speak on the Pirates manager, so you would think he would want Hurdle to be gone a month personally handling the Baylor estate.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I can say he’s wrong. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can judge the “importance” of feelings someone has for another person.

        If Hurdle feels he needs to be there, he needs to be there.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Whereupon one can use any combination of personal, vacation or compensatory time as the supervisor sees fit.

            He lost his close friend. No one is in a position to judge what is or isn’t appropriate.

            Liked by 2 people

      2. I can’t say he’s wrong either because it’s his opinion.

        I can say it’s cold, uncalled for and completely void of any class, dignity or compassion.

        Again, I’d say “unbelieveable” but it would be untrue considering the source.

        I would only hope that if and when Daquido, or anyone else critical of this, loses a close and dear friend they will have someone show them a bit of compassion and allow them to grieve as they see fit.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Baseball men realize how few and precious baseball games are. I think hurdle could best honor a man who bled baseball by doing his job to the best of his ability. Just my humble opinion.


            1. Pat,

              Let’s start by saying that you know neither Baylor nor the details of his relationship with Clint Hurdle.

              As precious as you may think baseball games are, I would hope you agree that human life is even more so and the passing of what looks to be a very decent and honorable man, let alone being there for his grieving family, would take priority over those two games.

              In my humble opinion, Hurdle has his priorities in order as does the organization for allowing him to take this time to say goodbye to this good man and to be there for his loved ones who no doubt are in pain.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Good grief. Public figures, I guess, are always fair game. But I cannot understand why anyone would take issue with Hurdle taking bereavement leave now.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. 3 reasons:
                  1. People die all the time. He wasn’t family.
                  2. The pirates are in a critical juncture of the season
                  3. Hurdle is paid to manage the pirates for 162 games regardless if what life throws at him.

                  But the pirates are fine with thus, so there is no issue.


            2. The NBA plays a lot fewer games than MLB does. And the Golden State Warriors did fine when Steve Kerr was on extended medical leave. The Pirates should be okay with Hurdle’s two-game absence.


            1. Just my opinion. I think Baylor would have wanted him to manage. It’s not a wife or child or parent, or family at all. How many other baseball coaches and managers will be attending?


            1. Sorry, Dennis, I guess I’m old school. He’s got a job to do, his place is with the team. I would have less problem if it was one game.


        1. Daq ( whatever his name really is) is a piece of work. Obsessed with Nutting to the point of actually claiming that the Pirates exaggerated a top prospects height and weight in the media guide to mislead the fan base.

          If you want a real laugh check him out on you tube, with his pig mask ranting about Nutting.

          As the Daq would say…strange and unusual.


    1. “No disrespect to Don Baylor, but that seems at least one day too long for Hurdle to be gone.”

      No disrespect, but I was kinda thinking the same thing.


  2. Way off topic (tho to be fair, is there any specific topic on Fridays? Lol) but the NFL has decided to throw the hammer down on HOF Jerry Jones and America’s team by suspending Ezekiel Elliott for the first 6 games of the season. Elliot will obviously appeal but still seems in-line to miss at least 4 games. Cant imagine Jerrys too thrilled about that, especially with him going on record multiple times saying he didnt believe Elliot would get even a single game suspension.


    1. The league sending a message. Aside from the domestic abuse, he’s had few other issues with the police.

      Just goes to show the disconnect between some owners and the league and how they handle this stuff. Jones, IMO, should have kept his mouth shut until the process was over. But that is not his style of course.

      For as much as Jones loves the Cowboys, he’s most responsible for them winning 2 playoff games in the past 20 years. He has no business being the GM.


      1. Needs to happen.

        You can’t just thug out anymore. The days of relying on ‘Mr. Wolf’ (Pulp Fiction reference) to clean things up, are ending. People know within seconds of occurrences that a celebrity or athlete has effed up. And with the country the way it is today, average Joes are sick and tired of the double standards given to the elites.


