Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Post of 2011...

     Well, boys and girls, another year goes into the vault.  I, for one will be glad to see the back of this one.  It hasn't been bad, but it hasn't exactly been great either.  My shoulder injury was the high/lowlight of my 2011.  Thanks be to God and the good folks at Tri-State Orthopedic, I have about 85-90% of my range of motion back.  And considering how big the tear was (2.5-3 inches), that's about as good as it'll get.  I'll take it.
     God has been good to me in more ways than I can count, and more than I deserve.  I pray for continued health, happiness, and success for myself, and those crazy enough to read this mess.  This year brought the lowest number of posts ever in the short and rather obscure history of the Moonlight Scribbler.  I don't know whether that means that the days of this blog are numbered or not.  I really hope not.  This little project is one of the few things that I've really stuck to doing in my life, and I don't want it to be snuffed out by apathy or indifference.  This is my little corner of the Internet, such as it is, and unlike the house I live in, I'd like for it to stay reasonably well maintained.  At least, let people know that someone lives here.  
      2012 will bring more trees to shake and more horses and little children for me to scare, and I hope it brings all of yinz what you want and most importantly, what yinz need. There will be all sorts of interesting, weird, crazy, spooky, and bizarre stuff to happen in the next 366 days (remember,kids, 2012 is a leap year) and God willing, I'll be writing about some of it.
      I leave you with my usual New Year's Eve declaration.  May your 2012 be a damn sight better than your 2011.  See you on the other side...Pierre

Thursday, December 15, 2011

City League asks to join the WPIAL in certain sports.

Yesterday, the Post Gazette reported that the Pittsburgh City League has asked the WPIAL to accept four schools as associate members in certain sports.  Here is the article:

I think this is a great idea for three reasons:

1.  It allows those schools best able to compete in the WPIAL to finally get their wish to compete against quality competition they normally don't see in the City.  I'll use Allderdice as an example.
The eleven sports that Allderdice would compete in the WPIAL: Boys and Girls Swimming; Boys and Girls Tennis; Golf; Boys and Girls Cross Country; Baseball; and Boys and Girls Soccer,  are sports that Allderdice has dominated since the school opened in 1927.

Boys Swimming started 1920-21; Allderdice has won 46 City Titles
Girls Swimming started 1973-74  Allderdice has won 35 straight City Titles
Boys Tennis started 1946-47  Allderdice won 48 overall and 28 straight City Titles
Girls Tennis started 1974-75 Allderdice won 34 overall and 15 straight titles
Golf  started 1937-38  Allderdice 62 overall and 15 straight titles
Boys Cross Country started 1929  Allderdice won 24 overall and 16 straight titles
Girls Cross Country 1977-78  Allderdice won 24 overall and 12 straight titles
Baseball started 1922-23  Allderdice won 13 overall and 3 straight titles
Softball started 1976-77 Allderdice won 8 overall titles
Boys Soccer 1988-89  Allderdice won 21 of 24 titles contested.
Girls Soccer 1988-89  Allderdice won 11 of 24 titles contested.

In all those sports since 1927, Allderdice has won 326 City League titles.  In these sports they have had little if any competition from City League opponents.  Our coaches are always trying to find decent competition, because these kids aren't being challenged in the City in these sports.  Allowing Allderdice to join the WPIAL in these sports will allow those kids to be challenged week in and week out.  Also with Allderdice not competing in City competition in these sports, this should allow other City League schools who for whatever reason have not decided to compete in these sports to put teams together and they will have a better shot at winning a title. 

2.  It'll allow for City Championships to be played in those sports where the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is much less, as well as the sports that people are interested in, or that the gap between the City and the WPIAL is too great at this time: Football; Basketball; Track and Field; Volleyball and Wrestling.  I'd argue that Allderdice and Perry should be allowed to join the WPIAL in boys hoops and the 'Dice and Westinghouse should be allowed to join in girl's hoops because those programs can compete reasonably well against the WPIAL. 

3.  As much as I'd like to see the City join the WPIAL in all sports, I believe that at least in football, it would be years maybe decades before a City League team could do well enough to contend for a WPIAL title.  Can you imagine Allderdice and Brashear playing AAAA ball against Central Catholic, Upper St. Clair, and North Allegheny?  Even in the crazy WPIAL playoff system that allows teams with < .500 conference records into the playoffs, I don't see a City squad making the playoffs even as a conference #4 seed.   Basketball, however has more potential for City League schools to make an impact.  Also, this approach might also act as a gradual transition towards full participation in the WPIAL.  But for now, because of the bad record that the City League has in state playoffs in most sports, the kids have to have something to attain and be proud of.  There has to something tangible for City League kids to strive for.  That's where those City Championships come in. 

This plan isn't perfect, but I think that it's the best for right now.  This will give a school like Allderdice which is the most "WPIAL-like" school in the City in terms of athletic excellence the chance to finally test itself against good competition in those sports it dominates, while still competing for that coveted City Title in the more popular and evenly balanced sports.

(Author's Note:  Since this post, the WPIAL has approved the City League's proposal and will accept Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick and Obama Academy as associate members in the sports listed above.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Week in the City League October 13-15, 2011

     Your City League Advocate is asked on occasion, which of all the Pittsburgh City League schools that he supports, is his favorite? And like the doting father, who wants to offend none, he gives the stock answer that he loves all his children equally. But anyone with half a brain knows that any father with more than one child, may say that he loves his children equally, he secretly has his favorite.
     The Advocate is no different. He loves all the schools in the City League. He is a champion of the underdog, the ones that few care about, and even fewer write about. But he'd also be a liar if he didn't have his favorites. The ones that he pulls a little harder for than the others. Of course his number one favorite, the one he cares most about is the Allderdice Dragons, because that is the school from which he graduated.
     But he also cares very much so for the Westinghouse Bulldogs because that is the school that represents the Advocate's Homewood neighborhood. And while the 'House has fallen on hard times over the years in academics as well as athletics, the Advocate is jealous of those who graduated from Westinghouse because the 'House's alums stick together in ways that Allderdice's alums could only dream about. To this day, the Advocate is constantly talking with those graduated from the 'House whose chest puffs out just a little more upon mention of that school on North Murtland Ave. That Bulldog pride comes out.
     They will sing about “Westinghouse, Forever” on demand when most of the 'Dice's alums don't even know Allderdice's alma mater and even fewer could sing it. The Advocate knew of the 'Dice's alma mater ever since he was a student there a hundred years ago. But it was only this year, that he found out the tune to which that song is sung (God of Our Fathers, by the way) On Allderdice's Wikipedia page, he read that for a while, the song was sung from 2006- 2010 when it was stopped by the principal in charge at the time. Why would the principal stop what should be a tradition? This is lunacy. But for now, this is a subject for another time.
     The Advocate has a new favorite beyond the 'House and the 'Dice and that is now the 'Prep, or the U or as he prefers, these days, U-Prep. In this article from the Post Gazette, University Prep, which features players from that school, Pgh Science and Technology, Obama Academy, and one player from Career Connections, a charter school in Lawrenceville, and has its beginnings from the closings of Peabody and Schenley has emerged to become the darlings of the Pittsburgh City League in its inaugural season.
     The Panthers are in the thick of the City League playoff hunt with a 5-1 record overall and a 3-1 record in the City League. The article goes on to report about the challenges of getting kids from rival neighborhoods to put those differences aside to work together. The Panthers are on a roll winning four in a row, their latest win over a previously undefeated Bangor Pius X squad from District 11. 24-12. The Panthers are one of only two teams in the City thus far to have a winning record against non-City competition this season, winning both of their games. The only other school that can claim this distinction thus far is Langley who went 2-1 in their three non-league games.

