Wednesday, April 29, 2009
- Being linked by the best and funniest sports blog out there, WithLeather, is not only an ego boost, but also a traffic boost, as when they linked our Video Game Mock Draft our daily hits were 7.5x higher than a usual day. Thanks again, WithLeather.
- Last night for dinner our group went to a U of Princeton Bar & Grill. There were not equations on the wall and shit.
- At one point in the car I was trying to find a local sports radio station as I usually do, and came across a religious preacherman instead. He said, "I advise teenagers and young people not to date at all. When you are ready for someone, god will give them to you. Spending time in a relationship not given by god is just wasting your time." I love these people.
- Have you ever seen that movie Enough? Me neither, but from what I figured it's about J-Lo who is mad that her husband is beating her up and fights back and probably kills him. That's how I feel about my boyfriend Cole Hamels right now. I gave him everything, forsaking all others, and now how has repaid me? With outright suckitude. He sucked hard in his first two starts, compiling an ERA of 11.17, and although he's been better since, he's also left both of his last two starts early with injuries, first after a line drive hit him in the back and then after rolling his ankle fielding a bunt. This is definitely the part of the movie where I am developing my master plan to kill him to set me free. He can still win me back, but he better be damn charming.
- Now watching the Heat/Hawks game in the hotel bar (while drinking Ginger Ale, pretty much the most depressing thing ever) and I'm seeing Mario Chalmers. Who should have been a Wolf. What a horrible trade. Chalmers averaged 32 minutes, 10 points, and five assists per game and although there's no way he will be rookie of the year since Derrick Rose has that on lock, you could make the argument he's more valuable to the Heat than fellow rookie Michael Beasley (25 minutes, 14 points, 5 boards). Looking at NBADraft.net's latest mock, with the second rounder from Miami (#48, Chalmers was 34) they have the Wolves taking Roderick Flemings from Hawaii (who is my boy but still) with Luke Harangody, JP Prince, and Raymar Morgan as other possibilities. What are the odds those guys come in on Chalmer's level? No way. Just another horrible trade in a long, long list of awful moves.
- Also I should note that it appears the Heat are coached by a hispanic child. Must be some kind of promotion, although I would probably use those in the regular season. Weird time to do it in the playoffs.
- Last thing before I pass out in a swine flu haze: I keep forgetting to post this, but Dawger and I did a little draft of all-time Gopher teams on our road trip to Madison. Which team wins and why? (mid-80s and newer only) -
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
- I'm coming to you live from the bar at the Princeton Marriott, thanks to the wonderful technology that is the Verizon Internet Card, which gives me the slowest internet connection imaginable, but I can get wireless pretty much anywhere, so at least that's something. Of course, no travel-related post would be complete without the story of some idiot, and today's idiot was sitting across the aisle from me on the plane. He is what I like to call, "A Know-It-All." Spent at least half of the flight badgering this poor old woman with facts and opinions about everything and everything, until I though she actually slumped over and died. Turns out she just went to sleep, since she was fine when we landed, but I wouldn't have blamed her for just giving up the ghost. Some gems:
* "I don't understand why these people bring these bags that are too big or bags that are so small. It's not that hard to just buy the biggest bag that will fit in any overhead compartment. That's what I have. I did my research. These people are just ridiculous"
* "I can't believe Northwest agreed to merge with Delta. Just a horrible decision. Here's what I would have done..(blah blah blah). It would have worked too, and they'd still have their airline.
* "No, this isn't a boeing. It's not a (some other name) either. It's actually a (some name). What this plane offers that most others don't is (something something)."
* "My daughter is very well known in figure skating circles. Yeah, she does synchronized figure skating, where all the skaters have to do the same moves at the same time. She's very good." (I can't believe this is a real thing.)
* "Yeah, my boys and I watched a religious video last night about this professor who talks about how evolution is so wrong and it's a huge mistake to believe it. He had a lot of facts and some really compelling points." (That's my favorite. If this guy had lots of compelling facts, I'd really love to hear them, since they don't exist. Always nice to go to an unbiased source like a religious video to get the whole story. I guarantee this guy believes the earth is 6,000 years old. This stuff really makes my blood boil."
- Since I'm in New Jersey and it thinks it's New York, I had a chance to watch Justin Verlander of Detroit throw against the Yankees tonight. Let me tell you, I'm worried for the Twins. The guy looked like the Verlander of 2006-2007 than last year's version. He's been awful this season (came into the game with an ERA of 9.00) but that's not what I saw tonight. Tonight he went 7 innings, giving up seven hits but no runs and striking out nine, and was never in serious danger of giving up a run. Not really sure what has been happening with him, but he was blowing guys away with the heater tonight. Could just be a blip, could mean he's figuring it out again. You've been warned.
- Great line from a Simpsons I watched before dinner.
HOMER: I have to go to work
MARGE: It's 4pm. And it's Saturday.
HOMER: I have to count the atoms at the power plant. Conservation of Mass you know, it's the law.
You kind of have to be a major dork to get it, but if you get it, it's pretty good.
- How bad has the Twins rotation been this year? Oof. And Baker's getting knocked around here again. All that hype about how great this young rotation is going to be, instead they run out there and get firebombed like a stereo store during the Watts riots. And just when Slowey steps up and shows how good he can be with a near-shutout, this season's defacto ace so far, Mr. Perkins, remembers he's not supposed to be that good. It's pretty clearly a shitbarn of a division again this year, and 85 wins or so will probably get it done, but the Twins clearly aren't going to outscore teams very often, so the pitchers have got to get it figured out, and quick. Yes, yes, they're still just a couple games back and the baby jesus hasn't played yet. Great. Optimism abounds.
- Speaking of shitty pitchers, I love how Chien-Ming Wang was put on the DL with "weakness in his hip" after getting shelled for a 34.50 ERA in his three starts. I don't think you're fooling anybody. It's that god damn political correctness. If Wang was a cracker, he'd be getting torn to shreds by fans, media, teammates, bloggers, and anybody with a pulse. But because he's a foreigner, everyone backs off and decides to say he's injured. And with Chan Ho Park, Hideo Nomo, and Byung-Hung Kim all flaming out as well, I think we should just round up all the foreigners in MLB and make them play in their own league and they can work harder at getting better. We could lock them up year round too, while we're at it, so they can work all year. It could be like some kind of camp. A camp for concentration or something.
- Speaking of concentrating, have you checked out Jason "The Man-Beast" Kubel? Let's see, he leads the team in average, slugging, OPS, home runs, doubles, triples, total bases, and runs batted in, and is second in runs scored and on-base percentage. Hm. There's been a curious lack of the Kubel bashing that was so prevalent here last year. Just more proof that you should always listen to me.
- Still on the Twins. Although Joe Crede has been mostly unsuccessful hitting the ball to places where he won't get out, hitting under .200 right now, there has been one very pleasant surprise, and that's in his plate patience. One of the main knocks on getting Crede was his low OBP and walk rate. After posting a career walk rate of 5.9% (walks/plate appearances), he has it up to 12.6% this year and tied for the team lead in walks with 8 so far. That takes his unappetizing average and brings it to a still ugly but slightly more respectable .306 OBP. That's about what Gomez's OBP would be if he hit .300, not very good, but it makes his poor average more tolerable. Hopefully he can keep it up, and also pull his strikout rate down, which is at once per every four at-bats, a career worst and almost double his lifetime average. Still way better than putting Buscher over there every day.
- I went to a whole bunch of garage sales in my parents' neighborhood this weekend, and amongst the creepy, dirty white trash clothes, the suspiciously brand new clothes with retail store price tags still on them, broken lawn equipment, crappy romance novels, and discarded children's toys, I found a real gem: The 1993 Sports Illustrated Almanac. This would be the part where I would regale you with facts you don't remember and players you had forgotten, but it's been two days and I already lost the damn thing.
- I know people who read things that other people write like to know more about them, and since you all know so much about me already, I thought I'd let you know that our main hockey guy here, Snake's favorite book is called "On the Wings of a North Wind." It appears to be about birds, and I'm not kidding, it's his favorite book. You know what book I would rather read than that? All of them. Any single one. If nothing else Snake, you're consistent. If you're into that kind of thing, and are a redneck hunter (sorry FishingMN), you can pick it up from that link at just $5.49 for a used copy. I'm already thinking about it.
- Since I have a big day tomorrow, I'm going to call it here. I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Seriously ESPN, lay off a bit, it's embarrassing. This isn't the Bosnians and the Serbs here, and it isn't a war, it's just baseball. Plenty of other teams out there playing too.
On the other hand...
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
1. Detroit Lions - QB Eagles, Super Tecmo Bowl.
It's not secret the Lions are lacking playmakers outside of Calvin Johnson, so why not go with maybe the best playmaker of all-time in QB Eagles? He can throw it over 100 yards on the run and hit his receiver in-stride (just ask Freddy Barnett), or he can tuck it down and break a long one on any play. Even with that supporting cast 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing isn't out of the question.
