Sports

Exhibit 1.7.11

Houston Sports Weekend

 

Minute Maid Park

 

 

BBVA Stadium

 

 

Comment / Posted in Houston, Parks, Sports

Exhibit 1.4.22

Thoughts on the Dolphins Firing Tony Sparano

Because I’m either going to tell you like this or I’m going to tell you when you want to talk about politics or books or something. It’s better this way.

It’s better this way, this firing. Sparano is a good guy, by all accounts, and a good coach by my estimation. He could be a great coach in the right situation. Will he ever get that chance again? I don’t know. I sort of doubt it given the names out there and the fact that he’s never been an NFL offensive coordinator or (officially) a play caller. Seems like he either gets a head coaching job this year (unlikely) or signs up as an offensive line coach somewhere at which point he’s at the back of the line for a head coaching gig. It could still happen for him (I mean, it happened to Chan Gailey) but I’d say the odds are 70/30 against.

Which is too bad because despite the conservative nature of his Dolphins teams–something I could live with if it didn’t so often come long after there was nothing to lose–Sparano’s players seemed to love him which is a rare thing in a coach that’s not “soft.” He’s not a tyrant in the Coughlin school nor is he an absentee in the Caldwell school–instead he’s the rare disciplinarian whose players respect him and played tough and smart and focused long after they would have tuned the Coughlins of the world out or realized Caldwell was an empty suit. With more talent, he could have been Coughlin or even better, I think. That’s not to diminish Coughlin, just that I think a lot of coaches would lose a team after an 0-7 start and Sparano never did. Hell, they seemed to play harder for him once they realized they were getting him fired.

Sparano’s loyalty did him in as much as anything which is terrible considering how little loyalty the front office showed him. But maybe his ceiling was reached, that’s certainly possible. At some point, you’ve got to not only play correctly but you’ve got to play smarter and there wasn’t much about Sparano’s gameplans that suggested this was going to happen. A run-first, physical team will probably win again in the NFL, but it’s not an accident that the Patriots, Packers, Colts, Saints, and Steelers have dominated the last decade. Even the Steelers, arguably the only team that fit the Sparano model, have gone away from the running game and opened up the offense. For better or worse, it’s what the game is now, and only at the urging of the owner did Sparano even begin to move in this direction.

He ultimately didn’t have the time or the personnel to take the team there, but there’ve been a lot of positive signs these past few weeks. Sparano made them look like they were a few players away but are they? I don’t know. They’ve got one more hole now, and if they’re sincere about Tony having been a good coach–and I think they should be–then they’re going to have to do better than good.

But so far a lot of the names getting thrown around only make me think, Hey, Tony Sparano is available. Let’s go get him.

Comment / Posted in Firings, Football, Sports

Exhibit 1.3.27

Fantasy Football Draft Recap (Redux)

I’m hating myself more and more with every word I type. I’ll probably only be able to manage some 700 or 800 of them. Forgive me. For everything.


The Cal Drogo

O, god and I made a logo. I almost forgot about that. But I didn’t. Instead I told everyone about it and posted it every time I got the opportunity. Otherwise, however, I totally forgot.

Round 1 – Chris Johnson, RB
I sort of wonder where he would have gone if I hadn’t grabbed him at 6. I feel like people forgot that the reason he was downgraded was because he was holding out but that, now that he signed, there’s really nothing wrong with him. Or maybe I’m forgetting something, like how he hasn’t played at all this preseason and Tennessee is horrible and I should have just rolled the dice with Vick. Except there’s this: we’ve spent the last two periods in my composition classroom discussing a couple of articles on Vick and, frankly, I hate him. I remember that.

I actually feel really good about Johnson here. Their QB situation is more stable (if not more fragile), and outside of injury, Johnson seems like as safe a bet to put up 1500+ yards as there is.

Round 2 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR
Let’s all forget about who I grabbed in the second round of my last draft and try to focus on the fact that in this one, I got a guy who put up numbers even with Derek Anderson and Max Hall throwing him the ball. Fitzgerald is like Antonio Gates. You just like having him.

Really though, there wasn’t much temptation to go in any other direction. Vick almost dropped all the way here which was a shock in a 12-team league and I would have picked him if he were insulting a puppy’s mother in front of it while eating all of its rawhide cigars. I would have, really.

Round 3 – Matt Forte, RB
I’ve actually always had a weird soft spot for Forte, mostly because I don’t really understand who he is or where he comes from or why he’s good or what he likes to do on weekends. O, except put up yards. He’s not a TD guy–not yet–but damn if he isn’t productive. Bet you didn’t know he’s averaged 1500 yards rushing/receiving per year. I’ll take it. The Bears’ offensive line is horrible, but I don’t really care. They were last year too. Felt really good about this pick. I like guys who nobody thinks about until they put up 20 points and confuse everyone.

Round 4 – Dez Bryant, WR
What we’ve learned here is that I will take Dez Bryant if given the opportunity. I think I actually wanted Brandon Marshall here, but my brother jumped on him. Or maybe I wanted him with the next pick. I can’t remember.

The theme of this draft is memory: I only have it when it comes to dogs and not football or Matt Forte’s hobbies.

Round 5 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Why do I always wait too long to take a QB and end up with this clown?

That’s what I wrote two years ago when I waited too long and took that clown. This year, I feel a good about him, actually (that offense is explosive), but I still hate him as evidenced by my having never said one nice thing about him on this blog.

Round 6 – Jimmy Graham, TE
Tight ends were going fast and I (like everyone else) really love Jimmy Graham this year. I reached a little, but the other options weren’t anything special. I loved him coming out of Miami, actually, and remained more than a little bummed the Dolphins couldn’t find a way to get him.

I want one of two things out of my tightend position: consistency so I never have to think about it or extreme upside so it becomes exciting to check the box score. Thanks, Jimmy.

Round 7 – Joseph Addai, RB
This league plays with two flex spots and a short bench so Addai will almost certainly start for me until he gets hurt or Peyton Manning dies and the Colts fall apart. So the upside is…well, I’m not sure actually. He’s a weird player. He’s never been that good–and he’s been bad the last three years–and yet he’s still the starter and it’s not inconceivable that if healthy he could be a really strong number three. I’m not counting on him or anything, but it would be nice if he proved to have one more average season in him.

Round 8 – Fred Jackson, RB
This is the perplexing thing about fantasy football generally (and this league specifically). Having Fred Jackson as your fourth running back and second flex really isn’t terrible. In fact, I can imagine scenarios where people would be excited to have him as their third if the fourth were a boom or bust wide receiver. Jackson is a starter, always produces, catches passes, will get goal line carries, etc. And yet nobody wants him. Hell, I don’t even want him. No team starting him can be that good.

It’s strange, but I think I’d rather have him as my third best running back than my fourth. That would at least imply I had strength elsewhere. As is, he’s just sort of there not being very good or very bad. I don’t like it. You can’t trust mediocrity. I want to cut him already which doesn’t even make any sense.

Round 9 – Pierre Garcon, WR
Why not? O right, because I hated him last year.

Round 10 – Davone Bess, WR
I love Davone Bess. I hope he challenges Fred Jackson to a fight and only one comes back.

Fantasy football doesn’t work that way, but I wish it did. The Cal Drogo play Fantasy Fantasy Football, and that’s the way I like it.

Anyway, I weirdly might start Bess more than any of the three people picked in front of him because I like Dolphins and Bess is reliable. That’s probably not smart, but smart isn’t what got Ed Stark to where he is today.

Draft Grade: B. I thought about B-minus, but the more I look at this team the more I like it and might even go B-plus. Those first three picks are perfect, I feel like, and if Dez steps up (which, apparently, I really think is going to happen) and Pitt’s offense is what it should be then I’ve got a really strong lineup of marque players. Down roster it’s more ‘take a walk’ than it is ‘hit or miss,’ but that might not be a bad thing. Might not be a good thing either. Who knows. I honestly have forgotten who my tight end is. Is it Antonio Gates? God, I hope so.

Comment / Posted in Football, Sports, The Cal Drogo

Exhibit 1.3.24

Fantasy Football Draft Recap

Politics! Fantasy football! I’m that guy you hate! Anyway, this happening. Worse, there’s going to be another next week for the Game of Thrones-inspired The Cal Drogo.

(Note: I said that solely because I keep getting search hits from people looking for “Game of Thrones Fantasy Football Team Name.” I’m currently #4 behind things that aren’t even about fantasy football. I want to be #1. So I’m going to keep saying Game of Thrones and fantasy football until it happens. You’ve been warned).

This week’s team, however, is:

Mike Kafkaesque

Look, it’s a league with other writers, what do you want from me? Although, yes, it’s true, I probably didn’t need to spend all that time photoshopping a bowler onto the 3rd string quarterback from Philadelphia’s head.

Round 1 – Arian Foster, RB

It’s not so much that I love Foster as I love his odd first name. What did the nurses think when his mom said it for the first time? How many times until he became famous was it spelled “Aryan”? How uncomfortable would it make everyone if I renamed my team “The Arian Brotherhood.” Still, as the guy with the 2nd pick in the draft, I feel good about Foster. I could have had Peterson, too, and while I would love a guy with my own last name, I just hate his offensive line, his fumbles, and the fact that nothing about “Adrian” name makes me laugh. Well, okay, that’s not true.

(Update: Within hours after I wrote this it came out that Foster’s hamstring “tweak” might actually be a tear that could cause him to miss a few weeks. Damnit).

Round 2 – Shonn Greene, RB

Shut up. Just shut up. He ruined my team last year, his team might throw more this year, his name is equally misspelled but not nearly as funny, and he plays for a team I hate. Otherwise, this was a great pick. Seriously though, I panicked. Was a tough spot since the guy I wanted (Larry Fitzgerald) was picked one spot ahead an it was a weird nether region of 3rd tier running backs and 2nd tier wide receivers. Despite all this, I actually do think Greene can have a good–even great–season. LT is fading into the background, the Jets are still going to run a lot because Mark Sanchez sucks, and Greene showed he was ready at the end of last season.

I still hate this pick.

Round 3 – Tom Brady, RB

I wanted to make sure I had two guys on my team that I really hated. Still, I actually feel really good about this pick as he was the last marquee QB. And by marquee QB, I literally mean he would rather be on a marquee than play football. When he quits midway through the season to take over the role of Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, my fantasy football team is going to be totally Game of Thrones fantasy football GoT fantasy football team names winter is coming.

Round 4 – Dez Bryant, WR

You know how you haven’t heard anything about Dez Bryant this offseason? No fighting teammates, no oddly large jewelry debts, no getting kicked out of bars? Yeah, I like that. I believe. Still, as my #1 receiver in a 10-team league, I think we can safely say my receivers are the weak point which is why…

Round 5 – Antonio Gates, TE

I had Antonio Gates on my team once and it was like having Wesley Clark in your war. Things got done, nobody got hurt, we all thought–hey, that went really well, shouldn’t it always go that well? It better. I love Antonio Gates.

Round 6 – Marques Colston, WR

Just a solid performer who I think is in for a good season. I really wanted Brandon Marshall here, but unfortunately he went like 26 picks before. I wasn’t really paying attention. Colston is probably in the “other guys on this team need the ball now” stage of his career, but he’s still a good bet for yards, touchdowns, and consistency.

Round 7 – Matt Schaub, QB

I actually don’t remember if I took him or the next pick here, but I did like grabbing Schaub. I have no idea why nobody else grabbed him (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger [who when I misspelled his name autocorrect suggested I switch to ‘Brotherhood’ which is both sort of right and completely wrong], and Josh Freeman are other starting QBs in this league). I’m pretty sure I can trade Schaub at some point or, at worst, he’s a strong backup.

Round 8 – Beanie Wells, RB

They have no one else to run the ball, and they have to run, right? Right? Please? I always pick guys like this and they always end up sucking. O well. Both him and Greene could be awesome or terrible. There really doesn’t seem to be an inbetween.

Rounds 9 – the end in some order:

Kenny Britt, WR – He’s had the opposite of Dez Bryant’s offseason and yet for some reason I love the idea of Hassleback throwing him the ball. He’s good.

Steve Smith, WR (Panthers) – As long as the playoffs are played using stats from 2005, he should be a good pick.

Jonathan Stewart, RB – I don’t know. I remember wanting someone who wasn’t him, but, well, here we are with two players from the worst team in football back-to-back. Best case scenario is DeAngelo Williams gets injured. Which seems likely. O, and Stewart himself is not injured. This seems less likely.

Michael Crabtree, WR – You’ll notice none of my backups come from teams with good QBs. That might be an issue. O well. I love Crabtree and think if he’s healthy he could have a good year no matter who is throwing him the ball. Except he’s not healthy and no one is going to be throwing the ball.

Ben Tate, RB – Arian insurance. Which, incidentally, is something you can buy in Mississippi.

Alex Henery, K – What can I say, a homer pick. Nebraska!

Miami Dolphins, D – Same. I’m probably going to just go ahead and drop them week one when they play New England. Still, I think Miami’s defense is going to be pretty damn impressive this season. I mean, they were last season and have only gotten better. Still, I don’t want to mess with Tom Brady star of the hit HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Not when my good fantasy football team name is on the line.

Draft grade: B. I feel like I’ve got limited upside, especially with some of my backups, but that overall this team is likely to be a consistently strong performer. Need to get another WR and hope that one of Wells and Greene shows up, but if those things happen, it’s a good team.

Comment / Posted in Football, Mikes, Sports

Exhibit 1.3.20

Fantasy Football


The Cal Drogo

This year’s team name which is meaningless unless you’ve seen Game of Thrones. And even then…

7 Comments / Posted in Football, Sports, The Cal Drogo

Exhibit 1.3.11

Thesis Defense

It suddenly occurs to me I stopped updating you on the exploits of Thesis Defense, our Creative Writing Program intramural basketball team. If only there was some way I could sum up our loss in the playoffs in one humiliating photo. O, there is? Great:


In my defense, we were in a zone so, really, it could have been any of the opposing players scoring on me. Not in my defense: my defense. Hands up, Peterson.

Photo thanks(?) to Karyna McGlynn whose book you should pick up here. Pick up and destroy probably.

Comment / Posted in Basketball, Defense, Sports

Exhibit 1.2.18

Royals Preview

Look. This is happening. I’m sorry.

So, in summary, here’s what the Royals did this off-season: traded away their best player for a package of prospects somewhere between underwhelming and whelming, mostly stayed away from the free agent market except for one smart signing, and fully committed to the youth movement they’d only been sort of casually seeing for the last half decade. Basically, the Royals are that guy who suddenly realized they’re middle aged and living in a terrible town and that the options available to them aren’t as grand as they might have been the day after their high school graduation. So he finally sold his expensive but aging Corvette, stopped spending his paychecks on electric guitars he could only use to play “Enter Sandman” on, and used the saved money to replace his beleaguered girlfriend’s promise ring with a diamond engagement ring.

These are good things. These are always good things.

That it should have happened a decade ago is beside the point. Here’s what matters: the Royals, like this guy, finally get it. They don’t have all the options, and, even better to know, they might finally realize that nobody does. That fallacy destroys teams–and people–by making them think their job is to find the correct choice rather than the best choice. There is no correct choice and, at least in the Royals case, if there is one, somebody else is going to get there first. So the Royals, needing an outfield bat, would make their offer to Torii Hunter or whomever, get rejected, and then spend $36 million dollars on Jose Guillen because he was next on the list (it’s also probably important to note here the Royals suck at making lists). They sought the correct thing rather than the best thing–which in this case would have really been anything other than giving that much money to a washed up, HGH using headcase–and they did it because they cared to much about perceptions. Without a plan (or confidence or the ability to, you know, win baseball games) the Royals could only win media battles. This seemed like the correct thing, to be able to say, “Well, sure, we overpaid, but now you guys can’t say we’re not serious about competing.”

It took 10 years for someone to finally realize that a team serious about competing would, well, compete, that the Royals don’t have all the choices, they only have theirs, that of the choices they do have some are better than others but none can be called correct unless they lead to the World Series, that being called correct doesn’t matter anyway, that only wins matter.

This last bit–the seeking of approval from outside sources who are at best disinterested and at worst openly hostile to a small, incompetent team–still worries me a little. You see, the Royals have the best farm system in baseball. They may have the best farm system since people started keeping track of these things. Everyone thinks so and rightfully the Royals are proud of this fact, a little too proud maybe. A smart organization wouldn’t care or would only care insomuch as they make it their goal to be #1 year after year. The Royals…well…we’ll see.

To see the danger here, one need only look at the Royals epic Gil Meche signing. Let’s chart the conventional wisdom here:

2006 – The signing – “The Royals are stupid.”
2007 – Meche is good – “The Royals are okay.”
2008 – Meche is better – “The Royals are brilliant.”
2009 – Meche’s arm falls off – “The Royals are unlucky.”
2010 – Meche’s arm fails to reattach – “The Royals are stupid again.”
2011 – Meche shockingly retires – “The Royals are lucky.”

And here’s the thing: it’s all true yet none of it matters. The Meche contract was both brilliant (they really did “fix” him and turn him into the player they paid for) and stupid (he was never going to single-handedly put them into contention). It was, in the end, a big waste of time and money and attention yet the Royals chose to ride this wave of perception rather than simply focus on winning games. They were defensive then geniuses then, I guess, they were just Odysseus getting blown around the Mediterranean by fate. They wanted to be seen as having made the correct decision when really they should have made a decision, lived with the consequences, and then tried to continuing making decisions in service of a coherent plan.

Now these prospects again have the Royals feeling like geniuses and taking thinly veiled shots at anyone who ever doubted “the Process.” But prospects fail or get injured or maybe, even with the abundance of talent in the system, there’s still just not enough there to turn the franchise into a winner. Who knows what will happen. I also know this: at least at the moment, the Royals are doing it right. The question now is if they keep doing it right or if they again find themselves competing over perceptions when they should be competing on the field.

Can they do it? I don’t know. It’s so easy for a team to get fixated on what they should do or would do or are supposed to do rather than what they can do. Nothing has likely changed about their reliance on old timey baseball wisdom that might as well chalk everything up to magic (or “grit”) and I wish they’d go about their business with a little more of a yeoman’s humility rather than a scared child’s tendency to plead for attention then lash out when it’s negative. Still, despite some considerable apprehensions, it’s a wonderful time to be a Royals fan.

The Prospects

Just a quick top 10 done with no scouting knowledge at all.

1. Eric Hosmer – Not even my favorite player, really, but do guys like this ever miss?
2. Mike Moustakas – I do worry about the strikeouts and the (lack of) walks.
3. Wil Myers – Part of me still wishes they would have kept him at catcher.
4. Mike Montgomery – If he’s healthy, he’s nearly unstoppable.
5. Danny Duffy – Threw a 59 MPH curve in a game the other day.
6. John Lamb – O, why not. Great stuff, great makeup.
7. Christian Colon – Everyone says he’ll be solid like it’s a bad thing.
8. Jake Odorizzi – Curious about how slowly he’s moved though.
9. Brett Eibner – Could be a poor man’s Sizemore. Or he could never hit.
10. Cheslor Cuthbert – A lifetime away but sounds great.

The Roster

C – The less said about this position the better. You always hate to root against a guy getting healthy, but at my darkest moments I do wish Jason Kendall’s surgery would have been performed at the Cleveland Institute for Staph Infections.

1B/DH – Kila Ka’aihue and Billy Butler will switch off between the two. Nothing may be more indicative of the Royals finally getting it than the fact that Kila is not only in their plans, but that they seem set on giving him a full year. The old Royals would have fed him to the Sarlacc after his first 0-4 then started the Sarlacc for the rest of the year even though everyone knows Sarlacci can’t hit lefties and never walk. Or something.

O, and Billy Butler is good. I see 30 HR this year. I do.

2B – Chris Getz. I really just don’t care about him at all. He’s sort of like that student who I forget is in my class until I have to give his paper a D. Here’s a sign the Royals don’t get it: Getz’s name is sometimes mentioned as a possible leadoff bat because he’s vaguely fast. Let me save you the trouble of looking it up: his career OBP is .315.

SS – Alcides Escobar. I can’t help it, I like this guy even though he hasn’t played a game for the Royals yet. I’m a sucker for toolsy prospects and if we’d gotten this guy for Greinke a year ago, everyone would have been thrilled. Plus, his name sounds like he borrowed it from Scarface. I’m on board.

3B – Mike Aviles. He’s good. Wilson Betemit is a nice bat of the bench, too. Yeah, this will work out just fine. Plus, look for Mike Moustakas to step up at some point and move Aviles over to 2B after Alcides “White Knife” Escobar takes Chris Getz for a walk in the Everglades.

LF – Alex Gordon. God, I have thoughts. Here’s what I’ve been saying about Gordon recently: he’s either going to shock people or fall apart completely. And this is the season. I don’t think he’s going to be just average. There’s too much talent and too much that says his problems are mental. I think he either becomes a .280/.370/.500 guy or is somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with Eric Crouch next year. And, frankly, I still think he’s going to put it together. Yes, I know this is stupid, but I don’t care. He’s the one player on the Royals who knows how to take a walk, the power is real, and those two things usually lead to success.

CF – Lorenzo Cain! He’s my new favorite Royal. I don’t even know if he’s good, but between him and Alcides “Blow Back” Escobar, the Royals won the name side of the Greinke trade. And, yeah, I think he’s a little good, too. Another toolsy player with some important skills (defense, speed, solid onbase), I think he’s going to be a key part of the Royals future. Unfortunately, that future likely starts in July after Melky Cabrera eats his way to the bench.

RF – Sigh.

SP #1 – Luke Hochevar is best known for looking vaguely like my Royals buddy Anders, but occasionally he’s a solid pitcher. It’s not Luke’s fault–I think he’ll have a good year–but every time I think this Royals team might be better than people are talking about, I remember that he’s going to be the opening day starter. No offense to this rotation, but, um, there are holes. Luke is a fine #4 and I think he’ll turn into a solid #3. If he’s your opening day starter, however, it means your #5 is going to be some donut like Sean O’Sullivan.

SP #2 – Jeff Francis. This is the smart free agent signing. Really no downside here and, in fact, a whole lot of upside. It does make me wonder why the Royals weren’t making signings like this before. Or was Brett Tomko this signing and we’re all just pretending otherwise? Best to move on, probably.

SP #3 – Bruce Chen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bruce Chen is the best Chinese-Panamanian pitcher in the game.

SP #4 – Vin Mazzaro. Hey, any time you can deal your 2nd best position player for a guy who can’t beat out noted donut Sean O’Sullivan for a roster spot, you’ve got to do it. Seriously, there’s a strange silence in Royalsland over the David DeJesus trade. Yeah, they had to trade him. It made sense. But this trade? Making less sense by the day as it becomes clear Vin Mazzaro isn’t very good and no one ever thought he was. You can sign guys like this everywhere. Why trade for one? Seriously, it’s like the Royals answered a Craigslist ad from someone who wanted a new car stereo and offered to trade next Tuesday. Enjoy driving around blaring OMG, Billy!