The Current Standings
Brashear 5-0
Perry 4-0
U-Prep 3-1
Allderdice 2-2
Westinghouse 2-2
Langley 0-3
Oliver 0-4
Carrick 0-4

     U-Prep faces Allderdice (2-2, 2-4) this afternoon at the George in a must-win game for both teams. Allderdice needs this win to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Dragons lost to Perry last week 27-12, and coupled with their early season 13-10 loss to Brashear means that a win today would push the 'Dice into a tie with U-Prep for third place.
     The 'Dice has the advantage that they have only Langley and Carrick left on their City League schedule, while U-Prep still has to play Perry in their last game of the regular season. If the Dragons lose, they will have to win their final two league games and hope for some help.
     Currently Allderdice are tied with Westinghouse for the fourth place spot at 2-2, but they won against the Bulldogs 41-0 in a sloppy penalty filled game that had more laundry on the field than Mama Advocate's washday. The Big Bad Bulldogs are on the road going to West By-Gawd Virginia to take on the Mohigans of Morgantown High School. But the road to the playoffs won't be easy for the 'Dawgs because after their sojourn in the Mountaineer State, they have a one-two punch against U-Prep and Perry before closing out against winless Oliver.
     Another team taking a break from City League action this week are the Perry Commodores who are holding down second place in the City with a 4-0 record. They'll be heading up I-79 to take on Erie East High School out of District 10. But afterwards will play against Brashear on the 21st for first place overall and close out against U-Prep.
     The Brashear Bulls roll on in sole possession of first place at 5-0. DaBulls have won five in a row since their 36-0 defeat against Knoch. But they have tight wins against Allderdice and U-Prep, all the while feasting on the lower tier of the league winning their last three games against the bottom feeders by a combined score of 116-12. They defeated Oliver 33-6 last night. And after their annual battle against Perry, have only a non-league game against Linsly (WV) and winless Langley.
     So as the playoff race starts to firm up and the head-to-heads start coming into play, Brashear and Perry are pretty much assured of a spot in the playoffs. U-Prep has a strong shot at getting in and a win against Allderdice today will insure that a playoff invite is in their immediate future. Allderdice needs to win and not trip up over Langley and Carrick. The 'House needs to put on their big boy pants and prepare for a major struggle.

Friday October 14 3:30pm
U-Prep at Allderdice. The Dragons need to figure out how to stop Jaylen Coleman. He is the lynchpin to the U-Prep offense. But the 'Dice has Patrick Ferguson toting the pig as well as two decent quarterbacks in Bishop Gethers and Rainer Smith. This game will be close. But the Advocate, as much as it pains him to say it, will have to go with U-Prep. But the Advocate loves that one of the assistant coaches for the Panthers is none other than “McKeesport” Mike Logan former d-back of the Steelers. U-Prep

Friday October 14 7:00pm
Langley at Carrick The Advocate loves all his children equally, The Advocate loves all his children equally, The Advocate loves all his children equally...but some he likes more than others. Pity the Raiders. They have had an utterly forgettable season only scoring 21 points while giving up 280. They have a chance to break into the win column against Langley, but that's not going to happen. Langley

Friday October 14 7:30pm
Perry at Erie East. The Warriors of Erie East are currently 4-2 over all and 2-1 and in third place in their league which includes other Erie schools as Strong Vincent and the always powerful Cathedral Prep. Perry has played other D10 schools out of Erie in the past, with mixed results. Mostly losses to ECP. This is the first time in the Advocate's memory that the Commodores have played East. Having no idea of the level of competition that East faces outside of ECP, and the Advocate knows that this is not one of the stronger Perry squads to come out of the City League in a while, The Advocate will have to go with Perry in a squeaker. Purely out of City League bias. Perry

Friday October 14 7:00pm
Westinghouse at Morgantown (WV) The Mohigans are also 4-2 overall and are holding down first place in their league with a 2-0 record. According to their Wikipedia page, Morgantown High School is a pretty big school with over 1,700 kids enrolled. They'd definitely be considered Quad A in Pennsylvania. Their most famous alumnus is Don Knotts. Obviously, Morgantown needed a game to fill out their schedule and Westinghouse was more than willing to oblige. If the 'House can keep to within 21 points of the Mohigans, the Advocate would consider it a moral victory. Morgantown

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Week in the City League Week 5

     Your City League Advocate is lamenting the end of his favorite month, September once again for another year. Fall is officially here, and the days are getting shorter, The Advocate has to pull out his thick jammies. No more going commando on those hot summer nights.
     A nip of cool breezes is in the air, and depending on where you're reading this, the trees are starting to shed their leaves. Football in the City League is in full swing. The haves are starting to separate themselves from the have-nots, but there is still plenty of jockeying for playoff positions as the City enters the fourth week of league play.


Brashear 3-0, 3-1
Perry 2-0, 2-2
University Prep 3-1, 4-1
Westinghouse 1-1, 2-2
Allderdice 1-1, 1-3
Langley 0-1, 2-2
Oliver 0-3, 0-4
Carrick 0-3, 0-5

     The Brashear Bulls are at the top of the table, as the Brits like to say. Last Friday, the Herd shut out the Westinghouse Bulldogs 31-0. And this week, they're taking a bye. The next two weeks will have them facing bottom feeders Carrick and Oliver to build up momentum for a pivotal matchup against archrival Perry on Oct 21, which could be a prelude for yet another Brashear-Perry City Championship final.

     Speaking of the One Stars, they pulled out a squeaker of a win against the Oliver Bears 14-12 in the North Side Derby. The Advocate saw video of this game, and Perry did not look good. Missed tackles, interceptions, generally sloppy football. Not the kind of play that The Advocate was used to seeing from the Commodores. Not sure whether Perry is still reeling from the beatdown in Maryland two weeks ago, or if they are suffering injuries to key players, but you have to think that the rest of the league is feeling that Perry could be vulnerable. The One Stars have three important games against playoff contenders coming up in October and November: Allderdice on the 7th; Brashear on the 21st; and the season ender against U-Prep on Nov. 4th. Tonight, Perry goes up against Langley at 7pm at the George.

     University Prep keeps rolling along as they pick up where their predecessor, Schenley left off. The Panthers have won three in a row against the lower half of the league, and they only lost to Brashear by nine points in Week Two. They rolled over a hapless Carrick Raider squad 48-0 last night. An interesting fact. In their four wins, U-Prep has scored an increasing amount of points. 20 against Summit Academy; 25 against Oliver; 36 against Langley; and 48 against Carrick. And in those four wins, they have only given up six points, and a miserly 22 points for the season. The next game for the Panthers will be the 14th of October against Allderdice.

     The Advocate is not exactly sure what to make of the Westinghouse Bulldogs this season, as they have only played two City League games. They destroyed Carrick 36-0,(who hasn't, thus far?), but got their butts kicked by Brashear 31-0. This afternoon in the No Man's Land time slot, they'll be playing a team that is in a similar boat, the Allderdice Dragons. The 'Dice rolled Oliver 35-0, but lost to Brashear 13-10 on a failed fake field goal attempt late in the game. The Advocate gives the 'Dice marks for innovation, but a fail in execution. Last week, the Dragons faced the same Fort Hill team that steamrolled Perry down in Terp-land. But this time, the Sentinels came up to the George. And while the score wasn't nearly as lop-sided, the result was still the same, The Sentinels ran all over, under and around the Dragons 27-9. Ft.Hill scored three of its four touchdowns off running plays, and held a 14-3 lead at halftime. The Dragons finally got into the end zone on a Patrick Ferguson 3 yd run, but the game was in the bag by then. Both teams have big games coming up against U-Prep and Perry. The 'Dice takes on the Commodores next week, while the Big Bads get them on the 27th.

     Langley played its first City League game of the season last week after three straight road games against non D8 teams, and they got crushed 36-0 by U-Prep. Tonight, they go against a Perry team that is looking to regain their swagger. The Mustangs have yet to play the two bottom squads Carrick and Oliver, but wins against them and an upset of one of the big boys might give the Ponies a shot at the playoffs.

