Posted on: May 22, 2008 10:12 am
Edited on: May 22, 2008 10:14 am

There Are No Songs About Thursdays

I'm guessing you were lazy and just drive through Burger King this morning, picking up a sausage/egg/cheese croissanwich, with hash rounds, coffee -- and an order of the Cinni-minis because you couldn't resist. Here's Your Morning Constitutional:
  1. A-Rod homers twice, gets credit for just one: Despite hitting two balls out of the park, Alex Rodriguez was rewarded with just one homer and a double (the ball bounced off some outfield steps before returning the field and unjustly credited as a double by the umps). My Tout Wars team was quite upset over the ruling. But he has four hits, two homers, four RBI and three runs scored in his two games since returning from his quad injury.
  2. Joba Chamberlain begins to get stretched out for the rotation: The big Nebraskan threw two innings Wednesday and the Yankees will try to give him more innings in each outing, but you have to expect he'll take a trip to the minors for a couple of starts. His ownership has gone up from 79 to 84 percent in CBSSports.com leagues.
  3. Jason Taylor's career in Miami is likely over: J.T. won't be attending team activities, which signals the end of his Dolphins career. I can hear the phone calls now from Bill Parcells to other teams: "Hey, remember when I laughed at you for that trade offer you made on Draft Day for Taylor? ... Well, I'll take it! And I'll get Tony Sparano to get an autographed pic of Sylvio for you as well." Way to get less for a commodity, Fins.
  4. The Falcons acquire Tony Gonzalez and Jamal Lewis in monumental day: This wide receiver and safety won't have the same effect as the more famous Tony Gonzalez and Jamal Lewis, but still! Someone wanted to play for Atlanta!?! That's a coup in itself.
  5. The Rays look good on the new cover of Sports Illustrated: Our media relations guy, Alex Riethmiller, texted me yesterday to tell me about the new cover of SI. It's in comic-book style, with a Rays player holding Derek Jeter over his head, with the headline, "Bizarro Baseball!" Then I went to SI.com to look at it yesterday -- and I couldn't find it on their site. Nice marketing, boys. It might be up there by now.
  6. One player hit by pitch, one pitcher hit by batted pitch: Chipper had to leave Wednesday's game after getting plunked in the right ankle, but he hopes to be able to play on Thursday in the series finale against the Mets. Chris R. Young took an Albert Pujols' line drive in the face and had to leave his start in the third inning. He's questionable for his next start Tuesday, so whoever might replace him could see a two-start week.
  7. Bartolo Colon takes a break from the buffet, pitches five innings vs. Royals for a win: After a long wait, we finally got to see Colon make his Red Sox debut -- allowing six hits, two runs and two walks in five innings against Kansas City Wednesday. His ownership has climbed up 19 percent in the past week to 67 percent. He'll be a two-start pitcher in Week 9 (at Seattle, vs. Baltimore).
  8. The 2008 American Idol winner is David ... : That's how many people's Tivo's cut off the end of last night's finale. Cook is the winner, while Archuleta goes back to being an expensive underperforming safety in my dynasty IDP league for the last season of my stupid four-year contract with him.
  9. Speaking of David's you care about: I'm doing well. The other David you care about, David Price, is set to make his pro debut Thursday night for Class A Vero Beach. He has battled shoulder issues and an elbow strain in recent weeks. He struck out 10 batters in five innings in an extended spring training game Sunday. He even struck out A-Rod -- and served up a homer to him. The Rays' pitching staff is currently deep, so they can afford to remain cautious with the No. 1 overall pick from 2007.
  10. Thomas Diamond pitches in a game for the first time in 14 months: The last remaining DVD prospect left in the Rangers' organization pitched 4 2/3 innings for Double-A Frisco Wednesday night. Diamond underwent Tommy John surgery early last season. He allowed six runs on four hits and four walks, to go with five strikeouts. He was hit hard in the first inning, which can be written off for nerves. He's a 25-year-old prospect that was a first-round pick in 2004. The Rangers named him their Minor League Player of the Year in 2005.
Posted on: May 12, 2008 7:31 am
Edited on: May 14, 2008 10:46 am

Brian Shouse is in the House!

