Pens Preview: Tyler Kennedy

Tyler Kennedy. Tyler effing Kennedy. Be honest with yourself for a few minutes. Think to the start of the season. Raise your hand if you expected Tyler Kennedy to be one of the best offensive weapons down the stretch.

It’s OK. I’ll wait.

I know I didn’t expect much out of Kennedy beyond what we got used to seeing from him – solid, if unspectacular offense, no PK, no PP, and the occasional oddity in behavior, such as licking one’s stick. Previously Kennedy’s strongest year in goal scoring came in 2008-2009 when he netted 15 goals. He also produced 20 assists for 35 points with a +15 rating and 171 shots on net. Overall a pretty impressive stat line for a 3rd line player. He took a step down in production the following year, but so did the rest of the team, to be frank. 2010 saw him drop to 13G and 12A. Not nearly as impressive or as good as any had hoped, especially given he was playing with the same line mates.

And then 2011 happened. Let’s take a look at the year that was and what we can expect from Tyler Kennedy……….Kennedy

Lick stick, kiss Cup.

Tyler Kennedy, though actually a center, has been a mainstay as one of the Pens players on the right wing on the third line. We all like to make our jokes and comments about the wings and lack of depth therein, but Kennedy has been a fixture at the position for four years now and has his name etched on Lord Stanley’s fabled Cup. Kennedy has consistently played with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke and the three combined to be a dangerous line, mixing grit, speed, and skill. Unfortunately, we got to see what Kennedy looked like on the top line this year. Even more disappointing, it wasn’t alongside Sidney Crosby, but instead alongside Staal…or Letestu..or Neal…or Kovalev. It was a weird year. I still feel like I need to sleep off that hangover.

When the rest of the team was shrinking (and I never thought I would say these words), Kennedy stepped up and put the team on his back. If not for TK, Fleury, and killer defense from Z, Martin, and Orpik the team doesn’t make playoffs. Haters gonna hate, but TK can high step his way to S&T Bank with Jerome Bettis and his new $2M contract per year for the next two years. Let’s take a look at 2011 from a statistical perspective.

80GP, 21G, 24A, 45P, +1, 37PIM, 234S, 9S%, 7PPG, 7PPA, 0SHG, 0SHA, 2GWG, 14:32TOI

In terms of actual play, Kennedy was one of the healthier players this season by appearing in 80 games and all seven playoff games. Equally, he was one of the best forces on offense (though his defensive coverage was a little lacking) by generating 45 points, which was good enough to rank him 4th overall on the team in point production. Likewise, Kennedy was third on the team in goal scoring, placing only behind Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz (Sid with 32 goals, Kunitz with 23, and Kennedy with 21).

It’s hard to deny that Kennedy became an offensive force this past season, but was it because of playing top-line minutes or was it because coach Bylsma pulled him aside for a length of time during an optional practice in which TK was the only player to dress and took the opportunity to coach him up a little? Maybe it was a little from both of those columns. Statistically, yes, Kennedy had his highest TOI average of his professional career, but it wasn’t a drastic change. In 2009 he averaged 13:46 in ice time, which dipped to 12:35 in 2010, but ticked up to 14:32 in 2011. Realistically, TK only played about one minute more per game than he previously was averaging (though, I admit, those numbers are slightly skewed because he played less with Sid and Geno in the line-up and more when those two were lost for the year).

Was the uptick in offense because of more ice time? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Was it because of Bylsma’s pep talk one day? Could be part of it. Was it playing with talent better than Cooke and Staal (even though he continued to play with Staal at times)? I would say that was largely the case. While I love Cookie and the Gronk, we aren’t exactly talking about world caliber playmakers and offensive juggernauts who need to be respected at all times when on the ice. When playing with guys like Neal or Kovalev or Letestu or Jeffrey, yes, Kennedy became a much more viable threat because he was no longer THE offensive threat on the line. Amazing what happens when the talent has been spread out a little.

