Sunday, July 20, 2008
Even while on top of the world, it's hard to ignore how far there is to fall.
Gotham's District Attorney, Harvey Dent, had an eerily keen awareness of his own impending fall from grace. Having cleaned up the streets and taken notable steps towards eliminating organized crime, Dent was engulfed in respect and admiration. Despite this wave of glory he was riding, he knew it could not last as he says, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." The rest is history.
Today, Brett Favre has found himself in the same predicament. After only one year with the Atlanta Falcons, Favre was traded (for 2002's 19th draft pick) to his Gotham: Green Bay, Wisconsin. He found himself riding a similar wave of glory: two trips to the superbowl and many records: most career touchdown passes, most career passing yards, most career completions, and most career victories (to name a few).
Four years ago, Favre demonstrated a realization similar to that of Harvey Dent. In a New York Times interview, he explained, "I'm running out of chances. You're never guaranteed next year. You're never guaranteed the next game. You have to seize the opportunity when it's there in front of you."
I suppose it could be unfair to draw too many parallels between Dent and Favre: In all likelihood, Favre will not face a tragic disfigurement. He will probably never pull a gun on Ryan Grant or the other heroes of his city. All in all, the details of the two tragic falls will have very little in common.
But the details are trivial compared to the big picture. Four years have gone by and Favre has stuck with the game. Although he has technically retired, he is trying to reneg this act out of fear that it may have been premature. Has he waited to long? Should he have hung up his pads for good when he saw this coming in 2004?
Should he have left the game as a hero?
Is he going to stay until he becomes the villain?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Anyway, the other day I decided to get adventurous and sign up for the station called Dance. If the station Dance existed anywhere other than a camp then everyone over the age of 16 would be arrested. I stand and watch girls choreograph small dances. Only the girls are 10 years old and the dances they choreograph are to Hannah Montana songs. Lets just say R. Kelly would have to seek medical assistance for an erection lasting longer than 4 hours.
During this station I made the decision to go a little old school. With the first N*SYNC compact disk about 3 feet from my eyes and me being an abnormally large fan of Justin Timberlake, I popped that thing in faster than the euthanization of Eight Belles. The first song is a classic. I sang 'Tearin up my Heart' like it was my job as the small children looked on in confusion. 'Surely they knew N*SYNC', I thought to myself. And then my world crumbled as I was telling the children that the band singing was N*SYNC. One of the younguns asked "Whats N*SYNC?"
This was the first time I have ever actually felt old. The fact that Hannah Montana is infinitely more popular than N*SYNC blows my mind. Thus, bringing me to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. (Sidenote: The fact that a major professional sports team can just take out a word out of their team name and the general public just accepts it is a feat in itself. It's like when Michael Vick went from Michael to Mike to Michael in a span of four years. I heard he's going for DogKiller McVick next.)
The Tampa Bay Rays are basically singing "See You Again" right now. The Hannah Montana wannabes are on top of the baseball world. I keep hearing the saying 'These aren't your father's Devil Rays.' Hell, these aren't anyone over 10 years old's Rays. The past 3-4 years everyone and their brother could see the talent the Rays had compiled. Crawford and Baldelli were the big two a few years ago. Now, Baldelli is permanently injured...seriously, and taking over for him is a cast of Upton, Iwamura, Longoria, Navarro, Kazmir, Sonnanstine, Shields, and a whole bunch more. They also have #1 overall draft pick David Price tearing up the minors right now just waiting to come up. This is not just a feel good story anymore. The Rays, like Hannah Montana, are very young, hot, and talented.
As for N*SYNC, my only comparison for them is the New York Yankees. As much as I hated those old Yankee teams, they were very, very good. They had those classic teams (classic N*SYNC albums), the great players (songs), and even the young, superstar waiting to happen player (Jeter and JT).
Now? Sure everyone knows who JT and Derek Jeter are. But few under the age 15 can name the other members of those squads. Brosius, O'Neill, Williams, Cone, Knoblauch, Martinez were all perfect components to those championship teams. Much like JC, Lance, Joey, and Chris were perfect to those platinum N*SYNC albums. Both sputtered out around 2000, everyone going their separate ways. People who are 15 years old were only seven when those two teams last hit it big.
I have officially come to the realization that times have changed. The Rays and Hannah Montana are now the new hip things. The Yankees and N*SYNC are in the past. And we live in a world where fewer and fewer things of the past are appreciated.
Regardless, there will always be a place in my brain for the words to 'Tearin' up my Heart'.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This past year Lebron became a man. It wasn't just the 30 ppg he averaged, or the 7 assists per game or even the 8 rebounds. It wasn't even the awkward montages we had of him in his house 'playing' with his wife and kids. (Did anyone else think the entire time Lebron was playing basketball in his house with his little kids he was just gonna swat one of the balls back and say "YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M LEBRON EFFIN' JAMES.") Beyond everything else, Lebron played defense. You have to remember this was one facet of his game many believed would never come around. Every scout predicted him to be most offensively gifted player since MJ, but, few believed he would became a lock-down defender as well. And, make no mistake, Lebron James is a lock-down defender in key situations. No coach will ever stick him on the best guy and tell him to shut him down night in and night out. He'd be sidelined by the 30th game with exhaustion. But, in tight spots or the playoffs, this guy becomes an animal.
Witnessing it first hand when the Cavs played my Celtics, I honestly couldn't believe what I was watching. Lebron shut down Finals MVP Paul Pierce for the entire series until Pierce had one of those 'No one is stopping me tonight' games during game 7. He was all over the place on defense. Making key steals, big blocks, and flat out taking over the game on the defensive side. I attended game 7 of that series and when the Cavs came all the way back and pulled within one, I thought to myself, if somehow we lost this it would be more of a defining moment in Lebron's career than Game 5 of the Pistons series last year when he scored 37 straight points. It was special to watch. And when we pulled out a victory everyone in the arena knew one thing. Lebron had arrived.