2. St. Louis Rams - OT Walter Jones, Madden.
Everything I've read, which amounts to one article on ESPN, says that offensive line is a massive weakness here, especially with Orlando Pace gone. Why not take the best offensive lineman in Madden history? This guy was ranked a 99 for like ten straight years, and you could pick him in a fantasy draft and ignore the rest of your line, then just call a HB Dive over his right shoulder and bust off a big gainer. Look for Steven Jackson to be a super stud this year running behind Jones.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - RB Bo Jackson, Super Tecmo Bowl.
The Chiefs get lucky with the top talent on the board falling to number three. With Larry Johnson dead or released or injured or maybe still there but all broken down (I don't really remember) Bo injects some new life while opening things up for Thigpen and Dwayne Bowe. Plus, the Royals are always in need of another power-hitting outfielder.
4. Seattle Seahawks - RB Barry Sanders, Madden.
Another team looking for a RB and playmaker, Barry is a nice consolation prize after just missing out on Bo. Barry was a stud throughout his lifetime, but specifically in one of the earlier Maddens, where his spin move didn't just shake a defender, it also would carry him an automatic five extra yards forward. I'm pretty sure just that spin move would be the longest run Mo Morris or TJ Duckett managed for the Hawks last year.
5. Cleveland Browns - OLB Lawrence Taylor, Tecmo Bowl.
One of the worst defenses in the league, and maybe history, gets a huge boost with one man coke-snorting wrecking crew LT coming into the fold at the height of his coke binge. Who else could block the extra point every time, or blow up just about any play? Single-handedly won many a Tecmo game, because that offense was terrible.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - S Ronnie Lott, Tecmo.
Historically, safeties don't go this early. But historically, safeties don't wreck as much shit as Ronnie Lott did, both on Tecmo and Super Tecmo bowl. If he gets EXCELLENT status, look the hell out because your running back won't even get the chance to get into a little tussle to try to break the tackle, you're going straight down. And go ahead and try and put the ball in the air anywhere near him, he's coming down with it. For a shitty defensive team like the Bengals, this guy is gold.
7. Oakland Raiders - WR Randy Moss, NCAA Football.
You know Oakland likes to make a splash, and Moss is perfect for them - at least this version of Moss. Not the Madden one, but the one who played for Marshall on NCAA football. Completely unstoppable, send him deep and he'd usually have ten yards on the DB by the time the ball got there. Plus, let him return punts and he can just run from side to side, never advancing but never getting tackled. Imagine how well that would work if you force the other team to punt down seven with five minutes left. BALLGAME.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Jerry Rice, Tecmo Bowl.
A team in desperate need of a wideout even after signing Torry Holt earlier this week, Rice fits in perfectly. All you have to do is send him on a crossing route, and if the other team happens to have guessed your play, you can still hit him over the middle for eight yards. Eight yards over and over again will eventually equal a TD, so now the Jags just got unstoppable. Could have gone over Moss, but go ahead and look at that picture. F you, Jerry. F You for what you have become.
9. Green Bay Packers - DE/OLB Alfred Williams, Bill Walsh College Football.
My ESPN article says the Pack needs a DE/OLB type hybrid, and nobody fits the bill better than Alfred Williams from '90 Colorado on Bill Walsh. Williams played DE on that game, and if you slid him outside the tackle a couple of steps there wasn't a single O-Lineman who could get out there and block him, since his speed was on par with a RB. In fact, he was so fast that he could often recover an onside kick IN THE AIR. No kidding. One of only two guys on the game who could. Talk about an unstoppable weapon.
10. San Francisco 49ers - QB Daunte Culpepper, NCAA Football.
One of the worst offenses in the league gets a whole lot better with a dynamic QB under center. Culpepper, the one from NCAA and Central Florida, was one of the most unstoppable characters in history. A slightly more realistic version of QB Eagles, nonetheless he could run around in the pocket and never be caught, giving his receivers time to run around and get open. He then could, of course, throw the ball right on the nuts, even though he was sprinting around and half the time had his back turned. He makes Frank Gore obsolete however, so look for a trade.
11. Buffalo Bills - DT Jerry Ball, Super Tecmo Bowl.
Buffalo needs some serious help for a horrible, horrible defensive line, and Jerry Ball fits the bill. The originator of the only play ever to completely make teams change playbooks, on certain plays (usually out of the pro set) Ball could dive immediately after the snap, going right between the center and guard, and sliding six yards into the backfield to either sack the QB or take down the RB right after the handoff. Truly a game-changer.
12. Denver Broncos - QB Michael Vick, Madden.
With Cutler gone, you don't want to turn the keys over to Orton because that has disaster written all over it. Instead, go with the guy who made 8,000 people quit in the middle of online Madden games. Seriously, if you went online to play, I swear 90% of players were using the Falcons and Vick, whose pass and run combination was only behind QB Eagles and the NCAA version of Culpepper in terms of completely devastating and demoralizing an opponent. Plus, Denver doesn't have any running backs either, so this makes sense to both give them a passer (which he was on the game for some inexplicable reason) and a running threat.
13. Washington Redskins - CB Chris McAlister, Madden.
I believe the Redskins are currently starting Fred Smoot at corner (Fred Smoot!) which makes picking up a corner here a no-brainer. You can't do much better than McAlister, who used to sit in that cover two and just wait for your opponent to throw the out route, and even if the receiver was ten yards passed him he always managed to leap up and grab it. The way Madden set it up, after the pick it was always smooth and wide open sailing for a McAlister TD. It got so bad at one point I actually felt bad for the computer. Until the next time it cheated.
14. New Orleans Saints - RB Christian Okoye, Tecmo Super Bowl.
Saints fans sick of the commitment to third-down-back-at-best-should-be-a-WR Reggie Bush can rejoice, as NO finally gets the manly running back they deserve in the Nigerian Nightmare. Seriously, remember when Okoye was EXCELLENT and instead of going for the endzone you'd just look for little bitch defenders to send bouncing? It didn't get much better than that, my friends. And it's ok that he can't catch, since it's pretty much the only thing Bush can do well. It's kind of like Thunder and Lightning, but more like Thunder and low-wattage Light Bulb.
15. Houston Texans - OL Indianapolis Colts, Madden 2009.
I know you're generally not allowed to draft an entire unit, but since the Texans have given up more sacks in their history than any other franchise, I'm going to go ahead and allow it. Usually on Madden, if you need to blitz you go ahead and use Engage Eight, which sends eight of your guys at the QB, is unblockable, and the only way you get burned is if your opponent sees it and hits somebody on a quick hitter. Not the Colts. Somehow their five guys can block eight guys, and Manning sits back and has his pick of five receivers vs. three DBs. That should help out Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson quite a bit.
16. San Diego Chargers - OT Willie Roaf, Madden.
Similar to Walter Jones way up there, Roaf was rated a 99 for a whole lot of years, and generally just overwhelmed the left side of the line. I just so happened to once team up LT and Roaf in a Madden draft, and LT proceeded to rush for over 2,500 yards that season. So, there you go.
17. New York Jets - RB/LB/DT/TE The Troll, Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl.
The Jets need a little bit of everything, and The Troll does a little bit of everything. Unstoppable with the ball, he can get the Jets offense going as he's pretty much an Okoye/Bo Jackson cross if their abilities were squared, and on defense he can rip the arms off an offensive lineman and beat the QB to death with them. I mean come on, not even axes and swords can stop this guy. Truly a steal at #17. Look at this beast:
18. Denver Broncos - DE Hugh Green, Bill Walsh.
Didn't Denver just pick? Well, they got their QB and now it's time to work on the D-Line. Green played for Pitt on Bill Walsh College Football, and everything written above about Alfred Williams applies to him as well, except he pretty much guarantees you a recovered onside kick. Denver could be winning games without the other team every touching the ball.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs - TE Marv Cook, Tecmo Super Bowl.
Tampa has a lot of needs, but there's no way this guy can slip any further, and his pass-catching ability will compliment the dropsies of Michael Clayton (not the crappy movie) and Antonio Bryant well. Nobody was better at finding the cushion of a zone. No matter how late you got in the Tecmo season, Cook could always get open. Even with the noodle-armed Steve Grogan running the QB show for the Pats, he set the all-time record for catches in a season. Really just a solid, solid pick here for the Bucs.
20. Detroit Lions - OT Billy Bob, West Canaan Coyotes.
Not technically a video game character, the Lions now need someone to protect their investment in QB Eagles, and since I can only come up with two dominant video game linemen (Jones & Roaf), I have to think outside the box a bit here. But who wouldn't want Billy Bob? Pre-concussion, he was a dominant force, able to block two players at once and pancaking both of them and helping lead Lance Harbor to back-to-back All-Texas berths and West Canaan to two state titles. After his concussion he went through a rough patch, giving up the sack that ended Harbor's career and battling his own demons of alcoholism and depression, he could have become the next Tony Mandarich. Instead, he reached down within himself and became once again what he once was, as well as showing the tantalizing ability to run with the ball, making him not only an A+ offensive lineman and a tough, gritty, gutty human being, but also a stellar goalline fullback as well. Who could be better?
