Monday, June 29, 2009

An Archive of Futility

I went to the Pirate game on Wednesday night against the Indians. It's always nice to see a Pittsburgh team beat up on a Cleveland team.

Watching Cutch fly around the field last night made me think about how long it's been since the Pirates have actually had a legit prospect on their team. Sure Sanchez and Wilson had good years at the plate and are good defenders, but Cutch is at a whole nother level. It kinda makes you wonder though, why didn't we trade Nyjer Morgan and put Cutch in left field (or move McLouth over to left) if we were so desparate to get him in the lineup?

Thinking about could-have-beens, and in preparation for another brutal summer which will probably see the Pirates trade away Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Paul Maholm and maybe Zach Duke, here's a brief look back at who the Pirates have traded away.

We won't bore you with all the gritty details of the all-star cast that the Pirates had assembled in the early 90's that was then traded away. Therefore, we'll start with 1995, the year after the strike.

Released young knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Wakfield is second in the league in wins this season.

The Pirates did make two acquisions that year: they drafted Bronson Arroyo in the 3rd round, so they could trade him later.

The Pirates traded pitcher Denny Neagle to the Braves, acquring Jason Schmidt in the trade. We'll deal with Schmidt more later.

We also sent Third Baseman Charlie Hayes to the New York Yankees, who went on to catch the final out of the World Series in foul territory that year. In return, we got pitcher Chris Corn who never made it higher than AA.

Traded Dan Miceli to the Tigers for some joke who only had 2 At-Bats with the team. Miceli played for 10 more seasons in the league.

Traded Orlando Merced and others to the Blue Jays for Abraham Nunez and Craig Wilson.

Finally, the Pirates capped off their Dynasty Destruction by sending Jay Bell and Jeff King to Kansas City for a few jokes and Joe Randa. Jay Bell went on to score the World Series-winning run for Arizona.

They did sign a pitcher named Francisco Cordova who is still the last Pirate to throw a no-hitter (July 12, 1997). The Pirates draft was pretty promising this year as they picked Kris Benson (P), Tike Redman (OF), and Rob Mackowiak (IF).


Since we were actually in contention, there wasn't much wheeling and dealing during the season.
Joe Randa was selected by the Diamondbacks in the expansion draft, meaning we got virtually nothing from the King/Bell trade.

Drafted John Grabow.


Passed on pitchers Brad Lidge and CC Sabathia to select 1B Clint Johnston in the first round of the draft. Also passed on Aubrey Huff (6th round), Matt Holliday (7th round), Aaron Rowand (1st round), Adam Dunn (2nd round), and Juan Pierre (13th round) throughout the draft.

Traded Esteban Loaiza (who would go on to be a 2-time All Star, and lead the AL in strikeouts in 2003) to Texas for Warren Morris and Todd Van Poppel. Morris was released before the 2002 season, and Van Poppel was released to free agency at the end of the season.

Traded Jon Lieber to the Cubs. Lieber would go on to be an All-Star and NL Cy Young winner in 2001. In return we got a OF Brant Brown who hit .232 with 16 HR in one season with the Bucs.
In an actual good move, we traded pitcher Ricardo Rincon to the Indians for Brian Giles.


Little did we know this was the last time we would sniff 80 wins in a season. But this didn't stop the front office from moving players.

Traded All-Star and 3-time NL SB leader Tony Womack to the Diamondbacks. Womack went on to win the World Series with the Dbacks in 2001 and lose it with the Cardinals in 2004.

Traded Jose Guillen for Humberto Cota

Drafted Ryan Doumit


Traded perienially disappointing outfielder Al Martin to San Diego for John Vander Wal.

Traded Jason Christansen to St. Louis for Jack Wilson.

Trying to recreate 1991, the Pirates signed Derek Bell and Terry Mulholland after the 2000 season. Neither finished the 01 season with the team.

Drafted Sean Burnett, Jose Bautista, Nate McLouth, and Ian Snell.