Royalsland, incidentally, is Scandinavia’s worst country though features a strangely compelling ride at Epcot.

SP #5 – I did some looking into this, and the Royals aren’t going to need a fifth starter until mid-April 2013.

Fine, if you must know, it’s (Hiram) Kyle Davies or proto-cruller Sean O’Sullivan.

The best part about detailing out the rotation is that at various points I realized I was probably getting the numbers wrong, but it honestly doesn’t matter. It’ll go Hoch, Francis, and then the next three spots can be filled in any order by any of those pitchers. And don’t worry, that will happen. It’s like a game of musical chairs at the vertigo ward.

(How are my similes doing today? Feeling a little off).

Bullpen – Here we go. I like the bullpen this year no matter how it shakes out. Say what you will about the rest of the Royals prospects, but they’ve got a wealth of young, cheap, and intriguing arms for the bullpen. Sure, it’s the least important place to have prospects, but it does make it fun. In particular, I’m excited to see Tim Collins who is shorter than your sister but throws in the mid to upper 90s as a lefty. Your sister can’t do that.

One bit of sadness here: Joakim Soria no longer wants to be called the Mexicutioner due to the ongoing drug violence in Mexico. I completely understand this, of course, but it’s the end of a glorious era.

(Brief aside on people who want to trade Soria: I get it. Maybe they should. Hell, if they did it for that Montero package, I might even be excited about it. But keep in mind the correct vs. best choice thing again. Stats give us the illusion of thinking we know the correct choice, but it doesn’t excuse the reality of the situation which is that of the limited options available to the Royals, the best one likely involves some continuity. The Royals can build a winner by trading Soria, sure. They can build one without trading him, too. There’s not one correct way, and, in this particular case, I’m unconvinced trading Soria makes winning easier).

The Division

1. Minnesota – The window is closing, I think, but they can win it one more year.
2. Detroit – Miguel Cabrera can do all that drunk?
3. Chicago – Because someone has to be third.
4. Kansas City – Despite that rotation, I think there’s some talent on this team and quite a bit of flexibility to either move parts and/or bring up prospects after the All-Star break.
5. Cleveland – Or they could end up 4th or cease to be. It doesn’t really matter.

The Season

So here’s how I see it playing out: a middling first couple of months and a lot of games where the starters don’t make it to the 6th inning. Still, a sense of optimism as the minors continue to produce (though not at last year’s level) and Moustakas eventually joins the major league club. Already well out of contention by the break, a few other guys (Crow and Duffy?) get looks before September and maybe a few more guys come up around the trade deadline as the few remaining veterans get shipped out.

Breakout performers: Butler, Gordon
Beats expectations: “No Pablo” Escobar, Hoch, and, sigh, Francouer (granted, expectations are so low they are currently recording an album of graceful indie rock songs)
Regresses: Betemit, Chen
Gets traded: Melky, Francouer, Francis
Comes back way too early: Jason Kendall
Proves to be bad: Getz, O’Sullivan, Mazzaro, Kendall
Remains a mystery: Davies, Kila and, to a degree, Aviles
Never gets a chance: Maier, Dyson, Blanco

And there we have it, 2.5k words on the Royals. Really, all you need to know is that the real test will be whether or not General Manager Dayton Moore can avoid screwing the roster (or the payroll) up, whether Ned Yost can prove worthy of managing into the team’s rosy future, and whether the kids continue to climb the organizational ladder toward the majors. Sooner or later decisions are going to have to be made about which prospects to keep or trade and how to build the roster around them, but for now, at least, Royals fans are drowning in hope rather than tears.

Seriously though, Lorenzo Cain! He sounds like a guy who beat up a train!

Record: 75-87

5 Comments / Posted in Baseball, Royals, Sports

Exhibit 1.2.15

Basketball Stats

Thesis Defense vs. the Refs

(Our team had gotten some low sportsmanship scores from the referees of our last couple of games and so we were in danger of being held out of the playoffs for being jerks. Apparently some players argued a call or two. Not me. If the refs even look at me, I feel chagrined and immediately want to hand the other team the ball. Thankfully, I never have the ball so this doesn’t really hold us back).

50 some hugs we gave the other team, the refs, random passersby
Condescending the level of nice we achieved by the end of the game
1 shot attempt during warmups where I missed the hoop
1 girls that shot attempt hit in the stands
1 dribbles
0 points scored on me due to my stifling defense
7 players we had which made it much, much better
40 seconds left when the game was mercy ruled
35 seconds of running I had left in me when this happened
More than 85 utterances of good game
5 fans in attendance
Reclined my demeanor on the bench according to fans
18 the number of the player who said he was going to guard me
0 the number of minutes this player spent guarding me after he put it together that I wasn’t going to shoot, move, or generally try to do anything other than rest when our team was on offense

Thesis Defense is 4-0 and, assuming our performative fawning didn’t upset the refs, on our way to the playoffs.

Comment / Posted in Basketball, Mercy, Sports

Exhibit 1.2.11

Basketball Stats

Thesis Defense vs. [I Have No Idea What Their Name Was and They Were Mostly Memorable for Being Incredibly Ethnically Diverse As if They Met While Filming a Public Service Announcement about Tolerance]

.2 meals eaten the day of the game
1 sub for our team
30+ minutes played because of this
30+ times I thought I might die
1000 times I shuffleran down the court like a wounded Shaq
0 times died
1 very self-conscious use of “Infinity” by a teammate
1 alley oop thrown to me (no, really. Sadly, the pass hit the rim)
1 shot made
5 teammates who spontaneously cheered when this happened
Mixed my feelings on making a shot but having it universally acknowledged to be such an accomplishment that it needed to be celebrated as if I’d just learned a very valuable lesson about tolerance

Thesis Defense is 3-0

Comment / Posted in Basketball, Deaths, Sports

Exhibit 1.2.9

Basketball Stats

Thesis Defense (Us) vs. Some Law Students

14 minutes
0 shots missed
0 shots attempted
∞ claps
8 attempts to give myself the nickname “Infinity”
1 rebound
1 steal
1 assist
4 times asked if everyone wouldn’t just rather play halfcourt
18 unfair jokes about the other team’s LSAT scores
18 number of those jokes made safely from the bench
0 minutes of practice or cardio work before next game
2 beers immediately after the game
6 times got confused which way we were going but it didn’t matter since I didn’t have the ball and no one was paying attention to me so it was totally cool

Thesis Defense is 2-0

2 Comments / Posted in Basketball, Infinity, Sports

Exhibit 1.2.2

Re-signed for 2011

I have once again made the foolish decision to play in a basketball league. On the roster I’m listed as G/F which I’m pretty sure is some kind of joke. As you can see in the picture above, I play in jeans and a polo. At half-time I take tea and ask after the wickets. When I do get in the game, I wear a prescription motorcycle helmet.

But I’m going to try to improve this year so I drew up some plays.

This one is called “Isosceles.” It’s where I sort of walk in a triangle around the three point line so that my own teammates are confused enough by my movements to not pass me the ball.

This one is called “Why is the whistle lady counting at me?” No, seriously, why?

This one is called, “Free Throw.” It’s where I stand while someone else makes free throws (not able to be expressed by diagramming: me clapping furiously).

This one is a defensive play called, “I Try to Have a Conversation with a Teammate While My Guy Scores.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go practice the most important play of all, “Signaling for a Sub When Too Winded to Speak or Move My Arms.”

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Basketball, Sports

Exhibit 1.1.6

Things

* Here’s a piece by Carlin at Hobart. You’ll want to support both Carlin and Hobart. One of them is huge and the other is named Carlin.

* Quick thoughts on the Royals shopping Zack Greinke: they should. It’s basically an admission the team is going to be horrible until 2013 (and maybe not even then), but that’s really the situation whether Greinke is on the team or not. I love the guy, but it doesn’t seem like he wants to be there anymore and I can’t blame him. Nor can I blame the Royals for selling out for the future.

* Seriously though, if they sign Jeff Francoeur, I reserve the right to quit life until Wil Myers makes everything right again. If the team is doing it, I don’t see why I can’t.

* I enjoy No Robo Tumblr. Look, I don’t know what Tumblr is. I just learned what Twitter is and even then I mostly use it to update people on how into sweatpants I currently am (very).

* Did you remember there is a new Cupboard? There’s a new Cupboard. It’s really awesome. Tell your friends, give it as a gift, tumblr a review. I’m doing that right, right? Tumbl?

* Quick update on my fantasy football team: last place, season over, thank god.

* The bar in Houston that has Cornhole is creating a sensation among North-Easterners who weren’t familiar with the game. That is until I introduce Beer Pole and blow everyone’s minds.

* If someone asked me to cover a Christmas song, I too would have gone with “Holiday Road.” Granted, it’s not about Christmas anymore than my second choice is: Everclear’s “Santa (Monica).”

* The actual choice would be Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again.” The last choice would be one of those songs done by barking dogs though I’m hoping Tom Waits takes up that challenge over at the A.V. Club.

Comment / Posted in Holidays, Sports, Things

Exhibit 27.25

Fantasy Football Postmortem

I know, I know, no one cares. I don’t even care. I only update the roster each week to fantasy honor the fantasy spirit of the fantasy game. But now I’m starting to care again because I think my team might be historically bad. Here are my first five picks in the draft and their ranking on the season.

Round 1, 11th overall – Ryan Matthews. Rank on the season: 152.
In other words, my assessment was only off by 140 players. Seriously, I don’t even know why I ever thought a guy named Ryan Matthews would be good. It’s a name that sounds best when said while sadly shaking your head. I know because this is the only way this name is ever said.

Round 2, 14th overall – Shonn Greene. Rank on the season: 144.
I should have known when I saw how he spelled his name. Like an idiot, that’s how. I should have learned my lesson after the whole Chone Figgins fiasco in fantasy baseball. Okay, that never happened. And now it never will.

Round 3, 35th overall – Tony Romo. Rank on the season: 75th.
This is misleading for two reasons. One, Tony Romo was actually doing fine for me until he got injured for the season after week six. Two, he got injured for the season after week 6.

Round 4, 38th overall – Beanie Wells. Rank on the season: 218th.
The worst part about him is I still expect him to turn it around despite the insistence of statistics, observation, God, and his own coach. I have no idea why I hate Ryan Matthews but love Beanie Wells. The fantasy heart is a cruel mistress. Fantasy-speaking.

Round 5, 59th overall – Wes Welker. Rank on the season: 123rd.
Yes, that’s right, my first receiver was someone who has to wear a knee brace bigger than his torso. On the plus side, he was good two years ago so between him, Barack Obama, and Fergie, my Fantasy 2008 team is looking great.

The problems here:

1. With my first five picks, all under the 60th pick overall, I managed to pick none of the top 100 players in football (Romo will fall out soon).

2. All of these players, Romo excluded, are still on my team.

3. The best player on my team–and this is not a joke–is Mike Wallace the wide receiver who ranks 38th.

4. Mike Wallace the news journalist ranks 19th and he might be dead.

5. I named my fantasy team after the real coach of my least favorite real team and somehow never thought karma would play into this.

6. My move/robbery/re-move right before the draft excuse is wearing a little thin.

7. I’ve started to just pick up random Dolphins because that way I can at least care a little. Hence, I’ll probably start Tyler Thigpen this week, something done only by me and someone named Tyler Thigpen.

8. It’s killing me because I consider myself to be kind of good at fantasy football. Then the fact that I consider myself to be kind of good at fantasy football makes it even worse. I’m caught in a shame spiral. Fantasy-speaking. In real life I’m doing great.

9. Even after a surprising offensive explosion, I am only averaging 83 points per week. For comparison purposes, the top team is averaging 125. Basically, that means they could drop 3-4 players and still beat me easily.

10. And, of course, I would not pick up those players because I’m still waiting for Beanie Wells to turn it around.

2 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Ryans, Sports

Exhibit 27.4

Concussed

I watched the ND-Michigan game live, and Dayne Crist coming back into the game with an obvious concussion was borderline criminal. And now there’s this characteristically nonjudgmental report from the AP about how they only pulled him when he couldn’t remember plays or hold a conversation with his offensive coordinator. His concussion then healed itself by watching his team struggle and so they put him back in the game. How does the AP acquire this information without getting Brian Kelly to comment on the fact that he put his quarterback at risk in order to win a meaningless game between non-contending teams?

[Update: the previous AP article has been updated with quotes from the parties involved. It makes none of this sound better to say the least. I guess the blurry vision, memory loss, and general non-personhood that followed a viscous hit was somehow not a sign of brain trauma. Here’s the thing, team doctors let him play football, but would they have let him take a nap?]

Look, I don’t care how much Joe Montana’s kid sucks–a lot, it turns out–putting Crist back out there should lead to NCAA sanctions. Ideally, it would give the team the right to void Kelly’s contract. I know he’s not a doctor–neither am I, incidentally–but there’s no way he should have heard the sentence, “I can’t remember the plays.” and even entertained the possibility of putting that player back in the game. I don’t care what the doctor said. I don’t care what Crist wanted. This was Kelly’s call, and his own career was more important than the lifelong-health of a 20-year-old.

I’m going to go all sportstalk radio here: I don’t understand why this isn’t a scandal. How many stories about brain trauma does Alan Schwarz at the New York Times have to write before this gets taken seriously? Thankfully, the NFL is trying–though not enough–and at least there we’re dealing with adults, many of whom are millionaires. This concussion thing is just one more way college football is an increasingly perverted institution where money and self-importance take precedent over the student-athlete. We’ve accepted the wink-wink ‘student’ part of that formulation for many, but if universities are going to continue to take advantage of these kids, at least they can take care of them.

Do Brian Kelly and Notre Dame care about anything other than the money and glory they can wring from Crist for four years? Kelly thinks these games are about his career and the university thinks they’re about their reputation–why shouldn’t they when they’re getting all the money?–and so Crist is just a tool, one who will be replaced when he graduates or doesn’t graduate or gets seriously injured. For four years he depends on the university for everything, and the least he should receive in return is his own safety.

Because after those four years, he gets nothing.

I don’t know. I don’t have any answers but, like many, think it’s time coaches and universities and fans regain some perspective.

< /sportstalkradio >

5 Comments / Posted in Football, Injuries, Sports

Exhibit 26.21

Priorities

I still don’t have an apartment, but what I do have is a fantasy football team name. So there’s that. In years past I was this and this and this and this. And now:


The Annotated Rex Ryan. I feel pretty good about this. Not about playing fantasy football or talking about it in public–that I still feel terrible about–but the name works, I think. I look forward to writing embarrassed yet oddly self-congratulatory posts about it from the library where I’m living.

Comment / Posted in Annotations, Ryans, Sports

Exhibit 26.8

Barack Obama and LeBron James

(I had a very long drive and, given how the flipbook passing of corn rows can no longer hold my imagination, I had time to think about this sort of nonsense. I did not, apparently, have enough time to consider how silly it would be to actually share these thoughts. As always, I’m sorry).

Over the two weeks I spent in New York, the most passionate lamentation I heard concerned voting for Barack Obama. The speaker’s objection was to the president’s handling of the country’s various wars though it just as easily could have been the conceived watering down of the healthcare reform bill or the somewhat weaker than desired new financial regulations bill or the failure to extend unemployment benefits or the situation in the Gulf or… You get the idea. There seems to be a growing sentiment that the Obama presidency has been a disappointment if not an outright failure because a lot of people were casting their votes for an uncompromisingly liberal administration. That this White House has been so willing to extend many of George W. Bush’s foreign policy priorities, that they’ve repeatedly negotiated behind closed doors with big business to weaken their two major legislative accomplishments, that they did not immediately shut out BP from responding to the Gulf disaster, they they kowtow to conservative Democrats who are undercutting their goals…well, a lot of his supporters feel like he’s turned his back on them.

Which brings us, ridiculously, to LeBron James. The second most heartfelt regret I heard regarded James moving to the Miami Heat–effectively deciding to take a backseat to Dwyane Wade in order to form a super team–and how the speaker had, only the day before, loved LeBron James. James, instead of taking the Michael Jordan/Larry Bird/Magic Johnson root and trying to systematically destroy and humiliate one’s biggest competitors, decided he’d rather join forces, choosing, at the cost of removing himself from consideration as the greatest player of all time, to play with his friends. It’s a stunning decision, one that has basically turned James from the most popular player in basketball to maybe the most hated (at least outside of South Beach), and it feels like a betrayal.

And I guess what I thought about as I drove through, I don’t know, Iowa, is how the disappointment in both cases is all about how we project certain qualities on public figures they are telling us explicitly they don’t have. And we do this selfishly and childishly and, more than anything, historically. It’s just easier for us to compare one figure to another when there’s little else to go on. A great many of Obama voters thought they were voting for bizzarro-George W. Bush, a leftwing ideologue who not only reverse all the profoundly objectionable Bush-era policies but be as equally aggressive as the former president in checking off as many items from the party’s wishlist as possible. And we thought this not because of anything Obama said during the campaign (though he certainly didn’t mind anyone thinking that either) but because after the last eight years any Democratic candidate couldn’t help but be seen as Bush’s counterweight. Despite all the talk of bringing Washington together and moving beyond partisanship, we thought we were voting for exactly partisan politics only our partisan politics.

Similarly, James confuses us for having occupied a space in our consciousness that he never occupied in real life. All we heard about him since the time he was in high school was that he’s the next Michael Jordan. Everyone was excited by this–fans, the NBA, even LeBron James (he wore the number 23). Well, at some point, LeBron James realized he’s not Michael Jordan. In a vacuum, he may be a better basketball player, but he hasn’t got Jordan’s competitiveness (or at least his selfishness), and everything he’s done since he’s been in the league suggested as much (deferring too much, not taking over playoff series, seeming as interested in becoming a billionaire as in winning titles, etc.). And when he finally makes the decision to focus on winning, we’re furious because it doesn’t fit in with the role we’d given him. He’s supposed to be the next Jordan not the next…well, there we go again. Pippen? James Worthy? LeBron can’t just be LeBron, at least not yet, because we have no idea who LeBron is. We’ll decide that when he’s out of the public eye, right before we’ve defined him for good, facts be damned. We’ll do the same thing with Obama (look at the way Republicans talk about Reagan with little regard for his actual politics).

We are simply too removed to be able to form deep understandings of figures willing to complicate our drive to define them (I’m not at all interested in implicating contemporary culture for this, if anything these sort of projections were much worse before mass media). And so LeBron will win shared championships just like Obama passed a middle-of-the-road healthcare bill, but nobody will be completely happy because they don’t fit the narratives we’ve settled on. So we’ll come up with new narratives around their equivocation and compromises, at least until they give us reasons to change our mind. Meanwhile, there are the George W. Bushs and Kobe Bryants of the world who act so completely as we expect that there’s something shameful in the relief that, though we may not like them, we understand them.

3 Comments / Posted in Iowa, Politics, Sports

Exhibit 25.18

Conference Realignment

If you’ll allow me to talk about college athletics for a moment…

…I’ve got mixed feelings about how Nebraska broke college football. Not that college football got broken, but that it had to be Nebraska doing it. It’s not exactly the situation, of course, and Colorado’s move into the Pac-10 takes some of the heat off the Big Red, but at least in Texas the sentiment seems to be that it’s Nebraska driving a stake into the heart of the Big XII (and not, you know, a flawed revenue sharing arrangement or conference championship game that’s not going to played north of Dallas anytime soon).

Nebraska is doing what’s right for Nebraska, but it’s unfortunate that there are likely going to be some pretty dire consequences for some surrounding schools. I’m mostly sad for Kansas in all of this which has to be looking around and panicking that their basketball team is going to end up playing Boise St. and Wyoming twice a year. The Texas schools will always be okay, and Oklahoma seems likely to land on its feet one way or the other, but the Plains schools are going to be in an awkward position if things continue on their current course. Its a course that means 16 team super conferences and–eventually–a host of lawsuits and possible congressional action.

It’s not going to be pretty, and, while I agree with the decision–am crazily excited about it actually–it’s Nebraska’s responsibility. Apparently, like Han Solo, Nebraska shoots first. It’s shocking such an old-guard administration was able to weigh the school’s future against tradition and determine the money was worth the criticism. And this is about money. Nebraska wanted more, and so they were bold instead of loyal. They were determined not to be left behind, and how it came to be Nebraska joining the Big 10 and not Missouri is a story that I hope comes out at some point. Somehow a university from one of the country’s smallest states came to be the key player in a national revolution driven by the acquisition of television ratings. Tom Osborne must have made one incredible PowerPoint presentation.

So now the university will position itself to build its academic reputation around its Big 10 membership. Good, they should be so ambitious. The state seems to think there are ways this could lead to jobs and population growth (we’ll see. Frankly, I’d be afraid if college football is actually that important). The athletic department is going to try to sell everyone on the idea that Iowa is rival, and soon it probably will be. And of course the only reason that matters: the financial windfall. The end.

It’s a win, but it’s a momentary one. By the time Nebraska joins in 2011, all of the other pieces will have fallen into place and it might not look like such a smart move to have cast off the past. If things go the way they seem to be going, this is going to be a reset button in college athletics (though, notably, not the one we’d all like to hit which would bring some much needed reforms to spread the wealth to student-athletes). Nebraska is hardly guaranteed their relevancy, and there are obvious pitfalls in moving north rather than south. O well. They broke it, they bought it. Thankfully, it shouldn’t be a problem paying for it.

2 Comments / Posted in Money, Nebraska, Sports

Exhibit 24.15

Bracket Math

So, I entered two NCAA brackets yet watched zero college basketball games this year. That’s okay because I have a complicated formula for determining what percentile of basketball success I will experience. First, I determine how many points I scored in my 20 most recent basketball games. So, Zero. Then, I calculate my approximate number of turnovers per 10 minutes played. So, Three. I simply add those numbers together then multiply by the number of games watched.

0 + 3 = 3 X 0 = 0

Okay, so then I divide that number by the number of brackets entered.

0/2 = ERROR

Hmm.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Basketball, Sports

Exhibit 24.5

Better than Me at Basketball:

* A short barrier you’d have to walk around like in American Gladiators

* Skee-Lo

* The basketball itself

* A robot designed solely to turnover basketballs built by Steve Guttenberg’s character from Short Circuit

* Colicky babies

* An idea to start a coffeeshop

* Waiters or anyone else who brings things to tables

* Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

Comment / Posted in Basketball, Circuits, Sports

Exhibit 23.26

Things I Want You to Remember About Me After I Die Playing Basketball Tonight

1. I thought playing full-court was a dumb idea
2. I never would have died if I’d been playing small forward
3. My favorite team name was “Poetry in Motion”
4. My only heart condition was team spirit
5. Also, enlargement
6. I died the same way as William Blake–playing a zone defense
7. I would have appreciated my team using my death as a distraction to run a fast break which would have led to a foul and our team making one of two freethrows
8. My only regret was once saying I’d play basketball
9. My last thought was to wonder if Gatorade would have prevented this
10. In the movie, I want to have a kid who overcomes his fear of basketball to come off the bench for Division II Fort Hays State University

Please feel free to forget everything about me unrelated to basketball.