So, back to the future. Two years from now Lebron will be a free agent. Able to leave the Cavs, the team that drafted him. He'd also be leaving his home town. The talk right now is revolving around who is actually going to be able to afford this guy. Well, as of Wednesday night, we at least have one team that is going to try. The New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets. The Nets dished Richard Jefferson (13 Mil) for Yi 'I'll be out of the NBA in 4 years' Jianlian and Bobby 'Does anyone know who I am' Jackson. If you don't see that this is a total cap saving move then you have a worse lazy-eye then Stu Scott.
Anyway, in 2010 the New Jersey Nets will officially become the Brooklyn Nets. Part owner of the Brooklyn Nets will be Jay-Z. Coincidently, Jay and LBJ are butt buddies. Surprise, Surprise. It adds up like Josh Howard's THC level on a Saturday night.
It's hard to fathom that a team could actually be trying to prepare to sign one, single player two years before that player goes on the market, but, that is the type of player Lebron James is. If Lebron doesn't have the type of year he just had do the Nets make this move? Maybe. But what we do know is what the entire NBA knows. Lebron is here, he is legit. So let the sweepstakes begin.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Yet, in 2018 when Rajon is a 11 year veteran, will he remember that magical 17th championship. The one that brought the Garden back to life. The one that had an improbable cast revolving around three all stars who many felt would never be able to co-exist. The one that brought the glory back to Boston.
KG was the big-ticket. Basketball became relevent in Boston because of this man. He was a walking double-double. A true animal. But he dissapeared in big games. He would give up the big shot and lose respect from his teammates.
Pierce was the scorer. Could do it from every angle of the floor. He could drive, shoot, and flat out score. But Pierce was way too selfish to play with two other all stars.
Ray was the shooter. Pure and fundamental. Literally couldn't give this guy and inch without him knocking one down. Yet, there were questions about his character as well.
A supporting cast of youngsters and veterans. A team that had to learn how to play together on the fly. Experts wrote them off. Fans wrote them off. Too many all-stars to win an NBA Championship. And then...
Could one word ever personify a professional sports team more than Ubuntu? An African word for unity and togetherness. The Celtics embraced it.
Watching the very first pre-season game against Toronto when the Celtics were in Rome was a sight to see. The bench was standing from the beginning. Pulling for each other on every play. Helping each other up every time someone hit the floor. It was a new attitude in Boston. An Ubuntu attitude.
Every night a different player would step up. Make one key play here, one there. There was never a boring night in Boston when the Celtics played. They rolled through the regular season, struggled a bit in the playoffs but ultimately hit their stride and would reach the finals.
Game 6 in Boston is something no Celtic fan will forget. The Garden was rocking almost as if they wanted to show the NBA that the Laker's fans were frauds. During the second quarter the Boston Celtics blew the game open. Then, something many did not see coming, the Lakers gave up. There was no other word for it. They stopped playing basketball. They knew it was over. A me-first Kobe Bryant was no match for an entire band of brothers that was the Boston Celtics. It was not just the big three, it was ubuntu.
So 10 years from now, when Rajon Rondo is leading the Celtics to the playoffs, we can only hope that Rondo will still carry that word on to his teams. If not, then Celtics fans got treated to one special year of togetherness and unity. But, what a year it was.
One, two, three - UBUNTU
Thursday, June 12, 2008
True: We are entering game 4 of the NBA finals. A series where Phil Jackson has lost respect from every Celtic fan after whining about the Refs after game 2. Subsequently, and very predictably, every time Kobe drove the lane the refs acted as if he was being punched in the balls by numerous people. Kobe finished with 18 free throws.
False: There is nothing wrong with the refs whistles. Am I the only one who noticed when Kobe got every call not just one ref blew the whistle but there was actual multiple whistles being blown. Beyond that, they blew them like it was a technical foul and had five or six going at once. The Lakers fans were probably close to deaf by the end of the game. In fact, Im sure they would say they were to make up for that pathetic performance...
True: The Lakers fans submitted the worst effort in finals history. Seriously, I felt like there were 19,000 Terry Schiavo's watching this game until about six minutes left in the 4th. How can you call yourself actual fans? I know some of the people who are there are millionaires who really don't care at all. But there are 19,000 seats in that building! There has to be some actual fans there from the regular season.
False: Sam Cassell runs a camp in the offseason called 'Sam Cassell and the art of taking smart shots in the NBA playoffs.'
True: Although this was stated by Mark Jackson during game 3, I also saw this and started laughing. The Boston Herald did a piece on each matchup in the playoffs and who it favored. The covered the point guard, shooting guard etc. Finally when it came to the coach they said that the Doc Rivers vs. Phil Jackson matchup was EVEN. This would be like if someone said Mike Staropoli was the equivalent to Tom Brady in getting girls. It just really isn't even close.
False: Phil Jackson has coached well in this series. Yes, after all that I am going to say that Jackson has done a poor job in this series. Kobe is the most dominant player on the court at all times, yet, there are plenty of possessions where he doesn't even touch the ball. Jackson needs to abandon his triangle offense and get Kobe more looks. When Rondo is covering Kobe, get Kobe in the post. When Allen is covering Kobe, send him off screens. Allen was horrendous trying to cover Rip Hamilton off of all the screens they had him go off last series. When Pierce/Posey is on Kobe, let him go 1 on 1. The Lakers don't have enough scoring after Kobe and Pau to win three more games in this series unless Kobe averages 40 a game. The third head of their big three is totally useless..
True: Sorry Phil but Lamar Odom seems a little more than confused. Odom looks like Andy Dufresne the day after he got raped in the ass. Stone cold and eyes wide open. Only Odom looks like that every second hes on the court. Seriously, where has this guy been? In game 3 I can remember three different times where he just put his head down and drove to the basket at full speed with no regard for anyone else. Twice he slammed the ball off the backboard for a horrific looking miss, and the third he picked up a charge. He's been nothing short of non-existent in this series.
