Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Why Bryce Harper Deserves Our Undivided Attention

I am pretty sure I could write pages and pages about why I love The Natural—its solemn nostalgia and ability to reawaken every part of me that loves every part of baseball—but I will try to contain myself to the subject outlined so subtly in the title.

Perhaps you are wondering what this man has to do with our title figure, Mr. Harper. Patience, I ask only for patience.

Roy Hobbs is not necessarily a fallen hero; he did no wrong but circumstances outside his control doomed him to fall short of the potential recognized by himself and others. We can never know if he would have fulfilled his Williamsesque prophesy, to walk down the street and hear people say: “there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was,” but I am confident he would have. In sports, I see largely ordinary men do extraordinary things. I know they are ordinary because they get hurt like us (Tony Canigliaro); they aren’t ready like us (Billy Beane); they fall from grace and from the public eye, never to reveal just how deep their talent runs (Josh Hamilton).

Both the Rays and Hamilton seemed destined for greatness following the 1999 draft.

The film came out in 1984, when Josh Hamilton was three years old. He quickly became as close to a real-life Roy Hobbs as we will ever experience. Blessed with physical gifts as both a pitcher and hitter, there was not speculation about Hamilton’s potential: it was simply known that he would become one of the best players in the world, never mind that he was just 17 when drafted in 1999. The most “sure thing” prospect since another teen draftee, Ken Griffey Jr., Hamilton was believed to be able to make it in the majors as a pitcher or hitter (very Hobbsish), and would likely do so soon after the start of the new millennium. He was Bryce Harper before Bryce Harper picked up a bat, godly in his talent and titanic in his potential. Then he showed the world how human he was.

Imagine how much THIS would be worth if he was real.

Hamilton fell victim to injuries and drug addiction. Instead of bursting onto the scene with precocious teen talent, Hamilton struggled to find his way to the majors, finally making his debut in 2007. He was supposed to be the best in the league on his way to “the best there ever was” by then, well on his way to cementing his place among baseball’s immortals.

Hamilton has shown his talent over the last six years, even taking home an MVP in 2010, but one night stands out to me, a night that only young boys and Hollywood could have imagined. In 2008, the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium (in New York—the Hobbs comparisons become eerie) allowed the baseball world to feast its eyes on talent unlike most ever witnessed. Hamilton swung 38 times in the first round. He hit 28 home runs, including 13 in a row at one point.

Hamilton put on a type of show unseen since Barry Levinson’s magical 1984 film.

People can’t even do that in wiffleball or video games. Hamilton—or Hobbs—is the player you create in a virtual world because you will never see him in ours, the slugger you pretend to be in your daydreams and fantasies. I didn’t just want to be a major leaguer; I wanted to be THE guy, the player with unlimited talent and even more potential—Nomar in 1997 or Pujols in 2001 or Ted Williams back in 1939.

Whoops. Not this Nomar.

Hobbs makes me smile, but Hamilton breaks my heart. Hobbs ensures that he will be remembered forever, rising from the depths as he lifts a team and city from comparable doldrums, as he carries the Knights to the pennant in dramatic fashion. People may not say “the best there ever was,” but they would certainly say “there goes Roy Hobbs.” I do not know for certain if Josh Hamilton will reach that point, and that kills me. That magical night at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 2008 reminded every person witnessing of the deep well that contains Hamilton’s ability, a place that will perhaps never run dry but has certainly been greatly depleted. Hamilton is a hero to many, not only a great baseball player but also a human being who got his life back together having faced a crippling addiction. But I don’t think he will ever be a hero to himself, because he knows how good he could have been. One must hope he has an Iris Gaines of his own, reminding him of the present and future, lest he forever mire in the missed opportunities of the past.

Hamilton does a lot of looking off into space, as if forging in his mind what could have been. Must be a pretty picture.

I realize now that I failed in my attempt to focus on how Redford shapes the film, but I think this says a lot about his performances and about me as a viewer. He embodies Sundance and Johnny Hooker and Hobbs and all of his characters with seductive magnetism, reminding us of the lives we dreamed of as kids and still remember dreaming of as we age but fail to grow up. Redford’s appeal transcends gender or sexuality or time, I believe. In The Natural, who wouldn’t root for a country boy with a homegrown swing and self-made bat? Who can help but root for the Knights, decked out in the regalia of a time when greedy owners and their corporate ambitions could be overcome by the divine prowess of a single man?