234 shots, however, is an incredible number. The only player to shoot more than TK was Letang, and he only had two more shots on the season. More astonishing is that TK learned to take different and better shots instead of the attempts he was known for, almost all of which sailed ~4 feet wide of the cage OR went straight into the goaltender’s chest. He did still post 21 goals and have a shooting percentage of 9. We can joke all we want, but watch this again and thank your lucky stars that he signed at $2M, especially when compared to some of the other deals signed this year.

What can you say? The man learned how to score goals on the rush, cleaning up garbage, from unreal angles, and by getting in good positioning to accept passes for one-timers/making the goaltenders move. He also, in classic Penguins and Bylsma fashion, bangs bodies. Sweet baby Jesus does he go out there and bang bodies. I think we all remember seeing him on 24/7, too, being a vocal leader and trying to get the rest of the team ramped up and playing.

Bang bodies. Score goals. You want to know how important TK was? This video should raise a few red flags as to just how important he was:

“5 goals in 7 games.” “A power play goal.” Remember when we used to score goals on the PP? I know, you have to go back a while to see one of those. Oh, wait, whoops, he also scored the one and only PP goal the Pens scored in the playoffs. Like I said, we all like to make jokes about TK and there was lots of doubt surrounding him, but he was statistically one of the best players on the team, both in the regular season and the playoffs. TK was tied for 2nd on the team in PPGs with 7 (Kunitz also had 7, Sid, of course, had 10).

Why is it accepted that Chris Kunitz is a legitimate top-6 forward and deserving to play with Sid without question, but Kennedy’s season was a complete fluke? I don’t think it was purely coincidence that both Kennedy and Kunitz had oddly similar statistics. The only major difference was efficiency with shots. Kunitz was far more efficient with his shooting, but that’s also a product of the type of player. While I agree that Kunitz is a top-6 forward and is a perfect complement to Sid, I would love to see Kennedy get an extended look on Sid’s wing. We’ll never know unless we try.

Let’s take a look month-by-month at how TK stacked up.

October: 2G, 2A, 4P, +3, 0PPG

November: 2G, 4A, 6P, -3, 0PPG

December: 1G, 5A, 6P, +5, 0PPG

January: 2G, 4A, 6P, 0, 1PPG

February: 7G, 2A, 9P, -6, 4PPG

March: 5G, 5A, 10P, +3, 1PPG

April: 2G, 2A, 4P, -1, 1PPG

Clearly the loss of Sid and Geno allowed TK to step up, but that is evident when one looks at his role on the PP after both had been lost. Sid goes down in January and Geno was ailing, TK gets put on the PP and scores a goal. February? No Sid, lose Geno, TK scores 4 PPGs and scores 3 others. March? 4 goals even strength and another on the PP. Hell, he even managed a PP goal in April where there were only a few games. Maybe, just maybe, Tyler Kennedy was a missing piece on the power play for the last year or so. If nothing else he is what the PP is lacking – unadulterated greed. Kennedy takes shots like a bro at a party. He doesn’t pass up an opportunity to take a shot, something the PP has been severely lacking.

Games in which TK scored a PP goal the Pens went 5-2. Not a bad record. When a plus player, the Pens went 14-6. As a minus player, the team went 9-12. When neutral, the team’s record was 26-14. Combined as a plus or neutral player the Pens went 40-20. When the stars are plus players the team does well. Imagine that. Even when looking at individual teams and divisions, TK’s production was pretty evenly spread and equal throughout. He performed the best against the Atlantic division, but that is solely because of playing more games against those teams. For what it’s worth, his performance was actually disappointing vs Atlantic teams given how many more games were being played.

Tyler Kennedy had an absolutely unreal year in 2011, and I don’t feel it was by chance. Looking to next year, assuming Kennedy is given his opportunity to play with the stars and get some PP time, I think we can expect another great year from no. 48. My prediction for next season:

74GP, 23G, 27A, 50P, +9, 42PIM, 208S, 11S%, 9PPG, 4 PPA, 0SHG, 0SHA, 14:41 TOI

Let’s go Pens.