False: Tim Donaghy will not be killed in 10-25 years by the mob.
True: Tim Donaghy's allegations about the fixing of playoff games is more startling than the first time I saw a woman's breast on a computer screen. Just read this statement submitted by Donaghy's attorney:
"Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series. However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew referees A and F to be 'company men,' always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA's interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6. Personal fouls [resulting in obviously injured players] were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the referees. Conversely, the referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players. The referees' favoring of Team 6 led to that team's victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series."
That game was the Lakers-Kings game from 2002 in which the Laker's got every call and forced a game 7. A game in which they eventually won. Listen, the only reason why I believe this is because Donaghy is accusing these refs of doing something totally different than what he did. He's not saying they fixed game for money, he's saying they fixed games for the NBA. If someone can tell me which is worse I'd love to hear your reason. The league's integrity is now being questioned more than ever. If this is true that means David Stern is behind all of this. Its always been about the money since Stern took control of the NBA, and now he has gone a step too far. Stern should either be fired or resign. People are angry at Donaghy for releasing this during the NBA finals. We should all remember hes not only a convict but a doushebag. Yet, his allegations are insanely eye-opening.
The NBA, where timing happens.
Bet of the day: Germany (-170) moneyline vs Croatia. Croatia's dreadful performance against Austria warrants this one. Germany is too powerful.
Fantasy Player of the day: Magglio Ordonez. Facing Mark Buehrle, Ordonez is 15/25 off Buehrle in his career, a .600 BA. He also has 2 hr's and 5 rbis against him.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Let me start this off by saying I am a Yankee fan. I’ve been a Yankee fan all my life, and it’s gonna stay that way. I feel like I need to say that since I know it will mostly be New Englanders reading this blog. The Yankees have certainly made some moves over the past few years that have annoyed me. That being said, I have never been this angry at the Yanks.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? Well, apparently the New York Yankees like to play by a different set of rules. If a player is excelling at a very important position, switch it! Joba Chamberlain has been in the Majors since last August, and has taken the league by storm. As a setup man down the stretch for the Yankees last season, he was as close to unhittable as a pitcher can get. It is safe to say without him pitching like he did, the Yanks would have missed the playoffs for the first time since 1995. Late into the season, the bullpen was struggling to keep late leads, and even keep the Yankees in games. If the pen could just keep them in games, sometimes the explosive offense of the Bronx Bombers would be enough to get them over the edge. The pitchers they had weren’t doing the trick though. Luckily for Yankees fans, Joba was a savior of sorts. He stepped into the role and jolted the Yanks into the postseason.
Proving just how important the setup role is, the Yankees have lost games over Joba’s “transition period” because the bullpen would crumble under pressure in tight situations late in the game. Chamberlain would have been pitching in these situations instead of one of the other knuckleheads who are supposed to be coming into the game before Rivera. Let’s take a look at the great Yankee teams of the late 90’s. Those teams had solid hitting, and more importantly, would make outs that were productive in some way (for example, grounding out to the right side with a runner on 2nd and 0 out). The starting pitching was good. It was not lights out by any means, but it was good enough. What made these teams so great though was the trustworthy bullpen. All Yankee fans knew that if they got to the 6th or 7th inning with a lead, the game was pretty safe. If the game was tied or even if they were losing that late, they still had a chance because the bullpen was that solid. With guys like Jeff Nelson, Graeme Lloyd and Mike Stanton (Note there are 2 (!!) lefty relievers there. Currently how many are there? Zero would be the correct answer) to lead up to the greatest closer in the history of baseball, you better believe that a team with that kind of bullpen would find success. Hell, even in 2000, the Yanks had the 6th best batting average in the AL out of 14 teams, and still found their way to a World Series victory. Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, Jonathan Albaladejaleodelo, and Edwar Ramirez (who by the way will not keep this up – trust me) just cannot get the job done. Not even Denzel Washington can say he trusts Kyle Farnsworth with a straight face. The point is that Joba is much more valuable as a setup man to Rivera. Plus, when Hughes gets fully healed, the rotation will look pretty solid: Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, and Rasner. Is it completely necessary to force Joba into a rotation like that? Of course not. What’s probably gonna happen is Rasner, even though he’s doing the best out of the bunch, will get sent down to AAA.
Not only is Joba a phenomenal pitcher who is more valuable as a setup man, but he is better in that role just because of the pitcher he is. He is proven to be great in that role. As I have witnessed in person, he is a 15-20 pitch injection of unhittableness. After that, he can get shaky. Since it is known he is very good like that, shouldn’t it just be kept that way. That would maximize the value a team can get out of him too.
At the end of the day, Joba Chamberlain is still a great pitcher. I’m sure in the long run Joba will become a good starter. Will he become a Santana or a Beckett? No, he probably won’t become one of the best starting pitchers around – the odds are just too high against him. However, he was already proven to be the best setup man in baseball, and that role is simply very important. Someone once said pitching is 2/3 of the game. I forget who, but whoever said it is right. Good pitching, especially in tough situations, can make or break a season for a team.
Now, since this blog is mostly about fantasy advice, what can you get out of this for your fantasy teams? Great middle relievers/setup men can be dangerous weapons. Personally, in the league I’m in, you just need a minimum of 18 innings per week. Once you get to those 18 innings, you can do whatever you want. Of course, if there’s no minimum, you can do whatever the hell you want. Having a middle reliever who helps out with a few innings per week can be a boost, especially to the ERA, WHIP, K/9, and K/BB categories. It might be worth it to drop a starting pitcher who you don’t really trust, or is struggling and doesn’t exactly have a great track record, and pick up a shutdown reliever. Here are some guys you might wanna pick up if they’re available in your league:
Carlos Marmol: The Cubs reliever has a 2.43 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 4.23 K/BB, and 13.38 K/9 in 37 innings so far this year. It also doesn’t hurt that he plays on a good team, which might lead to some wins along the line (Remember Pat Neshek in ’07? Grabbing all those lucky wins before the all star break? Yeah, think that, but with better overall stats.)