     Carrick, give them credit for putting a team on the field. They've only scored 15 points in five games and have been held scoreless in their last three. Then again, look at the competition they've faced: WPIAL powerhouse Seton La-Salle in week 1; Perry in week 2; Howland (OH) who is undefeated thus far in week 4, and U-Prep yesterday. It's like being shot, stabbed, put on the rack, and then drawn and quartered one after the other. Even Westinghouse put a smack on the Raiders. Can they ever catch a break? Umm, not next week. They have Brashear on the 6th . They might have a chance against Langley, and then it's on to Ft. Hill. They have a legit shot at Oliver and mercifully, the season drags itself off to die in the corner against Allderdice. Sometimes, the Advocate wonders how teams like Oliver and Carrick can even keep their players motivated enough to play. It's easy to come out to practice and watch film and endure the bumps and bruises when you're winning, or if you even have a chance for the playoffs, but when you're getting smacked week in and week out, and the only way you're going to the playoffs are if you buy a ticket, and you're still willing to go out and work? That takes guts. The Advocate's heart goes out to the Carrick Raiders and the Oliver Bears.

     Speaking of the Bruins, they will head down to Wheeling to play the Maroon Kinghts. This will be the first of two straight games against non-conference opponents. Next week, the Bears will host a very strong Mercyhurst Prep squad from Erie, PA. Like their fellow bottom feeders from the South Side, the Bears haven't won all season, although they hung tough against Perry in a losing effort 14-12. Oliver has the fortune of having the majority of their toughest City games out of the way, with only Brashear left. The rest of their league games are very winnable. And while the playoffs are all but unreachable DaBears have a chance to get out of the doghouse, which is more than the Advocate can say about Carrick.

Friday September 30 3:30pm
Allderdice vs Westinghouse. Both teams are looking for a win to get their seasons moving. The 'Dice haven't won in three weeks, the 'House in two. Allderdice has the running game and the size to push the 'Dawgs around. But the 'House can score points. In their two wins, they scored 36 points each. But the Dragons played a tougher schedule thus far. Look for the Dragons to prevail in this one.

Friday September 30 7:00pm
Perry vs Langley The Commodores need to get the ship righted, quick, fast and in a hurry. With critical games coming up against playoff contenders, the sooner they get squared, away the better. The march to the playoffs starts now with a win against the Mustangs.

Friday September 30 7:00pm
Oliver at Wheeling Central Catholic The Advocate has often wondered, in all the games City League teams have ever played against Wheeling Central, they have never made a trip from West By-Gawd Virginia up to the George. It's always been the City team that had to travel down there. Is it because they don't know how to use GPS's in West Virginia, or maybe that they don't know how to drive? The Advocate doesn't remember any West Virginia team ever coming up to Pennsylvania to play a City squad. Maybe they have a law down there forbidding them from leaving the state because they might end up defecting. Who knows? But the Bears will make the 40-odd mile trip down to the Dog Track to play the Knights, and if form follows, they'd probably be better off going next door and laying a fiver or two on the pups.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Week in the City League Week 3-4

     Greetings and Salivations, Boys and Girls. Your City League Advocate has finally recovered from his Annual Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake held as usual in an undisclosed location. He had planned a City League update for last week, but the dancing elephants he was seeing on his ceiling for the past ten days finally moved on. You can tell the Advocate is getting old because it's taking him longer and longer to recover from the hilarious hi-jinks and jolly japes that are a tradition of the Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake.
     Now yinz might wonder how, in these tough economic times, the Advocate can fund such an extravagant tribute to licentiousness, lust and naughty behavior? Well, The Advocate was wondering the same thing, because believe me, the acquisition of various and sundry types of explosives, exotic animals, cheerleaders that haven't been scared off or traumatized by previous encounters with the folks who come to the Bacchanal, as well as a steady supply of virgins, willing and otherwise, can cost a pretty penny indeed. But by a chance meeting in a “gentleman's” club that shall remain nameless, because their liquor license is held by the local chapter of a prominent Sicilian fraternal society, The Advocate met a charming and enterprising young fellow who goes by the name of “H4Ck3R d00d.” (his spelling, not mine)
     Over a few glasses of absinthe, he mentioned to me that he was a fan of Your City League Advocate's work, and was interested in helping out in his own “special” way. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, The Advocate immediately explained his predicament to him, and through the smoke of what may or may not have been clove cigarettes, he said that he would be happy to secure funding for the Bacchanal for a modest percentage of whatever he was able to raise. He and The Advocate shook on the deal, and then settled in for a night of wholesome entertainment that involved the peculiar gyrations of a fetching young lady named Summer Delight who said that she was a college student earning extra money on the side. She said that she was going to Carnegie Mellon and what she did with a slide rule confirmed it.
     The Advocate never bothered to ask how Mr. d00d was going to secure the funds necessary to run the Bacchanal for this year, but the young man confided in me that it was best not to know, and that certain very highly placed politicians and corporate movers and shakers would be in for a nasty surprise when they opened their credit card statements. Least said, soonest mended.
     Mr. d00d delivered on his promise when The Advocate checked his bank account a day or two later and found that there were quite a few extra zeros after his bank balance that were not there before. So long story short, the 2011 Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake went off without a hitch. The Advocate would regale his fans about the goings on, but due to his advanced age and certain non-disclosure agreements signed under pain of death, or worse, he cannot. But he will say that the Bacchanal for his 50th birthday will reach Caligulian proportions.
     But enough talk of explosions and scared animals, let's talk about the Advocate's raison d'etre, and that is the doings of the Pittsburgh City League.

The Current Standings so far...
Brashear 2-0 , 2-1
Westinghouse 1-0, 2-1
Perry 1-0, 1-2
U-Prep 1-0, 2-1
Allderdice 1-1, 1-2
Carrick 0-2. 0-3
Oliver 0-2, 0-3
Langley 0-0, 2-1

     In a battle of potential City League playoff teams, Brashear edged Allderdice 13-10. The 'Dice led 10-0 at the half, when Brashear came back and won the game when they intercepted a lateral off a fake field goal attempt with a little over a minute to play to seal the win. Now what is interesting is that Allderdice had to have telegraphed that their attempt at a field goal was to be a fake because anyone who has watched City League football for any length of time knows that CITY LEAGUE TEAMS DO NOT KICK FIELD GOALS OR EXTRA POINTS!!!! The average City kicker can barely get the ball off the ground much less through the goal posts at a distance more than ten yards. The Bulls go on to play Westinghouse, who is enjoying a rare stint outside of the lower tier of the League. The 'House opened the season with a 36-23 win over Bentworth, Predictably, they got their heads handed to them by Linsly 47-14, but bounced back by shutting out Carrick 36-0.
     Poor Raiders. They have had 81 points scored against them in 3 games while scoring only 7. It's bad when WESTINGHOUSE blows you out. The Raiders will now head up to Howland, Ohio to take on the same Tiger team that blew them out 48-0 last season. The Advocate wouldn't be surprised if Carrick pulls an o-fer, but they may have a chance at defeating the Oliver Bears, who gave up 35 and 25 points against Allderdice and U-Prep, respectively.
     The Bear's woes will continue this weekend when they will play the North Side Derby against rivals, the Perry Commodores, who have to be wondering what the license plate was of the truck that squashed them flat when they went down to Cumberland, Maryland to battle the Fort Hill Sentinels.
     Fort Hill gave the Commodores a heaping helping of Maryland hospitality to the tune of a 50-13 smackage. In all the years the Advocate has covered City League football, he has never seen a Perry team get handled in that way before. The Sentinels gained 499 yards ON THE GROUND!!! Fort Hill had two backs run for over 100 yds and one of them for 222 yds on 14 carries! That's almost 16 yds/carry!!! That's Rushel Shell territory, boys and girls!!!
     And this was a Perry team that was supposed to defend their City Championship. The Sentinels will make their way up to the friendly confines of the George to take on the Allderdice Dragons, who have to be wondering after viewing the game tape of the Perry debacle whether tis' nobler to show up at all, much less suffer through a beatdown where they may have 60+ points hung on them.
The Langley Mustangs will finally get a chance to play a City League club, when they take on University Prep after three straight weeks on the road. After a 23-7 loss to Carlynton, the Mustangs went down to our Nation's Capital and defeated Theodore Rooselvelt 14-8.
     As an aside, and yinz may hold The Advocate to this, he will never, ever again bitch about how bad we in the City League have it compared to the folks in the DCIAA. While the City has it's problems, at least, the Advocate can't remember a time when a game was postponed due to: lack of security; lack of medical staff on site; or a lack of eligible players.
     After dispatching the Rough Riders, the Ponies headed off to Homer-Center and walloped the Wildcats 45-15. So the Mustangs hopefully can translate their success on the road into some quality wins in the City League. While the rumblings of Oliver and Langley closing after the school year are getting louder, it would be nice if the Mustangs could go out with a playoff appearance.

