Saturday, November 23, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On Pittsburgh and NFL Winners

We are going to play Howlers in Pittsburgh tonight, a place where we have played every club in existence since 1990.  We started at the Electric Banana where Johnny Banana was always threatening to “get the gun” (though he never did on us).  Playing the Banana meant being reliably shorted from the door money.  You just knew that going in that you were going to get clipped.  I remember once when Ed Masley from the Frampton Brothers called Johnny on it.  There had been about 50 people at the club at $5 each.  In theory, Ed should have collected $250.  Johnny gave him something like $37 and Ed called him on it.  “Johnny, I expect to get ripped off by you, but this is ridiculous!”  Johnny then screamed out at Ed.  “Are you calling me a liar?”  Ed thought for a second. “Yeah, I guess I am.”  Johnny roared out some threats and told him to come to the back room.  Once there he softened his tone completely and told Ed he needed the money to fix the cooler.  We split the $37.

We graduated to The Decade where old photos of Joe Grushecky and the Iron City Houserockers adorned the walls, nostalgic for an age already past.  That became our main spot as we slowly worked our way to being noteworthy in town, thanks to a much needed boost of playing with The Cynics.  We used to get lost every single time we drove to The Decade and always unloaded to the backdrop of the club grumbling about us being late.  If I recall correctly the club became "The Next Decade" but was shaky.  I think it was a deli and then a lesbian bar later.  It’s odd.  We must have played there a dozen times and I only have a few foggy memories of it.

We drifted around looking for a new home base.  We played shows at the Smiling Moose, well known as having one of the worst load ins in the Tri State area.  The deadly combination of a steep flight of stairs with absolutely no chance of parking in front of the club make that a difficult situation.  There was a place we played called Gooskis (?) where I can sort of remember a bill with a side band of Michael from The Cynics.  There was a pizza joint that was the “cool place to play” for a minute.  We played the Thunderbird a few times (more stairs).  There was a Polish Falcon club.  A really bleak show at a neighborhood joint called Ronnie Ps where small insects were flying in the men’s room in the middle of a cold winter night.  Bobby got bitten by one and had an open sore for 45 days.  We got lost going there too.  

The 31st Street Pub was a good run.  I always liked Joel and the staff there.  I still wear the “Respect” t-shirt on a regular basis.  That club separated the believers from the tourists.  I had business acquaintances that would come there to see us, probably expecting a variation of one of their familiar BW-3 type local bars.  The various rebels and outcasts that filled that club would push them well past their normal comfort zone.  Usually after a couple Pabst they would realize everyone was not only harmless but actually fun.  The second worst Whiskey Daredevils show of all time happened there where we made mistake after mistake, equipment malfunctioned and finally Leo broke his toe when his crash cymbal fell on his bare foot.  I questioned continuing with performing music at that point.  The crowd that witnessed that debacle was actually nice about it, in a “you’ll get ‘em next time” way.   

Listening to sports talk, there is a misguided belief that people from Cleveland hate people from Pittsburgh and vice versa.  This is a stupid positioning of the alleged rivalry of the Steelers and Browns, which only counts as a rivalry if you pretend the Browns have offered resistance to the Steelers during the last 30 years.  Pittsburgh and Cleveland are basically the same city (as is Buffalo).  These are cities that have been kicked around.  The people are shot and beer types.  They can sniff out bullshit quickly.  The “rivalry” that exists is the same competitiveness one feels with a sibling or close friend.  I can talk shit about Pittsburgh or Buffalo, but I am not going to sit still if I hear someone from LA doing that.  

All that being said, the upcoming game next week between the Browns and Steelers has all the markings of a fan bloodbath.  Every single guy that you know that takes his NFL fandom too seriously is going to drink 57 beers and look for trouble outside that stadium.  Rumor has it the Browns cancelled their normal client entertainment road trip as they are concerned about a buzzed up Yinzer punching one of their sponsors in the head.  I get it.  Why take a chance?  There certainly has been a great deal of discussion and social media shit flinging on both sides of this otherwise stupid helmet bashing incident.  To be sensible about it, a highly paid athlete from Texas that wore a shirt that said Cleveland hit another highly paid athlete from Oklahoma wearing a Pittsburgh shirt in the head with his helmet.  Now reactionaries from Cleveland and Pittsburgh are worked up because of the dust up between the Texas stranger and Oklahoma stranger.

Here’s the problem.  The Browns have to play a game this week.  It doesn’t seem like they could be focused on that after a full week of talking about Pittsburgh, hearings, fines, and suspensions.  There seems to be this belief that the Browns will just show up and beat the Dolphins this Sunday.  No problem.  After that, we can finally play Pittsburgh again!  Look, the Browns are 4-6 for a reason.  They just aren’t very good.  Nothing is a sure thing, much less covering a ten point spread against a Dolphin team that has gone from “historically terrible” to “pretty damn terrible”.  

The Browns haven’t won 3 in a since 2014.  They have won 4 in a row once since 1994.  This is only the third time in 20 years the Browns have been a double digit favorite (1-1 in previous 2).  Big favorites cover about 50% of the time across the league.  If it’s a coin flip and we are betting either “for” or “against” the Browns, I bet “against” every time.  This is the perfect recipe for the “trap game”.  Miami has quietly covered 5 of their last 6.  Miami +10.5

I should bet on the Packers +3.5 over the 49ers.  The 49ers are hit with injuries.  Now that the schedule has become more difficult for them, they appear to be quite mortal.  The Packers are going the other direction with impressive wins in the last 6. weeks.  They kicked the crap out of Dallas, Oakland and Carolina.  They beat KC on the road (without Mahomes).  The only blip is when the team allegedly partied too late prior to the LA Chargers game and got thumped.  The Packers and points seems like a gimme.  This is why I assume it’s a massive eel.  EVERYONE is on the Packers.  I don’t have the courage to take the 49ers though.  I hope I don’t get all loaded up watching the Browns game, lose and decide to chase late.  I need to stay in my shoes.  I need to bet something sensible.

Enter Tennessee vs Jacksonville.  This could well be the least anticipated game of the season.  Quick… name a receiver on either team.  The correct answer is… who cares?  Even the citizens of Jacksonville and Nashville have little interest in this game.  It is as below the radar as an NFL game can get.  The over/under is 41.  I think this is low.  Jacksonville just had Nick Foles return last week.  This is a clear upgrade from The Stache.  Over on the Titans side, Tannehill has replaced Mariota and been a resounding success.  He appears to be a legitimate NFL quarterback at times, which is frankly startling.  A straight average should make this over/under 39 points.  A mere two point adjustment seems light with the addition of two QB upgrades.  I am taking Jacksonville/Tennessee OVER 41 and plan on watching none of it.

Season Record:  20-10-2 


At November 23, 2019 at 5:06:00 PM EST , Blogger AZ said...

Nice in every aspect. Looking forward to tonight's show and continued success. I expected the best considering you took everyone to the park to prepare for tonight's show.

At December 9, 2019 at 11:24:00 AM EST , Blogger Frank said...

I still feel bad about that 31st show. I just remember apologizing afterwards and you telling me, quite firmly, "would you please not smoke up Leo before the shows?" and so it was done.
Been a while since I've rocked out with you guys, but that's all about to change...
Ride on.


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