In possibly the worst trade in Pirates history, the Bucs traded Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal to San Francisco for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. Rios hit .264 in one season with the Bucs. Vogelsong was the butt end of bullpen jokes for the next 4 years as he only once posted an ERA under 6.35. Schmidt went on to be a 3-time All-Star, finish in the Top 5 in Cy Young voting twice, lead the NL in ERA in 2003, and lead the NL in shutouts in 03 and 04.

Traded Jose Silva to the Reds for a minor leaguer.

Received Josh Fogg and Kip Wells in a trade from the ChiSox.



Passed on BJ Upton, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain to select Bryan Bullington. Bullington cycled around the minor leagues before finally making his major league debut April 23, 2009 with Toronto.

Drafted Matt Capps and Nyjer Morgan.

Traded for Randall Simon from the Tigers, who would go on to become the infamous Sausage-wacker in Pirate lore.

Traded former #1 pick Chad Hermansen to Chicago.


Bronson Arroyo selected by the Red Sox off waivers. Arroyo would go on to win a World Series with Boston and make the All-Star game in 2006. Arroyo was also the Red Sox pitcher involved in the incident in the ALCS where A-Fraud batted the ball out of his hand and the umps originally scored it a hit.

Traded Kenny Lofton (we had him?) and Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs for some jokes.

Traded Jeff Suppan and others to the Red Sox for Freddy Sanchez.

In one of the better trades we made, sent Brian Giles to the Padres for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. We definitely came out on top on this one.

Drafted Paul Maholm.


Traded Jason Kendall to Oakland for Mark Redman and others.

Signed Raul Mondesi, Jose Mesa, and Daryle Ward in the offseason. None of them are currently on the team.

Traded Kris Benson to the Mets for Ty Wigginton and Jose Bautista.


Traded Matt Lawton to the Cubs for some noname.

Traded Mark Redman for some minor leaguers.

Traded Dave Williams for Sean Casey.

Traded Rob Mackowiak for Damasto Marte.


Traded Sean Casey for Brian Rogers.

Traded Kip Wells for Jesse Chavez.

Traded Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady.

Traded Craig Wilson to the Yankees for Shawn Chacon.


Traded Mike Gonzalez to Atlanta for Adam LaRoche to not hit with runners on base.

Released Shawn Chacon to free agency.

Traded Solomon Torres for two minor leaguers.


Am I still writing this? How do I have any heart left. The sad thing is, it gets worse.

12 games out of 1st place on July 26, traded Nady and Marte to the Yankees for 4 minor leaguers, including Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf, both of whom are now in our starting rotation. Pirates went 19-39 after this trade.

8 games under .500 on July 31, traded Jason Bay to Boston while Manny Ramirez went to LA and got Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss, and some minor leaguers. Went 17-37 after this trade.
Traded Jose Bautista to Toronto for Robinzon Diaz. Went 10-25 after the trade.


June 3, 6 games back in the division, 4 games under .500. Traded Nate McLouth to Atlanta.

The McLouth trade might be the straw that broke the camel's back with the fans. The only thing keeping the fans from irate mob-mentality storm-the-clubhouse mode right now is the fact that Cutch has been so good thus far. If Cutch starts to slump and the Pirates fall 10 or more games below .500, watch out. Things might get ugly. Local papers started calling for the mangement's head after the McLouth trade, but McCutchen's play has shut them up-for now. If the Pirates are even anywhere near the semblance of in contention and Sanchez, Wilson, Duke, Maholm or LaRoche get traded away for minor leaguers, the media might go after the "Let-them-eat-cake" management French Revolution-style.

I realize that it is unrealistic to think that these players will play their entire career with the Pirates, but for as long as we've put up with this crap, they had better be traded for some major league or major leagure-ready talent.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twitter and Starks

We are now on twitter! You can follow us here:

Secondly, the Steelers signed Max Starks to a 4-year, $26.3 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus. To be honest, this is a pretty standard contract and is a graet move for the Steelers. The Post Gazette, as always, has more.

