Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poor Ol' Rocky Top...

Ninety-nine years it took Tennessee's men's basketball team to attain the top spot in the NCAA. Something like 2,754 games? All that and the poor bastards couldn't even stay there longer than a day-and-a-half. Of course, they get the honor for a week, by virtue of the poll's release date. But now, rather than being a prideful exclamation mark signifying that men really are good at basketball too, it will serve as an albatross until they are inevitably overtaken on Monday afternoon.

Honestly, I can't say that I really gave the telecast my undivided attention. Like everyone else, I pretty much knew that the Vols weren't going to hang in Vandy. What's more insulting than the fact that they ever even attained the top spot in the nation is the fact that they won't even get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. If you asked me right now, those honors would have to go to Memphis, UNC, Kansas and UCLA. It's not so much a wins-and-losses argument as it is who's just plain better. Don't get me wrong, none of the four mentioned are unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination. None of them have even distanced themselves enough to be called a favorite. There are about a dozen teams that could make a run to San Antonio, which is great for college basketball.

But the bottom line is that Tennessee just doesn't have what it takes to consistently win big games. They are forever getting ousted in the SEC tourney as well as at the NCAA's. And after their loss at Vanderbilt on Monday, there is just no reason to think this year will be any different.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well, well, well...

Isn't it ironic that the day after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's jab at North Carolina's injury report hits the news, his team would travel to Miami and watch his team get its ass beat? You can talk all you want about "the comeback," but a comeback isn't a comeback unless you get a W in the end. Duke, of course, didn't.

If my memory serves me correctly (and it does), the rival Tar Heels won by 16 at Coral Gables. Of course, each game is different. I'm smart enough not to pull the "we beat the team Duke lost to by a lot so we must be way better than them" crap, but a healthy UNC beats a healthy Duke by double-digits seven out of 10 times. So, while I said in the post following UNC's loss to Duke at home that I wasn't going to pull the injury card, I've been appalled by how many Dookies seem to think that Duke would've won regardless of whether Lawson played or not. Seriously, Lawson has six more turnovers than backup point Quentin Thomas ... IN 200 MORE MINUTES! Not to mention the fact that his 13.5 points per game erase an 11-point deficit.

Anyway, Dook lost to Miami for the first time in 45 years. I love it. It better not slip against N.C. State prior to hosting the presumably healthy Tar Heels on March 8. Otherwise they can kiss the state of North Carolina goodbye when the NCAA tourney begins.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Johan Santana will win 30 games this season

Yep, that's right. You heard it here first. It hasn't been done since the Year of the Pitcher, 1968, when Denny McClain of the world champion Detroit Tigers won 31. That same year, Bob Gibson had an astounding 1.12 ERA, the best ever for a starting pitcher. The pitching was so good that year, in fact, that Major League Baseball made the decision to lower the mound to 12-inches. The numbers have rarely come close since.

Well, that's all about to change. Here's why:

Last season, Santana was 15-13 with the Minnesota Twins and the Twinkies were 17-16 in games that he started. In the games in which he received a loss, or a no decision in which his team went on to lose, the Twins came up an average of 2.25 runs short. In Santana's losses and no decisions, his team scored just 2.5 runs per game. That doesn't account for the support lended specficially to him. So, in the 18 games in which he lost or did not factor in the decision, his impressive 3.33 ERA was undermined by his team's anemic offense. The Twins finished 12th in the AL in runs per game, averaging 4.4.

His new team, the New York Mets, have no such difficulties, finishing 4th in the NL, averaging just fewer than five runs per contest (4.96). Might not seem like much, but it is. Four-and-a-half runs in the AL is probably about 3.75 in the NL. A 3.33 ERA would be much lower also. All of this numerical jargon equates to Santana having the kind of season that baseball hasn't seen in decades.

Therefore, when Santana wins his 30th game in his last start of the regular season, I'm sending this to PTI. My projected line for Santana:

30 2 2.04 240.3 0.89 273 48

Davis dealt to Hakeem Bumped Starks

Good Lourdes! is again making headlines again, this time dealing Golden State point guard, and all-star snub, Baron Davis and Washington center Brendan Haywood to Hakeem Bumped Starks for Phoenix all-star point guard Steve Nash and Philadelphia center Samuel Delambert. As of the all-star break, I'm on the verge of picking up about nine points during the next couple of weeks which is huge with about 30 games left in the regular season. The deal breaks even in 3-pointers, where I'm virtually guaranteed to move from seven points to 13 by season's end. The other intriguing stat is assists, where the bonus from Nash should get me over the hump. That should move me from eight points to as high as 13. Good Lourdes! currently sits in a tie for seventh with 71 points. That said, the league's top two teams, at 90 and 86 are on the verge of hitting their maximum games limit at several positions in a matter of 2-3 weeks, so they should fall from grace just in time for my late season run.

The most important reason for getting Davis moved before the March 5 trade deadline was the fact that Davis has not played a full season in the past seven - averaging just 47 games during that span. Given the fact that he's already played 52 games and is averaging more than 39 minutes per, it's time to sell high. Davis has played in more than 52 games just three times in the last seven seasons, including 54 in 2005-06. While I feel that my team was in great shape statistically with Davis leading the way, I'm not willing to bank on him not hitting the injury report down the stretch.

Monday, February 18, 2008


It's fantasy baseball season. Well, almost. But I consider it so whenever Yahoo! lets me sign up. I'm questionable when it comes to fantasy football and basketball, I'll admit, but baseball is different. I'll take on anybody.