While you indulge in your Big Texas Cinnamon Roll (winner of Pastry of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2006) along with your second cup of mediocre office coffee, here's what you need to know happened this weekend while you were taking your son and daughter to Little League and ballet practice (not necessarily in that order):

  1. Managers are playing, "Which shell has the closer under it?" screwing up Fantasy teams in Mike Shanahan-like fashion everywhere: This time it's Jason Isringhausen and Eric Gagne getting the hooks for their respective clubs. So Brian Shouse gets a one-out save, helped by Salomon Torres, and Ryan Franklin trades in holds for saves and 6x6 owners are beside themselves. Once again, the closer position ruins many a-team if their draft picks weren't spent wisely. Even Jon Papelbon has a couple blown saves in the past week or so.Dan Uggla.
  2. San Antonio, Los Angeles, Utah and New Orleans are all tied up at 2-2-2-2: Kobe plays through a back injury, yet Sunday's OT loss likely hurts a little more this morning.
  3. O.J. Mayo might have received money and gifts in high school before coming to USC: Also filed under "Really? You think?" -- Fantasy writers might have eaten more donuts than they should have this weekend, someone might have looked twice at Amber Wilson, and my bank account is very low.
  4. Manny Ramirez didn't start Sunday off to rest a sore hamstring: The rumors that this happened while legging out one of his famous one-base doubles are unfounded.
  5. Dan Uggla wins Player of the Weekend: The Marlins stocky second baseman, picked up off of the Rule V Draft from Arizona a couple years ago, smashed three homers and knocked in seven runs (while batting .500) in a three-game series at Washington.
  6. Boomer Wells thinks he can help the Yankees: Apparently, the Yankees saw Wells pitch with the Padres and Dodgers last season. So much for that plan. And for the record, I doubt Wells could help our softball team (playoffs Wednesday, baby!)
  7. Dave Richard's streak is OVER at nine: With a chance at being funny for 10 days in a row, and getting his sign taken down in my cube, Richard choked and couldn't come up with a funny on Friday. The counter resets to zero this afternoon.
  8. Deron Williams, it's pronounced DARRin according to Sergio Gonzalez, is in great company: With four playoff games of 20-plus points and 10 or more assists, the Jazz point guard is second only to John Stockton with six career 20-10 playoff games. What's in the water in Utah that makes people wanna help others? I need to find a Mormon mechanic.
  9. Vernon Wells leaves my Tout Wars team for 6-8 weeks with a wrist injury: The Jays were thinking ahead when they obtained Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench and Dane Iorg on Friday. Meanwhile, my Tout team's offensive lead will begin to dwindle away, as I expected it would after a great start.
  10. The Tampa Bay Rays have a 9-game winning streak at The Trop: From the incessant cowbell ringing, to the annoying "G-rated heckler," to the din of playing baseball in your grandpa's carport, the Rays have swept the Red Sox, Blue Jays and now the Angels in three straight series at home.
  11. Parvati upsets Amanda in Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites finale: So much for seeing Parvati in Playboy anytime soon.
Posted on: March 29, 2008 11:56 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2008 12:13 am

Saturday Cartoons Blog (Complete)

Let's Talk Saturday Morning Cartoons
I had some time late Saturday night, so I thought I'd blog about the most important thing in my life from 6-12 years old.

I'm 36 years old, which means that I grew up (from 6-15 years old) in the perfect Saturday Morning Cartoon time period of 1977-86. Five years earlier (1971) and there are way fewer cartoons available to watch on Saturday (There wasn't even any electric back then!) And five later (1991), after the cable boom, and I'm the Looney Tunes were already starting to be phased out by politically correct censors. Come on, I still wouldn't know what an anvil is to this day had I not watched those cartoons. They were educational! Sure, a kid would try to do a Wile E. Coyote off a cliff every now and then, but really -- if he was that dumb, wouldn't he have been outwitted by a lawnmower or a garbage disposal later in life? Looney Tunes just helped our lives by getting dumb children out of school and off the roads as adults.

Also, during my cartoon-watching tenure in the late 70s, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour became The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show -- once CBS decided to add 30 minutes to the cartoon block.