In my opinion, this was a good move. They freed up $2 million in cap space and have a rising left tackle stud signed for four years. All in all, a great move.

The team also announced the retirement of Fernando Bryant. You may remember him from breaking up a pass intended for Antonio Gates in the end zone of the 11-10 Chargers game.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

City of Champions: The Debate Continues

In lieu of the Penguins wrapping up their third Stanley Cup, a debate has started to emerge over the notion of whether or not Pittsburgh has regained the "City of Champions" helm that it touted during the late 70s when the Steelers and Pirates were both at the top of the league.

In my browsing, I came across the Donovan Index (no relation to McNabb), which not only accounts for the number of chanpionships won by each city, but the number of teams in the league at that time. Therefore, all the stanley cups that teams like Detroit and Montreal won back in the day are "discounted" because there were only 6 teams in the league. The basic formula is something like this:

Number of Teams in the league for each championship won/Seasons in the league
The basic idea is, if there are 20 teams in the league, each team should win once every 20 years, so the metric number here is 1. A score above 1 means the team wins championships on a higher than average basis, while an index below 1 indicates the team has been disappointing in the success department.

The index accounts for all professional Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Hockey clubs in a city.
Not surprisingly, New York and Los Angeles came out as #1 and #2. With the 26 titles the Yankees have won and the 10 the Lakers have, it's not surprising that these two cities topped the list.

But guess who was #3? That's right, Pittsburgh.

Pretty impressive, right?

Well, there's a catch. In "identifying the true city of champions" the Donovan index does some creative shuffling.

If you look into the teams accounted for in the "New York" calculation, you will notice that the Islanders do not appear. Rather, they are listed under the "Nassau/Suffolk" city, despite calling themselves "New York". In addition, all of the Brooklyn teams are listed under "Brooklyn" rather than New York, completely ignoring the fact that Brooklyn has been an incorporated part of New York City since 1898.

Since the New York Jets and Giants play their games in the same arena complex as the New Jersey Devils/Nets, (which isn't even in the state of New York) it seems odd that they are included in the "New York" listing whereas Brooklyn teams (which have all played in NYC Proper) and the Islanders (who call themselves "New York") aren't.

Adjusted New York numbers (to include "Suffolk" and "Brooklyn" teams):

54 Championships, 987 "points", 628 seasons. 1.57 index.

Adjusted Top Cities:
1. Los Angeles - 1.64
2. New York - 1.57
3. Pittsburgh - 1.55

By the same standard, if you want to include the two Anaheim teams with the LA teams and not separate, LA's number becomes:
19 Championships, 456 "points", 299 seasons. 1.53 index.

Adjusted to include Anaheim:
1. New York - 1.57
2. Pittsburgh - 1.55
3. LA/Anaheim - 1.53

Whichever way you slice it, in spite of the Steelers being bad from 1933-1970, the Penguins being crappy before drafting Lemieux in 1984, and the Pirates recent streak of misery, Pittsburgh still has one of the top 3 index ratings in the country. And there's no fancy inflated math needed to get our number to where it is (like excluding teams that play within your city limits).

In fact, let's break it down a little more and look at the matchups head to head.

vs vs
If this was just the Steelers and Giants, it would probably be a push at best. As the two teams showed last year, they were two of the best teams in the league, with the Steelers hoisting the trophy at the end of the season. These two teams are the last two Super Bowl Champions and have accounted for 9 Super Bowl trophys between them. However, when you throw the dismal Jets into the mix, I would argue this gives the Steelers the advantage here. Let's look at Donovan's numbers:

Current teams:
Steelers: 2.61
Giants: 1.56
Jets: 0.57

This gives us a sum of Pittsburgh 2.61, New York 1.21, Los Angeles

Including all historical teams:
Pittsburgh: (172 points, 76 seasons) 2.26
New York: (159 points, 162 seasons) 0.98
Los Angeles: (40 points, 68 seasons) 0.59

Teams included: Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants, New York Jets, New York Bulldogs, New York Yanks, New York Yankees, New York Titans, Brooklyn Lions, Brooklyn Tigers, Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Dons

Whichever way you cut it, Pittsburgh is on top as far as football is concerned.

vs vs

Anyone who would argue that the Pirates right now are better than any of these teams is out of their head. In the big market game of baseball, people with cash to spend have better teams, and let's face it, New York and LA teams have that cash.