21. Philadelphia Eagles - RB Charles White, Bill Walsh.
Poor widdle Brian Westbrook can't ever stay healthy for a full season, and really needs a quality dude to split time with. Enter his perfect compliment, 1979 Heisman Trophy winner from USC and Bill Walsh stud Charles White. Now, White could never hold down a full-time gig, because he gets too tuckered. You see, on his first rush of the half, every single game, White was so fast he couldn't be caught, and if he was caught his spin move would send the defender flying further than Sonic with the badniks. But that was it. One guaranteed TD per half, and then he was spent and worthless, so much so that you pretty much had to pull him for that slacker Marcus Allen. Still though, since he'll only have to split time with Westbrook, this makes a lot of sense.
22. Minnesota Vikings - QB Beau Morgan, NCAA.
The defense is fine, but the offense needs some serious work. Strengths = good o-line, good TE, good fullback, and two good running backs. Weaknesses = no receivers, bad QBs. Solution = wishbone, baby. And nobody ever ran it better than Air Force Beau Morgan on NCAA football. You scoff. You laugh. You say, "You can't run the wishbone in the NFL." But you're wrong. Did you notice how this "wildcat" offense really caught on? The wishbone is the next wildcat, and it all starts with the Vikes and Morgan, AP, Chuck Taylor, and whoever that fullback is.
23. New England Patriots - QB Brian Brohm, Madden 2009.
You know who always finds the diamonds in the rough? Belicheck and the Patriots. And before you question why Brohm is a diamond in the rough, keep in mind that I'm talking about Madden 2009 Brohm, not the one who played for Louisville. The reason why he belongs on the Pats is that he might not have the prettiest ratings, but he's a winner. I saw Bogart draft Brohmy in a fantasy draft on 2009, and he went ahead and took that team to the conference championship in his first year and I foresee great things in his future. And Belicheck wants to be along for the ride.
24. Atlanta Falcons - DT Dan Saleumua, Tecmo Super Bowl.
What Jerry Ball created (nose tackle cheater dive play), Dan Saleumua perfected. He's much faster than Ball, and can usually get to the QB before he can even handoff on the right plays. The other bonus about Samoan Dan is his propensity to cause fumbles. Even better, when he recovers them, he inexplicably runs faster than any other player at any position on any team ever in history, and is completely uncatchable. Seriously, if you take KC for a season you are pretty much guaranteed to have this guy hit for six. Plus, jesus, look at this effing guy.
25. Miami Dolphins - S David Fulcher, Tecmo Super Bowl.
The only other DB behind Lott who can make any ballcarrier, even Okoye, go down with a touch when in EXCELLENT mode, Fulcher will dramatically upgrade a Dolphin secondary in dire need of a playmaker. This quote from Wikipedia says the rest better than I ever could, "Fulcher lives on in the minds of Bengals fans, and through the popular video game Tecmo Super Bowl, where his speed and incredible hitting power continue to devastate unsuspecting wide receivers." Holla.
26. Baltimore Ravens - RB Thurman Thomas, Tecmo Super Bowl.
A team in desperate need of a playmaker, and has been for like, twenty years, the Ravens find themselves very smiley when they announce their pick of Thurman Thomas. Basically Roger Craig 2.0 (but faster), Thomas can kill you through the air and the ground. The biggest threat on Tecmo Super Bowl to go for the coveted 1,000/1,000 mark, Thomas will likely touch the ball on 90%+ of offensive plays the Ravens run.
27. Indianapolis Colts - DT Charles Grant, Madden.
This guy doesn't necessarily have the instant name recognition and memory recall that most of the others have, but trust me when I tell you that he dominated Madden in the early OOs. Grant was the kind of guy who, at least whenever my friend 2P drafted him, dominated no matter the scenario. Whether the games were simulated, or he played but didn't control Grant, or even if he controlled Grant, it didn't matter - the dude killed. It sucked double because 2P sucked at Madden, but Grant really helped him out - as he will the Colts.
28. Buffalo Bills - TE Cap Boso, Tecmo Bowl.
With Terrell Owens now on board, that's going to open up a lot of room in the middle - and we know Lee Evans isn't going anywhere near it - so that makes a nice TE like Boso a perfect pick for the Bills. He's not exactly going to stretch the field in any way, but if you ever played against Chicago on Tecmo Bowl you know that no matter what, even if you guess the play, you can hit Boso over the middle on a slant every single time. With a shitty QB like Trent Edwards, you really need reliability like that.
29. New York Giants - MLB Ray Lewis, Madden.
As good as Lewis was in real life - at linebackering, not at killing people - he was even better in Madden. For a solid nine year stretch or so there, he had the speed of a WR and the strength of an offensive lineman, to go along with the intelligence that only comes from a CPU who already knows the play you picked. It sucked hard going up against this guy. Your only chance was to hope the dude you were playing would switch to him, because you can always juke the manual control, but you can never juke a CPU controlled Ray Lewis.
30. Tennessee Titans - WR Haywood Jeffires, Tecmo Super Bowl.
In reality, I'd probably want a QB if I'm here, because the Titans' choices right now are either captain shitty or professor old man, but I can't think of another QB who really stood out, so I'm going to go with another position they need - wideout. Now, the Oilers were loaded with talent at WR, and Drew Hill had better ratings, and Ernest Givens has more name recognition, but Jeffires was the true killer in Tecmo world. Nobody came down with more jump balls than Haywood. Pretty much anytime you needed to, just call the play where everybody goes deep, drop back as far as you can, and chuck it up to Jeffires - he'd come down with it more often than not. Since Kerry Cocktail can't throw it deeper than 30, this might be Bogart's guy Vince Young's last chance to shine.
31. Arizona Cardinals - RB Neal Anderson, Tecmo Super Bowl.
With Edge old and all weird, and nobody really ready to take up the mantle, most certainly not JJ Arrington, so the best RB left makes a nice pick in Neal from the Bears. He was always good no matter what, but when he hit EXCELLENT status he made Bo Jackson look like Merrill Hoge. He can also catch the ball, which makes him a nice fit for the pass happy Cards, but I can't help wondering how he's going to fare without his boyfriend Brad Muster along to help anymore.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers - CB Marcus Trufant, Madden.
I team with no major weaknesses, the Steelers get better by adding one of the great CBs in video game history in Trufant. I know there are guys with better rankings, and guys who are more well known, but I have never in my video game life seen a guy shut down a side of a field more completely than Trufant. Seriously, the last time I played against him I knew how the coaches that go up against Champ Bailey feel. Of course, the other side was like throwing against Fred Smoot, but that's not really the point.
So there you have it. The first ever NFL Mock Draft I've ever done. I'm sure I missed one or two people who could have made it, and I'm sure you will all let me know, but overall I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I mean come on! Who wouldn't want to see the wishbone? And a troll for god sakes! A Troll!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
If you're a Twins fan, and I'm going to assume you are, you've probably noticed that Glen Perkins is by far the best starting pitcher on the Twins this season. I couldn't help but wonder, "Why?"
This season, Perkins is sporting an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.83 in his three starts, lasting through eight innings each time out. Last season, his first full and first time as a starter, Perkins had a nice shiny record at 12-4, with a less impressive ERA of 4.41 and a WHIP of 1.47 - ok, but slightly worse than league average in both cases. So is this a case of a young pitcher figuring things out, or simply a hot start? Since the three games were against the Angles, Blue Jays, and Mariners (only one of which has been a quality offensive team this season) it warrants some research.
We have this article from the AP, full of nice fluffiness and rainbows and cuddles, letting us know that "this spring his attention to detail, be it fielding his position, doing squats in the weight room or studying the opposition, has been keen", comparing him to Johan Santana (seriously), and that his dad thinks "It’s just gratifying as a parent to see that [maturity] in your children." Ok great. It's an article full of quotes and interviews and pats on the back, but very little substance and quantitative analysis. So let's go to the Nerd-Stats-Mobile, thanks to FanGraphs.com.
The first thing I always check when evaluating if a player is improving/regressing compared to simple luck is Batting-Average-on-Balls-In-Play (BABIP), or simply, what usually happens when the ball is hit. Generally, the league average is right around .300, and most pitchers will be within twenty or so points of that. Anything outside of that variance starts to look a little bit more like luck, good or bad. Last season, Perkins came in with a BABIP of .310, a number right about where you would expect. This season, his is sitting at .223, a ridiculously low number. Hmmm. This bares further analysis, but at first glance, I would say we shouldn't expect him to keep up at this pace. How far he regresses to the mean is to be determined.