Taylor Buchholz: Reliever for the Rockies is having a great season, posting a 1.78 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 2.88 K/BB, and a 6.82 K/9 in 30.1 innings. Also (in the Yahoo! game, at least) has eligibility as a starting pitcher. So depending on your league settings, if you only have SP and RP, and you have a SP slot open, might as well put this hurler in there.
John Grabow: 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 3.57 K/BB, 7.94 K/9, and 4 wins so far in 28.1 innings for the Pirates. He is another one of those guys posting great numbers, and can help any team. Sucks he plays in Pittsburgh though. Good luck getting out of there, John.
Brandon Morrow: Mariners reliver, and happens to be my personal favorite of the bunch. The 5th overall pick in the 2006 Draft has only thrown 15 innings this year, but has posted a 1.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.14 K/BB, and 13.20 K/9. This guy looks the best to me because he kinda reminds me of Joba. Like Joba-lite. Mini Joba. Joba 2. I don’t know. He’s young, can throw gas, and I won’t quite say he has electric stuff, but it’s damn good.
note: all stats are as of Monday, June 2, when this post was originally written.
I won’t put Santiago Casilla, Oakland reliever, on this list not because he went on the DL, but because he went on the DL thanks to an elbow injury. Elbow injuries usually affect pitchers for the rest of their careers, and Casilla isn’t exactly proven, so I wouldn’t trust him as much as the guys mentioned above.
June 27, 2007: There had been rumors all day about a possible trade bringing Ray Allen to Boston. No one really knew how to react. We didn't have one of the first two picks but, hell, we still had the #5 pick of the draft. Now we are about to trade that pick away along with a versatile player in Delonte West for a 31 year old shooter with paper ankles. The trade goes through and it is possibly the weirdest reaction you could imagine out of the city because there really was none. Everyone was so neutral on the trade, yet, somewhere, Kevin Garnett's ears perked a little bit.
July 31, 2007: Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair. Almost half of an entire team gone along with two first round picks in 2009. All this for one player; Kevin Garnett. Believe it or not, because I really think most people won't even tell you if they did, but a lot of people did not like this deal. We gave up a franchise power forward, a formidable young small forward, two high-potential projects, and two first round picks for one man. Slowly, people started changing their judgment. KG said everything right and did everything right. People started believing in the Boston Celtics once again. They started believing in banner number 17. One month later, James Posey was signed saying he wanted to win another ring. Then, Eddie House was signed saying the same thing. Now it just wasn't Boston thinking of another ring, the NBA was too.
October 4, 2007: The Boston Celtics departed for Rome with only six players from the previous year. Paul Pierce led the way, Rajon Rondo would man the point guard position, and Kendrick Perkins would try and hold down the starting center job. Leon Powe, Tony Allen, and Brian Scalabrine were the only other returners and they would be coming off the bench. The rest, totally new to this historic franchise. Months after the trip, the Celtics looked back and remembered Rome as when they became a true team. The cell phones didn't work, the laptops weren't allowed, it was just the Boston Celtics. 'Ubuntu' would quickly become their motto. An African word meaning unity and an allegiance to others. Other teams would have laughed the motto off, the Celtics embraced it.
November 2, 2007: There's a buzz around Boston. The Celtics begin their regular season at home against the Washington Wizards. Two days before, Wizards star Gilbert Arenas said that the Celtics hadn't played together enough to be considered legit. He thought the rest of the NBA should be offended of how much attention they have gotten. The Celtic's refused to respond with anything other than their play on the court. The Celtics intro gives me goosebumps. Fireworks explode. The crowd is insane. The opening tip off is barely visible through the fog. No one even cares. Final Score: 103-83 Boston. Gilbert Arenas got taunted the entire night. He finished with 21 pts on just 5-20 shooting. Celtics Basketball is back.
December 19, 2007: The Celtics have begun the season better than anyone could have imagined. They are 20-2 coming into a battle with the Detroit Pistons, a team that has been the beasts of the Eastern Conference for the entire decade. With a playoff atmosphere, the Celtics lose a thriller 87-85. The fans exiting the Garden know these two teams will be at war this entire year.
March 17-18, 2008: On back to back nights the Celtics made the number 22 dissapear. The first night ended with a 93-91 win over the San Antonio Spurs, erasing a 22 point deficit with an emphatic win. The next night the Celtics stopped the Houston Rocket's 22 game win streak in its tracks with a lopsided 94-74 win. The Celtics finished 4-1 on their west coast swing.
April 30, 2008: Finishing the season 66-16, the Boston Celtics landed the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first in in 20 years. On this date, very few expected what they actually saw. A game 7 between the 8th seeded Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics already raised questions about their play on the road as they looked dreadful. Their play at home on the other hand, spectacular. The Celtics walk out of the Garden with a 99-65 drubbing of the Hawks and earn a date with the Cavs in the next round.
May 18, 2008: Here we go again. Game 7. This time against a much more talented team. The Lebron James led Cavaliers push the Celtics to the brink. The Celtics proceed to the next round with a 97-92 hard fought win.
May 20-30, 2008: As Mike Breen put it before game 1, "These were the two teams we expected to be here." A series that featured the two teams refusing to lose more than 1 game in a row, it was looking like it was headed for another game 7. Yet, somehow, someway, the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons in game 6, 89-81. The stage was officially set.
As we look forward to the opening of the NBA finals tonight at the Garden, we should also reflect on the past. If you told me one year ago today that the Boston Celtics would be set to meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals in 2008 I probably would have tried to put you in an insane asylum. The past year has brought us so many joys and memories. This season was worth the agony we Celts fans have gone through the past 15 years or so. Whether it be the completely ridiculous "SCALABRINE" chants at the end of blowouts. Glen Davis erupting for 22 huge points in a win at Detroit. P.J. Brown and Eddie House jumping in a time machine and turning themselves back 10 years before game 7 of the Cavs series. Tony Allen dunking the ball and then celebrating like he was 10 years old and got crossfire for Christmas. Leon Powe never cracking any sign of an emotion even after he just out muscled guys five inches taller than him for a rebound and then putting in an and one. James Posey hugging all five starters before EVERY game this season and alledgedly saying something different to them each time. Kendrick Perkins and his improbable yeo-man first half double-double in game 5 of the Pistons Series. Rajon Rondo snapping both of Steve Nash's ankles before going in for two. And finally the big 3 and all the amazing memories they have given us all year.