Current Teams:
Yankees: 5.22
LA Dodgers: 2.16
Mets: 1.09
Pirates: 0.94

As we can see, Pittsburgh is getting served here, partially because the LA Dodgers have existed for a much shorter period of time as a franchise than any of the other three, which leads to their inflated rating.

All Historical Teams:
New York: (642 points, 258 seasons) 2.49
Los Angeles: (108 points, 50 seasons) 2.16
Pittsburgh: (98 points, 104 seasons) 0.94

Teams included: New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Giants, New York Highlanders, Brooklyn Dodgers, Brooklyn Superbas, Brooklyn Robins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates

If the Angels are added in to the LA team count, their number drops from 2.16 to 1.42. Either way, the order is consistent: New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh.

vs vs

The Rangers won three championships before World War II, and have won one since. The Islanders dominated during Reagan's first term. Pittsburgh has won the cup 3 times since I was born. The Kings have never won a title.

Current Teams:
Islanders: 2.33
Penguins: 1.78
Rangers: 0.63
Kings: 0.00

Including all historical teams:
Pittsburgh: (73 points, 41 seasons)1.78
New York: (136 points, 136 seasons) 1.00
Los Angeles: (0 points, 43 seasons) 0.00

Teams included: Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New York Raiders, New York Americans, Brooklyn Americans, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Sharks

Pittsburgh has a pretty clear advantage on this one, giving us the advantage in 2 of the 3 major sports so far, with only one remaining, it's nearly safe to say we've got this one in the bag. But let's not count our chickens before they hatch.


The Lakers are obviously the best of this bunch and arguably the best team in the NBA this decade. But right now, who really would have taken the Knicks or Clippers last year if they went head-to-head with the Pitt Panthers? Sure it's a different style and a different game, but with Levance Fields, Sam Young and DeJuan Blair, I think Pitt could have held their own against either the Knicks or Clippers. Just saying.

Current Teams:
Lakers: 5.06
Knicks: 0.49
Clippers: 0.00

Including all historical teams:
Los Angeles: (248 points, 76 seasons) 3.26
Pittsburgh: (11 points, 5 seasons) 2.20
New York: (50 points, 72 seasons) 0.69

Teams included: New York Knicks, New York Nets, Pittsburgh Pipers, Pittsburgh Ironmen, Pittsburgh Condors, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Stars, Anaheim Amigos

Tallying everything up, here was the final scorecard:
1st: Pittsburgh (2), New York (1), Los Angeles (1)
2nd: New York (2), Pittsburgh (1), Los Angeles (1)
3rd: Los Angeles (2), Pittsburgh (1), New York (1)

Overall, across all 4 sports historically we see these numbers:
New York (987 points, 628 seasons) 1.572
Pittsburgh (354 points, 226 seasons) 1.566
Los Angeles (426 points, 284 seasons) 1.500

It is very close between all three, and New York has definitely been carried by the strength of the Yankees and the Lakers are holding their own in Los Angeles. The Steelers and Penguins are mutually bearing the load for Pittsburgh, and they are also both in possession of shiny silver trophies right now, and you really can't argue with that.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What to Look for During the 2009-2010 Season

Here is a list of a few things you can expect from us beginning (most likely) in early July and continuing throughout the season:

1) 2009-2010 Team-by-Team previews and predictions similar to last year

2) A fantasy football preview prior to your draft, as well as weekly fantasy opinions and tips

3) Award predictions and a summary of the best rookies - in our opinions, of course

4) Ian's wonderful game recaps (assuming he wants to do them), because, let's face it, his summaries are the best in the business

5) A brief synopsis of the prior week's happenings and a quick glance at the coming week's important games.