We often place superheroes’ expectations upon the shoulders of our superstars, calling upon them to bring in fans or sponsors or to save fading leagues. Rarely are we granted the privilege of experiencing a Roy Hobbs, but even rarer is the chance to witness someone with that talent who does not lose his years to gunshots or drug addictions.

Watch – witness – Bryce Harper as often as you can while you can. Naturals are in limited supply.

Let’s hope whatever that picture is he’s seeing becomes a reality.

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Filed under Baseball, batter v. pitcher, NBA, Random Thoughts

L.J. Hoes in Different Area Codes: VT

LJVT

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by | March 12, 2013 · 6:05 PM

Spring Training Beard Report: Josh Reddick’s Beard

castawawy

Josh Reddick went to the beach today.

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, outfield, Posted, Random Thoughts

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

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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.

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

Why the 2013 NCAA Tournament May Be the Best Ever Part 1

 

Part I: Instability Atop the Mountain

 The defending champion (Kentucky) will not even make the tournament. Whoever they are, the 1-seeds will be beatable and flawed. Butler will be a factor. You could make a case for 15 teams winning the whole thing – and that’s a conservative estimate. We have a fun March ahead of us.

Even Joe Lunardi may have a tough time this year, starting with the perpetual motion among his projected 1-seeds.

The 1-Seeds (For Now)

 

As of right now, Lunardi has Indiana, Miami, Duke, and Florida as his 1-seeds. All four of these teams already have 3 losses, including Miami beating Duke handily (with another showdown coming March 2nd), and both Miami and Florida falling short against Arizona.

Indiana will have a tough time making it through the next few weeks unscathed, with Michigan and Ohio State awaiting them in the next two weeks as well as what is sure to be a chaotic Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers have elite talent and primetime players in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (absolute X-Factor in tonight’s victory over Michigan State), but we could see them fall from the top line of the bracket, as 2-3 losses before the tournament are not out of the question. All three of Indiana’s losses have come by five points or less, and the Hoosiers are certainly primed for tournament atmospheres due to their brutal conference schedule (in opposition to a team like Florida, see below), but watch out for a slow finish for the Fighting Creans. That being said, Indiana’s inside-outside combinations allow them to match up favorably against perhaps every team in the country.

The passion of Victor Oladipo may be the key to an Indiana Final Four run.

Miami represents a great but unpredictable story. From unranked to receiving significant first-place votes in both polls this week, the Hurricanes have stormed through the depleted ACC, 12-0 in conference to this point. A matchup with Duke on March 2nd (quite the day for watching some ball, evidently) seems to be the Canes’ only challenge before the ACC Tournament, but even if this team makes it to the Big Dance with only their current 3 losses, questions remain. Miami wasn’t even in the tourney a year ago, and their incredible growth this season begs the question: can they sustain their level of play without reverting back to their old ways? These “old ways” include a double-digit lost to Florida Gulf Coast in November and back to back losses to Arizona (a 19-point shellacking) and Indiana State at Christmas. Miami seems to have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but their lack of experience and the mediocrity of the ACC except for—or maybe including—Duke leave us wondering how the Hurricanes will fare come March.

Jim Larranaga has everyone around the U smiling this year, as his Canes have journeyed from unranked to projected 1-seed.

Duke has only lost twice since Ryan Kelly’s mid-January injury, but their performance has left a lot to be desired for Cameron Crazies. Besides the annihilation at the hands of Miami, Duke lost Saturday to an inspired Maryland team and has struggled against the unimpressive likes of Wake Forest (W 75-70 on Jan. 30th) and Boston College (W 62-61 Feb. 10th in a game they did not deserve to win). The Blue Devils have experience at the coaching level (Duh), and Mason Plumlee was a freshman when they won the title in 2010, but no other contributor has been past the Sweet Sixteen. Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook make up a strong nucleus, but the team has yet to find its chemistry following Kelly’s injury. With the March 2nd rematch against Miami as their only true pre-tourney test (maybe another rematch in the ACC Tournament Championship Game as well), look for Duke to enter the Big Dance as a 1 or 2-seed but as an unknown nevertheless. I don’t expect another Lehigh incident, but watch out for a 7-10 seed knocking the Blue Devils off in Duke’s second game. Just looking at Lunardi’s current projections, one has to wonder how Duke would handle Creighton and game-changer Doug McDermott.

Can these two stars get Duke playing at its peak in time for a deep tourney run? They’ve yet to provide a definitive answer.

