Category Archives: Opinion

Ducks on the Pond Looking for Writers!

 

Howdy Reader(s)!

 

We’ve been terrible about posting, we know.  L.J. Hoes is in primetime  Houston, the Celtics are now located in Brooklyn , the Sox have doubled down and cowboy’d up with Peavy, and other gnarly stuff I personally am glad we abstained from writing about.

But football is itching to come about and the playoff picture is coming in to place and we want to get serious.  So help us out!  If you like to write, or ramble, about sports, send us a sample!  We’d love to get some folks contributing on, well, whatever sports you’re into, we suppose.

If you look at the tone of the site, all we ask is you be respectful(ish) and passionate about the sports you write about!  So if you’re looking for a space to vent some thoughts on sports in your idle time, here’s Vinnie the Gooch extending a personal invitation – come join us at Ducks on the Pond, the pay is non-existent, but it feels good to vent, folks.

email anything you’d like us to read at duckscheckemails @ gmail.com or tweet us if you’re interested @duckfromthepond 

 

Here’s to you and your future & current fantasy teams readers, you’ll see no Riley Cooper dark horse candidate articles here.

 

– V 

Leave a comment

Filed under About the Blog, Baseball, basketball, College, Fantasy Baseball, Football, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, offseason, Opinion, PLAYOFFS

Letting Go

With Roy Halladay landing on the DL (and in general looking very un-Doc-like), I am reminded some (now many) weeks ago when Curt Schilling streamed a commentary on a very disappointing Halladay Spring Training start.  His concluding, and definitive, tweet is below:

“@gehrig38: Halladay threw 81 pitches and induced the Blue Jays to swing and miss only three of them that’s when I knew things had changed for me…..”

You can say a lot of things about Schilling, on the full spectrum of love and hate. Personally, I like the guy (his sports views, at least). One thing everyone can agree on with Lord Bloodied Sock is that he rarely pulls punches.  Schilling speaks to what he sees, and he saw Halladay’s dominance slipping away before his eyes.  As Schill points out, he would know.  So I trust his assessment completely…

…That’s a lie.  I refused to believe Curt Schilling.  I have been a Roy Halladay fan since I first really dove into baseball.  Truthfully, I’ve been a fan since I got a whollllle bunch of his rookie cards in the thousands and thousands of Topps cards I bought:

Yung Doc and the Wildlings up North (Album TBD)

What did I expect to happen?  Did I really expect Doc to throw 220 WHIP-of-one innings a year until he was 45?  Maybe a little bit.  I ignored Schilling for a while, drafting Halladay late in Mock Drafts over and over, assuming I was cleverly weeding out how long I could wait before snatching up a great fantasy value and, more importantly, a staple of my teams & fandom.

But as then the drafts approached a funny thing happened: I had a big-picture change of perspective.  This certainly had something to do with the Patriot’s handling of the beloved Wes Welker (and in a larger sense, a realization that they truly stuck to their ‘better a year too early than too late’ principles).  On top of this serendipitous timing, though, was a realization of something sort of horrible – it’s actually been quite a while since I was a kid.

I mean in no way that I am an old fogie.  While I do love shuffleboard, I will refuse to use the saying ‘in my day…’ until I have truly earned it.  What I mean is – it’s been a long time, in sports and fantasy terms, since the late 90’s/early 2000’s (my sports coming-of-age time).  My favorites are aging.  Their name often carries more weight than their bat or arm.  Such is life.

This revolutionary show came out in August of 1999. Think about how old Regis is now.

 So this raises the question – when do you give up on a proven warrior for you?  For example, just how long can Lance Berkman be your binky?  The easy answer there, for me, up until  he went to the Yankees.  

I have been pondering this all season.  Another example; It makes sense for the Rangers to move on from Mike Young, as hard as it may have been.  They have young players coming up to fill his spot in the next 2-3 years and, in the Rangers’ mind, he was no longer a cost-efficient part of their equation.    For us fantasy owners?  I sure as hell was not giving up on a 200-hit guy  – especially on the cheap.  But for every Mike Young redemption, there are two more aging favorites falling off the map.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  Sometimes an elder statesman finds a second wind (with assistance or otherwise, Mr. Ortiz).  Sometimes, as in the case of Doc Halladay, age brings a tearing at the seams.  