In the spirit of the "n'at" portion of "The Steelers n'at," we'll also bring you:

6) A review of your Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins' free agency dealings after all is said in done in early August

7) Analysis of any trades the Pittsburgh Pirates make in order to field a "championship caliber organization"

Finally, if either of us has any time, you may see:

8) NCAA Football and Basketball previews and recruiting news

9) A weekly poll or trivia question for yinz to muse over

10) Anything else you might like to see

Also, you soon will be able to follow us on Twitter (thesteelersnat)

We hope you enjoy the upcoming season as much as we will, as we all cheer on our teams in the City of Champions!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

City of Champions


Congratulations to the Penguins on winning the Stanley Cup.

I'm going to the parade tomorrow. I'll try to take some pictures and post them.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yes We Can

Everyone knows about Steelers Nation.

Go to any city in America. There is at least one Steelers bar. As a Steelers fan, you are never alone. The long arm of Steelers Nation even prompted this quote:

"When you play Pittsburgh, you don't just play the team. You play the whole city." - Howard Cosell

Tonight, the Penguins take the ice in their biggest game in 17 years.

Though there has been some contention between Steelers fans and Penguins fans (mainly stemming from the fact that the Steelers are the media darling of this city and the Pens are often put on the back-burner), tonight we have the opportunity to make a statement. Not just that we are the City of Champions, not just that we support our team, but that we are one.


We are not Steelers Nation and Penguins Nation. We are Pittsburgh Nation. No matter where you are, I do not doubt that if you are reading this blog, you were living and dying with every pass that Big Ben threw in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl. Names like Patrick Bailey and Darnell Stapleton have a special meaning to you.

So should names like Max Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Rob Scuderi. If you don't live in Pittsburgh and still cheer for the Steelers, it's likely because you have roots in the Steel City. I know the Penguins had a bad stretch of years and ownership during the middle of this decade. But they are also Pittsburgh's team. And tonight, as ONE NATION, we need to stand and support them.
We all yell at our TVs during Steelers games. Do it tonight. Is there a place where you usually go to watch Steelers games? GO THERE TONIGHT.

The Penguins have the chance to do something incredible. Their story is the story of Pittsburgh. Everyone said they couldn't. Everyone said they were down and out. No one gave them a chance.

They exude that one trait common of all Pittsburghers, either former, current, or future: PERSEVERANCE.

Is there another city in America that is defined by a single word? As Pittsburghers and Pittsburgh fans, this is who we are, what we do, and why we love our city and our teams so much.

After the Steel industry collapsed, no one gave Pittsburgh a chance. Now it has been repeatedly named the Most Livable City in America by numerous publications and is the host of the G-20 Summit.

The Penguins were in 10th place in the conference and 6 points out of a playoff spot in February. They had just fired there head coach. Everyone counted them out.

As Steelers fans, we know full well the pressure of performing in one, sixty-minute game for the championship. The Penguins face that tonight. Stand behind them. Be loud. Always remember:

Image from The Pensblog

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blog Updates

After some work and playing around with our minimal picture editing skills, we came up with these new "bar" logos that we used in the new 2009 schedule over on the right side bar.


We'll probably be using these a lot for a while, mainly because we like how they look a lot better than the "blurred edges" ones we were using before.

SportsBeat Rewind is on FSN right now. 1992 edition. I'm turning it off before they get to the baseball part. Talk about sickening.

Pens in 7.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ron Cook hates Pittsburgh

Big time win for the Pens last night. As Steelers fans, we're used to commentators being decidedly anti-Pittsburgh. Mostly, this comes from the fact that we owned Boomer Esaison when he played for the Bungles.

...and Jim Nantz just being a dickbag.