It has been a special one. A year that I will never forget as a Celtics fan. Now, as you watch the 2008 NBA finals tip off tonight with "BEAT LA" chants being screamed in the background, remember the year that got us here. Remember the moments that will live on in Celtics history. Let's just hope theres some more great ones to come.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
While perusing the Yahoo homepage the other day I stumbled across an article entitled, “Ricky Martin Helped Hillary Clinton To Puerto Rican Win.” Now normally I hardly care about the recent Democratic primaries because of the inevitability of an Obama victory (and at press time Obama was projected to have won the nomination), but I couldn’t resist reading any national news story that still mentioned the Latin crooner who had previously delighted the US with such hits as “Livin’ la Vida Loca” and “She Bangs”. Apparently he still holds some political sway in the great 51st state of Puerto Rico, and his rousing endorsement of Hilary Clinton was enough to pull her to victory, which finally made me realize we as a country have finally become a truly “bizarro” world. I half expected to see an article where the great Baltimore R&B superstar and “Thong Song” creator Sisqo’s endorsement of John McCain led to his Maryland victory, but sadly there was none. So in honor of Ricky Martin’s triumph in Puerto Rico I offer you some bizarre fantasy game possibilities for you and your friends to enjoy. So if you ever get sick of finishing in last place in Fantasy Football every year, do some research and challenge your friends in one of these games.
Fantasy Box Office Returns
For those movie buffs out there, how would you like to actually have a place where you can prove you know which movies will flop and which will flourish. We all know you may have bragged to your friends that Sex and the City would beat Indiana Jones at the box office, but now you can actually put your money where your mouth is. At fantasymoguls.com you can create a league where you and your friends can draft hit movies and see whose perform best. Each season lasts three months and new seasons start every month so you can still battle over whether Hancock or The Dark Knight will do better this summer. Fantasy Moguls has two types of leagues one based solely on box office returns and the other adding per theatre average (PTA), imdb user score, and number of weeks in the Box Office top 5 to the scoring categories. In both leagues you get 100 dollars to purchase movies that come out in your season, meaning that your eight movie “studio” must balance both big budget blockbusters (sorry for the alliteration) and small budget art films. It even has early tracking and a Matthew Berry like douche bag, Steve Mason, who thinks he knows everything about movies.
Fantasy Pop Culture
This one may be better suited for the many female readers of this blog, or the very effeminate men that want to finally show how much they know about celebrities. Well for those who want to join a fantasy celebrity league go to Fafarazzi.com and start bickering about who gets to take that hottie Zac Efron with the first pick. The way it works is you draft celebrities for your team and the people who get the most celebrity blog mentions get you the most points. So you can go for high profile socialites like Parish Hilton, rehab attendees like Eva Mendes, fire crotches like Lindsay Lohan, or go for the low-profile celeb and pray she gets busted buying crack cocaine like Tatum O’Neal. Never has rooting for some celebrity’s life to go over the edge been more fun. Imagine the ecstasy Brittney Spears owners felt when she shaved her head and beat up an SUV. Also you can join one of Fafarazzi’s reality television leagues. If you watch the Hills, Top Chef, or the Mole religiously, why not pick three players and see how many points your team can get when your selections win challenges, cause drama, or avoid elimination. Now instead of yelling about how much you hate that bull-dike Lisa from Top Chef, just don’t pick her for your team, and feel better when your selection stabs her in the heart with their culinary prowess.
Fantasy Sports you have never watched or heard of
Sure you may know a lot about football, baseball, basketball, and even hockey, but can you win a Fantasy Cricket league. You may not even be able to name a Cricket player, but why not grow some balls and try it. I’m sure half the people who play don’t know any cricket players either. Don’t like the fact that Cricket is played by terrorist rogue nations, then why not try Fantasy Curling or Aussie Rules Football. After all Canada and Australia are basically America anyway. Well except for French Canada, those snobby pricks. Or if you want a sport you can actually watch on TV, why not try Fantasy AFL or Olympics. Trust me nothing will make Olympic Shot Put more exciting than having your fantasy league depend on it. So instead of looking pitifully at your eighth-place fantasy baseball team all day, try a new sport and maybe you’ll win something for once. If they don’t have a league for the sport you want, just make one yourself. Come up with a reasonable scoring system, and keep it all in an Excel Spreadsheet. It’s not as difficult as you may think and it is a great way to finally do fantasy college sports, since no internet sites are allowed to have them.
So next time you get bored with playing the same old fantasy sports or don’t play fantasy because you hate sports, try something new. There are many more crazy fantasy games I did not mention that might be perfect for you. Fantasy Games can bring a new level of competitiveness and excitement to even the most mundane thing. And if we learned anything from Ricky Martin’s music career besides the fact that although he never said it, he was gay, it’s that living the crazy life can be fun, and can lead you to make music videos with very attractive women.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Let’s talk fantasy football. As an avid fantasy football player and NFL draft fanatic I’m always interested in how the draft along with other offseason moves affect the value of current fantasy players. I also love projecting the top fantasy rookies. Let’s get right into it.
