Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bike Lanes on Two County Bridges a Bad Idea

Earlier this month, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that two County-owned bridges -- the 6th Street Clemente Bridge and the Phillip Murray South 10th to the South Side -- would have bike lanes installed in each direction on them.  The lanes would be 5 foot wide with a 3 foot buffer between vehicular traffic.  In theory, this is a great idea.

In reality, it's awful.  These bike lanes, one in each direction, will take away one lane of vehicular traffic as well.  So each bridge will be turned into a one-lane bridge in each direction. What this will do is cripple the ability of these bridges to do their primary function of moving vehicular traffic during peak periods.

As much as bike advocates would like you to believe that cars and bikes are equally important, they are not.  Roads and bridges are primarily for motor vehicles.  Their secondary function is for bikes and pedestrians.  The two can co-exist, but it's not an equal partnership.

Roads are like the human body's blood vessel system.  Certain roads are arteries and veins and have to push a lot of blood through; certain roads and bridges are the same and have to push a lot of vehicles through.  If there is a blockage or bottleneck, neither system will work and will eventually fail.

There is a big push to make Pittsburgh more bike-friendly and these bridges are part of that expanded network.  That's great, but it can't come at the expense of vehicles.  I predict that the Clemente Bridge experiment will fail and will be quietly modified in a few years.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Legends Of The North Shore

Legends of the North Shore has been open since 2002, which makes it a successful institution at this point.  Neither DB~ nor I have been there, but it comes highly recommended.  It's spoken highly of as a North Side restaurant, so we decided to give it a shot tonight.

When we walked in, we were surprised by how few tables there were and how awkwardly the restaurant is set up.  Upon entering, the kitchen and small bar area are right there.  You have to squeeze through and half-turn if someone is sitting there, in order to get to your table.

Although the appetizers sounded good, especially the always-good greens and beans choice, we went straight to the entrees.  DB~ picked the Chicken Romano and I went with the Gnocchi Bolognese.  When they came out, we were a little taken aback by the size of the portion in relation to the cost of the entree.

DB~'s Chicken Romano was $19.95 and featured two small breaded breasts, topped with lemon and parsley.  There was a small scoop of mashed potatoes and some slivers of squash.  To us, it was overpriced for the portion size.  DB~ liked it, but didn't love it.

My portion of Gnocchi Bolognese was a normal sized plate-bowl.  The gnocchi were small, but delicate and not heavy.  The sauce was a basic meat sauce, with some chunks of ground meat in the sauce.  Again, nothing special and certainly not $18.95 worthy.  It seems like each entree was overpriced by $3.

Sometimes with legends, their status is over-inflated by past glories.  There may have been a time when Legends of the North Shore was at the top of their game, but unfortunately that time has passed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking Delight in the Brewers' Collapse

Coming into the season, I thought Milwaukee would win between 73 and 78 games.  They were atrocious last year, due to key injuries, but they had some declining players anyway.  Their big offseason move was to sign injury-prone, under-achieving Matt Garza to a 4 year/$50M deal.  How would Ryan Braun fare now that he (hopefully) wasn't juicing anymore?  I didn't see a playoff contender.

Imagine my surprise when at the end of April the Brewers were 20-8 and far, far ahead of the pack in the National League.  I was telling everyone who asked that the Brewers' return trip to Earth would be coming soon, but they didn't really flinch until July.  At the start of July, they lost 10 out of 11.  Their record on July 12 was still 52-43 and they were still tied for 1st place, albeit after they were comfortably leading by 6.5 games at the start of the month.  The rest of the NL landscape was forgiving, as well, with most of the teams just treading water.  Maybe this was the start of the end?

Fast forward to August 25th.  The Brewers had rebounded to playing strong playoff-contender baseball again.  I was still baffled.  Their record was a robust 73-58 and they were 1.5 games up on the Cardinals in the division.  Barring a soul-crushing collapse, the Brew seemed destined for a playoff spot of some sort.

Enter the soul-crushing collapse.  From that day forward, the Brewers have lost (and are still in the midst of it) 13 of 14 games.  Their record is now 74-71 and they are not only 6 games behind the Cards for the division, they are 1.5 games out of the playoffs altogether -- behind the Pirates, which makes it even sweeter.

Is this just the law of averages adjusting with unblinking fury all at the same time?  Have injuries revealed their absolute lack of depth, both in the majors and minors?

Ryan Braun, still one year away from his extended extension of 5 year/$105M kicking in, is having a poor season and now his thumb pain is leading to his whole hand maybe needing surgery.  Shades of Jason Kendall's thumb injury, which was the real reason for Kendall's collapse as a hitter, are echoing.

Carlos Gomez is a terrible human being, so he's also easy to cheer against, even though he's having a good campaign.  I would love to have Jonathan Lucroy, especially with that ultra-friendly contract extension, but he's really the only Brewer I would rescue.  The rest of them all deserve each other.

Hopefully the Brewers continue to collapse, much like the 2012 Pirates did.  The only difference is that the Brewers don't have a wave of talent on the horizon (or a solid, young talent base in the majors) to give them hope for the future.

It couldn't happen to a better franchise.