  3. Thanks to everyone in the FOB community for their kind words. Many of you correctly noted that sleep is not quite so consistent but I’m planning to ask Bob if he wants to move in temporarily. We can debate sports while changing diapers at 3am.

    Also, Don publishes by midnight central more often than not. So a middle of the night comment or two is not out of the question.

    You will all be happy to know that my son has already accumulated a massive black and gold wardrobe and it was not until his 15th day of life that he saw his dad wearing anything without a Steeler or Penguin logo. You’ve got to start the training early.

    HERE WE GO !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Steve Pederson seems to be doing some interesting things in his post A.D. life. In the PG there is an article about a novel he wrote that was recently published.

    “Ex-Pitt AD Steve Pederson wrote a novel, and we read it for you.”

    From the article: “Or, maybe you’d rather spend a day reading the first (published) novel by one Steve Pederson. Yes indeed, the twice-former Pitt athletic director wrote himself a book. It’s called “Lost In Ambition.” It was released Aug. 1. It’s currently No. 207 on Amazon among sports books. It costs $12.99 in paperback and $6.99 to download. . .

    And, believe it or not, it tracks the rise and moral decay of a fictional coach at a fictional “top 10” football school. “Lost in Ambition” uses the national championship game as a framing device; our unnamed-until-the-end narrator, before he leaves the locker room to coach Florida A&I against Stanford, has to think about his entire life.”


    1. As I understand it, if you buy the monthly pass, the pirates are allowed count you as attending each game that month, whether you show up or not. Nothing illegal about this, but it inflates the attendance numbers. Not sure how many of these they’ve actually sold.


        1. They don’t. Teams used to report attendance as tickets sold not through the turnstiles. I’m not sure if they still do it that way


          1. Attendance is determined by ticket sold.

            If the Pirates, who are not the only team using this promotion, are reporting these SRO season-tickets as a ticket sold for every game, they might not be literally rigging the system but they certainly are in violation of the spirit of MLB’s use of `attendance.’


        2. Other than PR purposes, I’m not sure either. The tickets are so cheap, they add little to the bottom line if they don’t attend and buy $13 craft beers.


          1. What PR purpose does it serve?

            If this evil, tight-fisted Nutting Regime is only concerned about profits and winning is secondary then I would think they want low attendance. That way they can point to it as a way of reducing payroll.

            You claim they’ve been benefitting from record revenue and record profits. I posted an srticle yesterday that they could be receiving an additional $50M+ from MLBAM.

            What would the reason be for artificially inflating attendance? It seems to be a contradiction to your premise.


                1. I agree. If you’re looking to catch a few innings of some games after work or soething, great way to just go into the park and spend an hour or more.


            1. Just a guess, of course, but I think it’s a pride thing, they don’t want to show such a huge drop because then the media and public will use that as a justification to criticize how they are running the club. In the past, Nutting and Coonelly have gotten a little butt hurt over the success of the Pens being thrown up in their (0 titles, 0 playoff series wins since they took over) faces.


              1. We’ll, that’s interesting. I’ve never seen anything but mutual respect, support and admiration between the respective organizations let alone any examples of what you suggest.

                I’m not sure what several hundred of these monthly passes does to anyone’s pride. It seems inconsequential at best.


                1. The bad blood started when burkle tried to buy the pirates and was rebuffed. I believe he was critical of how Nutting ran the team and implied that he could bring better results on the field.


                  1. exactly Mike-with his judging of Hurdle attending his friend’s funeral,he’s reached an all time low-it’s one thing to make up stuff like this Burkle business but to put down Hurdle for this burns me up-Don,this just shouldn’t be tolerated!


  5. I can’t believe how many people misinterpreted the attendance comment. The team felt that they had assembled a good young group. They felt the team would succeed and therefore more people would go to games. The strong young group would have their salaries increase through the arbitration process. Payroll would therefore go up. I wish more people would actually read or listen to what is actually said rather than look for reasons to criticize


    1. Here is the comment:

      “Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll very soon if our fans believe that we now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive. We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.”

