Friday, May 8, 2009

My Fantasy Baseball Team Is Better Than Your Fantasy Baseball Team, Part II

If you want to read Part I, either scroll down a bit or click here

As promised, today I'll be going over my pitching squadron for The Peter Moylans, quite possibly the greatest fantasy baseball team ever assembled in a 10-team Rotisserie league. And as I said yesterday, my pitchers have reigned in 66 of a possible 70 points, compared to my offensive lineup, which has pulled in 70 of a possible 70. In a nutshell, my pitchers should be ashamed of themselves and use their guilt as motivation to perform a little bit better.

In all seriousness, if one were to examine my team before the season started, he would say that my lineup is built incredibly well and my pitching is lacking. It's true. My arms have been unconscious so far, and it could very well be a fluke. Between the pitchers and the hitters, I would have to guess that my pitchers are the ones who will experience a letdown as the season progresses. There are a lot of unproven guys doing the hurling for me.

But still, of the seven pitching categories, they're 3rd in Saves(8 points), 2nd in Losses and Strikeouts(9 points each), and 1st in Wins, ERA, WHIP, and Quality Starts(10 points each). Not too shabby. It won't last, but still, not too shabby.

Here's the rundown of my mound-dwelling fireballers. And by the way, I've projected the stats based on the numbers so far. Some of them are downright ridiculous, and there's no way they'll reach their projected season. It's just a way to illustrate how well they've played thus far.

Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke I recently experienced the indescribable joy of watching this 25-year-old emerging superstar mow down the White Sox like they were Little Leaguers. The Sox might as well have stepped up to the plate with meter sticks. Greinke's stuff is that good. Fastball consistently in the low 90s, and can reach well into the mid 90s when he's feeling motivated. Pinpoint get-me-over curveball and a devastating slider, his best and most effective strikeout pitch. On pace for 33-0 record, 0.40 ERA, 302 strikeouts, 0.84 WHIP, 28 quality starts. Greinke's Rank: 1
Starting Pitcher: Chad Billingsley Will likely experience a slight decline with the news that Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned substance and will miss 50 games. Going from Manny to Juan Pierre could stall the Dodgers' offense a tad. Still, Billingsley is another emerging superstar(about to turn 25 years old) with killer stuff. On pace for 27-0 record, 2.21 ERA, 227 strikeouts, 1.03 WHIP, 32 quality starts. Billingsley's Rank: 18
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto Just 23 years old. He faded considerably as the season progressed last year. Another solid start in 2009. He's a year older, a year stronger, and a year more mature, so we'll see if Cueto finishes differently this time around. On pace for 12-6 record, 1.65 ERA, 168 strikeouts, 1.04 WHIP, 17 quality starts. Cueto's Rank: 55
Starting Pitcher: Matt Garza Convincingly outperforming the other Tampa Bay SP on my roster, whom we'll get to later. Another 25-year-old with plenty of life in his arm. On pace for 16-11 record, 3.51 ERA, 194 strikeouts, 1.00 WHIP, 21 quality starts. Garza's Rank: 83
Starting Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens Doesn't strike out anybody, but definitely worth having on the squad for his ERA and WHIP numbers. On pace for 17-11 record, 2.01 ERA, 116 strikeouts, 1.19 WHIP, 23 quality starts. Jurrjens's Rank: 104
Starting Pitcher: Kyle Lohse This is the one guy that I've felt severely overachieved in his first month. Just a few hours ago I was able to deal him for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Buy low, sell high. My buddy who just took Lohse off my hands is too cool to read my blog, so he'll never know that I just suckered him. He'll simply wonder "Why isn't Lohse winning games for me? Damn this luck of mine!" The thought makes me happier than Dan Bardin with a box of Entenmann's. Regardless, here are Lohse's projected numbers. On pace for 17-6 record, 3.22 ERA, 128 strikeouts, 1.16 WHIP, 17 quality starts. Lohse's Rank: 156
Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir Bottoming out my starting pitchers is a guy that'd better remember how to throw pretty quickly or I will be pooping myself with rage. I'm assuming he'll right himself eventually, but I'm running out of patience. The irony here is that before the season began I'd have said Kazmir would be my consistent, veteran presencehas been far and away the most inconsistent starter on my team. Figure it out, Kaz. Or I'll be mailing you my aforementioned poo poo platter. On pace for 16-16 record, 6.00 ERA, 151 strikeouts, 1.58 WHIP, 16 quality starts. Kazmir's rank: 869
Relief Pitcher: Scott Downs 11.7 Ks per 9 innings of work. Don't know this guy yet? You will. Toronto's winning ball games in bunches and there are saves to collect, and BJ Ryan wants nothing to do with the closer's role. Enter Scott Downs. He's technically the closer while Ryan recuperates, but I have a feeling that Downs has a good shot to be the full time door-shutter even with Ryan healthy. On pace for 16 saves, 0.59 ERA, 105 strikeouts, 0.52 WHIP. Downs's Rank: 38
Relief Pitcher: Joakim Soria Just plain filthy. On pace for 39 saves, 2.08 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 1.38 WHIP. Soria's Rank: 92
Relief Pitcher: Brandon Morrow Haven't seen his stuff, not sure if he's a legitimate closer or if the Mariners simply have no one else. Currently on the disabled list. On pace for 28 saves, 4.05 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 1.35 WHIP. Morrow's Rank: 488
Relief Pitcher: Matt Lindstrom Scares me more than anyone else on my entire team. Let's hope he has a blistering month of May so I can trade him for someone more reliable. On pace for 28 saves, 6.55 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 1.73 WHIP. Lindstrom's Rank: 574