Next up, let's figure out what exactly is going on when the ball is put in play. Again, according to FanGraphs:
Line drive percentage is, well, the percentage of balls put in play that are line drives, and as you could guess has a pretty solid correlation to hits allowed. Perkins having lowered his from 22% last year to 15% this year is a tremendous step, and gives some insight into why he's having this kind of success. Also of note is that although his fly ball percentage has increased (from 40 to 46%), generally a bad sign, but it's tempered by the fact that his infield fly ball % went from 8.5 to 18%, which is excellent, as obviously infield pop-ups are not very scary. The 18% is probably not sustainable (Garza led at 18.1% in 08, Bronson Arroyo at 15% in 07), but if he can keep the number in the teens it bodes very well for future success.
With these numbers, along with strikeout and walk rates that haven't changed much, I would tend to say that he would be improved over last year, but thus far would lean more towards mirage than trend. However, there is one big factor that I think lends more hope to a breakout season, and that's Perkins change in approach.
Here are his percentages of pitches thrown the last two years:
Last season, Perkins threw his fastball 70% of the time and his changeup 15%, and this remains relatively unchanged this year. The big difference is that he has abandoned his curveball, and has come to rely on his slider quite a bit, throwing it 17% this year compared to 7% last year, with the curve going from 7% to 0%.
The results have been staggering. Last year, Perkins induced opponents to swing at 23.7% of his pitches outside the strike zone, one of the worst numbers in the league. This season, he's improved that to a whopping 38.2%, with opponents making contact with those pitches 76% of the time. This means that 29% of the time he throws a pitch outside the strike zone, the batter is putting a bad pitch in play - this goes a long way towards explaining the improvements in his other metrics. That 38% is second in the majors this year to Jamie Moyer, another crafty left-hander.
I wish there was a way to see pitch-by-pitch data, such as what % of the balls swung at outside the zone are sliders and if his curve got hit around a ton last year, but I can't find that data anywhere. I could have sworn it existed, and if you're reading this and know of it please let me know.
As it is, this is what we have. I find it encouraging, but certainly not conclusive. Can Perkins keep up a 1.50 ERA and a WHIP of 0.88? No, of course not. Could you actually become the team's ace? I think he has a shot. If he can get batters to keep chasing his slider and keep getting them to hit his pitches and hit them weakly, he can have a ton of success. His low strikeout total doesn't generally indicate a possible staff ace type, but it's been done before. Tom Glavine struck out a similar amount of batters throughout his career, and he's heading for the hall. Doug Drabek and Bob Welch both won Cy Youngs with a similar number, so it is possible to put up an elite season without striking people out.
Final Verdict: Closer to a trend, but with some caveats. Don't expect him to crack the top five in the Cy Young voting, and I'd say there's a small chance he implodes if teams start laying off the slider, but I'd look for a very, very nice season from Mr. Perkins the rest of the way.
Of course, you know what this means.......
Anyway, on to the real stuff.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. The Celtics/Bulls game. WOW. Just wow. That might have been the best basketball game I've seen since Kansas/Memphis [EDIT: Never mind, I forgot about Gonzaga/Western Kentucky, but it's the best game since that one.] I was going to highlight a player from the game, but who to choose? Rajon Rondo put up a triple double with nineteen points, sixteen assists, and twelve boards, despite Derrick Rose not at all respecting his jump shot and pretty much giving him anything outside of eighteen feet. It didn't matter, as Rondo used his quickness to get to the rim and either score or find teammates beautifully. How about the battle between former UCONNers Ben Gordon and Ray Allen? Gordon finished with a game-high 42, and was absolutely unconscious in the second half. Of course, so was Allen, who finished with 30, 28 coming in the second half, and hit the game winning three with 2.2 left of a Rondo assist following a Rondo offensive rebound. Allen not only has the prettiest shot in the NBA, but it might be the quickest as well. Even Big Baby Davis, filling in for the injured KG, deserves mention for putting up his career high 26 points in a big spot. Just an awesome, awesome game all the way around, and reminded me why I love the NBA playoffs.
2. Ross Ohlendorf. Who? Yeah, I don't know either, but guess who completely stymied the hottest team in baseball (the Marlins) last night? Yep, Rossy. Seven innings, two hits, no runs, and picked up the win when the Pirate bullpen decided not to blow it. Ohlendorf has made just thirteen career starts after two years as a reliever, and has never posted a season ERA of less than 6.35 in his three years. Due to his low strikeout rate, he was never considered an elite prospect, but hey, he shut down the hottest team in baseball. I'm guessing this is more mirage than trend, but who the hell knows? I'm kind of an idiot.
3. Tony Parker. I hate writing about commies as much as the next guy, but my only other choice for this spot would have been Dustin Pedroia, and I hate writing about Red Sox even more, so here you go. Parker led the Spurs to 105-84 victory over the Mavs last night to even their series at 1-1, going for 38 points (on 16-22 shooting) and dishing 8 assists. Of course, this is much less impressive considering he had Jason Kidd guarding him, who would have trouble stopping Travis Busch at this point. Parker has abused Kidd (assuming he played for Dallas all year, I'm too lazy to look it up), going for 31.2 points and 7.5 assists against him compared to 22 and 7 overall this year. And I'm already bored with this paragraph.
1. Andrew Miller. Once a first round pick and top prospect of the Tigers, Miller was shipped over to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera trade and, well, has looked more like David West than John Smoltz (they were both prospects traded for veterans, you see). Last night we was the poor bastard to faced the Cy Young candidate Ross Ohlendorf, but it wasn't much of a battle with Miller not getting out of the fifth, giving up five hits and four runs to boost his season ERA to 6.94. In his 35 career starts, Miller is 11-17 and sports an ERA of 5.87 and a WHIP of 1.70. I know what you're thinking: it's only 35 career starts and he's still just 24 years old, but this might be a case of rushing a player to the bigs before he is ready. Last night Miller's fastball topped out at just 87 miles per hour - that's being blamed on an oblique injury (he's now on the 15-day DL), but warning sirens are screaming right now.
2. Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates are 7-6 and showing some life. The Marlins are 11-2 and have the best record in the entire league. The Rays were in the series last year and are considered one of the top contenders to win the whole thing this season. The Royals are on top of the AL Central, and might be able to stay there. Every historic bad team is at the very least giving their team some hope this season - except for the Orioles, who, after a good start, have fallen back to earth and are in the midst of a five game losing streak after losing 12-1 to the Red Sox yesterday in a game where Radhames Liz (my favorite first name in MLB) continued his spectacular flameout from prospect to pitching in the Northern League (maybe) going 0.1 innings and giving up six earned runs while hitting two of the seven batters he faced and walking another. As per usual, the O's can hit and score, but the pitching is atrocious with a team ERA of 6.72, and without a single good pitcher or even one with potential, this is just going to continue. Might as well call up Wieters now to try to get some good PR.
3. Chris Iannetta. Rockies catcher Iannetta went 1-3 last night against the D-Backs, and if you're wondering why that's news it's because it pushed his hit total to a grand total of three on the year, raising his average from .086 all the way up to the stellar .111. Iannetta has been the hot catching prospect for three years now, flaming out in his first season (.218/.330/.350) before bouncing back last year with a nice .264/.390/.505 with 18 ding dongs. Now, this season, he's put up .111/.314/.333 and is striking out once every 2.7 at bats. The plate patience is still nice with seven walks already, but at some point you actually have to hit the ball. He still has power when he does (two of his three hits are home runs) and the potential is still there, but since this guy screwed me in fantasy baseball two years ago he can go suck it. Rockies guy, any insight here?
Sunday, April 19, 2009
1. Jason Kubel. He had this spot locked up after hitting for the cycle on Friday, but decided to declare his awesomeness even further by collecting four more hits on Saturday. For the weekend he helped the Twins sweep the stupid Angels and stupid Torii Hunter, going 8-15 with five runs scored and seven driven in, but that two game stretch may have been the most dominant by a Twin since Kirby destroyed Milwaukee. Honestly, despite Kubel being awesome and my boy and all, he's one of the last Twins I'd pick as "cycle possible" due to his being slower than Kent Hrbek - and I mean Kent Hrbek right now. I'm not 100% sure that triple was legit, but what the scorekeeper says goes, so congrats to Kubel on being a total stud, and the clear third-best hitter on the Twins.
2. Zack Greinke. For those of you with long memories, and I'm guessing many of my long time pain-in-the-ass readers remember, I once downplayed Greinke as nothing more than a #3 starter. Well, if nothing else, at least I am willing to admit when I am wrong as I seem to be doing over and over again lately. Greinke won again on Saturday to run his record to 3-0 for the Royals by shutting out Texas, giving up seven hits and striking out 10 while walking nobody. He's been unhittable this year, with 20 scoreless innings to start the season, piggy-backing on his fourteen scoreless innings to end 2008. He's a big reason the Royals are suddenly on top of the AL Central. Did you know the Royals tried to make him a reliever in 2007? Good thing they changed their minds - for them, bad news for the division. He's going to be good for a long time. I definitely whiffed on this one.
