Monday, April 4, 2011

Week in Review - 04.04.2011

 The Final Four and opening weekend of baseball at the same time?  It's almost too much goodness.  If only there was some way to move the Masters up, although I suppose that would be overload a bit.  I was a bit bummed by the Final Fours games, only because even though they were close games and entertaining they were kind of boring each time.  Game 1 had both underdog cinderellas while game two had both evil superpower cheaters (although Kentucky/Calipari is far worse, obviously).  No real good narrative to be written for either game.  It's kind of like if Duke played the Yankees, other than rooting for a disaster, natural or otherwise, who would you root for?  At least tonight's championship sets up pretty nicely, although I won't be pissed no matter who wins which kind of takes some of the fun out of it.  My picks will be given below.  I'm hot, baby.  2-0 on game bets and 7-3-1 on player props in the semis.  Take notes, kiddos.


1.  Clay Kershaw.  Oooh baby.  It begins.  I've been waiting on Kershaw since I saw him pitch his first ever game a few years ago and maybe this is the year.  He's been very good the last two seasons, registering ERAs under three with more than a strikeout per inning both in both years, but still hasn't had that breakthrough, I'm a #1 ace Cy Young candidate and everyone can just get out of the way because I'm unhittable type of season yet. He got off to a good start, assuming that's his goal, on opening day by pitching the Dodgers to a 2-1 win over the Tim Lincecum and the World Champion Giants, going 7 shut-out innings with 9 strikeouts and allowing just 4 hits and a walk.  He's always been tough to hit and if he can keep his walks down like that he's going to finally win that Cy Young I've been predicting for three years.

2.  Kemba Walker.  Outside of Shelvin Mack's little solo mini-run of points in the VCU/Butler game no single player really jumped out at me for his performance, but this seems like a nice place to honor the incredible run Walker has been on, particularly since he put up 18 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished 7 assists in UCONN's win over Kentucky and it seemed like an off game for him - that's saying a lot.  He just does whatever they need and can will them to victory.  If they need him to score, he scores (33 vs. Cincy and 36 vs. San Diego State), but if they need him to play the role of distributor he does that too (12 assists against Bucknell, 7 in each of the last two games).  He's also averaging over 5 rebounds per game, has gone 38-42 from the free throw line, and is averaging less than 3 turnovers per game which is pretty amazing when you think about how often he has the ball in his hands.  It's truly been a remarkable year for him this entire season, and it wouldn't remotely be offensive to me if he takes down the championship, even if Calhoun is a sleazeball.

3.  Baltimore Orioles.  Perhaps Baltimore's young pitching is going to pay dividends faster than expected (or perhaps the Rays offense is in serious trouble without Evan Longoria who is out for three weeks after getting sore having sex with so many chicks because he's a machine), but they shut down the Rays this weekend and got the O's off to a 3-0 start for the first time since I'm going to assume the 1970s.  First Jeremy Guthrie (who's actually old) pitched 8 scoreless innings in the opener.  Then Chris Tillman pitched six hitless innings in game two, and then in the third game of the series Zach Britton made his major league debut and gave up just one run through six, helping complete the O's sweep of Tampa.  I don't know if this is more indicative of the strength of Baltimore or the weakness of Tampa, but for now at least I choose to believe maybe Baltimore is back, if only a little bit.  The world just seems a little brighter when there's a good team playing in Camden Yards.

4.  Nelson Cruz.  For a long time I dismissed Nelson Cruz as being any good, mainly because his name is Nelson.  Also because he's a Ranger and the Rangers are super lame-o.  I think, however, it's time to rethink that stance because he's apparently decided that his new thing is going to be destroying baseballs, which he did three times in three games over the weekend as the Rangers obliterated Red Sox pitching (more on that later) with Cruz and Kinsler becoming the first pair of teammates to ever each homer in the season's first three games.  Hard to believe Hrbek and Brunansky never pulled that off, but whatever.  It seems like Texas might actually be a good team, which goes against everything I believe in.  Like church.

5.  Joakim Soria.  MEXICUTIONER!!!!  Want to know how good this guy is and how dependent on him the KC bullpen is?  The Royals have played three games this year and he's pitched in all three of them.  He's picked up a win, a save, and given up zero runs.  It is a bit curious that he doesn't have a strikeout yet this year in three innings despite having a career average of more than 1 K per inning, but I assume he's either realized strikeouts are fascists and doesn't want to promote an oppressive political ideology or he's bored of dominating for such a crappy team and has just been screwing around out there and may or may not being throwing every third pitch left-handed.  In any case this guy is straight dominant, and the fact that he doesn't want to be called the Mexicutioner makes it all the more better to call him that.


1.  Minnesota Twins.  The 1-2 start doesn't particularly bother me because it was on the road against a pretty good Blue Jay team, and even the dismal offense and subpar pitching performances aren't what's currently grinding my gears.  It's the god damn stupid plays, the kind of stuff "Twins Baseball" doesn't consist of if you ask any retarded national journalist or announcer.   Where to begin?  The obvious Nishioki errors or the inability to get runs home when they're in scoring position with two outs?  The lack of hustle by Span in center field which allowed a runner to tag from first to second on a medium deep fly ball and later turned a double into a triple when he loafed after a gapper?  Valencia getting thrown out at home by five feet on a play where he had zero reason to even attempt to score?  How about the way too many walks to bottom of the order opponents?