I settled on this:  Loyalty in fantasy baseball is admirable.  I will hold on to an aging favorite, squeezing every last drop of productivity out of their skills until the crap out and I drop them.  Loyalty in ‘real’ baseball, and in sports-business in general, is misplaced.  Derek Jeter ought to be a Yankee for life – he means more than just his numbers to an entire city.  But for most players, in most sports, someone like Roy Halladay, the hardest part (for both us as fans, and for the declining player) is often letting go.

Now that you are sufficiently sad about your aging favorites getting worse, I recommend that Bolton jam at the top of the page and some Ben & Jerry’s.

– V

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, pitchers

The WBC, a Popularity Contest

Bud Selig is not impressed.

Let me preface this by saying that baseball is the king of my brain .  Batman may be my noggin’s silent protector but Baseball reigns supreme.  It should surprise no one, then, that I really dig the World Baseball Classic.  That said, I’m no dummy.  Despite Bud “Sisterkissin'” Selig’s best efforts, using everything from Greg Maddux to Aviici’s ‘Levels’ to increase buzz, the WBC is not nearly as popular as the higher-ups had hoped (both Maddux and that song are probably past the point of ‘sexy’ relevance to most fans now, but beside the point.  Also an intriguing band name – Sexy Relevance & the Semicolons coming to a blues house near you).  The move from ESPN to the not-as-established MLB Network certainly accounts some for the average viewership dropping from 1.6 million to 252,000 per game,  but not all (thank you SB Nation).  By the same token, however, the WBC is certainly a bigger success than “This <retch> Time <urp> it Counts <vomit>.”  That’s what it sounds like when I say that phrase out loud.

The WBC situation seems perfect. As much as I love baseball, I have to be honest – unless I am there, in a stadium, I don’t last much past 2 or 3 innings of random Spring Training baseball games. If, say, there is a particular young pitcher I’ve never seen in real time, sure, I might tune in… But those games become well organized scrimmages in a hurry. And mean little to the players who are often QUITE LITERALLY going through the motions in spring. Pitchers work on repeating their deliveries or a new pitch. Batters are seeing uncharacteristic pitches and are themselves working out the kinks. Not competitive baseball.

The lack of intensity is fine. Truly, I get it. But I must say, these WBC games are a treat at the other end of the spectrum. Say what you will about who is on the teams, by golly do they play hard. Did you see Andruw Jones react after the Netherlands beat Cuba AGAIN?! He was pumped and trash talking like a champ.

Got the old man FIRED up!

There is a gleeful mix on many of these teams between grizzled vets (see Mr. Jones) and young players excited to be playing on this competitive stage – some who will no doubt be in an interesting position not knowing whether they have a spot with the Big Club, knowing their performance matters not only for their country, but immediate career as well.

I had this thought and the tone of this post was initially going to be a get-more-scrappy-scrubs tilt. But after looking at the US roster, I no longer think that is the issue.  Sure, some folks complain about the lack of superstars on the WBC roster but I’m not so sure that isn’t a strength  of the competition.  Many of the players worked their way through the USA Baseball Program, which is kind of cool if you think about it – it’s own little farm system. Furthermore, the team actually has a nice mix of recognizable stars (a tainted Braun, Wright who’s becoming a legend, Joe ‘Great Hair’ Mauer) and major leaguers you want to root for, folks only the more passionate baseball fans appreciate (I’m looking at you, Willie Bloomquist).

Currently on sale for $600,000.

I’m calling out those out there who say there are’t enough stars on the team or whatever crap like that and this lack of pull leads to the lack of popularity in the U-S-of-A.  Pitchers are creatures of habit, I understand why someone like Justin Verlander might prefer his routine.  That’s the only area I will acknowledge the US could attempt to bring in a few more names – their starters.  But seeing as the pitches are limited, why bother?  Lack of recognizable pitching names is not what is holding the WBC from really gaining traction.