Thursday Sept 22, 6pm
     Langley vs U-Prep. The Panthers come into this game 2-1 off a recent 25-0 win over Oliver, They lost by nine to Brashear two weeks ago. While U-Prep isn't at the same level as Brashear, a win here and against Carrick next week should give them a nice bit of momentum for a pivotal game against the 'Dice on October 14. U-Prep does not have any other non D8 games on their schedule, which may work out in their favor in the upcoming hunt for the playoffs. The Advocate finds for U-Prep.

Friday Sept 23 3:30pm
     Perry vs Oliver. The battle for North Side bragging rights has gone solidly in Perry's direction over the years, and as the Commodores seek to recover from the beatdown suffered by Fort Hill, they see in their sights, an Oliver team that is complete disarray. Unless you're a Perry fan, there's a reason this game is slotted in the “No Man's Land” time slot. Perry will crush.

Friday Sept 23 7:00pm
     Brashear vs Westinghouse. The Bulldogs face their first test in the City League this season. And The Advocate fears that they will not pass it with flying colors. Brashear is capable of blowing this game, but don't bet the kiddies college fund on it. Brashear going away.

Friday Sept 23 7:30pm
     Carrick vs Howland (OH). The Advocate has to give the Raiders credit for even making the trip up into Ohio for this game. Last year Howland won by 48 pitching the shutout, They could easily score 50+ this season. Howland big!!

Saturday Sept 24 1:00pm
     Ft. Hill (MD) at Allderdice. The Sentinels gave a clinic on old school smashmouth football against the defending City League Champion. They could hang at least 60 on the 'Dice. And if you think this game could be bloody, Ft. Hill will play Carrick at home on Oct 21. Ft. Hill is a Class A team in Maryland. The Advocate thinks that either Clairton or Rochester should give these guys a call and see whether they could make a deal. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

This Week in the City League Week 1-2

Okay kids, The Advocate has heard from a few, actually one inquiring mind about why he didn't write a City League Preview for the 2011 season.  Quite simply, he didn't feel like it.  And he was seriously thinking about not doing any kind of reporting on the City this season, but after a heart to heart with some friends and a few bottles of John Barleycorn hoisted, he decided that he owed it to the teeming masses who follow his every word on all things City League to put something out.  But at least for this season there won't be a long wordy analyses about last week's results and the upcoming weekend matchups.  Just a quick and dirty run-through.

Week One of the season was the usual slapdown between City and WPIAL schools and predictably, the City League was bested in 6 of the 8 games.   While The Advocate has no problem with  City League squads playing these games, he does not put much stock in their outcomes because neither the winners nor the losers really learn anything about their teams.   The ironic thing is that the two teams that won games against their WPIAL foes were the two teams that benefited from the closing of Peabody High School at the end of last season.  University Prep, the three headed hydra consisting of players from Pgh Sci-Tech, Obama Academy and University Prep School in the Hill won their very first game defeating Summit Academy 20-6, while the Westinghouse Bulldogs handled Bentworth 36-23.  Both teams picked up players from Peabody's program when the Highlanders closed up shop, and at least in the case of U-Prep, it looks like the additional players will make them a factor in the City League this season.  The Advocate sees U-Prep as a strong contender for the playoffs.  

The usual suspects also include the Perry Commodores who look to defend their City Championship without the services of All-City QB Greg McGhee as the signal-caller, but those of you who are familiar with the One Stars knows that Perry has no problem finding a quarterback.  The Advocate thinks that they clone them in a secret laboratory in the school's basement.  Although he has no proof of such activity, his sources have noticed strange lights and noises and the occasional tortured scream coming from the area around 3875 Perrysville Ave.

The Brashear Bulls are once again considered as a favorite to battle the Commodores for the City hardware in November.  While they lost a bunch of veteran leadership this season,  they have more than enough coming back to make the playoffs.

The Advocate's Dragons are loaded with a ton of returning players including the City's leading rusher Patrick Ferguson and he'll be running behind a line that includes a 6' 3" 320lb monster named Tyrique Jarrett who has committed to Pitt.  Don't expect the Dragons to throw much,  The 'Dice has never been much for chucking the ball.   But if they can get and keep their running game going, they'll make the playoffs and have a puncher's chance at playing in the final.

The rest of the league includes Carrick, Langley, Oliver and the 'House and the lower half of the league is pretty much interchangeable with these four teams.

This week's schedule of games:

6pm  Thursday  Brashear vs. U-Prep.  U-Prep will play its first game at the George against the runner-up Brashear Bulls, and while the Panthers will make a game of it,  The Advocate thinks that Brashear will geet their first win of the season.

3:30pm Friday  Allderdice vs Oliver. Oliver was on the end of a 43-14 beatdown at Shady Side while the Dragons avoided a shutout at Central Valley falling 36-13.  The 'Dice and DaBears always play each other tight and  this game is usually pretty physical, but the Advocate sees the Dragons pulling out the win.  A uniform note:  for the first time the Advocate's memory, Allderdice will be rocking white helmets with a green stripe and on one side, a dragon logo, and the other, the player's number.  The Dragon 'A' is no more.

7:00pm Friday Carrick vs Perry.  This one should be over by the end of the first quarter.

7:00pm  Friday  Langley at Theodore Roosevelt (DC) The Mustangs make the 238 mile trip into our nation's capital to battle the Rough Riders of the DCIAA, which is the DC's version of the City League.  The Rough Riders finished near the bottom of their league, which on the first look, may be advantageous for the Mustangs, but the Advocate thinks otherwise.  He has always wanted to see how City League teams would compete with schools from other inner city leagues like the DCIAA and the Philly Pub.  And while Langley isn't the City's best representative, it's safe to say that this will probably be the best experience the Mustangs will have this season.  The Advocate will give Roosevelt the benefit of the doubt.

1:30pm Saturday  Westinghouse at Linsly (WV)  The Big Bad Bulldogs venture down to West By-Gawd Virginia to play the Linsly Cadets who handled both the 'House and the 'Dice by lop-sided scores last season.  While I'm sure that the infusion of Peabody players into the Westinghouse system will help the 'Dawgs somewhat, The Advocate doubts whether they will give them much of an advantage over the Cadets.  Linsly going away.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

NCAA, Man Up and Call A Spade a Spade...