Florida has probably received the least attention of these top teams, partially due to the overwhelming coverage of conference foe Kentucky’s underwhelming season.

Florida went to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed last year, further than any of the other three projected 1-seeds. Besides respectable early losses to Arizona and Kansas State and tonight’s battle defeat at the hands of Phil Pressey and Missouri, Florida does have a perplexing double-digit loss to Arkansas, but the Gators have won their other 11 SEC games by an average of 25.9 points! Theoretically, Florida can and should win every game remaining on their schedule, barring struggles with Arkansas at home or at Kentucky to finish the regular season on March 9th. Like the ACC teams above, Florida’s lackluster conference leaves much up to the imagination, but their complete dominance in the SEC deserves more love. With a coach who has in fact WON TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, and a versatile core of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Patric Young (senior, senior, junior), Florida has the potential to go even deeper than their overachieving squad did a year ago. They may be in the best shape of any of these four to make a run.

Don’t underestimate the King of the Receding Hairline, also known as 2-time national champion Billy Donovan.

My money was on Michigan State beating Indiana in East Lansing hours ago and supplanting the Hoosiers as a 1-seed. Whoops. MSU could still make a run at a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Gonzaga may be challenged in the coming weeks, but expect them to run the table to the tournament and replace one of the ACC squads (or Florida if the Gators’ struggles continue) as a 1-seed. All that said, the winner of Michigan-Indiana on March 10th will secure 1-seed position, and I’d expect whichever two of the MSU-IU-UM Big Ten Triangle finish strongest to secure two of the top seeds, with Gonzaga and the stronger finisher of Duke-Miami (my guess is Miami) filling out the remaining two spots.

 

Including all of these contenders, there are, as of February 18th, already 34 NCAA teams with 20 wins as of February 18th and 21 more teams have 19 wins! That means about 16% of all NCAA teams already have 19 wins. Now not all of these teams are threats to win the whole thing (sorry, Stony Brook, Akron, etc.), but with teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, half of the Big Ten, and Arizona out there playing well, chances are the aforementioned one seeds will not be the top 4 come selection Sunday.  Furthermore, there’s a good chance a 1-seed will not be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8th considering the amount of good teams and lack of great teams, considering the likes of lesser-known sleepers like VCU, Creighton, Memphis, Wichita State, and Oregon, to name only a few.

She has as good a guess as anyone for what team will emerge in Georgia come early April. She likes Indiana’s completeness but made sure to tell me to watch out for runs by Butler and Georgetown.

Maybe these four projected 1-seeds will all hold their spots. Maybe none of them will. Only time will tell. March Madness has come early this year, so start enjoying now.

-Kenny

To be continued…

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Filed under College, Dance, March Madness, NCAA, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

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.

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by | February 19, 2013 · 2:06 PM

Greatest Of All Time (GOATs): The Time is Now

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-the indelible Ferris Bueller

Ferris stated simply yet so powerfully a truth that haunts us all, but even more daunting than the speed with which life flies by is the pace at which sports travel—from one era, superstar, or scandal to the next before we can even appreciate what we are lucky enough to witness firsthand.

As I sit here gagging at the shallow yet relentless spectacle that is NBA All-Star Weekend (I appreciate Big Shot Bob Horry as much as the next guy but JUST SHOW ME DUNKS), I want to be negative and cynical; I want to yell that my sports world can never be rebuilt into a fantasyland of innocent admiration, that steroids and Twitter and self-promotion and wide receivers and the 2012 Red Sox have forever tarnished my view. But I can’t.

You see, we in fact live right now in a time when the greatest of all time are growing, performing, and dominating right before our eyes. Let’s stop on this most lame of sports weekends and look around:

Albert Pujols

 

In a landscape marred by PEDs (see our horrifying expose here), decreasing national interest, and falling heroes (say it ain’t so, Mr. Braun!), Pujols continues to go about his business of entering the discussion of GOAT. His charming disposition aside (that’s for another time), Pujols will, assuming 5-7 years of near-peak performance, near the home run mark of “Home Run King” Barry Bonds, the Worst King of Anything Ever. Considering that Pujols is not only protected by the otherworldy talent that is Mike Trout but also now by the bat of Josh Hamilton, 300 more HR is not out of the question by any means. With 10 top-10 MVP finishes (and 3 wins) in only 12 seasons, Pujols has astounded with his consistency as well as his power and efficiency (see .325 career average and 42 doubles per season).