 

Guest: Griggsy’s Gripes

Remember when I said about guest posts? You do? Good, because it is my honor and pleasure to unveil the first in a series of posts from Griggsy (you can follow Griggsy on Twitter – @Griggsy96). Griggsy and I have known one another for a few years through various channels and he approached me about doing a weekly column for AtC. I was only too happy to give him some space to do his thing. There are few better minds out there when it comes to Pittsburgh sports than Griggsy and I like to think he’s got an interesting outlook on many different things in this world. [EN: Griggsy uses an uncanny amount of ellipsis, too.]

Griggsy will be giving us his thoughts on everything ranging from sports to personal life to politics to the ongoing quest for steady employment. I fully expect everyone to treat Griggsy with the same respect, if not more, than you would treat me with. We will be working together on how to tweak the column over the next few weeks, so bear with us when things may look or seem a little different from week to week.

Without further ado, I give you the first installment of “Griggsy’s Gripes.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Griggsy’s Gripes

Lesson #1- I am terrible at starting and ending whatever I write.

I have never had the skill that great writers have. They know how to draw you in right away with a great beginning; usually a sentence, but often a paragraph. And then they have a way of writing a great ending, making their work stick with you long after you’ve moved on.

Don’t expect that from me. It’s a miracle I’ve gotten this far, and likewise a miracle you’ve read it.

Anyways, when Walt allowed me to be involved with AtC, I was thrilled to have the chance. Now, I just have to hope I don’t screw it up. I figure I should be able to handle that, right? Right?

Lesson #2- This is who I am.

My name’s Chris, but everyone knows me as Griggsy. I’m a 28-year old who is (pathetically) unemployed at this point in my life. But before you ask, I don’t live in my mother’s basement.

I have my own room upstairs, thank you.

I was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, went to Penn State University, got my degree in Economics, and returned to the Pittsburgh area. Foolishly. OK, that’s not true. I love Pittsburgh. I’d just love it more if I had a career at the moment.

I am also very self-deprecating. As if you couldn’t tell at this point. But I digress.

Lesson #3- This is where I am.

Like I said, I was born, was raised, and now live in, the Pittsburgh area. As a male of my age in this area (maybe better said, as a person of my age), I am a massive Pittsburgh sports fan. A lot of my focus is on that, naturally. But, that’s not everything. Where I am, mentally, also causes my focus to be on the economy, the government, music, movies, literature, love, hopes, dreams, etc.

Lesson #4- This is why I’m here.

All of the above leads me to what I’ll be doing here at AtC. I have opinions, strong ones, about what the Pittsburgh Penguins are doing, and how my love life is going, and why the government may be killing my chances to find gainful employment that doesn’t include the phrase “would you like fries with that?”, plus just about everything else under the sun.

So, with Walt’s blessing, I’ll be showing up periodically to get my thoughts out to you. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it, and maybe learn a new perspective on things. Hell, I’ll just be happy if you make it to the bottom of each post.

Lesson #5- I don’t take myself too seriously.

I say this because I expect, and welcome, criticism of all kinds. If you think I’m a moron, tell me, but tell me why you think it, so I can work at no longer being a moron.

Lesson #6- Avoid the Clap.

Jimmy Dugan was right.

Lesson #7- …

Craig Adams is a god, Finns should be your heroes, hockey is the best sport ever, baseball’s starting to gain on football, relationships are hard work, jobs aren’t that easy to find, non-fiction books are better than fiction ones, Springsteen’s overrated, so is Will Smith, Pink Floyd’s underrated, so is John Cusack…..

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to get into each of those.

Until then……

Pens Preview: Matt Cooke

As mentioned before, I am a tremendous fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and of hockey in general. I want to take some time to look at the major players for the Penguins as we get into the thick of the off-season in anticipation of the coming new year. I plan on taking a somewhat in-depth look at the player’s statistics and measure them against various benchmarks. Hopefully I can keep this interesting for everyone.