Here's how I remember Saturday mornings in the Gonos household in the late 70s: I'd wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning and immediately run to the television. From what I remember, Sunday through Monday was much tougher to get me out of bed. Sure, Inspector Gadget on a Tuesday morning had its appeal, but let's get real, I was 11 or 12 years old at that point and Gadget's voice was Don Adams -- or Tennessee Tuxedo, who often quipped, "Phineas J. Whoopee, you're the greatest!" I realize now in life that I happen to look more like Chumley than I do Tuxedo, and I have no idea who Phineas J. Whoopee is, but I bet he's cool. (Keeping along that same thread, Sherman, Mr. Peabody and the Wabac Machine have already made an appearance in one of my columns over the past couple seasons. That whole grouping of cartoons was a fantastic one. I think they were on in the early 70s, but I don't remember much of them in the 80s.)

Anyway, I'd wake up pretty darn early, eschew breakfast, get the TV going (remember, back then, they were mostly just big console TVs without cable, and you had to click the huge nob to the right channel. I was indeed in red footy pajamas that I had to step into and zip up. Once I outgrew them, like a month later, my Mom took the ol' scissors out and just like that, they were no longer footy pajamas.

Now when you got up that early, you usually had to sit through a good number of crap cartoons before the good ones began. You always had some of those stupid claymation cartoons where they were always trying to "teach" you something. Look, just give me some cartoon animals that talk with speech impediments, a handful of explosives, rejuvenating lives and I'm fine.

Around the time "Overture, curtains, lights! This is it, you'll hit the heights!" was sung by Bugs, Daffy Duck and friends, my parents would slowly begin to wake up from their drunken slumber from the night before. (By the way, am I the only kid that would march around the livign room -- trying to be quiet -- singing the "Overture, curtains, lights" song out loud?) My dad would give me some paint chips to chew on until breakfast was made, and my mom would toss some poorly made toys my way with loose pieces just small enough to fit in my esophagus. How great was it to be a kid in the 70s!?! It was basically an unwritten rule with my parents, they knew that Saturday mornings were the only thing I lived for as a kid, so it was rare that a chore was asked to be done before 11am or so.

As much as I loved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Sylvester, let's not forget some other Saturday morning favorites:

Fat Albert -- Between this cartoon and Kool-Aid commercials, every fat kid in the land was scared of wearing an orange or red tshirt for fear of hearing someone yell, "Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Faaaaat Albert!" or "Hey Kool-Aid!!!" But why did Dumb Donald have eyeholes cut out of his ski cap? I never got that.
Josie and the Pussycats -- I remember liking this show ... a lot. And not really knowing why. I'd find out a couple years later.
Superfriends -- Let's get something straight. I like the Superfriends. Later in life I learned to love the Superfriends (especially Wonder Woman -- see Josie and the Pussycats). But they happened to be on at the same time as Bugs Bunny, so here I am, looking stupid in my red non-footy pajamas with holes in the knee that have been sewn over two or three times now, with no TiVo or DVR, and I'm forced to make a decision between Bugs Bunny and Superfriends. I learned every Saturday morning, my friends, that life was not fair.
Pink Panther -- He was OK, but really, I loved that Aardvark voiced by Jackie Mason -- that's a classic right there.
The Smurfs -- Look, I know I was too old to be watching The Smurfs at age 11 and 12. I'm not proud of it by any means. But come on, you gotta watch something Saturday mornings when you're 11!
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? -- I remember watching this more after school than on Saturdays for some reason. Either way, it jumped the shark once Scrappy showed up.
Spiderman and His Amazing Friends -- Later, when I was like 20, Marvel came out with an X-Men cartoon Saturday mornings too. AWESOME, I loved them all. But Ice-Man, on this 80s cartoon, was my absolute favorite, hip, cool superhero. Firestar was hot, too.
Dungeons and Dragons -- Dumb game for nerds, but what a great cartoon! My cousin Richard and I would watch this faithfully.
The Wacky Races and the Laff-a-Lympics -- They deserve a blog thread all on their own for making an All-Star game for cartoons -- BRILLIANT!!!

Another point I'd like to make, is that after seeing this webpage devoted to TV I like from this era, is that ABC and CBS were really the only guys that were in serious competition for my cartoon-viewing patronage. NBC tried to compete with "Godzilla," "The Fantastic Four" and "Kroft Superstars." Before I get thousands of emails from the Krofft Superstars apologists out there, let me say I didn't hate it. But as far as that as a Saturday lineup? [Put hand to mouth, make farting sound]

CBS had Bugs Bunny, ABC had Schoolhouse Rock. There were no other channels as far as I was concerned. (Well, literally, there were no other channels, since FOX wasn't invented yet, and our nob was broke and wouldn't reach NBC.)