Larry Johnson-Despite the rumors that coach Herm Edwards is going to reduce his workload, LJ is one of the players that will benefit most from his team’s offseason moves. The general consensus is that the Chiefs had the best draft in the league. The additions of DT Glenn Dorsey and OT Branden Albert will both help Johnson. Obviously, the Chiefs’ weakest link was their offensive line last year, and Albert was one of the most highly touted O-Line prospects behind the Dolphins’ Jake Long. He will make an immediate impact. The addition of Dorsey and CB Brandon Flowers makes the defense much better and will hopefully mean that the Chiefs won’t be so far behind in games that they are forced to throw the ball. In addition, Brodie Croyle has all the tools that it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback, he just needs seasoning. The development of Croyle and WR Dwayne Bowe could mean a big season upcoming for LJ as teams won’t be able to stack eight men in the box on every play.
Donovan McNabb-The Eagles got one of the steals in the draft with WR DeSean Jackson out of Cal in the second round. Projected as a first-round pick, Jackson has explosive playmaking ability which he showed when he clocked a 4.34 40 at the combine. He is also a nice complement to Kevin Curtis. McNabb is coming into his second year off of ACL surgery, and it is a known fact that this is when players begin to return to their previous form. This along with the ever-constant presence of Brian Westbrook and a solid O-Line has McNabb’s value up this year in my book.
Thomas Jones-The Jets had arguably the best offseason of anybody in the league this year. In addition to several key additions on defense, they improved an already stacked young offensive-line with All-Pro guard Alan Faneca out of Pittsburgh. They also added a solid veteran in Damien Woody to go with developing former first-rounders D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Jones should see plenty of holes with these monsters in front of him. He also has two very capable receivers lining up next to him in Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, so all of the focus won’t be on him. The only real question is at quarterback, where Mangenious will have to pick between the lesser of two evils in the human injury Chad Pennington and the unproven Kellen Clemens. Overall though, I like the outlook for Jones this year.
Vince Young-Does Tennessee just not want to help this man? Last year they reach on RB Chris Henry out of Arizona when they already had capable ball carriers in Chris Brown and Lendale White and they desperately needed a receiver for Vince to throw to. This year they reach on another running back in Chris Johnson when they needed a receiver even more. What gives? Do they really think that Alge Crumpler is the answer to all of their passing woes? I do not like the outlook for Vince despite the fact that he is going to get you somewhere around 5 rushing TD’s a year.
Willie Parker-The Steelers took highly touted RB Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois in the first round, which raised a lot of eye brows. Parker is a young talented back who despite only scoring two touchdowns last season still managed to rack up 1,316 yards on the ground and 164 through the air. What concerns me most is that Mendenhall and Parker are the same exact player essentially. They are both speed rushers who can break downfield tackles. Why would Pittsburgh take Mendenhall if they had confidence in Parker? For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, they don’t. In addition, the loss of guard Alan Faneca to the Jets is really going to hurt any running back that the Steelers put out there.
And finally, here are my top five rookie fantasy options for this year (Keep in mind this is just for this year, not for keeper leagues):
1-Darren McFadden, Oakland-Run DMC has shown signs that he is capable of being this year’s Adrian Peterson, and the scary part is he’s bigger and faster. The only concern is that teams will be able to stack the box, but he is too talented not to have my top slot.
2-Jonathan Stewart, Carolina-The Panthers improved their offense greatly in the first round, adding Stewart and OT Jeff Otah. If not for a toe injury towards the end of the season, many analysts believed that Stewart was a top ten and maybe even top five pick. The return of a healthy Jake Delhomme and the presence of Steve Smith on the outside mean good things for the rookie in Carolina.
3-DeSean Jackson-As I mentioned earlier, I really like Jackson and the offense that he is coming into. I think it suits him well because he can be the burner downfield and Kevin Curtis can take on a Wes Welker type role of short to intermediate passes that rack up the first downs. Jackson has some very good upside in my opinion. If Donovan McNabb is his old-self, Jackson gets my vote as the top fantasy rookie wideout this year.
4-Devin Thomas, Washington-Thomas quietly put up excellent numbers last season for Michigan State. He led the Big Ten in receiving with 79 catches for 1,260 yards and 8 touchdowns in thirteen games. He is 6’ 2” and can burn with a 4.4 40 time. He is stepping into an offense that needs exactly what he gives them: a downfield threat. The Redskins have one of the better running games in the league with Clinton Portis and a solid O-Line. They also have the very underrated Chris Cooley to go with Santana Moss. They also added another highly regarded rookie receiver in Malcom Kelley, who should take some pressure off of Thomas. If Jason Campbell is able to return the way he was playing before his injury, big things are ahead for Thomas.
5-Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh-The only reason I don’t have him ranked higher is the presence of Willie Parker. The word on the street is that the Steelers are planning on having the two share carries, so don’t expect gaudy numbers from either of them. But, the Steelers took Mendenhall for a reason, and I expect them to utilize him especially because he is fresher and he is a better pass-catcher out of the backfield than Parker is.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Somebody get that man a chicken wing! After trying out a new Vegan Diet, the Prince has started suddenly swinging the bat more like a Princess (Corny I know). His K/BB numbers are comparable to last years epic season coupled with a respectable .201 LD% and its tough to explain his early season struggles. His FB% of .399 is a little lower than anticipated, but is nothing to worry about and it doesn't seem as though Prince has been pressing at the plate throughout this slump. He is batting .338 in his past 17 games which bodes well for getting that average up to last years .288 but as his meager 18 XBH show, the power has yet to come out. However, Fielder frequently displayed a tendency to be a streaky hitter. In 2007, the Prince had two months of batting .321 or higher, yet also had four that were .277 or lower. Additionally, 24 of his 50 HR last season were hit in May and September alone. Trust me, you do not want to be the owner who traded Fielder before he breaks out because it is only a matter of time. With a solid #5 hitter in Corey Hart protecting him, and Ryan Braun's latest hot streak, Fielder should also supply very enticing RBI and Run totals throughout the season. Buy while you can because the window is quickly closing.