2 Comments / Posted in Basketball, Sports, William Blake: Dead

Exhibit 23.20

A Primer on the Rules of Cricket, Pt. 2


11. In the event of a wide, a run shall be scored to the batsman’s team but not the batsman. This run shall be called a holly or a bosh depending upon local playing conditions.

12. Should play be interrupted by the flight of a sparrow, time shall be given for gazing before play is restarted and the hourglass is overturned.

13. It is given that the wicket-keep should keep the wickets throughout the nights of the match should his quarters prove suitable. Should they not prove suitable, the wicket-keep shall retire with the wickets in nearest suitable boarding house at the wicket’s expense.

14. Henceforth, the Irish are allowed to play.

15. Balls shall weigh no more than a poussin and be no less in circumference than a school marm’s apple.

16. Should a player wish to smoke a pipe they may do so with the affectations of a bannister on the condition they maintain good cheer with their fellows by offering their tobacco.

17. A captain shall be elected from each side and from among the gentlemen observers. These captains shall, in the event of a tie or jig, determine the winner of the match through conference. Should the observers prevail, each shall be awarded their share of the biscuits upon retiring from the grounds.

18. Revision to rule 15 after adoption of metric standards of measure: Balls shall weigh no more than a poussin 163 grams and be no less in circumference than a school marm’s apple 229mm.

19. In the event of a mystery, play should be stopped until the apprehension of the culprit with the assistance of the judge’s bludgeon. Play shall then continue on in the manner of the last seen sparrow.

20. If a captain declares an innings closed, or forfeits an innings, or enforces the follow-on, and the other captain is prevented thereby from exercising his option of the rolling permitted (maximum 7 minutes), or if he is so prevented for any other reason, the extra time required to complete the rolling shall be taken out of the normal playing time.

2 Comments / Posted in Cricket, Primers, Sports

Exhibit 23.17

Links

* Tarpaulin Sky’s always excellent review blog takes on the second volume of The Cupboard here. Just a completely generous and unexpected reading of James’s really great volume. Made me go back and read it again myself over the break.
* By the way, you can order that or any of the other volumes here. Subscribing is only $15. The Cupboard. We try.
* The nascent sports blog The Realness Hurts has been prepping through the winter and is, at least for me, about to get going. I think I might write about trying to become a Houston Rockets fan (and basketball fan). Also, I still owe myself a Royals off/season recap.
*Did you know you can download and read Kelly Link’s amazing collections Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners for free? You want to do this and then go buy the books to support her and the press. Really cool you can do this.
4 Comments / Posted in Links, Links (again), Sports

Exhibit 21.22

Odds on the headline of the inevitable Sports Illustrated cover story about UH quarterback Case Keenum

Off the Board – On the Case: Houston’s Quest for the Championship
3/1 – A Difficult Case: Keenum’s Cougars Baffle the BCS
4/1 – Case File: Houston’s Rise to the Top
8/1 – Cold Case: Houston’s QB Is Cool Under Pressure
15/1 – Just in Case: Going Undefeated Isn’t Enough for UH
50/1 – Case Study: How Keenum’s Cougars Just Win
100/1 – Brief Case: Everything you need to know about the Cougars
130/1 – A Case for Perfection: Houston Might Go Undefeated
175/1 – Head Case: Keenum is just crazy enough to win
8 Million/1 – Paul’s Case: Keenum Owes It All to Willa Cather

Comment / Posted in Cases For Perfection, Houston, Sports

Exhibit 21.11

Fantasy Football Draft Recap

Because why not.

I’ve done these sort of recaps every year and there’s no reason to play it cool now. If long posts about ice makers aren’t going to convince you I’m not worth paying attention to then nothing about my agonizing over starting virtual Ray Rice is going to change that. Although maybe seeing how poorly I drafted will at least make you question me a little. Coming out of the other drafts I recapped in the past (here, here, here, here) I think I felt good about my teams. Great names, solid starters, some good jokes made at the draft.

This year I’m only doing one team and it has a horrible name, some awful players, and because I live here I was doing the draft over the computer which led the autopick to take someone who’s suspended when it dropped my connection. Things I’ve learned from this year already:

1) Neutral Milk Hotel should never be playing during a fantasy football draft. Some things just don’t work well together.
2) If when you’re thinking about drafting a quarterback and you check his status before making the pick, “Rejected settlement in rape case” is just as bad as a torn ACL
3) When you have the #2 pick and someone sends you a text message that says the guy picking #1 isn’t going to take the obvious best player, so then you get excited about taking that player, then you get another text message saying he’s changed his mind and he is taking that player, it is okay to instantly quit the league
4) If you think you’re getting a steal on a wide receiver, you should always check to make sure he’s not catching passes from a quarterback thinking about whether or not he should have rejected that rape settlement
5) Having good names is better than having good players. My receivers are named Roddy, Antonio, Santonio, and…Greg. I don’t care if Greg is the best one, I’m cutting him and find a guy named Pantonio.

And so this is the Houston Whitney:

First Round – Michael Turner, RB. He’s good. Arguably in line for a better season than Adrian Peterson. But did I mention Adrian Peterson’s last name is Peterson. I think Andy should have let me draft my cousin. I would have let him draft a player named Ruiz. Okay, so I just checked and there are no draft eligible players named Andy or Ruiz in the league. Some of us just have better genes, I guess.

Second Round – Roddy White, WR. Maybe I should have mentioned that Michael Turner is apparently cursed. Is that important? Well, I saw Drag Me to Hell so I guess I’d say…oh holy jesus this is awful no no no.

Third Round – Greg Jennings, WR. My first mistake. I should have been on the lookout for a Pantonio Ruiz here. I’m feeling pretty good about my receivers at this point, and I’m thinking I’ll be able to get a good running back next.

Fourth Round – Marshawn Lynch, RB. This is what I’m staring at after my connection to the draft resets. Apparently he was the highest ranked player on the computer’s board. Problems with this: A) He’s suspended for 3 games; B) His team just fired their offensive coordinator a week before the season; C) They keep cutting their starting offensive linemen; D) They are easily the worst team in a solid division; E) His suspension is for getting arrested for having a handgun and pot in his car (note: this is not his suspension for hitting someone with his Hummer, that was last year). Otherwise, he was a great pick, Computer. Jesus, I feel like I need to go find Steve Guttenburg and Fisher Stevens to go put the Yahoo computer of its memory. It’s apparently a Bills fan, so I think I know where to start looking.

Fifth Round – Antonio Bryant, WR. Another timeout pick, technically, but this one I saw coming and was ready for it. Honestly, he could be great or I could cut him next week. I really don’t know what to think about him other than that he’s got more than a bit of Jake Taylor in him. I wish I would have had him one year ago, not two or three years ago, but then four years ago. He’s also on a team that just fired its OC. Oh, and his quarterback is apparently Brian Leftwich now. By which I mean his QB for weeks 1-3, 8, 10-13 is Brian Leftwich. The other weeks it will presumably be someone without an eating disorder so that’s…good?

Sixth Round – Ray Rice, RB. Hey, everyone, it’s my starting RB for weeks 1-3. Okay, so I actually really like this pick. I also like that his name is Ray. I hope him and Greg become friends over a game of Go while the (S)antonios and Marshawn are out clubbing.

Seventh Round – Santonio Holmes, WR. Okay, I forgot I took him before Roethlisberger. That makes me feel a little better. He’s the best WR on a good team and one of these years he’s actually going to make the leap. Between the (S)antonios, someone is going to step up, right? Right?

Eighth Round – Zach Miller, TE. Hey, did you know he had over 700 yards receiving last year? Can you name another Oakland receiver who is going to make an impact? Yeah, I’m trying to talk myself into him. I’m pretty sure after I made this pick the Neutral Milk Hotel song, “You’ve Passed” came on. Yep, Fantasy Jeff Mangum, pretty much. I don’t know why you didn’t write a song called, “Wait Until the Last Round Then Grab Anthony Fasano He’s Just as Good.”

Ninth Round – Ben “My Television is Broken” Roethlisberger, QB. Why do I always wait too long to take a QB and end up with this clown? For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be making fun of his current legal troubles if it weren’t so widely speculated that this thing is going to get very ugly for the accuser (if you don’t know, it was a civil suit, there have never been criminal charges, and it seems like the alleged victim is trying to drop the case without getting sued herself). That doesn’t change the fact that he’s clearly an asshole and just as soon as I can I’m going to cut him and pick up pretty boy Chad Pennington. Now that’s a face you can trust at a celebrity golf game in Phoenix.

Tenth Round – LeSean McCoy, RB. So maybe I took him because both his first and last names have capital letters. So what? If we’d let Johnny 18 on the Yahoo server pick, I’d probably have Jim Kelly on my team right now.

And then there was probably a kicker and a defense in there somewhere. Like I said, a pretty weak team. Unless we’re counting ongoing legal cases. Then we win. We win big. Hey, but in googling to find that Whitney Houston picture, I just learned her new album debuted at #1. Omens, people, omens.

1 Comment / Posted in 'tonios, Houston Whitney, Sports

Exhibit 19.21

Why I Will Never Write About the Royals Again

As always the Royals have completely fallen apart since I did so much as write their name here. And it’s not so much that I control their destiny–I do–or that I can change the direction of their season with a mere mention–I can–or that I have the power to do this with anyone I write about on this blog–this kid is now dead–no, it’s none of those things. It’s that you don’t believe me. It’s okay, neither does the Royals’ management and you don’t have the benefit of the letters I send to them (maybe using a lambskin scroll and ink made of cherries was a mistake, but I was just trying to be classy, Dayton Moore).

So let’s take a look at the five games following a mention of the word ‘Royals’ on this blog (and I’ll limit it to usages that indicate the baseball team so all of my Prince Harry gossip posts don’t count. I don’t want there to be anything skewing this highly scientific exploration of my magical power). In reverse chronological order:

* 6/17/09 – Record over the next five games: 0-5
Oh, god, this went worse than that time the kid I mentioned died. Combined score over these five games: 53-21. And it’s not just the losing that’s bad, it’s that this came on the heels of a nice four game winning streak where it looked like the Royals had figured things out. Now Coco Crisp is likely out for the season, Kyle Davies is in AAA, and I’m writing posts that mention voodoo and Jose Guillen together in an upcoming sentence. Things really came apart quickly.

* 6/10/09 – Record over the next five games: 4-1
Okay, I forgot about this one, but it’s only one small mention in a post otherwise about robot baseball players. I’d say it’s likely that whatever demon is in charge of this thing was too bored to read the entire post so didn’t get the chance to stick pins in the hip of the Jose Guillen voodoo doll he has. In the demon’s defense, I think everyone would have felt that way.

* 5/22/09 – Record over the next five games: 2-3
So this was just a mention of the proper name of Rany Jazayerli’s radio show, but I’m counting it because it slightly proves my point.

* 5/19/09 – Record over the next five games: 1-4
So this one really proves my point. My point: I don’t remember. But I do remember mentioning a lambskin scroll up above. So basically I’m coming off as crazy but forgetful and therefore incompetently crazy. I’ll take that.

* 5/13/09 – Record over the next five games: 2-3
Speaking of crazy, this is the second post in a row where I’ve mentioned that I believe I have magical powers.

* 4/16/09 – Record over the next five games: 3-2
Which means it might be time to quit this blog. Seriously, this is either going to end with me jumping out of my office window because I believe hitting coach/boyhood hero Kevin Seitzer has to me how to fly (and work a pitch count) or, slightly more likely, I’ll move to a town where every post has to be about how much hotter it is than Lincoln today.

* 4/07/09 – Record over the next five games: 2-3
This was the Tom Berenger-heavy season preview. Sure, I mention them the next day, too, but I’m not going to count it because they went 3-2 over that stretch. Okay, fine, I’ll count it. But I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for science.

So, after a mention on this blog, the Royals went 17-23 over the next five games, good for a .425 winning percentage and negligibly below their season clip of .426. I don’t know if that counts as ‘magical,’ per se, but it’s something. Okay, not really. More likely it’s just ‘vaguely not at all spooky but tainted by sample size and the principle accountant’s lack of understanding of basic math concepts.’

Just for fun (fun?) I did the same thing for 2008. After a mention on this blog, the Royals went 20-25 over the next for games for a .444 winning percentage, basically indistinguishable from their season mark of .463 (trade one loss for one win and they’re more or less identical). So ‘vaguely not at all spooky…,’ right?

It might mean I’m slightly more likely to write about the Royals during a losing streak. Which means that their losing is probably part of the reason I’m a fan (fan?). Which means I’m still both crazy and incompetent. Yep, crazy and incompetent, just like Trey Hillman.*

*Just a joke, George Brett!

4 Comments / Posted in Baseball, Royals, Sports

Exhibit 18.21

On the Royals

A week back I was going to write something about the Royals’ great start to the season, but I decided to wait until they’d cooled down a little and couldn’t jinx them. They’ve since lost four in a row, and I’ve been appalled about having ruined their season by wishing for their failure.

(Yes, I have the power to manipulate the world with what I write about here [or, in this case, consider writing about while watching Coco Crisp leg out a triple]. No, I can’t use this power for good, only to change the outcome of sporting events. Yes, it is a very specific power of no particular value).

It’s gotten so bad that last night’s game actually got 10-run ruled in the second inning. Or at least it did as far as Anders and I know.

Still, things are going well for the Royals. They’re 18-15 and more or less tied for 1st place in the division despite the fact that they’re without one of their best hitters and their All-Star closer, most of the lineup is still under performing, and that alien stretching out Sidney Ponson’s skin got six starts. Sure, some guys are over performing and Ponson wasn’t that bad, but the remarkable thing is that the Royals seem like they not only deserve their record but should maybe even be a few games better.

Why? I don’t want to engage in any hyperbole here, so I’ll let Sports Illustrated do it for me:


Yep.

For all of the other reasons the Royals seem like an actual professional baseball team for the first time in 15 years, none quite match what Greinke has done. I don’t need to go over the numbers here, but if it helps give you some perspective, these are his worst three starts this season:

5 inning, 0 ER, 11k, win
7 inning, 2 ER, 8k, win
Complete game, 1 ER, 4 hit, loss

I don’t know if he’s Pedro Martinez, Bret Saberhagen, or circa 1994 little leaguer Matt McMurtry, but Greinke really is the best pitcher in baseball (as Posnanski’s article details). And so this year’s team is for real, or at least it is as long as Zack is out there every fifth day. Soria will be back. Gordon will provide a spark in July. Mike Jacobs will continue to infuriate America with his bleached hair. They won’t win the division, probably, but for the first time since I was a kid playing T&C Surf Designs on the NES, they’re contenders.

As long as I, Adam Peterson, don’t somehow screw it up. I’m not ruling that out. We all remember what I did to Australia’s cricket team against Zimbabwe in 1983, right? Right?

Comment / Posted in Royals, Sports, Ultimate Power

Exhibit 18.14

Summer Tennis – Game One

Ryan: 0
Adam: 0
Ryan calling and saying he couldn’t play: 1
Adam glad Ryan called first so he didn’t have to: 1
Adam not telling Ryan he was going to call the game off himself and instead questioning Ryan’s manhood: 14

Comment / Posted in Ryans, Sports, Tennis

Exhibit 17.9

My NCAA Tournament Bracket


Yes, I have the tiniest bracket in history. It was part of my strategy. I figured small fonts…no one can read it…who’s to say what is actually North Dakota State winning it all couldn’t be North Carolina…

Basically it’s the same strategy that allowed me to pass college algebra at Mid-Plains Community College.

(Brief aside: I’m sort of maybe not joking about this. When presented with a problem like this: i = √-1, if 3i (2 + 5i) = x + 6i, then x = ? My “work” would be me listing those letters and numbers in increasingly obfuscated patterns before finally ending up with something arbitrary like X=2√. This was the strategy that allowed me to score a 30% on a test where most of the credit was for showing your work.

By the way, I got a better grade in that class than my brother who I believe had already taken college algebra and was, you know, actually in college. In my brother’s defense, I don’t think there was a mathematical explanation for my C+ but neither of us were going to ask a lot of questions about it. In our mutual defense, we had to leave for that class at something like 6:30 in the morning).

Or you can click on the bracket to make it bigger and follow the misery. Turns out this also works for grading college algebra tests.

So I know nothing about college basketball that I didn’t learn last year during Drake’s improbable run. This means I only know not to mess with Western Kentucky and their Grimace-like mascot. Look, here he is eating a baby:

As you can see, I learned my lesson. So did that poor baby.

Despite being in last place, I’m–shockingly–doing fine. None of my losses extend past the first round and I’m one VCU jumper from having nailed the first day’s two biggest upsets. Mostly I did this using a complicated algorithm involving effenciency ratings, strength of schedule, and assist averages. Here, let me show you:

i = √-1, if 3i (2 + 5i) = x + 6i, then x = ?
(2i+5i2)+12ix/3i(2+5) = 3i√
√+1 (10i+25i)+4i(2x+5xi) = 9i
(15)7x+2i/√)+1 = 9/√
x = 2√

2 Comments / Posted in Basketball, Math, Sports

Exhibit 16.8

Royals Offseason Review

I was waiting to write about the Royals offseason until it was actually finished and…and…and…I suppose it finally is. Barring something unexpected, it seems like the current roster goes to Surprise for spring training and all of the redundancies and gaping holes work themselves out on the fly. Personally, I expected the team to look a bit more like the team that will take the field on opening day–or at least the team I hope will take the field on opening day–but the stagnant economy has led to an odd stasis in the free agent and trade markets as most teams seem to be paralyzed by the impossibility of trading their high priced players to free dollars for the increasingly cheap free agents. Most teams seem to be holding at least one or two contracts they’d gladly ship out if given half the chance, especially if it means $6 million for, say, Luis Castillo could become $6 million for Adam Dunn.

That nobody wants a $6 million dollar Luis Castillo, that Adam Dunn is going to wait until one of the big market teams gets desperate, that a lot of free agents require giving up draft picks to sign, that most owners have lost billions in the last 9 months…well, these are problems. And, as isn’t particularly surprising, everyone’s reaction is to sit on their hands, close their eyes, and wait it out.

But not our beloved Royals. You see, they have a renovated stadium financed largely by the good people of Kansas City and, more than that, an owner who just so happens to be the former long term CEO of a little company called Wal-Mart. Just yesterday Wal-Mart nearly doubled analysts’ projected increase in sales. While most retail stores’ profits are rapidly decreasing, Wal-Mart is doing better than ever. The reasons for this are as sad as they are obvious, but, in the far less important world of baseball, the economic downturn has meant only good things for the Royals.

Unfortunately, this unexpected leveling of the playing field has mostly meant that they alone have the right to overpay for the Kyle Farnsworths of the world. Oh well.

Let’s take a look at what they’ve done with Mr. Glass’s depressing windfall:

Traded RHP Leo Nunez for DH/1B Mike Jacobs
The offseason’s first move continues to be perhaps the most confusing. The Royals have an abundance of 1B/DH types. Some of them are young and filled with promise (Butler, Ka’aihue), some of them are old and not very good (Gload, Shealy), all of them are still on the team as if this writing. Jacobs, a salary dump from the Marlins, is somewhere in between. He hits a lot of homeruns, he plays awful defense, and he doesn’t get on base. Otherwise, he’s great.

My thoughts on the move can pretty much be summed up as follows: If Jacobs mostly DHs and hits 30HR, I don’t think most Royals fans will care how bad his on-base percentage is. I’m one of those fans. If Jacobs plays everyday at 1B and forces Butler to Omaha for most of the year and hits 30HR, I’m going to constantly be lamenting his OBP and awful defense. It’ll end up somewhere in the middle.

Traded Ramon Ramirez for CF Coco Crisp
The Red Sox didn’t have a starting spot for Crisp anymore and the Royals (for reasons that are only sort of clear) hate playing David DeJesus in center. I’m actually sympathetic to this line of thinking as I think DeJesus has proven to be more durable in LF. It was a little annoying when it meant Joey Gathright in CF with Teahen on the bench, but Crisp is a legitimate starter who has a chance to put up nice numbers at the plate while playing plus-plus defense. Ramirez is tough to give up, but, considering they essentially gave up nothing for him, turning nothing into one season of great relief pitching and two years of an above average (if overpaid) center fielder is a nice move.

There’s definitely an argument to be made that Crisp shouldn’t lead off, but there really aren’t any better options in a lineup that, outside of Gordon, DeJesus, and Callaspo, has some kind of grudge against first base.

Signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth for 2 years/$9.5 million
Things we know about Kyle Farnsworth:
1) He’s insane
2) He hasn’t been good since 2005
3) Everyone hates him

Yep, I think this will work out great. It’s a shame we couldn’t lock this guy up for more years.

Signed UI Willie Bloomquist for 2 years/$3.1 million
I don’t care as long as he gets less than 175 ABs and backs up every position except catcher. If he does anything else, I hate him. If he is the opening day 2B, I hate you. As long as you are the Royals’ general manager. Are you?

I’m kidding. Sort of.

Extended RHP Zack Greinke for 4 years/$38 million
Hooray!

There were other moves, too, but that last move is really the big one and what makes the offseason a success. Nothing else the Royals have done since the Meche signing carries over to the 2011 season and, if they’re being honest, that’s when the team has its eye on seriously competing. Everything else is about putting a competitive team on the field, creating a winning culture through competition, and (I believe) stretching out the payroll so that it’s there if the Royals want to make a big splash after Guillen, Farnsworth, Crisp, and Bloomquist all come off the books. Only Jacobs has a chance to still be around when this team is ready and even then he seems like trade bait since he plays the only position where the Royals show depth throughout their system.

Of course, people a lot smarter than me will tell you aiming for .500 is a bad way to build a team. That school of thought says that spending money on guys like Farnsworth and Bloomquist is a negative since it could go to Latin America or be saved for a time when competition is possible and not just a pipe dream. This line of thinking has never made much sense to me as nothing about such a criticism seems to account for how baseball payrolls actually work.

There are still plenty of issues. The Royals don’t seem to want any of the second basemen they acquired to actually play second base. They have at least one too many starting pitchers and it remains to be seen if they’ll make the right move in choosing the backup position players or if they’ll get sentimental and march out Ross Gload again when they no longer need his “ability” to play the OF and they have better options.

Still, most teams are similarly stymied with ungainly rosters so the Royals aren’t in bad shape. If nothing else, this team is looking better than last year’s overachieving squad and .500 is a legitimate goal. Greinke’s extension is the real key, however, and if he pitches to form the Royals look to be a team with great pitching, poor offense, and wildly uneven defense (great in the OF, bad in the IF).

They should be fun to watch, and not just on the days when Kyle Farnsworth decides to throw at batters.

1 Comment / Posted in Action Teams, Baseball, Sports

Exhibit 15.1

What I Talk About When I Talk About Cold

Before Sunday I would have told you one of three things.