3. Derrick Rose. Who holds the record for most points by a rookie in their playoff debut? Yep, Rose, who scored 36 in the Bulls OT upset win over the Celtics, which tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record. Rose was completely unguardable, and abused Rondo like most Big Ten players abused Travis Busch, even passing up open jumpers in order to cross Rondo over like a bitch and get to the rim. Rose didn't just score 36 points, he did it efficiently by shooting 12-19 and contributed eleven assists in one of the more dominating performances I've seen, stealing home court advantage from the favored Celts. A couple of other interesting things from this series are the fact that Ray Allen wears TWO shooting sleeves, and apparently Vinny del Negro is an actual NBA coach. TWO SHOOTING SLEEVES.
4. Jeremy Hermida. The Marlins keep winning, and they keep finding different heroes. Opening week, it was Emilio Bonifacio, with Josh Johnson pitching like a Cy Young candidate. This weekend Johnson again took the hill, but didn't have his A game this time, giving up six earned runs in six innings pitched, and the Marlins headed to the ninth down three to the Nationals. No matter, as Jeremy Hermida decided he'd be the big nuts this time, and took world's shittiest closer Joel Hanrahan deep with two outs and two on to tie the game. A couple of innings later with the score still tied, Hermida came up again with two men on, and again went deep to give the Marlins a 9-6 lead and finishing the day with three hits and three runs to go with his six RBI, raising his season average to .316. Hermida had a very good year in 2007, but dropped off in 08, so far at least he's looked closer to his 2007 form, and has helped the Marlins to the best record in the bigs at 11-1, currently riding a seven game win streak. The best part of this, however, was the Nationals bullpen cleaning following the sweep, with them jettisoning three of their relievers, calling two washed-up retreads from the minors and signing Kip freaking Wells. Ouch.
5. Glen Perkins. Which Twins' pitcher did you really expect to take a big step forward this year? Probably Slowey or Liriano, maybe Baker? A few people I know really like Blackburn, but I don't know anybody who saw this coming from Perkins. I always thought he was more of a place holder for Mulvey or Swarzak or somebody, and was destined for the bullpen but, once again, it's looking like I'm wrong. Perkins has been incredible this year, going eight innings in all three starts so far, and hasn't given up more than two runs in any start, including yesterday when he went eight, giving up just four hits and one run - and actually looked even more impressive. It seems Perkins has learned how to pitch, and is currently leading Twins' starters with a 1.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Little known fact: his middle name is Weston. Littler known fact: I actually know one other person with that middle name.
1. Chien-Ming Wang. Yes, he's here again. I don't mean to keep writing about Wang, and I would be able to ignore it if he was just consistently bad, but he is somehow finding a way to get worse and worse with each time out, this time giving up eight runs and eight hits in just one and a third innings, and inflating his ERA to a stellar 34.50. None of the Yankee relievers who followed him were able to do much better, with Cleveland putting up 22 runs when the slaughter was over, but Wang's season has just been special so far. In his three starts, he's pitched a total of just six innings and has given up nearly five baserunners per inning with opponents hitting .622 against him. That's a .622 batting average, not slugging. This is, without question, one of the most stunning disintegrations I've ever seen. And I can't look away.
2. Jim Furyk. I am stunned that Furyk missed the cut this week at Harbour Town in the Verizon Classic, seriously stunned. Everything was setup for a Furyk win this week. He was coming off a good finish at the Masters, finishing in a tie for tenth, which showed he was playing good golf. He has a good track record at this course, with two runner-ups, a fourth, and a tenth in the last five times he played it. So what happens? He doesn't break 70, finishing at +3 thanks to a 74 on Thursday, and misses the cut. Makes no sense. Brian Gay, whose only career win was at the Mayakoba when all the good golfers are busy at the WGC Match Play, dominated this course with his worst round being a 67 and finishing at -20 for a win by 10 strokes. Washed up Lee Janzen put up a 65 and never-will-be Tim Petrovic managed a 68, but Furyk can't even last to the weekend? I don't get it.
3. B.J. Upton. My big breakout pick this year (I actually picked him as my AL MVP) Upton has, well, not really been around. He started the season on the disabled list recovering from shoulder surgery, and then yesterday he left the Rays' game after the second inning due to tightness in his quadricep. In between, he managed to squeeze in all of 23 at bats, picking up 5 hits (.217 average) and knock in one run. He still manages to tantalize, picking up six walks as well (.379 OBP) and steal three bases without getting caught. Upton is an epic talent, but this is starting to look like a possible modern day Mark Prior situation. I hope not. And yes, this is another player I told Bogart to draft in his fantasy draft. Sorry again good buddy, sorry again.
4. Arizona D-Backs Offense. It really reminds me of the Twins, but the D-Backs played three games against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, and managed to score 0, 2, and 0 runs in the three games. Yes, a grand total of two runs in three games. They did face Tim Lincecum, maybe the best pitcher in baseball, and that's the game they got two runs (against the Bullpen, of course). Against fifty-year old Randy Johnson and someone named Jonathan Sanchez, they couldn't do anything, with RJ actually taking a no-hitter into the seventh. Details? Ok. Conor Jackson was 1-11. Mark Reynolds was 1-9. Stephen Drew was 2-12. Chris Young was 1-10. It seems losing Orlando Hudson and Adam Dunn has had a minor effect on a team that was already slightly offensively challenged last year. Even at 4-8 I still think they'll win their division, but then again, I'm still waiting for Justin Upton to break out, so what do I know?
5. Orlando Magic. I generally don't like the NBA. I get a little bit excited for the start of the season, but am bored by game #3 and honestly didn't watch a single game this year. But the playoffs are different. I actually like watching the playoffs, because the teams seem semi-interested and the quality of play goes way up. It was interesting watching the Magic blow an 18-point lead, including being up by 14 at the start of the fourth, to the Sixers, who won on an Andre Iguodala jumper with 2.2 remaining. It was just like watching a college team panic with a lead. The Magic saw the game slipping away, and instead of going to what works - getting the ball to Dwight Howard, they started chucking jump shots. Notorious ballhog Rashard Lewis chucked up a bunch of bricks. Hedo Turkoglu was just 2-8, and I think most of those misses were in the fourth. Skip to My Lou and Courtney Lee couldn't hit anything either. Meanwhile Dwight Howard, who was 11-13 on the game, got all of two shot attempts in the fourth, as the lead dwindled and dwindled and was ultimately lost, along with the game and home court advantage. Just like a panicky college team. Not like a college team: Orlando Magic Cheerleaders.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
1. Roy Halladay. Well it's not exactly impressive to shut down the Twins, but since Halladay is the first pitcher this year to get to three wins he deserves some mention. He's been very solid, if not spectacular, this season, with an ERA of 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.05, with 17 strikeouts in 19 innings. Plus I love the guy, so big thumbs up to Roy.
2. Joe Saunders. Yeah, he's pretty boring. Even the name is boring. But he's pitching really well this season, and kept it up last night, going 6 2/3rds against maybe the hottest team right now in Seattle, and giving up just three hits while allowing no runs as the Angels won 5-1. Saunders has been quality in all three starts so far this year, sporting a 2-1 record and an ERA of 2.18 and a WHIP of 0.92. I'd write more, but honestly I barely know who he is and he's so boring I just can't quite make the effort.
3. Mayim Bialik. Yes, I'm talking about TVs Blossom right here. I thought she had retired from acting, but last night on the TV show "Bones" (which I can't recommend more highly) Blossom showed up as a guest star and I must say was totally awesome. Of course, she was only on the screen for about a minute and her only line was "Please find who did this to my sister", but still. Blossom!
"Where has she been?", you probably are dying to know. Thankfully, I'm here to tell you. Since Blossom was canceled, Bialik attended UCLA where she obtained degrees in Neuroscience and Jewish studies, and completed her PHd in Neuroscience in 2008. Mega hot and a nerd? Sign me up. Blossom was awesome, and it's hard to believe it was only on for five years. And how hot was Six? Seriously.
1. The Minnesota Suck Twins. Oof. Sitting at 4-7 now, and a 2 games out of first, things have really not gone according to plan, particularly after going 1-3 against Toronto. Other than getting their asses beat by the fourth best team in the East, the season has been going horribly as well. The team ranks 20th in runs scored, and 28th in runs allowed. 28th in runs allowed. Mauer can fix some of the offensive issues when he comes back, but if the team is going to find it's way back into any kind of pennant race, the pitchers (other than Perkins) really need to get this turned around. And it once again looks like the bullpen is going to be an absolute mess (other than Nathan). Good lord it's like nothing has changed, except I think I might be bored already.
