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Casual Friday: Another collection of random stuff

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

I reserve the right to keep these Column About Nothing pieces running until pitchers and catchers report. At that point, we'll re-evaluate.

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So there's this football game Sunday, and rather than give you 5,000 words of malarkey on the matchup, let's just look at the key element: Kurt Warner's pocket against Pittsburgh's pass rush. A lot is made of Pittsburgh's exotic blitzes, but the underrated factor is how well the Steelers can get to the pocket even with a small number of rushers. Warner's about as smart as they come with pre-snap recognition and the quick decisions you need to beat a blitz (ask Jim Johnson), but if Pittsburgh is successful with its non-exotic rushes, Warner won't get off so easily – he'll still be looking at six or seven defenders downfield.

If you want to build a case for Arizona winning, you're banking on one of two things: a slew of Pittsburgh turnovers, or a brilliant game from Warner. For the second thing to happen, the Steelers rush must be neutralized for most of the afternoon. I can't see that, not for four quarters. Call it Steelers 31, Cardinals 20.

Does Alex Rodriguez care what people think about him? Yes. Is it going to affect his production on the field? Hell, no. You have my permission to take him as early as you want, and that includes No. 1 overall in mixed league.

I'm a Springsteen fan from way back, but I can't get excited about a 12-minute set. He's not about short and packaged anthems; at his best he's a poet and meandering storyteller.

Do yourself a favor and make sure you check out Jay Busbee's list of the 50 Worst Announcers in Sports. You're not going to agree with every pick, of course, but I know an upper-deck homer when I see one.

Did you duck the 1s, 2s, 5s, 8s and 9s on the square grid? Good for you. Everything else is in play. I could say more but it makes more sense to direct you to the best analysis I've ever read on the subject (tip of the cap, Doug Drienen).

The more sophisticated your league mates are, the more ridiculous the prices will be on hot rookies. This never, ever misses.

Don't let Lynn Swann's ballet in Super Bowl X sway you too much – the best receiver in Pittsburgh history, without question, is John Stallworth. I'll occasionally lose this argument anecdotally but the numbers back me up.

I broke up with a girl once because she couldn't name the lead singer of the Foo Fighters. Okay, it was more of a last-straw thing, but nonetheless, some things can be overlooked, some things can't.

Maybe Ty Conklin will surprise me in the playoffs, but I don't see Chris Osgood driving Detroit to the finals again. The Red Wings have the league's best roster outside of the goal, but the Evgeni Nabokov factor pushes San Jose into the favorite's chair.

I had a life before discovering remoulade, but there's no way I'm going back.

There's nothing wrong with the NFL's current playoff system and no adjustment is needed. Upsets happen, improbable playoff runs are possible. Top seeds aren't guaranteed Super Bowl spots. I'm perfectly fine with that.

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Thank the umpires and refs. Thank your teachers and professors, the good ones anyway. They deserve the props and don't hear it enough.

You can discuss overrated and underrated fantasy baseball commodities all you like, but if you're not tying some mock or ADP analysis to the exercise, you're throwing darts in the dark.

The Coyotes have turned into one of the best bounce-back clubs in the NHL this year (strong efforts after blowout losses), and that's directly attributable to the job Wayne Gretzky is doing. He's looking like an exception to the rule that says star players seldom make effective coaches.

I don't know everyone, but I know a fair amount of people. I don't know anyone who liked "Everybody Loves Raymond." Just had to get that off my chest. (Ray Romano sympathizers in the comments may be subject to hazing and ridicule, you know the risks.)

In AL-only or NL-only rotisserie play, it's all about collecting at-bats. This should be second nature, but not everyone agrees. Tied to this is another reality we all have to accept – while it's easier to evaluate and project skills at times than it is playing time, making intelligent guesses as to who is and who isn't going to play is a very important part of our process. It's a cop out to merely throw our hands in the air and say this coach or that organization doesn't make sense. Figuring out the entire picture is part of the challenge of the games we play.

It's refreshing to see Scott Boras get one grossly wrong, as he did with the Jason Varitek situation.

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No matter what you think of the Steelers (I'm merely an appreciator, not a fan), you have to give them this: their fan base travels as well as any in sports. Super Bowl XL was essentially a home game for Pittsburgh in Detroit (as much as a corporate Super Bowl can be), and Sunday's game will have a similar feel.

Ball Four is the best sports book ever, period, no debate. I'll re-read it every odd year. The Breaks of the Game comes in second, a fantastic snapshot of where the NBA was before Bird and Magic saved the day (rest in peace, David Halberstam). Those two established, now we can have a discussion.

There are plenty of paths to drafting your dynasty, but I've noticed one thing in my travels: the first team to draft a catcher seldom wins. And the team that pays the most for closers usually regrets it, too.

If she has one cat or one tattoo, okay. You start talking multiples and all bets are off.

Anyone can cheat the doctor for one season, but I'm not pushing you for Ryan Doumit this year, as much as I love his bat.

Nick Drake, what a tragedy he couldn't find peace during his day. Give a listen to Hazey Jane II.

Don't get mad at me if I extrapolate some of these thoughts into full blog posts, or recycle them (accidentally) later in the year. Purposefully or not, it's bound to happen. Heck, this tack-on ran last week.

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