Wow, doing all these searches online, I just came across this book: Saturday Morning Fever. Here's what the end of the synopsis reads: "Little did you know that this cherished world was also the battleground where greedy toy advertisers, network flacks, cutthroat cartoon companies, opportunistic politicians, and concerned parents struggled for the attention-deficit souls of America's youth.Brothers Tim and Kevin Burke bring us a loving, insightful, and hilarious examination of all aspects of Saturday morning television. Tune in and get ready for some fun." I MUST GET THIS BOOK!!! That sounds awesome! We can get it at Half.com for like $5 ... SWEET!

Here are my Top Five Schoolhouse Rocks:
  1. Conjunction Junction -- It's really in a class by itself.
  2. I'm Just a Bill
  3. A Noun is a Person, Place or a Thing
  4. Three is a Magic Number
  5. The Energy Blues

And now, without further adieu, here are the Top 20 Greatest Bugs Bunny & Friends characters ever (While the Tiny Toons were certainly good, I don't include them in this listing):
  1. Daffy Duck -- Without question, the best character ever. From the voice, to the fact that he went from being Daffy while outwitting Elmer Fudd, to being dastardly when trying to get Bugs Bunny in trouble. Let's not forget Duck Dodgers either.
  2. Bugs Bunny -- The greatest protagonist in the history of cartoons.
  3. Foghorn Leghorn -- A fat rooster that hums "Camptown Races" while pulling pranks on a dumb dog -- what's NOT to love?
  4. Sylvester the Cat -- Again, this is one of the more versatile characters in the Looney Tunes library. Consider that he was the victim when he was in Porky Pig's cartoons, and he was the villain when he chased after Tweety.
  5. Wile E. Coyote -- His work with the Road Runner and Bugs is well documented, but getting to clock in and out with the Sheepdog -- that's pure genius.
  6. Marvin the Martian -- Space Jam made him famous, but you have to appreciate the fact that he needs the Uranium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator to blow up Earth just because it blocks his view of Venus.
  7. Pepe Le Pew -- Sexy french cats would get everyone excited.
  8. Yosemite Sam -- Classic case of "Short Man's Syndrome."
  9. Tasmanian Devil -- Emack when the food arrives at a restaurant.
  10. Rocky and Mugsy -- I like Mugsy more than Rocky. Any time a character says, "Duhhhh," before everything, that's good comedy.
  11. Elmer Fudd
  12. Porky Pig
  13. Sylvester Jr. -- "Oh the shame of it all."
  14. Speedy Gonzalez
  15. Gossamer -- How do you make a big, orange alien funny? Give him huge basketball sneakers.
  16. Beaky Buzzard -- "My mama done told me, to get something for dinner."
  17. Spike and Chester -- "Hey Spike, what do you wanna do now? ... Spike's my friend, cuz he's so big and strong."
  18. Goofy Gophers -- Cartoon Gophers + British Accents = High Comedy.
  19. Tweety Bird -- I liked when he drank the Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde potion to get huge.
  20. Pete Puma -- Ask me sometime to do my Pete Puma laugh, it's not bad.
Category: SPiN
Posted on: March 19, 2008 10:16 am
Edited on: March 19, 2008 4:56 pm

Things That Start With the letter 'B'

Beginning: I'm feeling a little hyper right now. Not sure why (two cups o' coffee so far, on my way for a third), but my readers should be the beneficiaries of my spazziness.

Baseball Boogie: Oh my dear sweet lord ... Have you seen the 1986 Dodgers doing the "Baseball Boogie"? If you have, and I'm late to the party, my apologies. But a writer for the Orange County Register discovered this YouTube gem, and he's been trying to get it shown to the current team, since some current Dodgers coaches were involved in the making of this video. Apparently, it was made on the heels of the Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle. Unfortunately, Orel Hershiser's efforts at rapping earned the '86 Dodgers just a fifth (out of six) place finish in the NL West. I had to put this piece at the top and separate it from the rest of these items. It was just too good (or bad).