Since we know where Bill Cowher's alleginaces really lie, CBS won't have to worry about him possibly complimenting Pittsburgh any more either. Plus, Cowher always had some tongue-in-cheek comment about the Steelers. Around here, we attribute that mainly to the fact that he's jealous about the kind of success Mike Tomlin has had as head coach.

Bitter much Bill?

As with the Steelers, announcers from Versus and NBC have been unable to really say anything good about the Penguins throughout their whole playoff run. Like the Steelers, they are just waiting for the Pens to make a mistake or have a bad game so they can launch into their scrutiny.

Hey, guess what. That means that the Pens are following in the Steelers tradition of being hated by announcers, which means they are well on the way to becoming the best organization in the NHL.

If you got a chance to go down to the outside screen to watch any of the Pens games from this season, we hope you enjoyed the experience, because NBC will be cock-blocking us for the rest of the season. If you're looking for any more reason to dislike NBC, they fired the Bus from their pregame show.

We'll be the first to say, Dungy-for-Collinsworthless is a trade we'd make any day. Bus for Harrison? Garbage. Just trying to appeal to the Pats fanbase.

Speaking of the Pens, how much of a douchebag is Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook?
First, he throws Fleury under the bus after Game 2. As if Fleury's awesome goaltending didn't get us through 3 rounds of the playoffs. I seem to remember a save on Alexander Ovechkin in Game 7 against Washington that should be reason enough not to throw him under the bus.

On top of that, after Fleury plays two good games, making some huge saves in the second period in Game 3 to keep the Pens in it, then withstanding an onslaught last night in the third period to preserve the win, what does Cook write about?

...what city does this guy live in?

Did Larry Foote buy Ron Cook a house in Detroit when he signed with the Lions?

In light of this, we are proud to introduce the newest member of our staff. His official title will be the "Minister of Ire."

"As my first act....Ron Cook: YOU'RE ON NOTICE."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pirates = joke

Today is June 3. There was rain in the Pittsburgh area. The Pirates are 4 games under .500 and 6 games back in the NL Central. The Pirates, who were going for a sweep of the New York Mets and their 4th win in the last 5 games, had their game rained out.

So what did the Pirates do instead of playing?

Traded away their best player and only sure-fire All Star.

To Atlanta.

For three minor leaguers.

Goodbye Nate McLouth.

The Pirates season just got irrelevant faster than Heroes.

Ugh. When the new management took over, they said things were going to be different. If by different, they meant not waiting until after the All-Star game to trade their best players, then yes, things are different.

Of course, top prospect Andrew McCutcheon, who will now be called upon to play center, may hit .350 with a ton of home runs and just steal the show. But let's not kid ourselves here. This is the Pirates.

Might as well sell any Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez gear you have now while they're still on the team, they might be worthless by the end of the year month week.


On a more cheerful note, the Pens got on the board last night in their series against Detroit and have a chance to tie it up 2-2 with a win tomorrow night.

The Pens adjusted their game in game 3 to match the pre-lockout clutch-and-grab style that apparently is still allowed in the NHL. Does it suck to have to play this way? Yes. But the fact of the matter is there's no other way to get through Detroit because the officials aren't going to grow a pair and use their whistles.

Update: Found an awesome picture of Coach on The Pensblog.

Coach knows how to dress for a whiteout. Wear the white jersey. Way to go Coach.

Gotta love the cross-sport support Pittsburgh athletes give each other.

Go Pens!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Concert Reviews: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Yes, we're a football blog. But really, there's not much going on right now. Football is a greuling sport that takes a lot out of people that play it, which is the primary reasons players have such short careers and there is a long offseason.

We could waste your time this offseason posting about James Harrison's dog or what TO did today or what Peyton Manning is complaining about now. But we won't. You have better stuff to do. And so do we.

One of the best things to do in Pittsburgh in the summer time is to go to concerts.

Over the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to go to two concerts.