I wasn’t entirely sure which player to start with when I had originally thought of doing this. I had it narrowed down to a few players, but couldn’t easily decide who should be the first player. I even posed the question to a number of others and there was little agreement there, too. The only player to consistently get “well, that would be a good starting point” type responses is none other than the infamous Matt Cooke. Thus, I give you the Avoid the Clap breakdown and future of Matt Cooke.

Matt Cooke 2010-2011 general stat line:

67 GP, 12G, 18A, 30P, +14, 129PIM, 0PP, 3SH, 2GWG, 95S, 12.6S%

If the above statline looks odd or you have no idea what the numbers and letters me, I’ll break it down for you (and these can be applied to all players from here on out – use this post as a reference if you forget).

GP = games played, G = goals, A = assists, P = points, +/- = rating assigned to a player (+ indicated player was on ice when a goal was scored FOR his team, – indicated he was on ice for a goal against), PIM = penalty minutes (minor penalties assessed 2 minutes, majors, such as fighting, are assessed 5 minute penalties, and game misconducts are assessed 10 minutes), PP = power play goals, SH = Short-Handed goals, S = shots taken, S% = Shooting percentage (success rate of goal scoring vs number of shots taken).

Cooke had an interesting year, to say the least. Cooke effectively put up .45P per game. For a 3rd line player, I’ll take half a point per game production. Hell, guys like Crosby, a rare, generational talent, hover around 1P/per game, which is mind blowing.

Before I fully get into Cooke’s point production and offensive/defensive upside, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: suspensions.

Cooke has a history of playing the game with an edge. I, personally, like what Cooke brings to the rink each night. I like that he’ll knock players on their wallets. I like that he will agitate the oppositions stars and get under the skin of skill guys.  A good, competitive hockey club needs a guy or two like Cooke who can be a complete pest and then crush your soul with a beautiful goal or two. Cooke, however, goes across the line a little too often and puts the team at a gross disadvantage by taking unnecessary penalties and/or being suspended for his play and borderline-to-grossly-illegal hits.

We can think back to his hit on Marc Savard as the beginning of the end for Cooke ever being given the benefit of the doubt.

While the end result is ugly, the hit was legal at the time. I disagree with Cooke for making the hit, as nothing good can come from hitting a guy the way he did, but I also can’t argue or make a case he should have been suspended because he did not break any rules. This hit, however, has given the NHL the carte blanche to allow moral outrage to reign over player’s discipline (more on this later). The outrage over the hit went to plaid and everyone lost their damn minds. Scott Laughlin on the Power Play on NHL Network/XM Home Ice had such a magnificent blood lust over Cooke that even I was amazed, and I’ve often said I wished the world would end. Mike Johnson had to talk him down a few times. Laughlin tried to make the case that Cooke should be suspended even though the hit was within the rules and no penalty could be assessed because Savard was injured on the play. Johnson explained to him that it’s no different than some person being arrested while walking down the street even though the person committed no crime. The bloodlust subsided a little after that, but the undying, raging boner that people had for Cooke never died.

Sadly, this was not the last time Cooke’s name would be in the headlines. Here was Cooke’s final act of the season, as he was levied an incredibly heavy suspension for this hit on New York Ranger Ryan McDonagh:

Clearly, this was an illegal hit to the head. I have no problem with Cooke being disciplined for this hit. Moreover, I have a big problem with Cooke making a hit like that in the first place. There was no need or reason to bring the elbow up and deliver such a hit. If he keeps the elbow down and makes a clean hit it’s a great play by a two-way forward. Instead he picks the elbow up and puts his team at a disadvantage for 5 minutes, gets ejected from the game, and then is punished severely. When the game is tied 1-1 in the 3rd period, you DO NOT make a play like this, especially against a division opponent, even more so when the team has been depleted by injuries the way the Pens had been at this point in the season. This was a selfish and truly idiotic play on Cooke’s behalf.