This year I'll get to see how good I really am. I'm joining a keeper league that has 10 teams and drafts from an NL only pool. I'm taking over a team ... one that's completely awful:

Inside Out

Player MLB Salary
Schneider, Brian C NYM A 1 A
Snyder, Chris C ARI A 1 A
Belliard, Ronnie 2B WAS A 1 A
Durham, Ray 2B SF A 10 A
Ensberg, Morgan 3B NYY M 26 B
Furcal, Rafael SS LA A 30 B
Rollins, Jimmy SS PHI A 26 A
Tracy, Chad 3B ARI A 13 A
Berkman, Lance 1B HOU A 21 C
Branyan, Russell 3B STL U 1 A
Conine, Jeff 1B NYM U 1 A
McLouth, Nate CF PIT A 7 A
Mench, Kevin RF TEX M 1 A
Spilborghs, Ryan CF COL A 10 A
Bell, Heath RP SD A 10 A
Davis, Doug SP ARI A 13 A
Hernandez, Orlando SP NYM A 8 A
Isringhausen, Jason RP STL A 26 C
Johnson, Randy SP ARI A 21 A
Looper, Braden SP STL A 10 A
Patton, Troy SP BAL A 7 A
Stults, Eric SP LA A 7 A
Williams, Woody SP HOU A 1 B
Willis, Dontrelle SP DET A 30 B
TOTALS Active: 24, Active Salary: 282, Total Salary: 282

All of the contracts are current as of the end of last year, so each has advanced to the year beyone what you see. In Lehman's terms, everyone you see with a C contract is gone. I have to keep a minimum of seven players and a max of 15. Needless to say, I'm going with the former.

My keepers are: Jimmy Rollins, Orlando Hernandez, Ray Durham, Brian Schneider, Chris Snyder, Braden Looper and Nate McLouth.

That gives me $217 of cap space to fill the extremely large amount of holes that I have. First on the list of potential acquisitions is, of course, Johan Santana. Looks like he's gonna go $40+, though, so nabbing him is far from a guarantee. As of now, my alternative is Marlins LHP Andrew Miller, whom I watched lead the North Carolina Tar Heels to a runner-up finish in the College World Series in 2006. Of course, the talent of the two is hardly comparable at this point, but Miller is sure to get a spot in the rotation and sure to be a heckuva lot cheaper than Santana. If he pans out, then I should have about a $15 lefty for three years.

Some of the big name free agents are as follows:

Carlos Lee
Aaron Harang
Jason Isringhausen
Brian McCann
Ryan Howard
Matt Holliday
Willy Taveras
Jeff Francoeur
David Wright
Ken Griffey
Ryan Dempster
Brad Penny
Andruw Jones
John Smoltz
Chad Cordero

As you can see, there are only 15 notable players that are guaranteed to be available. Drop lists are due about two weeks before the draft, which is March 29, so that is sure to add to the pool, but I'm gonna need some serious help on the mound. That will pretty much force my hand on either Santana or Miller depending on how my money looks. Hopefully people won't be to giddy and bring up Santana's name first, though that's highly unlikely.

Either way, I'm guaranteeing a finish of sixth or better. Considering the wretched team I've inherited, I don't think that's half bad.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Clemens is in deep doo-doo

Dude, Roger Clemens is getting grilled by Elijah E. Cummings right now and it's not looking good for Clemens. He has repeatedly been asked by Cummings if he realized that he was under oath, to which he keeps responding "I do." Despite the heat, Clemens keeps denying openly and definitively that he ever used HGH. Despite that, the testimony of Andy Pettitte completely refutes everything that Clemens is saying. They might not bust him for PED's, but perjury looks inevitable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

UNC takes a Dookie on home court

Well, it's been a couple days now. The loss still hurts, but all things considered, I guess I'm ready to move on. First things first - I'm not going to bitch about North Carolina guard Ty Lawson not playing. If I went to Dook, and my most important player weren't playing, and we lost, I'd be crying a river about the only reason why we lost is because said player wasn't in the lineup. Tar Heels are better than that, so let's take a look at what sent UNC to the loss column.

Foremost, Dook was lights out. Easily their best performance of the year. They outscored UNC by 30 from the 3-point line, isolating North Carolina's largest defensive weakness. That was the difference, plain and simple. You give me another game when the Blue Devils have shot 30 3's and hit 45 percent of them and I won't call it a fluke.

A quick glance at the numbers might suggest that senior Quentin Thomas played well in the absence of the injured Lawson. Thomas scored 10 points to go with seven assists. But if you think that's a respectable line, you clearly weren't watching the game. Thomas cost the Tar Heels, big time. His six turnovers were five more than Lawson had in the previous three games! And Lawson had 20 assists during that span. The game was a continuum of potential game-changing posessions and it never seemed that UNC could convert when it needed to, largely because Thomas has an incomprehensible need to leave his feet before finding someone to pass the ball to. That said, we all knew we were in trouble with QT. Personally, I love him anyway. He's just not cut out to lead one of the best teams in the nation, much less against Dook.

Another problem, and maybe I'm whining a little here, was Deon Thompson's foul trouble. Overall, I have to say that the game was very well officiated. I think each team caught its share of breaks and there was no one call that really stood out as being awful. But I do feel that some of the touch fouls whistled against Thompson were unnecessary and cost the Tar Heels in the long run. Thompson looked great, as he has several times recently. But his 12 points came in just 18 minutes and two or three of the fouls called against hime were 40 feet from the basket. I feel that in a game of this magnitude, you have to let the teams play.

Considering everything that happened, I feel confident that the Tar Heels can rectify their loss come March 8. Presumably Lawson will be up and running again by then and Dook simply has no answer whatsoever for him. Paulus couldn't guard Ty Lawson if the court were a 4x4 square, let alone on the break. And we all know that Paulus will never go 6-for-8 from 3 again in his life.

Merry Christmas New Jersey!