     Checking out the recent developments in big time college football namely, the shenanigans and kerfuffle happening at such institutions as the University of Miami, Southern Cal and Ohio State has led me to offer up my way of reforming college football, if I were in charge, which I ain't.
     My approach is dead simple—The NCAA and the major college football schools should just man up and admit that the game of college football, at least as played in the BCS conferences is not and has never been about wholesome amateur athletic competition and the providing of a way for talented student athletes to earn a degree while playing football. It's about money, cash, cabbage, dolo, greenbacks, whatever euphemism you want to use for legal tender in these United States.
     Now the majority of college football players in the big schools understand that they will never get a look inside an NFL training camp unless they apply for a job with a pro team. And they understand that playing in the colors of Old State U in front of a packed stadium on Saturday afternoon will give them an opportunity to earn a degree that if they play their cards right, will help them get on with their life's work, as former Steeler coaching legend Chuck Noll was fond of saying.
     But those aren't the guys I'm talking about. I'm talking about the players who see playing college football as merely an apprenticeship to prepare them in the hopes of being drafted by an NFL squad. These players aren't interested in a college degree. Most of them probably couldn't find their classrooms if you put them in front of the door, and those who are conscientious enough to attend classes only do enough to stay eligible to play football. They're only going to be in school for a couple years anyway, so most of them don't see the need for such hassles as registering for classes, buying books, attending lectures and studying for tests. And the coaching staffs of the big schools understand that, so they make all sorts of resources available to their players to keep them eligible. Resources that often aren't available to the same extent as a member of the general student body.
    And the administrations of these schools nod and wink at the whole fiasco because these players bring in tons of money for their schools as a result of playing in front of 100,000+ fans on the major national television networks. Money that may or may not pay for the new wing to be added to the library, after the football program takes its cut. A national championship will buy more positive buzz about your school than the news that a Ph.D student had inadvertently discovered a new alternative energy source that is abundant, free, utterly safe and environmentally correct.
    And all these infractions and foolishness isn't something that just manifested itself in the last twenty years or so. Shady dealings in college football have been going on since the turn of the 20th century. Adding ringers to the squad? That's old hat. Well meaning alumni and boosters providing players with walking around money for doing meaningless jobs? That's been going on on the sly for decades. And the NCAA insists on maintaining the facade that big time college football is strictly amateur sport played for country and college, and that the only compensation the players deserve is the sheepskin and the honor of representing their school on the hallowed field of athletic competition. Bullshit!! For more and more players these days, especially those in the so-called 'skill' positions of quarterback, running backs and receivers, it's about playing well enough to catch the eye of a pro scout.
     For the NCAA to continue to uphold this fallacy of wholesome athletic competition as the primary reason for major college football is the height of hypocrisy and a slap in the face of those student athletes who toil in the obscurity of the sports that aren't shown on a regular basis on ESPN. For them, the raison d'etre of college athletics is about representing their school and earning that scholarship to pay for their degree. And the quicker that the NCAA and the football haves can admit the real incentive that drives big time college football, the better.
     So what should the NCAA and the big football schools do? Simple. The schools that are a part of the major football conferences, the so-called BCS conferences should get together and create their own organization. Call it the Major College Athletic League or MCAL. This league should consist of four super-conferences of 16 teams each: The Big Ten; The Pac-10; The Southeastern Conference; and a fourth conference consisting of a merger of the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference. The schools that make up this organization would then renounce their membership in the NCAA en masse.
     Remember folks, membership in the NCAA is voluntary. Free of the rules and hypocrisy of the NCAA, the MCAL can make up their own rules regarding academic requirements for eligibility, the monetary compensation of players, the role of agents and boosters in relation to their contact with players and so on.
Each conference in the MCAL would be divided into two divisions based on geography. The best teams in each division would play for their respective conference championship and the conference champions and runner-ups would then play in an eight team playoff to determine the “national” champion. The various bowl committees that complain that a playoff would affect their chance at a cut of the cash would be forced to come along because they wouldn't want to leave all that money on the table. And as for college basketball, the MCAL would work perfectly because the sixty four schools that make up the league would already make up the field for a March Madness style basketball tournament.
     Now it's safe to say that a lot of the rules and policies that would be enacted would irreparably change the landscape of college athletics in general and college football in particular, but at least, all those involved, for the first time ever would call a spade a spade and recognize major college football for what it is. The players who are in school just to prepare for an NFL career already know. The coaches already know. Even the NCAA already knows, but just won't admit it.
     It's time to stop perpetuating the lie. Come clean, recognize the problem for what it is and stop this masquerade.
     The NCAA will still have a role to play. Without the big time schools continually violating it's rules, they can go on and be the regulating organization that enforces true amateur competition amongst its remaining member schools. There will still be plenty of students who want to play college football for the sheer love of the game. The vast majority of them playing in the current system already do.  
     I think that this idea is going to happen in one form or another within the next few years.  The frantic game of musical chairs going on with schools jumping from one conference to another to chase after the billions of dollars in the business that is major college football is a sure sign that a major shakeup is in the works.  The NCAA cannot afford to keep its head in the sand much longer.  They will either have to jump or be pushed into making changes in the way college football is run, and if they don't do something soon, the big football schools will do it for them and leave them in the dust.  Better to admit the problem, acknowledge that the game is much greater than them, and to let the big schools do their own thing.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 City League Non Conference Schedule

The 2011 City League football schedule is up at:

And with only eight teams in the league this season, the opportunities for non-conference play are exciting to say the least.  

Week 1
Seton La Salle vs Carrick
Allderdice at Central Valley
Brashear at Knoch
Langley at Carlynton
Perry at North Hills
Westinghouse at Bentworth
U-Prep/Obama at Summit Academy.
Oliver at Shady Side Academy

Nothing unusual, pretty much the same week one schedule they had last season.  Judging by the results from last season's week 1 matchups, form should pretty much follow.  The only two teams who won their week one games last season were surprisingly, Westinghouse and Langley who managed to find squads that were worse than they were.  

Week 2
Langley at Theodore Roosevelt, DC
Westinghouse at Linsly.

Langley will be heading down to the Nation's capital to take on the Rough Riders from Roosevelt High. Roosevelt plays in the DC equivalent of the City League, The DCIAA. The Rough Riders finished 3-7 in the DCIAA.  

 I have always wondered how Pgh City League teams would fare against squads from other inner city leagues like the DCIAA or the Philly Pub.  Langley is not the City's best representative but I'm hoping that they will rep the City League proud.  The Big Bad Bulldogs will be heading back down to West-by-Gawd Virginia to play the Linsly Cadets, who put a hurting on the Dawgs and the Allderdice Dragons last season.  The Cadets will also be adding the Brashear Bulls to their schedule this season. 

Week 3
Perry at Fort Hill, MD
Langley at Homer Center

Week 3 will be the first of three games between the Sentinels of Fort Hill in Maryland and Pittsburgh City League teams.  Fort Hill will host Perry and Carrick in week 8 and will come up to the George to play Allderdice in week 4.  From what I was able to glean from the Fort Hill website, the Sentinels, (I like that nickname.) went to the Maryland Class A state semifinals where they lost to perennial power Baltimore Dunbar.  One thing you have to remember about the City League is that enrollment classes mean nothing in terms of the quality of football played.  While Allderdice is considered AAAA in the PIAA, they would lose to the majority of the AAAA teams they played in the WPIAL or elsewhere in the PIAA.   The Dragons would lose to most AAA teams and probably half of AA squads.  Just because Fort Hill plays in the smallest class of Maryland football does not mean that they'd be a rollover for a AAA or AAAA team from the City League.  Of the three City teams that will play Fort Hill, Perry should give them the best game.  

While I don't know what Langley has coming back this season, but they lost to the Homer Center Wildcats by two touchdowns last season.  I don't think that anything will change for the Mustangs in this matchup.

Week 4
Carrick at Howland, OH
Ft Hill, MD at Allderdice

Carrick will once again venture into Warren Ohio to take on the Howland Tigers who gave the Raiders a real nice Warren welcome by crushing the Tribe 48-0.  The Tigers ended up going undefeated and were eliminated in the OHSAA regional semifinals. So a daunting task for the Carrick Raiders indeed. 