And want to move it into the dugout?  What the hell was the deal with pinch-running for both Morneau and Kubel in the 8th in Sunday's game?  Taking two of your best hitters out of a 1-run game for a speed upgrade and basically guaranteeing yourself a loss if we hit extras?  Even worse than that though was letting Drew Butera hit in a 1-run game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs in the 8th when you have Joe Mauer sitting on your bench.  Absolutely pathetic.  You're telling me that your best player and a guy you pay $23 million a year to can't get off his ass for one at-bat and two innings of playing catcher?  Just completely gutless and pathetic, and I don't know if I'm more mad at Mauer or Gardenhire, but every game counts you assholes.  Some of these decisions are the kind you'd make if you were actively trying to lose the game.  Manager of the year, folks.  Manager of the year.

I do not like the way this season is going already.  I know it's early, and if I was ranting about the hitting or pitching or a specific players early struggles I'd be an overreacting moron, and I'm sure they're out there.  But what I'm saying is there is something off about this team and they are playing stupid and Gardy's managing is worse than usual.  I'm afraid we're destined for a third place finish.  At least they won't get swept by the Yankees in the playoffs this year.

2.  Boston Red Sox.  Yikes.  I'm not a Boston fan at all, and although I have Lester, Buchholz, and Papelbon in fantasy I also have a wager on them under 95.5 wins so I'm kind of conflicted about their fortunes.  Who isn't conflicted is any Texas Ranger hitter, because they battered the shit out of anybody Boston trotted out to the mound.  Jon Lester:  5 ips, 5 runs, 3 homers allowed.  "Closer of the future" Daniel Bard:  allowed 4 runs and got two outs.  Jon Lackey:  allowed 9 runs and 10 hits in less than 4 innings.  Clay Buchholz:  gave up four dongs in six innings, and even when they brought in Papelbon to stop the bleeding he gave up a run and was lucky to escape with just that solitary mark against him.  This, my friends, was a thorough, thorough ass-whipping, and if I didn't own those three dickfors I'd have thoroughly enjoyed it. 

3.  Fausto Carmona.  When you're a moribund franchise going through a moribund period in your moribund existence and you really only have one or two bright spots, even if the bright side of one of those bright spots is that you might be trading him soon, it really sucks when he gets lit for 11 hits and 10 runs in just three innings.  Eleven hits.  Ten runs.  Three innings.  And this is from one of only three players you'd even consider league average (maybe four if you count set up guys - Rafael Perez).  You want to know what this baseball season is going to be like in Cleveland?  It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's going to last you for the rest of your life.  And the Twins will probably go .500 against them.

4.  DeAndre Liggins.  Ok, so he's a pretty insignificant player overall but he's also a starter on a Final Four team and, if you follow me on Twitter, you know he made me some money this weekend so I'm sticking him here.  When they were announcing players in the starting lineup before the game they showed his face and let's just say "deer in headlights" doesn't quite cover it, it was more like had been caught having sex with a tree - a male tree.  So I checked the line on him and he was OVER/UNDER 13.5 points+rebounds so I slapped down some money on the under, and bingo - four points (on 1-7 shooting) and 0 rebounds later I had a little extra to blow on booze.  So thank you Deadre Liggins, and thank you sportsbook for still accepting prop bets that close to tip off.  I'll be paying attention to the announcements tonight, that's for sure.

5.  John Axford.  This guy may be awesome at having a mustache, but he sucks at pitching (in case you have no idea who this is, he's the closer for Milwaukee with the sweet stache pictured below).  Axelford pitched twice this week against the Reds and, possibly because he wanted to fit in with the rest of the Brewers' staff, he got lit up.  His first time out was opening day and he entered with the Crew winning 6-3.  A couple hits, a sac fly, and a 3-run bomb later and Milwaukee (and Axelrod) was 0-1.  Then he got another turn on the hill on Sunday, this time in a game the Brewers were already losing 12-3, and gave up a couple of hits before being lifted for Kameron freaking Loe, some dork who doesn't spell either his first or last name correctly so that can't be good.  This is a pretty big deal for Milwaukee since with their lineup and starting pitching their looking to make a run at a division title.  If Axnard is just a slimmer, better mustachioed version of Bobby Jenks they're basically screwed.

I meant to have some info/report on the McDonald's game, but I didn't have a chance to watch it yet.  Still have it on Tivo though, so I'll probably have some notes or something later this week or maybe for next week's Week in Review.  Or not.  I don't know.  I'm tired.

For tonight's big game I'm on Butler +3.5 and the over 128.5, both for 3 units.  I don't know who wins this game, but I think it's going to be close so I'm grabbing the points.  I also think Brade Stevens is probably the best coach in college basketball so I'm sure he'll figure out how to take Kemba out of the game and make the other guys beat him and I don't think they can.  I'm going with the over because 129 is really not that many points and these are two teams that can play pretty efficiently.  This just doesn't seem like a game where both teams are going to be in the low-60s.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear player props are up yet, which sucks and is also kind of weird.  I will be sure to post what I'm going to play once it pops up, just because I want to make sure you make money.  I am so giving sometimes it actually hurts.  Now I know what Jesus felt like.

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