Don’t just stay up to watch Trout follow up his unprecedented rookie season: make sure to remember Albert Pujols, soon to be considered one of the GOAT.

Lionel Messi

 I won’t pretend to know much about soccer (although I did captain the worst middle school team ever to a respectable 2-10 campaign), but every sports fan should be able to appreciate the beautiful dominance of the Beautiful Game that Messi brings on a daily basis. There is more to be done for his Argentina team that has disappointed at times on the world stage, but Messi has never failed to amaze, whether in short spurts (five goals in one game!) or over a prolonged period of time (FIFA Ballon d’Or 2009-12, only player to win it four times. He’s 25.).

Despite this outfit, NOW is as good a time as ever for us narrow-minded, anti-soccer sports fans to take notice of Messi, as he has scored in FOURTEEN STRAIGHT GAMES and has amassed 48 GOALS IN JUST 34 GAMES THIS SEASON. Soccer players who score in half their games are considered among the best in the world. With his numbers, Messi is among the GOAT.

Greatest ever? We shall see.

Lebron James

There is not much to be said about Lebron that isn’t said every other day on ESPN, but some things bear repeating: 27.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 6.9 APG for one year would be amazing. These are Lebron’s career numbers! And he seems to still be growing into a more complete player! And he is playing looser and more efficiently now that he won a ring! And he’s only 28!!!  This is Lebron’s 10th season. He’s made 10 All-Star teams, will soon have finished top 10 in MVP voting 10 times (Top 5 8 times), and it is safe to assume he will remain in these positions for the foreseeable future (DID I MENTION HE’S ONLY 28?!!?). Not only has Lebron been top 2 in the NBA in scoring for the past 8 years, he’s been top 10 in assists five times and top 10 in minutes played 7 times!

Lebron will play for at least eight more seasons. He will win at least another two championships and cement his legacy, win however many MVPs he feels necessary, and he just might do so in yet another uniform, sticking his middle finger once again towards us fans who forget that above all, this is a man who wants to win and wants to be the GOAT. Regarding the latter, he will never attain his goal in the eyes of many.

Grandpas love Larry Bird. Side note: not my grandpa.

Michael Jordan (or Larry Bird for my classicist grandfather) will always be the greatest to those people, but the fact that Lebron’s only obstacle to being GOAT is the GOAT means he is, in fact, PRETTY DAMN GOOD. Did I mention he’s only 28?

Ugly sweater. Turtleneck. Still has the elephant.

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson

Take your pick. A case can, or will be able to, be made for any of the three quarterbacks for GOAT. Rodgers, Brady, and Manning possess the 1st, 2nd, and 4th best career passer ratings OF ALL TIME, respectively. Manning and Brady are 2nd and 5th all-time in Pass TD (with Rodgers in full pursuit at only age 28), and all three are in the top 7 for passing YPG. The debate between these three—and any other past QB you wish to include—will not be settled until Rodgers is done. With Brady’s window closing (not too fast, I hope) and Manning’s nearly shut, my money is on Rodgers winning this clash of titans, and perhaps even the discount double check belt for GOAT. As if this country needs reasons to watch football on Sundays, these three lead the unfathomably deep pool of QB talent that currently make football the most watchable sport in the United States, if not world (sorry, hurling).

Before he’s done, Rodger’s belt may just be one with a GOAT buckle. I do hope this move goes away. Soon please!

Peterson’s path to GOAT is perhaps filled with more obstacles than those of his QB contemporaries. Considering his knee’s history, Peterson’s career may not last as long as all of us (except Packers and Bears fans) would like. That being said, eight more seasons seems reasonable for Peterson, and an average of 1,500 yards for those eight seasons (doable with Christian Ponder or Alex Smith under center) would put Peterson at 20,849 career yards, the highest total ever. A lot of you could argue that 1,500 yards is too high. 1,300 yards per those eight seasons still gives Peterson a GOAT total of 19,249 rushing yards. He’ll only be 28 come training camp. If a destroyed knee yields 2,000 rushing yards, who knows what 6-8 healthy years could mean for Peterson and his opponents.

Damn. He’s even bigger now. This is what my online dating profile picture would be. Ladies.