There we have it. The greatest fantasy baseball team ever assembled in a 10-team Rotisserie league. I know this post bored you. I care not. Until next time, and as always, my fantasy baseball team is better than your fantasy baseball team.

I Dare You Not To Laugh

I always feel dirty when I have a blog post that's simply about a video, because I feel like I'm cheating the whole creative process and blah blah blah boo hoo. That's all out the window now. Watch this.

I don't know what to say. I'm in tears from laughter. If that goat really makes those sounds, I want to steal him and keep him as my pet. And why in the world is he yelling so much? He's obviously pissed about something. Is he freaking out at the slight decline? Is he being pulled to the left when all he wants is to explore the delicious foliage to the right, so he's throwing a hissy fit? I must know.

I'm watching it again.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Fantasy Baseball Team Is Better Than Your Fantasy Baseball Team, Part I

Studies show that nothing, aside from hearing about someone else's dream, is more boring than hearing about his fantasy team. This just in: I don't give a shit. I'm officially and actively trying to jinx my season because I'm so far ahead of the rest of the league that I feel like I'm doing something wrong. 

To start, let me explain the format. There are 10 teams, made up of me and nine of my buddies from high school. The scoring type is Rotisserie, meaning your stats accumulate over the entire season and never reset. Scoring is updated every day. If your team is leading a category(Home Runs, for example), you get 10 points added to your team's score. Last place in a category gets one point. There are 14 categories in all, 7 offensive and 7 pitching. Quick math tells us that the maximum score a team can have is 140 points(14 categories x 10 points per category led).

As of today, May 7th, 2009, my team has 136 points, 46.5 points ahead of 2nd place.

For you noobs out there, this is unprecedented. Unheard of. Shocking, absurd, and slightly horrifying. This just doesn't happen, and frankly, I'm a little scared by my greatness. Now you know why I'm trying to jinx my season.

The seven offensive categories are Runs, Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases, Strikeouts, Batting Average, and On-Base plus Slugging. My team(The Peter Moylans) has 10 points in every...single...offensive category.

The Moylans are also leading the pitching categories of Wins, ERA, WHIP, and Quality Starts. They are third in the league in Saves, generating 8 points for the category. Finally, they're second in the league in Losses and Strikeouts, good for 9 points each.

Let's do the math. I'm leading 11 of 14 categories. 11 x 10 is 110 points. Two second place categories plus one third place category amounts to 26 more points. 110 + 26 is 136, four points shy of the maximum score possible. 

Again, I cannot begin to describe how absurd this is. Simply thinking about it makes me laugh. I tell my coworkers about it despite the fact that none of them are sports fans, let alone fantasy sports fans. I know I'm boring them and I don't care. This must be what it's like to have an athletic child. 