Week 5
Oliver at Wheeling Central

The Oliver Bears head down to Wheeling to take on the Maroon Knights of Wheeling Central Catholic High School.  The Knights have been on a number of City League teams schedules over the years.  Allderdice, Brashear, Perry, Langley and Oliver have taken the ride into the Panhandle to play Wheeling Central with only Perry and Brashear boasting of  wins.  But it's a short trip and with few exceptions, the City has competed well against WCC though they haven't many wins to show for it.  For the record, Wheeling Central won the Class A state title in West Virginia in 2010.

Week 6
Mercyhurst Prep vs Oliver

The Bears welcome to the friendly confines of the George, the Mercyhurst Prep Lakers.  The Lakers went 12-1 last years losing to the always tough Farrell Steelers in the PIAA District 10 finals. 

Week 7
Perry at Erie East
Westinghouse at Morgantown

The Perry Commodores will take a trip north to District 10 land, where they will be stopping off at  East High School to play the Warriors. East finished 2-6 in 2010, and they sound like the Erie Metro League's version of a Westinghouse or an Oliver.   Perry, of course won the City Championship last season.  While I won't say that Perry should win this one in a walkover, considering that the One Stars don't have Gary McGhee running the offense this season, they should win just the same.

The Bulldogs will make their first trip to Morgantown to face the Mohigans.  Last season, Morgantown went 11-2 and lost in the Class AAA state semifinals.  

Week 8
Allderdice at Linsly, WV
Carrick at Fort Hill, MD

The Linsly Cadets will make their second consecutive trip to the George to face the Dragons.  In 2010, the Cadets smacked the 'Dice around to the tune of a 49-13 beatdown.  The Cadets finished 8-2 on the regular season in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. 

Week 9
Brashear at Linsly, WV.

Brashear closes out the non conference schedule for the City League by heading down to face the Cadets. 

Brashear is taking one open date in Week 5 and U-Prep/Obama is taking two open dates in Week 6 and week 9, but all the rest are taking a full ten week schedule.  The intriguing games on the schedule to me are the three games between Perry, Allderdice and Carrick and Ft.Hill.  

Good to see Langley taking a nice trip down to DC.   Perry has shown once again that they'll play anyone anywhere opening up against North Hills at Martorelli for the second year running, and the games against Erie East and Ft. Hill should be good.  

Carrick is showing that they are gluttons for punishment going back to Howland to face the Tigers who crushed them last season.  Brashear has picked up Linsly Academy who'll be facing the 'Dice and the 'House.  

It's not unusual to see how many City teams will be playing against out of state squads who made deep runs in their respective state playoffs.  I'm thinking that the majority of these matchups were made by the non-city schools approaching the City schools first because they had an extra hole to fill in their schedule and they were looking for a team that wouldn't pose too much of a threat.  And with three open dates on their schedules, City League coaches were scrambling to find a game anywhere they could.  

Which can only benefit the City League in the long run.  Playing against schools like Fort Hill, Morgantown, Howland, and Mercyhurst Prep is the only way that the City League can get better in terms of the quality of the football.  Especially if the plan to merge with the WPIAL ever goes through.  It's gonna hurt getting beat 49-13 and 48-0, but the City has to take on the best competition available, which because the WPIAL is deep into their conference schedules at the times the games mentioned above will be played, will require them to find opponents out of state.  

From another point of view, the fact that the City teams will be the ones doing the traveling in most cases gives those teams a chance to bond as a team on those long bus trips as well as see what a real home field advantage looks like.  For the most part, our teams will be playing in front of crowds much larger than what they see at the George on a Friday afternoon or evening.  They'll be witnessing the best of the pageantry of high school football.  They'll hear bands that consist of hundreds of students instead of the few dozen who may or may not even show up for a home game.  They'll get the vibe of playing in a stadium that is a true home field, not one that is shared by seven other schools and has no atmosphere.  Ultimately, if and when the City League merges into the WPIAL, this is what they'll see and experience week-in and week out.  So it's best to get used to it now.  

It would be nice if some of these out of state teams would return the favor and come to the George so we City fans can see what we're missing out on. I don't know how many of the games on this schedule are one-shot deals or whether there's a home and home clause in the contract.  But I for one would love to see a Howland, or even a Theodore Roosevelt from DC come up here and show us what they have.

This is probably the most exciting schedule in the City League in a long time.  It's weird considering that the Pgh Public Schools are crying poormouth and are using that excuse to delay merging w/the WPIAL, but they can send teams to Maryland and DC.  Maybe getting out of town on some trips will let our boys and fans see what a real home field advantage is like.  That said, I can't wait for the football season to start.  It'll be a hoot and a holler, and the Advocate will back in this seat to put his unique take on things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

City League to WPIAL? Not right now.