      Seems clear he is tying attendance to payroll and ability to grow payroll and that they need a meaningful step in attendance to meet that payroll number.

      Coonley, who IMO has no credibility but that’s just me, has said and done some dumb things over his tenure in Pittsburgh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. He was tying performance to attendance. Once the fans believed in the team attendance would go up. If the team performed well players would get raises. If attendance didn’t go up with that then it would have been difficult to match the payroll increases. Again you Patrick and most people have clearly misinterpreted the statement.


        1. No, I think you are misinterpreting it. He clearly states they need to make a meaningful step in attendance to reach a payroll number.

          He’s saying at that time that attendance is not where it needs to be to meet a payroll number, what ever that is.

          It’s a very straight forward statement. You’re reading far too much into it.

          No matter how you want to spin it with raises etc., if they don’t get an increase in attendance, they can’t give players raises. Well that pretty clearly means that payroll can’t go up unless attendance grows.

          No idea why you are defending Coonley on this. It was a dumb statement and one I’m sure he wants back since it’s gets thrown in his face on a yearly basis. Do a search on Coonely and payroll. Almost every year he’s having to defense the Pirates payroll.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Perhaps wins and losses is just part of the story with Pirates attendance. I have read concerns about an overall trend with MLB; some of it, perhaps, related to Millennials not being so much into attending live sports events, and some maybe related to a growing general preference to watch events at home, on big-screen televisions, tablets, smart phones and so on.

      Speaking of attendance, in the PG today there is an article about Pitt basketball’s big drop in attendance. “NCAA report: Pitt basketball attendance drop among worst in ACC”. That, I believe, is in fact mostly due to W’s and L’s, and secondarily a lack of enthusiasm regarding Jamie Dixon’s replacement.


      1. I think it’s directly tied with winning. From 2011-2015 attendance went up every year reaching almost 2.5 million in 2015. They were down 250K last season. If things hold as they are they’ll be under 2million this season.

        I think what you say has part to do with it and the Pens playoff run probably took some numbers away as well. But I do think if this team was in 1st place right now, we’d see attendance spiking.


    3. I remember about 15 years ago when Jerry Reinsdorf told White Sox fans he would spend more on payroll when attendance was consistently higher. In short, we will pay more to give you a better team as soon as you commit more money to support our currently lousy team.

      It was not well received.


  6. One thing that nobody should really pay attention to is preseason NCAA Football rankings. I’ve always felt that rankings should not come out until about 5 games in to the season.


    1. Which is why the only rankings people should pay attention to — the one put out by the playoff people — does not debut until several weeks (or more) into the season. The others, once meaningful, are meaningless.


        1. I’m not a huge PSU fan, but them not being ranked initially last year, played a big role in them not getting in the top 4.

          If you reverse the preseason ranking last year and put PSU in OSU’s place and vice versa, I believe PSU is in the playoff.

          When people argue about where there team is ranked come week 10 for example, they often forget about the early polls.


      1. But unfortunately the preseason rankings do play a major role. For example, let’s say Alabama loses to FSU (I hope so). They won’t drop much at all. But if Alabama was say 20th, they’d probably drop out of the top 25. Then go on a run just to get back in it.

        No different than a team out of the top 25 right now will need to go undefeated to get up to the top 4 while a team like Alabama, already ranked high, can probably lose a game or 2 and still get in to the playoff.


  7. Oh, and congrats Adam! Phillip should be NHL-ready just in time for Matt Murray to ride off into the sunset after his age 40 season. They will be big skates to fill, considering he is on pace for 20 Stanley Cups at this point, but I have high hopes that Phillip will not disappoint.


  8. Adam,

    Congrats to you and your wife. Sleep is overrated, those high pitched cries at 3 am are something!

    Enjoy. It’s a wonderful thing.


  9. One needs to look no further than Peyton Manning and Brett Favre to see how Patrick’s prediction about Tom Brady could prove to be correct, even if he manages to avoid injury.