Miscellaneous (Unprecedentedly Good) Athletes

These final two athletes found fame in very different sports but with a similar tragic flaw. At the same time their performances have been electrifying, snatching  up the attention of this country and of the entire sporting world, their exposure has been fleeting and painfully short. Michael Phelps gave us three snapshots of what it means to be truly dominant in one’s field, winning often or always and doing so in a wide array of races, sometimes even in world record fashion. Yet we are doomed to discuss him for only two weeks every four years into eternity because of the fleeting beauty that is the Olympic games. The same goes for Usain Bolt, the man so enigmatic both in talent and personality, who has captured the world’s eye in both Beijing and London, only to flash by in a blur so fast that a couple of sneezes and you miss history. Phelps and Bolt are, as of now, the GOAT in their fields, and competitors will be hard-pressed to dethrone them for some time to come. Just a pity they only show up every four years for most of us.

Phelps was swimming in the Olympics at an age when I was just understanding why beach volleyball was cool. He still sort of looks like a dork.

So what am I saying? Why create this list? First of all, don’t complain that it’s long (and could be longer—see Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, et al.); be thankful that you live within what is most certainly a peak in sports history, a time filled with great teams, moments, and individual competitors like these I have mentioned. So stop whining about this NBA Self-Indulgence Weekend. Maybe skip school or work on Monday. Steal a friend’s car. Take it to a game (NOT A CUBS GAME THOUGH). Stop and take in the talent around you. Or don’t. But be warned. You just might miss it.

Cameron didn’t have so many (potential) GOATs to watch. You do. So look around a little.

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Filed under Baseball, Football, MLB, NBA, NFL, Olympics, Random Thoughts, Soccer

The PED Scandal in Baseball No One Wants to Talk About

The Backyard Baseball Banned Substance Scandal: A DotP Exclusive

Backyard Baseball is/was a beloved institution among cartoon sports enthusiasts.  Now the world must deal with the shocking revelation that many of the players were enhancing their performance with illegal substances.  After a lengthy investigation and the cooperation of a handful of sources, DotP has learned a large number of Backyard Athletes boosted their performance using everything from something called ‘Juice,’ to doctored baseballs, to drugging the other team, causing them to think the ball is dancing around laughing at them.

The allegations are widespread and shocking.

May I remind you that Backyard Baseball really hit it’s groove in 2001.  That game is one of the finest of all time, up there with NBA Jam and Tecmo Bowl.  But there is a dark, dark history there that no one wants to see the light.  Here’s a sampling of some of the MLB players featured in that game:

Jose Canseco.  Juan Gonzalez. Alex Rodriguez. Jason Giambi. Ivan Rodriguez. Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. Mark McGwire.  And Marty Cordova.

As you can see, all but one of those guys is filthy with drug use, implicated every which way from Sunday (One of these guys is Marty Cordova.  I don’t think he’s a former steroid user, it’s more just funny that the Twins were so boring in the early 2000’s that their representative was Marty Cordova.).  My sources are reporting this interaction resulted in a slew of the Backyard Baseball gang succumbing to the allure of performance enhancing drugs.  Forced to compete with the aforementioned ‘roided up MLBers, it is no wonder many players resorted to PEDs – but it is also no excuse. What follows is the list of players we can confirm as cheaters in the Backyard League and their documented rule-breaking:

Kiesha Phillips

Ms. Phillips leads the list due to her recent admission that she was, in fact, too old to be playing in the Backyard League at the time.  Documentation further proves Phillips regularly consumed a cocktail of drugs meant to mask PEDs.  Receipts have been shown that Phillips had a standing monthly order for large, large doses of Human Growth Hormone supplements, a fact that is obvious in hindsight due to the fact that she was double the size of any other Backyard athlete.

Kenny Kawaguchi

In one of the most shocking revelations of the Backyard report, Kawaguchi was cited as utilizing a wide variety of performance enhancing substances.  A hero to millions, Kawaguchi served as an inspiration for his play despite a disability.  Evidence now points to Kawaguchi using a variety of blood thinning agents, bull extract, the now-infamous ‘deer-antler spray,’ and amphetimines to maintain his solid play and remarkable upper body strength.

Ronny Dobbs

A solid player before 2001, Dobbs saw a tremendous spike in power production following that season.  He is repeatedly found in documents linked to shocking amounts of testosterone supplements as well as anabolic steroids such as Boldenone, a horse steroid.  While his power surged, evidence of the steroid’s side effects can be seen (well, heard) in Dobbs’ extreme high-pitched voice and disproportionate head size.