Books: First -- I bought Sun Tzu's The Art of War, at Barnes and Noble last night. I've always wanted to read it, and I've often seen business writers reference it, as well as Fantasy writers. Pretty much, anything you can compete in, Sun Tzu's got your back. He's like the Bill James of killing other armies. Expect random references over the next week -- especially with Tout Wars looming just a couple days away. Secondly, I also purchased The Essential Stephen King, which ranks one of the greatest American writer's works 1-100. (I took a quick peek and he has It above The Stand at No. 1, which is pretty tough for me to swallow. This was also written in 2003, before King's greatest work, The Dark Tower series, was completed. It's No. 1 without question.

Brett Myers: The Phillies' ace from a couple seasons ago went seven innings on Sunday -- the longest outing of any pitcher this spring. Talk about stretching him out. We're talking about a guy that probably threw in more games, with fewer innings, than almost any starting pitcher last season. His return to the rotation is interesting. Charlie Manuel is, without question, one of the more "baseball-knowledgeable" managers in baseball. In other words, I don't think he's someone that goes off of numbers, but instead decades of experience and thousands of innings. But moving Myers from the rotation (spring of '07) into the bullpen (April of '07) and now back to the rotation (spring of '08) is scary for both his arm, his psyche and his Fantasy owners.

Brian Barton: The demotion of Colby Rasmus appears to have opened up a spot in the Cardinals' outfield for either Barton or Skip Schumaker. Barton is batting .349 with a .674 slugging percentage (second on the team behind Albert Pujols) and eight RBI. He's a Rule V pick, so he has a great chance of making the team. Power isn't his game, despite what his numbers suggest, but he has plus-speed (41 steals in the minors in '06) and NL-only owners should take notice.

Boogers: Should never be referred to as a good source of protein.

Bad March: Ichiro Suzuki now has just four hits in 38 at-bats (.105) and his OBP is just .146. I still say he's going to be fine for the season and unless he's hurt and not telling anyone, you're going to get him at a discounted price. Let's put this spring in perspective with a deeper look into the Japanese superstar's 2007 season:
  • He had at least four hits in five different games.
  • He had four hits total in his first three games.
  • He did not go hitless in any four-game stretch.
  • He had 76 games with two or more hits.
  • He had only 28 games with no hits.
  • In May and June combined, he had at least one basehit in 49 of 57 ballgames.
Big Red Machine: Two young Reds pitchers, strangely enough not named Homer Bailey, are tearing through opponents this spring. Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, aptly nicknamed the Dominican Dandies by the Cincinnati Enquirer, have a combined pitching line that looks like this: 26 IP, 8 ER, 2.77 ERA, 31 Ks, 7 BB, 0 HRA. Note that last statistic, since that could be one of the most important numbers for them pitching in tiny Great American Ball Park.

Batting leaders: Anyone notice that the batting leaders in the AL and the NL this spring both happen to be former Tampa Bay Rays? Josh Hamilton (.556) has been a beast for the Rangers so far, and Jorge Cantu (.457) appears to have locked down the third base job in Florida.

Bill James: It's spring training! It's baseball being reborn! It's time to hear from Bill James, one of the best baseball minds in recent history! Coincidentally, it's also time for Bill James to fill out his NCAA March Madness bracket. So as you watch your brackets get ready to bust, here's a good way for you to determine if a lead is safe during a basketball game.
  • Take the number of points one team is ahead.
  • Subtract three.
  • Add a half-point if the team that is ahead has the ball, and subtract a half-point if the other team has the ball. (Numbers less than zero become zero.)
  • Square that.
  • If the result is greater than the number of seconds left in the game, the lead is safe.
  • My Thoughts: Now, once you took the time to do all those calculations, look up. The game is probably over and your March Madness hopes are likely obliterated.
Beaten to the punch: I'm very upset with Scott White. He's become a LOST freak over the past year or so, watching past seasons over and over, trying to buy flights on Oceanic Airline's website, digging a hole in his cube and hiding contraband while calling himself Sawyer. He's pretty good with the theories and such, but he never made this connection: The Yankees and LOST. Before reading this, I want to mention that Scotty Blanco could do a MUCH better job than this schlub. Hopefully he'll regale us with his LOST theories soon.