2. Boston Celtics. More specifically, Kevin Garnett's knee, which will keep him out of the first round of the playoffs, and maybe the entire thing. KG missed 25 games this year with the injury, and it was expected he would be back for the last few games of the regular season and then the playoffs, but alas, it is not to be. Now, with Pierce, Rondo, and Shuttlesworth, the Celtics still have a pretty good team, and were actually pretty successful when KG was out, going 18-7 this season, but also allowing 8 more points per game. And this isn't the regular season, it's the playoffs, and the competition is going to be much better. If KG can't come back at all, do you see any way they can make any kind of run with a front line of Kendrick Perkins, Big Baby Davis, and Leon Powe? Do you realize that this means Mikki Moore (#302 on the PER rankings I referenced yesterday) will be prominently involved? I'd say this makes a Cavs/Lakers final pretty much a lock - in fact I just checked Betus.com and the line on those two teams being in the finals is now 11-10. That's insane.
3. Yankees bullpen. There isn't much sweeter than the sound of Yankee fans booing their own players, and, as it turns out, that can even be topped by the sound of Yankee fans booing their own players in the first game in their stupid new stadium. Yesterday was the opener for the new Yankee Stadium, and it started as a pretty good pitcher's duel between the Indians' Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia. And then the 7th inning happened. Cleveland put up a nine-spot in the seventh, destroying relievers Jose Veras and Damaso Marte in the process. Veras, who I had actually never heard of, actually was a pretty reliable reliever for the Yanks last season, but has been a complete disaster this season, putting up an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 1.80 after giving up four baserunners and three earned runs without bothering to get an out. Marte, one of the more reliable relievers over the last eight seasons, put had only pitched a total of one inning before yesterday, which will make his six earned runs allowed in one inning rather difficult to overcome, making his season era a robust 27.00. Any time the Yankees fail it makes me smile, and failing in their big hullabaloo about the new stadium makes it even sweeter. Plus, Cliff Lee got the win, and he's on my fantasy team so that helps.
Sorry about the subpar effort, but I'm a little bit hungover this morning. I haven't actually decided what I'm going to do with these updates over the weekends, so I might be posting and I might not. Check back often.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Ian Kinsler. Tough to keep a guy who hit for the cycle out of here, which Kinsler did last night against Baltimore, overall going 6-6 with five runs scored, four RBI, and a steal. Yeah, that's a pretty good night. Kinsler, who finished fourth in average last year at .319, is now hitting .474/.524/.947 and now leads the league in both doubles and RBI. He's basically Albert Pujols so far, but only if Pujols played a position that is usually a black hole for offense. Obviously he won't stay at those lofty numbers all year, but even a slight increase from last year's .319/.375/.517 and 18 HRs and 71 rbi puts him in the MVP discussion, since those are virtually identical to Pedoria's numbers last year.
2. Clayton Kershaw. Oh Clayton, I love you so. I've mentioned him on here before, calling multiple Cy Youngs and describing him as having "a Barry Zito curveball (when he was good), Randy Johnson fastball, and Johan Santana changeup", so you could probably say I'm a bit high on him. He's living up to it this year though, after a mediocre half a season in the bigs last year. Yesterday he completely destroyed the Giants, giving up just 1 hit and 1 run in seven innings while striking out 13 and walking just one. Total domination. Of course, the Dodgers refused to score enough runs to get him the win, deciding instead to win in the last innings, giving Kershaw his second no decision of the year. Instead of 2-0, Kershaw is at 0-0, but with an ERA of 1.50, WHIP of 0.67, OBA of .081, and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings. I'm not guaranteeing a Cy Young this year, but it wouldn't surprise me.
3. Jason Marquis. It's hard for me to say anything nice about this guy, because I remember in 2006 the Cubs gave him a 3 year/$21 million deal despite him having led the league in losses and home runs and earned runs allowed the previous year, one of the stupidest contracts ever offered. However, when readers talk, I listen, and our friend out in Denver pointed out that he's pitching very well for the Rockies this year, and he's right. Yesterday Marquis shut down the Cubs, going seven innings and allowing just five hits and one run, bringing him to 2-0 and sporting an ERA of 1.93 on the year. Not to mention knocking in two of the Rockies' five runs with a single in second - he's a very good hitter, actually, with a career average of .211 and he won the silver slugger in 2005. Perhaps most impressive is the zero home runs allowed in two starts, especially since they've been at Coors and Wrigley. I also want to mention here that Todd Helton was 2-5 yesterday. Man is that guy good. One of the best hitters in the history of baseball for sure.
1. Alex Gordon. Fine, I'll ask. Is Gordon the next Andy Marte? (note that article is a year old, but this year Marte is in AAA this year the point stands). Well, Gordon isn't to that level and actually had a pretty decent season last year, so he's not actually close at all, but I had to ask the question because dude sucks so far this year. He opened the season well enough with a two-run homer in the opener, but has been on a steady slide since and is still looking for that elusive second extra-base hit on the year and racked up another 0-3 with a strikeout day bringing his season totals to 2-21, a nice, robust .095 batting average. When your team hits a career backup catcher like John Buck fourth and you seventh, you really probably need to get something figured out.
2. Adam Morrison. The NBA season ended yesterday, mercifully, and we can really get a true idea of how big a bust Morrison was by looking at some numbers. He averaged just four points and 1.5 rebounds per game in about 15 minutes per game, which, when extrapolated to 40 minutes, still only gives you twelve points and less than five rebounds. He also couldn't shoot, hitting just 36% of his shots and 33% from three. What do you get when a one-dimensional player can't do his one dimension? One of the worst players in the league.
There's a nerd stat for basketball called PER, which assigns a value to everything that can be quantified and spits out a number representing a Player's Efficiency Rating (PER). I don't know the whole formula, and it's a little different in basketball since it's a team sport, but it can give a pretty good idea of how good a player has been. For example, the top five in the NBA this season were Lebron, Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Tim Duncan. Well, poor mister Morrison ranked 327th, ahead of only Matt Caroll, Bruce Bowen, and Donte Green (nice job leaving college early, ass) amongst players who qualify. He was worse than guys like Brian Cardinal, Marko Jaric, Ricky Davis, Sean Marks, and Aaron Afflalo. Perhaps it's best to leave with this little tidbit from the ESPN.com scouting report on Morrison, ".....has a long, long, long way to go to be a quality player."
3. MLB and the Media. Is it just me, or is this Jackie Robinson thing kind of getting out of hand? I mean, I get it. I understand both baseball history and the history of the United States, so I realize what an incredible impact he had. He's probably one of the five most influential sports figures in US history, but there seems to be a movement amongst the talking heads that he is the only one who could have done it, highlighted by Dick Bremer's, "If Jackie Robinson doesn't break the color barrier, just think about all the great players we would have missed out on."
Look, I have an idea of what he must have faced, and he was obviously an incredibly strong person mentally as well as being a pretty good ball player, but at the same time he had incredible teammates (look up the Pee Wee Reese story) and a GM in Branch Rickey who made the move in the first place. And if not Jackie, it would have been someone else, which is what makes Dick's comment and others like it so stupid. I'm not really taking anything away from Jackie, more pointing out the stupidity of journalism in their deification here.
Everyone wearing number 42 last night wasn't just confusing, it was ridiculously unnecessary. I think every team retiring number 42 a few years ago was the right move. It honored an incredible man in a fitting way. This business last night was overkill, particularly because it was the 62nd anniversary of his breaking the color barrier, not a nice round number. I can see trying to pull this off on the 25th, or the 50th, or even the 42nd, but the 62nd? What's next year, everyone has to play in blackface?
I love the Jackie Robinson story, and he's unquestionably one of the most important figures in sports history, maybe even US history overall. The way the media and the league are handling his legacy, however, is causing me to write things like this, and that's what pisses me off most of all.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Denard Span. Don't look now, but when nobody was paying attention Span turned into the perfect leadoff hitter, or at least a pretty damn good one. He started the game with a ten pitch at bat (that ended in a groundout), then got the team's first hit and scored the first run, and later got an infield hit and stole a base. I'm just completely enamored with him right now. A .324 average, with 7 walks (to just 4 Ks) to bump his OBP to .439, with just a little bit of power and enough speed to beat out infield hits and steal bases (3 steals on 3 attempts). He's everything I ever wanted in a leadoff hitter and I just can't get enough of him. I could have gone with Crede for getting the game-winning hit to snap the world's longest losing streak, but I can't get over Span. I think I'm developing a serious crush.
2. Kansas Jayhawks. Ok, this actually happened on Monday, but I'm just now getting to it - both Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich of the Jayhawks said they are coming back to school for another season. I have seen in a couple places where Kansas is now considered the favorite to win the National Title this year, and why not? Collins and Aldrich were one of the top inside/outside combos last year, and will probably be the best this season with another year of experience. They went 14-2 in conference last year, and are losing nothing but end of the bench, Kevin Payton types. Soon-to-be-sophomores Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris, Travis Releford, and Markieff Morris - all top 100 incoming freshmen last year - will only continue to get better, and the Jayhawks have two newcomers for next season who rank in the top 30 freshmen. Even without Aldrich and Collins, the cupboard wasn't going to be bare, but with them it looks like Kelly Clarkson's secret junkfood drawer at fat camp.