* Winter camping as a boy scout. Possibly because of the hot SUV ride there or the awesomely warm sleeping bag I took, but these “Klondike Camps” always felt colder while packing the sled in the church basement than they did screwing wheels on the sled by the campsite because there wasn’t any snow. I don’t recall how many times I went, at least twice, but there was never snow or cold that might be considered dangerous. Still, the camps were unrelenting in their camping and even at a sunny 20° F, an 11-year-old’s body quits after a few hours. This is where I first started drinking coffee though the adults never shared the whiskey they didn’t even try to hide. At the time I thought maybe they were just disrespecting our intelligence, but now I realize it’ s just hard to hide anything when you’re wearing mittens.

* Sleeping outside of a hostel in Switzerland. Now, it was May, but still. It isn’t actually as interesting as it sounds–except to me, I suppose–so I’ll keep this all temperature related. All I know is that after an hour of sleeping on a concrete stoop, when I woke up my heart was cold. You should add “From Exposure” to your list of most feared deaths. And then you should never show your list to O.J.

(I’m totally still gunning for a gig with Leno. Jokes like that work even better at 10, Jay.)

* Ice fishing. Fairly self-explanatory if you’ve done it. I understand from movies and television that ice fishing is often done in some kind of enclosed cabin, but the time I went it was only a bunch of us exposed on a lake augering about thirty holes in an area the size of a high school classroom. Here’s how cold it was: I had a great time, but I would make the car crash if you ever tried to drive me to a lake and make me do it again. I don’t know how I would make the car crash, but rest assured, now that I’m remembering how it felt, I’m coming up with a plan just in case. Just a guess, but the plan will probably involve lunging at the steering wheel. Or possibly hypnosis. I’ll keep working on it.

But there is nothing–nothing–like standing for three hours in windchill cutting down to -20° F. It was like someone stole my toes and fingers and replaced them with terror. It was like wearing a suit made out of brain freezes. It was like volunteering to guard a penguin who, instead of doing heart warming penguin shenanigans, spends the afternoon telling racist jokes. It was like suddenly knowing how the last dinosaur felt at the moment of its death.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I ever pick you up in December and tell you I’m taking you to a football game, you should make the car crash, possibly by using your watch to deflect light in my eyes or by shooting a poison dart into my neck.

3 Comments / Posted in Experiences, Sports, Winter

Exhibit 14.9

Thoughts on the Coco Crisp Trade

Before we begin, let me welcome Mr. Crisp to the Great Names of the Royals Hall of Fame. Coco, please take your seat between Vida Blue and Pete LaCock.

Anyway, the Royals made their second major move of the offseason, acquiring center fielder Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox for reliever Ramon Ramirez. As with their first move, this was all about Royals GM Dayton Moore spending a fungible commodity (relief pitchers) and getting back value in the form of position players who are harder to find and who, ideally, should be more predictable in their performance. Crisp, like Jacobs earlier, is a player who had outlived his usefulness to his former team but represents an easy upgrade for a team like the Royals who suddenly seem willing to pay above-market salaries as long as they send back below-market players in the trade.

And that’s really what this comes down to from the Royals’ perspective. Moore has proven to be almost preternaturally talented at assembling great bullpens out of retreads and so players like Ramirez and Nunez are less valuable to the Royals than they are to other clubs (sadly, the opposite might be true when it comes to position players as Moore has so far struggled to identify and utilize cheap talent). It’s possible he’s just been lucky, but I can say as a fan that I’m not one bit worried about the bullpen despite having lost two quality arms in the past month.

Those two arms brought back a 1B/DH who will likely see near full-time duty as part of a three-man rotation over two spots and a CF who will start and (probably stupidly) leadoff. Say what you will about the logic of trading young, cheap pitchers for expensive older who players who may or may not block homegrown prospects, these two trades represent significant upgrades to the everyday lineup and almost certainly make the Royals think they’ll finish above .500 for only the second time since 1994.

As for Coco Crisp specifically, he’s a good player who used to be better but is still in his prime (29) and might very well be better in Kansas City’s roomy ballpark than he was in Boston’s bandbox. His defense is good-to-great, his power is adequate for a CF, he’s not an OBP guy but he’s okay, and he has one true skill with his exceptional speed. His contract has two years left on it–$5.75 million this year, $8 million club option next year with 500k buyout–but I’d put the odds squarely against the Royals ever picking that option unless:

A) Crisp reverts back to his 2005 form
B) The Royals compete for the division this year
C) The Royals trade Jose Guillen

And I think all three of those things have to happen. So for one year of average to above-average production and great (if weak-armed) defense, the Royals gave up a reliever who probably had his career season last year. Ramirez was great, but he’s due to fall back to Earth and the Royals were smart to sell high.

(Which is maybe the most overlooked part of both of the trades this offseason. Dayton Moore turned 1/2 a season of Benito Santiago into a guy who hit 30+ HR last season when he traded Nunez for Jacobs. Then he turned Tony Graffanino into Jorge de la Rosa into Ramon Ramirez into Coco Crisp. And that doesn’t even count the productive seasons he got from Nunez and Ramirez in the interim. The Royals, if nothing else, have been trading up).

Crisp allows the Royals to shift DeJesus to left where his defense should go from adequate to outstanding, and, though they haven’t mentioned it, it seems clear that they also think DeJesus will stay healthier if he’s not throwing his body around in center every night. It also frees up someone for a trade though the Royals could also just release Ross Gload and Joey Gathright and I don’t think you’d hear any complaining out of the fan base.

Like I said, this team has gotten substantially better in just a month and while some analysts are taking it to the Royals for aiming for the middle rather than aiming high, I think that one year of creating a winning culture while some young guys develop isn’t the worst thing in the world (especially since nobody is being blocked with these moves who wouldn’t be blocked otherwise). We’ve all seen what true replacement-level players look like in KC and it’s not pretty. Crisp and Jacobs are both fun players in the sense they make big plays (good and bad) and they’ll adequately serve as plugs in a leaky ship until 2010 at which point I doubt either is still on the team.

I say it’s a good move that has a small amount of upside with no real downside other than salary. As the owner of the Royals is an evil ex-Wal-Mart executive, not only do I not mind spending the money, I wish there was some way we could spend more of it. Perhaps a golden statue to commemorate Mr. LaCock’s one season in KC…

Better takes on the trade here, here, here, and here.

1 Comment / Posted in Baseball, Cocos, Sports

Exhibit 14.6

All right, has everyone internalized how I feel about this football season or do we need more time? No? We’re good? Excellent. This will save us a lot of catching up next time we see each other.

You: Hello, funny running into you here at this ill-defined place we’re at.
Me: Let me tell you my thoughts about the football season.
You: No need, I read your blog.
Me: This will save us a lot of catching up.
You: Yes.
Me: Let me tell you my thoughts about politics.
You: No need, I read liberal blogs, too. I assume you’ll pretty much say what they tell you to.
Me: [betrayed!]
You: This just isn’t working. I think we should find separate places to do whatever we’re doing right now.

Anyway, let’s see if anything bizarre/horrible happened in North Platte, Nebraska, recently:

A judge who gave a child molester probation because he was short lost re-election.

The trial of a man who beat up his girlfriend because she made him mac and cheese has been delayed.

An elementary school principal falsely reported her car stolen for some reason.

Nope. Same as ever.

Comment / Posted in North Platte, Sports, Time

Exhibit 14.5

.5625way Through the Season Football Recap

Miami Dolphins (5-4, 3rd Place)
So it occurred to me a few weeks ago that I hadn’t written anything about this football season, but since the Dolphins were doing so well, I didn’t want to jinx them just to express thoughts like “They rox! OMG!” or “Woot! Is that how you do it? Oh, with zeroes. w00t. No, I don’t like it that way.” Well, they’ve only won more in the meantime and find themselves in the race for the playoffs so I think I’m probably safe to say, “Fist bumps, yeah! The Phins pown wooT 4 r34l! Killer fist bump!”

Now you know why I keep getting kicked out of the Old Chicago.

Anyway, Bill Parcells and his elementary-school-teacher-or-Gloop-Gleep-or-Russian-nested-doll-esque body type have completely revitalized the franchise as well as my not-at-all-real interest in l33t speak. In case you were unaware, this team went 1-15 last season. Each win they get adds a full 100% to how much better they are than last year. Yeah, things were looking grim but then…

MVP – Bill Parcells. There’s a lot of competition for this spot (i.e. Tony Sparano, Joey Porter, and Chad Pennington) but none of those guys would be in Miami or a position to succeed without the change in attitude brought by Bill “Body Type of a Structurally Unsound Snowman ” Parcells. It’s weird how much I didn’t care about this guy a year ago but now think he’s one of the greatest football minds of all time. I don’t think I’ve linked to it before, but right after the Dolphins hired Parcells, I happened to read this essay by Michael Lewis (Moneyball) and it really turned me around on him. If you have any interest in Parcells, football, coaching, or learning how to have a deeply unsatisfying personal life while achieving great success in your career, I highly recommend it.

LVP – Ernest Wilford. It’s not a good sign when people are saying things like, “Maybe we should take our expensive free agent receiver and make him a tight end.” If you didn’t understand that, just imagine that you were hired to be a surgeon but after leaving a few dead patients on the table, they decided you’d be better off as the table.

The Ginn Family (7-3, 1st Place)
But it’s a very tenuous 1st place. So tenuous that I’m 7th in points scored. In other words, I owe my position entirely to the vagaries of the schedule and am by no means the favorite to win the playoffs. Still, my goal at this point is the regular season title and with a full game lead with three to play, it’s possible.

(Completely unrelated tangent: I was listening to The National on someone’s iTunes and when the album finished the next song was “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty by Nature. I listened to the entire 4:30 song and half of Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” before I figured out what had happened. These are the things I want to tell you about at the Old Chicago).

MVP – Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons. I saved my number one waiver wire position for a few weeks waiting for someone to drop a marquee player. It was definitely worth the wait.

LVP – Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers. But only because his body appears to be made of that white modeling clay you bake. Otherwise he’s great.

Bill Parcells’ Lonely Nautilus Machine (5-5, 6th Place)
This team has been as unlucky as The Ginn Family has been lucky, and it’s starting to take its toll. Most of the time I spend thinking about this team I’m trying to decide if I made the right call to forgo the ‘s’ after the apostrophe. Now, usually I’m a fan, but somehow it just looked wrong as as a title so I left it behind like Kirk Cameron.

Maybe that’s where the wheels started to come off.

MVP – Oh, I don’t know, every player on my team has been just inconsistent enough to help me lose. Let’s say Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. He’s good.

LVP – Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. Or maybe I just hate the Steelers. Yeah, that’s probably it.

1 Comment / Posted in Bill Parcells, Sports, The Ginn Family

Exhibit 13.22

Thoughts on the Mike Jacobs Trade

Okay, if you’re not a baseball fan in general or a Royals fan in particular, you definitely don’t need to read this. Here, read this.

So the Royals made a trade, shipping 25-year-old reliever Leo “The Splinter” Nunez to the Florida Marlins for newly 28-year-old 1B Mike Jacobs (happy birthday, Mike). Other than the fact that Mike needs a nickname (The Vacuum? I joke, I joke), I think it’s a respectable trade which puts me at odds with just about everyone in the world whose name doesn’t rhyme with Shmayton Shmore. Here’s why Royals fans hate this:

*Jacobs profiles as a quick decliner and is unlikely to hit another 32 HR in Kaufman Stadium (even though his old park is worse for power hitters according to KC Star stat guy Bradford Doolittle whose take here I agree with).

*Jacobs also had an absolutely atrocious .299 OBP last year. I’ll admit, this is bad–really bad, like Steve Martin’s Sgt. Bilko bad–but one way or another he’s going to have an .800 OPS. Do you know how many regular Royals had an .800+ OPS last year? Two.

*The original deal had Carlos Rosa going to Florida. I think Royals fans got a little worked up on that one (understandable as Rosa is a better prospect) and decided they hated Mike Jacobs last week. Now that the deal is done and it’s much more palatable–if not an outright steal–it’s hard to go back to praising Jacobs, even on the poor guy’s birthday.

Other reasons I like it:

*Leo Nunez, despite coming in first in gold chains, is the Royals fourth best reliever when he’s healthy. That he’s often not healthy only seals the deal. Odd that the Marlins supposedly past on Carlos Rosa for health reasons when Nunez seems as bad in this regard, doesn’t have much projection left, is closer to arbitration, and is definitely not a starter while you can at least wish on Rosa.

*Mike Jacobs, with 32, HR hit 12 more home runs than any Royal did last season. That’s not nothing.

*Ross Gload, the man Jacobs is hopefully relegating to permanent backup duty if not outright release, had an OPS+ 30 points lower than Jacobs, only hit 3 HR, and had an OBP of .317. Why are we supposed to be upset about this again? Ross Gload isn’t right for the Royals. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. I like to watch how everyone gives him breaks because he’s white and then has to awkwardly chalk it up to his “grit.” But Ross Gload has no place as anything other than a versatile 1B/OF backup on a contending team. If he’s starting, your team is bad. We’ve learned this.

And that’s really the rub here. For the moment I’m seeing this as the Royals upgrading the Ross Gload-Billy Butler 1B/DH combo with a Mike Jacobs-Billy Butler 1B/DH combo (with, god willing, Jacobs playing DH). Or maybe Billy starts the year in Omaha and gets called up when he’s ready to take over first. Whatever the case may be, I don’t think this trade necessitates a Butler trade or even makes one more likely (if they want to ship Butler out, they will regardless). Nor does it hold back Kila “Hawaiian Punch” Ka’aihue who needs more than the 30 some games he’s had above AA before he’s ready.

A lot of Royals fans see this as the Royals acquring another mediocre player with a lousy on base percentage, but the truth is that Jacobs would have been the Royals best hitter last year and while he doesn’t play a position of defensive value, there’s no denying that his one true skill–power–is desperately needed. He’s clearly an upgrade over Gload and Shealy and, despite what some are saying, it’s not easy to find a guy who hits 30+ home runs (just ask the Royals who haven’t had one since…I don’t know…Jermaine Dye in 2000?), let alone one who is under team control for another three years and only costs an exceedingly replaceable reliever.

Look, Jacobs clearly isn’t Adam Dunn, but he’s not a bad substitute at the value he presents. I’m of the opinion that while you’d obviously prefer a guy with a higher OBP, the fact that he doesn’t have it isn’t going to hurt the Royals as much as a team with a stable of power hitters behind him. Honestly, how many times are the Royals 6-7-8 (or 5-6-7) hitters going to string together enough hits to move the plodding Jacobs around the bases? Yeah, he’ll make more than his share of outs, but so did Ross Gload only he brought nothing to the table. Shealy is a mirage (and a full year older than Jacobs). Kila isn’t ready. And Butler needs some competition (because it’s not as if he’s proved anything). What’s not to like here?

Well, possibly the next move. If Butler gets shipped out, I reserve the right to feel differently, but for right now I like the Royals lineup quite a bit more than I did this morning. If you feel differently, just repeat after me: Ross Gload played in 122 games last season. Ross Gload played in 122 games last season. Ross Gload played in 122 games last season.

3 Comments / Posted in Mikes, Sports, Vacuous

Exhibit 13.7

The Royals have named Kevin Seitzer their new hitting coach. Hmm, let’s see if I can find his business card somewhere. Ah, here we go:


Not only does that illuminate the startling lack of pertinent information found on my own business cards, but it pretty much says it all it needs to about Seitzer’s qualifications for this or any other job. I’d hire Seitzer to reupholster my sofa and marry my sister if I could.

I’ve already written about Seitzer here, but I didn’t come right out and admit the horrible truth: Kevin Seitzer is my favorite baseball player. I liked him better than George Brett as a child which is why I currently have a Kevin Seitzer Starting Lineup figure on my work desk while my brother has a presumably more valuable George Brett Starting Lineup figure in a closet somewhere.

(ed note: I looked into this. Neither is worth anything which is good because I’m not selling. Not unless the price goes over $1.75. Then I might sell. Sorry, Kev, but a guy has to raise money if his sister ever wants a husband).

Seitzer was never quite as good as his remarkable rookie season which just so happened to occur at the same time and in the same league as Mark McGwire’s even more remarkable rookie season (49 home runs!). Benito Santiago, who won the Rookie of the Year in the NL that year, had an OPS+ 17 points lower than Seitzer’s, and while Santiago was a catcher, it’s still almost a certainty that Seitzer would have won it over him had they been in the same league. Seitzer also had far better all around numbers than 1986’s AL winner, Jose Canseco, but Canseco hit a lot of HRs so it probably would have been a tossup. 1988’s AL winner was the absolutely dreadful Walt Weiss. How that season (.633 OPS, 81 OPS+) managed to get anyone, even a shortstop, a Rookie of the Year award is beyond me (although all the rookies were dreadful that year. Reading the names of the other finalists is like reading names off of tombstones).

I wish Seitzer could have won the Rookie of the Year because I think his career might have gone quite a bit differently if he had. If nothing else, he probably wouldn’t have been unceremoniously released by the Royals in the middle of spring training in 1992. At that point, everyone seemed to realize that he was never going to be George Brett, but as a kid who willingly traded George Brett cards straight up for Kevin Seitzer cards, it seemed like an insult to one of the cornerstone members of the team.

Rumors had it that Seitzer was a bit of a wild asshole during the first half of his Royals tenure (he drank too much) and then too much of a sanctimonious asshole during the second half (he stopped drinking and found [De]Jesus), but by all accounts he’s a great guy, a class act now, and the Royals are lucky to have him back.

–Adam Peterson

Bats: Scare Him
Throws: Sort of Sissy Like
This Way To The Clubhouse: Adam went undrafted in baseball and every other sport.

1 Comment / Posted in Seitzers, Sorry: Kaitlin, Sports

Exhibit 12.23

Royals Season Review

2008 Kansas City Royals
75-87
4th Place!

It seems like just yesterday that I wrote my The Sound and the Fury-inspired Royals Season Preview but just as the leaves have begun to return to the Earth so too have the Royals begun to return their McMansions in Overland Park. Some will forget what it is they’ve done all summer. Some will eat a lot of buffalo wings. Some will follow in the family tradition of wearing their uniform all winter while cruising around Santo Domingo. Some will never return. None of will ever forget.

In case you haven’t been following along, the Royals went on a tear in September and redeemed their season in a matter of weeks. Not only did they prove themselves to be better than some truly awful teams (Oakland, Seattle), they also stood apart from the quitters (Detroit) and held their own against the class of the league (Minnesota). It was inspiring to say the least, almost enough to make me wish I hadn’t been bad mouthing the team after their horrific August. Here, to make amends I updated the chart I made then:

That’s right, the Royals crept into Hector Elizondo territory. Maybe not Necessary Roughness Hector Elizondo territory but certainly Beverly Hills Cop III. I’ll take it. Here’s their record by month:

March/April: 12-15
May: 10-19
June: 16-11
July: 12-13
August: 7-20
September: 18-8

(If it doesn’t match exactly with the chart, it’s mostly because I’m bad at charts. As evidence: I accidentally put a peak between May and June instead of June and July. I’ll understand if this means you don’t anything I have to say about the election seriously).

Obviously it’s a silly thing to drop entire months of the season in one’s analysis, but I will say that there are some positive signs in those positive months. If nothing else, this team was capable of playing pennant race-caliber ball at times as opposed to just being consistently awful as in seasons past. Think of it in terms of movies. Since the mirage season of 2003, this team has been like McG (by which I mean only capable of producing relentlessly awful suck). This season, I think we can optimistically say this team was more like Michael Cimino. Sure, there was a lot of sadness and flailing, but there was also at least one period of glory. In that sense, it was a marked improvement much greater than the six games over last season would indicate.

And 4th place is nothing to sneeze at either. I, for one, was stupid happy when the Tigers lost yesterday to grab last place for themselves.

Positives
Mike Aviles – This year: He’s very, very good. Like, one of the best short stops in the game good. Next year: We’ll see. He’ll decline, surely, but the question is how much.

Greinke, Meche, Davies – That’s three pitchers out of a five man rotation. Davies might not ever be this good again, but he’s a #5 at least.

Alex Gordon and Billy Butler – On the whole their seasons were slightly disappointing (if only because neither had an Evan Longoria-like explosion) but both ended the season very well and seem to be on the cusp of breaking out.

Dayton Moore – Still seems to know what he’s doing. Still named Dayton. I like that.

David DeJesus – Had the best season of his career and would be a key component of a winning team if the Royals weren’t dead set on keeping him out of CF. I’d hate to see him go, but he might be the best trading chip the Royals have.

Soria – The Mexicutioner.

The rest of bullpen – Seems like this is pretty much settled.

Negatives
Tony Pena Jr. – Thanks for playing, Tony! Seems like a great guy, but so does my upstairs neighbor, and I don’t want either one starting in the majors (or playing loud Evanescence).

Jose Guillen – So he wasn’t bad and I do it’s his desire to win that makes him an insufferable prick. That’s an admirable quality if harnessed. If it causes you to attack chubby Midwesterners jawing at you? Uh, not so much.

Trey Hillman – You know how sometimes you’re really excited to read a book/listen to an album/see a movie and then you do it and about halfway through you want to throw the book/go back to listening to Lyle Lovett/walk into Tropic Thunder on the way back from the bathroom to see what that’s all about/fire your manager? Let’s just say I’m getting worried.

Ross Gload – I like him on a good team. Just the second we’ve got one I’ll pull him out of whatever independent league team he’s playing for at age 52 and make him the second bat off the bench.

Brian Bannister – I still think he bounces back to being average in the A.L. and a little better should he get his shot in the N.L.

Somewhere in the Middle
Mark Teahen/John Buck/Alberto Callaspo/Miguel Olivo/Ryan Shealy – These are all the question marks on next year’s team and some, if not most, won’t be back. I think Teahen is becoming a rich man’s Ross Gload if he doesn’t put it all together, Buck is playing himself into backup duty, Callaspo can hit for average and take a walk but doesn’t project to any position other than second and the Royals don’t seem to like his defense, Olivo can only hit straight left-handed fastballs, and Shealy was great during his callup but is 29 with the body-type of an oak tree and an equal amount of agility.

My winter game plan is simple: Find a power hitting corner OF and make DeJesus the everyday CF with Maier/Gathright backing him up. If you absolutely must have DeJesus in LF then target a young, toolsy CF in a trade (Bannister? Davies? Rosa?). In either case, make Teahen a supersub with the understanding that he plays 1B if Shealy can’t handle it and Kila isn’t ready to move up from Omaha. He’ll get his at bats one way or the other. Aviles can stick at short as can Callaspo at 2B. The pitching staff is pretty much set, but add one reliable bullpen arm and, if a starter gets dealt and none come back, target a #4 type. Keep Buck for one more year.

No matter what, no deals over 3 years, no dealing Greinke, and no turning down reasonable trade offers for Jose Guillen.

2 Comments / Posted in 4th, Reviews, Sports

Exhibit 12.14

George Saunders has a hilarious take on Sarah Palin in the New Yorker. Read here.