Big bats force tough decisions: The Dodgers currently have a glut of talented outfielders, with Andruw Jones cemented in center field, the corner spots could be up for grabs, despite Juan Pierre's hefty contract. Matt Kemp (.310, 12 RBI) and Andre Ethier (.340, 5 HR, 13 RBI) are exploding this spring, and their bats could become more valuable to manager Joe Torre than Pierre's speed (plus he's hitting just .204 with a sad .271 OBP). Ethier has decent wheels as well, whereas Kemp can flat out crush it. All four of these outfielders are interesting Fantasy picks. I think Torre inquired about what it would take to get the NL to add a DH this season. Even Jason Repko is batting .343.

Bleeding ears of listeners: Here's a link to our podcast from Tuesday. Things you will hear: People named after cold weather clothing, Cueto/Volquez and Scott Kazmir.

Big-time help for readers: In the next few days, we are about to unveil a pet project of mine, along with superstar Dilbert look-a-like programmer Jason Fox, a weekly planner tool that you will come to rely on every week. I don't want to say too much about it, other than it will be the greatest thing since the invention of Chili-Cheese Fritos.

Being the guy that doesn't give up: Joe Nelson is still battling for a roster spot on the Marlins' 18th rebuilding effort. He's a 33-year-old reliever that has bounced around the country, mostly in the minors, for the past 12 seasons. He has missed all or parts of the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007 seasons with a couple shoulder surgeries and Tommy John surgery (which helped him meet his wife, a radiologist). The South Florida Sun-Sentinel did a piece on him today. "Rehabs aren't easy, but my friends are on me, telling me I don't really want to get a real job," Nelson said. "One day they are going to take the uniform away from me and you can't have regrets." He kinda makes me feel bad for asking for a pinch hitter last week in softball because "I was winded" after walking to the on-deck circle. Oh yeah, don't draft Joe Nelson. He stinks for Fantasy.

Best Fish on the mound this spring?: Chris Volstad is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA this spring for the Marlins. Last season, I listened to Marlins GM Larry Beinfast talk excitedly about the future of Volstad. The 21-year-old is a former first-round pick from South Florida, and the right-hander is having one of the best springs of any Marlins player, much less pitcher. An interesting quote in the Sun-Sentinel from manager Fredi Gonzalez about this Volstad and this rotation: "His age and inexperience does not enter into any of the discussions. He's showing good signs." I expect to see him return to Double-A to start the season, but the way this staff is set up, you can bet you'll see him on this side of June, so pick him as a reserve in NL-only Rotisserie league drafts.

Being B.J. Ryan's backup: Manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Star that Accardo will be called upon early in the season for saves until B.J. Ryan, who reported soreness after Monday's outing, is completely ready. "I told (Accardo), 'If B.J.'s here (on the active roster), he's not going back-to-back days. If he's not, then you're going to be the guy." We have Accardo projected at 15 saves, and we're taking into account some early chances, as well as some chances midseason if Ryan goes back on the DL. Accardo proved last season he can get the job done. He is one of just three pitchers to save 30 games that were not among the top 300 players drafted in mixed leagues last season. David Weathers and Kevin Gregg were the other two. Folks, you can pick up saves late. I promise. Remember, about a third of all saves recorded each season are from players that aren't drafted in a normal 23-round Rotisserie draft.

Bad practical jokers: Some of the Cubs' pitchers pulled a spring training prank on their strength and conditioning coach, Tim Buss. They demolished his car ... Ha.

Seriously, the windows were smashed in, the sides were all dented up and some bats and balls were shoved through the front windshield to indicate this wasn't just some random crime. Buss was quietly fuming and trying to figure out what he was going to tell his wife, who owned the '95 Nissan, while Jon Lieber came up and said, "It's a shame. What kind of person would do something like that? It really just shocks me. I'm sure she'll understand." Finally, after the guy's blood pressure hit red on the gauge, the pitchers took him to see his brand new '08 Nissan Xterra ... For the record, wouldn' t the story have been much better if he just went postal and took a bat to Lieber?

Birth, Separated at?: A reader, Ed Swierbinski, emailed me just now, to ask me if anyone has ever told me that I look like the detective on "Dexter." I have NOT heard that, although I have heard the following: Kevin James, James Gandolfini, and finally, "the fat guy from MAD TV" (Will Sasso). I'm thinking he didn't mean Erik King, but possibly -- David Zayas? He has a cool first name, that's fo sho! Outside of the fact that he looks cool, and I look like the guy that always asks for extra cheese -- I AGREE COMPLETELY! (And no, no one has ever told me that, but thanks!)