All of that being said, I still believe, as the rest of the season proved, that Cooke’s subsequent suspension was a gross abuse of “making up for the Savard hit” and getting some revenge on Cooke. Cooke was suspended for the remainder of the regular season AND the first round of playoffs, which happened to go seven games. Going by the metric the NHL uses, 1 playoff game = 2 regular season games, so that was a 14 game suspension, plus the ten regular season games, giving a total of a 24-game suspension. For the sake of comparison, Matt Martin of the New York Islanders was only assessed a 4-game suspension for this attack on the Penguins’ Max Talbot (sucker punch and attack on a defenseless player from behind – the same type of play that had nearly killed Steve Moore when Todd Bertuzzi leveled a similar hit)

Likewise, Trevor Gillies, in the same game, was assessed a 9-game suspension for a hit as bad as Cooke’s on McDonagh. Gillies charged Eric Tangradi, leveled him in the head with an elbow, and then proceeded to punch him while he was clearly injured and doubled over. Gillies took him to the ice and then mocked him as he lay on the ice recovering from what ended up being a major concussion. Gillies is a professional goon with no redeeming qualities. Martin had been assessed a suspension for a hit on Phoenix’s Vernon Fiddler earlier in the season.  The repeat offender rule comes into play and both were slapped on the wrist for actions that would be considered felonious assault outside of the hockey rink. Matt Cooke was suspended for the equivalent of 24 games because of being a “repeat offender” (and there’s no denying he is a repeat offender, though the legitimacy of some of the suspensions is debatable), but guys like Martin and Gillies, in premeditated intent to injure, were slapped on the wrist.

Ugh.  Just ugh all around.

The bullseye is on Cooke’s back, deserved or not. There is no benefit of the doubt for a guy like him. He has pledged, at the strong urging of Penguins’ General Manager Ray Shero, to change the way he plays. Cooke has pledged to play smarter and not cross that line. I hope he is being truthful. When he plays with an edge, but within the rules, he is an excellent player and his stats bear that out.

In 67 games this season, Cooke was able to net 12 goals and assist on 18 others, giving 30 points on the year. When one looks deeper into the stats, it is even more impressive. He doesn’t have one or two games that skew those numbers. He was a consistent and constant presence on the ice, both offensively and defensively.

In the 67 games played, Cooke had ZERO multi-goal games, which means he scored in 12 separate games, and only had 5 multi-point games (only 2 games were a goal and assist, all other multi-point games were 2 assists), with none being greater than 2 points. In 67 games, Cooke appeared on the score sheet in 27 of them. Fantastic presence and production from a 3rd line player. Also within the stats, of his 12 goals, 3 of them came short-handed (or when the team was killing a penalty and playing with 1 fewer players). 1/4 of his goal output came on the PK. 3 of his assists also came on the PK, indicating that he helped set up 3 other goals by players while a man short. 6 of his total 30 points came while being a man down. Truly an astounding statline.

Cooke’s goals came against the following opponents (team abbreviations used for sake of my sanity; categorized by month):

October: PHI, TBL

November: DAL, NYR

December: BUF, PHX, FLA, ATL (now WPG)

January: DET

February: BUF, CHI

March: OTT.

Using the same system, his offensive output came against the following:

October: MTL, TOR, PHI, TBL

November: DAL, BOS, ATL (WPG), NYR, VAN

December: TOR, BUF, PHX, FLA, OTT, ATL (WPG)

January: TBL, BOS, DET

February: BUF, CHI, SJS, CHI

March: BOS, EDM, OTT

When he plays smart, Cooke has a lot more skill than people give him credit.

Other than Buffalo, there doesn’t appear to be a team that Cooke clearly played well against. He matched up well against a variety of teams and chipped in with timely offense. Likewise, games in which he appeared on the score sheet, the Pens record was 16-9. Timely scoring is a key to victory, and that is something that Cooke clearly provides the team.