    Manning career avg: 96.5 rating
    Manning age 38: 101.5 rating
    Manning age 39: 67.9 rating

    Favre career avg: 86.0 rating
    Favre age 40: 107.2 rating
    Favre age 41: 69.9 rating

    Neither of these men slipped gradually, and both appeared to be at or near the top of their game in advanced (by NFL standards) age. But then it all fell apart. Let’s not act surprised if age takes down Tom Brady as well. There is only so much that avocado ice cream can prevent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve posted similar data before.

      In Manning’s case, he suffered and injury from which he was never fully able to recover. Of course you’re far more susceptible to that when your pushing 40.

      Favre took a beating his last full year in Minnesota up to and including the NFC title game against the bounty Saints. Again, at his age I don’t think he recovered well from that.

      Brady somewhat amazingly continues to rarely get hit or injured. Age is coming for him but his longevity is enhanced by his o line and quick release.


  10. “40-year-olds don’t fare well in the NFL,” unless they were the Super Bowl MVP at 39.

    Since the All-Star Break, the Pirates are playing at an excellent 93-win full-season pace. The Cardinals are playing at a 96-win pace and the Cubs 103. The Brewers have won 9 and lost 17; a 56=win pace. The Reds are playing at a 54-win pace. The division is righting itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I realize that parents can be a pain for coaches. However, how does a coach decide he has had too much only a week before fall football practice starts? I don’t see how the Woodland Hills football coach can justify quitting right before camp. I don’t look for him to get an offer anytime soon from another school district.

    Woodland Hills promotes Tim Bostard to acting head football coach


    1. Without knowing the full details of the story, I would side with the Coach on face value. Some things just aren’t worth it.


        1. That’s probably about the time the crazy parents started attacking him about ruining their kids’ lives and he realized it wasn’t worth going another year with that crap.


            1. Thats a good point about his options, I didnt realize hes been on the 40-man roster for 3 years already. But I agree he’ll probably wind up in the pen, which is unfortunate IMO, Id love to see him get a chance to start. He was always projected to be a mid-rotation starter, right? Not that that really matters much because unless they go into the year down 2 rotation arms, I dont see that happening.

              How do you think he would fare in the pen? What do you see his role in their ultimately being?


              1. I see him starting out as a middle reliever. I’m hopeful that his FB ramps up a bit in the pen. It has not yet returned to pre surgery levels.
                I think he could eventually grow into a starter role. He has more upside than Kuhl or Williams.


  12. I do not foresee leadership, maturity and talent issues at Penn State. They should have a very good team.

    James Franklin has assembled a very good coaching staff. The addition last season of OC Joe Moorhead seems to have gone very well. I don’t see a close, uh hum, rivalry game.

    It’s more like the leadership, maturity and talent issues are in Oakland.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congrats to Adam and family!

    Whether or not the Bucs make any significant trades in the off season will depend in part on how well they finish this season. A strong finish makes it less likely they trade core players like Cutch or Cole.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The rest of the AFC East will once again be mops for NE to use at their disposal, with or without Brady, Miami included, and it doesn’t matter who is quarterbacking them, a Brady injury could change the AFC Super Bowl participant but won’t change what happens in that division.

    According to ESPN and the PG beat writers Bryant is cleared for all activities including playing in the games. Supposedly the NFL didn’t have his clinical follow up information where he is to report in Pittsburgh…..whatever that means.

    To me, Ben is the kid that cried wolf, is he injured, isn’t he injured, is he retiring, isn’t he retiring, I don’t pay much attention to Ben comments.

    And the team will trade Gerrit Cole for……..remember, the player he might fetch could have to big of a salary for the Pirates to digest, so the trade would have to be for prospects, don’t matter, it ain’t happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First and foremost

    Congrats to Emily and Adam
    Treasure every waking and non waking (although there will not be many of these for awhile) moment because if you blink you eyes, like three times, they are grown and gone.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uh, Mr Smizik, sir, Mel Blount? How many Super Bowls would they have won without Mel Blount? Zero. How many did they win with Woodson? Same number.