And, in case you haven’t noticed (“and judging by the attendence, you haven’t”), the Royals have won 6 in a row, Soria has 40 saves, Meche has 12 wins, and I have begun to say things like, “If Ryan Shealy had been in the lineup all season this team would have been within 5 games of .500.”

Ah, autumn, it’s that magical time when I begin to talk myself into Kyle Davies and work out Brian Bannister for Jeff Francoeur trades in my head.

Then comes winter. A very long winter.

1 Comment / Posted in New, Politics, Sports

Exhibit 12.6

Fantasy Football Draft Recap

Sigh. I know, I’m bored too.

Bill Parcells’ Lonely Nautilus Machine


That’s the logo, and it might not make sense until you see this picture:


Everybody got it now? Good. Look, just because the man has the same body type as my elderly 1st grade teacher isn’t any reason not to have complete and total faith in him this year.

(UPDATE: Damnit, I just looked to find a link in an old post and realized I made a much funnier joke last year when I said Bill Parcells has the body type of Gloop and Gleep from The Herculoids. This tells us a few things:

1) I’m slipping
2) Bill Parcells’ body type is a subject of ongoing fascination for me
3) If my old first grade teacher Ms. Summers is…
-a) alive
-b) reading this blog
-c) an expert on The Herculoids
…she’s probably feeling insulted right now).

I actually named the team this because I really like the sad, darkened Nautilus photo. Why that can’t be a mascot for a team somewhere, I don’t know. Incidentally, the OKC basketball team just announced Thunder as their team name and introduced an absurdly generic blue, orange, and yellow logo. Um, let’s all forget I ever thought about taking an interest in them specifically or basketball generally.

This team is in the same league as If Mandy Patinkin Was A Fantasy Football Team was last year and while the name is less than satisfactorily cumbersome, it still can’t reasonably be said outloud so I think I did my job. I had the last pick in the draft so I drafted 12, 13, 36, 37, etc. which is a position I don’t think I’d ever been in before and hope never to be in again.

First Round – Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco. I hate him this year, but the first 11 picks went exactly as expected and it was either Gore and Owens or Owens and Wayne. Wouldn’t have been the end of the world, I suppose, but I do think Gore has some value going this low. I actually feel pretty good about him since I’ve taken him. Probably for the same reason that I eventually got excited about John Kerry. Incidentally, this will likely end about as well.

Second Round – Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas. I’ve never had him on a team before and he’s all they’ve got. I’m thinking a lot of catches here. I briefly considered his QB (Romo) before I remembered that meant I might have to take an interest in Jessica Simpson. As the cancellation of Newlyweds after her divorce made me aware of the disappointments that life brought, I just don’t think I could do it.

Third Round – Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland. If you’re following along at home, you may have noticed that these are the same two running backs that my team had last year. It worked out okay then, plus I got to make a joke about prison at the draft for the second consecutive year. So all and all, a win. Also good value, a key when drafting with back to back picks which I forgot…

Fourth Round – Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh. …here. A bit of a panic pick since QBs were going fast (Brady went 2nd). Still, not good value especially since I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to spell his name correctly on the sheet that I keep track of picks with. Not an auspicious debut for Ben and I.

Fifth Round – Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City. Let’s just ignore the fact that both of my teams rely on this guy and that Tony’s QB could be beat out by Devon Sawa from Little Giants. Another panic pick. In my defense, tight ends were going fast and I hated all of the WRs being taken around here just like I did in the fourth round when I was one pick from Brandon Marshall (and two from Santonio Holmes) yet the next guy who went was Welker. Oh, wait, I should have taken Welker. I hate me.

Sixth Round – Laveranues Coles, WR, New York (Jets). He hates his QB. He has a mysterious nagging injury. He feels like he’s been disrespected by his team. His team feels like he’s being a baby. Otherwise he’s great.

Seventh Round – Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay. I love Joey Galloway, nobody ever sees him coming. By the way, he’s still one of the fastest guys in the league at 36. I guess what I’m saying is, I hope he and Dara Torres have a baby and then find a way to market the stem cells to the general public. (Too much? Yeah, probably too much).

Eighth Round – Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami. I didn’t want him but this was the 85th pick. That’s dumb low for him even considering…

Ninth Round- Ricky Williams, RB, Miami. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming did you. Look, nobody knew this team at this draft more than me. There are three ways this works out: 1) All season long it’s more or less a timeshare but a predictable one like Jax, 2) Ricky starts early until Brown is healthy at which point they switch, or 3) One gets hurt and the other takes over. I’ll be happy with any of those scenarios though 2 & 3 are the most likely.

Tenth Round – Matt Shaub, QB, Houston. Still no idea who he is. I hope he’s good at whatever he does.

Eleventh Round – Antwaan Randle El, WR, Washington. At this point I’ve realized my WRs are weak so I go with an upside pick. By the way, I initially spelled two out of his three names wrong when I typed that just now. See, and you thought this wasn’t fun.

Twelfth Round – Who cares. Some dude. Quick thoughts on McCain speech: Fine but absurdly boring. Now that the convention is over it might be a really promising next week for the Republicans followed by a long period of trouble since Palin is (by all accounts) going in the bunker while the Democrats continue to work their ground game. Does the enthusiasm hold if it’s only McCain out there?

Thirteenth Round – Devin Hester, WR, Chicago. Again, another upside pick.

Fourteenth Round – Kicker Kickerson, K, Kickersville.

Fifteenth Round – Baltimore D. I have subsequently dropped them for the Bengals on the hopes Joe Flacco (the rookie QB they face in week one) acts like a guy who couldn’t cut it at Pitt, played ball at Delaware, and then stupidly got put in an NFL game. What’s that you say? That’s exactly the situation. Ah, right. Bet the under people.

So my team looks like this:

QB – Ben Roethlisberger
RB – Frank Gore
RB – Jamal Lewis
WR – Terrell Owens
WR – Laveranues Coles
WR – Joey Galloway
TE – Tony Gonzalez
K – Adam Vinatieri
Def – Cincinnati Bengals (but only for week one)

BN – Ronnie Brown
BN – Ricky Williams
BN – Matt Schaub
BN – Antwaan Randle El
BN – Devin Hester
BN – Ray Rice

I actually like this team a bit more now than I did while drafting it (I was possibly just bummed out because I picked a team full of guys with names I couldn’t spell). I feel like despite ending up with the 12th pick that I have a team of solid performers with a few highlights. I love Brown and Williams on the bench though I’m trading Williams if he starts the season hot (he will). My receivers are obviously the weakest link but I think that’s partly because Galloway and Coles are the sneaky sort of players that always end up with 1,000 yards and 8 TDs at the end of the year and no one is quite sure how. That’s not going to be comforting if I can’t swing a trade, but I’ll deal with that then.

Draft Grade: C

3 Comments / Posted in Bill Parcells, Laveranueses, Sports

Exhibit 11.27

So it’s that time of year again where I embarrass myself by not only admitting that I play fantasy football but reveling in it to the point where I write about here while everyone I know and love politely stares at the ceiling and whistles as they wait for the moment to pass. Well, I don’t care. I like it. No, sometimes I don’t know why either.

Draft Recap

The Ginn Family

No, that is not Ted Ginn’s actual family, but I couldn’t find a picture of them. As always, stock photography saved me. If you don’t get the reference, you can check out this painful memory here. And here. And here.

Incidentally, I now love Ted Ginn Jr. How much? We’ll see.

This is the same league that the much better named Lincoln Hawks were in last year if you’re curious. This year the league has expanded to 14 teams which should mean a thinner talent pool overall, an interesting development in a league that only has two bench spots per team. I guess what I’m trying to say is, Congratulations on making someone’s team, Selvin Young. You don’t have to wait for an injury this year. At least in fake football. Real football? Um, I wouldn’t buy that condo in Denver just yet.

I had the ninth pick, and the draft snakes so I got 9, 20, 37, 48, 65, etc.

First Round – Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo Bills. This offseason, Marshawn hit someone with his car and then lied to the police about being the driver. He also has gold and diamond caps on his teeth. Basically, now that Tim Russert’s dead, he’s pretty much the toughest guy in Buffalo. After the debacle of my passionless team last season, I need a little bit more Barksdale and a little less Bubbles on my roster. On a more serious note, it would not surprise me at all if he leads the league in rushing this season.

Second Round – Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianopolis Colts. I thoroughly enjoyed having him on my team last season and wanted to sign up for another round. Also, he’s from New Orleans and, according to an article I once read, got such good hands by catching rocks as a kid. Hey, Marshawn, I drafted you a friend.

Third Round – Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh. Simply the best value on the board at pick 37. Plus, his nickname, “Fast” Willie Parker, is a pre-name nickname which, among other things, makes it pretty awesome. If it’s not clear, I’m not entirely sold on him, but if he does what he does last year, I’ll be more than happy. He doesn’t score touchdowns but neither do I and I’m okay with me.

Fourth Round – Torry Holt, WR, St. Louis. Maybe my favorite pick of the draft. Sure, his knees don’t have any cartilage, but he’s always great anyway and now he has Al Saunders back as his offensive coordinator! I know, I’m excited too. If it makes it easier, I can just point out that Lendale White went ahead of him and he’s obese so…good pick.

Fifth Round – Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City. I’ve never had him on my team before because for some reason I’ve always been really afraid of all Chiefs (their horrible quarterbacks). Still, he’s remarkably consistent and a vegetarian. Him and Marshawn are going to have a lot to talk about as they drive (recklessly) to the farmer’s market.

Sixth Round – Fred Taylor, RB, Jacksonville. Ugh.

Seventh Round – Donald Driver, WR, Green Bay. Ugh. These last two picks were all about value and consistency. Both were by far the best option at the time (I mean, a few true backups went before Taylor) but I doubt either will be on my team past week four because…

Eighth Round – Ricky Williams, RB, Miami. I love Ricky Williams this year (and every other year). Yes, he’s single handily destroyed several Dolphins seasons by smoking pot and being generally eccentric, but he’s an absolute monster. I really, really like Ricky Williams. He’s everything I want in a football player except committed.

Ninth Round – Matt Schaub, QB, Houston. I don’t know who he is either. I hope he’s good.

Tenth Round – Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Miami. Namesake pick! Did I mention this league gives points for return yardage? And that Ted Ginn is the Dolphins number one receiver? And that guys like James Hardy were going at this point? And that he’s had a monster preseason? And that Chad Pennington loves him? Sure, it’s a homer pick, but I expect big things.

Eleventh Round – Indianapolis Defense. I don’t know, whatever. Defenses get juggled in this league due to the short bench.

Twelfth Round – Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore. Picked solely under the hope that Willis McGahee (the guy starting in front of him) can’t go week one and I get to trade him. If not, I’ll drop him for the kicker. As with defenses, there’s not a lot of holdover week to week for a lot of teams at the kicker position.

So in the end my team is:

QB: Matt Schaub
RB: Marshawn Lynch
RB: “Fast” Willie Parker
WR: Reggie Wayne
WR: Torry Holt
RB/WR: Ricky Williams
WR/TE: Donald Driver
TE: Tony Gonzalez
K:
Def: Indianapolis
BN: Ted Ginn Jr.
BN: Fred Taylor
BN: Ray Rice

That’s a pretty salty team. What it lacks in a go-to guy, it should make up for with consistently great performances from Lynch, Parker, Holt, and Wayne. I think there’s also some nice upside with Ginn and Williams who, as long as their car doesn’t break down in front of a head shop in South Beach, should provide great value. If nothing else, I should know by Miami’s early bye whether or not I need them.

Quarterback is the biggest concern, but I feel good about Schaub. Everyone loves Andre Johnson this year, and, if they’re right, that means Schaub is getting things done. Even if he falters, I’ll be able to pick up his backup, Sage “I Rent Myself Out for Parties” Rosenfels. We have a history.
Draft grade: B+
Comment / Posted in Recently, Sports, The Ginn Family

Exhibit 11.23

Well, it’s official, this is the nadir of the Royals season. Between the always reliable Joakim Soria not being able to shut the door yesterday and Alex Gordon suffering through a few nagging injuries, there’s not a lot to feel good about in Royals land.

Here, I made a chart of their season so far:

It occurs to me that I may have to adjust the y-axis to run from Abysmal to Woody Allen’s Anything Else to Awful.

Comment / Posted in Anything Else, Nadirs, Sports

Exhibit 11.20

5 Things I Learned From Extensive Olympics Watching

1. Don’t talk shit to Michael Phelps. Even having the word ‘shit’ and ‘Phelps’ in the same sentence makes me afraid he’s going to come down to my local pool and embarrass me in front of the other kids. I don’t want to be made a fool of in front of the Swanson twins.

2. Water polo, despite having several characteristics of something that would be awesome, is boring. There, I said it. Sorry, Mile Smodlaka.

3. Jason Kidd has no business being on any team, let alone the national one. I audibly laughed when the announcer had to say, “Jason Kidd needs a breather, so here comes Chris Paul.” Bold moves like that are why Coach K gets to be in AmEx commercials.

4. President Bush has a disturbingly close relationship with our women’s beach volleyball team. That guy never ceases to amaze with his uncanny ability to show fevered interest in some things (women’s beach volleyball, brush clearing) and no interest in other things (Vietnam, all other wars).

5. Foreigners hate Shawn Johnson. There, I said it. Sorry, Mile Smodlaka.

Comment / Posted in Disinterested, Miles, Sports

Exhibit 11.12

Transactions

Company Dodgeball Team A – Adam Peterson activated from disabled list and placed on waivers. Claimed by Company Dodgeball Team B.

Company Dodgeball Team B – Acquired Adam Peterson off waivers from Company Dodgeball Team A.

Comment / Posted in B, Sports, Transactions

Exhibit 11.5

It wouldn’t surprise me if this video gets pulled due to MLB’s draconian policies, but that’s Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. coming in to pitch during the 9th inning of a blowout. This pretty much made my night last night. Not only did he show some nasty stuff, he pitched the whole thing with his sunglasses on and a monumental plug of chewing tobacco in his mouth. Oh, and he struck out a future Hall of Famer.

Look, they lost 19-4. I’ll take what small pleasures I can get.

For those who care about such thing, here’s an analysis of his Pitch F/X. Also, for the statheads, take comfort in knowing that Pena’s Win Shares, VORP, and WPA are all almost certainly higher for him as a pitcher than as a shortstop (which says a lot about how awful he’s been).

You know what else says a lot about how awful he’s been, the fact that if he was a full-time pitcher in the National League–as opposed to, you know, a full-time hitter in the American League–his OPS+ would rank 28th among pitchers with 30 at bats according to Sam Mellinger.

Translation: Tony Pena Jr.’s one inning of pitching is more valuable than his half-season of playing shortstop. Also, there are at least 27 pitchers in the National League who are better at hitting a baseball than he is.

I don’t care. TPJ just provided one of my favorite baseball memories.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Penas, Sports

Exhibit 10.23

I don’t have a favorite professional basketball team, mostly because I don’t like the sport. While this small handicap has never kept me from casually following a team before–hello, Chicago Blackhawks–I’ve begun to feel like I need to hop on a bandwagon lest I find myself alone with Spike Lee and, faced with a dearth of other conversation topics, have to talk about Crooklyn.

So I’m thinking about jumping on this new Oklahoma City team’s bandwagon, but I can’t decide if it’s worth it. The case:

Pluses
Kevin Durant
Good G.M.
What is sure to be an ecstatic fanbase
Closest team to Lincoln (well, more or less tied with Minnesota anyway)

Minuses
Team did more to destroy Seattle than the movie Singles
Will undoubtedly choose a horrible name/color scheme
No history at all
All the players are going to hate OKC

Those are some pretty daunting minuses. I know we’re all thinking this, but rooting for this team will be a little bit like rooting for the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. It’s a compromise solution springing from tragedy, nobody inside or outside the organization wants to be there except for a select few, and there’s a distinct feeling that sooner or later everyone is going to come to their senses and we’ll all go home.

That said, it’s a pretty compelling opportunity to grow with a new team that isn’t going to have the collection of stiffs and bad contracts of an expansion team. This whole thing might come down to the mascot. If they pick the Thunderbirds, I’m out. If they pick The Fabulous Thunderbirds and feature Jimmie Vaughan on their jerseys, I’m back in.

2 Comments / Posted in Basketball, Sports, Who's Next? Minnesota.

Exhibit 10.21

Congratulations to Royals All-Star Joakim Soria.

Stats

23 SV
37 IP
41 K
1.22 ERA
.730 WHIP
349 ERA+
1 Old-Timey Beard

Soria didn’t even have to grow that beard, it actually jumped from Abraham Lincoln’s face once it found a worthy suitor.

Too soon?

And did I mention his intro song is “Welcome to the Jungle”? Or that his nickname is “The Mexicutioner”?

Yeah, he’s pretty much your favorite player.

2 Comments / Posted in Baseball, Blasphemous, Sports

Exhibit 10.17

So there is now definitive evidence that Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback of all-time. I don’t understand the math, but I’m just happy there is now a number that tells me what I already know. Sort of like how Christians and Pixies fans know that God is seven.

That number: 8,593

Needless to say, that number is bigger than seven. Take that, God/Elway/Ross Gload.

2 Comments / Posted in Blasphemous, Marinos, Sports

Exhibit 10.9

How to Make a Mitchell Report a Mitchell Report

Find & Replace:

Settlements -> Androstenodione
Trilateral Statement -> Infield Fly Rule
Camp David -> Coors Field
Yasser Arafat -> Barry Bonds
Palestinian Liberation Organization -> National League
Ehud Barak -> Ehud Barak
West Bank -> Knuckle Ball
Bill Clinton -> Lou Clinton
Intifada -> Strike ‘Em Out Throw ‘Em Out Double Play

Comment / Posted in F. Murray Abraham, Reports, Sports

Exhibit 9.14

I’ve been working at my current job for exactly two years as of today. Sadly, I barely even remember starting. Let’s take a look back at those heady days of 2006 and remember what was going on:

Movies
Mission Impossible III beat out Poseidon at the box office, a disappointing showing that most of us still haven’t gotten over. I can’t remember if Tom Cruise was officially crazy yet. I think this was maybe when it was starting as he’s been crazy for at least a year plus his baby needed 9 months to gestate inside the spaceship.

By the way, that last joke is totally going on my demo reel for The Best Week Ever. That’s a show, right?

Current Events
Some headlines:

• Bush To Call For National Guard to Patrol U.S.-Mexico Border
• Report: Global Warning Could Kill 184 Million in Africa
• Bush Administration Asks Judge To Throw Out AT&T Spy Suit
• Verizon Sued For Sharing Phone Records with NSA
• New EU Law Allows U.S. Gov’t To Access Europeans’ Phone Records
• U.S. Helicopter Shot Down in Iraq; 2 Dead
• Iraq Bombings Kill 47
• Report: U.S. Deployed Mentally Ill Soldiers to Iraq
• U.S. Blocks Access for Red Cross to Secret Prisons

In other words, nothing we needed to worry about.

Music
That Raconteurs album came out! You know, the one that was okay but only okay because you wanted it to be good because you really liked the people in the band but then when you heard it you thought this is why the Damn Yankees didn’t work and man I wonder what Tommy Shaw is up to. You know, that one.

Sports
This one is a doozy. And not because it’s interesting.

On this date in 2006 the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in Denver. Of course we all remember that, but what we may not remember is that both the winning and losing pitchers are now Kansas City Royals. Brett Tomko and Ramon Ramirez are both cogs in what has been a very good Kansas City pitching staff this season.

How they were able to shake off the lingering resentment of one early season game in May 2006 to come together on a team in a completely different league, we’ll never know.

1 Comment / Posted in Movies, Music, Sports

Exhibit 9.3

So I imagine you like Bon Iver. I do. I also like embedding YouTube videos like the kids do.

Also, the last part of my draft preview is up at Carlin’s blog. Thank god.

Comment / Posted in Music, Sports, Thank You

Exhibit 9.2

I’ve been trying to drink more water at work which is sort of like trying to breathe more air only I get the more tangible sensation of walking down to the fountain and then walking back again to go the bathroom.

Next week I think I’m go to try to eat more biscotti because of the more tangible sensation of eating biscotti. That will be a nice break from the lukewarm nothing I’ve been consuming all afternoon.

I guess this is just a long winded way of saying that another draft preview is up at Carlin’s blog.

Comment / Posted in Fountains, Sports, Trying

Exhibit 9.1

More draft stuff at Carlin’s blog. Thank god I’m getting paid for this. Otherwise it would seem like I’m wasting a lot of time to focus on something that is no more important than choosing teams in a playground basketball game.

In other news, I have completely neglected to read The Human Stain for my office’s book club. Instead of watching the movie and pretending that I’ve read the book, I’ve decide to just watch a different Anthony Hopkins movie and respond to that.

Co-worker: I found it a really moving read.
Me: Can you believe the bear ate that guy?
Co-worker: What bear?
Me: So, is it just me or has Alec Baldwin aged 30 years since ’98 while Anthony Hopkins has somehow gotten younger? Am I right? Ladies?
Co-workers:
Me: Man that bear was big. I loved when it was all ‘rarrrar’!

And it’s true because I did love that part.

Comment / Posted in Movies, Sports, Thank You

Exhibit 8.27

The second part of my NFL Draft Preview at The Realness Hurts is right here. This time I take a look at the offensive prospects in a scant 2,700 words. Enjoy.

Comment / Posted in Second, Sports, Time

Exhibit 8.26

The NFL Draft is coming up this weekend, and I’m writing a preview for Carlin’s football blog The Realness Hurts.

Believe me, it’s better this way.

The first piece is right here. I’ll be posting more pieces as the week goes on so be sure to check them out if you’re A) Bored or B) Bill Parcells.

Comment / Posted in Blogs, Lonely Places, Sports

Exhibit 8.21

Royals thoughts after an arbitrary number of games.

Record: 7-5
Team MVP: Brian Bannister
Team LVP: Jose Guillen
New Powder Blue Uniforms: Welcome
New Video Board: Absurd/Awesome
New Manager’s Ratio of Chin to Chin Hair: 1:1
Distressing Early Season Performer: Gil Meche
Tony Pena Jr’s OPS: .99 (this, it should be noted, is almost impossible)

Comment / Posted in Baseball, New, Sports

Exhibit 8.10

Royals Season Preview

So it’s probably time to write about baseball. Opening Day is Monday–no matter what we are supposed to think about those real games in Japan–and as always the Kansas City Royals are primed to play 162 games of baseball with a moderately exciting level of skill.

There’s a lot to like about the Royals right now: new manager, renovated stadium, an influx of very young talent, and the commissioner appears ready to void the suspension of their key offseason acquisition. So it’s like they’ve won something already (if having three more weeks to spend with a guy who appears to be an insufferable prick is “winning”).

Let’s take a look at the roster as it will likely be to start the season, grading each player with one of the Compsons from The Sound and the Fury.

(ed note: I will be ignoring the 4-game suspension of another one of their key offseason acquisitions. Yes, that’s right, they signed two guys who were known to be suspended to start the season. And I was for these moves):

Pitchers
Starters
Gil Meche – Caddy.
Brian Bannister – Quentin.
Zack Greinke – Way Quentin. Too much Quentin.
John Bale – Dilsey. Technically not a Compson.
Brett Tomko – Way Benjy. Too much Benjy.