3. Nick Swisher. I wrote about Swishy pants in my weekend review this week, about how he's tearing up pitchers like he tears up the broads. Then on Monday, he hit another home run, his third of the year, not to mention pitching a shut out inning in relief, but I figured I probably shouldn't write about him two days in a row, at least as long as he refuses to grow back his sexy locks. Then yesterday, he hits another bomb and adds a double, raising his average to .458 and a league-leading slugging percentage of 1.208. Leading the league in slugging and sporting a 0.00 ERA? Could Swisher be the reincarnation of Babe Ruth? I think it's pretty obvious.
1. Marco Scutaro. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Marco Scutaro has always sucked. Why is this news, assface?" Well jerk, in case you missed it Scutaro actually started out the season hot, going 10-23 and adding in a couple of home runs, and everybody suddenly decided he was the sleeper of the year at shortstop. Well guess what morons? He's a career .262 hitter with a career OPS+ of 88 and a highs of .273 and 96. Do you really think he's going to suddenly become the next Cal Ripken? Welcome back to earth Mr. Scutaro, who after going 0-4 last night is now in an 0-11 slide, bringing his average back to a normal, though still too high, .294. And no matter what Dawger says, Ripken is one of the greatest players ever - Scutaro not so much.
2. Rays Bullpen. Remember last year, how the Rays pen was so good with Balfour (that one hurts), JP Howell, and Danny Wheeler? Not so much last night, with both Howell and Wheeler blowing up to lose the game for Tampa against the Yankees. Howell, who was nearly unhittable last season with a 1.13 WHIP and 2.22 ERA, picked up the loss last night giving up two hits and a run in his inning of work and has been less than impressive this year, racking up a WHIP of 1.88 and ERA of 4.91 in his four appearances. Wheeler had been fine this season up until yesterday, when he got rocked for four hits and four runs to run his season ERA to 12.00. I wouldn't exactly panic or anything just yet, but if those two (and Balfour whose ERA is over 20 right now) continue to struggle, it's going to be a real problem.
3. Cleveland Indians. Sitting at 1-7, it's suddenly looking like the Tribe's problems are not all Cliff Lee's fault. They lost last night to the perky Royals 9-3 despite a decent outing from human disabled list Carl Pavano (longer at least than the one inning he lasted in his previous start), mainly thanks previously unhittable reliever Rafael Perez giving up three walks and four runs in just over an inning pitched. There are plenty of reasons the Indians suck this year, and Sizemore's .176 average doesn't help, but it's pretty hard to look past a league worst team ERA of 8.46 - that is not a misprint - and a team WHIP of 1.8. Think about it, that's almost two opposing runners on base in EVERY SINGLE INNING. It's early still, but it's awfully hard to think they can turn it around without a single pitcher who can throw a good game and a suddenly shaky bullpen.
Tonight I will be in attendance at the Twins' win over Toronto in Scott Baker's triumphant return. Or to see him throw 1.1 innings and leave in pain, then see Phil Humber get knocked around the yard. In any case, the daily post probably won't be up until the afternoon tomorrow, so you'll have to find some other way to get through the morning at your dead-end job. Try this article, sent to me by Snacks this morning.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Zach Duke. Who the hell is Zach Duke? Sounds like either a non-threatening actor popular with the Tweens or a character in the next installment of the Fast and the Furious, am I right? I mean, am I right? Unfortunately not. It turns out he's actually a pitcher for the Pirates, and is throwing some serious cheddar. Yesterday afternoon he completely shut down the Astros, dealing a complete game shut out while giving up just four hits. And it wasn't exactly a one start wonder. Last time out, Duke pitched well against St Louis, giving up just five hits and one earned run in six and a third, and is currently sporting a 2-0 record, an ERA of 0.59 and a WHIP under 1.00 for the suddenly over .500 Pirates - something you don't get to say very often. Zack Attack was a pretty highly regarded prospect when he broke in five years ago, and even finished fifth in the NL RoY voting, but has pretty much sucked since then. Perhaps he's finally putting it all together.
2. Orlando Hudson. I've never been much of an O-Dog fan, partially because Hudson is a city in Wisconsin and everything about Wisconsin sucks donkey ass and partially because his nickname is "O-Dog", but I bit the bullet this year and drafted him as one of the last middle infielders taken in my draft because I had really no choice - it was either him or Punto. The point is that Hudson hit for the cycle yesterday against San Francisco since Randy Johnson is washed up and pitches as poorly as he looks now, adding in three runs and two rbi to go with his four hits. Andre Ethier, also on my fantasy team, added in two homers and four rbi as the Dodgers killed the Giants 11-1 (no mercy rule in play).
3. Travis Snider. I told you about this guy. Two bombs last night, including the game winner in the 8th, to sink the Twins into the depths of a three game losing streak, the likes of which they will never be able to claw their way out of. I think they should probably just go ahead and contract.
1. Rockies Offense. Usually if a team gets 1-hit, you chalk it up to an awesome performance by a hot pitcher, usually someone like Zach Duke, but what happens if you get 1-hit by a combo of four pitchers? That's what happened to the shitbox Rockies yesterday, as the Cubs beat them 4-0 and were a Garret Atkins seventh inning single away from a weirdo combined no-hitter. Ted "the Lilly" Lilly pitched the majority of the game, sailing through six and 2/3rds and giving up just that one single and a couple of walks while striking out 8 to move to 2-0 on the season, and when he was out the Rockies managed to get zero hits against Aaron Heilman, Angel Guzman, and Kevin Gregg to finish out the game. So, in summary, Ted Lilly = good, Colorado Rockies = bad.
2. Chien-Ming Wang. Oof, is Wang awful this year, and especially yesterday. Guess how many innings he pitched yesterday against the Rays? One. One plus, to be accurate, but only one officially, giving up six hits, three walks, and 8 earned runs, but at least he split it out equally giving up four runs in each of the first and the second inning, and as a bonus teaming up with Old Man Posada to give up four stolen bases in that time - two by BJ Upton who is sitting on my DL because I didn't know he was back yet. That makes two starts for Wang, and a total of four and 2/3 ips, 15 hits, 6 walks, and 15 earned runs allowed for a robust 28.93 ERA and 4.50 WHIP, with an opponents BA of .600. What's wong, Wang?
3. Luis Ayala. I'm already more sick of this jackass than I was of Guerrier last year, and we're in week #2. He clearly looks like Gardy's "guy", having pitched in five of the eight games thus far, and looks awful. He's given up 10 hits in five innings, which works out to opponents hitting .435 against him - at least he hasn't walked anybody though, so he fits in with the overall Twins theme. Awful. Just awful.
And that's it for the first ever daily update. As a closing thought, I want you to know that there are thirty people with the name "Jenna Talia" on Facebook. And that's one to grow on.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Although this movie looks like a prequel to Paul Blart Mall Cop, this movie is dark, twisted and sick. I would compare it to Bad Santa meets Requiem for a Dream. O and R was written and directed by Jody Hill who is best known for his HBO comedy series Eastbound and Down (if you haven’t seen this then I am sad for you because you are likely too poor to afford HBO and you are probably currently reading this blog at the local library because you are too poor to afford a computer and internet).
Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie Barnhardt, a bipolar mall security guard who appears innocent and harmless but has inner demons that would rival Mike Tyson’s. His miserable life, love of firearms and delusional self importance proves to be as combustible as a gasoline soaked building waiting for a lit match. You really want this guy to catch a break because he is beyond pathetic. You soon realize it will never happen because he is crazier then a Brittany Spears/Gary Busey lovechild. Once you come to this realization you eventually just kick back and wait for the train wreck to occur.
Some central themes of the movie include: excessive violence, lots of full frontal male nudity, date-rape (?), illicit drug use, beating up cops, getting beat up by cops, child abuse, racism, handicapism, alcoholism and last but not least Anna Ferris’ smoking hot body.
If you are looking for a light hearted, feel good comedy then I would stay very far away from this film. Go rent Dane Cook and listen to his 20 minute bit about saying God bless you (actual Dane Cook bit). If you like to be shocked, surprised, disgusted and humiliated then you will enjoy Observe and Report.
I give this film 4 red rockets
0 Red Rockets = Cut your eyes out before watching it
1 Red Rocket = Wait for it on TBS
2 Red Rockets = Red Box/Netflix it
3 Red Rockets = Blockbuster it
4 Red Rockets = Get your ass to the theater ASAP and pony up the $10.00.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Evan Longoria. The 2008 rookie of the year hasn't exactly slowed down, leading the majors after the first week of play with five home runs after hitting twenty-seven last year. He is also second with 10 rbi, and has blistered the ball at a .481/.481/1.185 clip - yes that slugging percentage is accurate and is also tops in the majors. In an era where it seems like more prospects flame out than produce (I'm looking your way Delmon), it's rare to see a kid like this shoot to the top of the league's best. When the Rays signed him to a lucrative five year deal when he was still in the minors it raised some eyebrows, but now it looks genius since they are only going to have to pay him $17 million over the next seven freaking years (assuming they don't re-work the deal). Seriously, he's only making $550,000 this year for that kind of production. Nice.