Projection- .280 43 HR 115 RBI 100 Runs
After posting an ERA on the wrong side of 6 in April, Verlander has actually had a decent May by posting a sub 4 ERA. His peripheral stats such as his K/9 are still not at the level they should be for this 100 MPH throwing youngster, but more recently Verlander has started to regain his 2007 form. Four of his last five starts have been quality and the other would have been had the bullpen not allowed its inherited runner. The soon to be additions of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney also bode well for his future win and ERA totals seeing as how dreadful this Detroit bullpen has been. While I actually believed that Verlander was over-hyped before the season, he has actually become underrated because of his total statistics. Pitching statistics are much more difficult than hitting to alter throughout the season because one bad start can seriously damage the totals. Verlander's recent success has done little to disguise his ugly start because it will take time for those totals to drop. To put this into perspective, Verlander could throw consecutive perfect games and still have a mediocre ERA of 4.16 and a WHIP over 1.00, although at that time it would be tough to buy low. In other words, don't let Verlander's statistics deceive you because they are representative of a few very poor starts. Find the disgruntled Verlander owner in your league and pry him from him immediately, because like Fielder, the window is quickly closing.
Projection- 15 W 3.90 ERA 150 K's
Nick the Stick hasn't looked anything like the potential superstar he was labeled to be before the season started. Don't hop off the bandwagon so fast people, this Greek is fo' real. To start, his 7 SB so far indicate that maybe his surprising total of 18 last year were not as fluky as once thought. Furthermore, his 9 HR show that he is developing the pop that many believed he soon would. His .258 average is embarking on Julio Lugo territory, but rest assured, Markakis is too talented to continue this. His K rate for the season has dramatically increased to almost a strikeout per game, which seems to be the culprit for his slumping. Keep in mind however that Markakis has 11 TOTAL first half home runs in his first 2 full seasons and it seems that he will surpass that total this year alone. He managed a .279 BA in the 2007 first half and still pulled off a .300 average for the season due to a .325 second half. In 2006, Markakis held true to his slow start form as well, hitting just .268 at the dish in the first half compared to a .311 second half. The Golden Greek has hit as high as .339 in the minor leagues and is capable of churning out a 30/20 season this year. I believe that he is the best buy low of this group because he has not yet had an exceptionally strong season before that would leave his owners with a lot of confidence. Buy now because he is certainly going to be on sale.
Projection- .300 BA 30 HR 105 RBI 90 Runs 19 SB
Quick question. Who is the only active Major League player to hit .300 or higher in 11 straight seasons. The answer-Vlad. Another quick question. Why would any Vlad owner actually believe that a guy who has produced so well for so long and is still in his prime at 31 actually would regress this considerably? The answer- I'm still searching. Vlad will hit .300 this year, I'm sure of it. While his body has worn down a good amount for a player of his age, it does not change the fact that he is still one of the most feared hitters in the game. He is sporting a healthy .201 LD% on top of a strong .466 GB% which indicates that he should be batting well above .300. And while we know Vlad's speed isn't what is used to be, his .279 BABIP is astonishingly low for a hitter who consistently sees that figure well above .310. And while I am strongly advising a buy low here, keep in mind that Vlad's power may not be what it used to be. Gone are the days of 45 HR's for Guerrero, so temper your expectations in that department. With that being said, a baseline of 25 HR's seems reasonable, maxing at around 35. His FB% of .331 is very low for a typical power hitter, but fantasy owners will not be disapointed in his overall numbers come the end of the season. Owners of Vlad may be hesistant to deal him so quickly because he has made a name for himself over the years. However, should they lose sight on this fact, capitalize quickly.
Projection- .307 BA 28 HR 100 RBI 90 Runs 2 SB
Do not hesitate to by on these or any other potential buy low candidates in your league. As aforementioned, leagues are won and lost from buying low and it truly is a science. It's important to distinguish a slump from simply a weak player and this can be helped by looking at prior year statistics as well as some deeper and more specific stats such as BABIP and LD% which can help to see if the slump is legit, or just a case of bad luck. Act swift and fast, but more importantly rationally and keep in mind that a buy low stays low for only so long.
Little does literally anyone know, the MLB draft is fast approaching. That's right, this Thursday the 5th of June. Does anyone care besides the 12,000 people that will be drafted? No. Why? How many times a year do you see a college baseball game on television? Exactly.
The thing is, there really isn't a legitimate reason why college baseball doesn't get put on TV. With the success of college basketball and football, you would think that the NCAA, being the scumbags that they are, would try and advertise this sport a little more. The college world series features 8 teams playing in a mini tournament to vie for the national title. It is a very well attended and well watched sporting event. Wouldn't it be great if you actually knew the names of some of these players before they got on ESPN in late June? Think of the benefit the MLB would get out of this. How insanely hyped would the first pick in the draft be if people actually knew who he was! Baseball is America's pastime people! Some will argue that the college baseball season is too short/south dominated to be put on TV. 1- Oregon State has won back to back national championships. That's equivalent to the United States winning the Cricket world championships. 2- College Football is so ridiculously south dominated that you really can not make that argument.
I am a huge fan of collegiate athletics. Getting baseball a little more pub would be a great thing not only for the NCAA but for the MLB. I just think it is time for the NCAA to take the next step with this sport. I like the college world series but I would LOVE it if I had some background on the teams and players other than getting it from the announcers three minutes before the game.
Bet of the day: Detroit Red Wings (Even) moneyline. The Red Wings are just too good. They almost stole game 3, a game that everyone and their brother knew the Pens would take. The Wings are going to take control of this series for good.
Fantasy Player of the day: Ben Sheets vs Houston Astros. Sheets owns the 'stros. In 158 innings, Sheets has racked up 10 wins and 141 Ks to go along with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He's also coming off two great starts. Look for Sheets to continue his dominance tonight.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Who else would we start with? Let's first start with the good. Uggla is 3rd in the Majors with 16 Home Runs and leads all ML Secondbaseman, including Chase Utley, in XBH. Not too shabby for a guy coming off a season where he slugged just .479. Also, the Marlins lineup, like most of their team, has produced much better than expected, which bodes well for Uggla's Runs and RBI totals. Now for the bad. Uggla struck out 167 times last year and actually has a slightly higher K-rate this year. Obviously, the Power numbers are astounding, but take his current .307 BA and drop it about 40-50 points and that seems about right. His .368 BABIP and .496 FB% indicate that his average is ready for the downswing, but getting Adam Dunn like stats from your Second Baseman is nothing to sneeze at. Start Uggla with confidence the rest of the year knowing that his 40 HR potential will easily give you a 20-30 HR advantage over the other Secondbaseman in the league. With that being said, if you can sell him as a .300 hitter on top of that power then please do not hesitate.