Relievers
Joakim Soria – Caddy.
Ramon Ramirez – Too soon to tell in my complex analysis.
Yasuhiko Yabuta – Japanese.
Ron Mahay – Jason (the father).
Jimmy Gobble – A Quentin if Quentin only came in to face left-handed characters.
Leo Nunez – Miss Quentin.
Joel Peralta – Jason (either one).


Position Players
Catchers
John Buck – The mother.
Miguel Olivo – Jason if Jason told everyone he was going to start and then blamed his Spanish translator.

Infield
Ross Gload – The golf course.
Alberto Callaspo – Caddy.
Mark Grudzielanek – The corpse in As I Lay Dying.
Esteban German – Soon to be traded for (hopefully) a Caddy or a Quentin.
Tony Pena Jr. – Bit of a Benjy.
Alex Gordon – George Brett.

Outfield
Mark Teahen – Sometimes a Caddy, sometimes a Quentin.
David DeJesus – Another Dilsey.
Jose Guillen – Name might as well be Jason Guillen.
Joey Gathright – Can jump pitchers. Oh, and Miss Quentin.

DH
Billy Butler – Benjy but in the best possible sense. He’s stupid good.

Well, that was pointless. My prediction: 78-84.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Caddies, Sports

Exhibit 8.5

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University who won the game on a last second three pointer.

Basketball

Drake vs. Western Kentucky

Winner: Western Kentucky.

Apparently they’re about two points better at basketball. It was an amazing game though. Drake was up one with five seconds left and lost on a running three. Western Kentucky was locked in all game and played great. Congratulations to the Hilltoppers.

We’ll be taking our conestogas back to the plains now.

Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, No good, Sports

Exhibit 8.4

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University because I’m pretty sure this hasn’t gotten old yet.

School Motto
Veritas vs. The Spirit Makes the Master

Winner: Drake

Sorry, but there’s something quasi-problematic about this whole spirit/master thing. It’s not just the valuing of spirit–that’s fine–but it’s the priviledging of mastery as opposed to, say, decency. If Western Kentucky wants to fill the hills with a bunch of little Ayn Rands, that’s their business.

Plus, it’s in English when everyone knows that any motto should be in a dead language. (I’m looking at you, Nebraska).

Veritas wins easily.

1 Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Sports, Truth

Exhibit 8.3

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University. This meeting of two college basketball powerhouses will surely go down in history as one of the least important things to ever happen in Tampa.

Biggest Rival

Creighton vs. Shingles

Winner: Just kidding.
Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Diseases, Sports

Exhibit 8.2

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University. The game is at 11:30am (central) today and before then I’ll post some smaller comparisons. They’ll each have to be an individual posts because formatting these isn’t fun.

University President’s Facial Hair

David Maxwell vs. Gary Ransdell

Winner: Push.

Mr. Ransdell doesn’t have facial hair, and everyone wishes Mr. Maxwell didn’t either. Some bonus points should be given considering Mr. Maxwell is a Russian scholar and the son of a jazz trumpeter. I mean, he probably should have a beard with a resume like that.

It’s not his fault that he’s genetically incapable of growing one.

Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Beards, Sports

Exhibit 8.1

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University, because really, there’s not a lot else going on that’s holding my interest and I’m going wherever this bandwagon takes me.

Most Famous Alumni

Michael Emerson vs. Cordell Hull
Let’s look more closely at this.

Hull: Secretary of State for FDR
Emerson: Ben on Lost

Hull: Good
Emerson: Evil

Hull: Boss was FDR
Emerson: Boss is “Jacob”

Hull: Credited with creation of the United Nations
Emerson: Has crush on Juliet

Hull: Longest serving secretary of state
Emerson: Killed his own father

Hull: Won the Nobel Peace Prize
Emerson: How does he get off the island? Seriously, I want to know.

Winner: Western Kentucky although Hull didn’t actually graduate from there.

For the Hilltoppers, it was Hull or John Carpenter and even though Hull’s connection to W. Kentucky is pretty tenuous–he went to their predeccessor school at the age of 15–I couldn’t serve up the guy who made Escape from New York since he also didn’t graduate from the school.

You may ask why I didn’t pick someone who did graduate from Western Kentucky. Well, if I wanted to do that it would have either been the drummer from The Black Crowes or the guy who played Roy on Wings. I couldn’t decide which of those two would be more famous, so I went with Hull.

For Drake, there’s pretty much no question it’s Emerson. Sure, they have plenty of governors, writers, and Billy Cundiffs, but you can’t get better than playing Ben Linus. Drake’s pool of accomplished alumni is far deeper, but it’s hard to argue with the guy who was the Secretary of State during most of WWII and created the UN.

Reluctantly, Western Kentucky takes this one. Even though it’s a tainted victory, I’m sure they’re all standing on top of their hill waving towels. I sort of love them for that.
1 Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Escape from New York, Sports

Exhibit 7.26

In honor of Drake University having made the NCAA tournament, I plan on doing some comparisons between them and their first round opponent, Western Kentucky University. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who gets really behind their alma mater. I swear to god, if they get past the second round I’m buying a Drake license plate holder for my car.

Mascot/Logo

Bulldogs vs. Hilltoppers

Winner: Drake. The bulldog may not be the most original mascot, but the Hilltopper is just nonsensical. As far as I can tell they are named the Hilltoppers because A) fox hunting or B) coal mining or C) the campus just happens to be on a hill. Since the first two are examples of humanity at its lowest, I don’t think they can win this one.

Also, the problem with an intangible mascot is that the concept must somehow be stretched into an image that conveys its meaning. As you can see, the Hilltoppers gave up on this and decided to go with Thing from The Addams Family waving a towel. On the plus side, they do have someone dress up in a Grimace-esque costume and play the role of jubilant, team-spirit inducing hill. Nothing wrong with that.

2 Comments / Posted in Alma Maters, Grimace-esque, Sports

Exhibit 7.24

Here is another great article on Drake’s remarkable season. Needless to say, nobody saw this coming. Let me put it another way: The day I arrived on campus as a freshmen I met the RA on my floor who was a junior from some small town in Iowa. A nice guy of average height and build who showed no particular athletic ability in the ultimate frisbee games he played in front of the union, one day in the hall he mentioned that he had to run to basketball practice.

Me: Oh, are you on a club team?
RA: Oh, no.
Me: Is it a fraternity thing?
RA: Didn’t I ever tell you this?
Me: What? That you play co-ed basketball?
RA: I’m on the basketball team.
Me: Yeah, but which one?
RA: The basketball team.
Me: Our floor has a basketball team?
RA: Yes, but that’s not the point.
Me: Why didn’t anyone ask me to play? I’m taller than you.
RA: But I’m on the Bulldogs. You know, the school’s team.
Me: Oh.
RA: Yeah.
Me: So do you guys ever play the floor’s team?

Now that guy–not that guy but pretty much that guy–is the Valley player of the year and the lynchpin to Drake’s first tournament run in over 30 years.

Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Needless, Sports

Exhibit 7.14

Transactions

Company Dodgeball Team – Adam Peterson placed on 60-day disabled list with rotator cuff injury. RH Tony Nunez recalled.

Comment / Posted in Placements, Sports, Transactions

Exhibit 7.13

For some reason, employees at the company where I work are walking over to a gym to play dodgeball tomorrow. Frankly, I’m all for it. I can’t say I was ever actually that into real dodgeball but the video game Super Dodge Ball (or, as I like to call it, real dodgeball) for the NES was my favorite game as a kid/awkward teen.

I don’t even know where or how we acquired Super Dodge Ball. All I know is that by the time I was 14 I was pretty much unbeatable. Mostly that was because by 14 my friends were too busy buying cologne and getting in fist fights after school to actually play me, but it wouldn’t have mattered.

The premise of the game is simple. Your dodgeball team travels around the world to play teams of ethnic stereotypes in crude approximations of the countries they come from. For instance, in China, you play in front of a picture of Mao. In Kenya, you play on dirt. For the better part of my life, I assumed that the people in Iceland actually did live on large sheets of abnormally slick ice thanks to this game. After you beat all of the insensitive caricatures, you have to face a sub-human, undoubtedly cheating team from the U.S.S.R.

Even though communism had more or less collapsed by the time I played this game, it certainly didn’t diminish my thrill every time I beat Boris (the Soviet’s best player, naturally) and his gang of Politburo-backed hoods. I imagine this is how Ronald Reagan felt all the time.

Anyway, assuming what I did in a 20-year-old video game is applicable in the real world–and honestly, why not assume that–I should be both amazing at dodgeball and have unusually shiny hair tomorrow.

Comment / Posted in 1989, Iceland, Sports

Exhibit 7.12

I feel like I need something new at the top of this blog before everyone falls in love with Scott Kleeb.

I thought about posting a picture of Jeremy Roenick, but that would just be strange. Well, too late now:


Nobody loves that.

Comment / Posted in Kleebs, Roenicks, Sports

Exhibit 7.3

Pitchers and catchers report for spring training today. In honor, some baseball links:

*Here is a blog dedicated to featuring each baseball card from the 1988 Topps Set. This was one of my favorite sets as a kid. I think I had about two dozen of the Kevin Seitzers from this set. For the record, he’s number 275. I can barely wait.

*This is K.C. Star columnist Joe Posnanski’s blog which is pretty much essential reading whether you like sports or not.

*Baseball Genius/Doctor/Royals Fan Rany Jazayerli has just started a Royals blog. His first post spells out his qualifications if you’re not familiar. Needless to say, the fact that the Royals have some of the best baseball minds as fans/locals (Rany, Bill James, Rob Neyer) and the best sports columnist in America writing about them (Pos) makes them by far the most spoiled of any team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in over 20 years.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Seitzers, Sports

Exhibit 6.24

On the Super Bowl

*I’d like to take back everything bad I said about Eli Manning during the fantasy football season. Seriously, Eli, we can make this work. Give me another chance.

*I would have been sad to live in a world without smug commentary from the ’72 Dolphins.

*Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are horrible. At one point Joe Buck seemed not to understand the concept of a false start and immediately after Brady badly missed Moss in the end zone, Aikman talked about how dialed in he was. Not a good showing.

*We are going to be allowed to talk about how Brady was yelling at his receivers–including Wes Welker on a badly-thrown ball that landed somewhere in Flagstaff–now, right? I mean, he spent all game pouting as if he just found out Leonardo DiCaprio was sitting with Gisele upstairs.

*From Petty I was hoping for “Wild Flowers,” “Change of Heart,” “Walls (Circus),” and a guest spot from Dylan and Jeff Lynne on a surprise version of “End of the Line.” I’m half serious.

*Petty did play three tracks off of Full Moon Fever, and thankfully one of them wasn’t “Zombie Zoo.” So that’s good. I love Petty. He seemed really relaxed out there. In other words, he was the exact opposite of Tom Brady.

*Mike Campbell doesn’t get nearly enough respect.

*I know they are out of the running for the greatest team of all time now–and I hate them–but I doubt we’ll ever see a team as good as that Patriots team. They are dirty, dirty cheaters, of course, but for more than half the season they dominated a league designed for parity in a way that no other team ever has. For the other half of the season, they were merely incredible.

*On the other hand, this videotaping scandal is about to get really ugly. I’d say the odds of Belichick coaching the Patriots next seasons are about 50/50. This isn’t going to be good for anyone.

*One of the commercials featured Donkey Lips from Salute Your Shorts. In other words, watch out Blake Sennett. You may have Rilo Kiley and The Elected, but your reign as most successful former Salute Your Shorts cast member could be short lived.

1 Comment / Posted in Petty, Sports, Zombie Enclosures

Exhibit 6.17

You should be sure to check out Carlin’s new football blog The Realness Hurts.

This blog originally had a different name, but I’m so excited about the possibility of writing an NFL Draft Preview that I can hardly remember what it was.

Here’s an NFL Draft Preview Preview: Tweener.

1 Comment / Posted in Blogs, Carlins, Sports

Exhibit 5.18

I should probably point out that Drake University’s basketball team is 9-1 and starting to get articles like this written about them.

Comment / Posted in Alma Maters, Keno Davis, Sports

Exhibit 5.17

I’m taking a break from being a shameless, shameless shill to update you on some recent sports developments: (in reverse order of importance)


Royals sign Ron Mahay!

If I told you that the Royals signed a 36-year-old left-handed situational reliever, how much would you guess they had to pay? If you said $5 million dollars, you’re off by a full $3 million.

I swear to god, the fact that Ron Mahay gets $8 million dollars over the next two years is going to make me teach my child how to throw a curveball before he learn how to ride a bike. The worst part is that this can only be considered a good, slightly below market deal for the Royals. In fact, I’m all for it.

But, jesus, Ron Mahay? I mean, really? Mahay? $8 million?

This is the best day for a Mahay since Steve caught that fish that one time. Good for all of them, I say.

Royals sign Jose Guillen

Actually, scratch that about teaching my future son–let’s call him Brautigan–to throw a curve. I’m teaching little Brautigan how to order HGH over the Internet with a prescription from a shady dentist in Florida. Contract: 3 years, $36 million.


If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team makes the finals.

It all comes down to this after a not particularly close match up against my archenemy. Now I’m playing the other conference’s champ and need a big week to win it all. Let’s take a look at the matchup: (his player first [and if you know nothing about fantasy, note that only the team’s performance as a whole matters and not these particular matchups])

Team Name – Team Skeet Ulrich vs. If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team. Advantage: If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team. Still, strange we both named our teams after actors. I’m giving myself the advantage because I was first and my actor is better.

QB – Ben Roethlisberger vs. Sage Rosenfels. Advantage: Um, let’s just say it’s not Sage. Good god, I’m screwed. Ben has actually already played and had a great though not insurmountable performance. I’m playing Sage under the theory that the Colts will pull all of their starters in the second half (they have nothing left to play for). Oh, there’s also the theory that Eli Manning is horrible (you hear that, Eli, it’s over between us. For real this time. We tried to make it work.)

I know all I need is a respectable performance from Sage and he did fine for me last week, but I just can’t feel good about this. This is where I lose.

RB – Fred Taylor vs. Wills McGahee. Advantage: Push. I actually prefer McGahee here slightly but Taylor has been great all month. Still, I don’t really trust him and feel like he’s do for a let down week as MJD steps up to carry more of the load. Oddly, my opponent originally had McGahee starting in this spot so we’d have the same guy going. If it were my call, I’d go McGahee because I think he’s a better bet to score, but it’s hard to sit a guy who rushed for 150 yards last week.

By the way, I may have just been making myself feel better right there. I stand by my hunch, but you should know the consensus says Taylor is probably a better play.

RB – Joseph Addai vs. Jamal Lewis. Advantage: Push. Again, I feel okay with this because I think Addai sits for awhile. Think about it, the Colts can’t hurt or improve their playoff position. They have a young RB who isn’t exactly a load carrier and has really slowed down since the middle of the season. They have backups they like and work in a lot anyway. Why would they play him at all? If I was the other team, I’d go with McGahee in this spot. I think Addai gets two series tops.

Still, I’m going with a push here because I don’t want to jinx Lewis who has a fantastic matchup, is on a team playing for something, and is really hitting his stride. I can’t believe I’m saying this about a convicted felon, but I’d trust Lewis with my fictional son Brautigan’s life this week.

WR – Greg Jennings vs. Randy Moss. Advantage: Moss. Here’s where my team starts to show it’s strength. The other team has solid but streaky receivers. Jennings is good, but I’ll take my chances with Mr. Moss.

WR – Steve Smith vs. Reggie Wayne. Advantage: Wayne. I’m pretty sure I’ll take one half of Reggie Wayne catching passes from Peyton Manning over a full game of Steve Smith catching passes from Matt Moore (who, incidentally, I think I went to grade school with).

Here’s a pretty good test for QBs: If you have a name like an Arena League player, you’ll probably end up being an Arena League player. Marino, Elway, Farve, Romo, etc. all have great names. Matt Moore sounds like he should be MVP of the Sioux Falls Sidewinders.

WR – Reggie Williams vs. Santonio Holmes. Advantage: Holmes. Holmes has already played and scored a nice 18 points. I have a hard time seeing Williams matching that as he’s only done it twice all season. He’s a WR that needs to catch a TD to have any value. Here’s hoping he doesn’t.

TE – Vernon Davis vs. Antonio Gates. Advantage: Who knows? Gates would be the consensus pick as he’s the best TE in the game, but he’s been so flaky lately that it’s hard to say which Gates is going to show up.

Vernon Davis on the other hand is possibly the greatest combination of size, speed, and flexibility since Bo Jackson. Except he’s not very good at football. Seriously though, he looks great running in those Under Armour commercials.

K – Phil Dawson vs. Josh Brown. Advantage: Dawson. Not that it really matters.

Defense – New England (against, gulp, Miami) vs. Minnesota (against Washington). Advantage: New England. Both are great plays, honestly, but anytime you get a 14-0 team against a 1-13 team, you take that matchup if you can get it. Sigh. I want the Dolphins to win far more than I want to win this fantasy championship.

Dolphins hire Bill Parcells to head up football operations.

Let’s ignore the fact that Bill Parcells leaves every job he takes. That he has the body type of Gloop and Gleep from The Herculoids. That he is 66 and has heart problems. That he’s kind of a jerk.

The guy wins. Good hire.

Comment / Posted in Mahays, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 5.15

DOLPHINS WIN! DOLPHINS WIN!

2 Comments / Posted in Heart Attacks, Sports, Unbelievable

Exhibit 5.10

Fantasy football recap.

The Lincoln Hawks (7-6, fifth place)

Due to poor managerial skills, I’ve lost quite a few close games with this team and now need another team to lose (while I win) in order to back into the playoffs where I will be promptly crushed. I now understand why managers in all sports continue to run the same players out there over and over expecting a different result. Sooner or later, Steve Smith has to have a good game, right? Um, right?

Well, not right apparently. I think this season effectively answered the question of whether or not I should be put in charge of a major sports team. Given the opportunity, I would totally give Jason LaRue 150 at bats or leave Pedro Martinez in the game another inning or keep Ricky Thenarse on the bench or trade for AJ Feeley. I play favorites and hunches worse than anyone with my fantasy football team. That’s probably why I have yet to accept Steve Smith as a disaster. I mean, he’s Steve Smith.

Anyway, I’ve got a good feeling about him this week. Plus, I just don’t like that Ronald Curry.

This week’s quote from team namesake and Swift Transportation CEO Lincoln Hawk(s): “The world meets no one halfway.”

If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team (8-5, first place)

This team also went a little south since Randy Moss became human again, but it was still enough to capture first place heading into this week’s opening playoff round. I feel okay about my chances right up until the moment I remember Eli Manning is prominently involved. Tom Coughlin, the entire NY Giants team, and his dad all feel the same way. I would actually like to get a drink with those guys just so we could all commiserate together. Then Eli would probably walk in and we’d all have to pretend that we were talking about Dancing with the Stars. Eli would probably take up that conversation enthusiastically and disappoint us all over again.

This is how you think when you rely on Eli Manning.

My team actually peaked already, but, as with Interpol and the first season of Heroes, I’m just pretending it didn’t peak too early. Ideally Frank Gore wouldn’t have played like a guy who’s had major operations on both of his knees and I could have spun him for a quarterback, but it’s too late for that now. My lineup going into this week:

QB – Eli Manning. I hate even typing it, but who else do I go with? Schaub is hurt and the best pick up option is Sage Rosenfels (who, and this is not a joke, dresses up like a clown and does children’s birthday parties in the offseason. How can I feel okay with him?)

RB – Jamal Lewis. That nice playoff schedule is finally paying off.

RB – Willis McGahee. Gets the start over Gore but only because Gore has been absolutely awful. In fact, I think Gore is friends with Steve Smith.

WR – Randy Moss. The magic is still there, isn’t it, Randy? I feel like a child pleading with his now alcoholic father to come back home and make things like they used to be. In fact, I’d say that’s pretty much exactly the situation here. Remember how nice Halloween was, Randy? Christmas could be like that, be like it used to be, when things were good.

WR – Reggie Wayne. I honestly think this season might kill Reggie Wayne. Toward the end of last week’s Colts game poor Reggie was limping downfield with four guys draped over him and still making catches. The Colts are not winning anything unless Marvin Harrison comes back.

WR – Patrick Crayton. Getting the start because I can’t trust that Santonio Holmes will play. He was solid for me last week, and I like anyone who sticks with the full ‘Patrick’ and doesn’t eventually breakdown and let everyone call him ‘Pat.’ That shows he’s got guts. Thinking–and sincerely believing–things like this is how my managerial career would go south.

TE – Antonio Gates. Last week’s 1 catch for -1 yard performance didn’t happen. You hear me? Didn’t happen. (On a more serious note, the QB I wanted to trade for earlier this year was Philip Rivers. Thank god both my friend Justin and I are idiots otherwise that might have happened. If both teams could redo that 2004 NFL draft again, would they bother trading those stiffs for each other or would they just say pass and sign Sage Rosenfels to be QB/Birthday Clown?)

(Take another look at the top of that 2004 draft by the way. It went bad, bad, great but moody, tragedy, finally blooming after some horrific seasons but moody, legitimately good and not a cancer, a cancer who got in a fight with coach, horrible, horrible. In other words, I feel lucky the Dolphins didn’t end up with a guy who is now in prison.)

K – Josh Brown. He’s a kicker and, as far as I know, not a clown in the offseason.

Def – Minnesota Vikings. I love that I was able to pick these guys up as free agents two weeks ago after going with some truly horrible defenses all year. They’re good.

That’s it. That is everything I know about fantasy football.

2 Comments / Posted in Lincoln Hawks, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 5.8

Real football recap.

This season could not have gone any worse for my two “real” “teams” but thankfully my fantasy teams have been picking up the slack. I’m one more bad Dolphins loss away from starting to send messages to the Dolphins front office like, “Hey, maybe you should have traded for Randy Moss.” I’ll even write the messages on dollar bills from my fantasy football winnings to prove my point(s).

My point(s): They could have had Randy Moss for nothing/Some kid in Nebraska won a couple bucks playing fantasy football and he wants to spend his money tormenting the Dolphins

Miami Dolphins (0-12)
Here’s my take on going winless over the season: Since about week six when people actually started talking about this, I’ve been of the opinion that a win was inevitable. This happens every year in one way or another, and the commentators and columnists work themselves up over a near impossibility until a team wins or loses or a record doesn’t get broken and we all remember that it’s a hard game won as often with luck as skill.

Take a look at this article. It’s a few weeks old, but the gist is that the Dolphins are not only not the worst team of all-time but they aren’t even the worst team in the league and sooner or later they’ll win a game because they can’t continue to be unlucky forever. Basically this guy justified with statistics what I’d believed and probably told you about if you were ever unfortunate enough to mention the Dolphins around me.