Tony Delvecchio

In another shocking turn, seeming everyman Tony Delvecchio is named in the report for using a wide variety of stimulants to aid his workout routine.  The report further suggests that Delvecchio tested positive for an exceedingly high rate of the amusingly named Bromantane as well as Pentylenetetrazol, both workout stimulants.  Known for his strong throwing arm, Delvecchio appears to have taken a variety of substances to maintain and bolster his arm strength.  Documents also insinuate that Delvecchio’s famous lollipop was, in fact, a hybrid stimulant for in-game use.

Luanne Lui

Ms. Lui repeatedly shows up in listings for orders of amphetamine blends and for masking agents for the drug Amiphenazole.  The more concerning aspects of her drug use, however, stem from documentation that she regularly consumed enormous amounts of MDMA prior to games.  The combination of stimulants and MDMA undoubtedly gave Lui her loopy disposition, but also allowed her to run incredibly fast for extended periods of time due to the fact that she rarely felt connected to the ground.  DEA officials have confiscated her teddy bear as it is still unclear whether or not the stuffed animal was in any way distributing any or all of these drugs to Ms. Lui in-game.

Mikey Thomas

Thomas tested positive for elevated levels of Ephedrine and Androstanediol in 2003 but had suspension overturned when he won an appeal.  Claiming a mishandled sample, Thomas alleges his elevated levels were due to a cold medicine he was taking at the time.  While this story has held for some time, as Thomas continued to be a boogery mess, these new reports point to Mr. Thomas using cold medicine as a cover for routine widespread juicing.

Ernie Steele

Steele is listed as taking a schedule of Human Growth Hormone, Fluvestrant, and Zeranol regularly starting in 2000.  These drugs have been tied to bone growth, and inside sources report they may have contributed to Steele’s intensely bizarre long limbs, as well as his girlish physique and vocal patterns.

Pete Wheeler

In what is likely the least surprising aspect of these reports, Pete Wheeler is said to have routinely failed drug tests for Cannibus, starting his first year in the league.  However, due to his All-Star status, the league regularly swept these failures under the rug.  Between 1997 and 2009, it is said Wheeler failed no fewer than 30 tests.  However, as one source said to me, “he maintained an incredibly high level of play, despite what seems like staggering, rap-posse-esque marijuana usage.  Also, the kid rarely seemed to know what sport he was playing, so I’d imagine the fans have suspected for some time and simply didn’t care.”

webers

Ashley & Sidney Webber

The Webber sisters, since retiring from the game, have gained some notoriety for their hard-partying ways and inclusion on the short lived Celebrity Twinz reality series.  While they report has them linked to heavy mood enhancers and several stimulants (including Fenbutrazate, a psychostimulant used as an appetite suppressant), sources also report the Webbers would routinely spike opponents coolers with everything from low-grade LSD to bath salts, often to horrific effect (recall the under-grounder incident of 2006). The Webber sisters have recently been linked to a cocaine ring in their home town, separate from this PED report.

The Masterminds: Dmitri Petrovich & Jorge Garcia

Behind every scheme, there are the ultimate schemers – someone pulling the strings.  In this case, the Backyard Sports World lay at the mercy of two black market drug kingpins.  The Backyard Athletes behind a rampant drug culture throughout the league were intelligent, seemingly mild-mannered gentlemen.  Both with bookish, shy exteriors, Petrovich and Garcia masked a devious and dangerous system, weaving its way throughout the league.  It appears Jorge ran the business and distribution side, while Dmitri was the brains behind the science of the drugs – often experimenting with new ‘drug cocktails,’ emboldened by the success of such substances in other leagues.

Due to lagging testing policy in the BBL for many years, the duo appears to have operated unchecked since 2002, supplying clients across not only the BBL, but other Backyard sports leagues as well.  Our sources assure us this is the tip of the iceberg, and that the culture in Backyard Sports was one of drugs, lies, and deceit.

Neither a superstar in the league, the pair seemed content to lay in the shadows, bit players in a game of their own making.  Both declined to comment for this expose.  Commisioner Clanky plans to release a statement sometime next week.  An official within the Backyard League informed me, “We have no comment at this time.  The league is conducting an investigation into these allegations and will be open and forthcoming in the days to come.”

It should be noted that Superstar Pablo Sanchez, long suspected of PED usage, has not been found to have any connection to Petrovich and/or Garcia.

This story is still developing, and I urge any reader with further evidence to come forward.  The silence in the face of such cheating has tainted a beloved game for long enough.

We apologize for any childhoods that have been ruined.

-W

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Filed under backyard baseball, Baseball, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Posted, Random Thoughts

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

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