Verdict- Sell High...If held, stay confident
I'm sure by now everyone and their mother's has heard of Hamilton's Triple Crown Run. His freakish 58 RBI have some hoping he can make a push at Hack Wilson's record of 191 RBI (Please). Table setters Ian Kinsler and Michael Young both have become proven and reliable players to get on base and its no accident that Hamilton leads the Majors in RBI. However, credit Hamilton with his 31 XBH and .324 BA with his new team. He has always been a natural and has had all the tools to be successful at this level (Then again so has J.D. Drew...God Damnit). He has an impressive .225 Line Drive % and his balance of a .424 GB% and .351 FB% indicate that he can sustain both his power and average. However, it's tough to judge Hamilton because he literally has no track record before last year. Many wonder whether his body can handle the full 162 game season seeing as he has never played more than 96 games in a season at any level of the Majors. And while he is just 27, who knows what kind of effect his past abuses have had on his body (Miguel Tejada is actually 63 in Drug Years, just check his Birth Certifi...nevermind). To put it bluntly, Hamilton is a freak and while his RBI projections are insustainable, a 35-40 HR 120 RBI and 315 BA are totals that are very attainable.
Verdict- Hold...And see if he's got anything left over from the past few years...just kidding...but really we don't want that going to waste.
First off, can you beleive how unreal the Volquez-Hamilton trade has been for both sides. Seriously when is the last time a trade like this worked out so well for both teams. I guess they have both been overdue for an intellegent executive move for some time so it only makes sense. Volquez is tied for the NL lead in Strikeouts and has ONE, yes ONE, start in which he has let up over 1 run. And in that start he got lit up to the tune of TWO runs. Volquez's track record in the Majors is weak to say the least but his 9.21 Minor League K/9 and downright nasty stuff leave many hitters wondering if they are witnessing the next Pedro Martinez. It's tough to argue with his stats right now, but I beleive that Volquez is the most prime sell high target on this list. To start, his 4.79 BB/9 is downright frightening. He's keeping the ball in the park with only 3 HR allowed this year, but keep in mind this is the first time NL hitters are seeing him. Once teams have gotten a good scouting report on him, I think we will see the ERA balloon to over 3. His K rate should take a small hit, but that is the one thing that Volquez has consistently shown he can do. Also, I find it hard to believe that with Dusty Baker's track record of young pitchers, that the Reds front office won't do everything in their power to baby Volquez. This team is not going anywhere this year but their future is bright and I doubt they will do anything to risk sacrificing that. I'm still not sold that Volquez will outproduce Johnny Cueto for the rest of the season and while he is real to an extent, I think the value you can get for him right now is too good to pass up.
Verdict- Sell High, Real High...Like Josh Howard High
I've seen McLouth everywhere on people's rankings, but props to Eric Karabell of ESPN who predicted McLouth to go 20/20 before the season started. With all due respect to Mr. Karabell, I don't think he could have even dreamed of this start. McLouth has an impressive 29:26 K:BB, 32 XBH and one shitty team to play for. His career high for HR's is 13 and .258 for BA and what's even more interesting is that not only do I think his start is for real, I think he can actually produce more, just bear with me. In one 3 year span, McLouth swiped 105 bags in just 260 games. To put that in perspective, thats 65 SB per 162 Games. While that period was roughly 4-6 years ago, McLouth stole 16 bags in just 67 Second Half Games last year. His .466 FB% and .201 LD% indicate that his power is in fact fo' real but his .333 GB% may bring about a slight drop in his batting average. Right now McLouths power is actually hurting his stolen base oppurtunities seeing as literally half of his 64 hits have been for Extra Bases. I firmly believe that Mclouth can reach 30/30 in his magical age 27 season and a line of .285 25 HR and 25 SB is an absolute minimum for his production. Start with confidence.
Verdict- Buy High...Does that make sense?
What would a Rich Man's Matthew Berry column be without some Just Saying's...
...That Barry Zito has let up 3 runs or less in each of his last 5 starts, if you are in a deep league don't be embarassed to grab him
...That Chipper Jones had has ONE month of batting under .364 since the beginning of Last June. I think the HOF hears him loud and clear
...That Evan Longoria will fill in for Jason Bartlett at SS when he needs rest. Longoria in a keeper league at Shortstop, now thats scary
...That Johan Santana led the AL in HR's allowed last year and has given up 12 in 74 innings this year. Scouts are starting to say his velocity is down and thats not a good sign for those of you who gave up a first rounder to get him. Right now I'm taking Webb, Hamels and a healthy Jake Peavy over him
...That Tim Lincecum has 10 Quality Starts this year. Tim Lincecum has 10 total starts this year. You do the math
...That Fausto Carmona had 22 K's and 35 BB's in 56 IP with a 2.25 ERA BEFORE he got injured. Something ain't right there
...That Lance Berkman has a .145 LD% and a .397 BABIP and is batting .384. Right now he's battling the 1996 Brady Anderson for luckiest season of all time
...That they are still the Devil Rays. You know it and I know it.
Bet of the day: Mixed Martial Arts. Favorite wins 95% of time. Try a parlay on two or three favorites tonight.
Fantasy Baseball Player of the day: Dan Uggla. Someone needs to tell Uggla he was an average second-baseman last year. Over the past month Uggla is hitting .351 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs. He'll look to continue that tonight against Brett Myers whom he is hitting .389 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in only 18 at bats in his career.