This doesn’t make me feel better. I want to make that clear. I bring it up not to say the Dolphins aren’t the worst team in the league–they are–but to illustrate that even though statistics, logic, and history all insist that the Dolphins will win one game this year, I’m no longer certain it will happen.

The similarity between a quest like the Patriots’ quest to go undefeated and the Dolphins quest to go, well, defeated is that both are the kind of epochal events that deep down we want to see happen. Historically good and historically bad become markers of an era and barometers for the future and it’s in everyone’s interest to see these dramas played out as even if a team comes up short it can invigorate the game. There’s no great conspiracy here, but it’s no accident the Patriots got every call towards the end of last Monday’s somewhat tainted win over the Ravens and that the Dolphins have lost twice as many games by 3 points or fewer (6) than the next closest team.

It’s not about the refs for the Dolphins–though, in a few games, it sort-of was–it’s about every other team wanting to avoid the ignominy of losing to an 0-12 team. It’s a powerful motivator which tends to create what we usually call luck.

Team MVP: Old Chicago’s Double Deckoroni pizza. They haven’t won since I’ve started ordering this, but it is delicious.

Team LVP: Um…

Coach: Let’s just say I no longer feel so great about the Cam “Cameron” Cameron reign. Now, I’m not saying they should fire the guy after only one season, but it now has to be in the discussion. I don’t know if there is anything more emasculating to an NFL coach than to get fired as head coach and then come back as an assistant coach–we should ask Gunther Cunningham–but I’m now fully on board with trying to retain Cam as an offensive coordinator with a new head coach. I know that won’t happen. I know a lot of things won’t happen.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (season over)
There’s a new coach with a great slogan so they’ve got that going for them. Bo Big Red should be interesting if nothing else. I hope after our next K-State victory he goes and punches Bill Snyder. I know Bill Snyder is no longer the coach, I just want him to do it anyway.

MVP: Marlon Lucky? I guess. Maybe I’m forgetting someone, but I honestly have no idea who to put here. It’s not that Lucky, Keller, Purify, and Ganz didn’t all have their moments, but no one really took over for this team. In other words, they went 5-7.

LVP: Let’s just say I knowingly didn’t put any defensive players on that list of performers.

Coach: The newspaper headlines write themselves here. Bo Big Red! Bo Knows Defense! Bo Bridges Crimson Tide! And, even if it doesn’t work out, the Custer County Chief can run with the headline ‘Broken Bo’.

I could do this all day.

Fantasy recap coming tomorrow.

4 Comments / Posted in Beau/Bo, Sports, Unnecessary Scheduling

Exhibit 5.7

My elbow is killing me after playing Wii Sports baseball over the weekend. I threw a no hitter against the computer and my Mii went 2-2 with a HR, double, and 2 RBIs. Of course, I now need Tommy John surgery, but it was worth it. As I told several disinterested parties, I would do it all again in order to beat my arch nemesis Akira.

No matter what anyone tells you, I definitely didn’t create back stories for my players or make unbreakable judgments about the relative skills of each identical player.

Comment / Posted in Akiras, MVP, Sports

Exhibit 4.23

This blog was getting text-heavy so I figured I might as well post a picture of a Kevin Seitzer baseball card. I had that card as a kid. Mine wasn’t signed and certainly didn’t contain any Bible verses, but it did have dirt and marshmallow residue.

For the record, the passage referenced is more or less, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one enters except through me.” I like to think he included this not as evangelical outreach but as a warning to the Tigers. You better watch it, Frank Tanana. No one gets by Seitzer.
1 Comment / Posted in Seitzers, Sports, Tananas

Exhibit 4.20

Football Recap.

In case you haven’t noticed, I stopped doing football recaps in the hopes of writing one at a time when there was something triumphant to say about the Miami Dolphins and/or Nebraska Cornhuskers. It, um, looks like I might be waiting for a while.

Miami Dolphins (0-8)
*Dolphins QB Trent Green was lost for the season with a concussion (to be fair, I think we all knew this was going to happen. I mean, virtual Trent Green gets a concussion when I shake my Madden ’08 disc [if I owned it which, as far as you know, I don’t]).

*Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, in the middle of an amazing season, tears his ACL while trying to tackle a CB who intercepted a Cleo Lemon. Lemon was Green’s backup so I suppose we could blame this on Green too but he wouldn’t remember it anyway. As for Brown, who knows. I just hope they didn’t take him out of the stadium in the Terrell Davis Memorial Stupid Career-Ending Injury Ambulance (if that name seems cumbersome [and unfunny] imagine how cumbersome [and unfunny] it was for the guy who had to spell it out backward on the hood).

*John Beck still not allowed to play football. The guy’s 26 and yet we’re supposed to think he’s too raw to play in a game yet? He has kids! I get what the Dolphins are doing (they want to ensure at least one victory before they put the rookie in) but the guy they are choosing is responsible for more catastrophic knee injuries than he is victories. That should matter, right?

*Joey Porter died.

*Cam Cameron made a list of winnable games in a notebook he carries then had to sheepishly erase Houston on the plane ride home. Okay, maybe I only imagined this one.

*I watched 10 minutes of a Michigan game in order to “scout” Jake Long. This, by the way, may be the most indefensible action a sports fan can take.

You: What are you doing?
Me: Watching this college football game because the Dolphins might draft this guy.
You: Oh, is the draft soon?
Me: It’s in late-April.
You: But the Dolphins want this guy?
Me: Well, if they continue to lose and get a top 5 pick, the guy tests well at the Combine, none of the teams that pick in front of the Dolphins–if there are any–take him, and the Dolphins decide they want an offensive tackle rather than a defensive tackle, then yes, they probably want this guy.
You: Are we going to have to talk about this until April?
Me: I like how he moves his feet. Nice wingspan, too.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-6)
*5 game losing streak, worst defense in the conference and nearly the worst in the country, fired athletic director, hired Tom Osborne, not going to a bowl game, ripped hearts out of the entire state. That pretty much covers it.

*On a side note, my mom, who doesn’t watch football but went to the Kansas game, summed up the experience by saying, “I don’t know, it seemed like our guys were kind of sissies.” Normally I’d be against such inflammatory statements about college kids except that A) they did give up 76 points and B) what followed this comment was a lengthy recap of the rest of the weekend which involved calling a number of waiters, other drivers, and my own siblings “sissies.” I’m thinking it’s just my mom’s go-to insult.

If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team (7-2, first place)
*This team is pretty much all about Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, and Antonio Gates while getting good-but-not-great performances from everyone else.

*This team is not about Eli Manning though he continues to quarterback this squad to greatness. I really wish there was someway I could change his name in the system to Bob Griese as he’s doing just enough to win. I might have to email someone about this.

*This week’s game is against my friend Justin’s team which he cleverly named The Moon Whalers, a nice Futurama reference. I was impressed. Then I found out that Justin named both his fantasy football teams this. Since this is clearly the worst thing anyone has ever done, I am honorbound to beat him.

*Can you imagine if Philip Roth, just so enamored with the title, named every one of his books Goodbye, Columbus? I can. It would be great. I’ll tell you what’s not great, any one else doing it.

The Lincoln Hawks (4-5, Seventh Place)
*Lost by .98 points one week and then 3 the next which pretty much accounts for the somewhat sorry state of this team. Still, an easy schedule between now and the playoffs plus a much stronger team than the beginning of the season thanks to some nice pickups means I still have an outside shot at the playoffs (but it’s not likely).

*Steve Jackson, the supposed centerpiece of this squad, came back from a groin tear just in time to have back spasms. I imagine he and Trent Green like to road trip to Windsor for cheap prescriptions.

*On paper, this team is still one of the best teams in the league but I think they lack the necessary chemistry to make it work. I know this is a stupid thing to think, but I can’t help it.

*If it makes things more clear, I also imagine Fantasy Steve Smith swearing at reporters after another 2 point performance. It’s only a matter of time before Fantasy Steve Smith punches Fantasy Hines Ward in his fantasy nose while watching fantasy film. If that sounds improbable, just remember that the real Steve Smith did it.

2 Comments / Posted in Lincoln Hawks, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 4.8

Buck O’Neil

This week’s long overdue correction of a national shame is that the Hall of Fame announced a Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award that will be given out a maximum of once out of every three years to “an individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society, has broadened the game’s appeal, and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by O’Neil.” Appropriately, the first winner is O’Neil who they will honor with a large statue outside the entrance to Cooperstown. This almost makes up for the tragic way they denied him a spot in the Hall during the last year of his life.

If you don’t know anything about Buck, read his wikipedia entry or Joe Posnanski’s book on him. Basically, he was a great Negro League player and manager, the first African-American manager in the MLB, a long-time scout who discovered and mentored some of the all-time greats, and the man who almost single-handily created the Negro League museum in KC and kept the legacy of the Negro League alive.

In my opinion, he’s one of the 5 or 10 most important people in baseball history, an embodiment of everything that’s great about the game. Yet somehow when the Hall of Fame got around to inducting a group of players, managers, owners, and coaches from the Negro Leagues in 2006–something Buck led the fight for–he didn’t get enough votes (this would be the equivalent of creating a Hosts of Saturday Night Live Hall of Fame and not inducting Alec Baldwin). At the time he said, “God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.”

Always a man of class, Buck O’Neil gave the induction speech for the 17 people they did induct that year. He was dead 6 months later.

MLB was humiliated with what happened to Buck as there was no other way to elect him into the Hall (short of ignoring procedure and doing it by fiat) so I guess this award/statue is their solution. Honestly, it’s a pretty good one. Buck deserved better while he was alive, but, as he would be the first to remind everyone, it was never about him.

Maybe it’s just because Buck is Kansas City baseball–even more than, say, George Brett–but I feel a little better about things today. Let’s end this by watching Buck sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” a Kauffman Stadium tradition.

If that didn’t give you chills, you might be dead.

Check out the next edition of correcting a national shame where we discuss the return of habeus corpus some time around 2009.
Comment / Posted in Baseball, Shame, Sports

Exhibit 3.20

Royals Season Review

Record: 69-93 (5th place in AL Central, 2nd worst record in AL)
Team ERA: 4.48 (7th in AL [and a huge improvement])
Runs Scored: 706 (2nd to last in AL)
HR: 102 (last in major leagues)

The Awards

Buddy Bell’s Best Managerial Decision: Quitting. And I’m not at all trying to be a jerk about this. Buddy Bell announced his retirement just as the Royals were peaking (about the time I thought they were going to win 75 games) so that nobody noticed when the team completely fell apart in September. Admit it, you didn’t notice. Well, they were horrible through the last two months of the season, but since everyone was already dreaming about a post-Buddy Bell world, it was impossible to really work up any anger about him not playing young prospects or pointlessly letting Gil Meche throw out his arm to try and win their 64th game of the year.
Somehow, Buddy managed to go from guy who was undoubtedly going to get fired to a guy who gets flattering 3,000 word articles about him in the K.C. Star. Well played, Buddy, well played.
(For the record, Buddy’s career record as a manager: 519-724. Ouch).
Buddy Bell’s Worst Managerial Decision: Pinch Hitting. Ever. Seriously, Buddy, just don’t do it until you prove you can handle it. Let’s play a quick game of You Be the Manager(TM). Ninth inning, down one. 7,8,9 hitters coming up. Let’s say the opposing team’s closer is a lefty. Your best righty bat on the bench is a catcher hitting .230 with 14 HR.
7-hitter: Lefty, promising rookie, .250 (.360 OBP), 15 HR, 15 SB
8-hitter: Righty, not promising rookie, .250 (.270 OBP), 1 HR, 2 SB
9-hitter: Righty, awful catcher, .149 (.200 OBP – no those aren’t typos), 3 HR, 0 SB
Who should you pinch hit for? If you said #7, you’re an idiot. This I am going to be a jerk about.
Pitcher of the Year: Brian Bannister. Who would’ve thought that a guy who got sent down to the minors would bounce back to be the Royals’ best pitcher. Gil Meche was amazing–and if he ever got any run support (lowest in the majors)–he’d look even better, but Bannister was incredible considering how awful he looked to start the season. Plus, he comes with a built in adjective: crafty. The crafty Brian Bannister was great this year.
God willing, he’ll add ‘always’ next year and in two years ‘yeoman-like.’ Oh, and then when he starts Game 2 of the World Series in 2011, he can add ‘artisanal.’ That’s right, Brian Bannister’s development path is really the construction of a sentence. That sentence: The always crafty Brian Bannister had another yeoman-like performance in a truely artisanal Game 2 performance.Please read it again, this time with feeling.
(How strange is that he did better after getting sent down and called back up? If my company sent me to Omaha to work with a bunch of tobacco chewers and guys from Venezuela to work in front of no one, I’d be excited. That would really expand my horizons more than sitting next to Mike Sweeney and listening to him talk to Mark Grudzlianek about Christian day cares for 3 hours at a time).
Hitter of the Year: Um, I guess it’s 37-year-old Mark Grudzielanek with a special mention going to Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. As I don’t want to spell Grudz’s name or dissect the Royals anemic offense, let me end by saying that I could not be more excited about the Alex Gordon-era. And the Billy Butler-era. These two need a nickname. If only The Bash Brothers hadn’t been so thoroughly tarnished. Seriously, I’d rather name them The Manson Family than The Bash Brothers at this point.

Disappointment of the Year: Mark Teahen. Last year Mark Teahen got sent to the minors, came back up, and proceeded to hit like mad for the rest of the season. It seemed like a gimme that he would hit 25+ HR with good average for the Royals this season. Now, we can blame his disappointing season on the fact that he had off-season shoulder as long as no one mentions:

A) The contradiction that his best asset this season was that same shoulder gunning down runners with 17 OF assists.
B) That what happened to Teahen last year is exactly what happened with Brian Bannister this year and that means Bannister is sure to disappoint next year.
You hear that? No one mention either of those inconvenient facts.
Schizophrenic Performance of the Year: Joey Gathright who looked like a poor-man’s Ichiro for 6 weeks before–and I’m not making this up–ceasing to hit once he started wearing glasses. Can this happen? What does this say about Ricky Vaughn in Major League. Now I feel like that whole movie is a lie.
Most Bewildering and Intriguing Stadium Enhancement: The 106ft by 45ft video board that will now fill the crown at Kauffman Stadium. This is going to be the largest video screen in the world, and it’s a full 1,300 sq. feet bigger than the current record holder at the U. of Texas football stadium. That’s right, the Royals decided to make something bigger than Texas. Did they even imagine the implications of this? Don’t be surprised if Missouri gets taken over and Royals GM Dayton Moore gets executed live on Texas Public Television. Next year we might be watching the New Texas Oilmen playing at Don’t Mess With Us Stadium with no video screen at all.
(Seriously though, why? Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium held this record before Texas, and while it’s cool and all, there’s a big difference between an 80k-capacity football stadium and a 35k-capacity baseball park. On the plus side, as the largest screen, this is presumably where God will choose to speak when the time is right. Unless he’s a White Sox fan. And, based on this year, he’s not).
That said, Kauffman Stadium is incredible. If you life within 5 hours of it, like attending baseball games, and have always hoped to see a 100-foot-tall Derek Jeter scratching himself, you should be there at the Royals’ home opener in 2008.



Least Likely to be Back Next Year: Jason LaRue who ended the season hitting .148 in 169 at bats. In other words, Jason LaRue got 25 hits the entire season despite playing in more than 1/3 of the team’s games. This is actually much harder than being average.

Name of the Year: For the fourth year in a row, David DeJesus. Now scram.
Comment / Posted in Buddy Bell, Scram, Sports

Exhibit 3.14

Fortnightly Football Recap.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1)
The less said about the Ball State game the better. As that was the first game I attended this year, it was a particularly shocking experience to spend three hours baking in the sun and wondering if there was any way I could pickup Ball State’s quarterback for my fantasy team two years before he’s even in the NFL. I’m not sure if this guy is actually the greatest QB ever to play the game or if it’s just that Nebraska’s defense is really shaky, but that kid dominated. So much so that I can’t even look up his name.

I do remember their wide receiver Dante Love’s name, however. Although if Jerry Rice wanted to make it less obvious that he was using a pseudonym to play football at Ball State, he should have gone with a name like Bob Realman or something.

As for the Iowa State game, they won, though not without causing everyone from Chadron to Papillion to question whether or not they would have to drive to Ames just to pick a fight. And that’s not an easily excitable demographic. Thankfully, the game wasn’t on TV, so no one had to actually see our safeties looked confused. (This is one of the most intriguing subplots of the 2007 Husker season. Our safeties routinely point at each other, then at an opposing receiver, then at each other, then watch as the ball get snapped, and then keep pointing as the receiver runs downfield. If there was a stat kept for number of times our safeties pointed at an opposing receiver right before the snap, Larry Asante would be leading the country with 31. And I don’t think it’s his fault).

They play Missouri this weekend which will pretty much make or break the Big XII North for them, especially after Colorado and Kansas St. both won this past week. Get ready for a long conference season. I’m excited.

Miami Dolphins (0-4)
Next.

If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team (3-1)
The one loss was the result of facing a team where everything just went right, but it happens. Still, in second place and with more points than any other team, I think this team is still the clear favorite (which can’t be said for the real Mandy Patinkin. About anything).

Randy Moss is still playing as if every other team in the NFL wrote him off as a pot-smoking headcase who once ran over a traffic guard. Oddly, everyone was right in this equation. As not feeling good about Moss has been working so far, I plan on continuing to act like he’s a disaster and I hate having him on my team.

You: Wow, you’re really lucky to have Randy Moss.
Me: You know who that has never been said to? His coaches, girlfriends, and parents.

You: I wish I had Randy Moss.
Me: So does the state police.

You: I have cancer.
Me: Me too. Is yours also named Randy Moss?

You: It’s going to kill me.
Me: That’s what he does. Always.

There is no way this can ever backfire.

Speaking of backfiring, praising Eli Manning. Let’s step it up, Eli. I wish there was some way I could get all of the asshole Giants fans at the Meadowlands to start chanting my fantasy backup QB’s name rather than the Giants’s actual backup. I bet everyone who has Eli feels this way.

The Lincoln Hawks (1-3)
So I have this gimmick with this team where every week for my “trash talk” comment (shown as a little speech bubble by my team name) I put in a different quote from Over the Top. This week’s quote was, “I’ve got a family! And when this is over, I’m comin’ to get him.” I’m pretty sure no one finds this the least bit interesting or amusing yet I plan to continue doing it because I’m really starting to see the parallels between this team and Over the Top. It’s not just that we’re scrappy underdogs who through a series of bad decisions find ourselves looking up at where we want to be–nor is it about the way I put on a baseball cap and turn it backwards before adjusting my lineup–it’s just that no one believes in us.

We’re not a bad team. We’re not a good team. If a couple of breaks had gone our way (or Steven Jackson’s leg on the play where he hurt his groin), we could still be in this thing. I need this truck, etc.

I could keep going on here, but let me just finish by saying this will all end with me challenging everyone to an arm wrestling match at next year’s draft. Frankly, I’m excited about it.

Miami Dolphins (0-4)
Oh, why not. Some thoughts on the Dolphins since we last spoke. I’ve decided to only be positive:

*Ronnie Brown is a very, very good football player. Not to be lost in all of the thorough awfulness of this team is the fact that Mr. Brown has been nothing short of incredible the last two weeks: 38 rushes, 246 yards, 6.5 ypc; 12 catches, 172 yards; 4 total touchdowns.

*Trent Green is an attractive man (making him one of approximately 32 million attractive men in this country who should not be a starting quarterback in the NFL).

*I really like the potential of Cam Cameron’s offense. Even though the team shows all the defensive savy of a stranger eating in front of our dogs for the first time, I really like the way the offense is starting to move the ball. It’s been a long time since Miami has had anything like a respectable offense.

*Too early for John “Adam Peterson” Beck to start playing.

*Ted Ginn made a tackle on special teams. So, for the record: Ted Ginn’s catches this year: 1. Ted Ginn’s special teams tackles: 1. Oh, and he was the 9th pick in the draft. (Ed note: for some reason I always want to write his name Tedd Ginn which isn’t right. I just need to remember that he has as many ‘d’s in his name as he has catches).

*In all seriousness, I actually have hope for Ted Ginn. And Tedd Ginn. However he wants to spell it.

*I’m out of positive things to say, but let me say this: I really like watching the Miami Dolphins play. Sure, they’re awful, but somehow it just makes me like them more. It’s probably the same reason you like me, so you know what I’m talking about.

Comment / Posted in Lincoln Hawks, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 3.1

This whole thing should make you very sad. I’m going to write a football recap.


Nebraska Cornhuskers

Basically, everyone was able to pretend it didn’t matter that they had an entirely new defensive line and then the USC game started and, like children of divorce, we were no longer able to pretend some things didn’t matter.

I’m not going to call for Kevin Cosgrove’s head or anything. I don’t know what it was, but it seems unlikely it was entirely his fault. Everyone on defense looked bad, but it’s important to remember that this team wasn’t winning a national championship anyway. The only way they are getting to a BCS bowl is to win the Big XII Championship which is just as possible today as it was Saturday afternoon.

If this seems like a rational assessment, believe me, it is only because I’ve had time to internalize it after several phone calls from my friend Ryan which began with sentences like, “We’re never winning a national championship again.” Sigh. It may be true.


Miami Dolphins

Have watched both games in a bar now. The totals:

Victories seen: 0
New friends accidentally made: 1
Trent Green passes where I cringed as it left his hand: 15
Good Ronnie Brown runs: 3
Good Jessie Chatman runs: 4 (um, as the backup that number should either be lower or Ronnie’s should be higher. Hell, they both should be higher).
Cam Cameron’s names: 1
Realistic predictions of wins this season: 5
Times I have excitedly clapped after a routine play: 4 (this number is usual much higher)
Times Heather has asked “Is he supposed to do that?”: 10
Times the player was, in fact, not supposed to do that: 10


If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team

2-0 and in first place by a fair margin. I never thought I’d say it, but I was legitimately panicking when Eli Manning got hurt. He’s like a buddy I drunkenly picked a fight with at night only to need to borrow his car in the morning. I’m sorry, Eli, I’m sorry. We’re cool. I’ll put some gas in the tank.

Otherwise, this team is powered by the unstoppable juggernaut that is Randy Moss. He’s like Superman only if Superman had a lingering hamstring problem and sometimes said things like, “I don’t need to save everyone. I just have to save people when it counts.” In case it wasn’t clear, I’m not quite ready to feel okay about Randy Moss.

Oh, and due to the Eli Manning injury, I had to start Trent Green this week. Rooting for the real Trent Green and fantasy Trent Green at the same time is a little like voting for a Green Party candidate in a local election. You do it. You don’t feel good about it. You know how it’s going to end.


The Lincoln Hawks

1-1 and somewhere in the middle of the pack. Week one was ugly, but week two went well. This team is a bit of an enigma thanks to Steven Jackson’s slow start. If he turns it around, it’s easy to see this team begin to roll. If not, they’ll probably hang around the middle and need some lucky breaks to make the playoffs.