So why isn’t the World Baseball Classic a National sensation?  It is our national pastime, right?  Well that last bit is wrong.  Baseball is more like soccer now, I would argue, in that there are seriously devoted pockets all around the globe.  Baseball has succeeded in their attempts to take the game global.  Back to the initial question, then: why don’t we like this tournament more, as Americans?   I mean this answer in the least cynical way possible: we need to win.

not helping.

This notion could be bastardized in a number of exaggerated anti-American ways.  I do not mean it in any of them.  I mean it very practically.  As a nation, we assume that since we have the MLB, that we should win the damn thing!  Losing is disheartening!  Despite the percieved lack of stars, we have more stars, right?  Where Italy has Lorenzo Avagnina (giggle), we have Adam Jones, heck we have Shane Victorino.  These guys are All-Stars!  How can Amurrrica lose to a bunch of Jabronies!?  Here is where those two initial questions tie together.  Baseball is played worldwide.  And guess what?  Unlike basketball, there are a BUNCH of countries that are really good at this sport!

So how can the World Baseball Classic truly catch on in America?  Simple.  As a famous American Philosopher once said, “Just win, baby.”

AL DAVIS

-V

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Cajones, MLB, Opinion, Spring Training, World Baseball Classic

New Spot, Same Guy?

Every once in a tasty, tasty Blue Moon, Dave, who once wrote things for this site, comes up with a good idea.  He posed this question to me, and I thought it was an excellent one:

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, MLB, Opinion, poll

Handicapping the Oscar Races for Baseball Fans Part Two

With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!

The Supporting Actors

 

Alan Arkin

 

Above: Everyone’s Grandpa. A man meant for the movies, and good for everyone he encounters.

Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.

 

Happy where he was, and the baseball world better for it.

Robert De Niro

He’s actually asleep in this picture. It’s just how his face relaxes.

 

With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.

 

Helton reacting to finding out he made it onto our blog. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm from such an accomplished man. The privilege is ours, Todd.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PSH releasing Andrew Garfield from captivity, it would appear.

 

With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.

Can’t deny his talent…or the crazy eyes.

 

Tommy Lee Jones

 

BUT I AM SMILING!

Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.

I’M SORRY, OK? I’m just not used to doing this.

 

Christoph Waltz

Just wanted to make sure more people got to enjoy this laudable facial hair/armor.

 

Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.

Shame he has to wear that jersey, but still a talent to be enjoyed by all.

 

  

The Supporting Actresses

 

Amy Adams

 

I’ll be yah Doug!

Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.

 

I I do NOT eat meat! ‘Cept for steak, ham, bacon. You know how it is.

Sally Field

Oh sweet, Sally Field. You’re just so casual.

 

Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.

Which half is the ass?

 

Anne Hathaway

She can be happy! Be happy, girl. You’ve earned it.

 

The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.

He don’t look like he’s done proving himself quite yet.

 

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt? Jodie Foster? Yes.

 

Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.

Just happy to be here. Thank you. Red Sox fans wonder how he won two World Series.

 

Jacki Weaver

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Jacki! Yes, she is actually that short.

 

Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…

HOW did I end up on your blog again?

Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)

Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts, Sleepers, Weekend Hijinks

Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it.  They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right?  You’re welcome, internet.

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

 Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

Baseball-appropriate facial hair? Yes.
Oscars-appropriate facial hair? Maybe.

I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.

Emmanuelle Riva

Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

2 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Dance, Fantasy Baseball, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts

Baseball’s Doing Something Right: Why the MLB Draft System Works

As the NBA allows for “one-and-dones” to exist, slowly eating away at the stability and integrity of college basketball, there is a contemporary professional sports league that does it right. Believe it or not, that league is the MLB, home of our nation’s fading pastime. While talented teenagers bolt from schools towards NBA millions, we cannot fault these athletes—many of whom come from low to middle-class backgrounds—for forsaking a college degree to sign lucrative contracts as young as possible.

The current system forces NBA-ready players like Kyrie Irving and Nerlens Noel to go to college for a year, both jeopardizing their health or draft value (notice why I chose these two?) and cutting away at the academic integrity of the schools they attend.