Back spasms and baseball: NOT SO FAST, MR. WOOD! The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Kerry Wood was scratched from Wednesday's spring training game because of lower back spasms. Manager Lou Piniella immediately went into defense mode, since he Wood was going to be their closer to start the season. "Look, we do have one setback with Kerry (Wednesday) -- his back is really, really stiff and he's not going to be able to pitch Wednesday," Piniella said. "It has nothing to do with his shoulder, or elbow, it's just with his back. He went to see a doctor, and hopefully we'll get him out there (Thursday) or the next day. It's just a little bit of a setback, but nothing, nothing serious. Just a minor thing that he goes through every spring." Isn't that the point though, that Wood has broken down over the past few seasons and injuries pile up? Won't a bad back affect his mechanics? "We have three people here that in my mind that can close and I'm very comfortable with," the manager said. Speaking of which, move Marmol up a couple spots on your closer rankings.

Posted on: February 28, 2008 3:03 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2008 4:41 pm

Prospects Abound

We're in that time of spring when every team's prospects are being discussed. Some are looking good in intrasquad games or very early spring games (Garrett Mock, Luis Mendoza and Justin Masterson), and some are getting back-slaps for being mentioned among Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects.

Nothing gets Fantasy owners more excited than a high-rising prospect and BA is a great site to get your fill in that aspect.

The Rays are tied with the Red Sox with the most prospects (seven) within that top 100. That really caught my eye. We're talking about 2007's worst team in the majors and the World Series champions. Obviously, the Red Sox have way fewer holes in their roster to open up starting opportunities for their seven studs.

Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz will probably be ready to start in Fantasy Week 1, but 1B Lars Anderson (20 years old), SS Jed Lowrie (23), RHP Justin Masterson (23), RHP Michael Bowden (21) and OF Ryan Kalish (19) will need to have injuries or trades to happen ahead of them before they get a shot -- and don't forget they also have to be performing at an above-average level, as well as be injury-free themselves.

Tampa Bay Rays
For the artists formerly known as the Devil Rays, 3B Evan Longoria has a great chance to be the team's starting third baseman, hitting in the heart of a batting order with plenty of potential. He ranks second overall on BA's list, just behind Reds OF Jay Bruce, and he's no secret to Fantasy owners. But the young pitchers are even more interesting in this organization. Tampa Bay has three -- THREE -- ranked in the top 20 overall. LHP David Price (10th overall), LHP Jake McGee (15th) and RHP Wade Davis (17th) will push everyone in the Rays' rotation that's not named Scott Kazmir, Jamie Shields or Matt Garza. McGee's strikeouts (1.25 Ks-per-inning) has Fantasy owners giddy (especially now that Kazmir's strained elbow is scaring everyone on the Gulf Coast). Then the Rays also have SS Reid Brignac (39th), who is an in-season Fantasy sleeper as a shortstop with pop, OF Desmond Jennings (21 years old) and 6-foot-9 RHP Jeff Niemann, who has become a forgotten fourth pitching prospect.

The reason I point these players out on both of these teams is to explain the difference. While the Rays certainly have more players that can arrive this season to help Fantasy owners, what they do once they arrive is likely going to be less than what the Red Sox players will, mostly because of their surrounding casts.

Removing Ellsbury, Buchholz and Longoria from the list (three players that are nearly locks to start in April), the remaining players can be compared more fairly. The Rays' three rookie pitchers will still have to deal with a bullpen that put up a 6.16 ERA in '07, which is by far the worst number by any bullpen in the past seven seasons. Granted, they signed Troy Percival to close, moving Al Reyes back to setup man, and Dan Wheeler is in town for a full season, but it's still a shallow group.

The Red Sox prospects that might earn time this season will be surrounded by a superb bullpen (3.10 ERA was second-best in majors in '07), top-notch rotation (4.21 ERA makes them fourth-best in majors in '07) and an offensive lineup that ranked fourth in the majors last year.

Anyway, back to doing updates and writing my "Bounce-back players" piece. I just thought it was interesting that both teams, on opposite ends of the major-league spectrum, had seven prospects in the top 100, and what that meant to F-Ballers.