Defensively, too, Cooke has been a stalwart. A prime example of what it means to be a two-way player, Cooke once again finished his season with a net positive +/- rating. He finished with a +14 rating, indicating that he was on the ice for 14 more goals for the Pens than against. I will admit, sometimes +/- can be a misleading stat, but it’s hard to deny that a +14 is impressive as a third line player whose responsibility is to give the main offense a rest, bang bodies, and score a timely goal or two to break the opponent’s will.

What will next season have in store for Matt Cooke? Well, it’s hard to say. He is a fantastically consistent player. The majority of his professional years have hovered around 30-35 points, which a few aberrations here and there. Had he stayed out of trouble he was potentially headed for a career year in production. He has also typically been in the 10-15% range on shot percentage, indicating he is not wasting his opportunities to score goals. He has 301 career points, but also 988 career penalty minutes. I can promise you he will eclipse the 1000 mark on penalty minutes, but I would say it is near impossible for him to eclipse the 350 point mark.

Based on previous seasons and what I can expect the Pens’ line-up to look like heading into next year, my projection (and this is based on trends and speculation, nothing scientific) for Cooke:

73 games played, 18 goals, 23 assists, 41P, 88 penalty minutes, 1 SHG, 0PPG, 2 GWG, 108S, 16.7%

If Cooke truly is a reformed man, and I hope he is, I think you will see a big upswing in offensive output. If Cooke goes back to playing the way he did this past year, you can expect him to be suspended a lot and/or scratched nightly. This year has the potential to be huge for Cooke. He can either right the ship and play with the skill we know he has, or he can continue down the road of making stupid plays and put the team in danger. It will be interesting to see which path he chooses. I, personally, think he will play with skill and curb his over-the-line play substantially.

Let’s go Pens.

And There Was Lots of Doubt About It

I know I said that there was likely to be little to be said about the Pittsburgh Pirates, but I felt the need to write about them tonight.

I was a huge fan of the Pirates as a boy. I remember going to see them at the old Three Rivers Stadium. I still have my pennant from 1990. I remember always being upset in little league when I did not end up on the Pirates (I spent my entire youth baseball career between the Phillies and the Yankees, two teams I cannot stomach). And then something happened.

The Pirates sucked. For nearly 20 years the Pirates have been a laughable joke of a franchise. They have been the bottom feeders of MLB. I stuck with them through the 90s and into the very early 2000s. I don’t recall exactly when it happened, but one day I just snapped and that was the end of it. I have spent nearly the last ten years ranting about them, and I am unsure if I am willing to welcome them back into my life.

I described the Pirates over the last ~10 years as a living, breathing version of The Producers. For those unfamiliar, the musical/production follows the story of producers who create flop productions because you make more money with a flop than you do a hit. The Pirates have been The Producers. Ownership and management was making money hand over fist while effectively abusing the fans – the real, honest fans who still believed and stuck with them no matter what. While I can respect that, I also wish that people hadn’t stuck with them like they did. It was no different than enabling an alcoholic. By enough people sticking with the team, it became evident that no matter what the owners and management did the people were going to stick with them, so why sink money into high cost players when you can develop talent and trade them off for assets when it came time for their payday?

Obviously I still harbor plenty of feelings of resentment toward the Buccos brass for all the BS they’ve pulled over the last two decades.

But are things starting to change?

I have been sucked in by the team this year. They are winning. And they aren’t just winning against garbage teams or by dumb luck. They are competing. They are winning because they are a really good, strong team on the rise. I haven’t gone to a game in 7 years, but I am being tempted by this. I have watched probably 10 games on TV, and it’s been some up and down emotions. I’m happy they are winning, but I just don’t believe it. I don’t believe it because I can’t trust the ownership and upper management to actually commit to winning. I cannot put my faith, and certainly not my terribly limited money, into this batch of devilish hands without some proof of life from them. We’ve seen how excited people get about the team and players, only to see all-star caliber players shipped off for more draft picks and cash. We’ve seen the talent come, develop, and then leave.