      I would hazard to say that if you asked 50 NFL GM’s to choose between Blount and Woodson, they would go 30-20 Blount over Woodson. Woodson, for all of his incredible talent, got beat a fair amount of time because he got caught trying to make the big play.

      Two centers on the all-time top 10? That’s unconventional, to say the least. There are those who will say that Center is the easiest offensive line position to play. Just sayin’.


      1. I would hazard to say that if you asked 50 NFL GM’s to choose between Blount and Woodson, they would go 30-20 Blount over Woodson.

        Depends if you’re playing by 1970’s rules or the rules Woodson had to play by.

        Blount was mostly effective hitting the receiver all the way down the field.


  16. I still think Pitt/Penn State will be a good game. Last year, Pitt had the veterans, which gave them the edge in an early September game. I said then, if the game had been played in November Penn State would’ve won, but it didn’t. This year, Penn State has the veterans, which gives them the advantage in an early September game.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I thnk Pitt won last year basically because of a few things:

      1) They had a returning starting QB, Penn State had a guy playing his 2nd game ever
      2) They came out with the Matt Canada offense showing PSU things they hadn;’t seen, (maybe ever) with all the motion, sweeps, and misdirection and when they caught up to it in the 2nd half, the game became competitive
      3) The game was in Pittsburgh

      None of those exist this year. Pitt only wins if PSU beats themselves. I go 38-20 PSU.

      Disclaimer: I am a Pitt season ticket holder but not an alum.


  17. Congratulations, Adam, for baby Brandon!

    Our newest, Kyle, just hit the 2-month mark this week. Seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital waiting for him to announce his presence with authority. Appreciate every moment, even the irritating ones, because next thing you know, you’ll turn around and he’ll be walking.


      1. Unfortunately, I doubt I will live to see my boys hit 48 and 47. I will have to make it to 89 to see my oldest hit 48, and make it to 91 to see my youngest hit 47. The odds are stacked against me! lol


              1. LOL me too! I’ll be two months shy of turning 63 when my youngest graduates. I hope to see them both finish college and become gainfully employed, productive citizens before I finally get on with my afterlife’s work.


    1. “Appreciate every moment, even the irritating ones, because next thing you know, you’ll turn around and he’ll be walking.”

      or, hypothetically speaking, moving to Orlando FLorida to move into their first apartment taking their first “big person” job.

      for example…….


      1. I tell my wife, “When the kids both leave for college, I’m going to retire, we can sell the house, buy a house in Panhandle (a little town about 10 minutes from work as opposed to 45), and enjoy the quiet.

        Truth be told, I’ll probably cry like the baby that’s crying right now on the changing table.


  18. No way Patriots miss playoffs with their roster if Brady gets injured. Garopollo (spelling?) is more than capable of carrying the team if needed. He’s no Brady but he’s no slouch.


      1. The Patriots won 11 games without Brady and with a QB that seems far worse than Garoppolo. With that weak division (Jets tanking, Bills billing, and the Dolphins who look just OK) I cant see them missing the playoffs, even without Brady.


          1. True, the Pats teams are very different. But IMO Grap >> Castle (and its not even close), the Jets and Bills are worse (especially after the Bills just announced they dealt WR Sammy Watkins to the Rams) and the Dolphins are a mixed bag with Jay Cutler manning the ship, and thats even before considering he spent the entire offseason preparing to be in a booth, not QBing an NFL team.

            Obviously the Pats without Brady arent nearly as good as they are with Brady and greatly impacts their odds of having home field advantage/winning the superbowl. But with that cupcake division and what should be a pretty favorable schedule, even if they lose Brady for an extended perior, Id easily bet on the Patriots making the playoffs.


  19. Fearless Prediction 1: Jay Cutler will lead the Miami Dolphins to the NFC East title this year.


  20. What was the last year that the Pirates attendance was higher than the NL Average attendance? — 1991?

    How many times has that happened in the last 50 years? — 4?


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