Welcome Home: Kimbo Slice
My co-worker, Sergio Gonzalez, just mentioned to me that CBS will be airing Mixed Martial Arts this year. Kimbo Slice is just a beast (first-round pick in your Fantasy MMA draft) and I'm glad he'll also be my co-worker. Although, if customer service manager Carey Dunn, who he played high school football with, leaves an empty coffee pot on the burner again without making a fresh pot, I expect Kimbo to go Terry Tate on him. I wonder what time, "Two and a Half Dead Men" will be airing?
Posted on: February 6, 2008 10:24 am
Edited on: February 23, 2008 8:03 pm

It's SUPER Wednesday!

I figure this week we've already had a Super Sunday, a Super Tuesday (doubling up as a Fat Tuesday also). Later this week, we're having Average Thursday and Death-to-my-Liver Saturday!

Things I Love:
  • Frozen Butterfingers.
  • Fake breasts.
  • MOCK DRAFTS BABY!!! That's right, we finally have mock draft capabilities at CBSSports.com. You can go on and pick what style mock draft you want (H2H or Roto), what player pools to use (Mixed, AL-only or NL-only) and what size league (10-12 leagues). This is a separate product outside of our normal commissioner leagues, but -- IT"S STILL FREE! There are plenty of mock drafts you can join within every hour, and these are GREAT tools to use when you want to get an idea of what players you might end up with in your REAL draft. You can pick WHERE you want to draft even. And your mock drafts will remain on your site, available for you to go back and look at as much as you want. Try picking in different spots, and see what's good for trends and runs.
  • Farting while I pee.
  • Real breasts.
  • When kids run into things because they aren't looking.

Things I Hate:
  • The fact that even though I've watched every episode of LOST since it began in '04 -- and I'm still LOST. (Scott White, one of our new writers, watched all three seasons over the summer, like three times, and he's Rain Man with this stuff now. But asking him what's going on means I have to talk to him -- and we can't have that.)
  • The Fantasy value of most Padres and Giants hitters.
  • No matter how I try and post something in HTML in these blogs, something always gets screwed up. (See below.)
  • When Emack's breath invades my cube.
  • When I run into things because I'm not looking.

(Seriously, I want to punch Bret Michaels every time he says it. Pretend I didn't just confess to you that I watch "Rock of Love II.")
I'm in a league on Scoresheet.com, which basically uses defensive scoring along with batting and pitching. It's my first time in this type of league. Emack is in some APBA leagues, which uses defense and it goes off of the previous year's stats. So this year, it goes off of last year's stats for the whole season. Emack is also in a league that takes into account a player's eye color, number of siblings and bowel movements. He has issues.
So my expansion draft roster looks like this: 1B James Loney, 2B Chase Utley,SS Edgar Renteria, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, OF Hunter Pence, OF Jeff Francoeur, OF Rocco Baldelli, SP John Maine, RP Jose Valverde, SP Mark Prior -- minor leaguers: SP Ross Detwiler, SP Troy Patton and SP Philip Humber. We'll see, but I'm expecting to get my hat handed to me. Some of the players in this league include two of my good friends: Tristan Cockcroft and Nando DiFino of ESPN.com, and freakin' former Phillies 1B Rico Brogna! That's kinda neat. I'm going to ask him to sign my boob.

Emack and I are participating in an NL-only auction this afternoon on FantasyAuctioneer.com -- you have to do one of these. The auctions work in conjunction with our commissioner leagues, so give it a shot. I'll let you know how I end up. I think I'm going to bid $1 on every player, and hope the price is lower than what everyone else bid. Like The Price is Right.

BIGS Draft Happenings
We're conducting our AL-only and NL-only H2H drafts this month (they're slow drafts with four-hour time limits). Our PR guy, Alex Riethmiller, picked up Ben Sheets in the sixth round. He's actually gotten a chance to know Sheets throughout the years because the pitcher plays Fantasy Football on our site. So Riethmiller sent an email to Ben alerting him of his selection in the sixth. Sheets responded with an email replying, "You may go to jail for stealing that one. Relax, I got you this year bro." And then, from what my sources tell me, he injured himself when he hit "SEND" and he yelled, "Owww!!! MY ELBOW, LEG, ARM, EYE AND EAR!!!!"

Writer's Strike Fun Times
A "new " friend of mine that happens to be dealing with the writer's strike sent me this funny video that he and some friends produced because of the strike. It's a video about what baseball nuts do during the offseason. Good stuff!
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Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com