Is this something different?

I’m not willing to go all-in. Hell, I’m not even willing to raise at this point. Until the ownership and the management can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are committed to competing, if not winning, regularly, and do so without trading away every player worth a damn, well, then I’ll have to bring about an end to my stand. This is not something that will be resolved in one season of hopefulness. If this is a one-and-done magic carpet ride, what comes of the “franchise” players next year? Assuming the struggle, or problems arise, do we see a return to the last 10 years of trades and fielding a minor league team?

I am not ready to commit myself to the team until I can be assured that this isn’t some sick money grab and we’ll be back to the same bullshit we’ve been dealing with for far too long. Think back to only a number of months ago when Mario Lemieux said he was interested in purchasing the team. The entire world was listening. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone imagined what it would be like to have a proven owner who was committed to winning.  Everyone had hope. And when it gets down to it, hope is all you have sometimes.

I’m not there yet. I would genuinely like to see the Pirates become successful again. It would be great to know the team has a chance to be something. It’s great for the city of Pittsburgh and for the long suffering fans who just couldn’t take the abuse any longer. But we need to careful. How easily one’s heart can be broken if things revert to the norm. Enjoy the ride right now, but don’t take your eyes off the road in front of you. You never can be certain what waits around the next bend.

What to expect…kinda

Hello everyone.

I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who helped me come to the decision recently about getting back into the blog game. I had discussed the ups and downs of doing this with a number of people. For various reasons, many of which may or may not become evident as time goes on, having a blog is a potentially dangerous thing for me professionally. Obviously I made my decision and here we are.

I was not 100% certain what I wanted to do with this initially. I didn’t want to commit myself to simply a sports blog or a video game blog. I didn’t want to just do one thing or another, but being spread out is hard, too. I have a lot of things I like to discuss. I have many (strong) opinions, but I also like to hear what others have to say. I am hopeful that this adventure will be as fulfilling for everyone else as it is for me.

To lay out some general expectations, there will likely be a number of posts about the aforementioned sports and video games. I have been involved in “New Media Journalism” for about a decade (before it was ever called “new media journalism”) as a video game writer. Regrettably, those days came to a halt a number of years ago because of technical issues and some, erm, staffing problems. By the time things had gotten back on their proverbial feet, the season had passed and I was involved in some other things. I want to get back into that some because of how much I enjoyed writing about the things in the world I liked. Video games have been a huge part of my life and I want them to stay that way.

Sports. Boy howdy. This is always an area where people tend to get bent out of shape. I will lay it out there for everyone – I am a hockey and football type of person. My teams in their respective sports are the teams from Pittsburgh, the Penguins and the Steelers. The usual internet protocol of “haters gonna hate” pretty much applies here. I will write about them. I will write about things going on in general. Even though the blog is named after a fantastic baseball film reference, there will likely be very little baseball talk.

I will try to stay away from politics, but it always finds a way in. That, my friends, is a bridge to cross at a later date.

Personal life blogging will be a recurring event, too. Names and events will be modified to protect people’s identities, but you can expect some stories from my personal world. This is, after all, the blog I created in the hopes of providing an outlet for my thoughts, feelings, etc.

I will also talk about music. Jesus, God in Heaven, there will be music talk. Music talk will basically be this:

Yeah, I’m a music snob (with debatable snobby tastes).

There will also be baby animals. Oh, yes, there will be baby animals.

You can also follow the blog on Twitter. It can be accessed at http://www.twitter.com/AvoidingTheClap or, simply, @AvoidingTheClap

I hope this experiment works out. Hopefully everyone enjoys what I throw against the wall. Hopefully this can, in fact, live up to the billing of “a blog of (good) advice.”

 

Here goes nothing.

 

-Walt

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