So what's my secret? Well, it's all pretty much luck of the draw and plain old dumb luck. The league held its annual draft on the last day of March, and I can't say I researched beforehand. I also can't say that I even remembered the draft. Our league commissioner, Brian, was sporting enough to send me a "Where the shit are you?" text as the draft was about to begin. I almost missed the whole thing.

But I drafted well despite my lack of knowledge, and my team, for the most part, has been healthy so far. And my lord, have they been performing. So here it is. I know you're all dying to know my roster. Here it is: the best fantasy baseball team of 2009. Today I'll be going over my offensive lineup. Tomorrow, pitchers.

Catcher: Brian McCann McCann has actually been on the Disabled List for some time with some kind of strange eye infection going on. Apparently eyesight in baseball is important. So the spot of Catcher has been empty ever since he went on the DL. My backup is Matt Wieters, a can't-miss rookie who will be called up by the Orioles at the beginning of June. Right now the phenom is still in the Minors. McCann's Rank: 750
1st Base: Albert Pujols Here's where luck of the draw comes in. Pujols, as you may know if you scroll down a couple of posts, is the apple of my eye. I was lucky enough to land in the perfect spot on the draft board: 2nd overall pick. Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins was taken 1st overall and he's been underperforming so far. Had I gotten 1st pick, I would have picked Ramirez. 3rd pick or later and Pujols is unavailable. But I had the 2nd pick and there he was. On pace for .364 AVG, 61 HRs, 173 RBIs, 156 runs, 22 SBs. Pujols's Rank: 2
2nd Base: Robinson Cano Performing beyond expectations considering the season he had last year. On pace for .333 AVG, 30 HRs, 102 RBIs, and 120 runs. Cano's Rank: 45
Shortstop: Michael Young Batting in the heart of the order for a high-octane Texas Rangers club. On pace for .333 AVG, 42 HRs, 96 RBIs, 126 runs, 12 SBs. Young's Rank: 28
3rd Base: Evan Longoria It's true. I have Pujols and Longoria on the same team. Lock it up. This guy is going have a very, very special career, and I'm lucky enough to have him on my squad in 2009. On pace for .358 AVG, 45 HRs, 195 RBIs(which would shatter the MLB record), and 117 runs. Longoria's Rank: 5
Outfielder: Carl Crawford Turned down scholarship offers to play QB at Nebraska and USC (among others) and point guard at UCLA. Opted to play baseball instead. Good choice. Recently tied a modern-day record with 6 stolen bases in one game. Check out his projected SB numbers. On pace for .302 avg, 0 HRs, 67 RBIs, 95 runs, 112 SBs. Crawford's Rank: 21
Outfielder: Shane Victorino Speedy, hits well, scores in bunches, doesn't strike out. Sign me up. On pace for .306 AVG, 26 HRs, 123 RBIs, 149 runs, 19 SBs. Victorino's Rank: 39
Utility: Aaron Hill Previously unknown Toronto Blue Jays middle infielder is outperforming nearly everyone else in the league. I doubt he'll stay at his current pace, but it's been quite a month for him.Oh, and also, I'd love to say I saw him as a sleeper during our draft, but that's not the case. He was a free agent for weeks until I swooped in on him. He's accumulated most of his stats thus far away from my team. On pace for .366 AVG, 38 HRs, 146 RBIs, 130 runs, 11 SBs. Hill's Rank: 7
Utility: Prince Fielder A notorious slow starter, Prince will be warming up alongside the weather. The fact that I absolutely hate him doesn't change the fact that he can flat-out rake when he's right. On pace for .258 AVG, 29 HRs, 127 RBIs, 69 runs, league-leading 179 strikeouts(hooray). Prince's Rank: 136
Bench: Denard Span D-Nard is my only bench player currently worth mentioning. I have been alternating him and Prince back and forth depending on whether I need Runs, Avg, SBs, and minimal Ks(Span's area) or HRs, RBIs, and OPS(Prince's specialty). But since I'm leading every single category, I've been struggling to decide who to bench. Ha! It's a great problem to have. On pace for .305 AVG, 6 HRs, 81 RBIs, 75 runs, 40 SBs. Span's Rank: 107

Let me reiterate once more that this squad is leading all seven offensive categories, and the rest of the league is actually trying. Absolutely unprecedented. Wow, this post was lengthier than I thought it would be. I must really love my team. If I bored you, again, I don't care. Watch for the pitching roster of the Best Fantasy Baseball Team Ever Built to hit your monitor sometime tomorrow. Until then, as always, my fantasy baseball team is better than your fantasy baseball team.