2. Roy Halladay. The first pitcher to get to two wins this year, Halladay shut down the Indians on Saturday, giving up just one run and five hits while striking out seven or seven innings. He was hurt by the long ball in his first start, giving up a couple of solo shots to the Tigers, which is why he has a less than impressive 3.86 ERA right now, but his 1.00 WHIP, .212 OBA, and 3-to-1 K/BB ratio says he is still a top pitcher again this year. And why not? The guy has been lights out every year he’s been healthy, finishing in the top five in the Cy Young voting the past three years and winning it in 2003 – and he had nine complete games last year, just to prove he’s a man’s man – all while playing for the crappy Blue Jays. I’m a big Halladay fan. It sickens me that he’s going to make $14 million this year and A.J. Burnett is going to make $16.5. So wrong.
3. Emilio Bonifacio & Josh Johnson. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of either of these guys, but they are pretty much the biggest two reasons the Marlins are currently 5-1 and sitting on top of the NL East. Bonifacio, who came over in a weird ass trade that the Nationals made for Josh Willingham, who is now their fourth outfielder, has absolutely been on fire and has really been a catalyst for the team. He's second in the NL in average, batting .500, and leads the league in steals with four already. He's also shown a bit of pop, with a double, triple, and inside-the-park home run mixed in there. He obviously can't keep up this pace, but if he can manage a three hundred average that trade is going to look worse than it already does.
As good as Bonifacio has been, Johnson has been even better on the hill for the Marlins. He's 2-0, and has posted an ERA of 0.57 (leading all two start pitchers) and a WHIP of 0.83. His last time out he out-dueled Johan Santana, pitching a complete game against the Mets, striking out seven while giving up just five hits and one run. Johnson returned in the middle of last season from Tommy John surgery and pitched well, coming into this season as kind of a sleeper in fantasy circles. I don't think anybody expected him to look this dominating though. With these two joining the group Florida put together, the Marlins are suddenly a threat to win the division.
4. Nick Swisher. Good with the A's, horrible with the Sox, and now suddenly Swisher looks reborn in pinstripes. He started the season as a backup for the Yanks, but after getting a start in the third game and killing the ball, he's started every game since and looks like an all-star, hitting .471/.550/1.118 with two home runs and 9 rbi. One of Swisher's best skills has always been his ability to work a count and take a walk (he's had more than 80 walks the past three years) and to hit for power, but he's never hit for a particularly high average - especially last year when he struggled to get over .200, finishing at .219 and leading the Sox to trade him. If he can add a high average to the power and the walks, look out.
5. Adam Lind. I’ve been pimping Travis Snider, who has been good at .286/.286/.643, but the real story for the Jays offense has been Lind, who is off to tremendous start in his third major league season. He leads the league in RBI with 12, and has crushed opponents' pitching to the tune of .400/.419/.767 with 3 home runs. If you hadn't heard of him that's ok, I had barely heard of. He was considered an elite prospect at one time, but failed to live up to that promise his first two years, failing to break a .760 OPS in either season. Is he now living up to the hype, or is this nothing more than a hot start that we can expect to fade? I don't know, but now he gets to come to the cozy Metrodome and face home run giving up machines Slowey, Perkins, and Baker and hit balls over the baggy, so his hot start will probably continue for at least another week.
1. Minnesota Twins Offense. Uh oh, folks. You can’t explain all the team’s offensive troubles away by saying Mauer is missing, and it’s been ugly. Span has been awesome as a leadoff hitter (.419 OBP with 5 walks) and Nick Punto has been good (.353 BA with a .476 OBP), but that's pretty much it other than a couple of nice Morneau home runs. Delmon is hitting .133, Gomez is at .136, and Crede is at .160 as the team has more regulars hitting under .200 than over .300. Also I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but getting shut out twice in your first six games is not good. Once again, it doesn't seem to matter who is on the mound, good young pitchers (Felix Hernandez), old washed up pitchers (Bartolo Colon), injured pitchers (Erik Bedard), mediocre pitchers (Jarrod Washburn), or long-time nemesises (Mark Buehrle) they are getting shut down far too often already. Currently ranking in the bottom five in the league in average, OBP, and slugging, they will get a boost when (if?) Mauer returns, but some of these other guys need to turn it around in a hurry.
Lastly, if you saw Delmon's homerun yesterday it was a thing of beauty and a little preview into what he could become with a little more patience. He took two close pitches that were off the plate to get to a 2-0 count, and then hit the next meaty fastball over the middle out of the yard. If he can do that more often, maybe he can live up to his alleged tremendous potential.
2. Cliff Lee. Well it’s official, Cliff Lee sucks and I’m a moron – or even more of a moron than usual, I guess I should say. Lee lost again to drop to 0-2, and lost again in blowout fashion against Toronto on Saturday. Last year’s fluke pitched just five innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 walks on the way to giving up 4 earned runs. This now leaves Lee at 0-2, with a WHIP of 2.20 and an ERA of 9.90. I still don’t get it. How can a pitcher completely dominate for a full year, like Cliffy last season, and suddenly complete lose it just one year later? There’s nothing that says Lee should suck now, both his BABIP and LOB % last year weren’t fluky, completely weird numbers that deflated his ERA, but watching him pitch this year all of a sudden who the hell knows what’s going on. Glad I have him on two fantasy teams (actually, on one team my three top starters are Lee, Liriano, and Roy Oswalt – all 0-2 after this weekend). This also keeps the Indians in a bad way, sitting at 0-5 to start the year (they did win on Sunday to get to 1-5).
3. Tim Lincecum. The other Cy Young award winner from last season hasn’t had much success either. Unlike Lee, there weren't many questions about Lincecum. The only real issue was how many wins he would be able to pick up, considering the Giants are awful, but that his other stats should still be pretty good. Not the case thus far. The little guy lasted just three innings (a career low) in his opening day start against Milwaukee, giving up 3 runs, 4 hits, and 3 walks before getting pulled and looking generally unimpressive, and then followed that up on Saturday by giving up a career high 10 hits to go with three walks and four runs in just 5 and 1/3. Something is very much off right now, as he is fifth in the league with 14 hits allowed in just 8.1 innings, and has walked to many guys resulting in a 2.40 WHIP, the second worst number in the league amongst pitchers with two starts. I would expect him to rebound more than I would Lee, but neither have looked anywhere near their 2008 form thus far.
4. Cole Hamels. He’s still my boyfriend and all, but he certainly didn’t impress me in his first start since winning the World Series MVP, getting lit up by the Rockies to the tune of 11 hits and 7 earned runs allowed in just 3 and 2/3 innings pitched. He had a bit of an injury scare in Spring Training with a sore elbow, but it was supposed to be nothing more than elbow inflammation. Does this mean he’s hurt more than we think? It could be, especially since his fastball averaged just 87 mph in that game compared to his career average of 90. It’s something to keep an eye on, especially with Hamels poor history with injuries. If he’s hurt I might have to kill myself. Or just find a new obsession. Halladay looking pretty good these days.
5. Everyone in contention at the Masters. I could I suppose put Angel Cabrera in the awesome column for winning, but it really didn’t feel like anybody won the tournament as much as everybody lost it and Cabrera won by everyone else screwing up worse. The top two, Cabrera and Perry, both played half-assed throughout the tournament until Perry birdied 15 and hit an incredible tee shot at 16 to birdie again and get to -14 and a two stroke lead. He then proceeded to pull an Albany and shat all down his leg, bogeying the final two holes to drop into a three-way tie with Cabrera and Chad Campbell (who actually played at -3 on the day and based on his four days in Augusta probably should have ended up winning).
The playoff was even more of a choke-fest, with Cabrera in the woods, Campbell in the sand, and Perry chunking his approach shot. Perry and Cabrera saved par, but Campbell missed a short par putt to eliminate himself. On the final hole, Cabrera played well and Perry doinked his approach way off to the left of the green, giving Cabrera an easy win. It was pretty lame. Like watching Greg Norman and Steve Stricker battle down the stretch.
The most exciting part of the final round was watching Mickelson and Woods, who were grouped together, make a run up the leaderboard to get back into contention. Mickelson tied a Masters record with a 30 on the front side to get to -10 and just two shots back, but lost his mojo with a double bogey after hitting into the water at twelve, and ended up at +1 on the back to finish three shots back in fifth. Woods started more slowly, but turned it on after the turn, going three under on holes 13-16, also getting to -10. He then bogeyed the final two holes, however, to finish in a tie for sixth with John Merrick and Steve Flesch, and Steve Stricker.
So yeah, congrats Angel Cabrera on your second major win. It wasn’t the most impressive, but winning a war of attrition is still winning.
And that'll do it. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to do Daily Updates rather than weekly. Don't worry your pretty little head, they'll still be additional posts sprinkled throughout the week, hopefully with a little bit of Sidler Nerd Baseball talk, Dawger movie reviews and Gopher updates, and Snake hockey bits.