Recognize Irving in this uniform? No? Maybe because he wore it only a handful of times before getting injured during his freshman year. Suffice it to say Irving would have made out just fine in the NBA without his 8 GS at Duke.

Nerlens Noel, the latest victim of the NBA’s flawed eligibility rules, may have to wait a little longer to hear his name called at this year’s NBA Draft.


Meanwhile, the system also pushes student-athletes who are not ready to perform at the next level into the NBA, players such as throwback Omar Cook of St. John’s fame (1.7 PPG and 0 NBA starts) and Kosta Koufos (4.6 PPG in 86 starts), a man probably drawn out of school due to the precedent set by more talented Ohio State teammates. (Side note: I attended the 3 OT Celtics-Nuggets thriller ten days ago—Koufos started the game but was nowhere to be found on the court for the last 20 minutes of game time.)

Koufos spends a lot of time wearing this warmup, questioning his decision to leave Ohio State after just a year. Certainly a player who, under MLB rules, would have played 3-4 years in college before going pro.

One could go on and on with names like these, including a whole slew of Memphis grads (Shawne Williams and Dajuan Wagner to name just two), and the busts far outnumber the studs, the Durants and Irvings of the world. If the NBA and NCAA hope to strike a balance between fostering talent and allowing superstars to shine bright early, while also maintaining the integrity of the entity “student-athelete,” perhaps they should take a hint from their less popular, less flawed baseball buddies.

Baseball is very in touch with its policies and its players. Just ask Chris Coghlan.

While MLB has its share of struggles regarding young talent burning out, their system does a far better job of balancing encouraging superstar talent with pushing teenagers to develop for four years in college.

According to MLB.com, the main categories of eligible players to be drafted by Major League teams are:

  •  High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

To summarize this summary, a high school senior can enter the MLB Draft upon graduating, but a player who enters college is not eligible for the draft until he has completed his junior year or is 21 years of age. This way, raw talents are encouraged to develop their game at the college level. Many players still immaturely choose the draft, but for the most part only the top talent each year is pushed to declare straight out of high school. No draft system will ever be perfect (if one was, drafting would be really easy…), but MLB’s is fascinating in that it makes athletes and their families do something we often dread: think. The three-year timeframe between graduating high school and being 21 does put a heckuva lot of pressure on prospects, but this tough choice tends to push players toward college rather than declaring straight out of high school.

Just ask Mr. Pedroia if he’s thankful for his time playing at ASU, where he was teammates with two other All-Stars: Ian Kinsler and Andre Ethier.

The numbers don’t lie. Only 5.6% of high school baseball players play NCAA baseball, and well less than 1% get drafted to the MLB straight out of high school. On the other hand, 10.5% of NCAA players go on to play professionally! Now there are differences between the NBA and MLB, one must admit. Terms for guaranteed money vary in the leagues, but each league guarantees their contracts, unlike the NFL, which allows for teams to essentially get rid of players at their whim. MLB also differs from the NBA in that its draft is huuuuuuuuuuuge – more than 1,000 players are drafted each year while the NBA’s draft has two round and less than 70 picks.

Similarly, however, an estimated 1.2% of NCAA men’s basketball players get drafted to the NBA while about .003% of high school varsity players will eventually play professionally. For the NBA, a system with options declaring right out of high school or after 3 years of college  solves ANOTHER problem- the minor leagues!  Seeing a kid or 2 or 3 years in college as they refine their game is a helluva lot better than a one and done going to the NBDL and vanishing from the face of the Earth!

Xavier Henry should have spent some more time in this uniform. Does wasting away in the D-League or on the Hornets’ bench really seem like a better option than developing under the tutelage of Bill Self? Bet you forgot who Xavier Henry was.

Every professional sport will have players who attempt to make it big before their minds or bodies are ready (Freddy Adu, Ryan Leaf, Demarcus Cousins it would seem), but as of right now the NBA is failing its pool of young talent and therefore its fanbase with regard to its handling of development of players.