     The latest report from the committee tasked with the job of overhauling the Pittsburgh City League was revealed to the public last night.   The Post Gazette and Tribune Review articles noted that due to financial constraints brought on by the declining tax revenues as well as the recent cuts to the education budget by Gov. Tom "Hacksaw" Corbett,  the plan for the City League to dissolve and join the WPIAL as early as the 2012-13 school year has been put on hold.  Or more precisely, the category of "explore when financially/operationally feasible", as the PG article puts it.  One wonders whether this is a more pleasant way of saying 'Let's starve it in the corner and hope it dies from neglect.'
      Those of you in the throbbing masses that read this blog know that I, for one, have supported the drive to dissolve the City League and merge with the WPIAL, all the while maintaining some semblance of the League's traditions by the creation of pre-and/or post season tournaments that will crown a City Champion as well as allowing city teams to also compete in the WPIAL playoffs.  This City Championship would not be an official title recognized by the PIAA, but would carry bragging rights amongst the City schools.  Which, considering the lack of success the City Champion usually happens in the PIAA playoffs, is just as well.  The idea is to condense the City competition down to just a tournament rather than a full blown regular season.
      I believe that some of this can be done during the season much in the same way that the European Champions League soccer competition is carried out by having the various rounds of the tournament occur during the regular season.  While the teams are playing their regular season games during WPIAL competition, the games that would be normally counted as non conference would be used to play the various levels of the City League competition.   In the case of basketball, assuming that the current format of an eight-team single elimination is still used, the whole City tournament can be done in three non conference games interspersed throughout the regular season.  Doing it this way will also allow city coaches to schedule involvement in tip-off and holiday tournaments without sacrificing involvement in the city tournament.  Of course there is the problem of pre-tournament seeding, and making sure that everyone's open dates match up.  But all this is just smoke in the wind, if the City League and the WPIAL don't merge.
    Other items of the report that were mentioned included:  opening up the process by which City League coaches are hired;  appointing individual athletic directors for each school instead of having a centralized director; upgrading facilities and equipment;  improving female participation in interscholastic sports;  as well as connecting academic and athletics.
     In the category of coaching,  I wholeheartedly believe that it is time for the City League to open up coaching positions to the best available candidate, rather than give first dibs to district personnel, many of whom are already weighed down with their teaching obligations and have little time to devote to their coaching obligations.  There are many coaches who will take on the coach's position primarily for the extra stipend the job provides, which frankly isn't all that much.   One consideration that must be addressed is that by opening up the hiring process, might bring in coaches who may want more than the district is willing to pay.
     It is a well known fact that the City League suffers from a serious lack of quality coaches.  Opening up the coaching ranks to the best available candidate is the first step towards improving the image as well as the competitiveness of the City League within and without.  Better coaches will attract better athletes.  A good coach can bring people who want to have their son or daughter play for quality coaches.
     But in order to throw open the windows and let the bad air out and the good air in, there is the matter of requiring a change in the collective bargaining agreement with the teacher's union.  The Pittsburgh Public Schools have been lucky in that they have not had a teacher's strike since the 1975-76 school year.
    The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers is a pretty powerful union, and any change in the collective bargaining agreement will be a sticky subject. I'm not sure that it's one that would cause teachers to take up picket signs.  But I have a feeling that any attempt by PPS teachers to walk out these days would be met with very stiff public resistance, and they would not be able to mount lengthy strikes like back in the 75-76 school year which lasted almost two months because of the legislation that limits the length of teachers strikes to only as long as allowable to insure that students get 180 days of instruction.   If it can be spun to the union that in the long run, changing the hiring practices of coaches will end up helping them in the end, they might be willing to go along.
     I believe it is also necessary that the district attempts to move forward with having each high school have a full-time athletic director, that is devoted to athletics and not encumbered by teaching duties.  Who better to know the problems of a specific schools athletic program than a person who works with the nuts and bolts of that program day in and day out?  What works at one school won't always work at another, and the centralized approach that is being implemented now is inefficient.   But the board has  determined that along with the merger to the WPIAL, the one AD per school idea is too expensive to put into place at this time.  So into the category of 'explore when financially and operationally feasible' corner goes that idea.
    Upgrading City League facilities is something that HAS to be done in order to give our athletes a fighting chance in the event the City League does merge with the WPIAL.  While Cupples Stadium is comparable to most of the stadia in the WPIAL in terms of seating capacity, the appearance of the stadium has been upgraded significantly over the last few years.  The locker rooms are very small, requiring football teams to arrive and depart the stadium partially dressed in their gear.
    The practice facilities city football teams train on have not been kept up.  Most of the fields do not comply with national high school regulations regarding length and width,  the playing surfaces are terrible,  and the seating areas are borderline unsafe.   City League coaches do not have the luxury of having state of the art equipment to view videotapes of game film.  Their practice equipment is old and worn out.  Among the recommendations made were to establish a minimum standard for athletic facilities through a self audit process, track spending of equipment funding, and to use the district's spending power to centralize negotiations, contracts and purchasing for athletic equipment.   One thing I noticed was that the City League does not purchase all its uniforms from a single vendor.   I would think that significant cost savings as well as consistency in quality control could be achieved if the City could go to Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour and say:  Hey, we've got eight high schools, some five thousand athletes playing a dozen sports, and we'd like you to bid on outfitting them.  But that is a big-ticket item and will most likely not be implemented under the current budget crunch.
     Increasing female participation in sports is a no-brainer.  Female high school athletes are less likely to drop out of school, they are less likely to get pregnant while in school, they get better grades, are more likely to be role models for the student body, and are more likely to go to college.  And also it's the law.
     In the area of connecting academics and athletics, the committee came up with some ideas I thought should have been done a long time ago.  An example:  creating a weekly report sent to coaches regarding a student athlete's attendance, GPA, PSAT and SAT results.    You're kidding right?  This is not currently being implemented?   Academic study halls and tutoring?  Come on, this is basic stuff.
     But the one program I have a problem with is allowing students with a 1.5-1.99 GPA to participate in sports as long as they complete an athletic intervention program.  Currently the Pgh Public Schools require students to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to play sports.  That's higher than the requirements laid down by the PIAA.  The athletic intervention program requires parental consent and requires mandatory attendance and academic progress.  Failure to comply results in immediate ineligibility.  That sounds nice, but I've always believed that playing sports should be a privilege. If you want to play sports, earn the privilege in the classroom.   Honestly, how hard can it be to maintain a 'C' average in school?  If you come to class, at least try to put forth an honest effort in learning the material and passing the tests, more often than not, you'll get a 'C' if only because the teachers will give you the benefit of the doubt.
     Some of what the board has recommended can be done with a minimum of dollars,  some will have to wait until money is freed up from somewhere.  Alternative funding sources have to be found because truthfully, beyond a miraculous increase in the city's population by a order of ten, the district will never be flush enoug with cash to do all the blue-sky projects that it wants to do.   And this little piece of mine doesn't go into all the stuff the report covers.  I just wanted to put my two cents in.  For what it's worth.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead!!! Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!!

  Tonight, America is celebrating the news that the founder of Al Qaeda, and the architect of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden is dead.  According to various news reports, a team of Navy SEALS operating under the Joint Special Operations Command by order of President Obama landed in a compound in Abadobad, Pakistan, engaged  Bin Laden's forces in hand to hand combat, killed the terrorist leader, and brought his body home.  President Obama addressed the nation tonight confirming the success of the operation,  This news came over 9 years after 19 terrorists orchestrated a massive attack on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and caused a plane to crash in Shanksville, PA.  causing the death of over 3,000 innocent people.  The war that sprung from that atrocity has claimed over 4,000 members of our armed forces,and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians. Bin Laden has evaded efforts by the US military to capture him for almost ten years.   Many Americans were convinced that Bin Laden would never be found.  But finally with solid intelligence,  the President gave the order to take Bin Laden alive or dead.   Now justice has been served.  The deaths of those who fell on 9/11, at the US Embassies in Africa and on the USS Cole have finally been avenged.  The war on terrorism is no where near over.  There is still much to be done, but at last America can breath easy.  The criminal that drove a dagger into the back of the United States on September 11, 2001 has been brought to justice.

Here's the Yahoo/AP story.

There are other news outlets reporting on the story, but yinz can find them on your own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Barack Obama was born in the U.S. of Frigging A!!! Get Over it!!!

     Today, the White House released President Barack Obama's birth certificate.  The story can be seen at this link.

      The CNN article shows the actual long-form birth certificate as recorded by the State of Hawaii.  It proves that President Obama was actually born in Hawaii, which the last time I looked was part of the United States of America.  This evidence should put to rest the whole sturm and drang  that has been dogging the President since he was elected back in 2008.  Back then, there were questions that because Obama was born to an African father and a Caucasian mother, and had spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, that he was not qualified to be President under the Constitution that states that only natural-born citizens can be elected to the office.  Obama released the short-form certificate back then but it wasn't enough to satisfy the Birther movement folks who maintain that Obama's presidency is illegitimate.
      Normally,  Hawaii state law does not allow for the issuance of the actual birth certificate, but rather a "certificate of live birth" which is a document witnessed and certified by the State of Hawaii that replicates the information found on the actual birth certificate.  But the Obama administration in an effort to kill this albatross once and for all made a special request to the State of Hawaii for the long-form actual birth certificate.
      Perhaps this latest release will be enough to put a stake through the heart of this wackiness.  Although the skeptic in me thinks that there will be folks who will dispute the legitimacy of the released birth certificate as faked, or Photoshopped, or something equally inane.
     In a recent poll, 4 out of 10 Republicans believe that Obama was not born in this country.  Maybe they were out with the measles on the day their geography teachers taught the class about Hawaii.  I think that more than a few of them still can't deal with the fact that we have a black president.  There, I said it.  And this is one of their ways of showing their displeasure without being labeled a racist.  But I wonder if Obama was white, and had grown up under the exact same circumstances, would all this kerfuffle still be going on?  Somehow I doubt it.
    The fact that billionaire real estate mogul, reality TV star, possible Presidential candidate and general blowhard Donald Trump counts himself as part of the Birther movement can't lend a lot of credence to a case based on smoke and mirrors.  In typical Trump style, he credits himself for the administration's release of the birth certificate.  ""I've accomplished something nobody else was able to accomplish," Trump said."  with his usual Manhattan sized ego. 
    Most mainstream Republicans have distanced themselves from the Birthers leaving the core of the group mainly way out in the far right reaches of the Republican Party.  While the majority of Republicans, and not a few Democrats have a lot of beef with Obama's policies in terms of health care, drilling for oil, the sluggish economy, and the general malaise in the country, they have not ventured into Birther territory seeing it for the idiotic distraction that it is.   There's a lot wrong with this country, and I, an Obama supporter will admit that he has made his share of mistakes in this first term.   I don't care how long you've been in Washington, and how much you think you know about where the bodies are buried, there is nothing that can prepare you totally for the job of running the most powerful country on the planet.  Presidential candidates run for the office on the knowledge of what they see on the outside.  They make promises to their supporters about what they are going to do.  They are going on the 80-90% of the information the rest of the population sees.   But once they get into the Oval Office and the full weight of their obligations get rested on their shoulders, they realize that all they wanted to do needs to be re-prioritized, rethought and rescheduled.   They see the 10% that the general populace doesn't see.  And that 10% makes all the difference.  It's easy to steer the ship and tell the captain where it should go when your hand is not on the wheel.  But when you take the helm and see where the waves are and feel them under your keel,  that's another ball game all together.
   Everything and anything the President does will make some folks happy and piss others off.  There's no getting around it.  It's the nature of the job.  I don't believe that Obama, who was handed a steaming pile of awful by his predecessor, George W. Bush, could be reasonably expected to turn the whole country around in four years.  Hell, a lot of what Obama's trying to do won't have an effect until after long after his presidency is over.  Unfortunately, the attention span as well as the patience of the American people is about that of a six year old.  Too often, we let ourselves get distracted by things that sparkle, shimmer and make lots of noise, and don't pay attention to the things that matter.  The economy matters.  Health care matters. Our dependence on Middle East oil matter.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our intervention in Libya matter.  Where the President was born does not matter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Scribbler's on Twitter...God Help Us.