Speaking of Steven Jackson, I think he needs to start going by “Steve Jackson” to turn this thing around. Let’s face it, it just sounds tougher. Steve Jackson sounds like a guy in the Hall of Fame. Steven Jackson sounds like a guy I went to a Weezer concert with. There is precedent here. Thomas Jane changed his name to Tom Jane and became the biggest movie star in the world.

You know, Tom Jane. The guy from The Punisher. No, not the Dolph Lundgren one. Tom Jane, biggest movie star in the world? No?

Actually, Mr. Jackson, Steven will be fine.

Comment / Posted in Lincoln Hawks, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 2.23

This is what it’s like to be a Royals fan.

From today’s Kansas City Star:

“[Last year] the Royals were set to receive outfielder Melky Cabrera in return. The deal was all but done until a strained thigh sidelined Sanders just before the trading deadline.”

Oh, Reggie Sanders. Go ahead and break my heart again.

I mean, I know Melky Cabrera may not be any great shakes yet, but he’s only 23 and his season this year is positively David DeJesus-like. As opposed to Sanders, whose season this year was positively David Madden-like. Literally, I think Dave played in more baseball games this summer than Reggie Sanders. And even if Dave played in none, the most Reggie could beat him by is 24.

The thing is, things like this happen to the Royals all of the time. There are always these painful rumors/facts that wait like snakes in the middle of the most innocuous article or early-inning banter. Sometimes Paul Splitorff will just say something like, “Of course, we all know the Royals were set to take Kansas City-native Albert Pujols in the 14th round of that draft. Boy, he’s worked out for the Cardinals.” Or in the second to last paragraph of a game wrapup in the Star there will be a line like, “Sweeney, who hasn’t played in a game since early May, was signed to a 5 year $55 million deal when the Royals decided against trading him to the Angels for John Lackey and using the money to lock up Carlos Beltran long term.”

(Ed note: none of those things actually have come out. Yet.)

It’s not a curse or anything. It’s just the combination of desperation by a small market team that needs perfection to succeed, the frustration that sets in when that inevitably doesn’t happen due to tight purse strings and shoddy management, and hope for the future that hinges on the gratitude of a team like the Yankees deciding they can’t have anyone on their team who hits less than 15 home runs.

I don’t even get sad anymore.

2 Comments / Posted in Baseball, Inaction Teams, Sports

Exhibit 2.20

Teams That Will Not Lose 100 Games This Season:

*The Company B-Ball Skins

*The A-Team

*The Governor’s Green Action Team

*The Tampa Bay Devil Rays

*The Miami Dolphins

*The Super-Team Family

*The Kansas City Royals!

Comment / Posted in Action Teams, Baseball, Sports

Exhibit 2.10

Standings

Cleveland –
Detroit 4.5
Minnesota 8.5
Kansas City 15.5
Chicago 18.5

Now, I’m not here to say “You’re next Minnesota” or anything like that, but let me just say that I don’t care if there is only a month left in the season, You are so next Minnesota.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Sports, Who's Next? Minnesota.

Exhibit 2.6

So I might have had another fantasy football draft last night. You know, I could be reading poetry if anyone would recommend a book, but instead I’m getting pulled deeper into the depravity and moral decay that is fantasy football. This, my second and final team, came off about as well as my last:

If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team

First Round – Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco. Why Frank Gore dropped to the ninth pick, I’ll never know. Ecstatic doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about it. I didn’t even let myself believe he might drop to me, I just waited out pick after pick until the guy before me took Rudi Johnson (Rudi Johnson!). I meekly said Gore’s name, expecting someone to tell me that Gore had been in a car accident or was attacked by Joey Porter’s dogs. As far as I know, he’s still alive. Now Rudi Johnson on the other hand…

Second Round – Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore. Who cares if I hated him on my team last year, he’s in Baltimore now and if Jamal Lewis and his ankle bracelet can rush for 1,000 yards there than surely Willis can get 1,200. Good value at 16 too.

Third Round – Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis. I don’t care what anyone says, he’s going to be better than Marvin Harrison one of these years. Here’s hoping it’s this one.

Fourth Round – Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego. I’ve never had him on my team before, and though there were higher guys on my board, they were all RBs and QBs that I didn’t have any faith in (like, say, Matt Hasselbeck). Another good value pick. It’s always nice to lock up the class of a position, and I’m essentially considering him a 4th WR.

Fifth Round – Randy Moss, WR, New England. A boom or bust pick, but another great value in my opinion. I mean, Chris Chambers was taken ahead of him. I love Chris, but I’ll take my chances with my man, Randy, thanks.

Sixth Round – Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland. Never mind that I just made a joke about him. He had no business being available at this pick considering he starts on a team without any other RBs to steal carries from him. Sure, he pretty much runs with a limp, has a bad attitude, and I hated him on my team last year, but I’ll take him as a backup over some of the scrubs that were getting selected before him.

Seventh Round – Jerious Norwood, RB, Atlanta. And here’s where the draft goes downhill for awhile. I tried to pick a QB here, but somehow forgot to cross Jay Cutler off my sheet, leading to me selecting him after he was gone (a total faux pas). In my panic, I just grabbed the highest guy left on my board, Mr. Norwood, who I later learned has some kind of mysterious stomach ailment. As my 4th RB, it’s no big deal, but I probably should have gone WR or QB here rather than take value. For good and bad, the next best QB on my list was still available the next round…

Eighth Round – Eli Manning, QB, NYG. Did you know Eli has thrown for 24 touchdown passes the past two years? Did you know the Giants have a new offensive coordinator and will pass more without Tiki? Did you know Manning has looked great in the preseason? Um, yeah, it doesn’t matter. Totally the weak link on my team, even if he does end up in the top 10 QBs (which he probably will).

Ninth Round – Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh. I’m predicting big things this year. Another boom or bust guy, but the WRs on my bench behind him are possession guys, so if he falters I’ll at least have some consistency to plug in. Maybe.

Tenth Round – Ladell Betts, RB, Washington. Ah, me and LaDell Betts. Good times. I’m glad we’re back together. (By the way, someone took Clinton Portis–who starts ahead of LaDell–early in the second round and then refused to take LaDell for some reason, which is where I stepped in to end his freefall. Instead the owner went with guys like Brandon Marshall and Anthony Thomas. Um, LaDell Betts is going to end the season with more points than Portis. He just is. We all know it. Even if not, why wouldn’t you take him ahead of Anthony Thomas who is the backup RB on a different team?)

Rounds 11-15 – Ronald Curry, WR; Marty Booker, WR; Jaguars D; Jason Campbell, QB; Josh Brown, K.

So my team is:

QB – Eli Manning
RB – Frank Gore

RB – Willis McGahee

WR – Reggie Wayne

WR – Randy Moss

WR – Santonio Holmes

TE – Antonio Gates

K – Josh Brown

Def – Jacksonville

BN – Jamal Lewis, Jerious Norwood, Ladell Betts, Ronald Curry, Marty Booker, and Jason Campbell.

My QBs are the weak link, and no matter how many things I read about Eli Manning actually being underrated for fantasy, I still don’t feel good about it. Even though personalities don’t matter here, I still can’t help but think his wooden smirk is going to derail my team somehow.

Still, ‘If Mandy Patinkin Was a Fantasy Football Team’ actually turned out pretty great. I don’t think my team is the presumptive favorite, but it’s definitely playoff caliber. Hopefully I can trade Ladell Betts for a heart to give Eli Manning.

3 Comments / Posted in Heart, Mandy Patinkin, Sports

Exhibit 2.1

I swear to god my next post is going to be on Günter Grass, but I just have to do this:

My Fantasy Football Team (by which I mean the first of two and possibly three fantasy football teams).

I’m trying to decide how embarrassing it is to have a fantasy football team and for the moment I’ve decide upon ‘Not Very.’ I’m willing to reconsider. So I’ll write about it as no one reads this blog except for people who already know I play fantasy football. These are people who I often find myself yelling at while drinking about the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3. People who have heard me say things like, “I just don’t know if it’s worth it to keep Devery Henderson on my team.” People who often stare at me with blank eyes.

The thing with fantasy football–and it is the only “fantasy” sport I play for this reasons–is that I get obsessed with it. Having an office job where I have hours a day to be on the Internet has only made it worse. I’m to the point where I look up where everyone on my team has gone to college. I try to find scouting reports from their draft year. I make notes on trades I intend to propose in week 7 a month before the season even starts. It’s no good.

Here’s my team from this past Sunday. They’re called The Lincoln Hawks which may just be my favorite fantasy football team name of all time. If you don’t know why, click here. It works on so many levels my head might explode. Here’s the team:

QB – Philip Rivers. Probably took him a round too early, but I was panicking due to what had been a recent run on QBs and the fact that I didn’t have another pick coming up for a while (I drafted second and the draft snakes so my picks went 2, 23, 26, 47, 50…) Faced with the prospect of having to take someone like J.P. Losman, I grabbed Rivers who I think is at worst solid and at best poised for a breakout year.

RB – Steven Jackson. My first pick who will continue to drive the dynamic St. Louis offense.

RB – Marshawn Lynch. He’s a rookie playing behind a line that Buffalo spent a lot of money upgrading in the offseason. I got him after a lot of other guys with no upside were taken and felt lucky.

WR – Steve Smith. Took him with my first second round pick and didn’t feel good about it. Not that he won’t be great–he will be–but fantasy football is all about the RBs and all of the good ones were gone. Then I took:

WR – Chad Johnson. Again, he’ll be great. I have who I consider to be the top two WRs in football, but it came at the expense of getting a running back or quarterback. That said, as my other options at the time were to reach for a Tom Brady or take a guy I hate like Edgerrin James, I feel okay about it.

TE – Randy McMichael. I hate this pick. Don’t ask.

RB/WR – Jamal Lewis. This is a flex spot where I can play either a wide receiver or a running back. If your league has a flex spot like this and you are playing a WR in it, your team probably isn’t very good. I don’t like Jamal Lewis much this year, but it’s hard to see how he could be worse than last year when he was serviceable. He’s all depth and no upside. Plus, it’s always nice to have a guy who’s spent time in a federal prison for arranging a coke deal.

WR/TE – Isaac Bruce. So too, if your league has a flex spot like this and you have a TE here, you’re team is probably awful. It just is. Speaking of awful, Isaac Bruce! He’s actually okay, but I’d much rather have him as a backup and will probably make a trade to make that happen.

Bench – DeShaun Foster, Michael Turner, Brandon Jackson, and Chris Henry (the RB, not the alcoholic, suspended Bengal). All RBs, all upside. Henry I plan on cutting soon to pick up my defense, and Turner I hope to trade to the team with LaDanian Tomlinson (Turner is his backup). I really like Foster and Jackson as guys who other teams were over looking for some reason.

A common thing to do in this league is to not draft a kicker or defense and then pick one up after dropping some guys before Week 1 (which is what I did), hence guys like Henry and Turner who don’t really have a place on the team but who I have on the off chance someone tears a knee ligament or pulls a Brian Griese and hurts himself while drunk.

I’m crossing my fingers.

Overall, I’d give the team a B-. I think it was maybe my worst draft, but The Lincoln Hawks will be okay. The Lincoln Hawks will always be okay. Plus:

UPDATE: Because you care so much, I’ll let you know I just completed a trade with my brother. I sent Chad Johnson, Jamal Lewis, and Brandon Jackson for Willie Parker, Santana Moss, and Tatum Bell. Making my roster:

QB – Philip Rivers

RB – Steven Jackson

RB – Willie Parker

WR – Steve Smith

WR – Santana Moss

TE – Randy McMichael

RB/WR – Marshawn Lynch

WR/TE – Isaac Bruce

BN – DeShaun Foster, Tatum Bell, and Michael Turner.

That’s a very solid team all of a sudden. I like it. I hated giving up a guy who’s been in a federal prison like Jamal Lewis, but there’s always Mike Vick…

2 Comments / Posted in Lincoln Hawks, Perms, Sports

Exhibit 1.24

The Royals moved into sole possession of fourth place in the AL Central over the weekend, and are making a run at their third consecutive winning month. For the record, they haven’t done that since 1994. Here’s hoping.

The man pictured above took fourth place in some kind of pinball competition in the U.K. I like to think of him and the Royals as kindred spirits, always competing against those with more money but smaller souls. With greater talent but lesser will. With larger, more reactive paddles, like really expensive ones with lights and all but with slower fingers. Or something.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Pinball Wizardry, Sports

Exhibit 1.20

So I’m getting ready to play in a company-sanctioned basketball game, and all I can do is imagine myself posting people up and beating my boss off the dribble. There are two problems with this 1) I’ve never been good at basketball and 2) I’ve done nothing in the years since I last played basketball to make myself better. In fact, all I’ve done since is pretty much binge drink, smoke briefly, stop smoking but start drinking more Coke and coffee, cut back on the binge drinking while increasing frequency and overall alcohol consumption, and sit in a chair without engaging in any physical activity. In other words, the math I should be working with here is 7th grade Adams Middle School select-league player Adam Peterson + Age, Alcohol, and Athletic Apathy= DNP – Vomiting. That’s a box score joke. If you’re reading this–and again, you’re not–you probably didn’t get that.

But why is it in my mind it all seems so easy, as if the last time I played basketball I was Danny Manning and I just need to shake off some rust. If you could see how pristine my crossover is in my mind, you’d swear I’d actually done it once without kicking the ball into the third row. And even though I know I’m no good, there is still this cognitive dissonance there to make it seem as if I somehow could be good. I mean, I haven’t played in a decade, theoretically I’m just as likely to get better as I am to get worse. It’s not as if practicing ever helped me.

The mental gap that suggests that if I haven’t done something in a long enough time that means I have permission to start dreaming about maybe joining an adult league and winning the MVP, is a dangerous one. People make decisions by not analyzing past performance all the time and pretending that if someone was once good they will be again. It pretty much explains the last 30 years of Marlon Brando’s career.

UPDATE: I have just returned from said basketball game and am nominally still alive. Ironically, I actually did play like Danny Manning. Only with a limp. And who ate too much for lunch. And who occassionaly called for a sub despite the absence of such subs. You know, the Danny Manning who played for Dallas. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure jumpshot won’t be on our corporate reviews this year. Final line: 30 minutes, 2-3 from the field, 2 assists, 2 TO, 1 steal, 8 times I didn’t run back down the court, and 11 fouls (give or take). I was probably not definitely the worst player.

1 Comment / Posted in 1997, 6'4", Sports

Exhibit 1.16

Things you should be looking for in tonight’s pre-season opening Dolphins game:

  • John Beck’s performance. Not as a quarterback–that will be fine–but as the lead in the Adam Peterson story. Look at this guy. Seeing him in a Dolphins uniform is like watching one of my dreams in the third person.
  • Ted Ginn vs. Ted Ginn’s hamstring. The battle no one wins.
  • Cam Cameron’s head coaching debut. He seems like a good guy, but there is no denying that he went 18-37 in his only other head coaching job at IU. Which, by the way, is his alma mater. This worries me. If/when Drake University ever puts me in charge of their non-scholarship division 1-AA football program, I’m going to do a little better than 18-37. I don’t care how many times I have to run Scotty Phaydavong.
  • Jason Allen continuing to do his statue impression when on the field. He couldn’t be more of a bust if he didn’t have a torso. No one can convince me that Saban didn’t actually want to draft some other guy named Jason Allen Smith but forgot to write the last name on the card. Then when Tagliabue read the name, Saban just played it cool and told everyone in the room, “Well, I’m sure he’s good too.”
  • My favorite sleeper player: David Sutton. He’s a 6-6 ex-volleyball player who only caught 6 passes during his time at UTEP. No jokes here. He’s good.
Comment / Posted in Dolphins, Phaydavongs, Sports

Exhibit 1.14

The kid that Odalis Perez ate and whose skin he wears Vincent D’Onofrio style.

Odalis Perez was unexpectedly bad for the Royals last night. Which is to say that he is always bad, but last night he was worse than usual, somewhat surprising considering he has developed into quite the consistent pitcher. Which is to say consistently bad.

The normal Odalis Perez start goes something like this: 5.2 IP with 4 runs earned (and sometimes, just for fun, an unearned run) with 8 hits, 3k, 2 BB, 3 visits to the mound by the pitching coach, and 1 me turning off the game until a Gil Meche or Brian Bannister start. That’s not statistics based, that’s just the perceived line of watching him pitch–except for me turning off the game, that I can document.

The Royals can’t complain as they aren’t even paying his salary (or at least not most of it). This may be one of the all-time great things about sports that, if translated to the real world, would make absolutely no sense (though we may need to do it anyway). If my company traded me to say, McDonald’s, I’d probably perform pretty poorly too until I learned from my McManager that my old company was still paying my salary but just didn’t want me around anymore. At that point I might start making a few more Quarter Pounders per hour just to prove them wrong, but I guess Odalis and I are just different people.

(This concept gets even more ridiculous in the NBA. Can you imagine being, say, Theo Ratliffe and repeatedly getting traded from team to team, each one of which only wants you because A. they need your awful, awful contract to make a deal for a superstar work and B. that awful contract is about to expire and provide cap relief? How could this situation possibly be comfortable for anyone. “Should I start warming up, Coach?” “No, Theo, why don’t you just go sit at the end of the bench until your deal expires in 2009.” The concept of the buy-out is even worse. The Portland Trail Blazers just gave Stevie Francis something like $30 million to not play basketball for them. Actually, this one we may need to institute in the real world).

Odalis’s contract is somewhat understandable considering his remarkable 2002 season:

222.1 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4 CG, 2 SO, 155 K, 38 BB, .226 BA against, .99 WHIP, 15 wins and 10 losses.

That’s a damn fine season. Not Cy Young worthy, but I could see it getting a vote or two (Ed note: it didn’t because Randy Johnson was incredible that year). He probably should have won 20 games. He was an All-Star. Odalis was 24-25 years old throughout that season (scary considering that’s my current age and an Odalis Perez-like collapse could be just around the corner) and he had never been that good again when the Dodgers locked him up in 2005 based mostly on the promise of that earlier season. Within a few months of the deal the Dodgers already regretted it, and within 18 months they’d shipped him, two legit prospects, and something like $20 million off to the Royals for a 35-year-old reliever who, ironically, had been on the Dodgers the year before but who they didn’t want to resign. Ouch.

This is the equivalent of the company I work for trading me, my salary, the basket of Take Fives, my purple editing pens, and one of our data analysts to McDonald’s for a number four. I don’t even think they’d be able to get it super-sized unless they threw in one of the coffee pots.

Comment / Posted in Baseball, Odalises, Sports

Exhibit 1.5

The Epic Poetry of Baseball Announcing

Something tells me Fred White–Royals fill-in radio guy, corpse–either hasn’t read or doesn’t remember reading the Iliad. I say this because Fred White has the unparalleled ability to sound as if he is calling that day’s game between bites of oatmeal, most of which his shaky hand spills onto his flannel pajama pants. They may actually just call him on the phone and have him give his thoughts from a La-Z-Boy at a nursing home, I’m not sure. I think he actually brings his own old-timey microphone with him. He probably has to crank it which is why he can only say five or six words between his phlemy, oatmeal-scented exhalations.

What I’m trying to say here is that Fred White sounds old.

Also, he’s probably not familiar with Matthew Arnold or Milman Parry. Hell, I’m not even familiar with those guys and I didn’t die in 1880 (Ed note: he is probably not that Fred White but we’re not ruling it out). But what Fred White has in common with Homer, Matthew Arnold, and Milman Parry is a fascinating appreciation for the traditions of oral storytelling. He’s not the best radio guy–in fact, I’d say he’s probably the worst–but he takes my favorite Homerian-styled announcing trope to extremes. This is probably an exaggeration, but I think his call last night for Alex Gordon’s game-winning 10th-inning homerun actually went something like this:

  • Homerun by* left-handed* young Gordon*deep left* field over* Ford’s head
  • Left-handed* young Gordon* gone deep*left field*Lew Ford’s*head hung
  • Great win for*young Gordon*Bell and the*team over*Twins’ Boof* Five-Three

Now if you’re reading this–and you probably aren’t–you’re surely thinking that my dactylic hexameter is way off. I imagine you are correct. The point is that Fred White uses these great repetitive phrases during his commentary so much that I keep expecting him to slip in a reference to the long-haired Myrmidons without missing a beat. Alex Gordon is always young Gordon or left-handed Alex. Various pitchers are either crafty or promising depending on whether they are 35 or 25 (if they fall somewhere in between they are invariably “confident”).

I imagine he doesn’t talk like this in real life, but I wouldn’t put it past him. Without even attempting to butcher more dactyls:

  • I’ll have three Whoppers please Miss three Whoppers and one Diet Coke Miss

  • Great burgers three Whoppers can’t miss with Diet Coke too please hurry Fred White

  • Hungers for three Whoppers and one Diet Coke in a perspiring cup King Size? No, Miss Thang.

It’s a lost art, this oral tradition.

Comment / Posted in Miss Thang, Myrmidons, Sports

Exhibit 1.3

[Hiram] Kyle Davies

The Royals just traded Octavio Dotel for this guy. He’s basically a 23-year-old ex-prospect who was once considered the best pitcher in the Braves system until he got through their system and proceeded to not be very good. A lot of potential. A lot of issues with how fast he’s advanced. A lot of questions about why he doesn’t use his given name of Hiram. A few things to make note of here:

1. It doesn’t seem like the Royals necessarily got the best deal for Dotel, but they did get a guy named Hiram which is hard to argue with. That’s much harder than getting a guy who throws strikes. Sub-things to note. Things I would do if my name were Hiram:

  • Not go by Adam anymore.
  • Name my kids Adam.
  • Learn how to handle my curveball.
  • Learn if the name is properly pronounced Hy-Ram or Here-am.
  • Correct everyone who pronounces it one way by telling them I pronounce it the other.
  • Make it unclear if I were Jewish or Scottish by wearing a yarmulke and a kilt.

2. A lot of Royals fans seem upset that they didn’t get Wlademir Belentien. I can understand this as the team desperatly needs a power-hitting OF as long as Teahen keeps doing his David Dejesus impersonation and David DeJesus keeps doing his…you get the idea. I can’t be too dissapointed, however, as getting someone named Wlademir is presumably harder than getting someone named Hiram. I mean, that name has a spelling error in it.

3. Dayton Moore has earned the right to trade for whatever pitcher he wants and have everyone’s trust until he messes up. So far he’s given up Tony Graffanino, Mike MacDougal, and Ambiorix Burgos for Brian Bannister, Jorge de la Rosa, Tyler Lumsden, and Daniel Cortes. Jury is still out on all of those guys, but would any GM rather take the Graffanino/MacDougal side there?

4. A lot of deadweight still on this Royals team but things are looking up after the deadline. The only players I can definitely see clearing waivers are Emil Brown and Odalis Perez with Reggie Sanders a maybe. It’s unlikely any get dealt, but it would be nice to see Joey Gathright back up. Check out this video.

Is it too late to add jump cars to the list of things I would do if I were named Hiram?

1 Comment / Posted in Baseball, Hirams, Sports