Summer in Chicago

Today is absolutely ideal Chicago weather. 68 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, slight breeze. Days like this are why Chicagoans tolerate brutal six month winters. Sure, people in LA get this weather every day, but they take it for granted and become numb to it. Screw that. 

Elated at the weather, I decided to walk to the West Loop from Michigan Ave via Jackson. Despite the tank of a laptop slung around my shoulder, I walk at a pretty brisk pace and have timed my trip so that I hit every green light and never have to stop for traffic. 

This warrants mentioning because of what happened at Jackson and Franklin. This is, of course, the southeast corner of the Sears Tower. Every time I walk by it I'm tempted to stare up at it like an idiot tourist and marvel at the scope of what is still the greatest building in the United States. But I never do, since my desire to be recognized and accepted as a Chicagoan overwhelms my childlike wonder. 

Suppressing my inner tourist, I was walking quickly across Franklin. There was a pretty huge truck and a cab behind it waiting for me to cross so they could turn left from Jackson onto Franklin. Let it be known the walk signal was flashing orange, so I still had the right of way. The truck passed behind me, and the cabbie (a late 20s, dark haired white guy) passed me soon after, and as he did, he gave me a little greeting.

Now, I was listening to The Who and couldn't hear much, but I can definitely read lips, and I am 100% positive that the cabbie yelled "Move your ass, bitch!" at me before speeding down Franklin. 

This forthcoming message is preceded by two assumptions. One, that the cabbie has stumbled upon my blog(likely). Two, that the cabbie is literate(not likely).

Let me tell you something, my friend. You obviously had your window down as you passed, so you knew how great it was outside. If you can't enjoy a day like today, the perfect Chicago day, then you'd better just off yourself right now and end your misery. I'm sorry that you work seven 12 hour shifts each week. I'm sorry you hate your job. Here's a wacky notion for you; try to wrap your apelike brain around it. People who hate their jobs quit them and find something better. Oh, we're in a recession? Then further whatever education you have by going back to school. It's not that difficult. If you hate your job so much, quit. Don't douche it up in a yellow cab, hollering at pedestrians and likely running others down. 

I know this sounds crazy, but you can get paid to do something you love. Instead of being a chicken shit, drive-by asshole, have some courage, quit your job, and get happy. It's 68 degrees outside, and the sun is shining. It's about time you enjoyed days like this one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Celebrity Baby Name Analysis: Ashby O'Dell

I was riding into work this morning via the glorious Chicago Transit Authority, listening to Adam Carolla's podcast to subdue the overwhelming despair that is my life. It's an incredible podcast, by the way. Carolla is a pro. Someone can give him a subject(sunflowers, for example), and he will proceed to bitch about it until he's stopped. Seriously, he can go for 20 minutes. It's incredible. He's slightly racist, severely sexist, and totally unapologetic. He's the best.

Anyway, his radio show was recently cancelled, hence the podcast. The one I was listening to today starred Carolla and his old radio buds, Teresa Strasser and "Bald" Bryan Bishop. I quickly found out that Teresa is pregnant (for the first time) and finally showing! Yayyyyy!!! She then shared a great story about a particularly brutal stretch in her first trimester. 

Here's the exchange. It's too good to paraphrase...

Teresa: However, someone gave me Nancy O'Dell's book...
Carolla: Uh 0h...
Teresa: I was like 'You f&%king c@%t! I hate you! This whole book is about your total lack of pregnancy symptoms! Like, I'm reading it in the tub in the middle of the night because im so f&%king nautious. I'm eating cereal in a tub because I have to eat every second or I'll be throwing up, and her whole book is about how the only things that she noticed was her skin was really glowing and her hair got even more lustrous and fuller! You f&%king bitch, I hate you! I hate you!'