And since it's been a while since I got to post a recap of anything, I'm going to give you all a concert review. If you're not interested, you can go read more depressing stuff about the Pens. Or you can distract yourself from the fact that the Pens are down 2-0 by reading about concerts I went to.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
May 19
Mellon Arena

This was the third time I've seen the Boss in Pittsburgh, and I think this was probably the best of the three shows ('03 at PNC Park and '07 at the Mellon Arena).

Bruce rocked the house at the Super Bowl, and he came to Pittsburgh with the same fire and energy in his set that we have come to expect from the Boss. The show carried a strong recession-era theme, featuring songs about hope and redemption in hard times.

Bruce opened up with Badlands, pumping up the crowd and pushing the energy level right off the bat. Bruce pulled another one off the Darkness On the Edge of Town album with Candy's Room, which got another big crowd reaction. After the epic Western song Outlaw Pete, Bruce broke out Jackson Cage and crowd favorite She's the One.

Bruce gave a rousing speech to the crowd about taking the fear out in the world and building a house of love, a fitting intro to the title track from his new album, Working on a Dream. After two recession-era themed songs (Johnny 99 and Seeds), Bruce changed up his typical setlist and substituted local favorite Youngstown for the more popular Ghost of Tom Joad. Guitarist Nils Lofgren threw down an epic guitar solo that melted the faces off of everyone in the first three rows at the end of Youngstown, capping it off by attaching a camera to the end of his guitar, giving the crowd a great view down the neck as he shredded.

As had been made well known in the media before the show, Bruce had taken to randomly changing the setlist on the fly and trying to "Stump the Band." However, the E Street Band is the greatest little house band in all the land. And you're not going to stump them. After collecting signs from the crowd, Bruce pulled one out and announced the band had "Never played this song before." What followed was an epic cover of Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone, that was definitely the highlight of the show.

Bruce followed up with another request, Darkness on the Edge of Town (continuing the notion that this very well might have been a setlist from the Darkness tour). Next came the hopeful song Waitin' on A Sunny Day where Bruce gave the microphone to a young kid (probably 8 years old) in the front row and had him sing the chorus. The kid was embarrassed, but the crowd went nuts for it. As a veteran of Bruce concerts, these are the kind of things that make him the Boss and the greatest performer touring right now.

After The Promised Land and I'm on Fire, Bruce announced that Patti (his wife) was at home performing "maximum security detail" on their three teenagers. Due to this, he busted out Kingdom of Days, saying "This one's for Pats." Bruce, like no other performer, has a way of building from one song to the next to bring up the emotions of the crowd. After running around for an hour and a half, the band came out with Lonesome Day, The Rising, and finally Born to Run to close out the main portion of the set.

To start the encore set, Bruce came out with "Hard Times" a song by Stephen Foster, a Pittsburgh native. Then, for the first time in the three shows that I have seen, Bruce sang crowd-favorite Thunder Road, which was followed by Land of Hope and Dreams. The Irish jig-sounding "American Land" came next. He closed his previous show in Pittsburgh with American Land, and after he gave props to all the E Street Band, most of the crowd thought the show was over. But Bruce, ever the performer that takes the show to the next level, brought local artist Joe Grushecky out on stage and rippoed off Glory Days and Mony Mony to close out the night in epic fashion.

At the end of the night, this was an epic show with a great setlist top-to-bottom. The themes of hope and redemption during hard times ran through the show, capped off with the uplifting beats of "Land of Hope and Dreams," "Glory Days," and "Mony Mony." In all honesty, this probably could have been a setlist from the Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour, with 4 songs from the Darkness album punctuating the show (Badlands, Candy's Room, Darkness, Promised Land). This was my third Bruce show and he's just as good now as he was three years ago (actually, I would argue he's better now). If you ever have a chance to see him, it's definitely worth the price of admission. He played for about 2 hours and 45 minutes and had the crowd rocking the whole time. If you have list of "Things to Do Before I Die" and "See Springsteen in concert" isn't on that list, get off your ass and rectify that problem.