Friday, October 29, 2010

The World Series, 2 Games In

This is unbelievable. Even when I came up with my initial analysis, I didn't have the Giants this far ahead on paper. Relative value things can be a bit iffy anyways, but even then, the Giants were just ahead. And if you compared their lineups on paper, I would have taken Texas. (By the way, I believe relative results in the last series is more indicative of future success)

So how do you digest 20 Giants runs in two games, more than their total during a six game series against the Phillies. And its not like the Rangers have gimps for pitches. I know some of the bullpen decisions were questionable (at best), but still, 11 runs one night, 9 runs the other, in the World Series? With a litany of errors? With Josh Hamilton unable to get hits (1 for 8)? I mean, what the heck is going on. Obviously the Giants have taken charge with the opportunities they've been given, they've played professionally, hard, mentally tough. But aren't the Rangers tough? They beat the Yankees off toughness, and now all that's gone? What the heck?

Maybe its the baseball gods. Maybe they're finally rewarding a franchise for suffering through Game 6 against the Angels. Maybe we're finally leaving the shadow of the Bonds era. Maybe Texas will get its due next year. But for all intents and purposes, we don't know why or what is happening now. Right now, it is largely believable that San Francisco can win in 4. I really don't know, so you make the call.

Monday, October 25, 2010

World Series Preview

To start off, I'll admit that I'm a Giants fan. I loved them because of my nonsensical attraction to Bay Area sports, loved them through the good years (Bonds homering off everyone) and the bad years (a wrenching Game 7 WS loss to the Angels after a crushing Game 6, followed by Bonds' steroid farce). But I've loved them, even when their best player was one Jason Schmidt.

So there is not a chance that this column is going to be non-biased. But hey, in the end, I can make my arguments, but you make the calls.

As far as the calls: I'm going to say Giants in 6, and here's why:

  • Hitting the Phillies seems to be more impressive than hitting the Yankees. Sure the Yankees have CC, but the Phillies have Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels. I know that the Giants never dominated their games like the Rangers did, but I think that is more a testament to the Yankees' bullpen than anything (and by testament, I mean condemnation).
  • Calming the Yankees lineup seems to be more impressive that taming the Phillies. Jeter, A-Rod, Tex, Cano, Granderson. But Tex was injured and ineffective. And Victorino, Utley, Werth? I mean, these guys are no slouches. They are (to me) the foxhole guys, guys that find ways to contribute. I know that the Yankees traditionally turn things on in October, but I think a WS hangover and the crumbling confidence down the stretch ultimately took a lot of the bite out of the lineup, making the Rangers wins less impressive.
  • Candlestick park. Read the story on Yahoo! Sports about sending Guerrero to the outfield in order to get him in the lineup. I think the Rangers have to deal more with the whole defensive issue. I know other AL teams have succeeded in the past without their DH, but I think here, it makes things interesting because really, do you want Vlad chasing up that deep fly?
And that's it. I don't know that either team really has an advantage, but in the World Series, I see pitching ruling, and I think the Giants have a little extra. I think the Rangers are going to be well prepared (especially with Molina catching), but when the games get close, you need to have aces.

All in all, this should be fun. I like the history (or non-history, if you will) behind these two teams. I love Lee v. Lincecum. I love this time of year. I want the Giants, but who knows: you make the call.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Harrison v. Meriweather

If James Harrison wants to retire because he doesn't know how to hit, far be it for me to stop him. I don't know what he's all up in arms about. He led with his helmet, made a dangerous play, and the NFL fined him (and should have suspended him). If he wants to walk away because he can't wrap up, cut him loose.

On the flip side, Brandon Meriweather handled this the exactly correct way. He said he was sorry for causing injury, and said that he had spoken to Heap (whereas Harrison goes into games trying to hurt people). He said that it was an instinctive play (it was), and that in the future, he has to be more careful about hitting lower. He accepted his punishment and moved on to the Chargers game. It's kind of funny that the Patriots organization, while not all class-acts, do things professionally, and usually for the benefit of the team on issues where other teams would choose to fall apart. I don't even like the Patriots.

Should Harrison retire? Should he be suspended? You make the call.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thoughts on NFL Week 6

So the NFL is finally getting serious about concussions, eh? Good. We'll see if this emphasis on flagging for dangerous behavior works. For all the so-called football "purists," I want to say this: eliminating the helmet to helmet contact brings football back to its roots. Only in the modern era have helmets (especially in the secondary) become such a weapon. And blows to the head in the secondary are happening more and more because of the emphasis on the passing game. Football has changed, and rules need to change with the game. I second Gregg Easterbrook's notion that tacklers should see what they hit. I think that if the do, defenders will find themselves making more tackles due to seeing the offensive player and properly wrap up. You can still hit hard. Ed Reed is a great example of a tough player who hits hard and who I don't think is dirty. He hits people hard in the chest with a full view of what he is hitting--exactly how it should be. Can you be more "pure" than Ed Reed? You make the call.

Twins at Yankees, ALCS Game 3

I had a feeling that not pitching CC was a mistake. In the top of the 7th, it has been. Not because Burnett really stunk, but because he only lasted 5 innings. What that means is that for the last 4 innings, the Yankees have had to rely on their bullpen. And their bullpen sucks. It has since last year, and has tonight. They just can't get through innings 6, 7, and 8, and that is a huge mistake. They need CC available 3 times every series because there simply are not 2 other wins in the rotation. Pettite will get one. But Hughes? An enigma, especially after Game 2. And this guy has never been huge in the post season. So they need CC. You make the call...Girardi has the benefit of every doubt, but still, you make the call.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Xing Li Coaches Fantasy Football: Auction Drafting

Yeah, I know, I'm behind the times. This year was my first year participating in auction drafting for fantasy football. I know that the national sports czar (Bill Simmons) has preached the virtue of the auction for years, but I've been reluctant, mainly because I've been crazy effective at snake drafts. I admit that I was afraid of going away from something that would give me 1-2 titles a year (out of 3 teams).

But I wanted to try it. Just one couldn't hurt. And you know what? I loved it so much, that I drafted 2 more auction teams (2 on ESPN, 2 on Yahoo! Sports). I loved it because I got a team that I fell in love with and could really support my guys. Sometimes in snake drafts, guys luck into players (like CJ) via their draft position, and there is nothing you can do about it. Or maybe I've done my homework on a guy, and think he is a value, but because I can't pick for 21 selections, he's off the board. I can't draft at just the right time, instead needing to find value at my position. And usually I do (which leads to titles), but still, I'm not in love with my guys.

With the auction, all that changed. I am in love with my teams. They are the right guys at the right values. I have full confidence in my homework and that what I am doing is right. So what about my results?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thoughts on NFL Week 4

First, I have to get this off my chest. TJ Ward is an idiot and a dirty player. He should be fined and suspended. Instead, because the league doesn't really care about concussions and because his coach has no decision making power (really, you think Mangini holds the reigns over Holmsgren?), he will get away with little punishment. He even had the brashness to go to the media saying he would do it again. Roger Goodell should see that a raise his suspension from one to three games.

Why this outrage, you ask? In case you didn't see, TJ Ward laid a vicious hit on fellow rookie Jordan Shipley, when he aimed directly for Shipley's head. There is a video of it on YouTube; I have not put it up because the owners of said video apparently thought hitting an unprotected receiver in the head is some form of bravery (they are sick). Anyways, Shipley came out of the game with a concussion, and will miss the next game as well. I hate football players getting injured. There are some legit plays where defensive (or offensive) players play hard, make good hits, and sometimes, those lead to injuries. But when you are playing with malice in your heart, you shed that level of professionalism that entitles you to play the game.