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Archive for March 27th, 2007

Man, I’ve been waiting to announce this for nearly a week. Following the lead of my buddy Jay Busbee from Sports Gone South, I sent a piece off to the Chicago Sports Review last week. With a few minor changes from the wiser heads at CSR, it has debuted online today, and will be in print in the Chicagoland area by tomorrow. It’s a rumination on the worst Bulls team ever, brought to mind by the prominent return of Tim Floyd to college basketball’s coaching elite.

Here it goes, and I’m sorry for any pain I’ve caused Bulls fans.

Worst Team Ever?

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Smells Like Pujols is a feature that will run throughout baseball season. Rookie hitters will be ranked using the concept of Similarity Scores, through which they will be compared to one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time – that of Albert Pujols. Pitchers will be similarly ranked, rated, poked, and prodded by Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism through the GoodEnough For Me system.

OK. We’re finally at the culmination of the “wait and watch” portion of Smells Like Pujols. By next Monday, we’ll have some actual stats to work with, and I expect the list will be definitively whittled down by live game action.

My final pre-season column will involve the personal dimension. To wit, how “the list” has affected my personal life. Last night was my fantasy baseball draft, which is always a fun occasion. Our league is called the Money Market Baseball League (MMBL), because the league was founded by employees at Money Market Directories (a subsidiary of Standard & Poor’s!) as the in-house time waster par excellance. Since the inception of the league, many of the participants have moved on to other jobs but stayed in the league, or invited trusted friends to fill open slots, so at this point, only five participants in the 12-team league work in the building.

Our draft is held in The Red Room at Delmar, otherwise known as Jay’s Rec Room. It is the epicenter of cool in Charlottesville proper:

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I am going to mock these gentlemen because it pleases me to do so. The fact that you, the reader, do not know them or care to see them mocked will have no impact on my decision. I will tie the mockery into SLP by pointing out which of these gentlemen chose rookies or prospects featured on my list.

The league is a long-standing keeper league, with no limits on number of players kept. As a result, last year’s winning teams held around ten players apiece and had to sit out long portions of the draft while us losers picked new crap to replace our old crap. We play a typical 5×5 roto scoring system, but added corner infielder and middle infielder positions for the first time this year, giving some impetus to players who would have normally sat a while longer on draft day.

Right now, the ladies have never wanted me more.

The Players (by team name, in draft order, worst to first):

ricksmall.jpgThe Pimp Daddies – Rick is the most popular morning radio host in Charlottesville. His gravelly voice and off-color jokes have awakened citizens of this town for more than a decade. Sadly, he is a fan of the Dodgers and Orioles, and tends to overvalue their players. His bottom-three finishes in several consecutive years have led to speculation that the entry fee is coming out of the station’s promotions budget, with instructions that Rick should build community goodwill by giving the money away.

mikesmaller.JPGHoof Hearted – The only thing more alarming than a scruffy radio DJ is a clean-cut radio ad salesman. As an employee of Clear Channel Communications, Mike is nominally the enemy of listeners who enjoy variety on the FM dial. Fortunately for him, nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public. He loves the Red Sox, and wore a tie to the draft. That’s three strikes, mister.

pujols.JPGSmells Like Pujols – C’est moi. The man who brought you “The Funny Names Draft”, in which I chose the likes of Shin-Shoo Choo (bad) and Jonathan Papelbon (good), as well as the “Season Without Royals”, also known as the anti-homer draft. None of these have worked, and I tend to wallow near the mid-bottom of the standings. Also, my beard frightens dogs and children. I jumped first, of course, drafting Delmon Young with the third pick in round 7, then Alexi Casilla and Billy Butler for my bench in rounds 22 and 23.

darrenhaden.JPGEville 9 – For some reason, every photo I took of Darren at the actual draft came out fuzzy or underexposed. And I was using a digital camera, so there is obviously some government malfeasance going on. At a minor-league game, Darren took part in an on-field pitching promotion that led me to pen a “Casey at the Bat” -style ode to his prowess. If we could combine his moustache with my beard, we could rule the world.

dustyfinger.JPGThe Haden Agenda – Dusty is Darren’s brother. He is also the commissioner of our league, which means he collects all of our complaints about unfair trades, rules violations, and bad owner hygiene and considers them with all due gravity before dumping them in the bulging recycle bin on his computer desktop. Contrary to popular opinion he is not permanently surprised. He does, in fact, have eyebrows, they are simply too light to be seen with the unaided human eye. Did Darren steal his brother’s eyebrows to form that glorious ‘stache? I don’t know. Dusty drafted Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with the fifth pick in round 21

bsuheads.JPGThe Big Sales Unit – The two-headed monster. As MMD salesmen, they know the value of a dollar, and they stretch theirs by combining forces to run one team. Jay (left) is an outspoken South Carolinian with roman numerals after his name. Dave (right) is…. well, Dave is Canadian. We’re planning to hire a native of Mexico before next year’s draft, so we can call these guys NAFTA. I’m sure they won’t mind splitting those theoretical winnings three ways instead of two. And yes, that joke is a fine example of the pot calling the kettles black.

sampsonhead.jpgDead Wood – I’m not sure if Bill is making reference to the HBO show or his team’s failure to hit. Let’s hope it’s one of those and not an unspeakable third possibility. Bill has been convinced that I don’t like him ever since I wrote a smart aleck piece lambasting his first-ever trade in the league. Little does he know that abusive rhetoric and arcane put-downs equal true affection in these circles. We worked it out over a bag of pretzel rods, and now we’re buddies. Bill did not draft any prospects, but has held power-hitting shortstop Brandon Wood since the end of last year. Brandon is not Dead.

garyhead.JPGClover Hill Bucks – Gary took over a crap team that had been run into the ground a few years back and built them into a contender. Don’t you hate guys like that? On his own, Gary is a mild-mannered dude who works for the school system. But in the fall he teams up with his friend Todd to run a fantasy football team, earning them the no-brainer sobriquet of Ambiguously Gay Duo. Gary took Rockies Catcher Chris Iannetta with the 8th pick in the 20th round.

nastronostrilcloseup.JPGThe Rush Bombers – Pete is a knee-jerk conservative from New Jersey. Witness his team name, honoring the pill-popping windbag himself. He is part of the Richmond contingent that regularly brings bipartisanship to our lovely little socialist paradise in Cville. Despite everything I’ve said, baseball is the great leveler, and Pete and I get along quite well as we muddle through drafts asking each other “who?” and “when was he taken?”. Pete works for Pfizer, which used to lead to the inevitable “Pete, can you get some Viagra for Dead Wood?” jokes. Last night he dropped the bombshell that his company now sells HGH by prescription. Is Pete using the cream and the clear? I’ll let the accompanying image of his massive head answer that question.

matthead.JPGMontgomery Biscuits – Matt is the Rain Man of fantasy sports. He has won money multiple times in both football and baseball. He will rock back and forth, staring at his three-ring binder while he’s on the clock. You can make fun of his beard, spill beer on his shirt, and even hum the theme from Jeopardy, but nothing moves him. He simply stares and rocks, stares and rocks, then comes out with “Alex Rios. Yeah… definitely. Alex Rios”. Nobody knows what Matt does for a living. We think winning fantasy sports might actually be his sole means of support. Clearly, he’s living large.

toddhead.JPGActus Reyes – Sleazy Richmond lawyer. Formerly a sleazy logistics specialist for MMD. Likes to argue, and likes to swindle. Todd took Chris Young the pitcher and Chris Young the hitter, and I didn’t write down which was which, so the hitter was taken in the 9th or the 14th. He also snaked the only decent Royal from me by taking Alex Gordon in the 11th. Rarely will anyone trade with Todd, but he somehow manages to pry a good player away from someone every season. And no, I’m not telling you which top-10 player he talked me out of, because it still hurts. Todd has the honor of being the most hated player in the history of both fantasy sports leagues we run. He has been visually represented by an image of a hookworm dangling from a cow’s behind in one in-season news post, and “Todd Sucks” is always the last option in any CBSsportsline Comm Poll, regardless of the question. Without Todd, we would not know how to conjugate the verb to collude. The only consolation for any of us is the fact that Todd was knocked out of first place on the last day of last season by this guy:

jeffhead.JPGHandsome Boy Modeling School – Do I have a better picture of Jeff I could have used here? Yes. But he wins a lot, and we both entered the league at the same time, so screw him. However, he is also my boss, so all I can really say is that Jeff is a paragon of sporting virtue and a shining bastion of skill and research that we can all aspire to reach one day. He is also the person who gave me this link, for which I must be eternally grateful.

So, by the looks of it, a lot of the SLP hopefuls will be out there for me to waste $5 free-agent pickups on in the upcoming season. I really can’t wait for the opening day game, when I can finally get this cumbersome blog concept off the ground for real.

See you then!

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Early link time

jackcobra.jpgOrdinarily I don’t do a links post this early in the morning, or this early in the week. But today is kind of a big day for one of my top blog roll amigos, so I need to let y’all know where he is and what he’s doing so you can head over and give him some comment love.

Jack Cobra, in addition to his duties at 3manlift.com, is taking over YaySports all day today, as one of five guest-writers who were chosen to fill in over the next several weeks. Tuesday is his beat, so for the next few weeks you can go and see him on pre-hump-day. (I guess that makes it suggestive hint day).

Anyway, he’s already off and running: YaySports – check him out!

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