In my latest attempt to make this blog at least somewhat relevant in the ever expanding blogosphere, I have  created a Twitter account in which I will post tweets about the latest posts to the Scribbler, as well as other bits and pieces of mostly worthless content. Just what the blogiverse needs, more worthless content.  The Twitter account for the Moonlight Scribbler is: @moonlightscrblr. Follow this account if you're interested or desperate.  Bear in mind that I'm still not up on all the ways and means of Twitter.  I'm still getting the hang of retweets and direct messages, hashtags and so on. And I'm not going to posting tweets constantly.  I do have a life.  And being that I have a tendency to start things like this and then abandon them after about a month or so, don't be surprised if this account goes belly up after a while.  But it's free and who knows, I might get a few more people to read the blog.  So once again, follow @moonlightscrblr.  You know you want to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Showing The Drivers Some Love.

     It's been about three weeks since the Port Authority put into motion the latest round of service cuts aimed at trying to rectify the long time budget deficits that have plagued the long suffering transit agency for the better part of a decade.  Routes were cut, renamed, folded, spindled and mutilated, and the basic fare has gone up 3 times in the last five or so years.   Many routes were shut down for weekends and holidays, and service on even the most popular routes has been cut back.  It's not uncommon to wait up to almost a half-hour for a bus on Saturdays and up to an hour on Sundays, if the route has service at all.
    Understandably,  the hundreds of thousands of riders who depend on public transportation for work, school and recreation feel it more than anyone. Buses are much more crowded, riders have voiced their concerns in countless rallies, and there seems to be no real solution in sight
   As someone who depends almost exclusively on Port Authority to get around, I have to plan my life around bus schedules.  No big deal, I've been doing it since I was thirteen years old.  I'm an old hand at riding the bus.  Put me anywhere in Allegheny County, and I can get home as long as I can catch a bus.  I can get from one end of the county to the other on two buses max, although these days, that takes a little more planning than in the past.  But it's safe to say, that if there's a bus that will get me within walking distance of where I want to go, I can get there.
    There are a bunch of reasons why the Port Authority is in the mess it's in.  Lack of a stable source of state funding is one, and with  Governor Tom "The Machete" Corbett  presently in charge in Harrisburg, it's safe to say that he's not going to be PAT's savior.  The Port Authority itself is not exactly a model of efficiency in terms of minding its business.  There's any amount of cutting and streamlining that needs to be done there.  The Authority is stuck with a high number of retiree's pensions that they are duty bound to honor, and there's not going to be any cuts that can be made there without causing no small amount of pain.  I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the answers.
    But I often hear from people, most of whom have never ridden a bus in their lives, that maybe they should cut drivers salaries to that which the 'free market' can bear.  The average wage of a Port Authority driver is about $17.00/hour, not including overtime.  There are those who believe that drivers wages should be cut as much as half of that number, about $9.00/hour.  To those people, I say, 'you are idiots that have no clue of what you're talking about.'
    I'm not the biggest pro-union guy on the planet.  Unions have their place, and they perform an important service, although they have been known to shoot themselves in the foot as much as management does.  But I will not begrudge a Port Authority driver the money he makes or the benefits he earns.
    I don't want a $9.00/hour driver taking me to work, to church, to the Legion or anywhere else I have to go.  I want someone who knows how to thread a 40 foot bus weighing 20 tons and loaded down with up to 60 passengers down streets that in most cases in Pittsburgh, haven't been widened since they were first laid down over 150 years ago.  I want someone who knows how to deal with automobile drivers who act like they got their driver's licenses from the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks and somehow think that said 40 ton bus can stop on a dime and give back nine cents change, when they cut in front of that bus while yakking on the cellphone that is surgically grafted to their ear.
    I want someone who knows how to deal with passengers who act like they were raised by wolves and don't have the brains that God gave a coop full of chickens. Passengers who'll try every story in the book to beat the fare, even though they are wearing clothes that cost more than my paycheck.  Passengers who ask whether the bus goes Downtown when the sign on the front of the bus says in 12 inch high letters that can be seen from halfway across town, that yes, this bus does go Downtown.  Passengers who come on the bus in various stages of intoxication whether by alcohol, drugs, or by agents unknown and proceed to enlighten every other rider with whatever the voices in their heads are telling them whether said riders want to be enlightened or not. Passengers for whom soap and water is a foreign concept.  Passengers under the age of adulthood who feel that cursing every third word from their sewer mouths makes them grown, and who can't talk on their cellphone at anything less than a tortured scream.  Passengers who have no idea about the fare hike despite the fact that the local media has been talking about it for a month and a half prior to the raise going into effect. I want someone who can weave through the traffic on Fifth Avenue in Oakland at rush hour like a scat back carving up a defense.  Or deal with the narrow streets of Downtown that haven't changed since the horse and buggy days.  I want someone who can get me to point A to point B as quickly and safely as possible, and if, for some reason they can't because of breakdowns, altercations,  the Steelers losing, or whatever, can get on the horn and get a mechanic or a replacement coach out  ASAP.
    And I want someone who can do all of that and still somehow keep a decent attitude.  I see the abuse drivers take.  I've seen them spat upon, struck, cussed out, flipped off, and the pros seem to let it wash over them like water off a ducks back.  And when those drivers who have been victimized ask for witnesses to the incident, I have no problem filling out a form.   Are there bad drivers that were born with a burr up their ass, and haven't smiled since the Pirates last had a winning season?  Of course, there are.  Unfortunately one of the disadvantages of being in a position where you have to help the public is that occasionally you have to deal with those who should have been placed in a burlap bag and drowned in the Mon at birth.  And those drivers who abuse the public in that manner should be reprimanded, and if the abuse is severe enough, be fired.  But I can also see how even some of the most hardened and seasoned drivers can lose their cool.  And I'm more likely to side with the driver in a altercation with a passenger, because I've seen how bus riders can be.
    And I don't believe that the Port Authority would be able to find people who can put up with the shit that drivers put up with for $9.00/hour.   So if a competent driver who's courteous, professional, cool-headed, and above all safe, has to get $17.00/hour, I have no problem paying for it.
    I don't personally know any Port Authority drivers.  I'm not related to any, and I have no agenda.  I just want show the drivers a little love and let them know that at least one rider appreciates all they have to put up with to get me where I need to go.