Nancy O'Dell is the beauty queen co-host of Access Hollywood, and her book is called Full of Life. Sounds like a wonderful read. Let's check out O'Dell's background on Wiki, just for esses and geez. Born in South Carolina. Graduated high school in South Carolina. Became a KKG sister and graduated from Clemson, which happens to be in South Carolina. In other words, it's not a coincidence that Nancy O'Dell rhymes with southern belle. 

Her daughter was born sometime last year, and she named her Ashby.

Ashby. Not Ashley. Ashby.

Upon initial analysis, this seems like a really, really stupid choice, yet another celebrity parent who's full of herself and christens her one-of-a-kind, completely unique little miracle with a name that no other person would possibly choose. 

On a side note, we get it, celebrity parents. You're important. We understand that you feel your new babies are more incredible and unique than our babies, which is why you give them incredible and unique names. You name your sons Seven Sirius, Banjo, Free, Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue, Hud, Spec Wildhorse, Kal-el(which is Superman's birth name), and of course, Audio Science. You name your daughters Puma, Sailor, Alcamy, Makena'lei, Moon Unit, Diva Muffin, Little Pixie, Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom, and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. It's worth mentioning that all of these names are incredibly real. Google them. They actually exist.

Also, those last four daughter names all came from the same mother. In a freak coincidence, she died of a heroin overdose. Fifi Trixibelle? Really, you dead druggie? Are we naming children or chihuahuas?

So back to Ashby. Comparing it to the names I just listed, it suddenly doesn't seem so bad. In fact, if we dig a little deeper, it might even be genius. For this name to work, we need to assume two things: first, that Ashby will become a good looking child/adult. Second, Ashby will be proud of her name.

If these two conditions hold true, Ashby will have the upper hand in every meeting and first impression she faces. Here's how thousands of conversations will go for her.

Ashby: Hi, I'm Ashby.
Person Who's Never Heard the Name Ashby Before: ...Ashley?
Ashby: (Small, almost indiscernible eye roll) No, it's Ashby. Kind of like Ashley, except not at all.
PWNHtNAB: Oh, I'm so sorry! Here, let me buy you a drink/rose/scarf/Range Rover.

And the upper hand is hers. Nancy O'Dell is a genius.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Love Pooholes.

Yes, I'm aware it's spelled Pujols. I just wanted to give Dr. Freud's decayed corpse something to get excited about. The fact is, I love the St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman so much that I've composed a sonnet for him. I will soon mail it to him along with some bedazzled denim and a vial of my blood. I'm only kind of kidding. And no, you cannot see the sonnet. 

I said no! 

Okay, fine.

His swing makes me happier than pigs are in poo
When he connects on first-pitch fastballs,
No one rakes like King Albert, it's true,
He's the monarch whose bombs scale walls.
His approach at the plate is an odd one indeed,
It's a method that can contradict,
His calm, quiet stance quickly is freed
By a tempest that would make Shakespeare shit.
And so, as another white pill starts its trek
To Big Mac Land, to feed the obese,
A feeling of shame turns me into a wreck
Despite his power display that won't cease.
For while he is, let's face it, The Man
I remain a die-hard Cubs fan. 

That was thoroughly creepy, huh? I'm glad we got that out of the way. The reason I'm so conflicted is that Pujols keeps my fantasy baseball team firmly in first place because of what he's doing to the hopes of my real baseball team. The man cannot be stopped, folks. Let's look at where he ranks a month into the 2009 season in the 7 offensive categories my fantasy league tracks. All of these ranks encompass all of Major League Baseball.

Runs: 22 (4th)
HR: 8 (t-3rd)
RBI: 28 (1st)
SB: 4 (t-23rd)
K: 7
AVG: .337 (t-22nd)
OPS: 1.132 (8th)

I mean, come on. The guy is ridiculous. The runs, home runs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS (on-base % + slugging %) are all expected. What I can't get over is how rarely Pujols strikes out(to put it in perspective, Prince Fielder, another NL Central slugger, currently has 3 home runs, 15 RBIs, and an NL-leading 27 strikeouts) and the fact that Pujols, who has no shortage of mass, has 4 stolen bases already. This is the same number as Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, Derek Jeter, and Alfonso Soriano. 

All of these incredible stats are good enough to make Albert Pujols the current #2 player in fantasy baseball, behind only the Royals' Zack Greinke. Oh, and Greinke is on my squad, too.