Baseball’s system allows for the proper maturing of talent – whether it be mentally or physically.  Sure, there will always be freaks like Bryce Harper or Dave Winfield, but the majority of athletes in ALL sports need time to season their brains to the professional level.  Listen to a veteran talking about a rookie sometime – in any sport – they never talk about the things we drool over before drafts, verticals and bench press and Wonderlics; they talk about mental preparation.  If the NBA adopted the MLB policy, certainly there will still be bozos like DeMarcus Cousins who bolt before they are ready but the point is teams would then have the knowledge that a more refined, if slightly less naturally athletically gifted, player can have a positive impact quicker and more efficiently than those who failed to transition properly.

Stephen Strasburg was just one of many stud prospects who could light up a radar gun. His time at San Diego State allowed him to become the most surefire superstar of this generation.

Leave a comment

by | February 19, 2013 · 2:06 PM

Fantasy Mustache: First Base

Follicular Follies of Youth: Freddie Freeman & Eric Hosmer

With age comes wisdom and nothing says wisdom like a big furry lip caterpillar.  I think that’s how the saying goes.  Both Freeman and Hosmer are phenomenal young first basemen.  Their facial hair choices, however, demonstrate their overall lack of experience.

Observe;

image

Guys, you forgot the most important facial hair feature!  Clearly, both are intelligent enough players to understand the power of some face fuzz.  Their lack of attention to the most mystical portion of facial grooming, while easy to explain as youthful ignorance, speaks to a need for additional seasoning.

Both players have excellent foundations to build on.  Yet the projected numbers, while solid, were clearly hurt by their inattention and inversion of proper facial attire:

(courtesy of Bill James/Fangraphs)

Hosmer: 29 2B / 79 R / 20 HR / 79 RBI / .276 AVG / .342 OBP / 784 OPS

Freeman: 36 2B / 85 R /24 HR / 95 RBI /  .282 AVG / .358 OBP / .839 OPS

 

Pretty good, right? But now, let’s add some flavor.

image

image

BAM! As a certain loud cook might say.

Different methods, but same result. Hosmer fitted with the apt Selleck mustache, looks the part of stud first baseman to build you (both fantasy and real life) team around. He looks ready to mash. Freeman, on the other hand, is a more wily of sorts, and needs the mustache to fit it. That’s the mustache of a man who’s going to smack extra base hits and play some slick D.  That’s the mustache of your everyday 5-hitter.

Their numbers reflect the increased production with properly groomed facial hair. CUE UP THE MUSTACHE PROJECTION WIZARD 7000!

 

Hosmer:  38 2B / 98 R / 31 HR / 99 RBI / .296 AVG / .390 OBP / .905 OPS

Freeman: 46 2B / 100 R /30 HR / 109 RBI /  .308 AVG / .387 OBP / .915 OPS

 

Look at those numbers!  Clearly all that separates both Hosmer and Freeman from jumping from good young player to team cornerstone is some follicular guidance. The chinstrap look works for bouncers and bass players, folks, gentlemen are mustachioed.

 

THIS is a gentleman.

BONUS: Selleck’s line if he really played in his 80’s heyday – Mr. Baseball, while amazing, does not count:

45 2B / 112 R / 50 HR / 166 RBI / .321 AVG / .409 OBP / 1.012 OPS

 

Soon to come: Second Basemen, so you know there is a good chance of a mustache lasershow.

Stay groomed,

-V

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, MLB, Opinion, Random Thoughts

Fantasy Mustache: First Base

First Up, The Canadian Clipper: Joey Votto

image

Perhaps you have spent the last several years living on an island, either talking to a volleyball or training or become a costumed archer-vigilante, so you don’t know that Joey Votto is really, really ridiculously good-looking. He is also Canadian. Why is this note on his heritage important, you ask? Well America’s northern brethren are known for impressive whisker experimentation (Beard Team Canada.  Check them out.). Observe the grim determination upon Mr. Votto’s face. That is the steely stare of a man regularly in the MVP conversation. The stare of a man whose limited 111 game 2012 does not sit well in his gut. Everyone knows Votto will bounce back, including Mr. Bill James:

46 2B / 27 HR / 97 RBI / 8 SB / 130 BB

Indeed, a fine season looks to be on the horizon. But Votto doesn’t want ‘fine’ he wants stellar he wants extraordinary. He wants to chop down the trees to make his own bats. He wants to hunt for his own meat and curate his own jerky. He wants to command a clubhouse with a mere raised eyebrow.

To reach his fearsome goals, to come back stronger than ever, Joey Votto (or, apparently ‘the Votto-matic” according to Baseball-Reference) must elevate his game, enhance his performance make a statement, and do so naturally, by claiming his fuzzy birthright.

Joey Votto must grow a kick-ass mustache.

image

Goodness gracious and shiver me timbers.

 

New mustache line:

68 2B / 55 HR / 211 RBI / 205 BB / 16 SB

Additionally, according to the Mustache Statistical Reporting System ™, Votto will hit 5 triples, sing the national anthem with astounding vibrato, win a game, save a game, and rescue a small child in the stands on a hot July day (I know, the system is amazing).

 

That’s a man ready for all endeavors.  That’s a man breaking records.  That’s a man with an ox, probably.  I’d bet the new Votto would be successful in everything from pirating ships to thumb wrestling. The predictorbot 4000 has spit out the numbers and the the numbers don’t lie – without a mustache Votto will undoubtedly return to form. With that broom under his nose, Votto sits on the precipice of a legendary season.

 

 

Next up, the First Base Mustache near-misses of 2012.

 

Stay groomed

 

-v

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, first base, MLB, Opinion, Random Thoughts

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Comeback Mustache of the Year

Martin is not impressed.

Before he went to the Yankees, I was a big Russell Martin fan.  An athletic catcher, he both threw and ran well, leading to some of my favorite in-game scenarios where he would both throw someone out bunting then bunt himself and beat it out (doesn’t that just always seems extra, extra awesome for a catcher?).  He was bad for the Yankees.  His homer total was inflated, as would a four-year old’s, by Yankee Stadium Redux so, statistically, and as catchers go, I suppose he was serviceable.  I happen to think he’s a better player.

Here are Bill James’ projections for My favorite Martin in 2013:

//112 hits// 22 2B // 16 HR // 64 R // 60 RBI // 8 SB // .242 AVG //

Leading to a deep “MEH,” from all concerned.  Where is the fleet of foot Martin, the .280 -. 300 hitter Martin?  Who is this manicured man?!

Martin is in obvious need of a mustache makeover (tv rights pending on that one, folks).  I understand that players deteriorate over time blah blah blah but this guy was pretty nifty not even 5 years ago!  So I fired up the math machines and the facial composite sketchers andWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!?!!?

BOOM.

Russ beat me to it!  He is obviously not only a ballplayer, but has a keen understanding of the mysticism of the mustache.  Let us reconsider his projections, now knowing he has reconsidered his look.  I’ll bet Mr. Bill James doesn’t have a way of computing mustache value-added, but I sure do:

//177 hits// 30 2B // 19 HR // 88 R // 77 RBI // 22 SB // .333 AVG // PLUS 4 TRIPLES!

As you can see, Russell got his groove back.  Freed from the shackles of the hair-hating Yankees, Martin can be himself once more.  With his smoothly Gatsby-esque new fur, Martin will undoubtedly make the leap to an upper-class season.  Just look at that careful constructed cookie-duster.  He will regain not only his stroke but his deceptive quickness.  Again, I point you to the devious flavor saver.  Is that not the look of a man capable of swiping double-digit bases?  Is that not the look of a man who will find clever means to get on base?  Is that not the look of a man who would make an excellent addition to your barbershop quartet (alto, duh)?  Of COURSE it is, that is a mustache of confidence, a mustache of class – a mustache of redemption. 

Martin is poised, nay groomed,  for a better 2013.  And he knows it is due to his upper lip.  That is the smile of a man who knows the future is out there, a single green light, if you will, and Martin is ready to take it… even if it’s in Pittsburgh and not West Egg.

If you don’t get the reference, that’s okay.  There’s a movie coming out soon.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the mustache sleepers.  If Russell Martin is any indication, the future is bright for potentially moustachioed ballplayers.

Stay groomed,

-v

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts